Day three with Sarah and Drew

From the hotel to the street, Meekins and Brannen are on it.

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


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By Sarah Brannen and Drew Meekins
(01/25/2008) - Sarah and Drew kick off Friday with all the dish from the 2008 U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

Hotel Scene

Skater Shaun Rogers' mother Joyce snuck up on Ken Congemi, who didn't recognize her for a moment. Joyce has lost 95 pounds since last year's Nationals and she's enjoying the experience of not being recognized by people who have known her for years.

Coaches and former star skaters Doug Ladret, Ralph Burghardt and Todd Sand (whose hair was perfect) were playing a "Golden Tee Live" golf video game with good-humored intensity.

At the Saint Paul Hotel, we ran into Dick Button, bemused and amazed by the Winter Carnival Snow Queen and her court, who were milling around the lobby. "I knew it had to be something to do with the Winter Carnival, because it sparkles!" he said. We talked to a 'Snow Princess', who explained that there are North, South, East and West-Wind Princesses as well as the 'Queen of the Snows'. They were only too happy to pose for pictures.

Albertville Olympians

We walked over to the arena with 1992 Olympic champion Kristi Yamaguchi and her mother Carole this morning, until we met Paul Wylie coming the other direction. The two Olympic teammates hadn't seen each other for a while and had an excited reunion.


The Today Show's Natalie Morales sat across from us, as she planned her on-ice reporting for Friday morning. She had brought her skates and wanted to do a pull-through with Scott Hamilton; she was advised that it might actually be dangerous.

Mixed Zone

Just behind the skaters' entrance is the "Mixed Zone," where the media bombards sweaty and exhausted skaters with questions the moment they step off the ice. For the most part, they stand patiently in their skates and answer every question with utter courtesy. For some reason, the print media is only allowed in a kind of little pen, behind a barrier. Your trusty bloggers have all-access credentials, so we've been taking pictures from every angle. See the photo blog for pictures of Rohene Ward and Evan Lysacek, who did most of his interview standing on one leg.

Kwan for President?

In the stands after the junior pairs free skate, we met obsessed Michelle Kwan fans, Billy Anderson, David Regan and Enrico Kurniawan. They gave us "Kwan for President" buttons and told us their strategy for Michelle's future.

"Well, she's already an ambassador, so she knows politics," said David. "Politics right now is very divided, so who better to unite the country than Michelle? She'll announce she's running, and then everyone else will drop out of the race, Hilary and everyone, because everyone loves Michelle and they'll all want to vote for her themselves."

What about Michelle's skating career after she becomes President? "Next year at Nationals, she'll be President but she'll still compete. She can make phone calls and sign bills and things after the six-minute warm-up."

And on the political front? "She'll end the war. She'll go to Iraq and skate, and everyone will cry, and say, 'We all love Michelle, let's stop fighting.'"

What would she skate to? "Fields of Gold" they said in perfect unison.

Given the fact that Michelle is not actually competing in Saint Paul, we asked what Billy, David and Enrico were looking forward to this weekend: "We're really excited for the showdown between Johnny and Evan, and we're rooting for Johnny," they said emphatically. The three refer to themselves as "The Boys Who Score," because they calculate the score of each skate on home made spread sheets, and pride themselves on their accuracy and speed.

They wanted us to let everyone know that if you're interested in joining the "Kwan for President" movement, "The Boys Who Score" are giving out buttons in section 118 of the Xcel Energy Center.