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The Inside Edge: 'Ice Chips' with Lysacek, Nagasu

Olympic gold medalist premieres 'Samson and Delilah; Nagasu studies art

Olympic gold medalist Evan Lysacek likes to stick to subtle colors from Vera Wang.
Olympic gold medalist Evan Lysacek likes to stick to subtle colors from Vera Wang. (Sarah S. Brannen)

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By Sarah S. Brannen and Drew Meekins, special to icenetwork.com
(04/02/2012) - The Skating Club of Boston celebrated its 100th anniversary on ice with its annual "Ice Chips" show March 31 and April 1, directed by Timothy LeBlanc and choreographed by Jason Wong. A year in the making, the show reached into the club's past and looked ahead to its future with a cast of about 400 skaters in all. Linda Blount, Marissa Castelli, Tom Lescinski, Merita Mullen, Jessica Dupuis and Christie Allan-Piper also did choreography, and Marion Cepican was responsible for the sets.

The brilliant and moving opening featured all the club's elite skaters and a group of about 50 novice, junior and senior skaters clad in silver. At its climax, Ross Miner skated out carrying the club's flag, and many long-time club members and supporters teared up with emotion.

Guest stars Evan Lysacek and Mirai Nagasu joined club members Miner, Stephen Carriere, Gretchen Donlan and Andrew Speroff, Castelli and Simon Shnapir, Anastasia Cannuscio and Colin McManus, Yasmin Siraj, Harrison Choate, Alexandria Shaughnessy and James Morgan, and many more.

The Man in Black

Lysacek premiered an exciting program at the Saturday afternoon show: a new free skate, to music from Samson and Delilah.

"It's a work in progress," he said. "I love the music so much. It's beautiful. And not too many people have skated to it. It's very repetitive, very driving, which I like."

The program showed off Lysacek's smooth speed and power to good effect, with some big, clean triple jumps: Lutz, flip and loop. Lysacek also premiered a new Vera Wang costume in gray and black with a white collar.

"It's something we're trying -- it's a possibility," he said. "Vera sends me things. For 'The Climb,' my costume is navy and black; it's not that exciting. My clothes are always subtle. I like navy, black, gray."

Having stated the obvious, Lysacek, clad completely in black between shows, started laughing at himself. Over some sushi, we had a far-ranging conversation covering topics including the Middle East, ankle injuries, architecture and hot climates.

"I'm glad to be able to come skate in Boston," Lysacek said. "My coach is from here. For the club to be around 100 years is amazing! The rink is nice and warm -- they don't have to heat the rinks in California and they're freezing."

Your intrepid blogger Sarah was somewhat fashion-challenged at the event, being in an aircast for an injured tendon. Lysacek mentioned that he had once spent a little time wearing a brace from his hip to his ankle due to a minor knee problem.

"I had to wear it for Fashion Week in New York," he said. "That was fun."

Art School

Nagasu, Miner, Castelli and Lysacek watched the final group of ladies from the world championships live on icenetwork.com backstage after the first show. Nagasu said she didn't find it hard to watch the competition, which she missed qualifying for this year after a disappointing finish at the U.S. championships.

"Last year I was really upset watching worlds," she said. "I was in Canada with Lori [Nichol], and it made me feel really upset that I wasn't there. But this year, it didn't really bother me. Last year it would have really brought me down, but this year, it's motivation for me to do better next year.

"I think the past couple of years, I've just put all of myself into skating, and this year I'd like to try to balance everything," she said. "Skating will always be my No. 1 priority, but it's nice for me to have something else to think about. It does upset me that I'm not at worlds, and it does upset me that I didn't do as well as I could have at nationals, but it's something to motivate me for next year."

To bring some balance to her life, Nagasu has gone back to school, at Pasadena Community College.

"I'm taking art classes, which is a lot of fun," she said. "And I just got my driver's license, so I'm driving to school by myself."

We asked where Nagasu's interest in art comes from.

"Since I was young, I've always liked art and drawing," she said. "I wanted to get back into it and just learn the basics. It's funny how, as a young girl, I thought I was good at art, but now I'm not really that great. I'm just taking two classes: a foundation of drawing class and a sketching for design class. We're working on designing chess pieces, but I don't know how to play chess so it's been interesting."

Nagasu said she has missed the school environment; she did the last two years of high school online. She is enjoying meeting non-skaters and not being recognized.

"At first it's awkward ... It's different with skating people, where you introduce yourself and you're friends right away," she said. "It's nice; there are all kinds of people, and to be in that environment again is refreshing for me. I really like it.

"As much as I love my skating friends, I need regular-person friends as well. It's kind of nice; my teachers have a lot of trouble pronouncing my name. It's nice to be that person they don't know anything about."

For the moment, Nagasu has been training in a local rink by herself, in addition to spending three hours a day in school.

"I haven't been traveling to Palm Springs because I'm not training my programs," she said, "So I'm skating at my local rink and just enjoying myself. Being in the real world makes me see how much I love the skating world. It's nice to have a balance of school and skating. I can appreciate how much work goes into both."

Iron Chef

Miner, who performed in his ninth "Ice Chips" with a bad cold and a 101-degree temperature, said he hasn't taken any time off after his very successful season.

"I didn't take a vacation," he said. "I get bored if I don't skate. I'm going to Hawaii with Maia [Shibutani} and Alex Shibutani in May. I'm probably going to come back looking like a rock lobster, but I'm OK with it."

We asked Miner what he has been working on since Four Continents.

"We haven't been working on anything too specific program-wise," he said. "Transitions and steps. We've been playing Iron Chef -- Mark gives me a couple of steps and I'd have to work them into whatever I was doing. I did a twizzle, rocker and choctaw, in any order, into and out of triple Lutz. I was Iron Chef America, by the way."

Looking North

Castelli and Shnapir want to push themselves as they prepare for next season. Among other things, they're planning to take a couple of trips to Montreal to work with Bruno Marcotte and Richard Gauthier.

"We're going to go get some choreography done," Castelli said. "We thought [Narumi Takahashi and Mervin Tran, and Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford] were fabulous at worlds, and true sportsmen too. It's going to be nice to see other people and see how they train. Boston is a great place to train, but it's good to see something different. We have a great team here: Bobby [Martin] and Carrie [Wall], and Mark [Mitchell]'s going to be part of our team here.

"We're pushing forward; everything's looking really good," Castelli went on. "For this part of the season, we're very consistent. We want to explore our boundaries and find out what makes us, us. Last year was a difficult year, but it was a transitional year."

More school

Carriere is taking three classes at Boston College this semester, including an all-day Saturday class, which meant he had to miss the afternoon "Ice Chips" show. He's taking a theology class, a philosophy class about marriage and family, and an introductory writing class.

"I'm a business major," he said. "I believe I'm a beginning junior, but somehow I dodged Intro to Writing. It's one of those moments where I go back to basics. I thought I was a good writer!

"It's very busy, but I don't think I would want it any other way. When I was younger, I would go straight from school to train. I wish I had taken school more seriously when I was in Delaware. I'm enjoying it."

Choate, the U.S. junior pewter medalist, has been accepted to Dartmouth College. It's a family tradition, as his father and grandfather are Dartmouth alumni. Choate must now decide whether to defer for a year and continue to compete.

"They have a really good collegiate team," he noted. "I like how the college is removed from the city, and it's the most beautiful place I've ever seen. So I know where I'm going, and now I have to decide when."

Speroff has just graduated from Ashford Univeristy with a bachelor's degree in sports management. He has moved into an apartment close to the rink and says he feels like a Bostonian now, even down to the sports teams.

"I've always liked the Red Sox and the Celtics," he said. "I'd say my attitude has changed the most towards the Patriots -- I used to hate them."

Speroff, who won the pewter medal at the 2012 U.S. Championships with his partner Gretchen Donlan, is looking forward to next season.

"We had a lot of challenges last year, and it felt awesome to work through them," he said. "When anyone asks what my goals are, I say, 'Just be better.' And whatever it takes to be better, that's what I'm going to do."

Congratulations to the club on 100 successful years, and our best wishes for 100 more.

Sarah and Drew
sarahanddrewblog@gmail.com
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