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The Inside Edge with Sarah and Drew - Feb. 15

Reactions from the U.S. Champs best-dressed list

Of all the injuries and illnesses in Greensboro, Joshua Farris' ordeal appeared to be the worst.
Of all the injuries and illnesses in Greensboro, Joshua Farris' ordeal appeared to be the worst. (Sarah S. Brannen)

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By Sarah S. Brannen and Drew Meekins, special to icenetwork.com
(02/15/2011) - Every year, after our best-dressed list comes out, we hear from people happy to have been included (and mad to have been left off)! We got a hilarious email from perennial best-dressed coach Karen Kwan, who is, as of course you know, Michelle Kwan's sister.

"Thank you so much for the nod of approval," she wrote. "My skaters were all so excited about this prestigious honor, as was I. I would like to thank Yves Saint Laurent, Hermes, Vera Wang and Forever 21! And last but not least, I'd like to thank Michelle's California closet. Now that she's at school, I have full rein, like an intern in the Vogue closet. And for your consideration for next year's Nationals, I would like for you both to keep an eye out for my coach friend, Jerome Michael, who incidentally wore a pink bow tie in hopes to garner some attention and recognition from you guys."

We will be on the watch. A pink bow tie is a bold statement, and bold is good!

The sick and hurt list
We have to give a shout-out to all the people who competed at the 2011 AT&T U.S. Figure Skating championships with serious injuries and illnesses. We talked to a few of them over the weekend and got the scoop on what happened to them.

Flu
First off, there was some kind of flu bug going around in Greensboro, and the skaters who had it wore facemasks to try and prevent it spreading. We saw Sean Rabbitt and Ashley Wagner in the unflattering accessory, and Ivan Dimitrov had to withdraw from the pair competition. He and partner Alexa Scimeca skated the warmup, but after a couple of minutes he realized it wouldn't work. They left the ice and he put the mask right back on again.

Wagner came down with the bug right after she arrived at the championships. We asked her what it was, exactly.

"It was just some random strain of a flu virus," she emailed. "I heard about it when I got there, and Priscilla [Hill] took away my hugging privileges, but I still somehow got sick. I started feeling sick Tuesday night, and by Wednesday, I woke up and had full-blown flu symptoms, so I rushed down to medical. I was achy and had chills and then I'd get really hot, my joints were really sore, my head felt like it was going to explode. The list goes on!"

Despite feeling terrible, Wagner didn't want to miss any practices and went to every one. Off the ice, she dutifully wore the mask everywhere she went. What was that like?

"Not fun!" she said. "First of all, it gets really hot and moist under those masks, and secondly, it acts like a neon sign for everyone to see and avoid you like the plague."

We asked Wagner how she felt during her short and long programs.

"The short program was rough for me because I usually felt my worst in the morning and at night, and I skated pretty late. By the time I got on the ice I was really starting to feel the fatigue and the aches. I fought through it, and I don't want to blame the flu for how I skated, but if I had been 100% I definitely think I would have skated better. I felt a lot better in the long because I'd had two more days to rest up, but towards the end of my program I started to get really tired."

Wagner says she's feeling great now, a couple of weeks too late for the competition. She told us she'll be starting college classes in the fall, and she's waiting to hear from Villanova, where she wants to study business.

Flu plus
Grant Hochstein got hit with a double whammy: an injury and the flu. Right after Christmas, he developed a stress injury in his pelvis.

"I was doing my program, and I started to feel this weird pain in the beginning of a run-through," he said. "I got to my first spin, and it was getting progressively worse, and I couldn't use my leg to push."

He says it's not a stress fracture, but it's a problem with how the hipbone and pelvis are aligned.

"It's common among Australian football players, so I don't really know how I got it! The problem was we were getting down to crunch time, and I wouldn't know when it would hurt. It got better, and then I would have a day when it would hurt, and I couldn't do anything. It wasn't so fun!"

In Greensboro, Hochstein felt better and put up a respectable short program. Then, early on the morning of the free skate, he woke up early, shaking uncontrollably from a fever. He skated his long program with a 102-degree temperature.

"I'm proud of myself that I still went out, because I felt awful," he said. "In the warm-up, I'd do one thing and go back to the wall; I was just happy to make it through.

"It took me a week to not feel awful when I got back home -- it was a big bout of the flu. It seems like nationals wasn't meant to be for me this year. You live and you learn and take away a lot of things from it. I'm working on a new technique on Axels, trying to incorporate a skid. I can do a skid double now so I'm excited about that, and I'm doing some quad toes. You saw this year that it just takes a good performance, and that's where I'm looking to be next year."

Sprains and breaks
Alexander Johnson severely injured his right ankle just before Christmas with what he thought was a sprain. He was off the ice for over two weeks and was only able to train for two weeks before U.S. Championships. In Greensboro, the ankle was taped in a complex criss-cross of black tape in an attempt to control the swelling. After the championships, Johnson discovered that the injury was worse than originally thought.

"I had an MRI and found out that I have bone contusions in my ankle and micro fractures," he told us. "I'm off the ice for sure until March 1, and then I can ease my way back, but only if it is pain-free. Interesting to hear what it actually was though."

Sprain, tear, break and allergy
The worst injury/illness combination of all belonged to Joshua Farris. The 2009 novice champion and 2010 junior silver medalist arrived in Greensboro healthy and expecting to do well.

"The second day of practice, I was doing quads, and I landed one and I was really happy," he told us. "I did one more, and I fell extremely hard on my left hip."

The fall resulted in a torn abductor muscle, and Farris could hardly even walk the next day. Despite the pain, he competed the short program on Friday, falling on a triple Axel and ending in 13th place.

On the day between the short and long programs, Farris went out to lunch at a restaurant. He has a severe allergy to dairy products, and he is very careful about what he orders, but something slipped through.

"I don't know if they had butter in the vegetables," he said. "I had a sandwich, and normally that would be ok, or maybe it was the dressing in the salad bar. I went into anaphylactic shock and was rushed to the emergency room. It was the scariest allergic reaction I've ever had, since I was a baby."

Farris soldiered on and decided to compete in the free skate despite being up until 3 a.m. in the emergency room the night before and feeling exhausted. On the second triple Axel in his long program, disaster struck.

"I went into it thinking I was going to do a double because my abductor hurt really bad, but my body was pulling in for a triple," he said. "I landed really weird, my ankle turned in and out really quick. I knew I had twisted it or sprained it or something. The spin after that was a butterfly, and I was like, 'Oh, that really hurts.' The ankle kind of distracted me from the abductor...I just kept going. When I got into the kiss and cry my ankle was throbbing, and I thought I had sprained it. When I tried to stand up, I was like, 'Ok, maybe I did more than that.'"

Farris's coaches helped him walk to the medical area, and it turned out that he had broken his fibula in the fall and also sprained a tendon. Two weeks later, he says he is healing.

"I'm walking just fine now. I think the sprain has healed. The break is uncomfortable, but it's very point-specific. My abductor is healing slowly. I'll probably be back on the ice in about two weeks."

As you know, there was another unfortunate injury a few days ago, when Caydee Denney's blade accidentally sliced Jeremy Barrett's calf the day before they were supposed to leave for the Four Continents Championships. Barrett's fiancée Amanda Evora rushed to his side, but she had to rush away again the next day to go to Chinese Taipei herself. So the couple weren't able to repeat their Olympic experience of sharing Valentine's Day at a competition.

All night long
We'll be glued to the results from the Four Continents Championships this coming weekend. Most of the members of the U.S. team left for Chinese Taipei on Sunday morning, and some of them decided to stay up all night on Saturday so they could sleep on the 14-hour flight to the far east and force themselves into the right time zone.

The tactic backfired for John Coughlin, though. He and Caitlin Yankowskas headed to the airport early Sunday morning only to find that their plane had mechanical issues and their flight was canceled.

"I am so tired; I feel ill," Coughlin texted from the airport. "I worked until 11:15 pm and then went home and got ready through the night. I was anticipating sleeping all day."

Yankowskas and Coughlin were rescheduled on a flight from Los Angeles to Taipei, and, ironically, they got in earlier than they would have on their original route through Tokyo.

Best of luck, and healing, to all!

Sarah and Drew
sarahanddrewblog@gmail.com
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