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The Inside Edge with Sarah and Drew

Cheerleaders, Romans and Zombies, oh my!

Jenny Kirk (right) has slowly gotten back into skating, hitting the ice with her friend, Jennifer Don (left), a couple of times a week in L.A.
Jenny Kirk (right) has slowly gotten back into skating, hitting the ice with her friend, Jennifer Don (left), a couple of times a week in L.A. (courtesy of Jenny Kirk)

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By Sarah S. Brannen and Drew Meekins, special to icenetwork.com
(10/30/2008) - icenetwork.com behind-the-scenes correspondents Sarah Brannen and Drew Meekins catch up with Katrina Hacker and Jenny Kirk, and they also get some Halloween costume ideas from your favorite skaters.

Cheerleaders, Romans and Zombies, oh my!

Happy Halloween! If you haven't gotten your costume yet, here's what some of your favorite skaters are dressing up as:

Johnny Weir: I'm going as an airplane -- to be fabulous.

Naomi Nari Nam: A Dallas Cowboys cheerleader.

Ross Miner: A Rubik's cube or Bjorn Borg-esque tennis player.

Jenny Kirk: If I were to dress up, I'd probably want to be a fairy!

John Kerr: Evan Lysacek. I just need a pair of stilts.

Amanda Evora: I'll be wearing my short program costume, at Skate Canada!

Stephen Carriere: I'm thinking of being Richard Simmons. It was something I wanted to do last year but never got the chance to.

Piper Gilles: I think I'm going to be a fire-woman, with [her sister] Alexe and Kellene [Ratko].

Charlie White: I'm gonna be at Skate Canada, I think ... Last year, I was an ancient Roman in a toga.

Timothy Goebel: The week following Halloween I have two midterms and a paper due. So instead of a traditional costume, I am going to be "Bitter" for Halloween this year. It's an interesting look: dark circles under the bloodshot and over-caffeinated eyes, pajamas and the overall appearance of a deer in the headlights. It will be scary indeed.

Marissa Castelli: I might be a Harajuku girl or Shawn Johnson.

Scott Smith: I haven't decided yet. ... A few years ago, I was a devil.

Andy Seitz: Paula Deen.

Colin Grafton: Either a crazy cowboy or a killer zombie or maybe a vampire. The girl who is having the [Halloween] party told me to come as Hugh Hefner. I don't know if you can say that.

And John Coughlin and Drew are going as Bert and Ernie, with Jessica Rose Paetsch as a rubber ducky!

Mouse Knees

We got to spend some time with Katrina Hacker this month and talk about her future. Last year, she broke through at the 2008 U.S. Figure Skating Championshipsand then competed at the Four Continents Championships, finishing sixth in both competitions.

At the moment, she is taking a year off between high school and college to skate full-time, and she's looking forward to the opportunity to travel and compete internationally. Katrina sounds as thrilled about voting in her first presidential election as skating in her first Grand Prix event.

"I'm going to be in China during the election, so I'll be voting by absentee ballot, and I'm really excited about it."

Next fall, she'll be attending Princeton University. "I just loved it!" she said, adding diplomatically, "Harvard was my second choice."

Katrina is pretty sure her future includes medical school. But she also loves history, especially American history, so she's planning to study history at Princeton along with her pre-med studies. Was she inspired by Dr. Tenley Albright?

"Yes, I was! I had to do an essay on 'My Hero' in fourth grade, and I wrote about her. She had had polio, and that really touched me, because my mom had polio. And she went to Harvard, and she was Olympic champion, and she became a doctor ... every time she comes to the Skating Club of Boston, I look at her with awe for all she's done."

Even now, Katrina is doing some work related to her future career.

"Since I'm not in school this year, a few days a week I've been working in a lab at the Harvard Dental School doing osteoarthritis research. Mostly, I section [cut up and make slides of] mouse knees. It's very interesting and fun and gives me a taste of scientific research. Perhaps the results of the studies will help lots of skaters someday!

"Coincidentally, the scientists who run the lab are from Beijing, so they have been giving me lots of info about China, which will come in handy when I go to Cup of China in a few weeks."

Between skating this season and starting college, Katrina has some interesting plans.

"After nationals, since I'll have time and the opportunity to do anything I want [for the first time in my life], I want to go to Senegal or India and teach underprivileged children. There's a program where you can go and teach for any length of time, since they don't even have basic necessities in the schools. They don't have teachers, so even an 18-year-old kid who wants to come and teach is something."

We feel kind of inadequate and useless after talking to Katrina, but we wish her well in all her endeavors.

Jenny Kirk in L.A.

We were really happy to hear from Jenny Kirk this month. It doesn't seem that long ago that she was dazzling at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, but she has been out of the sport for over three years, and we haven't seen her since the Marshall's Challenge in 2005, where she was a spectator. We bombarded her with questions about what she's been doing and what she has planned.

Jenny lives in Los Angeles now. She trained there for a year then moved back to Boston once she retired from skating, and after a stay in Wyoming, she felt the tug of the Left Coast and headed back to L.A. She's still a Boston Red Sox fan though, and she was looking forward to watching a playoff game the night we talked.

"I'm a huge fan!" she said. "It's hard, though, living in L.A. now I feel that I should cheer for the Dodgers. I had my heart set on a Dodgers-Red Sox World Series. I was so excited at the Celtics-Lakers last year, but I was torn about who to cheer for!"

Wait, back up ... she moved to Wyoming?

"Wyoming was actually great for what I needed at that time in my life. My sister was living in Jackson Hole ... I moved to be with her for a few months because I was going through a lot of tough stuff after I quit skating, and I just needed a place that was fresh and new for a bit. But L.A. was really the place I felt the most comfortable. I really like the low-key atmosphere, and it isn't as 'go go go' as the East Coast."

Jenny is currently taking classes, after taking some time to recover from the stress of the skating world.

"I think part of why I quit skating was because I was just so burnt out from the pressure of competition and training so hard every day for so many years of my life. I decided to take time to really get healthy -- I was struggling with an eating disorder -- and just enjoy not having pressures in my life."

What does she think caused her health problems?

"It's weird, because I was always very thin and no one ever told me to lose weight. For me, it was a form of control and a way to deal with emotional issues from my past that I didn't want to have to face. I think eating disorders are so common among skaters, and it was crazy for me to go on tour [with Champions on Ice] those two years and realize how 'normal' it was to have food issues.

"I think people would be surprised if they knew how many skaters at the top level are actually suffering with this problem. It got to a point where I couldn't even function, and I'm so happy that I was able to get myself away from the sport to deal with the problem."

She didn't skate at all for three years, but she now skates with her friend Jennifer Don a couple of times a week.

"I wanted to find an identity totally away from the sport and do the stuff I didn't do during the time I was skating. I actually didn't have skates for a really long time."

How does it feel to be on the ice again?

"It feels great! I really missed that feeling of just being out on the ice and skating around and jumping too. I was surprised at how quickly my doubles came back to me. I'm afraid to try triples though. Maybe one day!"

Jenny and Drew compared notes on pair skating. When Jenny was younger, she wanted to do pairs, and she tried it one summer, skating with Fedor Andreev.

"It was actually a lot of fun, but it's so tough to go from singles, where all you have to do is focus on yourself, to pairs. Having a partner that you can't control can become difficult. But I really think skating pairs for that summer helped our singles skating because it brought life back into the sport for us. As a singles skater, you reach a point where you do the same exact jumps and spins over and over again each day ... doing pairs brought the fun back into the sport as we learned new tricks."

What did she like best?

"I LOVED throws! I didn't mind falling on those, but I hated split twists. They killed my elbow for some reason. I was probably doing it wrong!"

Jenny is now taking a full course load at Santa Monica College and hopes to transfer to USC or UCLA next year. She is majoring in broadcast journalism.

"It's definitely been an interest of mine for quite some time. My dad works in TV [he is a documentary filmmaker, an award-winning senior producer for PBS and the creator of Frontline], so I grew up surrounded by microphones and cameras. I definitely want to do something in journalism. I would love to work at skating events in the future, doing either interview work or commentary. I hope skating is still on TV. It's so sad how it was so popular in the '90s and now, not so much."

So, what is her take on the current U.S. competitors?

"I think they are awesome. I was so impressed with the last flight of ladies at nationals last year ... all the triple-triples and clean programs were quite impressive. They are all young, though, so it will be interesting to see how they handle their nerves and such that will come in the next couple of years. I think Mao [Asada] is terrific, but I was confused that Carolina [Kostner] was placed so high at worlds."

Well, enough skating talk. What does she do for fun in L.A.?

"I'm not a big partier, so I don't frequent clubs, but I love the beach. I used to live right on the beach when I lived in Hermosa, and I would go every day ... I love movies and going out to dinner. We have the best sushi here! I do miss the seasons sometimes though. I loved fall in Boston and the chill in the air."

And with that, we called it a night and went off to watch the baseball game.

Have fun howling at the moon!

Sarah and Drew
sarahanddrewblog@gmail.com

For complete blog archives and more photos from An Evening With Champions, visit sarahbrannen.com