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The Inside Edge with Sarah and Drew - Oct. 20

Aspens, skating and spectacular views

Pikes Peak.
Pikes Peak. (Sarah S. Brannen)

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By Sarah S. Brannen and Drew Meekins, special to icenetwork.com
(10/20/2009) - Sarah S. Brannen and Drew Meekins cover all the bases in the latest version of The Inside Edge, with updates on life in Colorado Springs.

The Springs
As many of you know, we don't actually live in the same part of the country any more. Sarah recently made a journey out to the Midwest for a weekend rendezvous in the always exciting and ever-glamorous Colorado Springs. In honor of the momentous event, we've decided to provide a play-by-play blog of everything that went down.

Sarah flew into the Springs on a cool fall Friday evening, and the first order of business was some cooking. We had been inspired to learn to make sweet potato gnocchi after seeing it listed on a menu. We made the drive up to Whole Foods, which has a view of the very picturesque and beautiful Pikes Peak (Pikes Peak is to mountains as Kate Moss is to modeling, minus all the eating disorders).

Whole Foods had four different kinds of sweet potatoes and we were confused. After throwing a few on the floor, we took three home with us.

Eventually we managed to mix up a recipe and start rolling and cutting the gnocchi, which turned out pretty and quite good. We offered some to Drew's roomie John Coughlin, but he declined, citing a "bad experience with sweet potatoes" as a child.

John went out for dinner on his own. Important safety tip: do not mess with John. We dare say no more.

Saturday came bright and early when Whitney Houston belted "How Will I Know" out of Drew's iPhone at 7:00 a.m. After a quick cup of coffee, we headed to the rink. It was one of those clear Colorado Springs days where the mountains looked so close you felt like you could count the leaves on the yellow aspens. We'll get back to the aspens in a moment.

Drew had to teach four -- yes, four -- basic skills classes before his training. To give the kids a break between skills, Drew likes to ask the kids silly questions. One of his favorites is to make them guess his age. The kids, who are usually around five to seven years old themselves, have no idea and so they guess "Sixteen? Forty-eight? Thirty?" And then it's back to teaching them waltz jumps, swizzles and snowplow stops, along with tying their skates for them. Meanwhile, Sarah went into the other rink at the Ice Hall to watch the singles skaters and saw Rachael Flatt, Brandon Mroz and Alexe Gilles practicing.

In an over-the-top attempt at motivation, coach Tom Zakrajsek had had life-sized cut-outs made of Brian Joubert, Joannie Rochette, Yu-na Kim and Patrick Chan in very fierce poses! He taped them up on the glass around the rink, so that they glared in over the skaters as they practiced. We thought it was awesome, and we'd kind of like one for the living room.

After pair practice, we drove downtown for Sarah's book-signing at Poor Richard's Bookstore. She brought prizes for the first attendees (Banned Books buttons) and chocolates for everyone, as she signed copies of her first book, Uncle Bobby's Wedding.

Dani Cohen, Ambar Kaiser, Kellene Ratko and Larry Ibarra stopped by, and all of us went to dinner at Nosh afterward. Larry was decked out in a stunning motley outfit that got even more exciting when he took off his jacket, revealing his completely tattooed arms. He tried to explain the meaning of each tattoo to Sarah but suffice it to say they are impressive. The only thing more impressive than his tattoos are his biceps! Larry is amazing and we love him.

The night finished up, hours later, with dancing -- Western line dancing, that is. Since line dancing is not something we often practice in Boston, we watched from the sidelines, along with Drew's dance teacher, Kenny Svensson. Kenny is from Sweden, but speaks English flawlessly, and he is a fabulous and wonderful contemporary dancer. Several skaters from the Broadmoor club take his class religiously, to help with movement and expression, including Ryan Bradley and many, many others.

We tried our best to get him to throw down a "Single Ladies," but he insisted it would start a riot and he was probably right.

Sunday was a diva day from the start when we met for brunch in Manitou Springs. After we were fueled and stocked up with several cups of coffee, we decided to venture off in search of the aspens in their native environment. We aimed for Woodland Park, a small town high in the Front Range of the Rockies, known as "The city above the clouds," and stopped for directions at the library. Not knowing exactly what to ask, we said, "Um, where are all the aspens?"

The librarian laughed for a second, but then directed us to one of the most beautiful places we have ever seen in our lives. Although we got a little lost and pondered what death by mountain lion or being eaten by a bear would feel like, the 10,000-foot high views of golden meadows and Pikes Peak would have been worth it. It seemed quite necessary to do a photo shoot, so Drew did his best Heath and Jake, while Sarah got down with her inner Ang Lee.

As always, we took ourselves too seriously and had too much fun doing it.

We were aiming for a mythical non-existent place called Eagle Lake, but after driving about a hundred miles on a terrifying dirt road hugging the mountainside, and ending up actually inside a cloud, we decided we'd had enough of the heights and headed downhill for home. In low gear.

Back to the rink on Monday morning; Sarah actually beat Drew there, after a miscommunication of which session he was on, so she watched the singles session again. Choreographer Lori Nichol (dressed in all black, of course) was swanning around and working with Rachael Flatt on her short program, which looks very strong and exciting. Lori was doing a fabulous job of bringing out the best in Rachael.

We had a quick chat with Alexe, which you might have seen in our previous blog. We also ran into Ryan Jahnke, who we always enjoyed watching in his competitive days. Ryan is busy with a new project -- a site that will serve as a central place for skaters to buy and sell used and new skating-related items.

"It will support the entire skating community; 5% of every sale will go to skating clubs." Ryan hopes the site will be active by March. A team of beta-testers, all affiliated with skating in some way, are currently fine-tuning it.

After skating, we made a quick trip across a butte-studded landscape to Castle Rock. At the Philip S. Miller Library there, Sarah met with Douglas County head librarian Jamie Larue for a video interview about her book. It will be online soon, and there will be a link on Sarah's Web site.

It was a busy day and we were too tired for more experimentation in the kitchen. We dropped by a favorite restaurant and made it an early night. The next morning started with two early sessions and, sadly, a trip to the airport. Sarah had a great view of the Rockies on her flight away from Colorado, but it was poignant to see them receding into the distance.

The start of the Grand Prix has been a good distraction for the past few days. We already have an early contender for "best accessory" -- Nobu Oda's invisible hat.

We can't wait for more skating!

Until next time
Sarah and Drew
sarahanddrewblog@gmail.com
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