The Inside Edge with Sarah and Drew

Post Cleveland hangover; Nick Laroche closes out career

Lyndon Johnston (left) and Jim Peterson (right) coached Tracy Tanovich and Michael Chau (center) to the junior pairs gold medal.
Lyndon Johnston (left) and Jim Peterson (right) coached Tracy Tanovich and Michael Chau (center) to the junior pairs gold medal. (Sarah S. Brannen)


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By Sarah S. Brannen and Drew Meekins, special to
(01/30/2009) - After uneventful flights home from Cleveland, we've recovered, but we're still mulling over the exciting event and remembering interesting moments. Before our thoughts turn to the 2009 Four Continents Championships and the junior and senior world championships, a few last bits from last week.

Fashion, continued

Some leftover awards from our Best-dressed list:
Best Hair: Charlie White takes this category again this year. His luxurious golden curls are unmatched.
Best Shoes:'s head diva in charge, Linda Przygodski, walked away with this one. She looked fierce and fabulous in Jimmy Choo all week, while working behind the scenes.
Best Fur: Although the use of fur was down from last year's nationals, it's always a staple for Johnny Weir, and for that he is now a two-time winner of this award.
Most Improved: Evan Lysacek's free program outfit was a much-improved classic tux in a stunning deep blue, which looked as if it were straight off the runways of Lanvin.

Tim Goebel tells it as he sees it

As promised, Tim Goebel got back to us with opinions and insight into the championship men's free skate last Sunday. Here's what he thought:

"Well, that was exciting! Brandon [Mroz's] quad, along with the rest of his program, looked effortless. He definitely established himself as a contender for a spot on the Vancouver Olympic Team.

"Jeremy [Abbott] did a fantastic job of keeping it together under an enormous amount of pressure and expectation. Clearly not his best skate, but he toughed it out all the way through. I am sure that he will find himself much more relaxed at worlds.

"I give Evan a lot of credit for putting the quad in. It took a lot of guts for him try it, and it was nice to see him pull out all the stops instead of watering down his content."

We asked Tim about what it's like to be backstage, attempting to defend or regain a national title.

"Back then, I felt much more nervous going into short than long, because no amount of points would get you to worlds if you weren't in the top three or four. Additionally, if I were to fall on a quad it wasn't a death sentence [although before all the injuries and my rapid descent DOWN the ranks, there was never a question of a downgrade -- I splattered on plenty, but they were ISU clean].

"I was definitely a little more tight going into my long at nationals than for any other event in the year.

"Nationals really provides a unique set of circumstances that take the level of stress up a notch. I never really ate at nationals, because I had a knot in my stomach from the minute I got to registration. After nats my legs always felt like lead for a week. I am sure Jeremy and Evan are completely fried, and after having such a stellar moment, I'm sure Brandon is on top of the world."

Tim wasn't afraid to share his thoughts on the selection of the world team, either.

"Finally, being that Johnny was a world medalist last season, I find it very disappointing he was not named to the team. He had a strong season -- and he has been qualifying for, and medaling at, the GP Final and he has been consistently in the top for several years. I am, however, glad that Brandon did not get bumped for Johnny because we need an up-and-coming young man to get the experience and exposure to start building his resume over the next several years."

Stellar coach

A belated shout-out to coach Jim Peterson, who coached the junior pair gold medalists and the silver and pewter medalists in senior pairs. His pair teams all have a very exciting, dynamic look on the ice, which is almost as exciting as his kiss and cry reactions to their marks. Check out the photo to get an idea!

Water should be frozen

Pair skater Stephanie Kuban had a dramatic preparation for her free skate last Saturday. She had to get up very early for the warm-up, so she planned to go to bed early. She got back to the hotel room at 8:45 p.m., planning to shower, change and go to bed, but she found a ring of "crusty brown stuff" in the sink and called the front desk to report it.

"It took them an hour to fix the sink," says Stephanie, "And by that point all I wanted to do was go to bed."

Stephanie finally fell asleep around 10:30 p.m., but she was awoken by the sound of dripping water and found water running out from the bathroom into the room.

"Our bathroom was flooding. The water was coming up from the drain of the sink and the entire bathroom was covered in water."

At this point, Stephanie's mom started lobbying for a new room for the night, explaining that Stephanie had to compete early in the morning and that they needed a new room. It couldn't be that easy though, and it took some time to reach the manager. Finally, around 11:30 p.m., they were allowed to sleep in a new room without moving all their stuff out of their old one that night. But after all the commotion and drama, Stephanie couldn't sleep.

"I remember looking at the clock for the last time at around 12:50 a.m. Not good since I had to get up at 5:30 a.m. for to be able to get to the rink for my 7:20 a.m. practice."

Despite all that, Stephanie felt good the next day and skated well, so who knows, maybe it's the best way to prepare after all.

Farewell, Nick

We were startled when we heard the announcement that Nick LaRoche had withdrawn from the men's free skate last Sunday, since we had talked to him on Friday and he gave no hint that he wouldn't be competing. We asked him about it this week, and this is what he told us:

"I withdrew, not because I was injured or anything, but because I was completely satisfied with my long at sectionals and short at nationals. I achieved my goals and wanted to end on a great note."

After not qualifying for the 2008 championships, Nick had to face the death of his parents last July. He said he felt that everyone expected him to retire, but he decided to compete again for the love of the sport. He had a great free skate at the Pacific Coast Sectionals and qualified for the 2009 AT&T U.S. Figure Skating Championships. "After skating very well in the short program," he explained. "I knew when I stepped off the ice after the short I was done. For once in my life, it wasn't about numbers or placement.

"I decided to not do the practice on Saturday or the warm-up on Sunday. During the warm-up, I went to the referee and said I was withdrawing. She asked for a reason, and I said I had had a really hard year and coming back to compete was to prove a point, not only to myself but to everyone else who immediately counted me out when I lost my parents this summer. I feel I have proved my point through the last two events I've done, and that's how I'd like to leave it."

At which point the referee got tears in her eyes, and we don't blame her. Nick says he plans to retire some time around April.

Best of luck to him and his sister, in everything they do.

Be well, everyone,
Sarah and Drew