The Inside Edge with Sarah and Drew - Jan. 28

Nagasu lights up short program, Boys Who Score arrive

Mirai Nagasu answers questions in the Mixed Zone after winning the senior ladies short.
Mirai Nagasu answers questions in the Mixed Zone after winning the senior ladies short. (Sarah S. Brannen)


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By Lynn Rutherford, special to
(01/28/2011) - The competition is under way for real now: the ladies competition has begun, and the Boys Who Score have arrived. You probably remember the three devoted Michelle Kwan fans who score each program using the international judging system with just a pen and paper and hold their scores up before the official scores are announced. And they're really good at it too!

Mixed zone
"Sorry I'm late!" said Mirai Nagasu to the waiting horde of media immediately after her brilliant short program.

Asked about her clean short program, she said, "I've been competing like a chicken all year...I'm glad I could come here and compete my best."

Someone asked whether she had grown since the Olympics.

"I grew sideways and upwards," said Nagasu, with disarming honesty. "When I was off the ice [with a stress fracture] don't know how hard it is to keep off the weight!"

If you don't follow Nagasu on Twitter @mirai_nagasu, you probably should. Asked why she used Twitter, she said, "I use it for you guys to quote me!"

We flagged down Felicia Zhang as she passed the Nagasu throng and asked her to update us on the injury that forced her and Taylor Toth to withdraw from the pairs competition. She said she had hurt her back during a spin at Skate America, and the injury has been a problem ever since. The ribs on both sides are painful, and it makes it hard for Zhang to do layback spins in her singles programs as well. She's in 20th place after the free skate.

Bits and Pieces
We watched some of the junior pair competition with Ryan Bradley, Caitlin Yankowskas and John Coughlin. Bradley was wearing a knit hat, but apparently not because he was cold.

"I put gel in my hair," he said, "And I just can't get a handle on it."

He pulled off the hat to show us his hair sticking out in every direction. We're not sure what the problem was with the hair product, but we expect to see it behaving fabulously during his short program tonight.

Yankowskas and Coughlin were still re-living Thursday's inspired short program and looking ahead to Saturday.

"The crowd was so loud in our last spin I was afraid Caitlin couldn't hear me," said Coughlin. "So I started screaming as loud as I could."

About the program, he said, "It was very satisfying. I've been looking forward to our long [a tribute to his late mother] so much that I was a little afraid we might forget about the short."

Leaving the arena, we saw Jason Wong, Marissa Castelli and Castelli's coach Bobby Martin. Marissa has dyed her hair several shades darker and we asked about it.

"Jason did it!" She said. "We were bored one night. I didn't really mean for it to be as dark as it is."

We sat near Agnes Zawadzki's mom last night during the ladies short program. Peggy Fleming rushed in from the concourse to congratulate her after Agnes skated, with a big hug. She looked glamorous as always.

Savary times two
We saw Emmanuel Savary (who came in fifth in junior men) and his big brother Joel sitting in the stands during the championship pairs short program and chatted with them for a few moments.

"I'm the assistant coach," said Joel. "His coaches are Mr. Luddington and Jeff DiGregorio."

We asked Emmanuel about the decision to move up to the junior level after finishing second in novice last year. He just turned thirteen two weeks ago, which is quite young for juniors.

"I just really love to challenge myself," he said. "I wanted to take my skating to the next level and really worked hard to do my best this year and throw out great performances."

What is he looking forward to for the rest of the week?

"Oh, everything!" he said, giggling. "All the senior events, cheering for all the skaters; I'm really excited to watch."

Does he have a favorite among the senior men?

"Everyone is so good this year!" Emmanuel may only be thirteen, but he's already a diplomat.

"He just really loves watching the quality of the events," added Joel, "Especially the senior men, and the senior ladies are really strong -- it's fun for the family to be here and watch and cheer for everyone."

We had to ask about Emmanuel's day-glo yellow and orange short program costume for his Jackson 5 medley.

"I really wanted to portray the 60s and 70s, like the Michael Jackson times!" he said. "I really want to pick music that suits me and that I can smile to, and get the audience into my program."

We attended the press screening of RISE this morning, but we don't want to give too much away. Watch for Frank Carroll's insightful and humorous comments about his coach Maribel Vinson Owen. The funniest moment in the movie was probably an old cigarette commercial, and the most poignant, for us, was a shot of a man's skate in the wreckage of the plane crash.

Spotted at the lively après-skate scene in the hotel last night were Tara Lipinski, Brian Boitano, Ben Agosto, Todd Eldredge, Jenni Meno, Todd Sand, Steven Cousins, Peter Johansson, and Mark Mitchell, who was clearly making a bid to repeat as best-dressed coach this year, wearing a black and burgundy Dolce and Gabbana shirt.

"I feel like I should be wearing a shirt and tie but that's not my thing," he said.

Agosto and Tanith Belbin addressed the novice dance teams earlier this week and got rave reviews from coaches.

"I was excited when they asked us to speak to the novice team," he said. "I remember being there myself. Tanith and I have come to take our roles as role models seriously. It was very important to be honest with them. I wanted to talk about times when things didn't go well for us, too."

Champ count
Olympic champions spotted so far: six.

Peggy Fleming, Brian Boitano, Scott Hamilton, Tara Lipinski, Carol Heiss Jenkins, and Hayes Alan Jenkins

Enjoy the dance and men tonight!

Sarah and Drew
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