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The Inside Edge: U.S. Champs best-dressed list

Wagner, Lysacek prove most fashionable in Omaha; Davis and White, Gao rule on-ice costumes

When Ashley Wagner wasn't on the ice winning her second straight U.S. ladies crown, she was dazzling onlookers with style.
When Ashley Wagner wasn't on the ice winning her second straight U.S. ladies crown, she was dazzling onlookers with style. (Sarah S. Brannen)

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By Sarah S. Brannen and Drew Meekins, special to icenetwork.com
(01/29/2013) - It's hard to believe another U.S. championships has come and gone. We really enjoyed Omaha; the venue and the hotel were excellent, we loved the layout, and the people were incredibly nice. We didn't get to spend enough time in the Old Market area, but we thought it was a great spot. We're hoping the championships return to Omaha before long.

We had extremely civilized flight times home -- no ugly, crack-of-dawn alarms this time. There were lots of skaters on our flights, of course, all looking very put-together after the genteel late start of the morning. Newly crowned men's champion Max Aaron was posing for pictures with fans, signing autographs and fielding phone call after phone call.

Green

As we already mentioned, Mark Mitchell, who inspired our "Mitchell points" system for coach fashion, says he's really into color this year.

"Except for green!" he said. "You know my thing about green, right? I have nothing against the color in general, but I don't wear it at skating competitions. It's bad luck."

He grabbed his blazer and held it open and pointed to the lining.

"I bought this in Paris and I thought, 'This will be perfect for Christina [Gao]'s short,'" he said.

"Then I took it home and I realized the lining was green. So I took it to the tailor and asked them to replace the lining. They looked at me like I was crazy and said, 'What color?' and I said, 'Anything but green.'"

We've heard from several costume designers that lots of coaches share Mitchell's superstition about the color green. You occasionally see a skater wearing a green costume, but it's rare.

Here's a summary of some of the coaches we awarded Mitchell points to this week: Frank Carroll, Karen Kwan-Oppegard and Jim Peterson. We haven't mentioned Massimo Scali, but he was a very close runner-up for best-dressed coach. He looked sharp in slim, perfectly fitting suits all week. And, of course, his shoes are Italian.

And with that, here it is:

THE 2013 BEST-DRESSED LIST

The main takeaway from the on-ice costume contest this year was that the ladies brought it. We have had an awfully tough time choosing winners. The men, however ... The guys need to step it up. We were not able to choose a winner in the men's division.

On-ice

Ladies: We hardly know where to start. From Becky Bereswill's black lace number to Ashley Cain's red lace dress, we saw a lot of lace this year, and we liked it. Cain also had a glorious white free skate dress. Her costumes are designed by her mother Darlene and Denyse Frey.

Caroline Zhang was transformed by both her short and free skate costumes. Angela Wang had a lovely lavender dress designed by Catarina Lindgren, and Hannah Miller was ethereal in lilac Elena Pollack, with fluttering gauze wings on the sleeves and splashes of crystal spilling across the front.

We love both of Ashley Wagner's Jan Longmire costumes, too -- her free skate dress in the yellow/orange "color of the season" is to die for in person. Agnes Zawadzki was a rhapsody in blue.

However, Gao's sultry black free skate dress, complemented by perfect femme fatale makeup, was the talk of the event. It's the winner, by an eyelash.

Dance: The usual suspects keep upping the standard. The Shibutanis' costumes are always superb, and they look even better in person than on TV. However, the five-time U.S. champions walked away with this category again, from Meryl Davis' sweet, wine-colored Esmerelda dress to Charlie White's black top with a raw edge at the neck that fit him to perfection. Bravo.

Pairs: We were praising Deedee Leng and Timothy Leduc's short program costumes when we realized Leduc had won before with his previous partner. Leng and Leduc have that vintage Russian thing going on -- in a good way. Well, he wins again.

Men's: Although we don't have a winner in this category, we liked Alex Johnson's absolutely simple black shirt and pants, made by Suzy Hubbs for his "Eleanor Rigby" program. Sometimes, simple is best, especially when you can skate like that boy.

Juniors: Alexandria Shaughnessy and Jimmy Morgan's Evita free skate costumes worked for us. Best of all the juniors was Polina Edmunds' ethereal cream dress, which suited her gossamer skating.

Best use of purple on a man, the "Drew Meekins" award: Junior James Schetelich. We don't give this one out every year; it's a very exclusive award.

Best purple dress: Zhang.

Best couple in purple: Lynn Kriengkrairut and Logan Giulietti-Schmitt.

Off-ice

Best shoes: Ben Miller got our attention when he flashed us the red soles of his Christian Louboutin patent leather lace-ups. He sealed the deal when he told us they were the shoes he wore at his wedding.

Best boots: Tanith Belbin's furry half mukluks with the fur pompoms, accessorized by a little dog.

Best coat: Taylor Toth's three-quarter length black Shetland Marc Jacobs.

"I saw it on the runway at the Marc by Marc show and I was like, 'I'm going to have to work really hard so I can get that coat,'" he said.

While we were photographing it, John Zimmerman came over to admire it, too.

Best hair, the "Charlie White" award: Tough category. Meryl Davis's hair had us gushing with delight in the free dance, and of course, Charlie's is perfection. However, every time we saw Wagner, we were spellbound by her cascading blonde locks, whether free-flowing or tied back in a chic long braid. Wagner wins this one.

Best use of the flag as a garment: Andy Depew and his group of fans, decked out in their U.S. flag wear in the front row at every competition.

Best-dressed man: Evan Lysacek. Every time we saw Lysacek, he looked absolutely fantastic. Even in casual wear late at night, he has style, and in his elegant Ralph Lauren charcoal gray for evening or blue pinstripes in the afternoons, with perfectly coordinated pocket squares, Lysacek was without question the best-dressed man at the championships.

Best-dressed lady: Wagner. Wagner, too, looked utterly flawless each time we saw her. Her casual looks show a distinct personal sense of style, and her dressier apparel was knock-dead gorgeous. She looks every inch the U.S. ladies champion.

Best-dressed coach: This category is so competitive! We had a long discussion over breakfast on Monday, trying to choose winners, and it's nearly impossible. So many coaches look so good, we could pass out a dozen awards. But, there are only two, and they're both repeat winners this time.

In the ladies category, it was all about Karens. Last year's men's winner Tom Zakrajsek (who scored Mitchell points this year in bold winter colors) texted us to "officially" nominate Caryn Kadavy. We also heard from reliable sources that Karen Ludington was a diva dresser all week. Unfortunately, we could not make visual confirmation of either.

The winner is another Karen: Kwan-Oppegard, for the second year in a row. Every time we saw her, she was stunning, as elegant as a model. Her dresses, skirts and blouses in rich fabrics effortlessly drape her body, like a classical sculpture.

For the men, well, in a category calibrated in Mitchells, there's really no one who can quite outdo the man himself. This may be the "Mark Mitchell" award, but we're giving it to him again. You can't argue with perfection.

Mitchell, who reiterated his commitment to color all week, made a last-minute substitution for the men's free skate competition. Apparently, inspired by the silver medal-winning free dance of Madison Chock and Evan Bates, Mitchell persuaded Igor Shpilband to hand over the tie he wore during the event. The burgundy-patterned Louis Vuitton tie complemented Ross Miner's costume so well that it was a no-brainer for Mitchell. The magic seemed to last, as Miner and Mitchell will be going to worlds.

Wear it well,
Sarah and Drew
sarahanddrewblog@gmail.com