Day Seven with Sarah and Drew in Cleveland

Best dressed of the week; Zakrajsek, coach of the week

Mark Mitchell looked sporty all week in stylish, well-tailored couture.
Mark Mitchell looked sporty all week in stylish, well-tailored couture. (Sarah S. Brannen)


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By Sarah S. Brannen and Drew Meekins, special to
(01/25/2009) -'s roving backstage reporters, Sarah S. Brannen and Drew Meekins wrap up the week from the 2009 AT&T U.S. Figure Skating Championships.


Big scene in the hotel last night, natch. Stepping off the elevator, the noise of skaters, coaches and parents hit you like a tsunami. The biggest goose-bump moment of the week so far happened around 1:00 a.m., as Alissa Czisny walked into the hotel after the ladies press conference. You could hear the cheers proceeding her like a wave, and the whole crowd in the bar and the lobby swelled into a congratulatory roar. Everyone turned toward her, admiring the newly-crowned champion as she made her royal progress to the elevators.

Oddly enough, there was a bird flying around in the lobby as well, which we would have taken as symbolic of something if we weren't so busy talking about everyone's outfits. Some skaters and coaches have been lobbying us to be included on our best-dressed list, to which we say: earn it and you'll make it.

Zen men

Backstage before the final group of men today, Jeremy Abbott and Brandon Mroz walked through their programs side-by-side with closed eyes and Zen-like intensity. And it paid off, as they went 1-2 in the free skate and overall. In fact, Tom Zakrajsek coaches three of the four men's medalists, along with the novice men's champion and senior ladies' silver medalist, which makes him our pick for coach of the year, duh.

The 2009 best-dressed list

And now, the piece you've all been waiting for. We toyed with the idea of including a worst-dressed list this year, but in the end, we felt we couldn't print it. There are clear winners, but if you want to know, you'll have to ask us.

Best-dressed on-ice, ladies: We loved Czisny's free skate dress, but the rhinestones on the back kept snagging the delicate purple petals of the skirt, and unfortunately this gave it a -3 GOE. The judges split on this category, one preferring the bold statement of Kristine Musademba's gold-trimmed aqua free skate costume, which she designed herself. The other judge preferred Katrina Hacker's elegant short program dress, with its shades of blue and snow crystals.

Best-dressed on-ice, gentlemen: Jonathan Cassar's short program costume gets an honorable mention, being both interesting and very fashion-forward. We loved the red inner sleeves that came down over his hands and the stand-up cowl collar lined with red. In the end though, we have to give this one to Charlie White's-tie and tails. There's just something about men in formal wear.

Best dressed off-ice, ladies: Last year's winner, Angela Nikodinov, makes the list again with her perfect and subtle look and stunning hair. Kathy Johnson also gets a nod for her stunning and sexy knee-high leather boots, and her use of Missoni. However, we're awarding the prize to Kristi Yamaguchi, who rocked one fabulous ensemble after another all week and looked stupendous last night in super-fierce boots, skinny pants and a tight sweater. We informed her of her award backstage, and she was thrilled and gave us a runway pose.

Best-dressed off-ice, gentlemen: Nicholas LaRoche gets an honorable mention for the perfectly-cut suit he wore on Friday night, but once again, Mark Mitchell is going to walk away with this one. Ever chic and sleek, he could have walked right out of the pages of GQ Magazine.

It has been an amazing week, and we've loved the opportunity to give you a glimpse behind the scenes. Look for a wrap-up in a few days, with more good stuff, and also keep your eyes open for our first-ever video blog.

We hate goodbyes. See you soon!
Sarah and Drew