The Inside Edge with Sarah and Drew - Nov. 30

Miss Massachusetts, the Shibutanis and more

Tomas Verner pays homage to the King of Pop with a single blue glove.
Tomas Verner pays homage to the King of Pop with a single blue glove. (Getty Images)


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By Sarah S. Brannen and Drew Meekins, special to
(11/30/2010) - Sarah and Drew catch you up on the latest behind-the-scenes skating news.

The Divine Miss M...assachusetts
With the holiday season piled on top of the Grand Prix, it's a busy time of year. Regrettably, we were unable to attend a couple of festive events in Boston right before Thanksgiving, which featured our very own ice-dancing Miss Massachusetts, Loren Galler-Rabinowitz. She organized and hosted "Blades and Balloons," a benefit for the Children's Miracle Network and Boston Children's Hospital at the Skating Club of Boston on November 20. She told us that the event had raised about $20,000.

"I came up with the idea; I was the organizer, I was the choreographer -- it was such a great learning experience about how much work it is to put on an event like that," she told us over the phone. In fact, she even skated in the show, with her student, Andrew Korda.

"We're now talking about some kind of partnership for 'Ice Chips.' The message of the Children's Miracle Network is the same as skating -- pursue your passion and stay committed to education."

The next night, Galler-Rabinowitz and Korda skated together again, at the opening of the outdoor Boston Common Frog Pond rink, now run by the Skating Club of Boston.

"It was so much fun," she said. "We skated to 'The Prayer' on Saturday night and K. D. Lang's version of 'Hallelujah' at the Frog Pond."

Galler-Rabinowitz competed for nearly ten years with partner David Mitchell; they won the bronze medal at the 2004 U.S. championships. Along with coaching and tutoring in Boston, and doing nearly nightly benefit appearances as part of her Miss Massachusetts duties, Galler-Rabinowitz is currently preparing for the Miss America pageant in January.

"It's so funny because it really feels like I'm slipping into an old routine -- it's exactly the same timing as nationals," she said. "So I've been getting ready to go, training, and it feels so similar. The costumes are the same as ice dancing too!"

Unfortunately, Galler-Rabinowitz and fellow former skater Melaina Shipwash, Miss Colorado won't be able to skate for the talent portion of the pageant. Galler-Rabinowitz will be playing the piano instead.

"I'm really excited to play -- I'm playing a piece that was the very first skating program I ever had, Saint-Saens 'The Swan.' My mom choreographed it for me and I had a beautiful white dress and now at the end of my career I'll have another white dress."

Face the music and smile
We love Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani's programs this season, particularly the fresh and lovely free dance to "Smile" and "Let's Face the Music and Dance." We gave them a call to hear about their first season on the senior Grand Prix, in which they won bronze medals at the NHK Trophy and Skate America.

"We've been told we're the first team to medal in both Grand Prixes their first year senior," Alex told us.

"We're excited to be the first alternates for the Final," added Maia. "It was a cool experience to skate in two Grand Prix events. We were honored to have the opportunity and we really enjoyed skating with Meryl [Davis] and Charlie [White]."

"Traveling with Meryl and Charlie added some familiarity to an unfamiliar situation," Alex went on. "Everyone took things more seriously [than on the Junior Grand Prix], but we had fun. We were so well received the last time we went to Japan, and obviously Skate America is just like nationals, so we knew we would be getting lots of support. We feel really blessed and happy that we medaled at our first two Grand Prixes."

Maia and Alex told us that they didn't have time to do any sightseeing in Japan this time.

"I saw the back of some very interesting bus seats," Alex laughed. "On the last night we went out with some pair skaters and sang some karaoke. Ross [Miner] and John Coughlin definitely got into it!"

Maia shed some light on why she may have had singing on the brain. "I roomed with Ashley Wagner," she said, "And we watched all of Season 1 of Glee. We did belt out some Journey."

We brought up the unfortunate moment when Alex's blade got caught in the hem of Maia's skirt, during the short dance at NHK. What did he think as he fell?

"An expletive," joked Alex. "When your face is two inches from the ice one second after you were upright, it's pretty shocking. Luckily we were able to recover fast enough to get back on our music."

"It was like, 'Oh no!'" said Maia. "We've trained in that skirt multiple times, it was just kind of like, 'Oh man.' We're lucky that the skirt piece didn't fall off!"

We told the siblings how much we love their free dance this season. Will they be making any adjustments to either program for U.S. championships?

"We're so happy with the success we've had so far, and it surpasses anything we could have planned, but we're going to make small adjustments to both programs to add some speed and power," said Alex. "In the short dance, we'll be taking a look at the Golden Waltz section to try and make some improvements there. Other than that, just some good old-fashioned Marina Zoueva-style training!"

"Marina [Zoueva] did such a great job with our free dance and we're so grateful," said Maia. "We picked the music, and we really connected with it this year. We never get sick of it -- we can train it at 6 a.m. and still be happy! I guess it's kind of corny, but we've been telling ourselves all season to smile and face the music and dance."

Invisible Accessories, Part 2
The last three Grand Prix events featured a number of contenders for the Best Invisible Accessory award. For Skate America, our vote goes to Rachael Flatt for an imaginary costume change. She appears to take off a layer in the middle of her short program, and we asked her what she has on underneath.

"The story behind me 'taking off my sweater' is that my mom forced me to wear one to a party despite how hot it is (the music is 'Summertime' and based in the South)," Rachael told us. "Once I finally take it off to show off my dress, I have a lot more fun at the party and dance my way through the last section of my program, which is mainly the footwork."

At the Rostelecom Cup, it looked like Javier Fernandez might win for his potent cup of pirate grog. But when Juliet Berton stabbed herself with Romeo Hotarek's dagger and died across his lifeless body, she definitely took the prize.

Anton Kovalevski made a bid for the Trophée Bompard prize, acting out an entire gangster movie and dying in the end. But we'll give this one to Mirai Nagasu, for wickedly making a potion out of a flower in her "Witches of Eastwick" program.

The overall winner for the 2010 Grand Prix season: Shawn Sawyer's Mad Hatter invisible headgear. Stunning.

The Gloved Ones
Michael Jackson died in June, 2009, after most skaters already had their programs for the season. People are making up for it now, though, and there are a lot of MJ programs on display nationally and internationally. Florent Amodio, Tomas Verner, Sean Rabbitt and many more are bringing out the gloves! Amodio goes for two, of the fingerless variety. Rabbitt sports one sequined glove, going with the classic look. Verner also rocks the one-glove look, although his is, oddly, blue. Kristoffer Berntsson wears no glove, but gets extra points for his invisible gun. Konstantin Menshov wears two gloves and decidedly visible rope handcuffs.

Costume Malfunctions
The Grand Prix season had its share of costume malfunctions. In addition to the Shibutani's NHK mishap, Massimo Scali must have set some kind of record by tripping over his partner's skirt in both the short dance and free dance. It's a shame, because we like both their programs and Federica Faiella's free dance costume is beautiful. We already praised Kristine Musademba's sang-froid when her dress came unfastened; we recently got more details from her.

"The dress that I wore for the short program was a Brad Griffies design that I originally used as a practice dress," she told us. "I realized that it had come unfastened right after I turned to skate backwards before my double axel take off. I felt the flaps of the dress hit the sides of my shoulders and experienced a moment of shock! The next thing I know, I'm in the middle of a double Axel, and then wiping the ice. I guess that although my body was moving, my mind was still focused on the dress. Luckily it managed to stay up for the rest of the program. It's a great example of how anything can happen during a performance to throw you off. If it ever happens again, I'm going to land that double Axel!"

Best of luck to everyone at the Grand Prix Final!

Sarah and Drew
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