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The Inside Edge: U.S. Champs best-dressed list

Wagner, Rippon prove fashionable; Davis and White simply win in style

Add best-dressed to Meryl Davis and Charlie White's ever-growing list of accomplishments.
Add best-dressed to Meryl Davis and Charlie White's ever-growing list of accomplishments. (Sarah S. Brannen)

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By Sarah S. Brannen and Drew Meekins, special to icenetwork.com
(02/01/2012) - We were sad to leave San Jose on Monday. The competition went by so quickly! We had a delightful cab driver from Ethiopia on the way to the airport, who told us he had been to the ladies free skate competition on Saturday night.

"I've never seen ice before in my life," he said. "I was the happiest person in the arena. Figure skating is so amazing!"

Well, yes, it is.

The U.S. Championships are officially over, and you know what that means: It's time for the best-dressed list! As ever, the best-dressed coach award was hotly contested. We are considering naming the award for Mark Mitchell and Peter Johansson, who look exceedingly fine in -- whatever they wear really. We saw them early in the morning on the way to practice, dressed down but still superb. Mitchell said he is all about Uniqlo these days.

"Peter was in Japan at NHK and he bought me all these clothes," Mitchell said.

"They're kind of like the Gap: inexpensive, but beautifully made," Johansson said.

Mitchell says Uniqlo is opening some stores in New York, and it's going to be big.

"I'm mixing and matching," he went on. "I've got the Uniqlo on, but of course I have to have a Burberry coat. And I'm wearing Dolce in the kiss and cry."

As it happened, Caitlin Yankowskas and Sarah were on the same plane on the way home from San Jose, so Yankowskas chimed in with a few thoughts on last week's fashions on and off the ice.

And with that, here it is:

The 2012 U.S. Championships best-dressed list:

On ice

Ladies: We liked Kiri Baga's lilac short program dress, designed by Brad Griffies. It was simple yet breathtaking. Alissa Czisny's much-praised pink "Vie en Rose" dress was also in the mix, with the best back, a chandelier of crystals and an elegant, slim belt to complete the look.

We'll give the win to the winner, Ashley Wagner, for her black swan dress and its complicated details. A striking costume for a striking skater.

Men: We saw a lot of black, of course. And plenty of sparkles.

Runners-up: Alex Johnson for his elegant black short program costume and the lovely, balletic purple and brown look he wore in the free; and Josh Farris for his pale blue shirt with ruffles down one sleeve.

Winner: Adam Rippon's free skate costume. Opinions are mixed, with some wishing for a stronger color, but we love everything about it. The fit, the draping across his chest, the tight sleeves, the ombré dye; it was a win for us.

"It was simple yet elegant," Yankowskas said, "And sometimes less is more. It didn't take away from his music or his skating, and sometimes flashy costumes can do that."

Pairs: We saw a lot to like in both the junior and senior events. We liked Cassie Andrews and Timothy Leduc's tight black onesies, particularly the outlined crystal edges. Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir nearly won this category, taking it to a new level in a gray dress with illusion top and ombré sleeves, and a crisp sculpted suit for Shnapir.

Winner: [Amanda] Evora and [Mark] Ladwig. Their long program costumes to "Daphnis and Chloe" are even more exquisite in person, with beautiful colors and delicate layers of mesh and velvet.

"It's so pretty," Yankowskas said. "I love his shirt. It's the details that make their costumes look so good. The fabrics really go nicely together."

Dance: We liked Emily Samuelson's purple short dance dress a lot, and it looked great with her red hair. But there can be only one possible winner: Meryl Davis and Charlie White. Davis has a spectacular new short dance dress in Art Deco-patterned gold. And we really cannot enthuse enough about the free dance costumes: Charlie, classic in formal wear and Davis radiant in layers of fuchsia and purple chiffon. So classy.

Most bling: Stephen Carriere. You probably had to be in the arena to see how much his "Swan Lake" long program costume actually sparkled.

"Green" award: Laura Bonicorsi and Travis Mager. Bonicorsi graced the ice in "vintage" Tanith Belbin dresses in both the short and free dances, and Mager accompanied her, looking major studly.

Off ice

Best-dressed skater: All the ice dance women brought it, but we're giving this to Madison Chock, who looked divalicious every time we saw her.

Best hair, women: Madison Hubbell, who even had great hair on an early flight home.

Best hair, men (the "Charlie White" award): Jonathan Cassar, who told us he had been washing his hair and using product twice a day in order to win. Hard work pays off!

Best shoes: Project Runway star Nick Verreos, whom we spotted in the stands during the men's final. Verreos was the real deal, in a tan trench coat and wool vintage Prada ski pants with great hardware details at the ankle. It was, however, his killer boots that that slayed us -- a gorgeous deep brown pair by Yves Saint Laurent. Verreos was also channeling Peggy Flemming, sporting an elegantly draped chartreuse scarf.

Best-dressed power couple: Yuka Sato and Jason Dungjen.

Best-dressed choreographer: Doug Mattis. It's hard not to use the word "dapper" about his immaculate style.

Best-dressed coach, female: Karen Kwan takes this award for the second time. Try to describe her without using the word "statuesque."

Best-dressed coach, male ("Mitchell-Johansson" Award): Tom Zakrajsek. Zakrajsek paired great-fitting suits with bold, deep colors for a very modern, chic look. We have to confess, however, that he had a little help! Drew, who trains at the Broadmoor skating club in Colorado Springs where Zakrajsek works, convinced Zakrajsek to let him play stylist and update his wardrobe with a shopping trip and style intervention. Zakrajsek was a fantastic sport and obliged. We had a feeling things might get a little crazy, so we filmed the whole excursion. To see what ensued, check out the video!

Best-dressed commentator: Peggy Fleming, wearing Vera Wang and laden with jewelry by her friend, Carla LaBotte. Fleming took to the ice for the opening ceremony; it's always nice to see her on skates.

Best-dressed Olympic champion: Kristi Yamaguchi.

Best comeback look: Johnny Weir. He arrived at the arena wearing all black, as we mentioned in Friday's blog. We're thrilled diva Johnny will be back on the competitive scene, for his fashion dramas alone. We heard later in the week that he was wearing leopard-print pants, which is a look only Johnny could rock.

Best-dressed Hall of Fame inductee: Michelle Kwan. Kwan had on a different outfit every time we saw her, and all were bold, yet tasteful. We died for the black gown with a cascading ruffle and pleated top she wore for the Hall of Fame ceremony. In her speech, she thanked figure skating's fashion goddess, Vera Wang. The shimmering gold top and black pencil skirt Kwan wore for the on-ice presentation were as perfect as her fifty-seven 6.0s.

Speaking of which, final Kwan sightings (and outfits): four.

Final count of Olympic champions: Eight, since we finally saw Marina Klimova. Thanks to Mark Jahnke for alerting us that she was in the arena.

"She still looks the same, right down to the hair," he said. "She came to watch all the dance events, including ours. I about died, [she's one of my idols]."

See you at Four Continents,
Sarah and Drew
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