The inside edge with Sarah and Drew

From the Boston Marathon to pair camp

Todd, Alexe and Piper Gilles rehearsing for "Blades for the Cure."
Todd, Alexe and Piper Gilles rehearsing for "Blades for the Cure." (photo courtesy of Alexe Gilles)


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By Sarah Brannen and Drew Meekins, special to
(04/25/2008) - It's time for our intrepid behind-the-scenes reporters Sarah Brannen and Drew Meekins to bring us up to date with what's happening in the figure skating universe.

A coach with staying power

Many people have said that a figure skater's career should be more like a marathon than a sprint. Peter Johansson might know this better than anyone! The four-time Swedish champion had a successful competitive career, and as a coach he has rocketed to the top over the last several years. On top of that, he ran the actual Boston Marathon on Monday.

"I started training in the beginning of the year," he said. "I had some trouble in February and March with tendinitis and then the flu, so all things considered I am very happy to get through it."

What was it like, finishing the 26.2 miles of the prestigious Boston Marathon in four hours and ten minutes?

"It was very hard and I had nothing left in me when I finished in Boston!"

How did you feel the next day?

"My feet hurt the most. But I recovered pretty well these last two days."

Congratulations, Peter! We're so glad you ran the race, and not us!

The scoop from Colorado Springs

Although we wrote it in the royal "we," our last blog was Sarah's report from Boston. Drew has been in Colorado all month, and this week he's your trusty blogger. We like writing in first person plural though, so bear with us.

The Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs played host to the second annual National Pair Camp last week. Most of the country's senior pair teams (except Rena Inoue and John Baldwin and Brooke Castile and Ben Okolski) attended, along with several junior and novice teams. U.S. Figure Skating brought in some celebrity coaches to work on specifics: Jenni Meno worked on stroking and death spirals, Dalilah Sappenfield did lifts, Kerry Leitch did throws, and Kathy Casey worked on jumps.

The pairs split into groups, but there were often ten teams on the ice at once. They stood and talked with the coach, and then they did exercises together before trying elements one at a time. There was a lot of filming, using Stro-Motion, which shows a still picture of every part of an element. Sappenfield said you could see every detail with it, and catch mistakes more easily. In the twist class, Brynn Carman and Chris Knierim demonstrated a quadruple twist! She's 13, mind you p-- she's got to be the only 13-year-old in the world who can do a quad. Rumor has it that Amanda Evora and Mark Ladwig did side-by-side triple loops, although we didn't see it ourselves.

Wigs and goggles benefit cancer research

There was a full house for the Blades for the Cure benefit show in Colorado Springs on April 12, with people hanging from the rafters (not really) and sitting on the ice (yes). Peggy Fleming, who MC'd, was glamorous in black from head to toe, whether on the sidelines or out on the ice (although she traded in her skates for heels).

Ryan Bradley skated to "Hello" by Lionel Richie and "Jump," by Van Halen, and he was awesome. In his usual comedic style, he did a triple Axel and a quad toe! He also did a back flip, of course, and the crowd went wild.

Ryan spent some time in Europe after nationals, skating in shows in Germany. Now he is hard at work on next year's programs, and the one we've seen looks good. Too bad we can't share details, but music choice is always a well-guarded secret at this time of year.

New world junior champion Rachael Flatt skated to "Respect," and she has certainly earned a lot of it lately! Her program had tons of personality. She was great and energetic, and she landed a gorgeous triple Lutz.

Jeremy Abbott skated to "Faith," by George Michael, and Brandon Mroz shook it to "Jail House Rock." They both brought it, trying triple Axels under show lighting, but fell.

Caitlin Yankowskas and John Coughlin did a really fun disco number to "I Will Survive" and "I Want You Back." They landed a throw triple Salchow and triple twist, despite skating in an afro wig (John) and a pink "bob" wig (Caitlin). Along with Bradley, they were the crowd favorites of the night.

Keauna McLaughlin and Rockne Brubaker did their popular "Play That Funky Music" number, and did a triple twist and throw triple loop. Keauna and Rockne will be using "Malaguena" for their short program next season, and West Side Story for the long.

Sisters Alexe and Piper Gilles, with their brother Todd's partner, Jane Summersett, did a cool artistic number in which the three danced together and around each other. Later, Jane and Todd brought the crowd to their feet! They skated in matching white shirts and black pants with bright green swimming goggles to strange techno-music, in an innovative Christopher Dean program. It looked like they were aliens, and it was fabulous.

At first they appeared to test out the ice, leaning how to skate. As the program developed, they had some cool transitions, weaving in and out of each other, and some really great lifts as well.

As discussed on here the show was a benefit for Austin Kanallakan's family. Austin was mesmerizing in an emotional program to "On Your Porch" by The Format.

Several people in the audience said they almost cried, including us.

"The Pair Skater"

Episode Not
As you can see from this Colorado-based edition of our blog, Drew is still making his way through the 50 states in search of Ms. Right. Details to come, as we'll try to have a new episode next time. Until then, enjoy the spring!

Sarah and Drew