The Inside Edge with Sarah and Drew - March 17

Olympians relive their experiences in Vancouver

Team USA's female ice dancers (from left) Emily Samuelson, Meryl Davis and Tanith Belbin hang out during downtime in Vancouver.
Team USA's female ice dancers (from left) Emily Samuelson, Meryl Davis and Tanith Belbin hang out during downtime in Vancouver. (courtesy of Emily Samuelson)


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By Sarah S. Brannen and Drew Meekins, special to
(03/17/2010) - We are still catching up with the members of the U.S. Olympic team. It's exciting to hear all their stories and relive some of the memories from Vancouver.

When Amanda Evora and Jeremy Barrett got back from Vancouver, they had an unwelcome surprise: their hot water heater had sprung a leak and flooded their apartment. They have since moved into a new place with a nice view of the Manatee River.

As you probably saw on TV, Amanda and her partner Mark Ladwig had a wonderful time at the Olympics.

"It's not like any other competition," Amanda told us last weekend. "Usually after you're done competing all you want to see is your family, but we had to get up at three in the morning to go on the Today Show. Instead of celebrating with my family, Jeremy and I decided to have a quiet dinner with each other. Literally the next morning we were doing media from 4:30 a.m. to 12:30 [p.m]."

Like Jeremy, Amanda told us she is really excited to get her Olympic ring.

"Pretty much all of us upgraded it to white gold with diamonds," she said. "I've always had a rule that I would never give myself jewelry, but I decided to upgrade it."

Amanda enjoyed meeting lots of other athletes on the U.S. team.

"A lot of figure skaters became friends with the speed skaters," she said. "I spent a lot of time with the women's hockey team. I also became good friends with some of the aerial skiers, like Matt DePeters and Ashley Caldwell. I had watched them practice on the trampoline at Skate America in November."

Amanda said that marching into the arena in the opening ceremony was a major highlight.

"Every ten feet they would start chanting 'U.S.A' and it gave me chills every single time. Knowing that this is it, this is what you've been waiting for for so long. The pair skaters had early practice the next day so they told us we could leave early if we wanted to, but after we marched in, Mark and I looked at each other and we were like, 'No way are we going to go!' That's what the Olympics is all about, everyone working together, everyone taking part."

Amanda and Mark have been working hard since they got home, preparing for their first world championships.

"I find it funny that our first world-caliber event was the Olympics! I'm so proud of everybody. I feel that the Olympics has given me a new way of looking at things -- now I'd like to make figure skating another powerhouse for the U.S."

Emily Samuelson
We also caught up with Emily Samuelson last week. She had a blast at the Games, too.

"Vancouver was incredible!" she said. "The city was amazing, and the Olympics itself was just unbelievable!"

Emily roomed with Rachael Flatt, and we asked whether they had met other U.S. athletes.

"Not as many as I would have liked!" she said. "Every time I was in the dining hall I looked for the U.S.A. jackets and clothing to find someone new I could sit with and meet! I know Evan [Bates]] had lunch with Shawn White at the beginning of the trip. I sat down with Chad Hedrick once or twice and also with some of the members of the U.S.A Hockey Team. Every single one of the athletes was extremely kind and humble."

On to the team swag -- we asked Emily the same thing we've been asking everyone. What's her favorite piece?

"I love the white down vests from Ralph Lauren and also the pair of the Nike shoes that the girls received (they're small, mostly red, thin, light, and comfortable to wear)."

We wondered which lady's costume Emily liked the best.

"I may be a little biased in my opinion (and because I could see it up close) but I definitely love Rachael's long program dress. The bead-work on it is exquisite!"

Everyone we've talked to has mentioned going to the Canada-U.S. gold-medal hockey game.

"Evan and I, Rachael, Charlie [White], Tanith [Belbin], Ben Agosto and Jeremy Barret all lucked out with tickets to the game," said Emily. "It was absolutely incredible! While we all would have liked an American win, just to be in the stands with so much energy running through the audience was so much fun."

Was it hard to come back to earth and have to get back to training for worlds?

"To be honest, it was extremely hard, initially, for me to come back to skating and start training again immediately. It's just such a high at the Olympics, and then you have to come back to everyday life -- doing laundry, cleaning your room, paying bills. But now that worlds is less than a week away, I'm definitely excited again!"

The Detroit Skating Club hosted a benefit exhibition for CARE House of Oakland County on March 6. The show starred Jeremy Abbott, Alissa Czisny, Madison Hubbell and Keiffer Hubbell, Jonathan Cassar and more. Olympic silver medalists Meryl Davis and Charlie White did not skate, but they put in an appearance and signed autographs for one and all.

Jeremy told us the charity supports abused and neglected children. "I was more than happy to help them out," he said. "It was a fun show! I skated my short -- I was trying to prove to myself that I can do it again."

Meryl and Charlie brought their medals to show people and Jonathan told us it was "amazing" to see one of the medals in person.

"I held it in my hands!" he said. "It was cold and heavy."

But was it inspiring?

"Absolutely. It's so remarkable to think that I grew up with Meryl and Charlie and here they are, Olympic silver medalists."

Jonathan said he has been skating with Meryl and Charlie for eleven or twelve years.

"I was in awe," he said, about watching them on TV. "It's amazing to be able to watch your friends succeed at the highest level, and deliver amazing performances. I just wish I could've been there watching live, cheering them on!"

Buck on Skates
Club show season is underway; those of you in the northeast might want to check out a few interesting events at the end of the month.

On March 27 the Monadnock Figure Skating Club in Gardner, Mass., will present its 30th annual show which will honor club alumnus Nicholas Laroche. They plan to present a portrait of Nicholas to the arena in honor of his mother, who died tragically two years ago. We'll have photos and more news after the event. For tickets or information, contact, 978-939-2031.

Also on March 27, in New York City, check out the "One Step Closer" HIV/AIDS benefit starring Elaine Zayak, Oksana Baiul, Parker Pennington, Angela Maxwell, Melissa Bulanhagui and many more.

On March 28, the Hartford (CT) Public Schools and Melissa Gregory and Denis Petukhov will present "Proud Nation" at Trinity College. Caryn Kadavy and Joseph Sabovcik will also be skating, and Michael Buckley of "What the Buck" will emcee.

Melissa and Denis have been working with 63 junior high school students twice a week since September, and the students will be skating in the show. As well as skating lessons, the kids incorporated school work into their time on the ice.

"One time their academic homework was mathematics, and they had to try to estimate the length and width of the ice surface," Melissa and Denis wrote to us. "One of the groups decided to measure the length and width by their teammates' body length! He said 'I am 5'5" so let's see how many of me the width is and then we will calculate.' So he lay down on the ice and his teammates dragged him by his heels across the ice while others marked and counted body lengths. We thought that was pretty funny and brilliant."

Melissa and Denis have some big goals for their work with the kids.

"As Olympians, we are dedicated to promoting the Olympic Movement through this program by fusing education, culture, personal development, and learning to reduce racial, ethnic and economic isolation through our sport."

In addition to these lofty ideals, we wanted to know if the highly entertaining and fast-talking Michael Buckley would be taking to the ice?

"I will be on skates," Michael told us. "I have never skated in front of anybody before like this! Hopefully, I will have some nerve and throw in a jump or two. I foresee a spread eagle... I guess it depends on what I am wearing!"

Is there anyone he's particularly looking forward to seeing skate?

"I am so excited to see Caryn Kadavy! I have always loved her and used to do her 'All Coming Back To Me Now' program in my basement -- minus the jumps, the skates and the elegance."

For more information on the show, visit the event's Facebook page.

Sarah and Drew
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