The inside edge with Sarah and Drew's exclusive behind the scenes correspondents wrap up worlds

Meryl Davis and Charlie White.
Meryl Davis and Charlie White. (courtesy of Charlie White)


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By Sarah Brannen and Drew Meekins, special to
(03/27/2008) - It's that time again! Time for's exclusive behind-the-scenes correspondents, Sarah Brannen and Drew Meekins, to catch us up on what's happening around the figure skating universe.

Costume Malfunction

Well, the 2007-2008 season has finally come to an end, and we watched almost every performance from the 2008 ISU World Figure Skating Championships on the internet and on TV; it was a wild and unexpected competition, wasn't it? Drew followed along from an "undisclosed location" (let's just say he's tan), but we've been video chatting on our new computers! It's kind of weird to have to think about what your hair looks like before you send an IM...

We have not one, but two guest-bloggers this week: Charlie White and Stephen Carriere. They both talked about the bizarre incident when Russian pair skater Maxim Trankov had to stop in the midst of his free skate with Maria Mukhortova and have the doctor cut up his costume with scissors. Apparently Maxim told Maria during the program that he was going to stop, which explains why she seemed to expect it. He's going to have surgery for a vascular condition soon, so it won't happen again.

Stephen bowls in Sweden

Stephen Carriere wrote us a long email on the plane on the way home. We followed up with a few nosy questions. Stephen said:

"From bold statements in news articles to Miki Ando's withdrawal in the ladies free skate, there never seemed to be a dull moment at my first worlds. In fact, starting off the week with the flu and crashing into the boards on my only main arena practice before the short program proved that my week was not drama-free either. On the other hand, it is safe to say that my first world championships was quite an exciting and humbling experience, one that will definitely help me with my career and future training.

"The long week started with the unfortunate arrival of the flu. Luckily, my roommate Ben Okolski was able to change rooms so that he did not catch anything I had. Ben definitely made a smart move, because that night was miserable.

"On Monday morning, my first practice went pretty well; I was getting over my cold symptoms and pumped to skate in the main arena. I stepped on the ice and thirty seconds into my opening warm-up exercises, I cut the corner and slid right into the boards. It might not have looked too bad, but let's just say it felt like someone hit me with a crowbar every time I put my weight on the right side of my body."

Stephen had to leave the ice and miss the entire practice; it's a credit to him that he pulled it together, skated well and finished in 10th place overall. Together with Johnny Weir's third-place finish, he helped earn three spots for the U.S. men next year.

Stephen was shocked when Miki Ando and Alban Préaubert had to withdraw from the competition. "It was hard to see all these skaters withdraw, especially after they have trained all season for this event. However, the show had to go on, and it did."

What was it like to compete at senior worlds for the first time? "With the trusty Johnny Weir and Jeremy Abbott at my side, I definitely felt confident in my teammates that we would step up to the plate when it came to defending three places for next year, I just was not sure after I skated. After making the mistake of doing an extra combination, I was a little nervous watching the final group go out. From Tomas Verner's performance to Jeffrey Buttle's outstanding program, the audience was on edge, especially when Brian Joubert skated. In fact, the drama continued at the press conference after the free skate, when it seemed like Joubert and the newly crowned world champion exchanged some 'combative' words to the press on the new system."

Final thoughts? "As I sit in row 53 C on flight LH 422 to Boston, I realize that my first worlds was a pretty intense one. And even though it was so crazy, I would not have it any other way. One of my coaches [Peter Johansson], who is from Sweden got to go home and see a ton of old friends every day. I got the experience of soaking in everything, although I have not been able to keep my promise and think of individualized show programs for everybody on the team (Sorry Kim [Navarro] and Jeremy!). And even though I managed to absolutely stink at virtual bowling, I still managed to get online and watch the latest America's Next Top Model episode I missed."

Charlie goes to Valhalla

We asked Charlie White to give us his impressions and share highlights from the week in Sweden. He said, "My favorite moment was definitely coming from behind the French [Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat] in the free dance to finish in 6th place overall. My least favorite moment was not getting any names or numbers from the beautiful Swedish girls..."

Did anything weird happen? "I would say that the funniest moment was when Maxim Trankov suddenly lost some of the feeling in his hand midway through his long program and proceeded to stop and get some of his sleeve cut by the doctor as if his hand was about to fall off."

Unlike a lot of figure skaters, Charlie doesn't have any special superstitions before he skates. "I'm sure Meryl [Davis] has some," he said, "Although I've never really asked what they were lest they were contagious."

What was the arena like? "There was a tent-like hallway that led up to the rink, and the rink itself was pretty cool. The long sides of the rink curved up really high in an ark like fashion which gave it an interesting feel to skate in. The warm-up area was called VALHALLA, which we thought was pretty funny... haha, but it was a basketball/handball/volleyball court."

Did you come across any interesting food? "Apparently there is some sort of shrimp sandwich phenomenon that Sweden is known for, and while I'm a fan of both shrimp and sandwiches, I didn't really enjoy it... I think it had to do with the extra gallon of mayonnaise they dumped on it."

Both Meryl's and Charlie's moms came with them to Sweden, and Charlie says it's nice to have family support when you're competing in a stadium full of strangers. "However, I still have no idea how to pronounce or spell that great Swedish city we were just at, because everyone said/spelled it differently!"

Lost luggage

As you surely heard, Brent Bommentre's luggage didn't join him in Sweden until the night before the original dance. Johnny Weir's bags, on the other hand, were lost on the way home. We were worried that he had lost his brand-new, shiny bronze medal, but luckily he had given it to his mother to take home for him so it's safe. We hope everyone else got home OK. Time for a little rest before they start tackling the demands of next season -- new programs, new costumes, new drama to blog about. We can't wait!

Uncle Bobby gets married

Sarah's new picture book for children, "Uncle Bobby's Wedding", was published today, so we can't resist mentioning it. Sarah both wrote and illustrated it, and there's lots more about the book on her website. There's no figure skating in the book, but the sequel has a skating scene.


Until next time,
Sarah and Drew