The Inside Edge with Sarah and Drew - Nov. 19

Roommate life in Colorado Springs

John Coughlin and Drew Meekins.
John Coughlin and Drew Meekins. (courtesy of Drew Meekins)


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By Sarah S. Brannen and Drew Meekins, special to
(11/19/2009) - Sarah S. Brannen and Drew Meekins cover all the bases in the latest version of The Inside Edge.

With the competitive season well underway, we decided, what better way to give fans an "inside" look at figure skating, then to do a blog documenting the craziness that is the lives of skaters.

So, this installment of "The Inside Edge" will be all about the lives of our very own Drew Meekins and his beloved roommate John Coughlin, senior pair skater with Caitlin Yankowskas.

So Drew, take it away from here!

I think it's best if I give some background information on my friendship with John and life together first -- so it can be understood by all. John and I have been best friends for years. Well, officially, ever since we bought interlocking key chains that combine to spell "BFF" while strolling through Slovenia during '06 junior worlds.

From there, our relationship progressed long distance, with the occasional east coast rendezvous, and our personal favorite -- the yearly nationals reunion. Several years later, when we both ended up training in the mountains of Colorado Springs, we knew it was our destiny to someday be roomies. That day finally came last July when I moved into John's condo, along with his girlfriend Stephanie and their good friend Brandy, and thus became part of our very own, real life, "Will & Grace"... Character assignments to be determined at a later date.

Living with John has been a fantastic experience. Because we train together and share a lot of the same daily experiences, its great to have someone around all the time who is going through the same thing. We share the ups-and-downs of training and encourage and motivate each other to be better and stronger. Since John has Skate Canada coming up this week, and I have Midwestern Sectionals the same week, we have been in full training mode for some time now.

After a hard day, John always knows how to comfort me. The other day, he announced after practice, "I have the day off, so when you get home, expect yellow cake, with chocolate frosting." I immediately perked up, and asked if there would be candles, to which he replied, "Of course there will be. Who has cake without candles?" Only a true friend, like John, would know that this is the way to my heart, and that cake always needs candles! And, not only does he bake as well as an Easy Bake Oven, he always knows how to handle me.

For example, when I'm stressed and I need to relax, he knows to give me my space and just let me get in the tub and watch "Glee."

I think I offer a lot to John too, and more then just as a training mate. For example, I've taught him the importance of accent walls in the living room. And, after many sessions of the kitchen utensil identification game, John has made significant positive strides and can now correctly identify the garlic press... Although, I might still have some work to do, as this accomplishment was sort of later negated, when I came home from work and caught him drinking water straight from the faucet.

If we've both had a really hard day, like, when our coach, Dalilah Sappenfield, is handing out second run-throughs like candy on Halloween, we agree on what the only thing to do to ease our pain is: Late night donut therapy. After just short ride in the Saturn or the Volkswagen up north to the now infamous "Country Donuts" (which appears to be Colorado Springs' generic for "Dunkin' Donuts") we discuss our feelings, hopes, and dreams, over a dozen glazed, chocolate frosted, and blueberry... Oh, and an apple fritter or two. We gab about how run-throughs went this week, and our thoughts about long programs (don't like them) and even step away from skating for a few minutes to play relationship (or lack there of) counselor.

One night, after eating my feelings, I told John how I've been really stressed out about my new workout regimen with Larry, Dalilah's son, and our second in command. At a recent workout, I had my first encounter with a sledge hammer. After throwing it over my head and smashing it against an old tire nearly, oh, 3,000,000 times in two minutes, I had some serious life evaluating to do. What does one do with this hammer anyway?! And why do I hate this tire so much?! I confessed to John, "the only thing I've ever hit that hard before, is the sale rack, at Barney's." He assured me all was well, and that this exercise would be fabulous for my stamina, and so I relaxed and went back to the box of donuts.

Another great thing about living with a training partner, is that life at the condo is never dull. The other night I woke up close to 5:00 a.m. and heard multiple voices coming from the bathroom. When John walked out with a strange man -- one might think I would be concerned -- or at least intrigued. But, at that hour, on a Tuesday, I knew the answer without even asking: doping control.

"It's always a sign of an epic day when you start it naked from 'chest to knees' in front of a complete stranger at 5:00 a.m.," John said over coffee a few hours later.

A few weekends ago, John, who works at The Olympic Training Center, invited the U.S. Speed Skating team over to hang out, including Speed Skating phenomenon and Olympic hopeful, JR Celski. We discussed a variety of topics, from skating technique, to training stories, to who's had the best (or worst) injuries, which JR won, since all he had to do was roll up his pants and show us the six inch gash in his thigh for proof!

Things did get a little heated when the figures and speeds took sides over one of life's most common debates: the use of black with brown. After much discussion, in an effort to avoid what was shaping up as West Side Story on ice, John deferred to me for an official clarification. After pausing for a few seconds to think (and to be dramatic, of course) I ruled, "It's very tricky to make it work, however, if done well, the end result can be brilliant." All rejoiced.

So as you can see, when you combine a couple of over-worked figure skaters, a three bedroom condo and a few accent walls, the outcome can be fabulous! We work hard, but we have a great time, and with the help of each other, we keep ourselves sane. We hope you enjoyed this "inside" look into our lives as much as we enjoy living it!

Invisible accessory parade continues
Our favorite invisible accessory from Cup of China: the bird Ben takes out of his pocket and gives Tanith at the start of their Moldavian original dance.

From NHK: Kristoffer Berntsson's short program sword. He draws it from its scabbard, tosses it over his head and catches it, fights with it, takes a nasty wound to the gut and carries on, and finally lays the sword down in homage. Nice.

And, Skate America: Yu-Na Kim's diva-secret-agent gun, from her flawless James Bond short program!

We all know about the Olympic countdown, but the other night after a homemade pasta dinner at Ryan Bradley's house, we noticed he has a little clock of his own, counting down the days, hours, minutes and seconds until Vancouver. Maybe it was this constant reminder and motivation that helped him skate so wonderfully at Skate America.

Wish us luck this week!

Drew, John, oh -- and Sarah too!
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