Photography by Ann Jensen

Notes From 2002 Nationals - Los Angeles, California
Copyright 2002 Ann Jensen - all rights reserved

You can see my notes for each event by clicking on the links in the table at the bottom of the page.

The photos that have been scanned in are also to be found by following those links.

Day 1: Practices at HealthSouth

This rink is set up very badly for spectators. HealthSouth 1 has bleacher seating, but the hockey glass and net are up. HealthSouth 2 has no seating -- you must watch it from upstairs through a window. They made me take everything out of all my bags when I entered, but had no problem with my camera, even with a big zoom. No outside food is allowed in at all, but this place has GREAT food. I had this yummy tomato/basil/spinach soup and a spicy chicken salad. Yum. It is not possible to take photographs here. They would not even let people with media credentials get around to the side with no glass or net.

Detailed notes on the Senior and Junior men's practices I saw today:

Kudos to Parker Pennington forr being the only skater to show up for the first practice. Parker was having trouble with jumps this morning -- popping and doubling things. His shoulders seemed out of sync with his hips, making him wobbly in the air, but his landing positions are beautiful. Wade thought he was wrapping his leg severely. I was more focused on his shoulder problems. He had nice energy in his footwork pass, and even from upstairs I could see he was trying to do some audience contact during the footwork. I've never understood the point of bunny hops, but Parker did a couple while warming up, and even managed to make them look impressive. When he worked his way up to the triples, they were much nicer than the doubles. Seems to pull his arms in tighter. He had a very nice combination spin that included a pancake position. The only other senior skater who showed up was in group C: Rohene Ward. I am in love yet again. He does a Charlotte. He does the Emanuel Sandhu A-spin. He does a really nice spiral. He does that weird sideways split spiral Sasha Cohen move. He does a layback spin. Although he is a left jumper, he does a right double axel into a triple salchow. He's working on a quad toe, but although some were fully rotated, he landed too far forward and fell. He uses an odd mohawk entrance to his flip. He had some trouble with that, but got it corrected. He was bending at the waist on the takeoff of his axel, but also got that fixed, and did several nice triple axel-triple toes. He also did a few triple lutz-triple toes successfully. In the afternoon practice, Rohene came back for more, and was joined by Shepherd Clark. My life is now complete. This group of men had a mixed bag of a practice session. Both did only partial run-throughs. Both had only on and off success with their jumps. Both eventually managed to do some of everything they were trying for. Shep is skating to something that sounds like a soundtrack. Rohene's music is listed in the program as Turandot, and the end was indeed Nessum Dorma, but I thought the beginning was Rondo Capricioso (sp?). The other senior men who graced us with their presence were Todd Eldredge, Parker Pennington (came late, did no run-through), and Evan Lysacek. Todd did a nice run-through of his free program, put a hand down on the quad toe, sort of stepped out of the triple axel in an odd scrapey fashion, and popped the flip, but did a really good job on the nice lyrical slow section, and he did manage to fix all of the jump mistakes (except the quad) really quickly in the practice. He eventually did pull all of the timing together to do one quad toe right at the end of the session. Evan Lysacek only did a partial run-through -- a sort of bluesy, slinky number. The program says it's "Drop Zone" by Hans Zimmer. His footwork looked a little out of control, and he skipped most of the jumps and left right after his run-through.

A lot more junior men showed up. I missed some of them because I was watching senior men. Of what I saw, Matthew Lind has a very nice back and good arm positions. Daniel Steffel is a pretty strong skater, but seems to bend very far forward on his jumps. Joshua Uster looks like this might be his first year at this level. His posture is good, and he did a nice series of back 3-turns into a loop jump, but his spins are weak -- his camel is extremely slow -- and his footwork was simple and slow. Brad Griffies is doing a very stylish program to "Stray Cat Strut". He has a very extreme arch in his lower back. I didn't see him do any jumps. Jordan Brauninger looked pretty well put together. His lower arms seemed to get away from him a couple times. Dennis Phan didn't have a great practice. The third revolution of his lutz had wandered off. Benjamin Miller is my first nominee for most unrecognizable skater. The last time I saw him, he was a sort of sweetishly geeky fresh-faced kid. He now has very long hair, has grown even taller, was sort of doing Tom Dixon-like choreography, with a look a little reminiscent of Jozef (sp?) Sabovcik. Very disconcerting. Adam Aronowitz, at the other extreme, does not seem to have changed a bit. He's skating to some sort of odd drumming music with arm movements that are odd, but fit the music. He's very small and very quick. Jordan Wilson skated to Shaft. Really big triple axel. A little sluggish on his run-through. It looked like he was tired to me. Tomorrow, I'll be reporting on the novice short programs and the spectator accomodations at the Sports Arena. See you all then.

Sunday - January 6: Well, the Sports Arena was better for viewing, but it had NO FOOD OR WATER. At all. Argh. Fortunately, there is a dialysis clinic right across the street..... The side the judges are on has no seatin on the ice level, so the arena was all lopsided: Judges and Paul Harvath on one side; all the spectators on the other. They searched our bags as we came in and were originally stopping people from bringing in food. But when it became clear that the vendors weren't coming and there were more of us than there were of them they started relenting. Leah Adams eventually was kind enough to fetch KFC for our group. There is also a Subway nearby. On the up side, the parking and result sheets were FREEEEEE. And the program for the Nationals is very good. The score books lists music and coaches and birthdates - everything I usually have to dig for. And the book that is usually all ads and junk has some great LA skating history bits written in it - anyone know who wrote them? I feel it is way more than worth the $15.00 they are charding. Oh - and the score book is SPIRAL BOUND - Yahoooooo!!!! OK - my competition notes and the standing are filed under the divisions - I didn't attend Novice Compulsary Dance (sorry kids), but all the Novice Short Programs are done. I have the music and stuff written down, but I wanted to get the "guts" in ASAP. If you NEED to know something I didn't post, just e-mail me and ask.

Monday - January 7: We have checked into the Biltmore. We have ordered a refrigerator ($10.00 per night - I guess they gotta try to make up for the lost room service $$ somehow)! Our room is nice & we get free breakfasts. Not bad for only $200.00 a night :)) Well, the Staples Center had no problem with my camera for Jr. Men, but they made us wait outside & wouldn't let us in til 1/2 hour before the event; even though the Jr. Dance warm up was going on & our tickets were supposed to be good for that. Yet more logistics they have to get fixed. And the Sports arena had food today, but I didn't indulge. Staples only had the McDonalds and a hot dog stand and a coffee stand open. The security people claimed they were looking for: "stuffed animals, flowers and big bags; no backpacks allowed". Of course, many people only had backpacks & they let them all in anyway. And so it goes. I am going to key in the notes for all the Novice free skates (except Dance. I am sorry - I couldn't stay and watch - I had to go over to Staples & make sure the seats were ok) and the Jr. Men. Once again I will leave out the music except for when it made my ears bleed. If you need to know something just ask.

Friday - January 11: OK. The line for the buses at the end of the events is REALLY long, but moves faster than the line for the elevator at the hotel. :)) I had enough free time to go over and skate in Pershing Square this am. Not bad for a wierd little outdoor rink. It wasn't too crowded and the level of skating was such that I was freakin' Sonia Henie. Everyone was Oohing and awing over my pathetic little spirals and weak spins. They even asked if I had skated as a kid. Ha Ha HAHAHAHHA. Good for my ego anyway.

And the arena is doing this horrible thing during warm-ups. While skaters are on the ice they use the jumbo tron to show candid shots of audience members & put "funny" things on them. So the audience winds up laughing at what are, to the skaters, completely inexplicable moments. What an insult. Ick.

The vendor showing here is really the smallest I have ever seen. The main boot companies are here, and Capezio and Blue Skys have small booths. And the USFSA has a big ol' booth. Atlanta Nationals is here. They were handed a copy of the USFSA letter about no cameras after LA & asked about it (no, not by me). They were completely unaware of the whole issue. The LOC guy was shocked. He said "but everyone has a camera". The LOC lady said "we have to do whatever the USFSA says". And so it begins.

Sunday - Ahhhhhh. I am dead. I sat in the lobby last night and gawked. Every famous skater you can think of was here. Just hanging out and visiting. I just sat and watched. My friend got a few autographs, but I was too tired and "scuzzy-feeling" to approach anyone. So I just sat and stared until I could finally move. I could have easily just sat and watched all night. Some of the folks I saw either at the hotel or the arena this week included: Jill Trenary, Paul Wylie, Calla Urbanski, Rocky Marvel, Scott Williams, Doug Mattis, Mark Mitchell, Peter Oppegard, Kathy Casey, The Scotvolds, Tiffany Chin, Dick Button, Linda Fratianne, Tai & Randy, Punsalen and Swallow, Jenni and Todd, Brian Boitano....Well, you get the idea. You can't swing a dead cat in this place without hitting a world class skater or coach :)). I may love this part of Nationals best :)).

We have different seats for the exhibition than we did for the entire rest of the event (this happens often) But this time we are pretty screwed. We are in the center section, in the second row, but half the rink is blocked by an ABC camera. We are not amused. The only thing they claim to be able to do is to move us to row 13 or 16 or something. Amazing what giving people money 3 years in advance will do for you. Gotta love this deal.

Novice Men Junior Men Senior Men
Novice Ladies Junior Ladies Senior Ladies
Novice Pairs Junior Pairs Senior Pairs
Novice Dance Junior Dance Senior Dance

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Last updated: January 30, 2002 7:16 PM