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Rink Notes: Gold's coach: 'Bring on the Russians'

U.S. to host international 'senior B'; what, no dance pole?

Introducing the party bus, which has been taking figure skaters to practice.
Introducing the party bus, which has been taking figure skaters to practice. (Doug Knapp and Todd Fedde)

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By Lynn Rutherford, special to icenetwork.com
(01/27/2012) - Gracie Gold, who won the U.S. junior title here at the U.S. Championships in record-setting fashion, thinks taking on three of Russia's wunderkinds at the 2012 World Junior Figure Skating Championships would be great, but first things first.

"I'd be excited to compete against them," said the 16-year-old, who hit two triple Lutz-triple toe combinations en route to racking up 178.92 points here.

"I think it would be a great competition. I've watched their performances; all three or four of them are very talented. I think I can compete with them. When we get to that, I'll think more about it."

Gold's coach, former two-time Ukrainian champion Alexander Ouriashev, was a bit more forthright.

"She has everything," he said after Gold's free skate. "She has good spins -- she didn't do perfect spins today -- she felt a little [nervous]; it's hard to be the leader after the short program."

Looking ahead to junior worlds, he said, "We have to beat Russian girls. Gracie has better quality jumps than [the] Russian girls, [and] a little bit worse spins than Julia Lipnitskaia for example, or Elizaveta Tuktamisheva, or Adelina Sotnikova, or even the new one, Polina Korobeynikova.

"Gracie can do great spins in the practices, but [in the free skate] she was kind of tense. She does very good spins and [has] unusual positions. And she must skate with a more relaxing style."

Of the daunting quartet mentioned, Lipnitskaia won this season's Junior Grand Prix Final; Tuktamisheva qualified for the senior Grand Prix Final; and Sotnikova, the reigning world junior champion, was an alternate for the Final. Korobeynikova, who won bronze at the Junior Grand Prix Final, is 12th at Europeans after falling twice in the short program.

Ouriashev and Gold may have another weapon up their sleeves for next season: a triple Axel. Of the Russian ladies mentioned, Tuktamisheva has landed the jump.

"We're working on the triple Axel little bit," Ouriashev said. "It is my goal for next season, kind of. I hope for it, and it's possible. She can do the Axel in the harness no problem, but the harness is the harness."

"I try it weekly," Gold said. "We try to do it in the pole harness. Sometime in the future, I think it would be interesting to put triple Axel in the program."

Ashley Cain, who won the junior silver medal here with a six-triple program, had the final word.

"I think Gracie is a great skater," Cain said. "I've been competing against her quite a few years. I hope they send her to junior worlds and she takes down those Russians."

U.S. to host international 'senior B'

Patricia St. Peter, president of U.S. Figure Skating (USFS), and U.S. Figure Skating Executive Director David Raith brought reporters up to date on a range of USFS initiatives at a press conference yesterday.

After congratulating the organizers of 2012 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, St. Peter had good news on the financial front.

"We're pleased that ticket sales here exceeded those in Greensboro [at the 2011 U.S. Figure Skating Championships]," she said. "Over the next four days, we expect good crowds here.

"Prudential is our title sponsor, and we're also happy to have AT&T, Smuckers, Hilton and Alka Seltzer Plus as sponsors."

St. Peter and Raith discussed many growing U.S. Figure Skating programs, including an intercollegiate program, with 38 teams nationwide; ever-expanding learn-to-skate programs; and a therapeutic skating program, based on formats developed by B.L. Wylie, mother of 1992 Olympic silver medalist Paul Wylie.

There was also exciting news on the international front. Not only is Boston to host the 2013 World Synchronized Skating Championships, but USFS will also host an international senior "B" competition in August or September.

"There will be more details and announcement on March 1," Raith said.

It's par-tay time on practice bus

Corinthian Ground Transportation Services, a Cupertino, Calif.-based company offering a wide selection of limousine and shuttle services, has the job of ferrying athletes to practices. They've even supplied leather seating-in-the-round, iPod docking stations and gold paneling.

"It is quite literally a party bus," said Ross Miner, the defending U.S. bronze medalist, of the "luxury coach" ferrying athletes. "We've got mood lighting. It's special. First time I've seen that at nationals."

"Bill," one of the Corinthian drivers, confirms the bus is one of their top-of-the-line attractions.

"It is our party bus," he said. "Depending on the age of passengers, it's used for wine tours, bachelor and bachelorette parties, weddings. The only alcohol we would serve is champagne, or cider-champagne if you're under 21, but adults can and do bring their own."

Mark Ladwig, the U.S. pairs silver medalist with Amanda Evora, thinks the only important thing about the bus is that it moves.

"It is good transportation and I am very grateful we have it," he said.

Miner, though, has noticed a few unusual features.

"They took the dance pole out for the skating event, but you can see the mounting in the floor and ceilings," he said. "We do have satellite TV, which is nice.

"I haven't seen anyone try anything yet. It's too bad, if Ryan [Bradley] were here, we'd get some funky moves from him."