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Flashback Friday: Skate America 2016

When I moved to Chicago this summer, one of the things I was most excited about was that it was the host city for the 2016 Skate America. Yes, I just saw unforgettable live skating at the 2016 Worlds in Boston. And yes, I also got to attend the 2014 U.S. Nationals in Boston. And yes, yes, one of my good skating buddies told me it just wasn’t fair that I keep living in cities that host awesome skating competitions.

But in seriousness, I am really grateful for the opportunity to see some of today’s most incredible skaters live and in person. Watching on TV is great (and that’s what I’ll be doing for U.S. Nationals next week, no doubt), but there is something about the emotion and electricity of being in the arena, about being close enough to see the expressions on the skaters’ faces as they control their nerves and deliver flawless performances, selling it to the last row.

So I was pretty excited to show up to the Sears Centre, site of Skate America, with my all-event ticket this past October. On this Flashback Friday, let’s count down the reasons it was awesome:

QUAD

As in…Shoma Uno’s QUAD FLIP. But it wasn’t just any quad flip—it was light and airy, with great height and landed with exquisite knee bend (wow, that last phrase is definitely from the Dick Button canon). He had such command of the jump, and of his whole program:

I really enjoyed Shoma’s performance at Worlds last year, and it’s great to watch him come into his own this season.

TRIPLE

As in three Notre Dame Figure Skating alums reuniting to watch some awesome skating:

tglf6917

DOUBLE

As in the number of times I cried: two. Once when Mariah Bell brought the house down with an incredible long program:

I loved all the spirals in the choreography, plus, she just oozed ease and grace throughout the performance.

And the second time during Jason Brown’s free skate. Not only did he land his first quad in competition, but he skated a moving, understated, and flawless performance. If you don’t watch the whole program, at least skip ahead to 5:46. One of the competition volunteers was epically weeping at the boards after his program, and Jason gave her a huge hug. He’s the sweetest (I can confirm, because we got to meet him after the medal ceremony and he was gracious and generous towards all the fans.).

SINGLE

As in one awesome ponytail pose from Maia Shibutani:

The Shib Sibs’ “That’s Life” short dance was superb: sharp, crisp, hip hop movement, and a creative cut of music, mixing Sinatra’s version of the song with Jay-Z. It’s my favorite of all the hip hop short dances this year, because it’s so clever and well done.

Were any fellow skating fanatics at the Sears Centre, too? What were your favorite moments?

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Flashback Friday: Notre Dame Figure Skating

Back in my college days, I skated on the synchronized skating team at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. I’d never done synchro before, and after 18 years of singles skating, I fell in love with the sport. From the support of skating on a team, to the challenge of moving in unison with 15 or more other girls, to the excitement of creating difficult, innovative moves with our coach, I loved it all.

ND Synchro 2011 Action Shot

Notre Dame Synchro 2010-2011 skates our program to the Broadway musical Hair.

It was also one of the most impactful learning experiences of my skating career. As freshmen, we finished last in our division. Determined to improve, we worked tirelessly for four years to be the best skaters and team that we could be. Focusing on improvement and challenging ourselves rather than on specific results actually led us to the best result possible: we won the 2011 Midwestern Sectional Championships as seniors. To go from last to first was fantastic and unforgettable and a tribute to hard work and team spirit.

Notre Dame Figure Skating hosted the 40th Annual Tri-State Synchronized Skating Championship on campus last weekend, which was a big moment for the club. It was the first ever figure skating competition held at Notre Dame and was a great event. The Fighting Irish skating team also posted their season’s best score on home ice at the event. Inspired by this recent success, I thought I’d do a little flashback Friday to our gold-medal winning program in 2011, set to the Broadway musical Hair: