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Mass appeal: Rohner's U.S. Adult Champs blog

Attendees in Hyannis celebrate 20th staging of 'enchanting' event
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A beautiful beach morning in Cape Cod, where all the fun took place at the 20th U.S. Adult Figure Skating Championships. -Terryl Allen

Lexi Rohner, U.S. Figure Skating's national vice chair for adult competitions, blogged from the 2014 U.S. Adult Figure Skating Championships in Hyannis, Mass.

Entry 11: The departure and the second part

This is the last entry, and so a bit long ... bear with me. Choeleen Loundagin was heard to be auctioning off the opportunity to drive Mr. Charles Tickner, Olympic bronze medalist and world champion, from Hyannis to Boston's Logan airport at 6:30 a.m. on Sunday. As a bonus, the winner would also be able to give coach Charyl Bernstein Brusch and Ms. Loundagin a ride, too. The question was posed: What does the bidding start at? And is coffee involved? The answer: Coffee, and gratitude, will be provided. Pictures with Charlie, too. It was suggested to open the bidding at the party. Not sure how it turned out, but I presume they all made it to Boston that morning.

I myself had a long drive from the Cape into a neighboring state, and plenty of time to reflect on all the goings-on from the week...

It was special treat to see former championship gold men's competitor Andy Schell writing, in his stylish manner, for icenetwork alongside U.S. Figure Skating's director of communications Barb Reichert. So grateful to have them here and covering this event. And returning to the fold this year, healed and happy: Jenny Semaca! Another couple of missing staples were Ian Catindig and his inimitable charm and the adorable, cupcake-loving Samantha Schecter. Rachel Kuhn and I did a little iPhone face time with Sami, where we were able to introduce her to Mr. Button and Mr. Wilson. From her couch. In her jammies. Does it get better than that?

Coach Lauren Levin was seen everywhere. Her students had a blast, she herself looked relaxed at the boards, and I had a nice surprise when I opened my hotel room door late one night to get ice, and she was across the hall. Always nice to see friendly faces. Stephen Trzaska needs to open a bakery. This man makes the most delicious pastries, and I am sure other delectable treats. I was lucky enough to receive a slice of pumpkin chocolate chip bread. I only wish I lived closer. Oh wait, then none of my clothes would fit. But, boy howdy, my taste buds would be happy!

Over on the Butler rink, the light entertainment event was causing the judges side pain from all the comedic programs. The funniest thing I have EVER seen at this competition was the silver 3 ladies warm-up. Sharidan Williams-Sotelo took the ice as "Little" Edie Bouvier (Jackie O's cousin) and proceeded to primp in the plexiglass and pester the other skaters to the point of unfocused and uncontrolled laughter. Approaching them with a magnifying glass, inspecting their costumes, backsides and generally disturbing everyone, the audience was howling, and of all the events I caught, this is the one I am most glad to have seen. Maureen Carrigan was the last holdout, ignoring the shenanigans around her. But when the crowd egged her on, she skated quickly over to "Edie," who never broke character and circled around her shimmying her shoulders and blowing kisses. It was hysterical, I tell you! Earlier in that event, Beth Bilka shared a special moment as a TSA agent, donning latex gloves to the music "Getting to Know You." Figure it out. 

On the more sentimental side of happenings, Margaret Szymanski performed a moving tribute honoring the victims of Sandy Hook. I was also asked to say a few words when the championship masters intermediate-novice ladies champion was awarded her medal, the Paula Smart trophy. After placing her medal around Stephanie Galuszka's neck, I shared with the small group gathered at the podium that Paula was someone who believed strongly in living life without wasting a moment. That is the spirit in which the trophy is given, and I hoped they would all have that in their lives. I handed Stephanie her trophy and promptly burst into tears as I turned from the skaters. I was overcome in that moment, knowing the opportunities that Paula was instrumental in establishing for all of us. I am very grateful to do what I do. 

The championship junior-senior men's and ladies events were stunning. There were so many strong performances that it was difficult to guess a clear winner. Natalie Shaby had two clean double Axels, and Lindsey Fenton landed one, but the display of athleticism and artistry overall left the crowd in awe. Later on in the men's event, Davin Grindstaff's beautiful split jump, Joe Radomile's speed and energy, and Larry Holliday's understated elegance (not to mention the faux cigarettes he crushed out on the ice skating to Casablanca) were riveting. The championship pairs event was full of surprises, as Ethan Burgess and Carol Cooper almost had a gravity-induced mishap. Fortunately, they were OK. Stephen Trzaska and Tara Cioppa skated into second place, and Kim Sailer and Dave Garber performed a hilarious parody of Blades of Glory that I FINALLY got to see. If only there had been a dove slipping out of Jimmy's sleeve at the end ... oh, well.  

I hung out with Team Pittsburgh and company a bit, and all the ladies blew a Love, American Style kiss to coach Doug Mattis via Facebook video. A tiny bit of champagne, and I was off to sleep for an early departure. It must have been pretty late when I got to the hotel, because judge Rick Kern was heading into the lobby for a 2:30 a.m. shuttle. Yikes. Not much sleep, but it did make for a reflective drive with Hyannis in the rearview mirror. 

I hope you have enjoyed these notes from the 2014 U.S. Adult Championships, and we'll see you next year in Salt Lake City!

Entry 10: The party of the first part

On Saturday morning, I got wheels! I'm so grateful for the rides friends and the LOC -- including Jennifer Simon, Donna Farver, Dana Pierce and Kristi and Glen Norman -- have provided. Thank you! But as soon as I was behind the wheel, where is the first place I went? Starbucks. Proper caffeination can never be underestimated. It's a good thing I got that coffee, too, because I was thinking it was my imagination that my hotel desk chair was sinking. Starting out at elbow level and ending up at chin level, verrrry slowly, was odd.

Alexandra Dunn-Bryant claims there was an impromptu dance party with the dance panel. I wish I had seen that!

OK, can we talk about the party? I can only share so much. But Dianne Stewart's son, Joaquin, took over the mic and the dance floor with his awesome singing skills and moves. Then there was Nina, Leslie, Michelle, Terri -- my hip chicks, you know what I'm taking about -- and Heather Phillips sang karaoke like an angel. Rob Lichtefeld somehow managed to pick me up and spin me around so I wouldn't hurt my hip. Then Cindy Crouse and I, being on the injured roster, danced from our chairs. I may or may not have danced the "Running Man" later on in a circle of my friends. (My physical therapist could be reading this.) Mark Ladwig was, of course, rocking it in the dance floor with us. Woot!

I would be remiss not to send out a HUGE shout to Patti Lloyd, who worked with Donna Wunder and Carolyn of the LOC, to provide so much for everyone. As VP of sales for the convention and visitors' bureau, she procured dozens of employees from local hotels and restaurants to be volunteers here this week. As she thanked them, so will I: Tom Cattaneo Sr., Jim Kiley and the 99 Restaurants (for volunteering and donating water for our judges and volunteers); the Resort and Conference Center at Hyannis; Days Inn; Dockside Hotel Group; Cape Codder Resort and Spa; DoubleTree by Hilton; Holiday Inn and the Cape Cod Senior Softball League. We appreciate you! And readers, if you should find yourself in Cape Cod, please call Patti. She will make sure you're well cared for.

As the day is not yet over, I'll have plenty more for one final entry later on. I'm sooo looking forward to seeing the Blades of Glory program by Kim Sailer and Dave Garber. Kim injured her knee in practice at nationals last year, and they had to scratch. But this year, Chazz Michael Michaels and Jimmy MacElroy are back!

Entry 9: The Last Day

"If you had one shot, one opportunity, to seize everything you ever wanted, would you capture it? Or just let it slip?" -- Eminem

Deirdre Russell was elated to win gold in her bronze light entertainment event. On the podium, she and her fellow competitors posed for her training mate back home at the Georgia FSC, 8-year-old Meredith Scafidi, as a special shout-out (see photo gallery).

Seen around the rink... Laurel Alexander, Cathy Janssen, Theresa Cinciripini and Dottie Brandt Alexander posing for a cute photo ... Justin Dillon cheering on his partner, Souvanthong Muangkhoua, to a gold medal in the championship adult gold men's event ... Brandy Lokken, calm as can be ... Liam Cowper's gorgeous spread eagle into a Lutz ... Tam Bui, a self-taught and sublimely elegant skater ... An impromptu podium serenade of "Oh Mickey, you're so fine!" by Russell, Alexei Folger and Natalie Bare to fellow bronze light entertainment medalist Mickey Bolek ... Leslie Amacker and her stuffed friend, "Cow," who, of course, posed with Mr. Button ... The dulcet tones of former adult skater and announcer Wendy Sharidan . . . Barb Reichert, U.S. Figure Skating director of communications ... Elaine Walin making a valiant effort to pump air into a super huge inflatable champagne bottle for competitor Maureen Linhardt (the whoosh of the pump sure echoed!) ... S.T.A.R.S. combine athletic endurance testing run by U.S. Figure Skating's Peter Zapalo, and Paul Wylie sharing training tips with skaters ... Alex Johnson (senior men's competitor) here competing and supporting adult skating ... Author and competitor Marci Nault (The Lake House, read it) ... An unnamed skater rocked the sleeve ruffles and swears the costume color is "coral." I say pink. And not just because it's my favorite color ... Lynne Poyant being given a dance lesson by Olympian Mark Ladwig (that guy is everywhere).

Entry 8: Weather or Not

Thursday morning had brought sunshine, despite dire predictions of heavier rain. But seriously, we've been at this competition in heavy snow (think Bensenville '07 and almost any Lake Placid), so this isn't too shabby. I had planned on breakfast with my darling friend in pink, Chris Wilson, and her pals, Melissa Parker and Rosemarie Kathy. We ended up not connecting until a bunch later, so I found myself with Jennifer Simon and Rob Lichtefeld visiting the JFK Memorial by the beach, which was nice but looked a lot like a large penny. Nearby was a fantastic place called The Coffee Table Café, where we were treated to very tasty lattes made with locally grown beans from Mashpee, Mass., and homemade brownies that I could swear had cookie dough in them. Needless to say, I am going back. You should go, too.

Friday was a bit more white sky and windy but still no rain or storms ... woo hoo! And despite only packing a carry-on and having to haul it around, I am glad I brought my overcoat. Tonight is the competitors party, held at the host hotel, the Resort and Conference Center at Hyannis. No driving for me!

I witnessed a sweet moment when Dorothy Ray took the ice for the warm-up in her event. She looked up to find her husband in the stands and blew him a kiss, then slowed down to applaud the judges, all before getting her head in the game. That's what you see at this competition in so many forms.

Entry 7: Buttons everywhere

Friday was the day. Dick Button and Doug Wilson arrived Thursday, and Friday they were tirelessly signing books, taking photos and waxing poetic about their recently published books. They took as much time as any skater or spectator wanted, sharing their experiences, shaking hands, giving hugs and generally being available. It was a wonderful moment for adult skating, to have these legendary figures present. Thank you, gentlemen! Doug Wilson also brought along his very charming wife, Betsy.

So that happened Friday. But Thursday night at dinner with my friend Allison Manley, (of the ManleyWoman SkateCast), we ran into the Wilson and Mr. Button, where we had a spirited discussion about the state of skating today. It was a bit surreal, and as the conversation turned toward family and interests, Mr. Button kindly insisted I take his untouched glass of Pinot Noir upon learning that I have six-year-old triplets. What a fun, impromptu evening at the Black Cat Tavern. Stop in there and see Rachel (best server in the house!) if you find yourself in Hyannis. After that, I found myself in a rowdy local spot called the Seaside Pub, the complete antithesis of where I'd eaten dinner. But then, I was with the Southern group of skaters, and times are always unpredictable and entertaining with them!

At some point I knew I was in dire need of caffeine. Kathleen Powers to the rescue, and I was properly caffeinated after a visit to Starbuck's. Then it was Lob-stah rolls with Brenda Wittman and Sara Schley (hi Toby's mom!)

Seen around the rink. ... Peter Sasmore and Sandra Nielson, elegantly performing an exhibition of their free dance. Sigh. I could watch them forever. ... Deidre Russell's adorable daughter as a sweeper. ... Jen Schindler as a very sassy Scheherazade (quite the departure from the cute cow costume). ... Amanda Blackwell and Jessica Scieszinski dressed as twinsies, and the always fun to see Mama Blackwell . ... Denise Pendleton's beautiful dramatic skate (go Team Cindy Gould!). ... I finally caught Mikey Tongko's ribbon program and it did not disappoint. ... Courtney Elliott's emotional portrayal of 'On My Own' from Les Mis. ... and a surprise visit from my lovely friend Michael Cruz! That was a treat, as we didn't expect him here due to injury. I also had the pleasure of meeting our chief referee for this next year, Lori Dunn. She's a hoot and I am sure will do a wonderful job for us. Lauren Ross was happy to find the 'magical medical room,' where the amazing PT team fixed her up. Yay medics!

And more buttons. ...The 'Adults Skate Too' buttons that everyone is wearing made their way to the ice. Robin Johnson, sweeper extraordinaire, was joined by the unpredictable Rob Lichtefeld, whose boyish charm gets him in and out of many shenanigans. Rob is known for aiming tossies at skaters. Well, this was our chance to get him back! However, he found a way to disarm us as he bent to pick up tossies. The audience was then treated to a derriere smiley face made of the buttons. Like I said, buttons everywhere. Literally.

Speaking of 'like,' a 'LIKE' stamp has made the rounds on people's hands -- and some faces. But be warned, there is also a 'DISLIKE' stamp. I was relieved to get 'Liked.' They like me! They really like me! But all kidding aside, I had a truly happy moment just sitting in the stands, cheering on friends and noticing how many new skaters there are here this year. I got all Carpenters-song-mushy inside reflecting on how many years I have sat and skated beside this group of people, and how grateful I am for the chance to do so four days out of the year.

I know I mentioned earlier about notable absences. There is one in particular that I am really missing: my dear friend Kianoosh Samii. He should truly be here this year, and while I understand the necessities that are keeping him away, it really isn't the same without him, and his wonderful dance partner Molly Johnson. Next year, I hope?

Later on, I anticipate watching Aviva Cantor on the ice, feeding fake spaghetti to an unsuspecting panel of judges. Good times right there. Stay tuned!

Entry 6: Opening ceremonies

Wednesday evening deserves its own entry. Competitor Michael Tongko, at his first U.S. Adult Championships, started us off with a resonant rendition of the national anthem. In honor of the "Roaring 20th," the opening ceremonies featured Yarmouth skaters performing to music from The Great Gatsby.

There are nine skaters who have competed at every one of the last 20 U.S. Adult Championships. They are (in no particular order): Phyllis Friello, Dorothy Ray, Walter Horton, Thom Mullins, Julie Gidlow, Angela Prevost, Collen Conroy, Ted Gradman and Patricia McNamara. That is a two-decade commitment to this sport, in addition to work, with aging bodies and life outside skating. Wait, there's life outside skating? Hmm.

The Yarmouth performers then escorted 'The Nine' onto the ice for individual recognition. Our oh-so fabulous master of ceremonies for the festivities was none other than YouTube celebrity Michael Buckley, who happens to be a Yarmouth club member. He skated out to center ice, and his affable demeanor and off-the-cuff humor was well received by the crowd. He impressed us all even more when he began to skate around and even executed a double Salchow! He claimed he surprised himself, and in the next moment, attempted an Axel but decided that was best landed on a more comfortable body part. 

LOC chair Donna Wunder, Convention and Visitors' Bureau VP Patti Lloyd and the Barnstable town manager all spoke and thanked competitors and spectators for coming, and I had the pleasure of making a few comments about this competition and adult skating. One of the fun firsts I was able to share was the very first adult nationals competitor, Lynne Kuechle, who also won gold at that event in Delaware back in 1995. She was in attendance and had the shirt to prove it! 
 
Buckley's energetic good nature really showed up later on when he thanked the crowd, who then graced him with tossies. First, only one shot out of the audience, which startled Michael enough to exclaim, "That was terrifying! They're throwing things! Where are the sweepers??"

Michael, join us more often. And for heaven's sake, KEEP YOUR WENDY BEAR!

Entry 5: Meeting up

Last night was a whirlwind of happenings! At 4 p.m., the Adult Skating Committee held its meeting to share Governing Council proposals and information on changes and whatnot in adult skating. With a couple of contentious issues on the agenda, the chair, Gail Sombati, brought her best foot forward and donned a very elegant green witches hat, green sparkly nails and a shirt emblazoned with "SALEM" in rhinestones. Brilliant! The meeting produced many questions and answers. During the meeting, I happened to sit next to Carol Waggy, who had been given a box of very delectable looking and quite large cupcakes from fellow skater Ken Ho. She said they were Boston cream pie, and they were covered in chocolate. (Please enjoy the music of your choice and stand by while I wipe away the drool.) ...

... OK, I'm back. Some notable absences this year include Amy Wise, Angie Waibel Miske, Patricia Graves, Merry Neitlich, Judy Pearson (does anyone remember an adult nationals without her?), Leslie Plank and the lovely Century Leigh (bigs hugs) and her parents. Sadly, Ms. Susi Lawton, known by her jacket with the rhinestone name "Century's mom," has recently passed away. She attended many of these Championships, and it is not the same without her family. We miss you!

Earlier in the week, a handful of skaters shared their goals for the competition. Below are some of them:

Rachel Kuhn: Not to get arrested, kicked out of anywhere or otherwise do anything that would look bad if someone Googles me. I set high goals.

Oh yeah, and 1) Stay calm and don't freak out in dance and 2) Skate clean in FS/artistic and don't back off.

Terryl Allen: Looking forward to seeing the Cape for the first time. I hope to skate as I have been training and share time with this amazing community. Hope everyone has a grand time skating and cheering!

Julie Gidlow: Try to soak it all in and not let the competition aspect stress me out.

Dianne Miller: My goals are primarily to enjoy and appreciate competing with a healthy body (had a back spasm last year just before adult nationals and could only handle Salchows, loops, toe loops, and upright spins), and also to skate as well as I know I can.

Phyllis Friello: At the 20th adult nationals, to hear DJ Tindall at the beginning of my program welcome everyone to the first adult nationals.

Kimberly Coxe: To skate strong, have fun and enjoy the time at my first nationals! Then, gold moves prelim dances and two ice shows!

Walter Horton: To be the best partner I can be for June.

My goal is to get as many of you in the blog as possible. Off I go to do just that!

Entry 4: Two decades

It's the 20th!

When I take stock of the last 20 years, and how much has been accomplished in adult skating, it's pretty amazing. Some very motivated people have made all of this possible, and for that, as we open this competition, we are grateful.

It appears everyone has arrived safely, though sound is always questionable at the outset (Rachel Kuhn and Cheryl Morrison, I'm looking at you). My own travel was relatively uneventful, and I was delighted to run into Brandy Lokken and Rachel Duran at the airport in Boston. I met up with coaches Phillip Di Guglielmo and Peter Kongkasem for a ride into town, where we picked up coffee at a local cafe. Peter said it was a happening spot, and it was!

Walking into the arena -- which is gorgeous, by the way -- I immediately ran into Michelle Daichman and Mickey Bolek. A lovely greeting, followed by LOC chairs Donna Wunder and Carolyn Pierce. These ladies and their staff have outdone themselves in preparing this event. If you see them this week, please be sure to thank them. Or find them a libation. Both, preferably.

I also had the pleasure of meeting Michael Buckley of "What the Buck" YouTube fame. I love how fast he talks, but I love even more that I understand him. Not sure what that means, but he left me with a "Holla!," and he was off to watch the competition.

I was able to take in the Silver Ladies III qualifying round, featuring the altogether fabulous Chris Wilson -- who recently returned to adult skating -- and the ever-creative Sharidan Williams-Sotelo of Breaking Ice fame. Go look it up on AMC. I'm telling you, we have some seriously talented people in this sport. A quick chat with Lauren Day and hubby Steve Goldstein, inventors of the infamous Beanie Baby Bazooka, revealed that the contraption was under heavy scrutiny this year from the TSA. Nonetheless, it is here and shooting like fireworks! 

I made the rounds to check out the facility -- which did I mention is gorgeous? -- and discovered some icicles ... errr ... judges rinkside. Before this all gets crazier, I want to say a very large THANK YOU to the tireless officials that freeze during events. In the gymnasium part of the building, there is a fantastic vendor set-up, complete with event shirts, dresses, skates, accessories, etc. I was thrilled to see the affable Mark Ladwig manning the Jackson skate booth. Plus, he posed for a picture the way only skaters can. You know what I mean, don't you? We can all be standing around, perhaps slouching, then someone holds up a camera and, suddenly, we all have the perfect pose and smile. If you need a demo on this, find me. I'm amused by it.

OK, now I'm off to the Adult Skating Committee meeting, where things will possibly begin to heat up over Governing Council proposals. Then it's time for opening ceremonies!

Entry 3: Practice makes ... shenanigans

The first official day of practice has begun. Well, it's over by now. But the rattled nerves and excitement are either quelling or building. Or both, likely. Everyone experiences these feelings differently, and the outward expressiveness of these runs the gamut from reserved and detached, to gregarious and fervent enthusiasm. This competition lends itself to the latter of those, and nowhere is this more evident than two groups that can always be counted on to be entertaining.

WMAS

These gals live through humor and strive to be here no matter what. See last year when Melissa Garland "ate" breakfast with me (see photo gallery). And in 2011, a handful of these ladies were all present -- on a stick. Their version of road trips is something that always makes me smile. Great snacks, crazy hats and a seriously deep level of friendship.

The Deep South

OK, this crowd usually runs below the radar, but I can't figure out how that happens. Some of the funniest people I have ever met belong to this clan. (I'm looking at you, Donna Farver.) I can't reveal their bleacher-audience practices, but I will say it took me years (I'm a little slow) to catch on. They are incredibly dedicated tossie-ites, including the year (2010, Bloomington?) Becca Guthrie was a live tossie. I have a vague recollecion of the Gus Lussi rink competitors party in 2004, with questionable clothing items askew. That's really all I can divulge without excommunication. Oh, and Jay the "Cookie Man" belongs to them. He's legendary for his gender-specific cookies. I'll let you figure it out.

I'll share more groups later in the week.

Seen around the rinks... Elizabeth Risberg after her BIG Lutz ... Alexei Folger and Beth Bilka putting coach Louis Vachon through his paces ... Bay Area coaching treasures Choeleen Loundagin and Charlie Tickner ... Garland practicing her podium stance ... Dana Opsincs and the Florida team arriving ... Ms. Jean Teng, direct from Canada and skipping out on a Caribbean vacation to be with us ... More to come. But first, I need to climb aboard the friendly skies to bring you the up-close-and-personal version of this competition. Stay tuned!

Entry 2: #ridetohyannis

My own journey to the 20th started with trying to book airfare and ground travel. I became mildly exasperated deciding between Boston and Providence for flying, and moderately annoyed at the lack of reasonably priced car rentals/trains to the Cape. "Who," I wondered aloud to my husband, and not thinking clearly, "Would think to select a competition location that is this difficult to get to?" He rolled his eyes at me and just smiled. Oh, heh. That was me. To be fair, it was a team of us, but I had a lot of input. OK, sorry everyone who had trouble getting here!

With so much to look forward to, I booked what I needed and didn't look back. After all, it's the end of our second decade. We have much to celebrate! 

Top 10 exciting things about the 20th U.S. Adult Championships

  • Opening ceremonies with Michael Buckley (self explanatory, people)
  • Showcase guidelines adopted for dramatic and light entertainment programs
  • Recognition of NINE skaters who have competed at all 20 of these nationals
  • The legendary Dick Button and media icon Doug Wilson coming to hang out with us and sign their books (They get to experience our brand of camaraderie.)
  • The second annual STARS combine athletic testing for adult skaters, with Olympic silver medalist Paul Wylie (http://www.2014usadultnationalchampionships.com/come-participate-in-s-t-a-r-s-new-england-and-meet-paul-wylie/)
  • Watercolor painting created by a local Cape Cod artist, exclusively for this competition
  • Seeing 692 people who have the same fixation on skating as you do
  • Michael Tongko (competitor and Virgin America's famous singing and dancing flight attendant) performing the national anthem at opening ceremonies
  • A beach location. With lobster everywhere.
  • A beach location (yes, this one bears repeating)

So, if you feel the need to mutter at me under your breath on your #ridetohyannis at any point, feel free. Just also remember to leave that behind when you arrive and allow yourself to appreciate all it took to get you on the #roadtohyannis.

Entry 1: The dawn of a third decade

In the next few days, adult skaters nationwide and from Canada will be making their way to Hyannis, Mass., to compete at the 2014 U.S. Adult Figure Skating Championships. This year is a little bit different, as we celebrate the 20th annual occurrence of this event. I can hardly believe it's been 20 years. I missed the first one and have competed at three subsequent nationals, and let me tell you: If you have not attended one as a competitor or spectator, you need to experience this event.

Every year we all look forward to the "reunion" that is this competition. Every year we hope each one of us is healthy and whole. Injuries be damned, we all still show up and give it our best. If you're wondering what the thing is that motivates us, it's more than the cool air rushing over our aging bodies in practice. It's more than the untold dollars we spend on rhinestones (though don't underestimate their immeasurable importance). What it is, is the cheering we hear from our fellow competitors, those we compete WITH, not against. The sincere cheers when we fall and increase in decibels when we get up. And, of course, the tossies. Tossies are an epic staple of this event. At the 2013 U.S. Adult Championships, I participated with a group of adorable young skaters as a sweeper. And, boy howdy, that's a lot of bending and snapping!

The other component of adult skating is what I coined many years ago as the "enchantment factor." Many of us skated as children; many started later in life. No matter, as since we all decided to take this journey, we've become enchanted with skating. It is self-sustaining and Never. Goes. Away.  

As you arrive, practice and compete, may you all strive to beat your best competitor on his or her best day, and may you all experience whatever enchantment means to you while that cold air clears your head. Oh, and don't let Rob Lichtefeld's tossies hit you on the way to the kiss and cry.

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