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The Inside Edge: AAC gala brings out glamour

Gold announces free skate music; Coughlin steals the show at Governing Council

Adam Rippon was in vintage form in the Athletes Gala at Governing Council.
Adam Rippon was in vintage form in the Athletes Gala at Governing Council. (Chuck Bigger)

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By Sarah S. Brannen and Drew Meekins, special to icenetwork.com
(05/14/2013) - We talked to Gracie Gold on Friday, and she told us her free skate for next year will be The Sleeping Beauty, choreographed by Marina Zoueva and Oleg Epstein.

"We're keeping the short program under wraps a little longer," she said.

Gold's first competition will be Skate Milwaukee in mid-July.

Play ball!

The Boston Red Sox honored the 21-time U.S. champion Haydenettes on May 9 at Fenway Park.

"It was raining, but we were all so excited, it didn't matter," team member River Kynoch said. "We lined up right behind home plate in two lines. They announced about winning our national titles and winning the world medals. The 'Green Monster' (Red Sox' mascot Wally) came and stood next to us. It was so cool to be able to stand on the field."

"There was a video of our long program playing on the big screen," five-year veteran Kelly Ottaviano said. "It was really cool, because the whole audience got to see what synchronized skating was all about."

After the ceremony, the team, which won its fourth consecutive world bronze medal last month, sat together by third base to watch the game, complete with a dinner of Fenway Franks.

"Unfortunately, the Red Sox didn't win, but it was still intense and thrilling," Ottaviano said.

Guidebook for the rulebook

Delegates appointed by member clubs and individual members of U.S. Figure Skating held their annual meeting, known as Governing Council, on the first weekend of May. During one long debate about details pertinent to the rulebook, John Coughlin stood up and took the mic, possibly saving the entire meeting from sinking into a state of total confusion.

"I just wanted to say the words 'chair,' 'rule,' 'guideline' and 'madam,'" he started, "Just because I feel left out. It's my first time here."

"What are you guys talking about?" he continued. "I'd like to split this into two questions; I'm hoping we can vote on everything, because I love raising that card -- it's awesome. Is there a guidebook for the rulebook? And if so, can we vote to revise it?

"If you need me, I'll be by the cookies."

The room burst into grateful applause and laughter. Man of the hour.

Dinner skate

The Athletes Advisory Committee (AAC) usually hosts a dinner fundraiser at the Governing Council. This year, the fundraiser was an on-ice event at the World Arena on May 4. All the seating was at on-ice tables, set very pretty and glamorous with white tablecloths and candles. The sold-out audience of delegates was glamorous, too, decked out in tuxes and cocktail dresses. Among the attendees were U.S. Figure Skating President Patricia St. Peter, U.S. Figure Skating Executive Director David Raith, U.S. Figure Skating Senior Director of Athlete High Performance Mitch Moyer and Sarah Hughes.

AAC Chair Lindsey Weber organized the event, with Mark Ladwig assisting her.

"It kind of started three years ago," Weber told us. "When I was first elected AAC chair, Justin Dillon ... told me to pick one major goal you want to accomplish in your term and focus on that. I told him that I wanted to do an AAC show, so three years later it happened! It was kind of a dream come true."

Karen Kwan-Oppegard choreographed the opening number and helped direct the show.

"She is amazing!" Weber said. "We only had one hour to rehearse after the Presidents Reception, and you can only imagine what a task that was, with all the AAC's strong personalities on the ice trying to do a program together."

We witnessed firsthand how hard Kwan-Oppegard and the athletes worked to put the show together in a short amount of time. The night before the show, we found her sitting in the hotel restaurant, sporting some unusual footwear: her skates! Kwan-Oppegard is known for her gorgeous fashion, but we were a little confused by this choice.

"We heard the restaurant was closing, so I didn't have time to take my skates off," she said.

At the show, master of ceremonies Scott Hamilton skated out and introduced each skater, sometimes including a short interview. He mentioned that he hadn't been on the ice much: "This is enough skating for me," he said.

At one point, Hamilton made Josh Farris blush with his enthusiastic praise. Farris then went out and skated a stunning program, which he choreographed, to Bruno Mars' "When I Was Your Man."

The spotlight caught two girls in the audience fanning themselves when Farris stopped in front of their table and gave them a smoldering look à la Justin Bieber.

"This show was so much fun," Farris said later. "It was great to see everybody that I haven't seen in a long time. Doing a show with Scott Hamilton being the MC was so cool -- even though my interview wasn't so great before my program! In all seriousness, the show was definitely one of my favorites."

Another skater who performed, Adam Rippon, skated in vintage "Adam" style: angelic, dynamic and passionate, with that natural movement that's his signature and a great Rippon lutz. Rachael Flatt skated a beautiful program to "Clair de Lune."

It was nice to see Amanda Evora and Ladwig skating together in the opening number and doing a triple twist.

"Yesterday in the practice we did one double, and I was like, 'All right, we're doing triple'," Evora said. "We haven't done one since the 2011 Four Continents Championships. It was pretty good ... but he should have caught me at the hip!"

The show benefitted the 3A scholarship program and the AAC. Weber's plan is to have a similar show every other year, when Governing Council is in Colorado Springs, Colo.

"We hope to keep building on the foundation that was started eight years ago with the first dinner," Weber said. "We are so grateful to all the skaters that participated and helped make the show a success. We hope we can continue to grow our scholarship fund to help upcoming skaters with the financial impact of the sport."

Upcoming shows

The fifth edition of Parker Pennington's Skate Dance Dream shows takes place May 19 at 7 p.m. in the Serpentini Arena in Lakewood, Ohio. Richard Dornbush, Hannah Miller, Sean Rabbitt and So You Think You Can Dance star Gev Manoukian will perform. For more information, visit skatedancedream.com.

Jordan Moeller's benefit show One Skate at at Time will take place at the Southwest Ice Arena in Crestwood, Ill., May 25 at 7 p.m. This is the second year that Moeller has organized the show, which benefits Children's Oncology Services, Inc.

Guest stars include Jason Brown, Rohene Ward, Olivia Oltmanns and Josh Santillan, Holly Moore and Daniel Klaber, Lukas Kaugars and more. Tickets are available at the door. Visit the show's Facebook page for more information.

Nick LaRoche and Tricia LaRoche have announced the cast for their third annual An Evening on Ice show, which benefits their US Athletic Foundation. Appearing July 20 at the Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo, Calif., will be Kimmie Meissner, Alissa Czisny, Flatt, Steven Cousins, Caydee Denney and Coughlin, Emily Hughes, Rippon, Farris and others. Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner will host the show. Tickets are available at usathleticfoundation.org.

Baby news

Congratulations to Brown and Moeller's coach, Kori Ade, who gave birth to her second daughter, Kaia Alexandra Johnston, on April 27.

"We were back at the rink the next Thursday," Ade said. "Get me a bumper sticker that says 'I love ice skating' when I get my soccer mom minivan. I have a great support system."

We hope all the skating moms out there had a nice Mother's Day!

Sarah and Drew