The Inside Edge with Sarah and Drew - Jan. 21

Lady Gaga, Halverson and Drew does morning TV

Johnny Weir hangs out backstage at Radio City Music Hall with Lady Gaga.
Johnny Weir hangs out backstage at Radio City Music Hall with Lady Gaga. (courtesy of Johnny Weir)


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By Sarah S. Brannen and Drew Meekins, special to
(01/21/2010) - Sarah and Drew give the latest dish from behind the boards in Spokane.

How does Johnny Weir celebrate an Olympic team spot? No, he's not going to Disney World, he's going to Gaga. Last night, after presenting his movie at a theater in the East Village, Johnny was in the fifth row at Radio City Music Hall in New York City taking in everything that Lady Gaga is. He wore Givenchy and sat with mother Gaga, who apparently is quite the fan of Johnny and figure skating in general. After the show Johnny went backstage to meet up with the diva, and of course to get a photo with Ms. Paparazzi herself.

There was a lot of surprise and sorrow when Eliot Halverson failed to qualify for the Championships at Midwestern sectionals. We've missed seeing his elegant skating and delightful self. So we called him to catch up. He was in the hockey box at his rink, playing music for a session, and he had just watched the senior compulsory dance event on What did he think?

"I'm very, very surprised, mostly just by third and fourth place," he said. "I think Emily [Samuelson] and Evan [Bates] should have been third. I'm glad Meryl [Davis] and Charlie [White] are in first. Tanith [Belbin] and Ben [Agosto] have improved their compulsories this year, and it shows."

Eliot has been struggling with a back injury all year, which he told us was caused by his doing Beillmann spins while he was still growing. He said he was never able to get his back in a place where he could train the way he wanted.

"Before sectionals I was only able to do one full run-through of my long. I did a good short and the long wasn't that bad but it wasn't that good either. It was pretty heartbreaking."

He hasn't skated since sectionals, but he has been watching all the events at the championships since they started.

"I've been watching everything," he said. "Like everybody else I'm grieving for Keauna [McLaughlin] and Rockne [Brubaker]. I can't imagine how they feel. I hope they can pick themselves up after this! Caydee [Denney] and Jeremy [Barrett] were amazing."

What about the championship men's event, which Eliot has competed in for the past two years?

"The men were really good," he said wistfully. "It was hard watching that event. Jeremy [Abbott] deserved everything; that performance was incredible. It was hard to see a lot of the kids I've been competing against since I was twelve years old, but it was motivating to see them skate so well. If I can get myself healthy I can hopefully slide back into the group of competitors that I feel I belong in. It lit the fire inside me."

Eliot has been doing a lot of choreography for kids at his rink this winter, and says he has been emboldened to try choreographing for himself. "I think I might choreograph one or both of my programs this year," he added.

Still the quad king
We always like to talk over the men's event at major championships with Tim Goebel, since he's a technical specialist and a really smart guy to boot. We talked to him this morning from New York, where he has just started his last semester at Columbia. He'll be graduating in May and looking for a job in consulting and investment banking. So, did he watch the men or the pairs last weekend?

"I saw only the men's free skate," he said. "I read a lot of interesting things about the pairs! I thought Jeremy was great and I thought Ryan [Bradley] was great and it was a really exciting event to watch. We have more depth that we've had for quite some time. I think Adam [Rippon] and Armin [Mahbanoozadeh] are going to be really successful in the future; they just need a little time to develop."

Tim spent some time in Colorado recently working with Ryan and Brandon Mroz, helping them prepare to compete with quads in both programs.

"It's a bit of a different mental push than in a typical program. It's a totally different mindset. A clean progam with two triple Axels, you should be able to do maybe three times a week. But a clean program with a quad you might do ... once a week. So it's about knowing you can do it even if you're not doing it every day in practice."

As it happened, Ryan Bradley was able to do a quad in his short program and two in his long, of course.

"I was so happy for Ryan because he's really really come into this season focused and with a new passion in his skating. He's gotten stronger and stronger all season. I was thrilled for him. I don't think people appreciate how hard it is to do."

Tim has also been following the results from the European Championships, and he really feels that the quad is going to be necessary to medal in Vancouver. "I think some of our guys might have to reassess and perhaps rearrange their programs going into the Olympics," he said.

He expressed some doubt that quadless short programs would be enough for a high placement in Vancouver, but then opined that a lot of the guys there will probably play it safe.

"That being said, I think if Jeremy puts out two program like he did at nationals he has an excellent chance of landing on the podium. I think Evan will need a quad."

Moving on from the analysis of his own event, he pondered the ladies.

"The ladies is going to be really interesting and not necessarily in a good way," he said. "I was just out in Colorado Springs a few weeks ago, and barring a complete meltdown I think Rachael [Flatt] is going to deliver two of best programs in the competition. She is fantastic. I'd like to see Ashley [Wagner] and Emily [Hughes] have two really good programs. I think they're all going to step up and really shine or they're all going to be a mess."

And what about Sasha Cohen??

"If Sasha makes the team then great," said Tim, "But I won't believe she's competing until I see a PCS score for her short."

We can't wait to see the ladies! We'll be back with more tomorrow. And watch for Drew very early tomorrow morning (6:00 a.m. PT) on KHQ TV.

Sarah and Drew