The Inside Edge with Sarah and Drew

Dish from Goyang City

Eliot Halverson may have a future as a film or television director.
Eliot Halverson may have a future as a film or television director. (Sarah S. Brannen)


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By Sarah S. Brannen & Drew Meekins, special to
(12/13/2008) - It's time for the Grand Prix final installment of "The Inside Edge" with Sarah S. Brannen and Drew Meekins.

Korean dish
Ok, we didn't actually pop over to Korea for the Grand Prix Final. We wanted to. But we've been in touch with the American team, and they're sending "unofficial" reports. Some members of Team USA went shopping right away, on Tuesday before the team dinner, and headed for 'Itaewon,' in search of designer knock-offs! Instead, they found a great souvenir shop and stocked up on Christmas presents for friends and family. The booty included Korean beaded bracelets, T-shirts with Korean pick-up lines on them, traditional painted fans, and a 'cute elephant.'

Here's what Marissa Castelli has to say so far:

"I would just like to say that the fans in Korea are insane. All the senior skaters got mobbed as they got off their planes. The fans were waiting at the airport! Luckily we're not that popular yet. All the skaters walked into the hotel with flowers and a bunch of gifts. After our team dinner on Tuesday we found Jeremy [Abbott] checking in and he had a few gifts and flowers himself.

"The Koreans are very nice and helpful. They attempt to speak English or translate some words for us to speak to them. Simon [Shnapir] learned a few words, but I only learned 'Thank you.' Alex Johnson told me to say, 'Come see me die' really fast, then change 'die' to 'da.' Apparently it works because I got some head nods and smiles afterwards. I believe the actual word is Kamsahamnida."

It was 9:30 p.m. our time, but 7:30 a.m. the next morning for Marissa, so she had to go catch a bus to practice. She's promised to keep sending news though, so stay tuned!

Eliot on video
We've been enjoying a series of videos by 'Skategreat2010';. As we've learned, Skategreat2010 is in fact Eliot Halverson, who has gone video-crazy since the spring. He clearly has a second career option as a comedian, if he ever wanted to pursue it. We, how to put this, laughed our faces off.

"I have so much fun making videos," says Eliot, "But more importantly I love making people laugh. I'm very proud of them and my coach loves them!"

Eliot films them all with his Mac built-in camera. "It's super-easy and SO MUCH fun! I plan on making many more, soon."

We like Eliot's skating too, by the way. We asked if he had any surprises up his sleeve for Nationals. "New surprises? Hmm... a triple Axel, perhaps."

Last year Eliot made his national senior debut in front of a home crowd in St. Paul, which he says was both fun and stressful, and mostly scary. He trained in St. Paul until last spring, when he moved to Ann Arbor, Mich. to work with Doug Haw.

One last question: What does he want for Christmas?

"I want my dog to come and live with me in Michigan! I miss him so much."

Now he is six
When Johnny Weir won the silver medal at Skate America in October, we noticed that he had won a medal in every one of the six Grand Prix events. We finally got around to looking up the statistics, and it turns out he's the first man ever to pull this off in the "modern" era of the Grand Prix (Skate America, Skate Canada, Cup of China, Trophee Bompard/Trophee Lalique, Cup of Russia, NHK). Evgeny Plushenko won medals in every event but Cup of China, where he never competed. (He won medals at the comparable event that used to take place in Germany). Shizuka Arakawa also medaled in all six Grand Prix events, as did a few pairs and dance teams. In any case, congrats!

By the way, no singles skater has ever won gold medals at all six current Grand Prix events. Something to strive for, everyone.

Adult skater Trish Adams, who skates with us on a daily basis, just got back from a mountaineering trip to Pokhara, Nepal. "We were staying at the Lake Side Palace," she told us, "A little hotel way up in the mountains, with no hot water, and the electricity kept going on and off."

She was about to start the six-day trek to the base camp of the 21,400-foot Fluted Peak, Sigue Chuli. "I was lying on a rock-hard bed and turned on the TV -- hoping the electricity would not go out -- and there on the screen was Johnny Weir, about to skate his free program at the 2008 U.S. Championships."

She watched Johnny burst into tears at the end of his program and got tears in her eyes too. "When he finished I was transported! It was very inspiring." And kind of an odd thing to be watching in the Himalayas. We can't imagine what station they were picking up.

Trish got back from Nepal on Saturday and was on the ice practicing silver dances on Monday. So she's pretty inspiring too.

In the US, but on Korea time,
Sarah and Drew