2021 US Adult Championships

by Mary on November 28, 2021

I competed at the delayed U.S. Adult Championships in Rochester, MI., in June. I’d really wanted to go to Michigan for this event. Preparing my Willow Waltz and Cha-Cha for the bronze solo pattern dance event was a good back-on-the-ice project, and coach Gary encouraged me to skate the Lola program he’d made for me.

The Suburban Ice skating club did the competition up right. Beautiful decorations, useful swag, a high-quality printed program and pretty medals, not to mention an opening ceremony featuring Alissa Czisny. It was one of the best adult competitions I’ve seen.

I always prefer to have a coach with me at events and I connected with Carmen, who made the whole event so much more fun. She’s a gentle, insightful coach and a high level ice dancer just finishing her Internationals.

Mary and Carmen

There was a question whether Adult Nationals would even happen because Michigan got walloped more than any other state by the Alpha variant this spring. Because of that, precautions for the event were strict. Proof of vaccination or a negative test was required for entry and masks were required off-ice. Also, no food was sold so people wouldn’t have their masks off while eating. That all made me feel comfortable to be there. Originally, they were not going to allow spectators, so my husband didn’t come along. My mom was able to come and watch me skate my dances, which I really appreciated! This is the first time she’s ever seen me compete.

I won the solo bronze pattern dance. It felt great to get that gold medal, likely the only one I’ll ever have from Nationals. They had merged several age groups so there was a 30-year span in the ages of the athletes, very tough for the oldest group. I was in the middle of the age distribution. One of my new skating friends in the younger age group gave me a run for the money with her skating skills that are stronger than mine. Fortunately for me there are other aspects to dance, like expressing the character of the dance, where I was able to make up for that.

My mom and me at Nationals

For the light entertainment competition I skated my program to ‘Whatever Lola Wants.’ I had some problems keeping my hair band on, really should have taken it off when it felt loose in my warmup. Other than that it was a good skate for me and I had fun, I hope folks were amused. The woman who won our group skated a dynamic, sexy program using a folding chair as a prop and doing all kinds of cool spins and tricks with it. I told her and her coach that I’d be afraid of a concussion if I tried those tricks. They laughed, but I was for real.

Videos from the event were on the US Figure Skating Fan Zone. I enjoyed getting to watch my whole event and share it with family without having to buy the video. But now I kind of regret not buying it or my medals photo. My mind just wasn’t on it. My dances are here and here, and my light entertainment program is here.

Light entertainment competitors

One of my spectating highlights was seeing Ben Jalovik’s incredible master’s light entertainment piece with a cane. It’s worth seeing here on Facebook. I’d gotten to meet Ben at the Monument Adult Skating Camp and been taken by his high-level improv skills and engagingly outgoing personality then.

Another fun piece was by Molly McGowan, the winner of this year’s Yvonne M. Dowlen award for the competition’s oldest skater. She pushed an old-fashioned wooden school desk onto the ice, sat at it, and pretended to be a skating judge making snarky comments about each skater she was judging. Her music provided the narration, and with a nod of the head and a wave of the pen she cracked everyone up without any actual skating. Way to snag that oldest skater award. Last but not least was a skater who donned an inflatable unicorn costume (think this, but figure skating). As soon as I saw that costume I knew who would win that group and I wasn’t wrong.

I went to the competitors’ party to chat up friends and make new ones, such precious rare opportunities these days. It felt weird to walk into a banquet buffet with lots of people, but in June it briefly seemed reasonable to me to go to an event like this. We played quiz games for prizes, drank, listened to the pounding rainstorm outside and wondered how we would get home.

By the next day it had rained so hard that cell reception was down for many hours in the whole area. The multiple days of intense rainstorms will be chalked up with the Monument bomb cyclone as the worst climate change anomalies I’ve endured while traveling, and I hope not to top those (please?).  I was eventually able to get a short burst of Internet connectivity, enough to route my way out of Rochester. I felt grateful to have had that dedicated time with adult skaters and to have had such a successful competition.

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