Day two with Sarah and Drew

All the dirt from Sarah Brannen and Drew Meekins

Sarah Brannen and Drew Meekins.
Sarah Brannen and Drew Meekins. (Paul Harvath)


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By Sarah Brannen and Drew Meekins
(01/24/2008) - It's day two of Sarah Brannen and Drew Meekins hunt for devilishly, delightful backstage dish at U.S. Championships.

Drew's partner search

One leftover item from Wednesday night: As we left after the senior pairs event, novice men's silver medalist Ross Miner must have been inspired by the fabulous skating, as he nearly insisted on doing some lifts with Drew. Drew agreed reluctantly, and they put on a little show on the concourse. They even got some positive feedback from a judge who shall remain nameless. They're working on getting a few rules changed, but until then Drew will have to keep on picking up girls until he finds the right partner.

Angels and Tattoos

Thursday started with senior men's practice at the Xcel Center. Plenty of fans got up early to watch Johnny Weir and Ryan Bradley in the first group. Johnny's mother, Patti, was surrounded by a little entourage (in typical Weir style) including several sisters, and Faye Kitarieva the choreographer of Johnny's short program. Johnny's aunts wanted to take their sister skating at the Winter Carnival (outside temperature this morning: -13), and play crack-the-whip with Mrs. Weir at the end.

"Are you kidding me? I've never been on skates in my life! That's not going to happen," said Johnny's mom.

Some of Johnny's "Angels" came over to say hello to Patti. Nancy Apple, a second-grade teacher and member of the Sioux Falls Roller Dolls, showed off her famous tattoo. If you haven't heard the story, this is how it goes: In this very arena, after Champions on Ice, she saw Johnny skate and, as she said later, "He touched my soul." After the show, she asked Johnny to autograph her ankle and said, "I'll SOOO get it made into a tattoo."

And, two days later (after showering with her leg stuck out of the shower curtain, of course), she did. (see photo) She is a lovely young blonde woman, whose Roller Derby name is Applicious # 3.14.

Lunch with Scott, hold the olives

We met the nicest guy on the planet, aka Scott Smith, for lunch. We had a long chat about his recent coaching change -- just a few weeks ago, he parted ways with Mark Mitchell and Peter Johansson, and moved to Salt Lake City to work with Stephanie Grosscup. She choreographed Stephanie Rosenthal's unforgettable 'Robot' program, among others.

"I really got to know her this summer in Sun Valley," said Scott. "She's just extremely positive and talented artistically. Also, I have the ice to myself for an hour every day, and it's at altitude. The first week I was afraid of my long program! I did all my run-throughs with doubles. It took some getting used to but it's great now!"

They have made some changes in his program, particularly the footwork. "It's more on the music now," said Scott, as he picked all of the olives out of his pasta. Scott loves pasta, and considers himself a "champion eater" but treats olives pretty much like cockroaches. We had had enough skating talk, and moved on to discuss his pet chinchilla, Pikachu, and the Mall of America. "I rode the rollercoaster there yesterday. The other one (there are two) isn't ready yet, but it looks like the best one."

Scottie and Caroline

As we walked backstage before the ladies short program, one of your intrepid bloggers was nearly mowed down by Caroline Zhang, cartwheeling down the hall. She may be small, but we wouldn't have wanted to get a tiny sneaker in the eye! Luckily, she saw us and changed direction.

When she turned right-side-up again, she and Director of Media and Public Relations Scottie Bibb got somewhat competitive about who was taller. Caroline admitted to 4'11" but defended herself, saying she's taller in the morning.