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Ting Cui Rides Nationals Momentum to Four Continents: Figure Skaters Online

What a privilege it was to attend the 2019 U.S. Figure Skating Championships as a member of the media with Figure Skaters Online. One of my top moments (of which there were many!) was watching Ting Cui, ladies 5th place finisher, deliver an incredible free skate after a tough short program. I caught up with her in the mixed zone after her performance and wrote a story about her for FSO:

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Photo by Robin Ritoss for Figure Skaters Online

 

Ting Cui rides momentum of stellar Nationals free skate to late-season assignments

Ting Cui is going to have a busy second half of the season. She’ll be competing at the Four Continents Championships and attending U.S. Figure Skating’s 2019 World Junior Team Camp, plus she’s the first alternate for the senior World Championships team.

Such an outcome seemed all but impossible on Thursday, Jan.24, when she fell twice and failed to complete a combination in the women’s short program at the U.S. Championships. She was in 12th place heading into the long program.

But she climbed up to fifth place with a near-flawless free skate that earned a standing ovation from the crowd at the Little Caesar’s Arena in Detroit.

Read the rest of the story—including how this performance will help her throughout the rest of the season and her connection to 2006 World Champion Kimmie Meissner—on Figure Skater’s Online!

And some bonus links:

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Alex Krasnozhon Interview: Figure Skaters Online

2017 U.S. Junior Champion Alex Krasnozhon starts off his first full senior season today at Nebelhorn Trophy in Oberstdorf, Germany, and I had a chance to talk with him before he headed to the competition. Here’s an excerpt from the article for Figure Skaters Online:

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Photo by Robin Ritoss, Courtesy Figure Skaters Online

 

Alex Krasnozhon is taking control of his career

For his short program this season, Alex Krasnozhon is skating to a song called “Dancing on My Own” by Calum Scott.

“It’s very emotional for me,” he says. “The whole idea is that a girl leaves a guy and he has this pain in the beginning of the program and doesn’t know how to handle it, and then he comes to the conclusion that here he is, dancing on his own, strong. He’s showing that he is hurt, but he is still staying strong and showing he is independent. I’m very excited about this program because I think if it’s done correctly, it can show a different side of my skating. It is going to be a season-long project to make it better each competition.”

The program is also a fitting metaphor for his first full senior season, which starts this week at the Nebelhorn Trophy in Oberstdorf, Germany.

Last season ended with pain, when he sprained his ankle on the first jump of his free skate at the Junior World Championships, a quadruple Salchow, and had to withdraw from the event. After four months off the ice and an intensive physical therapy (PT) recovery program, Krasnozhon is back on the ice with new coaches, Aleksey Letov and Olga Ganicheva in Plano, Texas, and retooling his jump technique. Plus, he moved into his own apartment and says he is taking more ownership of his skating career, calling himself his own “manager.”

For more on Kraznoshon’s goals for the season—and what he likes to do off the ice—read the full article on Figure Skaters Online!


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Shib Sibs Interview: Figure Skaters Online

ShibSibs SOI 2018

The last of my reporting from the 2018 Stars on Ice tour: an interview with two-time Olympic Bronze Medalists Maia and Alex Shibutani!

Maia and Alex were genuine, articulate, and gracious. It is obvious that they’ve thought a lot about how they want to use their platform and visibility as Olympic medalists, and I can’t wait to see what they do next during their year off from competition. They talked to me about some of what they’re looking forward to, and you can read the full article on Figure Skaters Online:

Maia and Alex Shibutani looking ahead to new off-ice opportunities as the 2018 Stars on Ice tour ends

 

And in case you missed them, my review of the 2018 Stars on Ice tour and a Q&A with Bradie Tennell.


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Bradie Tennell Q&A: Figure Skaters Online

In my review of the Chicago stop of the Stars on Ice tour, I promised interviews with a few of the cast members. Here is the first of two: a Q&A with 2018 U.S. National Champion and Olympic Team Bronze Medalist (and Chicago native) Bradie Tennell!

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Tennell during pre-show warmups for the show at Allstate Arena in Chicago, IL. (Photo by me)

I talked with Bradie about her first Stars on Ice tour, and how her preparations for next season are going. Read the full interview on Figure Skaters Online:

Q&A with Bradie Tennell

 


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Stars on Ice Review for Figure Skaters Online

When the 2018 Stars on Ice tour stopped at Chicago’s Allstate Arena, I covered the show for Figure Skaters Online. We arrived nearly three hours before showtime, and got an exciting window into what happens behind the scenes on the tour — preshow rehearsals, autograph sessions, and Q&As.

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2014 Olympic Ice Dance Champion Charlie White led the group through preshow rehearsals, hearkening back to his captain role on the 2014 Olympic team, and emphasized their choreography and timing.

I was also thoroughly impressed by 2018 U.S. Ice Dance Champions Madison Hubbell and Zach Donohue. I already loved their skating, of course, but they have great coaching and mentorship skills, too. They led a group of local skaters in a rehearsal for their number at the start of Act II, then participated in a Q&A with the group, discussing everything from their journeys in skating to the challenge of being a male skater in a female-dominated sport, with thoughtful, genuine answers from both (Hubbell drawing on the experience of her brother and former ice dance partner, Keiffer). I’ve watched videos of their coaching seminars on ICoachSkating.com and enjoyed their coaching style — perhaps someday they’ll be a dynamic coaching duo much like their current coaches, World medalists Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon.

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I also had the chance to interview Maia and Alex Shibutani and Bradie Tennell — stay tuned for future articles on FSO based on those conversations! It was a treat to meet and speak with them all, and I appreciated them taking time out of their show prep to talk with me.

Check out my thoughts on the show performance in my review for FSO. Overall, I thought the skaters performed with much more freedom and energy than last year’s show, with the pressures of the Olympic season off. Plus, seeing many of their Olympic programs in person was a treat! Read more here:

Review: Stars on Ice Celebrates Olympic Season

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(All photos are my own.)


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Mirai Nagasu Interview for Figure Skaters Online

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Image Source: Getty Images/Deadspin

I caught up with Team USA figure skater Mirai Nagasu on a media call yesterday, before she heads off to her second Olympic Games in PyeongChang.

When she competed at her first Olympics, in Vancouver in 2010, Nagasu said she was “wrapped up in my own little bubble.” But this time, she wants to soak in the entire Olympic experience — including cheering on other athletes at their events.

For more on Nagasu’s fresh approach, read the rest of the article on Figure Skaters Online:

Mirai Nagasu heads to second Olympic Games with different approach