Ellie Kawamura blogs from 'wild' Golden West

Senior men highlight the action at competition in Culver City, Calif.

Richard Dornbush (left) edged world champion Patrick Chan in the free skate at Golden West.
Richard Dornbush (left) edged world champion Patrick Chan in the free skate at Golden West. (Ellie Kawamura)


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By Ellie Kawamura, special to
(09/06/2011) - Howdy, everyone!

From a bloody hand to a cowboy landing his first quad, what an event Golden West was this year. Wait a minute ... blood ... a cowboy ... what's going on? Well, before I jump into all the madness, let me start from the beginning.

This weekend I was in Culver City, Calif., to watch the one and only Golden West Championships, hosted by the All Year FSC.

Most of you might have gone on vacation or relaxed at home on your Labor Day weekend, but many great skaters came down to Culver City to have their programs looked at by all the international and national judges at this event.

This competition is always a very eventful one. This year the senior men were definitely the ones to watch. Not only were there many internationally and nationally ranked skaters, but there were also many hiccups along the way.

The first malfunction of the event was when Austin Kanallakan's music stopped in the middle of his footwork. It took a little while to get his music to start again, but he got into his program right away and ended it with a nice triple flip combination.

Patrick Chan, the talk of the competition, came to debut his free skate here. As he took the ice, the crowd went wild; everyone was ecstatic to see him skate at their local ice rink. Although his famous quad toe and triple Axel were not executed, he had great flow throughout his program and very nice footwork.

Next up, Keegan Messing started his program with a huge triple Axel and quad. As he went for his second triple Axel attempt, he fell and sliced his thumb with his blade. He got up, skated to the judges and stopped his program. Fellow competitor Sean Rabbit came to the rescue and gave him his towel while everyone frantically looked for a Band-aid.

A couple minutes later, Messing started his program once again, this time sucking his thumb during elements to stop the bleeding. He was still able to execute many of his triples and ended his program with a bang. He received a standing ovation while he took his bow and got off the ice, and soon after went to the hospital to get stitches. I was in awe of his performance and hope his hand is getting better.

There was an unexpected ice resurface due to the blood, and then training mates Richard Dornbush and Dennis Phan took the ice for their warm up. Richard's program fit perfectly with the Golden West's Western theme, and he successfully landed his first quad toe attempt in competition.

After being off the competition circuit for a year and only being here for a couple months after traveling around for shows, Dennis started his program with a beautiful triple-triple combination, and the rest of his program consisted of nice triples, spins and an effortless footwork sequence. What a great start to his competition season!

While I waited for the senior ladies to start, I got a glimpse of the preliminary girls event, and I must say they were absolutely adorable in their cute, little dresses. It's always nice to see a new generation of little ones working hard and performing with a huge smile on their faces.

In the ladies short program, Caroline Zhang did a very nice triple flip combination. She looked like she was enjoying her performance. Sophia Adams also delivered a great program consisting a gorgeous spiral sequence and great footwork. Victoria Muniz pumped up the audience with her sexy Latin program and her huge triple Lutz combo.

It was really nice to watch these events this year. This is a great competition for all the skaters to get their programs out one more time before their qualifying or international competitions. It was definitely a wild weekend, and I can see why they call it the Wild West, with the blood, camaraderie from the men and elegance from the ladies.

Thank you so much for reading my blog from this event, and I hope to see you all soon.

Ellie Kawamura