The Inside Edge: Happy 'Hunger Games'!

Cornucopia of skaters scorching to see 'The Hunger Games' in theaters

American skater Adam Rippon cannot wait to see 'The Hunger Games' when he returns from worlds.
American skater Adam Rippon cannot wait to see 'The Hunger Games' when he returns from worlds. (Getty Images)


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By Sarah S. Brannen and Drew Meekins, special to
(03/22/2012) - As you must have heard, The Hunger Games movie opens at midnight tonight. If you head out to one of the showings, keep your eyes open -- you may see skaters standing in line with you.

The film is based on the first of three books by Suzanne Collins: The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay. The books are fast-paced, extremely hard to put down and wildly popular. For the five or six of you who haven't read them, the story is set in a dystopian future. Twenty-four teenagers are forced to compete to the death in a televised competition, a literal version of Survivor. The last one left alive wins the game. Prior to the competition, they are given numerical ratings based on their survival skills, since viewers bet on the competition. Adding to the drama, the main character, Katniss Everdeen, is pursued by two romantic suitors: Peeta, who is also competing in the Games, and Gale, her closest friend from home.

We hope that's enough background for you to follow along with this blog if you haven't read the books. We asked every skater whom we knew to be a fan of the books what they thought about them.

The books

"Once I read the first book I was hooked!" Adam Rippon said. "I loved Katniss. I loved her fighting spirit. She's such a fighter. She's so honorable and has a ton of guts. How can you not love her?"

"My favorite characters are Katniss, Haymitch and Finnick in the last book," Gracie Gold said. "I have read all three books multiple times! I even have a few Hunger Games T-shirts."

"I love The Hunger Games," said Sarah Hughes, who said she read the first two books in a week. "I read the first two and am on the third, so please do NOT ruin it for me yet! Everyone who I have chatted with has told me Mockingjay is their least favorite, but I mean really, how much more can these characters take than has been dished out in the first two?"

"I have only read the first one all the way through, but I'm currently working on the second one," said Jimmy Morgan, 2012 U.S. novice pairs bronze medalist with Alexandria Shaughnessy. "I hope to finish it over spring break. My favorite character would have to be Cinna (Katniss' stylist). He seems like he really understands the obscurities in Panem and the frustrations that go with it. My favorite part of the first book is when Katniss shoots the arrow at the gamemakers to grab their attention, earning her the highest training score. I hope that's not a spoiler!"

Morgan confessed that he had borrowed the books from Kloe Bautista, so we talked to her next.

"I have read all three books and absolutely loved the concept of a fairly realistic future," Bautista said. "I loved it so much, I read all three within a week. My favorite was definitely Catching Fire because of the 'OMG' surprise moments Suzanne Collins perfectly placed throughout the book. My favorite character is Peeta. His loyalty and love for Katniss is so real, and not just romantically but in the way he steps in to save her life, that it makes me want to fall in love with the character."

"I like the first book the best," Christina Gao said. "The second one was good but not as good. I didn't like the third one because it was just depressing! My favorite character is Prim or Rue. I love them because they are like innocence in the book. I love when Katniss meets Rue in the arena and they become allies."

Tim Koleto says his favorite book of the trilogy is Catching Fire and his favorite character is Katniss' sister, Prim.

"My favorite part is the first moment when they rise into the Arena and wait as the timer counts down to the Games," Koleto said. "The intensity is so overwhelming, I couldn't put it down."

The characters

If you were in The Hunger Games, which character would you be?

"Well, I think I'm a little bit of both Katniss and Peeta," Rippon said. "I try to be brave like Katniss and as passionate as Peeta. I think my skill would be back-talking and I would get a perfect 10!"

"If I were in the book, I would be Peeta," Morgan said. "It would be just my luck to be the male tribute."

"Finnick," Koleto said, which explains his recent blond makeover.

"If I was in the book, I would be a female version of Peeta," Bautista said. "You know I am Team Peeta all the way!"

The movie

So, a dumb question for everyone: Are you looking forward to the movie?

"Are you kidding me?" Rippon said. "Yes! If I wasn't training for worlds I would be first in line for the midnight showing! I loved the books so much that I had Christina Gao read them when we trained in Toronto together. She gave me a Hunger Games pin for my birthday that year. I will be sporting it when I eventually see the movie."

"I am so stoked about the movie, I am attending the midnight premiere with my friends," Gold said.

"I cannot wait for the movie," Morgan said. "I think I've promised about 10 people I'd go see it with them on opening night. I'm still trying to figure out how to make that work!"

"I'm going opening night, and looking forward to it with bated breath," Koleto said. "The casting is perfect. I am most excited for the scene where Peeta and Katniss ride through the Capitol on fire. I'm nervous to see how they interpret the Muttations. It could go really badly."

"I'm looking forward to the movie so much!" Gao said. "I even have a shirt with a Mockingjay on it -- totally going to wear it. I'm so excited to see when the part when Katniss and Peeta ride out in the carriage and their costumes are on fire. It sounded amazing in the book, so I hope they made it amazing in the movie too."

"I am very much looking forward to the movie," Bautista said. "We have been in talks with a bunch of people from the Skating Club of Boston to take a field trip to a theater and watch it all together. We may even drag along Mark [Mitchell] and Peter [Johansson]; they are fans of the series as well."

"I've been following the press of the movie," Hughes said. "Jennifer Lawrence's dresses on the red carpets are stunning. Jennifer has that earthy beauty Katniss embodies, and from the stills I've seen, she makes those transformations from girl-next-door to beauty queen to warrior. I'm expecting big visuals. [Director] Gary Ross is good at creating a strong ambiance and capturing specific environments, as he did in Pleasantville and Seabiscuit, so I'm looking forward to seeing what he did here.

"When I was reading the book, I was thinking how it was written to be made into a movie. And Lenny Kravitz as Cinna? Puhlease! His fabulousness is going to hit every corner of the theater. Liam Hemsworth? Yes, sir! Donald Sutherland has such a strong presence too. The cast is phenomenal. I know I'm going to cry when Rue dies and my heartstrings are going to be tugged whenever Prim comes on, so I'm trying to figure out who to see it with -- probably someone who won't mind if I hide behind them for a few of the sure-to-be gruesome scenes!"

More books

We asked everyone what else they have enjoyed reading lately.

"I'm reading The Help right now after watching the movie," Rippon said. "If you liked the movie, you'll love the book."

"I recently read The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton for my English class," Morgan said. "I was skeptical about it at first, but the book's deeper meanings surprised me, which is saying something. I'm more of a Harry Potter kid."

"I am currently reading A Game of Thrones and loving it," Koleto said. "I also recently finished Divergent, a young adult novel in the same vein as The Hunger Games. It's really interesting if you're into the post-apocalyptic genre."

"I have started reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and am hoping to love it as much as I loved the Hunger Games series," Bautista said.


Three new skating novels have come across our desk recently. If you're a skating fan who loves romance novels, you'll probably like Life on the Edge by Jennifer Comeaux (Astraea Press, 2012). Comeaux is a longtime fan of figure skating who has attended many competitions in person. The skating here provides a backdrop for the central romance between a pairs skater and her coach. The skating parts of the book are accurate, as far as they go, although they feel written from the outside looking in. The romance is G-rated: heaving bosoms but no bodice-ripping. The book is available as an e-book and in paperback.

Ice Charades, a self-published paperback by Jenny Hall, is definitely written from the inside looking out. Hall is a former professional skater who spent 13 years touring Europe, Japan, Canada and the U.S. with Holiday on Ice and other shows. The book reads as though it was constructed from a tour diary; it's thin on plot, with a confusing horde of characters, but it's full of interesting behind-the-scenes details of life in a skating show.

Flying Camels and Tiger Mothers, a self-published e-book by Andy Schell, takes aim at familiar targets and goes for laughs. The story centers on the obsessed mothers of two aspiring stars and stays snarky, over-the-top and gossipy all the way. According to his biography, Schell is an adult skater.

For a deeper look at the life of a professional skater, read All the Sundays Yet to Come, a memoir by Kathryn Bertine (Little, Brown, 2003). Bertine's harrowing account of the development of her own eating disorder while on tour shines a harsh light on life backstage.

Miller marries

According to The New York Times, Ben Miller married Sean Reisman in Staten Island on March 16. Miller, a three-time U.S. junior medalist, is currently coaching at the St. Paul Figure Skating Club. The couple plans a religious ceremony in St. Paul on March 31. Congratulations!

Sarah and Drew

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