The Inside Edge with Sarah and Drew - Dec. 16

Cookies, new seagull and invisible accessories

Lauren Simpson and Alex Johnson baked some amazing Christmas cookies.
Lauren Simpson and Alex Johnson baked some amazing Christmas cookies. (courtesy of Alex Johnson)


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By Sarah S. Brannen and Drew Meekins, special to
(12/16/2009) - Sarah S. Brannen and Drew Meekins cover all the bases in the latest version of The Inside Edge.

Ice Cream, skating
Alex Johnson rebounded from a disappointing regional competition to win Midwestern Sectionals last month. He was the only man in all three sections to break the 200 point barrier. We have talked to Alex several times in the past month, so we're going to share his thoughts on skating, water-skiing, baking and ice cream. When we caught him on the phone the other night he had just made some toffee.

"Toffee with chocolate on it," he clarified, "But I think I put too much corn syrup in it and it came out a little bit gooey."

Alex and Drew not only share a love of baking, they share a love of baking very late at night.

"Baking after midnight is one of the best things to do. Then, you just eat it and go to bed," said Alex.

We'll get back to the sugar discussion, but first we asked Alex about his skating. What did he do to produce such good results at sectionals?

"Before regionals I was kind of overwhelmed by my whole program," he said. "Before sectionals, we didn't work on my jumps as much -- it was more working on the mental piece, as well as conditioning and running my programs."

Alex didn't put a triple Axel in his programs at Mids but he promised that it will be in both programs for Spokane, where he'll be competing as a senior.

"Also," he added, "I'm working on speed and making everything bigger and better, more like a senior man and not a junior -- it's a big transition. You have to have that 'wow' factor to be a senior. It's more aimed at the audience -- you can be very closed as a junior but for a senior you have to not only convince the judges but the audience as well."

Alex trains at the Braemar Arena in Edina, Minn., with Joan Orvis, as well as the Bloomington Ice Garden, where he skates with Kate Charbonneau and Kiri Baga. His goal for Spokane is to finish in the top ten, but, he said, "I'm just thinking about skating clean with my triple Axel in both programs, since it will be the second time I try it."

We asked him about his thoughts on the Grand Prix Final.

"It was interesting to see that Evan won," he said. "I kind of expected it -- he's been really using the momentum from the world title into this season. His mind is so strong when he competes -- even if he makes one mistake the rest of his program is so strong."

We broke the news that Evan will be in Alex's practice group in Spokane.

"That's going to be so cool," he said. "I'm just going to be watching him and my coach will have to tell me to practice. It's amazing that I used to watch these people on TV and now I'm going to be there, like I've finally made it. It's so strange. This whole nationals is going to be such an amazing learning experience for me. It's cool to be a championship man in an Olympic year. Skating in front of so many people is going to be really awesome."

In the summer, when Alex isn't skating, he loves spending time outdoors on Lake Minnetonka, tubing and water-skiing as well as riding a dirt bike on trails.

"I learned how to ski when I was really young and I got up my first time," he said. "We have jet-skis as well and I love going out on those."

We pondered the similarities between skating and water-skiing and debated the possibilities of trailing behind a snowmobile on skates. But ice led us onto ice cream, to which Alex is, well, addicted.

"We always had ice cream at my house," he said. "My sister gets sick of it but I don't understand it. I have it, like, every night. I still eat it in the winter even if I'm cold. It's so addicting!"

We asked him about his favorite flavors and discovered that he does more than just buy the stuff and eat it.

"I like cookies and cream," he said, "But I'd rather have real Oreos and vanilla ice cream and make my own. I like the different textures. My friend and I make cookie dough batter and then put it into vanilla ice cream. I wish I had an ice cream machine so I could make my own flavors. Pumpkin ice cream is really good too."

We tweeted that we were talking to Alex about ice cream and 2002 Olympic champion Sarah Hughes replied, wanting to know where his favorite ice cream place was. "Ben & Jerry's," answered Alex. "One summer, a bunch of my skating friends and I actually got a "Vermonster," which is like an insane amount of ice cream and toppings." He looked up the details for us later. "14,000 calories, RIDICULOUS," he wrote in an email. "It was right after we had our on-ice summer workout so we deserved it." And that reminded him that another favorite flavor is "Chubby Hubby."

Unlike basically every other skater we know, Alex is not, however, addicted to coffee.

"I'm not a fan of coffee," he admitted. "I mean, I'll have it every once in a while and I like it when I have it, but I'm not obsessed at all. My aunt will give me Starbucks gift-cards and they will sit in my wallet for like two years until I spend them, and then when I do, it'll be for a bottle of water." After he's done skating, Alex told us he might want to study architecture. Not become a baker. We'll see! Our conversation with him inspired him to bake Christmas cookies with his friend Lauren Simpson, and he sent us pictures, as you can see above.

New Seagull
We talked to Johnny Weir over the weekend -- well, actually, Drew was graced with his presence in Manhattan -- and he said he's getting a new costume for his long program. His inspiration? A seagull caught in an oil spill. However, the new outfit will have touches of his old one, like the ribs, for example. By the way, Johnny is doing fab, and is looking forward to Spokane.

Missing in Action
And speaking of Spokane, we were sorry to hear that Kristine Musademba and Chloe Katz and Joseph Lynch won't be able to compete next month, due to injuries. All the best to them and swift healing!

Best Invisible Accessory
In honor of the Grand Prix Final, we put all our favorite invisible accessories up against each other in an invisible playoff. Nobunari Oda's hat, Charlie White's flute, Ben Agosto's bird, Daisuke Takahashi's coin and Yuna Kim's gun all put up a good fight, but Kristoffer Berntsson's sword won it all. He used it all the way through his program, even continuing to fight when he took a wound to the abdomen.

Kristoffer's prize is an invisible trophy, of course.

That's all for now!

Sarah and Drew
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