The Inside Edge with Sarah and Drew - Jan. 19

Drew Meekins presents the novice pairs medal-winners with their awards.
Drew Meekins presents the novice pairs medal-winners with their awards. (Sarah S. Brannen)


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By Sarah S. Brannen and Drew Meekins, special to
(01/19/2010) - It was such a beautiful day on Monday, warm and sunny, that we spent a lot of time outside by the beautiful Spokane river. We found lots of skaters and coaches also enjoying the sun, including Bobby Martin and Carrie Wall, on their way back from what Bobby calls the "Nervous Pairs" practice.

Alex Johnson and Drew Gonzales felt tempted to jump in the river, although it really wasn't THAT warm. We all enjoyed playing with the coolest wastebasket we've ever seen, a bronze goat that sucks up any trash you "feed it." Lots of little kids were fascinated and kept feeding it, and so did Alex.

Costume Change
Drew got a surprise call from U.S. Figure Skating Executive Director David Raith Monday night while watching the Junior Pairs final. We'll let him tell the story:

At first when I heard from Mr. Raith, I was nervous that I might be in trouble. Being summoned by Mr. Raith is like being called to the principal's office! But I soon found out that it was in fact good news. Mr. Raith told me that he would like me to hand out trophies to the novice pairs champions, since I was the 2004 novice pair champion. I was thrilled, and honored, but actually a little embarrassed because for the first time in my life, I came to watch the event in sweat pants -- I had just come from a workout! Mr. Raith told me that my current outfit wouldn't do, so he escorted me to a private shuttle that whisked me back to the hotel for a very quick change. Since the pair event was nearly over, I had zero time to get fabulous. I somehow managed to shower and put on clothes in four minutes. I think I actually started drying off while I was still in the shower, and I did my hair in the elevator mirror.

I did end up making it back to the rink with time to spare and looking the part. I got the "choreography" from the officials and the ceremony went down without a hitch. I even got a cute ovation from my friends and fans when they announced me to the ice. It was a thrill, and actually really nice for me to get the chance to be on ice, even if just for a few minutes, at these championships after all.

During the ice resurfacing of the junior pairs final last night, fans and skaters alike were surprised to see senior pair silver medalist and Olympic team member Mark Ladwig make a celebrity appearance to help fill holes in the ice. It was hilarious! Mark acted as if it was no big deal. In addition to skating, Mark sharpens skates, drives a Zamboni and takes care of the ice at home, so he was happy to lend a hand to the crew here in Spokane.

As usual, Starbucks is the place to see and be seen at the championships. We strolled in around noon for a mid-day pick me up, and ran into Emily Hughes and her coach Bonni Retzkin who were having a pre-practice meeting. Junior ladies competitor Lindsay Davis was also enjoying a cup, as were Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto. It's so nice to see the ladies and the dancers finally out and about in Spokane. We've missed them! We chatted with Emily about how we feel like we've been here for months already.

"The schedule is certainly very different this year!" she said.

We then confessed that because of the amount of time we have to be here for the championships, it was quite challenging to pack. Drew somehow got away with a 56 pound bag when checking in for his flight, free of charge.

"Don't feel bad," Emily added, "I'm only here for five days and my bag weighed 54 pounds!"

We then discussed the fabulousness of the two Davenport hotels, of course commenting on the kinkiness of the Tower!

Practice Ice
Because of the two-week schedule and the timing of the Four Continents Championship, many of the men and pairs Olympics, World, and 4CC teams are in Spokane training for the rest of the week. We spoke to Caitlin Yankowskas, who will be going to Korea with partner John Coughlin. They have been training every day since the pairs long program on Saturday.

"It feels a little weird to go right back to training after the high of competing here, but we are so excited for Korea!" said Caitlin. She added, "It's really great to be training with all our other competitors. It keeps us all motivated, and makes practice feel more like a competition."

Good luck to all of the international teams.

Back soon,
Sarah and Drew