US Figure Skating Nationals--Finally!

Cleveland Travel Blog

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they weren't kidding about the snow...

After landing in Cleveland, although I wanted to meet up with my sister as soon as possible and head into the city, I did pause to get some photos of the snow.  This was the first major snow I had seen all season!  Megan was waiting for me out in the tiny space beyond security.  We stowed my bag in her car and then used the public transportation system to head to Tower City which is connected to Quicken Loans Arena.  More importantly, it had a food court :)  After our Subway lunch we trekked over to the arena.  Inside we picked up our first set of wristbands (since there were three events going on there that day, people were color coded according to their tickets.

McLaughlin and Brubaker
  Then we hunted down our seats.  They were on the second of three levels but somewhat centered.  Also, the way the rows are banked, the seats in front of us were low enough that I worried just a little about a stray foot kicking the person sitting there in the shoulder.  Being short, I was appreciative of the clear view.

Our first event of the day was the a combination of ice dancing and pairs.  The top six teams in each discipline were skating their final program.  Pairs were up first.  We watched the skaters warm up, spins, jumps, lifts.  Then they cleared the rink to let the first group perform.  Although I enjoyed watching all six pairs, I found the last two the most interesting.  The team of Brubaker and McLaughlin won with their bright costuming and lively interpretation of "West Side Story.

Denney and Barrett
"  Personally, I did not think they were the best especially since she fell on a jump (the same one she missed in practice).  I liked the team of Denney and Barrett better.  They performed a number based on the soundtrack from Spartacus.

I took advantage of the break to go purchase a program of nationals.  This book had pictures and bios on all skaters as well as space to keep track of scores.  It also had background information on the events.

Ice dancing was next.  This sport has always been the least interesting to me.  I like jumps and throws and other risky moves.  The only team I recognized--Belbin and Agosto--were not competing in Nationals this year.  However, after seeing ice dance in person, I am definitely a fan.

Davis and White
  I can appreciate the intricate moves more now.  My sister and I also discovered that we were sitting right in front of the father of the girl in the team of Matthews and Gislason.  He explained the event to his friends as well as discussing the team's career.  Interesting note: Gislason is a Canadian which just goes to show how far the skaters have to look for good partners sometimes.  Davis and White were the winners, last year's runners-up.  They interacted so well and displayed genuine emotion.

After ice dance wrapped up, we had three tasks: get our new wristbands, find our new seats, and get dinner.  The wristbands were easy; a worker spotted my sister while she stood in line to get her dinner and asked for her ticket.

the view of the rink from our seats for the ladies' event
  Unfortunately, I had them with me a few counters down.  Luckily, the guy was friendly and waited for me to get back, then banded both of us.  Finding our seats was a little more difficult.  We knew we were one more level up but the escalators to that level were closed.  An usher finally told us that our tickets needed to be traded out for tickets in the middle level (same level where we had been for pairs and ice dance).  So we had to go find the table where we could exchange our tickets and from there we climbed up to our seats.  This time we sat on one of the narrow ends, basically opposite from the TV announcers' booth.

I did not recognize the names of the girls in the early groups.  I did recognize the names of one of the coaches; close to my age the woman had been a top skater a few years prior.

Alissa Czisny
  However, not knowing their names did not diminish my admiration for what these girls could do especially when I considered that some of them were a decade younger than me!  One girl Angela Maxwell definitely caught my eye with her jumping; I look forward to seeing how she develops over the next few years.  Once again, the results of the final group surprised me.  Dressed in blue Rachael Flatt skated without major errors while Alissa Czisny, the leader going into the free skate, had a fall in the corner nearest our seats.  I was pulling for Alissa but had little hope for her until the scores showed that she had skated well enough to receive a stronger component score.  After a disappointing 9th place finish last year, Alissa was crowned the 2009 ladies' champion.

On our way out, Megan and I each got a complimentary bag of three little jars, two of jelly and one of fudge sauce, from Smuckers, the cooperate sponsor of the event.  The trip back to the airport was uneventful.  Finding the hotel was pretty easy since my sister had passed it on the way in.  Although around midnight, we relaxed for a little bit with TV and snacks before turning off the lights.

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they werent kidding about the sno…
they weren't kidding about the sn…
McLaughlin and Brubaker
McLaughlin and Brubaker
Denney and Barrett
Denney and Barrett
Davis and White
Davis and White
the view of the rink from our seat…
the view of the rink from our sea…
Alissa Czisny
Alissa Czisny
a plane barely visible
a plane barely visible
Quickens Loan Arena
Quickens Loan Arena
signs from the audience
signs from the audience
pairs waiting to warm up
pairs waiting to warm up
warming up
warming up
one of the sweepers
one of the sweepers
she fell both during the warm up a…
she fell both during the warm up …
waiting for scores
waiting for scores
this pair won
this pair won
me and my sis
me and my sis
another set of ladies warming up
another set of ladies warming up
Tenile Victorsen
Tenile Victorsen
Becky Bereswill
Becky Bereswill
Molly Oberstar
Molly Oberstar
Angela Maxwell
Angela Maxwell
Karen Zhou
Karen Zhou
what ice event is complete without…
what ice event is complete withou…
Bebe Liang
Bebe Liang
Alexe Gilles
Alexe Gilles
Ashley Wagner
Ashley Wagner
Laney Diggs
Laney Diggs
Kristine Musademba
Kristine Musademba
Joelle Forte
Joelle Forte
Mirai Nagasu
Mirai Nagasu
Rachael Flatt
Rachael Flatt
Caroline Zhang
Caroline Zhang
Cleveland
photo by: ErikaMont