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The Inside Edge with Sarah and Drew - Jan. 25

Aaron family making their mark in Greensboro

Parker Pennington is delighted by the contents of his gift bag.
Parker Pennington is delighted by the contents of his gift bag. (Sarah S. Brannen)

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By Sarah S. Brannen and Drew Meekins, special to icenetwork.com
(01/25/2011) - We've just arrived in Greensboro for the 2011 AT&T US Figure Skating Championships. Richard Dornbush was on the plane to Greensboro with Drew; it was so small that Dornbush had to check his carry-on at the gate, with his skates in it. He didn't want to let the skates out of his sight, so he tucked them under his jacket and sat with them all the way.

"Wow, those domestic flights aren't too bad, after flying to Asia!" he said. "Although, going to South Africa was the longest of all."

It was a dreary ride from the airport to the hotel, but Drew mentioned he had heard it was going to be warm tomorrow, and Dornbush, who lives in Los Angeles, said, "Really? I heard it was going to be freezing."

Then they realized that they were actually talking about the same temperature, in the 40s. Everything is relative!

The first person we saw, at reception, was Armin Mahbanoozadeh, in sweat pants but looking good all the same.

"We drove down from Virginia," he said. "It took five and a half hours, so I'm a little tired, but it's all good!"

Next it was off to credentialing, where Parker Pennington was being presented with his competitor's goody bag. He was very excited about the contents, which included chips and salsa.

We saw Carol Heiss Jenkins in the lobby, but given that she was simultaneously texting and working on her laptop, we decided to wait to talk to her another time!

Debut in the show
We already have a couple of contenders for the coolest name award, or Curran Oi Trophy: novice men Cale Ambroz and Nix Phengsy. This is Ambroz's first time at the championships; we talked to him just before he left to find out how he felt about making his debut, and, of course, his fabulous name.

"My main goal is to just go there and have a lot of fun," Ambroz said on Friday. "I don't want to put too much stress on myself; I'm just trying to stay confident and relaxed.

I'm looking forward to being with all these great skaters and learning from watching them. I am looking forward to every single aspect of my time spent there."

Ambroz, who previously attended the 2008 championships in St. Paul, confessed to feeling a bit nervous, but added, "I think that everyone gets a little bit nervous for any competition. So I guess I'm just going to have to stay centered with all the hustle and bustle."

So, about the name. Is there a story behind "Cale?" And does he like kale?

"My mom and dad just wanted a unique name for me, and I guess Cale just kind of stuck out for them."

Ambroz checked with his dad, and confirmed that, as he had thought, Ambroz is a Czech name. And as for the vegetable:

"Honestly, I have to say I don't think that I have ever tried kale. Although, I imagine it tasting like spinach, or parsley."

Ambroz finished in twelfth place in the novice men's competition after a tough free skate. He checked in with us afterward with his impressions.

"I think that, so far, it's been a great experience for me. It's been very different from what I imagined, but it's a great learning opportunity and I'm really excited to move forward. I found this quote, and I love it: 'There are no mistakes, no coincidences. All events are blessings given to us to learn from.'"

Aarons galore
In our October 20 blog, we talked to the three Aaron siblings: junior man Max, senior pair competitor Molly and, as of Monday, novice pair champion Madeline. The sisters and brother are cheering each other on from the stands, and hoping to leave Greensboro with another medal or two!

Madeline and her partner, Max Settlage, only teamed up in May, so winning the title is a pretty impressive achievement for their first season! We asked Max what it was like.

"It felt amazing," he said. "Just the feeling of being on the podium was unreal."

Before they skated, the announcer mentioned that both members of the team enjoy ballet; this is very evident in their skating style.

"I feel that ballet is just so helpful in skating," continued Settlage. "Maddie has had quite a lot of experience, twelve years I believe, and has been in several ballets, and I enjoy weekly classes."

As was reported on icenetwork.com, Madeline competed with a 102-degree fever. Drew talked to her from his layover in Dallas today to see how she was feeling.

"I think I have the flu!" she moaned. We asked her how on earth she delivered such an exquisite free skate yesterday.

"It was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do," she said.

As we mentioned, Madeline is the first of three Aarons to be finished competing this week.

"I'm really happy to be done first! I get really nervous for Max and Molly, and now I can just sit there and be nervous for them," she said.

We hope she gets healthy soon, so she can cheer for her brother tonight and her sister this weekend.

We'll be back tomorrow with all the dish we can find!

Sarah and Drew
sarahanddrewblog@gmail.com
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