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Skate America diary

The view from a newbie

Lysacek at the Skate America opening reception.
Lysacek at the Skate America opening reception. (Janis Engel)

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By Linda Przygodski
(10/26/2007) - After years on the NASCAR circuit, covering my first U.S. Figure Skating event was a surprisingly nice change of pace. First off, I arrived in Reading, Pa. some three hours later than expected after the world's biggest traffic crunch getting out of Manhattan. Frazzled, doesn't even cover it. I was all about sorting out the logistics of getting from A to B, getting credentials picked up and getting to the venue. After all of that was sealed and delivered, I was ready to acclimate to world of championship skating.

Luckily, I hadn't even found the press room yet, when I ran into Evan Lysacek - there's nothing like a little piece of man-candy to get your day off on the right foot.

I must say, there is something rather soothing about figure skating. Maybe it's the music. Or the fact that after all these years covering sports, I was finally covering one that involved air conditioning.

Fantastic.

I was quite pleased to see the icenetwork.com logo prominently positioned on the ice, credential lanyards and on promotional mouse-pads being sold at the souvenir booths and given away to the media.

I love it when marketing people do their jobs. Good times.

But I digress; I got set up in time to see the pair's teams practice. I have to say, it was pretty cool. I particularly liked Stacey Kemp and David King. She's wearing a snazzy black unitard with the Union Jack on the back. They also have some signature move that is very reminiscent of The Cutting Edge.

I know a lot of people equate figure skating with movies like Blades of Glory but it's really not that silly. The costumes are amazing and the skill and artistry it takes the skaters to perform their programs is pretty dang fabulous. Seeing it up close, the execution of a routine is truly something to behold.

From the rink, we hit the opening night reception at the Sheraton Hotel in Reading. It was short on good food but high on good times. I met several of the Russian coaches, as well as U.S. skaters Lysacek, Tanith Belbin and Ryan Bradley.

I was surprised by the fact that the men were dressed way better than the women. Lysacek sporting Dolce and Gabbana, several pairs of Prada shoes, the boys really turned it out style-wise. Among the ladies, by far the Russian's swept the floor on the fashion front.

They did a neat opening reception ceremony, where each of the teams entered the room with their corresponding country flag. It was a good way to figure out who was who, and which skater belonged to which country, as I haven't put all the faces with the names yet.

The reception was followed by a low-key dinner at a local hockey rink. That allowed members of the media to mingle with the athletes and their coaches. It was short and sweet, which was refreshing as sometimes media dinners can be unending love fests that drag on hours longer than they should.

Friday morning, a dull gloom hung over Reading, as rain trickled down most of the day. Once inside the Sovereign Center, however, all of that falls away, as the skaters take the ice and that soft rock vibe takes over.

I could have lived without Hanson's "Mmm Bop" as the filler music though.