Inside Edge with Sarah and Drew - Jan. 17

Get caught up on the latest from Spokane

Dance class in Spokane (from left):Kelly Smith, Tom Dickson, Drew Meekins, Kari Herman-Tafoya, Kathryn McSwain, Kenny Svensson.
Dance class in Spokane (from left):Kelly Smith, Tom Dickson, Drew Meekins, Kari Herman-Tafoya, Kathryn McSwain, Kenny Svensson. (Sarah S. Brannen)


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By Sarah S. Brannen and Drew Meekins, special to
(01/17/2010) - Huge congratulations to Caydee Denney and Jeremy Barrett, and Amanda Evora and Mark Ladwig, our pairs Olympic team representatives. Last night, around midnight, the pairs free skate was shown again on TV in the official hotel lobby. Jeremy was watching with his family and friends, and Brian Boitano; we walked in just as they showed the moment when their scores were announced, and everyone cheered. It was lovely.

And equally huge congratulations to the men's Olympic team, just announced as we write this. We'll have more about that event tomorrow!

Patti on Ice
Yesterday, Johnny Weir rented some extra practice ice, and his mom Patti decided to go skating with him. Patti once said that if she could be anyone else for 24 hours she would be her son, "Because I want to know what it feels like to do what he does," she said. However, as far as we recall, Patti had only ever skated once before in her life. She said that she did swizzles yesterday.

Jeremy Abbott's dad and his sister Gwen, a former X-Games competitor though not a skater, was also inspired to take the ice yesterday, although without her brother. Gwen went skating on an outdoor rink in Spokane and said it was fun.

We so love Adam Rippon's gorgeous triple Lutz with both arms over his head. We know that lots of people have done double jumps with both arms over their head, but if someone else does the triple Lutz that way, we have never seen it. Something so fabulous needs a name, and "triple Lutz with both arms over his head" doesn't quite work for us. We've been calling it the AdamLutz, and we know some people have been calling it the Rippon Lutz. What do you think sounds best? Maybe we should ask Boitano.

We know we keep talking about Jonathan Cassar's breathtaking Schindler's List program, and we really hope you watched it this morning. Jonathan skated first in the event, which he also did last year. He said that he liked going first today; he felt good about it, and he was looking forward to watching the rest of the event. His program moved us to tears.

"I want to take the audience on a journey," he said. "I want them to forget about going to an arena, buying a ticket, to forget where they are. I felt like they were really with me today, because it was so quiet. I really wanted to think about the performance, to think about the art."

Jonathan's score kept him in first place all the way through the first half of the competition. He called at intermission and said he was excited to still be in first place, after skating first!

Dance class
There's a popular contemporary dance class for skaters in Colorado that Drew has been addicted to lately. The teachers, Kenny Svensson and Kari Herman-Tafoya, are here in Spokane for the championships. They have a special class for skaters, which is often attended by Ryan Bradley, Brandon Mroz, Marissa Secundy, Abbott, and Jane Summersett and Todd Gilles and before they moved away. Tom Dickson goes about once a week. "I like to go and see what my skaters are doing," he said, "But then I forget about them and just dance."

Kari and Kenny held a class, by request, on Saturday evening. Tom and Drew were there, as well as Max Aaron, fresh off winning the junior men's short program, and Jason Brown, who was second. Because they had to compete the next day, they didn't do any jumps, but everyone else did some high and amazing leaps and split jumps.

Kenny loves teaching the skaters. "I love that they are so free; they are not afraid!" he said. "They just throw themselves out there. It's actually my favorite class to teach."

Kari and Kenny are at the championships this week to support the skaters they have been working with and also to observe their students in a competition setting. While watching the senior men's short program on Friday, the first competition they had ever seen, Kari said "I can't handle this! I don't know how you guys can deal with the pressure. I've been here for five minutes, and I think I've aged five years. I'm already so nervous I could die!"

Double Birthday
We've really missed having the ladies and dance teams here this weekend but they're finally starting to arrive. We sat next to twins Alexe Gilles and Piper Gilles for the men's final today and they told us that yesterday had been their 18th birthday. How did they celebrate the big day?

"We flew here!" said Piper. "It wasn't very exciting but at least we got to see each other."

Piper flew through Denver on her way to Spokane and the sisters met up there. In true twin fashion, they burst into the song "Reunited, and it feels so good," in perfect unison.

Our favorite thing about Spokane is how nice the people are! (We are quickly learning to speak Spokanish). Our next favorite thing is the beautiful Riverfront Park next to the Spokane River. Parts of the river are placid and duck-covered, and parts go through a gorge, with lots of waterfalls and rapids. There are paths and bridges all around so you can appreciate all the beauty, and the occasional unexpected totem pole. That almost never happens in Boston. Sarah has been going for a walk by the river each morning; this morning she saw a gorgeous double rainbow and two ravens. It must have been a sign of... something!

Congratulations to all, and on we go...

Sarah and Drew