The Inside Edge with Sarah and Drew - June 16

Sarah and Drew chat with Canada's Patrick Chan

Patrick Chan is enjoying the mountain air and new training environment in Colorado Springs.
Patrick Chan is enjoying the mountain air and new training environment in Colorado Springs. (Sarah S. Brannen)


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By Sarah S. Brannen and Drew Meekins, special to
(06/16/2010) - Truth be told, we've been blogging long-distance for the last few months and we hadn't actually seen each other since January in Spokane. That was much too long, so last week Sarah hopped on a plane and flew out to Colorado Springs for a visit. It was a long weekend filled with fun and diva behavior, but we managed to squeeze in a little blogging on the way.

First things first: Patrick Chan is back in Colorado, training hard. We sat down for lunch with the two-time world silver medalist and caught up. We asked him how he was enjoying Colorado.

"I love the mountains," he said. "I'm an outdoor person, so this is perfect. I live in the foothills. It's a half-hour drive from the rink, but it's totally worth it because I spend my weekends there, and it's really quiet. I just got a mountain bike and go golfing on Sundays and stuff. There's so much access to trails here; you can go hiking whenever you want. I like to stay active when I take time off."

Chan said he was going to go mountain-biking the next day with Colin Brubaker and Daniyel Cohen, although he was a little apprehensive about it.

"Pair guys are kind of reckless, so I'm nervous that we're going to die!" he said, laughing. "We'll never be heard from again!"

Chan told us a bit more about his decision to move west.

"I met Christy [Krall] in Florida at a seminar, and I thought she really helped a lot. I came here to see her, and while I was here my coach kind of resigned and didn't want to coach me any more. Christy took me under her wing, which was really nice because she doesn't want to coach any more full-time students, so she made a lot of sacrifices to teach me."

Unlike in Florida, where he was skating by himself and had to self-motivate, Chan finds the busy training atmosphere in Colorado stimulating.

"I'm glad to be with all kinds of skaters, even though sometimes it's tough because we're so packed and we get in each others' way. But it's good, because it keeps you on your toes. It's fast-paced, as opposed to spending a lot of time moseying around; you have to put your music in line, you have to do it!"

Chan had recently come back from a month in Asia.

"I do Yu-Na [Kim]'s show every year, in Korea," he said. "She's great. I admire her! She's always surrounded by people; it's kind of like a rock star status that she has. The fans there are very respectful though. Oh, it's unbelievable, the crowd is just like what "Stars on Ice" was twenty years ago, and it's sold out, like ten thousand people every show. Ninety percent of the crowd is women, and they go nuts."

After the shows in Korea, Chan took his first vacation in ten years.

"From Korea I went straight to Singapore and then to Thailand. I spent two and a half weeks there -- I wish it was longer! In Singapore we visited all the museums, ate the food -- the food's amazing. If you like to try different things, Singapore is the place to go. The weirdest thing I had was cockles, like raw scallops, oh, it tasted awful. That was the only thing I hated. The food's really spicy but you get used to it. I can't wait to go back.

"In Thailand I went rock-climbing, and the beaches are really nice, clear blue water. I went snorkeling, that was a lot of fun."

We had been wondering about the charm Chan was wearing around his neck.

"My necklace? It's a shamrock," he told us. "There's a girl in Toronto I used to skate with; she's like my little sister. She gave it to me before the Olympics."

We watched Chan working on quads on the next session; he told us he's going to have one in both the short and long programs next season. Jumps aside, we have always thought Chan has the best knees in all of skating. Breathtaking.

Music, please
We asked a few skaters if we could reveal their music for the upcoming season. Chan will be keeping his "Phantom of the Opera" long program. He asked us not to reveal his short program music, but you'll see the program, choreographed by Lori Nichol, for yourselves when he competes at the Liberty Summer Competition next month in Pennsylvania. We saw a run-through and it's a bit of a departure for him. "It suits my goofy personality," he told us.

Caitlin Yankowskas and John Coughlin will be skating to Schubert's "Ave Maria" for their long program, choreographed by Marina Zoueva. John told us the program will be a tribute to his late mother.

"My mom was a huge fan of that song," said Coughlin. "I was hesitant at first because I knew it would be emotionally challenging. I came away from the choreography feeling like we have an extremely honest and personal performance to give. We have been working with Kathy Johnson to explore this a little deeper. I am hopeful that the audience will see this is a step towards healing for me and enjoy the process with us."

2010 U.S. junior ladies champion Agnes Zawadzki is skating to "Gopher Mambo" for her short program, and some gypsy music, "Hungarian-ish," she said, for her long. Both of the programs are upbeat and lively, which she says is her favorite kind of music to skate to. Tom Dickson choreographed the short program and Lori Nichol did the long.

2009 U.S. junior men's bronze medalist Alex Johnson is using "Caravan" for his short program and several different tangos for the long; both programs were choreographed by Tom Dickson. By the way, he and Chan plan to compete at Liberty.

Skating Mall
Busy Ryan Jahnke runs back and forth through the arena constantly. We flagged him down to ask how his online marketplace,, was going. Since we last wrote about it, the web site is up and running; people sell things like used skates and costumes, and a substantial portion of the proceeds benefit local skating clubs and teams. Among other things, you can buy some of Jahnke's old costumes, which you may have seen on the ice when he was competing. We're quite tempted by his Brazilian outfit.

Photos on the rocks
We also sat down for a long chat with Zawadzki, and we'll share what we talked about in next week's blog.

We didn't spend all the time at the rink, of course. On Thursday we visited the World Figure Skating Museum and Hall of Fame; Sarah had never been there, and, surprisingly, neither had Drew. There were quite a few people inside, looking at various champion's costumes and medals, along with a wealth of historical material. On the lower level, we found a room full of all the trophies presented to winners at regional, sectional and national championships. Drew realized that he had won a couple of the trophies and it was fun to see his name engraved on the plate for the U.S. novice pair champions.

We paused for a moment of reverence in front of one of Michelle Kwan's lovely, tiny-waisted dresses.

In the next room we were intrigued by a beaded dress worn by Sonia Henie. It is a marvel, apparently covered with genuine silver sequins and crystals on every inch, even the parts that usually don't show. Now that is a dress!

That night we drove up to Denver to meet a friend for dinner. On the highway we were assaulted by one of the daily thunderstorms that blows up at this time of the year, and rewarded with a spectacular perfect double rainbow.

Our Denver friend loves all sports, not just figure skating, and the Boston Celtics were playing the L.A. Lakers, so of course we had to go to a sports bar and keep tabs on the game while we dished about all things skating.

On Friday, after skating, working out and teaching a few lessons, we headed to funky Manitoba Springs and got kicked out of an arcade for being older than 10. We're immature, but we're not that immature.

Saturday dawned cloudy and rainy, but that didn't stop us. We decided to go back to one of our favorite local beauty spots, the Garden of the Gods, and do another photo shoot. We brought our friend Alex Johnson along and the skaters took turns posing while Sarah worked the camera. (Check out a couple of the results in the photo gallery, and we've posted a few more on Twitter too). The rain obligingly held off, which was nice of it, considering there was a wedding going on in front of a heart-shaped rock formation.

We ended the evening on Drew's porch, with candles all over the table, party lights strung along the railing, no mosquitoes and plenty of enjoyable refreshments. It was a fabulous evening, and the perfect end to a fabulous visit.

Be sure to check out the first programs posted at Grassroots to Champions Young Artists' Showcase this Friday, June 18, by searching YouTube for "G2CYAS" to find the competition channel. You can vote in the comments sections. Audrey Weisiger contacted us a couple of weeks ago to let us know that the organizers have altered the format slightly to enable all the contestants to participate fully; they were given all four challenges at the start of the competition.

We'll be back soon with more news!

Sarah and Drew

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