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The Inside Edge: Sweet desserts, sweethearts

Omori loves taste of U.S. sweep in Milan; Scimeca, Knierim reveal off-ice romance

Shotaro Omori (left) and Jason Brown in front of the Duomo in Milan, Italy.
Shotaro Omori (left) and Jason Brown in front of the Duomo in Milan, Italy. (courtesy of Shotaro Omori)

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By Sarah S. Brannen and Drew Meekins, special to icenetwork.com
(03/06/2013) - We watched as much of the 2013 World Junior Championships as we could, and we're very happy for the new champions from the U.S., Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier and Joshua Farris. We've talked to Farris and silver medalist Jason Brown many times, but we've never talked to bronze medalist Shotaro Omori. We love his skating, so we tracked him down while he was still in Milan. We always want to know if people get to see any of the sights when they compete in wonderful places.

"Milan was amazing!" Omori emailed. "I was able to go into the city with Jason Brown, his parents and the team physical therapist, and we were able to see the Duomo and also went to get gelato. I was so grateful to be able to go with Jason because he made things so fun!"

We had to step in here to ask about the food. Italian food, enough said.

"The gelato was so delicious!" Omori said. "Jason and I both had vanilla with nutella. I also had some amazing pasta there."

Omori was thrilled to be a part of the historic U.S. sweep, the first in the history of the men's event. He said he felt very nervous before both of his programs.

"I was ecstatic to be able to skate a clean short and a solid long," he said. "I was so happy for Jason and Josh while watching their programs. And the excitement just kept building as they were both getting their scores and as we realized that we were going to sweep the junior worlds men's podium for the first time."

Omori said the press conference by the three U.S. men was fun; the three also filmed a short skit for the International Skating Union (ISU) Facebook page, using brooms to literally sweep the podium. After their excitement was over, the men were able to cheer on the ladies.

"To be able to watch amazing skaters from all around the world was really a great experience," he said. "I also loved that we (Team USA) were sitting together as a team and formed a cheering group for Courtney [Hicks], Samantha [Cesario] and Yasmin [Siraj]."

Next on Omori's schedule is a break of a week or two, and then he'll get right back into training for next season.

"I feel so inspired competing with Team USA that I can't wait to start skating again!" he said. "I plan on having a talk with my coach, Tammy [Gambill], about the plans for next season."

Sweethearts

Sometimes, pairs teams have as much chemistry off the ice as on. Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim have been dating almost since they started skating together.

"Chris and I feel like you should be who you are, so we've decided to be open about our relationship," Scimeca told us in a recent conference call with Knierim. "When he first picked me up from the airport, I was already attracted to him. There were a lot of social get-togethers with the other skaters, and it was almost like we didn't want to ignore the feelings we had for each other."

The two are aware of the potential pitfalls of partners dating, but they are confident that they have a winning combination.

"We're very open to discussing what can happen if partners date," Scimeca went on. "Chris and I feel that we're so close that training is better that way. There are always little disagreements, and since we know each other so well, we are able to get around that and make each practice more productive."

Scimeca also spoke with confidence about the foot injury that forced the team to withdraw from the Four Continents Championships. She said that there were three different issues: cuboid syndrome, a bone bruise on the talus and tendinitis on the side of the foot. She says all three problems are under control and that the team is training well and looking forward to worlds.

"My foot is doing wonderfully," she said. "I'm going to two different types of therapy every day, and I get my foot taped at the Olympic Training Center. I'm feeling great on the ice, very strong, and we're able to train full force."

"I'm super-excited about worlds," Knierim said. "We're going in with no expectations, just wanting to put out a good performance. Getting a personal best is our goal."

"We're looking at it as a huge experience, and what it could be like going into the Olympics next year," Scimeca added. "We're going in focused on us. We're not looking for a certain placement."

Amazing Race

Three-time Canadian pairs champion Craig Buntin and former pairs skater John Mattatall have both retired from skating, but they want to team up with each other in a new venture: reality TV. The two have applied to compete in The Amazing Race Canada, and they have made a hilarious audition video.

Set to air this summer on CTV, the show will be the first Canadian version of the hit U.S. program. Contestants will race around Canada, visiting all 10 provinces and three territories.

"I think we'd be good for the show," Buntin told us. "I think we'd win! We'd have blast doing it. We're the kind of guys that, if we had to run for three weeks without sleeping, I think we could do it."

Since retiring in 2010, Buntin has been in business. He started a company, and, with only a high school education, he applied to a master's program at McGill University.

"Coming into the master's program without an undergraduate degree -- skating actually gave me more than a lot of other people in the course. I tend to set really big goals, which is something skating gave me."

Buntin has sold his company, and he's now looking into starting a new company in the sustainability sector.

"I want to change the world," he said. "I did a long study of what needs to be changed and narrowed it down to reducing CO2 emissions. I'm focusing on electric vehicles."

Meanwhile, Mattatall is a full-time engineering student in Nova Scotia.

"John was one of the groomsmen at my wedding," Buntin said. "He's one of my best friends. We haven't seen each other nearly enough since retiring."

Buntin hopes that if he and Mattatall are cast on the show, it might introduce more people to figure skating.

"It would be great exposure for the sport," he said. "We have nothing but good things to say about skating."

Upcoming shows

If you're in New York City on March 27, head over to the rink at Rockefeller Center to see eight Young Artists Showcase finalists present their choreography. The choreographers are Kate McSwain, Erynn Komes, Robert Mauti, Adam Blake, Matej Silecky, Liadan Emmert, Garrett Kling and Mark Hanretty. The show is at 1:00 p.m., with the rain date being March 28. For more information, visit youngartistsshowcase.net.

Tickets are already on sale for Skate for Hope on June 15 at 5:00 p.m. at the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. This show always has a great cast and has raised more than $430,000 for breast cancer research. Check the website for details: skateforhope.org.

An Evening on Ice has announced that its third annual show will take place July 20 at the Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo, Calif. Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner will host, and this event always has a great cast as well. Proceeds benefit Nicholas and Tricia Laroche's U.S. Athletic Foundation. Cast information is forthcoming at usathleticfoundation.org.

On to worlds!

Sarah and Drew
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