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The Inside Edge with Sarah and Drew

It's time to get ready for Cleveland!

Vaughn Chipeur with a couple of guards at the Great Wall of China.
Vaughn Chipeur with a couple of guards at the Great Wall of China. (courtesy Vaughn Chipeur)

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By Sarah S. Brannen and Drew Meekins, special to icenetwork.com
(01/15/2009) - It's time for another addition of Sarah S. Brannen and Drew Meekins' blog, The Inside Edge!

Leftover resolutions

We're busy packing for the 2009 AT&T U.S. Figure Skating Championships (yes, that really is their name). Drew is very excited to be competing at U.S. Championships again, after missing last year. Unfortunately, Sarah has decided to withdraw from senior ladies due to hang-nail and what she foresees as a potentially bad hair day.

However, we will both be on-site, blogging away daily, starting Monday.

As we were making final preparations to leave for Cleveland, we heard from a few folks with belated New Year's resolutions: Rockne Brubaker told us his resolution is to play more music. Adam Rippon said, a few days after Jan. 1: "Not to be ironic, but procrastination was one of my New Year's resolutions. As is believing in myself!"

To find out what Canadian singles skater Vaughn Chipeur told us about his resolution, read on.

Guitar Hero

Vaughn got an über-cool present this year: an Ibenez electric guitar and a Line 6 amplifier.

"It's pretty slick and sounds amazing!" he says. "The new amp is a practice amp, really just for playing by myself and practicing. I try to play for at least an hour every day to hone my skills!"

Vaughn has been playing guitar for a few years, and he has tried more than once to put together a band. Working around his on-ice training schedule has been problematic, though. He writes music too, and says, "I sing a little, but only when the music's louder than I am, or when I'm alone!"

And on top of the music, Vaughn says he's involved with various automotive clubs and racing. We have always been kind of curious about his unusual name, so, of course we had to ask.

"My heritage is Polish," he says, "But I only know that connects to my last name, Chipeur. Which back in Poland was spelt Szczypior. I'm glad they changed it!"

Vaughn is coached by Scott Davis, who was renowned as a fantastic spinner is his day. "Scott was and still is an amazing spinner," says Vaughn, "And he's taught me many of his secret spin techniques... which really just boil down to spinning a lot!"

Vaughn trains in Calgary, Alberta, site of the 1988 Olympics and the 2006 World Championships, which we were lucky enough to attend. He says the winter weather is crazy there.

"It's the oddest weather you've ever heard of I'm sure. It can be minus 30 Celsius one day and above zero the next day and back and forth! And the hottest summer breezes in the world are here, which is rather frustrating!"

We talked on New Year's Day, so of course we asked if he had a resolution. "Well, there's a great song by Graham Colton called "New Years Resolution" and it totally explains my resolution! I'd say more but I might get in trouble! If you listen to the song you'll understand!"

So we did, and we do. Good luck at the Canadian national championships, Vaughn!

Teleconference Tidbits

We spent a big chunk of Jan. 14 listening to four teleconferences. They're available on icenetwork.com, but if you don't have time to listen, these were the highlights for us: Evan Lysacek telling reporters he is getting excited about competing at the Olympics in Beijing... before, obviously, correcting himself and talking about Vancouver.

Also, that he will be debuting new costumes next week, about which we are very intrigued...

Keauna McLaughlin saying that she has to remember to be "sassy" in the short program...

15-year-old Mirai Nagasu saying that she has to take more care of her body now that she's old....

Johnny Weir saying it was hard to tell a story during the free skate without writing all the words of Romeo and Juliet on your costume...

Both Evan and Johnny reminiscing about watching Michelle Kwan get 6.0s for her programs.

Sister Act

Pair skater Tiffany Vise and her partner Derek Trent will be competing at the U.S. Championships next week, but her sister Brittany won't be there to cheer her on.

It used to be fun to watch the two sisters compete against each other on the ice; now they live together in Arizona, coaching and training at different rinks. We spoke to both of them about that and more last week, which surprised Brittany:

"Wow, I haven't done an interview for a while. "I moved to Arizona in March of 2008 to start a new chapter of my life. My sister called me and asked if I would like to move down to Arizona and move in with her. I thought it was great idea because it would be for the first time living away from my parents and I would have my sister to help me through the adjustment of living on my own."

Brittany coaches at Polar Ice in Peoria, 30 minutes away from the Alltel Ice Den where Tiffany trains.

"I'm at the beginning of my coaching career," said Brittany. "I am teaching in our learn-to-skate program. I have started to teach many little ones that are learning how to skate and are beginning to jump. I can't wait until the day comes where I am teaching at qualifying events and to be able to put my experience into teaching pairs. I love the sport and I am not able stray away from it."

After Brittany and Nicholas Kole decided to end their partnership in 2006, Brittany was unable to find a partner. She jumps and spins clockwise (as does Tiffany, interestingly) and it was hard to find anyone who skated in the same direction.

"Shortly after, I ended up having five surgeries in 2007. The surgeries were on my feet and both my shoulders to correct damage I had from competing all these years in skating."

People often think that the direction you jump is related to whether you're left- or right-handed, but this is not always the case! Although they're both clockwise skaters, Tiffany is right-handed and Brittany is left-handed. Both sisters started skating at the same time, when Brittany was three and Tiffany was four.

"Our parents brought us to public skating one day and we enjoyed it so much that they enrolled us into group lessons," said Tiffany. "Little did they know that both their daughters would someday compete at the national and international levels.

"As we were growing up, our mom would be the cheerleader in the stands and our dad was the one behind the camera where his commentary would always be heard later watching the video at home. It would make a bad performance turn into something funny. Living away from home now and with Brittany out of skating, it is hard for my parents to not be there for any training sessions. I update them daily on how my skating is going so they still fill a part in my daily skating routine."

A big part of Tiffany's daily "routine" is practicing a throw quad Salchow. We wondered if she could share any insight into the extremely challenging element. "The person who attempts a throw quad needs to be fearless," she said. "If there is any slight hesitation on the girl or the guy, it could be very dangerous."

What was key for you in landing it for the first time?

"After three days of attempting the throw quad, I landed it. I had to believe that I'd been doing it for years. I think only a handful of people do this throw. You take some hard falls and get many bruises but eventually your body starts understanding when to check out. Derek was the key factor. Yes I landed it, but he was the one throwing me. He had to figure out how much height I needed. We have to treat a throw triple and a throw for a quad differently because the way he throws me is slightly different."

Brittany won't be able to attend U.S. Championships this year, unfortunately.

"It is still hard during nationals week to not be there to compete," she says. "I miss the competition atmosphere and being out there in front of a large crowd. I will be watching it on icenetwork.com, cheering everybody on at home."

We wondered whether the sisters were more nervous out on the ice themselves, or when watching their sister compete?

Brittany: "During the time we were competing against each other in the senior pairs events, I would try to focus on myself but I always got more nervous for my sister when she competed. I had no control on how she skated and I wanted her to skate her very best."

Tiffany: "I was more nervous watching Brittany for the same reasons. We were competitors but sisters first. We supported each other and were happy when the other one would have a great skate. It will be hard this year to not hear my sister from the stands but I know she will be at home cheering us on."

Cold As Ice

The only redeeming quality about the generally freezing month of January (besides, of course, the opportunity to wear fabulous outerwear) is that U.S. Championships are near! We can't wait.

See you in Cleveland!
Sarah and Drew
sarahanddrewblog@gmail.com