Sunday, January 30, 2011

US Nationals: The Ladies Free Skate

Watching the ladies final at the US Nationals is a tradition.  In many ways, it is a holiday.  I claimed I had a wedding to go to in order to ensure I had the night off from work, because no matter how shitty our ladies are at times, I don't miss US Nationals for the world.  There is something about seeing Frank Carroll and John Nicks put out little divas in pretty dresses that makes us all stop and watch.  As always, it was a year to remember.

The night before the ladies free skate, Margaret Thatcher called me in a panic.  "We need to get Agnes out of Colorado Springs immediately.  How many pieces of shit can Tom Z coach?!"  I agree.  Rafael.  Morozov.  Hell, have Frank fire someone and take her on.  Frau Muller was supposed to join me for Nationals, but is suffering from illness.  I watched Nationals with Mommy Dearest and Father Knows Best.  When the tweets started pouring in, it felt like the Olympics all over again.  No matter what, the ladies excite us.  Everyone has an opinion.

No matter how many jumps Melissa Bulanhagui landed in the third-to-last group, I suspected that the penultimate group would bomb.  They are always the ladies most effected by the cameras and live television broadcast.  For years, ABC Sports showed a group of dreadful skaters (most of whom were coached by Kathy Casey.)  Kristiene Gong also skated well in the third-to-last group, but her use of Salome had me throwing a gay fit.

A Text From One Of My Best Gays...

"Gurl, you texted me while I was supporting my Catholic guilt at church.  I prayed for Adam, Armin and Jeremy.  Important things."- Frau Muller

Saturday, January 29, 2011

European Championships: The Men's Free Skate


Videos and results after the jump!

US Nationals: Thoughts on Pairs and Dance

The US Nationals broadcast just completed and it was a stunner.  While there wasn't the same drama and emotion as there is during an Olympic season, the performance quality may have been even greater.

Yankowskas and Coughlin really 'brought it.'  After their success on the Grand Prix, it certainly appeared possible that they'd crack into the top two.  Their free skate is a work of art, with her wonderful posture being sent from above.  John is a big Midwestern boy, but he is an absolute hulk out on that ice.  They are so wonderful together that you almost hope they just start doing it and getting it on already.  The performance was brilliant and absolutely magical.

Friday, January 28, 2011

US Nationals: While I Was Away

I worked through US Nationals today, so I'll be home for the next two days.  Unfortunately, I really seemed to miss a ton.  The Short Dance was hot, there were necklaces on the ice (in the men's), Bradley hit a Quad+Triple AND a Triple Axel after a week of rough practices and Rippon and Mahbanoozadeh went down.  The men's long program is going to keep us all on the edge of our seats.

Christine Brennan was the Queen of Skating Twitter tonight!

Ice Network isn't posting the archives in a timely fashion, so I had Frau Muller take copious notes about the  men's short.  Frau is a nice Midwestern boy of German heritage, who has yet to get in touch with his complete inner bitch.  Please don't ridicule him if there are any typos, as he was trying to watch and take notes all at once (for the first time.)

2011 Auburn @ Georgia TV Broadcast

Videos after the jump!  (Featuring Suzanne's debut on ESPN).  Once Bart, Kathy and Suzanne figure out their chemistry, their broadcasts could really have potential.

European Championships: The Ladies Short

Videos and results after the jump!

European Championships: The Free Dance

Videos and results after the jump!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Nationals Moments To Remember: Part 6

Moments to remember!

Quote of the Day

Phil Hersh on Interviewing Mirai Nagasu: Irrepressible Mirai Nagasu: asked if she is taller than last year, Nagasu said, ``I grew sideways and upwards.''

This and That

An Interview With Yu-Na Kim

A feature on Nansy Damianova

Tara Lipinski on the Ladies Short

Highlights from Sylvia's Practice Reports:

Jeremy Abbott didn't do a full short program run-through, but he did look sharp in practice.  He popped a flip during his short program, but he did land quads and triple axels with ease.  Whether or not he includes the quad will be a game time decision.

Ryan Bradley had a very rough long program practice today.  His run-through: Quad Toe (leaning), Quad Toe (fall out)+Double Toe, Triple Axel (Fall), Triple Lutz (hung on), Triple Axel+Triple Toe, Triple Loop, Triple Salchow (stepout) to Triple Toe (Fall), Triple Flip

Armin Mahbanoozadeh skated a clean long yesterday and was near-perfect again today.

European Championships: The Men's Short

Videos and results after the jump!

European Championships: Pairs Free Skate

Results and videos after the jump!

US Nationals: The Ladies Short

The ladies short program just finished and we were subjected to another night of Tonia Kwiatkowski's horrendous commentary.  It may be the only thing more painful than listening to her skating.  Tonia is a giant apologist for all of the crappy skaters and headcases, probably because she wishes she had one for all of her own terrible performances.  When she commentates, Tonia brings up what it is like not to make the final flight of ladies.  Heaven only knows, there were countless times I certainly wished she didn't make the televised flights.

The first skater was not good.  I'll be nice and omit a few of the poorer skaters..  To quote Center Stage, "who let that disaster in here?"  This was a LONG short program, so one gets a bit testy about sitting through Triple Toe+Double Toes during the senior ladies.

US Nationals: Live Commentary of Pairs Short

Evora and Ladwig just skated their new short program to Sing, Sing, Sing and it was a vast improvement over The Mask of Zorro.  They showed personality and it took their skating up a notch, especially in terms of presentation.  Given their lines and good lifts, you always expect them to have better unison than they actually do.  Amanda and Mark got off to a good start on their side-by-side spins, then got off, then got back on unison, and then ended off unison.  Their throw triple loop was a bitch pitched forward, but they nailed their side-by-side Triple Toes.  Amanda had missed her Triple Toe in warm up, so it was great to see them fight back.  They'll be in the final flight and are very much in contention for a spot on the World Team.  This is a pair that continues to improve late in the game.  (35.33, 27.54 = 62.87)

Davis and Leftheris-  She looks like a singles skater who would go into pairs.  Themi missed his SBS Triple Loop.  Their spins were way off and their footwork needs better unison was well.  Lindsay landed her throw Triple Loop.  Overall, they need more time and more work as a pair.  Themi hit that Triple Loop in warmup.  They want a top six finish, but it seems unlikely.

Andrew Speroff looks yummy.

Update:  My tired shoveling ass fell asleep during the broadcast and will finish this recap once I watch the archive!


The Ranch: A great place for Mani/Pedis.  This is like when the Nazis made the Jews act happy for the Red Cross.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Nationals Moments To Remember: Part 5

More moments to never forget!

Ladies Practice Photos

This and That

Sam Peszek's "In The Huddle."

Courtney Hicks won Junior Ladies by a mile despite falling on her Triple Lutz.  Hicks is apparently a giant diva who went coachless for a time.  She certainly has a personality to keep us interested.  Hicks has great jumps, but needs Nicks to work with her on refinement, especially when it comes to her posture, step sequences and camel position.  The potential is obvious.  She has brilliant jumps and some amazing spins.  Her Biellmann does need to go.  Lauren Dinh placed second and Katarina Kulegeyko finished third after a rather gross skate.  She even skated through her first jumping pass.  Nina Jiang continued to struggle, as she has for most of this season.  Popped jumps and a fall on a Triple Flip killed her.  Mary Beth Marley also struggled with her jumps.  Her packaging is just a bit off, but it remains most curious that Philip Mills, a choreographer without a skating background, is her singles coach.  Mary Beth does work with John Nicks in pairs.  She is perfect for pairs, as her skating lacks the style, artistry and excitement necessary to stand out at the senior level.  There is a Caydee Denney quality about her that has me think "pairs skater" whenever she strokes around.  Mary Beth is built to land throws.

Kat Ding sprained her foot and will be out for three weeks.  Her frustrating season continues.  It will take longer for her to get back on vault, but they definitely could use her during the post season.

US Nationals Roundup

Alissa Czisny is in Greensboro and just took the practice ice for the first time.

An article (with video) about the muscle spasms Ashley Wagner suffered this season and her plans for the future.

Feature on Mirai Nagasu.

Ladies Short Start Order

Pairs Short Start Order

Most reliable practice reports:

Ashley Wagner is apparently suffering from the flu this week.  Ashley wore a mask while warming up off-ice.  She struggled a bit during her run-through: Triple Flip+Double Toe, Waltz Jump, Double Axel+Triple Toe (hard fall), Stopped for a bit, Triple Loop+Double Toe+Double Loop, Triple Salchow, Triple Loop (Fell out), Triple Flip, stopped again.  She managed a Triple Flip+Triple Toe and a Triple Lutz later on.

Agnes Zawadzki's free skate run-through was much better today: Double Axel+Triple Toe, Triple Flip (high swinging free leg), Triple Lutz+Double Toe, Double Lutz, Triple Loop, Triple Salchow, Triple Toe+Double Toe+Double Loop.  Agnes really needs to nail her jumps, as her Tom Z skating skills should not earn her the PCS she needs.

Vanessa Lam just landed a Double Axel and Triple Lutz+Double Loop during her short program run-through.

Christina Gao was the first to skate a run-through during her practice today: Triple Flip+Triple Toe (fell out, not enough speed), Triple Salchow, Skated through Triple Lutz and just marked it (not warmed up yet), Triple Loop, Double Axel, Triple Flip, Triple Toe+Double Toe.

Mirai Nagasu looked sharp during her long program run-through, despite two errors: Triple Lutz, Double Axel (Fall, Planned a Double Axel+Triple Toe), Triple Flip+Double Toe, Triple Lutz, Triple Loop (slightly UR), Ina Bauer+Double Axel.  Mirai landed a Double Axel+Triple Toe before her run-through.

Alissa Czisny just ran through her short program: Triple Lutz+Double Toe, Triple Flip (a tad shaky), Double Axel.  While warming up, she landed: Triple Lutz+Double Toe (twice), Double Axel (twice), Triple Loop, Triple Toe+Double Toe

Ugh.  Rachael Flatt managed to land everything yet again in practice.  She is going to be tough to keep off of the World Team, which means we'll probably be stuck with her for yet another season:
Double Axel+Triple Toe, Triple Lutz+Double Toe, Triple Flip, Triple Lutz, Triple Flip+Double Toe+Double Loop, Triple Loop, Triple Salchow.  Thanks to this vomitorious girl, we only have two spots at Worlds and her ass will probably nab one of them.

According to the fabulous Nancy Armour, Caroline Zhang's flip technique is looking much better.  Lutz...not so much.  Run-through: Triple Flip+Double Toe, Triple "Lutz" (still has the high kick), Triple Salchow, Stopped, Triple Loop+Double Axel, Stopped, Triple Flip (Fall), Triple Loop (No combo), Double Axel.

This and That

Brian Orser says Christina Gao and Adam Rippon are ready to go.

The Gators posted a practice update where they talked about staying in their own bubble.  That could explain why their performance was a bit flat.  Macko seems a bit delusional thinking that she is going to come back to elite, which is why she is reticent to call NCAA more fun.  Marissa King's voice is an utter delight to listen to. She seems like she may be the brightest on the team based on the interviews conducted each week. I always love how gymnasts explain away meets to us, as though we can't figure it out. Thank you to Macko for explaining the differences between home and away meets.  She seems like a real genius.  It will be another week until the Gators really face stiff competition.

Sasha Cohen's Stars On Ice Webcast.  It looks like they're trying anything to keep her interested in touring. Sasha has an expressed an interest in become a TV hostess despite sounding like she has a mouthful of marbles.

Jonathan Horton does a little ass kissing for USAG's new Team Hilton.

Sylvia's Practice Reports:

Jonathan Cassar practiced his short and landed: Triple Lutz+Triple Toe, Ina Bauer+Double Axel, Triple Loop.  A decade ago, that jump content would label him a 'ladies skater.'  His spread eagles make up for any lack of technical content.

Richard Dornbush also did a short program: Triple Lutz+Triple Toe, Double Axel, Triple Flip (fell out.) He landed Triple Axels and Triple Flips later on.  He tried a few Quad Toes and fell twice.  Richard did a long program run-through this morning: Triple Flip, Triple Axel+Double Toe, Triple Lutz, Triple Axel, Triple Salchow, Double Flip (Planned: Triple Flip+Double Toe+Double Loop), Double Axel+Double Axel, Triple Loop.  He landed his 3-2-2 combo later on.

Keegan Messing showed some huge Triple Axels and Quad Toes.  He tweaked his ankle this morning, but appeared fine during his afternoon practice.

Brandon Mroz had a rough short program practice this morning: Quad Toe (Fall Out/Hands Down), Single Axel, Triple Lutz+Pause+Triple Toe.  He landed at least one Quad Toe and Triple Axel later on.

Brandon's afternoon practice was much better.  He practiced his long program: Quad Toe, Triple Axel+Triple Toe, Triple Lutz, Break/Breather, Triple Loop, Single Axel, Triple Lutz+Double Toe, Triple Salchow, Triple Flip (Fall Out.)  He landed Triple Axels later on.

European Championships: Pairs Short Program

Videos and results after the jump!

This and That

Coach Courtney McCool

Nationals practice info after the jump!

European Championships: The Short Dance

Videos and results after the jump!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Nationals Moments To Remember: Part 4

Keep the memories alive!

This and That

Nathan Chen's charming free skate that won him his second novice national title.

Gymnastics Video Roundup

Danell Leyva's PBars from the 2011 Universal International Invitational

This and That

Nathan Chen won his second Novice National Title by a whopping 35 points!  His coach told Lynn Rutherford that he is landing triple axels on the ground.  Nathan remains an utter effervescent delight and we can only hope that his future will be filled with many bright performances.

Courtney Hicks is the new HBIC of ladies skating.  She is dominating the Junior Ladies event, as she has all season on the west coast.  John Nicks has done it again!  The master has created another skategasm.  Hicks leads Katarina Kulgeyko by seven points.  Lauren Dinh is third and Mary Beth Marley is fourth.  Nina Jiang landed her jumps cleanly, but did not have the technical content of the other ladies.  A fall on simple stroking has her in seventh place.  Her PCS were only average, despite performing brilliant choreography with effortless speed and loads of class and style.

Courtney Hicks has ever ingredient necessary to compete with the very best skaters in the world.  She is absolutely a skater who could throw a wrench in Mother Russia's plan to sweep the 2014 Olympic Games.

Videos from Canadian Nationals after the jump!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Nationals Moments To Remember: Part 3

Ah, the memories!

Happy Birthday, Della Bella!!!!

This video is being posted in honor of a beautiful, intelligent and sassy woman named Della Bella.  I have selected the most magnificent and refined Kwan performance in honor of this fine lady.  In the words of Scott Hamilton, "to know her, is to love her!"  Please join me in wishing her the happiest of birthdays!  And many more!

And because we both share an inner love for MK, I will even go as far as to say, "Rach On!!!  Have a Kwantastic day! You are a total 6.0!"

Amazing brought to you by Margaret Thatcher

The most electrifying performance of yesterday evening was arguably delivered by 25 year old Shawn Sawyer. After enticing us for years with his exciting stretchy skating, he really put it together last night. He gave us the performance of his life and won the Silver at the 2011 Canadian Nationals. 151.45 for his free skate. Wow!

Note that Josee Chouinard just learned the word cantilever. We forgive her because English is not her native tongue. She may not have remembered the occasions when Uncle Dick taught the name of this classical show skating movement.

This and That

The free skate that scored Patrick Chan a 197.  I'll post Sawyer's program when it is uploaded, as it was total heaven.  It will probably get its own post, which it deserves.

Chellsie Memmel at Circle of the Stars (including her bar routine, which wasn't shown on Gymnastike.)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Love of My Life

Jeff Buttle, you are my personal Jesus!  Reach out and touch me!

More Canadian Nationals Videos

"A jump that has given him some trouble... the triple axel."  That is certainly putting it mildly.

And the videos...

Aunt Joyce is not held responsible if you vomit at any point due to the commentary.

The Chellsie Memmel Comeback

The first member of the 2008 Olympic Team coming back to show up at a competition in a leotard during this latest round of comebacks.  You have to start somewhere.

Chellsie is certainly jumping back into competition early.  Maybe she just isn't as vain as the rest of us?

Interview with Chellsie Memmel:

Interview with Andy Memmel:

2010-2011 Stars On Ice Videos

These are videos from the Sky Sports broadcast of the show.  Sky Sports did not show Cohen's 'Nobody Knows,' but I will add it when it shows up on youtube.  I will wait to review the show until I see it in person, as it was evident that Belgosto hadn't been skating together very long after living apart.  Their number was shaky and the unison in the group numbers just didn't compare to when there was much greater rehearsal time.

The Glorious Canadian Nationals Videos

Josee Chouinard has joined PJ Kwong in commentating Canadian Nationals.  Josee is a commentating sensation.  First of all, she is commentating in English.  Then, she finds the need to point out every time someone has a variation of position in a spin, because the viewers clearly don't have eyes.  She even counts the number of rotations for each spin.

Whenever someone has a shitty landing or a hot mess combo, Josee finds a reason to excuse it.  She follows in the great tradition of the Canadian apologists who excused her own dismal performances.

She loves the skaters' carry-age.

Which are your favorite Josee quotes?

Watch Canadian Nationals LIVE

Get around those pesky geo-barriers.   God Bless Justin TV

This and That

Cynthia Phaneuf is leading after the short program at Canadian Nationals.

Jessica Dube is currently in fifth.

Nam Nguyen earned his adoption papers by winning the Junior Canadian Nationals.  If only we could adopt Nam Nguyen and Nathan Chan, send them to Frank Carroll, and have them motivate one another in training to compete for their parents' affection.

Absolute Skating interviewed John Kerr.

Liz Green has a fracture in her back and will miss a few meets.

The Crimson Tide won last night, but the team has yet to find its stride.  They are improving slowly and steadily, but the major boost in their team score came from Geralen Stack-Eaton's return to the lineup on three events.  Aside from Diandra's vault, the freshmen remain consistency stuck in the 9.7-9.8 range and risk being replaced when everyone is up to speed.

Skate Canada won $9.25 million in federal funding.  They will received $1.85 million a year for the next five years, which will certainly help influence them to keep champion skaters around and aid in the funding of up-and-comers.  Patrick Chan's PCS may even reach unknown heights.

Paul Wylie: From skater to coach.

A feature on Stephanie McAllister.

Kiri Baga withdrew from US Nationals due to an ankle injury.

A Video From Last Season

I came across this video from last season.  If anyone is accustomed to the Gym Dogs of yore, they trained with intensity, especially as big meets approached.  There were loads of team workouts under the watchful eyes of Suzanne, Jay and Doug.  While Jay still appears to be in charge, one can notice how 'out to lunch' Julie is throughout the workout.  The girls appear to be largely coaching themselves, especially on beam and floor.  Julie is not shouting out corrections.  Girls like Taylor and McCool know what to do.  At NCAAs, McCool pretty much coached herself during training sessions, especially on balance beam.  Julie served as a cheerleader.

It is that lack of intensity that allowed mediocrity like this out on the floor:

It is that mediocrity that cost them a trip to Nationals.  Girls would never have been so pleased with themselves after delivering a 9.70 at a big meet.  Shayla's training clips from the workout also show how Jay really made a bad call and needed to go for broke, especially with Ding injured before the meet.  That was a team that certainly under-performed all year.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Lindsey Cheek: Then and Wow!



The score may be a tad generous, but the improvement is remarkable.  Lindsey Cheek is single-handedly saving the Gym Dogs' asses this season.

Johnny Weir on Lopez Tonight

US Nationals Preview: The Ladies

For years, the American ladies were the strongest team of any in skating (perhaps rivaled only by the Russian pairs.)  While the legacy of the American ladies may be firmly in the past, the contest at Nationals remains one of the most disputed and intriguing.  There are competitors, stars on the rise, and past starlets desperately trying to hold on to a formidable place in the sport.

This and That

A few members of the cast of Stars On Ice performed on the Today Show this morning.  The entire production team was on hand, including choreographers, as they had to re-choreograph the number prior to the performance.  Sasha Cohen is usually a part of the number, but was unable to perform in NYC due to a conflict.

A reminder that Stars On Ice airs tomorrow on NBC from 3:30-4:30 PM ET.

Evan Lysacek also stopped by Fox News (a match made in heaven.)

Absolute Skating interviewed Jeremy Abbott and Kevin Reynolds.

Brandon Mroz is ready for Nationals, despite working through a dislocated shoulder a few weeks ago.  The only change is that he will not be attempting two quads in his free skate, as he originally hoped.

Agnes Zawadzki is keeping her content the same and focusing on mental toughness at Nationals.  She is hopeful to earn an assignment to either Four Continents, Worlds or Junior Worlds.

The Gym Dogs put up a 196.65 at home against Auburn, while even counting a fall in their total.  Lindsey Cheek continues to be a surprise late bloomer and is yet another level 10 they recruited who miraculously got infinitely better in college.  The most noticeable overscore of the night was Mauro's 9.95 on Vault, but it was following a nailed vault by Cheek.  The team did put together a strong performance without Worley or Nuccio.  Ding delivered a 9.9 on the Uneven Bars.

The University of Florida posted a 196.400 at LSU.  It was not their top meet, but the Gators put up a solid road score and changed up their lineup a tad.  Macko scored a 9.85 on Vault, but suffered a fall on the Uneven Bars.

Moore-Towers and Moscovitch lead the pairs at Canadian Nationals.

In the Wonderful World of Ice Dance, Crone and Poirier lead after the Short Dance with a 65.80.  Weaver and Poje are second with a 65.64.  Paul and Islam are third with a 61.57 and Ralph and Hill are fourth with a 57.27.

Sights From The CGA Coaches Spectacular

Bowing to MLT


You can't teach and old dog new tricks...

 Only two taped ankles...  slackers!


Ready for Bama (and the Nastia Cup)


 Whitcomb on beam---a sight you don't see everyday.


This was sent in by a reader.  Album      Sadly, the Midwest has failed us in terms of video coverage.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Favorite Fluff: Michelle Kwan Pre-Olympic Diary

Fire On Ice: Champions of American Skating

In 2001, A&E provided one of the best documentaries ever about ladies skating.  While the clips shown aren't exactly their Olympic programs or featuring the actual music for what is shown, the narratives included are an utter delight.  This documentary captures the wonderfully devilish antics of Ms. Katarina Witt and the insufferable whining of Roz Sumners.

This and That

UCLA Gymnastics: In The Huddle.  Sadly, they didn't show us the final huddle after the meet.

Johnny Weir and George Lopez swapped outfits during the filming of Lopez Tonight.  Mattie Larson was on hand for the festivities.

Inside Gymnastics tweeted that they've spoken with Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin.  Both confirmed that they're training hard to return to competition.  Guess Nastia isn't making a formal announcement around the first of the year?

An article on Denney and Barrett with quotes from John Zimmerman.  Denney has a nagging ankle injury and Barrett has a nagging groin issue.  Both claim their injuries shouldn't affect their performance at Nationals.

A Blahtah podcast with Corrie Lothrop.  It boggles the mind that they are currently ranked #3.

A Vanessa Lam article.

FSOnline wrote a feature on Bereswill and Young.

A reminder that the cast of Stars On Ice will be on the Today Show tomorrow between 8:30 and 9 AM.

US Nationals Preview: Ice Dance

Ice Dance appears to the most predictable event at US Nationals, but that does not mean that the level of skating is weak this season.  Given the absence of Samuelson and Bates, it looks like both the Shibutanis and Chock and Zuerlein will be tough competition for the Olympians by next season.  The depth of United State ice dance remains difficult to comprehend for any long-time followers of the sport.

This and That

Bridget Sloan is promoting USAG's new handstand contest, which no one will participate in other than a few clubs trying to kiss their ass.

An Anna Li training update.  Va Zam posted a sarcastic remark as a comment when this article was posted on the UCLA Gymnastics page.  The UCLA coaches were offended when Anna Li chose to train elite at AOGC instead of with them and told the girls it would ''hurt recruiting.''  There has been a noticeable rift.  Li has been training hard at AOGC.  It is amusing that Zam would accuse her of being less than serious given her own lack of a work ethic, which was somewhat evident with her inconsistency at US Nationals on some events, despite her brilliant talent and surprising vault.

A Gym Dog practice update with Jay Clark, Hilary Mauro and Christa Tanella.

Gametime with Noel Couch.

Gina Nuccio will miss the upcoming Auburn meet due to an ankle sprain suffered vs. West Virginia.  Shayla Worley is sick and may miss the meet.  Hilary Mauro is fighting a strained achilles and Mother Nature, as maturity is showing up in a big way this year.

Rachael Flatt and Co. try to defend their awful decision to use East of Eden for her short program.  Some people have no clue when it comes to getting people to hate her less.

A Gator update from the Texas trio:  Liz Green, Alaina Johnson and Alicia Goodwin.

Alina Kabayeva has applied for a patent for Alina Dolls, which she hopes will rival Barbies.  Lord knows I'd purchase one.  Hopefully it comes with an accompanying Putin doll.  I'd love to buy some Russian whore dolls for my nieces to play with.

Ask The Bruins

Amanda Dobbs withdrew from US Nationals due to injury.

US Nationals Preview: The Pairs

It has been several years since the United States has had respectable pairs.  In the '90s, Ina and Dunjen and Meno and Sand proved to be respectable, but following the retirement of Ina and Zimmerman in 2002, there have been a number of dark years at Nationals.  Inoue and Baldwin, Castile and Okolski, etc, the list goes on and on.

For the first time in a long while, there is going to be a true competition at Nationals.  Several pairs, who have been together for longer than eighteen months, are going to push one another for the National Title and the coveted two spots on the World Team.  The United States currently has four pairs with the ability to make it to Worlds, with three being deserving.

The battle in Greensboro will be between Yankowskas and Couglin, Denney and Barrett, Evora and Ladwig and Castelli and Shnapir.  Of the other teams who have competed on the ISU Grand Prix, Simpson and Miller have withdrawn and Zhang and Toth are questionable after a number of injuries to Felicia.

US Nationals Preview: The Men

The men's event at US Nationals may prove to be one of the most competitive in years.  A year ago, the battle for the Olympic Team was all but decided.  It would've taken an idiot not to decide that the team would be Lysacek, Abbott and Weir and do everything in their power to make sure the results of the event made that happen.  With Weir and Lysacek now skating professionally, it is a year where every skater needs to do their best to take command of the men's field and declare themselves the dominant skater of the next four years.

Nationals is a tricky event.  Dick Button always points out that 'the National Championships is the toughest championship.  It is against your peers and everyone is nipping at your heels.'  It is an event full of politics, back-biting, pressure and snide bitchiness among fellow competitors, coaches and uptight egotistical judges.  Tim Goebel once described competing at Nationals to me as 'being stabbed in the gut for a week straight and fake smiling about it.'  This year, Frank Carroll does not have a top student in the men's event.  The top coach in American skating typically has his training regimen and the judges on his side, but he is not a brute force this season.

Each of the competitors has strengths and weakness that will be put on display: