The Inside Edge with Sarah and Drew - Oct. 5

Becky Bereswill will team up with Trevor Young this season and compete in pairs.
Becky Bereswill will team up with Trevor Young this season and compete in pairs. (Jacque Tiegs)


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By Sarah S. Brannen and Drew Meekins, special to
(10/05/2010) - Sarah and Drew get you caught up with the latest from around the world of figure skating.

Lucky fans in L.A.
We weren't able to attend "All That Skate LA" in Los Angeles last weekend, but we sent a representative: Drew's mom Nancy, who was in town with Drew's younger brother, the up-and-coming rap star Cam Meekins.

Nancy reported that the arena was full, but the crowd was a bit subdued. In the audience, she spotted supermodel Cheryl Tiegs, Amy Smart (Felicity), Kelly Osborne, Brad Goreski (The Rachael Zoe Project), Ilia Kulik with his daughter, Jeremy Abbott and Denis Ten.

Michelle Kwan, Stéphane Lambiel, Tanith Belbin, Ben Agosto, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir attended a backstage meet-and-greet after the show. Nancy talked to Kwan for a while, which makes us madly envious. She said Kwan was wearing a cute, black floral-print dress (check our Twitter feed for a pic), and she posed for a lot of pictures and was very good to her fans.

As mentioned above, Abbott also attended the show. He made a very quick trip to Los Angeles for a costume fitting with Jef Billings, and asked the organizers for a ticket. (He was invited to skate in the show but didn't feel he could take the extra time off for rehearsals; he had already committed to "Skate for the Heart" next weekend).

"When I got there, they gave me two tickets, and I just needed one for me," Abbott told us. He tweeted that he had an extra ticket if anyone wanted it and went out to dinner with friends.

"We were walking to the Staples Center and this girl was kind of staring me down in the street, and she was like, 'Jeremy Abbott?' And she started screaming and freaking out. And she said, 'Do you still have an extra ticket? One of my friends doesn't have a ticket.' I said 'Of course,' and they all freaked out again. My friends weren't sure if they should get out the pepper spray! But it was fine, and the girl who didn't have a ticket was so cute, this little shy girl. So I gave her my ticket and backstage pass."

Abbott enjoyed the show tremendously, although he noted that the opening number was the same as the version of the show he skated in Korea. "Sitting in the audience I was like, 'I could have just brought my skates and jumped on the ice and been fine!'"

Of course he was full of praise for Queen Yu-Na.

"She's fabulous. And she can sell a ton a ton of tickets to the Staples Center which no one has been able to do in a long time."

Unfortunately, Abbott told us he is having serious boot problems for the first time in his career. He hasn't yet found the right pair, and with only two weeks until he leaves for Japan, he says he hasn't been able to train properly for a month. So we wish him the very best of luck and a pair of perfect boots.

The Nebelhorn Trophy opens the season each year with a nice dose of scenery and livestock. Armin Mahbanoozadeh competed there for the first time last month and gave us a report when he got back.

"I heard from Priscilla [Hill] that it's always rainy, but actually, the weather was gorgeous," he told us. "We went up the mountains in a gondola the second day. I saw a lot of cows and a lot of sheep...In a lot of European countries the sheep outnumber the people!"

Mahbanoozadeh finished fourth overall and gave us his take on the programs.

"The short program didn't go so well. I felt kind of off that day, and I was a little frustrated when the short was over. I'd been training well, but it didn't come across at all in the short. I was nervous for the long but I was moving a lot quicker, and it just worked."

When we talked, he was still waiting to hear whether he would have to compete at South Atlantic Regionals and looking forward to the Grand Prix season.

"I'm really looking forward to Skate America, the hometown crowd and home country atmosphere," he said. "Priscilla is taking three of the twelve guys who are going, and I think we'll all be in the same warm-up [group], so she'll be busy!"

Meanwhile, he is keeping up his piano playing.

"For my birthday I got a keyboard that I can keep in my place in Delaware so I'm trying to practice every day -- I'm working on both of Mao Asada's pieces, Chopin's first Ballade and Liebestraum," he said, laughing. "I try to get an hour in every day. I'm thinking of recording an exhibition piece."

Mahbanoozadeh explained that last year, when Asada announced her programs, he realized he was working on the same pieces of music.

"Mao is one of the skaters I most admire today," he said. "I decided to put them on Youtube as a little tribute to her. This year she announced that she was skating to pieces I was working on. We have the same taste in music, I guess -- I think it's pretty cool! Maybe she could see it some day. That would be fun."

Check out the videos of Mahbanoozadeh playing, if you haven't already seen them. He plays almost as well as he skates.

Holding hands
2008 Junior Grand Prix final champion Becky Bereswill, who finished 13th at the U.S. figure skating championships in January, has teamed up with Trevor Young and become a pair skater. We caught up with her on the phone yesterday and asked her about her decision to switch disciplines.

"I've always loved pair skating -- it's one of my favorite sports to watch, and I always wanted to do it, but I had never really had the opportunity," she told us. "At the end of last season I had the opportunity to try out with Trevor. I had been training singles with Marina and Igor, doing choreography, so I was really familiar with the rink and the people there. It was the first time I've ever tried pair skating, and I loved it from the first day."

Bereswill spent a couple of months considering the move, which included picking a college, and moved to the Canton area in April.

"I'm a freshman at the University of Michigan," she said. "School has always been a huge priority and it was important that there was a strong university here as well. A lot of the other skaters go there, and that's been really fun also. Emily [Samuelson], Evan [Bates], Alex [Shibutani], Charlie [White] and Meryl [Davis] and I all run into each other on campus. I just happened randomly to be in a biology course with Evan. And I went to my next class -- it was this huge sociology class -- and I turned to my right and in the exact same row was Alex! It's a great support group."

Bereswill gave us a quick update on Bates, who underwent surgery for a severed Achilles tendon on Thursday. "He's actually doing a lot better -- he has to just be really immobile and housebound. It's really disappointing, but if anyone can get through this, Evan can."

Once in Michigan, one of the first challenges was to pass all the pair tests. Bereswill and Young had to put together programs from pre-juvenile all the way to senior, each needing a different program.

"The hardest thing for me is just the skating part of it, knowing that you have to be very mindful of this person skating next to you," said Bereswill. "Singles skating helps give you a strong foundation, and confidence for pair skating."

She says that she loves sharing the ice with a partner.

"We've competed once so far, and I found that just being with Trevor I was just a lot more relaxed and it was more fun than competing by yourself. He gives me the confidence to skate really strong and just enjoy the moment. Having a partner there and getting to hold someone else's hand makes you feel stronger. It's extra support and that really helps."

Good luck to all,
Sarah and Drew

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