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The Inside Edge with Sarah and Drew

Keauna McLaughlin turns a sweet sixteen

Keauna McLaughlin and the boys celebrated her birthday by forming a 50-person-long conga line that made its way out of the ballroom and into the lobby.
Keauna McLaughlin and the boys celebrated her birthday by forming a 50-person-long conga line that made its way out of the ballroom and into the lobby. (courtesy Kellene Ratko)


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By Sarah S. Brannen and Drew Meekins, special to icenetwork.com
(10/06/2008) - It's time for another edition of The Inside Edge with our behind-the-scenes reporters Sarah S. Brannen and Drew Meekins.

Birthday Girl

The Saturday night before Keauna McLaughlin turned sixteen, she threw a "Super Sweet Sixteen" party at the Hilton in downtown Colorado Springs. Keauna, who arrived an extremely fashionably two hours late, wore a gold halter dress specially made for the occasion by designer Joey Santos. Joey designs competitive outfits for many skaters, but he also dabbles in couture.

Rumor had it that gold was a color reserved only for the birthday girl, so we decided to wear silver -- or, as we called it, platinum. Caitlin Yankowskas wore a bright green tube-top dress by Forever 21, although we told everyone it was Dolce and Gabbana. The guys mostly went for subdued white, black and blue, as you can see in the picture.

Along with hors d'oeuvres and "Mocktails" (since we're all good little figure skaters), there was a glorious birthday cake. Travis Nuss (Jon Nuss's brother) created the four-tier pink and gold masterpiece, decorated like birthday presents.

After cake and a video slideshow, we took to the dance floor. Things got a little competitive when the DJ played "Jump On It." Suddenly we found ourselves in the midst of a dance-off, girls versus boys. Like the two lines in a football game, we squared off in the middle of the dance floor, taking turns to see who could do the best booty-shake. The winner remains undetermined, as both sides are claiming victory (just like in the Presidential debates).

Later, to Quad City DJ's "C'mon 'n' Ride the Train," we formed a 50-person-long conga line and made our way out of the ballroom and across the lobby, where of course we made a spectacle of ourselves, considering that there wasn't any music playing out there. After our train had reached its destination back in the ballroom, we formed a human runway and had a walk-off to "I'm Too Sexy." John Coughlin was the best, naturally.

Five Peacocks

We see coach and former skater Chad Brennan a lot, but we had forgotten that he was in the movie Blades of Glory, doing Will Ferrell's skating for him. We wondered what it was like, watching himself skate in the movie?

"That part was really exciting," said Chad, "Because I could tell when it was me with Will's face on mine. I was very proud of the finished product."

Chad said the actors were on the ice for a substantial part of the filming. "Ethan Burgess and I would have to skate behind them and mimic the way they skated, so it could be fairly believable that they were skating and doing double Axels."

We were of course interested in hearing about the infamous costumes from the movie. "The peacock," said Chad, referring to Jon Heder's costume, "Was stolen from Johnny's [Weir] Swan. Bob Mackie made that costume and it cost, like, $5000 per peacock. They had five made, I think."

We can't confirm the cost, but given what costumes are going for these days, that sounds about right.

What about the costumes Chad had to wear?

"The leather pant ensemble was terrible because those buckles down my legs were stainless steel, and I fell and got a hematoma on my hip the size of a grapefruit. I said that I wouldn't wear the outfit again, and Will Ferrell told me that he had my back because he didn't want me being in pain. He demanded the outfit to be fixed on my behalf, which I thought was awesome."

So, on to the notorious lift that the actors did in the movie -- you know the one we mean. Did Chad actually lift Ethan, um, that way? Yes, he did.

"The crotch lift was done with a ball of duct tape that was sewn into Ethan's dance belt, and he was lifted in a rig harness. The new technology is very amazing."

We'll take your word for it.


Everyone was very disappointed when Carolina Kostner withdrew from the 2008 Nebelhorn Trophy at the last minute. However, she told Scott Smith, who did compete, that she was definitely planning to skate at the Karl Schaffer Memorial Cup in Vienna in two weeks.

So, we'll be eager to see what the current world silver medalist has got in store for us this season.

Champions, No Ice

We were fortunate enough to be invited to the 2008 Tour of Gymnastics Superstars this weekend. The event was very well-attended by the figure skating community. We watched Olympic Champions Nastia Lukin and Shawn Johnson do their thing to Disney pop star music, while the men's team did a variety of numbers, shirtless. The show was fantastic and very entertaining. After the event, about fifteen of us had the honor of being invited to meet the gymnasts, in a special meet-and-greet in which we were introduced as "the hope of US skating."

We congratulated them, and they wished us luck for "our turn" next year -- it was a very cool exchange to be a part of. It was weird being on that side of a meet-and-greet for many of us -- especially because Jessica [Rose Paetsch] and I (Drew) just won our first competition in that same arena less than a week ago! Before we left the building we all stopped and spoke with a couple of sports agents who work with both gymnastics and figure skating stars. We raved about the show and its success, and discussed how skating could learn a few things from it. Hopefully, we'll see that realized in the near future.

Next time, we'll be sending full behind-the-scenes stories from An Evening With Champions in Cambridge, Mass.

As always, we can't wait!
Sarah and Drew