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Lost skates are an occupational hazard

Baggage curse strikes Navarro and Bommentre

Kimberly Navarro and Brent Bommentre, who earned their first trip to worlds at the U.S. championships in January, hope to get their luggage soon.
Kimberly Navarro and Brent Bommentre, who earned their first trip to worlds at the U.S. championships in January, hope to get their luggage soon. (Paul Harvath)

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By Lynn Rutherford, special to icenetwork.com
(03/17/2008) - Competing at your first worlds is challenging enough, but Brent Bommentre just may have to do so without the skates and costumes he's worn all season.

Bommentre and his partner, Kimberly Navarro, won the bronze medal at the 2008 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Saint Paul, Minn., in January, earning a long-awaited trip to the world championships.

Unfortunately, while the couple and their coaches, Robbie Kaine and Cheryl Demkowski Snyder, arrived in Gothenburg on schedule, Bommentre's luggage did not.

"His skates are ... well, no one knows where they are," said Kaine.

"We started [our travels] with United, then switched to SAS [Scandinavian Air], and Brent's bags are missing in transit. We're told they may be in Copenhagen, but we don't know. We're still hoping they'll get here soon."

Kaine sent out an SOS to a friend, who arrived in Gothenburg yesterday carrying a new pair of skates for Bommentre. He wore those at the first dance practice on Monday.

"Actually, the practice went really well," Bommentre said. "We got five stars on everything. It was very good; it couldn't have been better, even if I had been wearing my old skates."

Breaking in skate boots takes some elite skaters days, while some are uncomfortable for up to four to six weeks. Each has their own method -- some dampen the boots with water, while others stretch, pull and stomp on the leather. Blade mountings, too, often need multiple adjustments, which is why skaters and coaches are reluctant to remove blades from boots when traveling.

Pre-9/11, most skaters would never think of boarding a plane without the valuable equipment in hand. Now, however, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) prohibits skates, with their sharp blades, in carry-on bags.

More and more often, skaters are reporting lost baggage. On occasion, it has cost some the opportunity to compete. In 2006, Canadian pair champions Anabelle Langlois and Cody Hay withdrew from Cup of Russia when Langlois' baggage was lost.

There's no talk of that for Navarro and Bommentre, whose first event, the Argentine Tango compulsory, takes place Tuesday afternoon.

"We're here, and that's the most important thing," Navarro said.

"Now, I'm on the hunt for some costumes," added Bommentre.