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The inside edge with Sarah and Drew

Catching up with Drew's partner search

Out and about in Colorado Springs: Jeremy Abbott, Claire Tabolt, Drew Meekins, John Coughlin, Travis Nuss (Jon's brother, if you were wondering), and Brendyn Hatfield.
Out and about in Colorado Springs: Jeremy Abbott, Claire Tabolt, Drew Meekins, John Coughlin, Travis Nuss (Jon's brother, if you were wondering), and Brendyn Hatfield. (courtesy Stephanie Kuban)

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By Drew Meekins, special to icenetwork.com
(05/27/2008) - We know we haven't posted any news about Drew's ongoing partner-search saga for some time. Things don't always go as expected.

Here's Drew, catching up on the last two months:

First off, let me apologize for the long time between "episodes." I know everyone has been hanging on, waiting to find out about the new drama! In my last blog update I had just left for an extended tryout in Los Angeles. Since then, I have been away from home for over two months, and have skated in four different states. But let's go back and start with California:

I lived in Los Angeles for three weeks, doing an extended tryout with a girl I had previously tried out with in February. I was really pleased with how our skating went. For a new team, and a girl who had never skated pairs before, we made a lot of progress. Life in California was interesting. There is a ton to do there, almost too much! I did enjoy the Pacific Ocean a bit, and even some glamorous Hollywood nightlife with Naomi Nam and Themi Leftheris, although I think I am an East Coast boy at heart.

When I left I felt positive about our skating, but I needed some time to sort through the other parts of the package that go into the success of a pair team: the training environment, the living situation, the coaching situation, etc.

I had planned a trip to Colorado Springs in April after my California tryout was finished, to celebrate my birthday with friends. I wanted to be there for the national pair camp as well, since a lot of my friends would be flying in for that. I also wanted time to assess what had happened in California, and to check in with Dalilah Sappenfield, and get her take on things.

My birthday came and went, and left me feeling old and confused. Besides that, I had a very nice time! It was amazing to be able to see so many of my friends whom I rarely get to be with.

As I spent time with Dalilah and immersed myself in the training environment in Colorado, it became more and more clear that this was the situation I was seeking. At the end of my stay there, after very careful thought, I decided not to leave. It was a very hard decision because I had some success with my tryout in Los Angeles, but I knew that success on the ice is not enough to make a partnership work, and my situation in California lacked many other components that would limit our success.

After the stress of canceling flights had worn off, I was completely thrilled with the idea of working with Dalilah and training at the Broadmoor.

It's been interesting to have lessons again. I had not had a coach or lessons since the end of October! It's highly unusual for an elite skater to go without lessons for half a year. It's been strange getting used to that dynamic again, and I have actually been getting nervous before my lessons!

When I started looking for a new partner, I specifically didn't want to choose any one location or coach, because it would have limited my options. I would have only been able to skate with a girl who was willing to relocate to my coach and training center. I kept my options completely open for where I would train, which gave me every possible option to find the best partner. However, I found that it was very difficult to always have to market myself to various coaches. Having a coach representing you -- making calls, working on deals -- is an important part of the partner search process. Plus, a coach can network much better than I can, simply because they are likely to know more coaches personally.

If there was anyone I would want working on my behalf, it would be Dalilah. I trust her, and I believe in her as a coach, and I really like the program in Colorado.

By the way, it's not that I haven't been able to find anyone, exactly. There are tons of people I could physically skate with. I've had over ten tryouts and I think they all might have agreed to be my partner. It's just that I'm looking for a partnership that will last for the rest of my career, and I don't plan on skating for recreation; I have nationals, worlds and the Olympics in mind. So it makes me look at potential partners more seriously.

I'm trying to accomplish something that less than one percent of skaters achieve. Finding the right match is equally as rare. Not to mention that once a skater is at a certain level, there's no going backward. Fortunately or unfortunately, I have to skate senior and I have to be better than I was before. I can't compete as a junior for a year and work my way up again. I need someone who can fill in where I left off.

Dalilah has already gotten me several tryouts. I really enjoy working with her and I think I'm improving again. My triple Salchow has never been so consistent, and I've been working with any girl I can get my hands on to help improve my pair technique. I am thrilled with the environment -- training with such high-level pair teams is very different for me, and very motivating.

Dalilah is a great technical coach, and she is so caring about each of her students. I'm thrilled that she was just named the Professional Skaters' Association Coach of the Year! She couldn't deserve it more, after what she accomplished last season.

The atmosphere is very comfortable at the Broadmoor, although everyone works really hard. Life in Colorado Springs isn't so bad either! I mean, it's no Boston, but well, nothing is. It's been really helpful that I have so many friends in Colorado. Caitlin Yankowskas and her mother have been nice enough to lend me a spot on their couch and a space in their closet. I've even, shockingly, shed my inner city boy a few times and gone hiking -- scary, I know. Ok, I'm being a little dramatic, but I'm a figure skater!

I think that about gets everyone up to date. I'll keep looking for girls, so pleased keep your fingers crossed for me!

Until next time,
Drew (and Sarah)
To contact Sarah and Drew, you can e-mail them them at sarahanddrewblog@gmail.com.