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The Inside Edge with Sarah and Drew - June 17

Ge's moves on the ice turning heads

Misha Ge and Takahiko Kozuka at the 2011 World Championships banquet.
Misha Ge and Takahiko Kozuka at the 2011 World Championships banquet. (courtesy of Misha Ge)

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By Sarah S. Brannen and Drew Meekins, special to icenetwork.com
(06/17/2011) - Watching the men's competition at the recent world championships, we were very impressed with Misha Ge, who skates for Uzbekistan. He didn't qualify for the free skate, but he's a wonderful dancer, and you know how much we love dance!

It took a while to track Ge down. When we finally connected by Skype this week, we asked him to tell us all about himself. First of all, how does he pronounce his last name?"

"Gee!" he said. "Because my dad is part Chinese. In Moscow some people say 'Geh' but it's 'Gee.'

"I was born in Moscow, and I [lived] many years in Russia," Ge said. "Around ten years old I [moved] to Beijing and [lived] half my life in China. I have Russian nationality, Chinese and a little bit Korean, and I have some relatives in Uzbekistan, on my mom's side. It's a long story."

As you might expect, Ge is fluent in both Russian and Chinese, and his English is also good.

"Most of the time I speak Russian, but I'm really good at Chinese; these two languages we speak in my family all the time," he said. "It's nice when we go to competitions and you can speak with everyone."

Ge, who just turned 20, was coached by his parents all his life. He moved to the United States with his parents, Jun and Larisa, when he was 18. He now trains with Frank Carroll in Lake Arrowhead, as well as both parents; the ISU lists Jun as his coach and Larisa as his choreographer.

At the moment, Ge is choosing music for next season and working on adding a triple Axel and a quad to his jump repertoire. He wasn't ready to reveal his music selections.

"We will try something a little different in one of the programs compared to last year. It needs a lot of work because it's really hard music!"

What about off the ice?

"I like to do so many things, but because we have a really tight schedule every day we don't have a lot of time. The best thing is spending time with really good friends. I like listening to music, and, well, of course I like shopping! I like all kinds of sports. But better not dangerous ones because it's not good for skating."

We asked Ge if he had studied a lot of dance, and he demurred.

"We practice the artistics, and we practice in ballet classes -- I can't say we work a lot a lot on that. A part of it's natural, but a part of it's practice," he said. "The things I'm doing on the rink, I always doing it from my heart. I try to show the emotion and what I feel from my heart."

Skating for a cause
Tickets are on sale for "An Evening on Ice," which will take place at the Pickwick Ice Center in Burbank, Calif., 7:30 p.m. on August 12. Presented by U.S. Athletic Foundation and the Los Angeles Ice Theater Inc, the show will include Kimmie Meissner, Alissa Czisny, Jeremy Abbott, Rachael Flatt, Adam Rippon, Caydee Denny and John Coughlin, Richard Dornbush, Alexe Gilles, Derrick Delmore, Nicholas LaRoche, Joshua Farris, Steven Cousins, Leah Keiser, Beatrisa Liang, Braden Overett, Lynn Kriengkiairut and Logan Giulietti-Schmitt, Lindsay Davis and Themistocles Leftheris, and more. Tickets are available at http://www.usathleticfoundation.org/tickets.html.

The show will raise funds for both non-profit organizations, the LAITI and U.S. Athletic Foundation.

"We initially had the idea for the show two years ago, but the notice was too short -- we didn't realize how much work it would be," said Nick Laroche, co-president of the foundation. "The foundation was just starting out. When we got the call this year from Los Angeles Ice Theater, and they asked if we'd be interested in doing a show with them, we figured that it was two causes involved with skating."

The Laroches started sending out invitations, but they expected a lot of "Nos."

"It's hard to get all that skating and talent donated for free, but almost everyone we asked said yes," said Nick. "We got these truly amazing athletes, people who've been to the Olympics, and they're coming for this cause. There's been an outpouring of support and we've been very, very lucky."

"I started the foundation before Nick stopped skating," said Tricia, "With the goal that he would be able to help afterward, so he could give back when he was done competing."

Nick said that the show will include some live singing performances along with the skating.

"I have a song that I've been saving," he said. "It was a great memory for my mom and the words were just perfect for the events in my personal life. I tried to bring that to the ice. My sister has a friend in Denver, Meghan Knight, who's an amazing singer, and she did a cover of the song for me. I had a song done by Adam Lambert once, and she did the same kind of thing, and it came out beautifully."

The mission of the foundation is create a fund for financially challenged athletes by managing donations made in support of their training. Scholarships will be awarded by the end of the year, including the Sportsmanship Award given in honor of Nick and Tricia's mother Bunny.

Choreographers in the spotlight
The Young Artists' Showcase, a competition for choreographers, has announced that its second season is now open for applicants. The deadline to enter is September 21, and the contest will start October 21. The live finals will be December 10 in Washington, D.C., at the "Kids on Ice" holiday show. There are two age categories: 14 to 20, and 21 and up.

"We opened it up because we had a lot of more adult choreographers who wanted to participate and by setting the ceiling at 29 [last year] it excluded people who had a lot of concepts to offer," said Audrey Weisiger, who runs the competition.

The finalists will choreograph pieces for a number of different challenges during the fall, and will post their work online, where the public can watch and comment along with the judges. The contest has lined up an impressive list of judges, including Sarah Kawahara, Dan Hollander, Michael Weiss, Cindy Stuart, Jamie Isley, Jamie Coffey, Karen Kwan, Dan Joyce, Doug Mattis, Chucky Klapow, Anita Hartshorn, Craig Heath, Pasquale Camerlengo, Scott Williams and "What the Buck" star Michael Buckley.

All applicants who submit their video resume will have access to 'Tips from the masters' on a private information site, where famous choreographers will post videos sharing secrets of their craft.

"It was the first step to having a career," said one of last year's finalists, Kathryn McSwain. "It took me a leap forward to what I've dreamed of doing all my life. Every week, with every challenge, I had more confidence to know I could put a program together under the time gun and still keep my creativity flowing."

McSwain has recently choreographed exhibition pieces for Adam Rippon and Rachael Flatt.

"I think the greatest impact on my career has been the gain of confidence in my competence," said finalist Amber Van Wyk. "Week after week I received emails or Facebook messages from folks all over, with words of support and appreciation for my passion. The simple fact that the "average" viewer really understood and grasped the emotion of my pieces was so incredible. And it still makes me giggle that Kurt Browning liked one of my pieces. How sweet is that?"

Last year's finalist Shannon Lenihan was also touched to find that a famous choreographer admired her work.

"The YAS competition gave me great exposure," Lenihan said. "I am currently choreographing for a junior lady, which is super exciting! When I was sitting in the audience of Skating With The Stars, Doug Webster recognized me from YAS and come over and said hello. To have someone of Doug's caliber recognize me was truly inspiring."

More information on the competition can be found at www.grassrootstochampions.com; contact Audrey Weisiger at coach6605@aol.com for details.

More music
Another music tidbit for the upcoming season: Anastasia Cannuscio and Colin McManus's short dance will be to "Mas Que Nada" by Sergio Mendes (feat. The Black Eyed Peas) and "Magalenha" by Sergio Mendes. Their free dance will be "The Way You Look Tonight" by Adam Levine, "Unforgettable" by Nat King Cole and Natalie King Cole and "Get Me To The Church" by Frank Sinatra.

Sarah and Drew
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