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On the edge with Sarah and Drew

Juniors, rockers and Drew's search, episode 3

Drew Meekins (left) skated with three-time U.S. pairs national champions Jenni Meno and Todd Sand during his trip to California.
Drew Meekins (left) skated with three-time U.S. pairs national champions Jenni Meno and Todd Sand during his trip to California. (courtesy of Drew Meekins)

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By Sarah Brannen and Drew Meekins, special to icenetwork.com
(03/04/2008) - It's time for another installment from icenetwork.com's blogsters, Sarah Brannen and Drew Meekins. This time, they chat about the young stars from the 2008 ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships and a certain rock star/figure skater. Drew also provides an update on his search for a new partner.

Youngsters

We watched a lot of the world junior championships live last week, thanks to icenetwork.com, of course! The U.S. ladies wowed, naturally. Kudos to Rachael Flatt for rocking everyone's world and proving that we should not underestimate her. We really enjoyed the men too -- it's exciting to see the future taking shape. Adam Rippon has had a season that has just about guaranteed that he's going to be a star, with curly or straight hair. Emily Samuelson and Evan Bates redeemed themselves this year by capturing the dance title, putting the heartbreaking end to last year's season behind them. Congratulations to all!

Rock star

We often refer to skaters as being "rock stars" on the the ice (Alexe Gilles, for example) but one of them actually is. Tom Scholz is one of the most unusual -- and tallest -- adult skaters we've ever run into, and he's also a world famous rock star. He is the founder and leader of the 70's group Boston [http://bandboston.com] and a dedicated figure skater. We've shared the ice with him for years. And as if he wasn't talented enough, Scholz is also an inventor. For a while, he was working on a new kind of skate that would let skaters jump higher. When he's in town, Scholz is at the rink a few times a week. Every now and then, however, he has to take some time off from the ice so he can tour for a few months. Yeah. Us too.

Skaters are people too!

In true gossip-column style, we've decided to bring you some less serious news. Johnny Weir was reportedly shopping for vintage clothing in New York City last week; later, he made a much less fabulous trip to the dentist. ... Scott Smith took a long vacation in Florida after the 2008 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, getting some much need R-and-R with his family. ... Jeremy Abbott was spotted out for brunch with friends at the trendy Boston hot-spot, Gaslight, while in the area for a short vacation.

And children's book author/illustrator, diva extraordinaire Sarah Brannen was seen skating pairs with a certain former world junior champion -- Drew Meekins. Allegedly, the two have been working on a Level 2 spiral sequence and a bunch of throws. (Sarah did the throwing. Drew jumped. What did you think?) But since Drew needs a real partner who can actually skate, it's time for:

"The Pair Skater: Episode 3"

Drew continues the story of his search for Miss Right:

My visit to Los Angeles started out in Hollywood style as actress Kristy Swanson picked me up at the rink in Paramount and drove me to Pickwick Ice Arena, where Lloyd Eisler works. Kristy is so fantastic. She's really bubbly and easy to talk to and tons of fun to be around. It was cool to get to "talk skating" with her. Along with being the Skating With Celebrities winner, her brother Rob Swanson was actually a competitive skater, so she was kind of a rink rat growing up, and of course, she has learned a lot from Lloyd. She knows a lot about skating too; she's familiar with all the elements and knows a bit about levels.

Kristy was incredibly generous and caring during my visit. She drove hours out of her way to take me where I needed to go. She gave me a tour of Beverly Hills and Hollywood, and one evening, she and Lloyd even took me out to dinner at a chic place in West Hollywood. Very fabulous!

Lloyd was great to work with; he's really passionate about teaching, and it shows. He works really hard, and he still has solid technique -- he'll get on the ice and show a student a triple toe if he needs to, and he does throws and lifts too. He told me a lot of stories about his own skating experience. He had a similar beginning to mine, and he had actually decided to quit before he found Isabelle Brasseur. So he had a lot to say about the process of selecting a partner, and it was good to hear it from someone who went on to become so successful.

The next day I went to work with Jenni Meno and Todd Sand. Jenni and Todd are so nice; it's almost breathtaking. It was interesting to hear their stories about skating. Jenni started as a singles skater and got the bronze at the U.S. championships in her first year as a pair skater, so that was encouraging. We worked together really well. Their technique is a little different from what I was taught, but since they both still skate, we worked through things on the ice. Jenni and I managed a couple of death spirals, and it was really cool to skate with her. While I was with Jenni and Todd, I also got to meet Mr. Nicks, which was an honor. He offered his advice about how to make the right partner decision. All the coaches I met in L.A. offered different perspectives, and it was good to hear it all!

In total, I went to six different rinks in six days and worked with six world or Olympic medalists... and one former vampire slayer. One morning at Pickwick, I skated with our new national champion, Mirai Nagasu. (I don't mean I skated pairs with her, of course! Although, Mirai, if you're interested, give me a call!)

I had a really great time out in California. It was exhausting, and I kind of felt like spending a few extra days there to lie on the beach, but I took a lot away from my experiences. I think my time there definitely had an effect on me. It's yet to be seen how much of an effect it will have on my skating, but I do know that I flew home to Boston in flip-flops, and later that day, I dyed my hair blond.

Until next time!

Sarah and Drew