The Inside Edge with Sarah and Drew

Skate for Life, more music news and the Haydenettes

Members of the Haydenettes do an improvisation exercise.
Members of the Haydenettes do an improvisation exercise. (Sarah S. Brannen )


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(06/19/2009) - Sarah S. Brannen and Drew Meekins cover all the bases in the latest version of The Inside Edge, from more 2009-10 music selections to Parker Pennington's Skate for Life benefit and the Haydenettes.

More music news

We have a few new music selections to announce: Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir will be skating to Jesse Cook's "Prelude" for their short program, and their long will be to "Freedom" by Michael W. Smith and selections from the movie Elizabeth.

Eliot Halverson's new short program will be to Egyptian and Turkish folk music. "I could give you specific names but it'd be kinda pointless," said Eliot. His long program is to Libertango and Il Postino. He says he doesn't know what his costumes will look like, apart from being sure the short program will involve a vest of some kind.

Scott Smith is going to keep both his programs from last season, "Victory" from Lord of the Dance for the short and James Bond Casino Royale for the long. Scott's season was derailed by injury and he barely got to use the programs, so it made sense to give them another go.

We may have even more music news in our next blog!

Skate for Life

Parker Pennington's "Skate for Life" benefit is scheduled for June 27 at the Hoover Arena in Strongsville, Ohio. All of the proceeds will benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association. The evening features a pre-show meet and greet with the show's stars, a live auction and an after-show reception. Ticket information is available at the Web site.

The cast includes Alissa Czisny, Melissa Gregory and Denis Petukhov, Madison Chock and Greg Zuerlein, Angela Maxwell, Taylor Firth, Madison Hubbell and Keiffer Hubbell, Amanda Evora and Mark Ladwig, Jennifer Robinson, Tonia Kwiatkowski, So You Think You Can Dance contestants Sara von Gillern and Gev Manoukian, and of course Parker himself.

"I am going to skate to Celine Dion 'A New Day Has Come,'" Parker emailed us, "And my friend, Jenny Alu, will be singing it live." will be filming the event to show on-demand on the Web site. In addition, a DVD will be made available to raise additional money for the MDA.

"I produced this show in Connecticut last year and we raised over $21,000 for the MDA in our first year," said Parker. "It was the first ever skating benefit show for Muscular Dystrophy. I truly believe it is going to be an amazing experience for everyone who has been a part of this and hopefully through this show we will help raise awareness and support for Muscular Dystrophy."

Parker added that if you can skate or dance, it's not too late to join the cast!

"You can either fund raise for the Muscular Dystrophy Association or sell tickets to the show, and you will get the opportunity to skate or dance in the finale with the stars, go to the meet and greet with guest performers and get a pass to the aftershow reception."

For more information about volunteering, contact Andrea Pennington at or 440-781-4926.


You may have noticed that this blog has never talked about synchronized skating. That's because, to be brutally honest, we don't know anything about it. Luckily, we live right around the corner from the marvelous, multi-time national champion Haydenettes, so on a recent Sunday morning we dropped by to watch a practice session.

Anne Schelter, a world-renowned edge training and choreography specialist from Canada, was taking the team through edge and interpretation drills with coach Saga Krantz's assistance. She ordered the lights turned off so the girls were skating back and forth in twilit dimness. It was lovely and very, well, interpretive, but challenging for photography. Luckily, she turned the lights on again for the last ten minutes so we could grab a few shots.

Assistant coach Dede Wilson told us that it's necessary for the girls always to wear matching practice outfits, so the coach can see their line and unison without distraction. Because they were working with a special guest that day they wore their official competition practice dresses, in the team color, red.

The team holds auditions for new members immediately following the world championships. The trial period goes on for a long time, with serious candidates training with the team until the end of June. At that point they select the 20-person roster and take a break for the month of July.

We were ignorant enough not to know that synchro teams compete with 16 members; the remaining four sit on the sidelines in costume, in case of a last-minute injury. The alternates often skate in the short or long program though, so all four don't have to sit out an entire competition.

At this time of the year, the team is busy with "skills and drills, to set everyone on the same path with style and technique," Dede told us. They won't start choreography until August. This is the stage when we're blending them and making them into a team. We're working on edge quality, power, speed -- getting them all to have the same technique."

As far as off-ice bonding goes, Dede said the girls have their own traditions that the coaches don't know too much about. That sounded intriguing, so we asked some of the team members after practice.

There's no "I" in Haydenettes

"It's interesting that we all get along, because there's a big age range, from 15 to 26," said Jenna Longo. "But we have no problems! We do a lot of activities. We try to do some fun things, like t-shirt making, so we can get to know each other a little bit better. We try to do one thing a month."

Jenna is in her fourth season with the Haydenettes, as is Erica Hoffman. Erica was watching practice from the sidelines, on crutches following knee surgery. Although she has been doing synchro since she was ten, Erica is an experienced ice dancer as well. She and partner Alexander Boeglin competed as juniors at sectionals and then moved up to senior, but Alexander decided to go to school in September of 2006 and since then Erica has devoted herself entirely to synchro.

All of the team members have dance experience. "At this level, the vast majority of the Haydenettes have their gold dances or even internationals," said Dede.

"We also do 'spirit' practices once a month, with themes," Kim Angelakis told us. "Everyone has a lot of fun with them. Everybody wears crazy outfits and hair, that kind of thing. Like we'll have an animal practice, tie-dye, USA with red, white and blue glitter, sparkles..."

"To make sure our morale is high," added Hannah Lapchuk. "We usually do it before we leave for competitions, when it's high-stress and we're all practicing a lot."

Once at a competition, the team dresses alike all the time, on and off the ice. The girls told a story about a Haydenette who got confused at the world championships and called the wrong room to ask what the team was wearing to breakfast; she got the Miami University dress code instead of the Haydenettes outfit instructions.

The girls all agreed that getting to know each other is a big part of being on the team.

"It's also about being around each other as much as we can," said Jenna. "Like even if we have a break in between the ice, we all try to sit with each other. Talking to your teammates really helps you understand how you should act towards people."

"We learn if people need a compliment or a correction," added Kim. "Some people do better when you tell them straight out, like 'you need to change this,' or you have to go a different way, like, 'oh, I'm not sure if we're doing the same thing.' When you spend a lot of time together it's easier to get along and not have any problems."

"It's kind of like we're family," said Erika, and all the girls laughed in agreement. "We're like one big family with nineteen sisters!"

In fact, Hannah's younger sister has just joined the team this year.

Jenna chimed in, "It's noticeable when I go back to school. People at home just don't really understand. I connect so much better with people who have goals."

The older girls are really inspirational," said Hannah. "I look up to them, and want to be like them. We're really open with each other."

All four girls nodded in synch. Of course.

Until next time,
Sarah and Drew
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