As I head to the Team Challenge Cup I’m remembering the last skating competition that I watched in Spokane, the 2010 US Nationals. They were held in Spokane just before the Vancouver Olympics. My family and I stayed at the competition’s official hotel, the historic Davenport, and loved seeing many of the skaters and coaches there. I chatted with Johnny Weir who was holding court in the lobby and listened as Scott Hamilton gave a pep talk to Brandon Mroz (who had hit the boards during one of his skates).
One of my sons was applying to college at that time and was finishing essays and sending online applications from the stands during the Zamboni runs. If you’ve never had a down-to-the-wire child apply to college, it’s quite the experience (I’ve been through it a few times now). Rachel Flatt is the same age as my son and was also applying to colleges. She got into Stanford– my son didn’t– but then he wasn’t a national champion like she was that year.
The hotel had a shuttle for guests and skaters to and from the rink. I hopped on a shuttle, late (it’s not just my son) to get to the mens’ long program. The only other people on that shuttle were an older man and a very excited pony-tailed 15-year-old with braces. He said he’d been trying to explain to his grandpa that skating runs on time and we needed to get to the arena right away so we wouldn’t miss Johnny Weir‘s skate. He asked me with a sparkle in his eye whether I’d watched the juniors, then told me that he’d just won junior men’s.
You can probably guess who that friendly teenager was– Jason Brown– and I’m really excited myself to see him skate again. He’s been off most of the season with a sore ligament in his back and has said he sees this event as his first skate of his new season.
Once we got to the rink on that day we watched Jeremy Abbott skate at the top of his game, taking the championship over Evan Lysacek and Johnny Weir. But the skate my family remembers the most was by the 4th place finisher, Ryan Bradley. Ryan played his Mozart character with such humor and verve the audience was entranced, on its feet before the program was even done. Ryan even stayed in character to receive his tossies, taking his gift from a sweeper with a courtly Mozartian flourish.
Jason Brown, who was a spectator at the senior men’s event that day, is now the showman in that event that everyone loves to watch. There will be so many great skaters this weekend that I’m not sure who I’m looking forward to the most, but perhaps Papadakis and Cizeron who skated such a beautiful free dance at Worlds. Did you see it? In case you missed it here it is:
Looking forward to making some great skating memories and sharing them with you.