Notes From 2003 Nationals - Dallas, Texas
Copyright 2003 Ann Jensen - all rights reserved

Detailed notes by event are through the links at the bottom of the page.

January 11, 2003
-Well, here we are in Dallas. We visited the "Conspiracy Museum" today. As best I could tell, the gentlemen who runs this museum feels that all of the Kennedy assasinations, and Teddy dumping his car and Mary Jo into the bay were all part of the same large scale military-industrial plot to overtake the goverment.It was pretty fun looking at the elaborate displays he has created to advance his theory. I am far too obsessed with skating to make fun of someone else's obsession - but it made me fell relatively healthy.
-We are in the Hyatt Regency. Nice hotel. The slowest elevators of any hotel I have ever stayed in. That should be real fun as the week progresses. They are having some sort of gathering of teenagers in the hotel this weekend. I mean - teenagers other than skaters. They are like "decoy" teenagers. It is pretty loud and the atrium got T.P.ed this afternoon. Ah - youth.
-The downtown area here is ALL business. There isn't even a Quickee Mart or drug store that I could find. We had to take some public transportation out to the burbs to find bottled water for less that $2.50 a bottle. That will clearly be the downside of this Nationals. The restaraunts in the hotel seem to be more than adequate for sit down meals. But grabbing food on the run is going to be a challange.
-The Reunion arena is really easy to walk to. They are not really searching your bags. They didn't blink at my camera. I could have had food in a pocket of the bag and gotten it in the door if I had wanted to. I don't have a reason to go to the main venue til much later in the week - so that will probably be a lot tighter. The arena is a nice one. Lots of seating - and goot sight lines. The sound system is not so hot. A lot of the music at the practice session we saw today sounded like toddlers banging on pots and pans. And the announcer was really hard to hear. There was one food stand open. Hot dogs, pretzels and sodas.
-The scorebook is great this year. Birth dates, coach, choreographer, club, training town, music- the whole bio. Very nice. And they will sell it seperately from the "program" so it is only $5.00. Great deal. There is some out of date info in the program - Angela Nikodinov still has Irina Rodnina listed as her coach instead of Frank Carroll, Yebin Mok has Peter Oppegard listed as coach and choreographer, but her coach is actually Johnnie Bevan and her choreographer is Irina Yelchin. But that is probably not the fault of the LOC. On the downside, the merchandise is.....really expensive and...ordinary. Except for the stuffed armadillos. Yes, you heard me - stuffed armadillos.
-Tomorrow (January 12) I should be putting up reports about Novice Pairs, Ladies and Men's short programs in the evening. I will most likely skip most of Novice Dance- if I happen to make it for any of the dances I will write up a little bit about it as well.

January 12
-Ok - Short Program notes are up for the Novice events. Novice dance was fairly decent. A lot of unison issues and a couple of small stumbles. But none of the dances looked like battles. I pretty much understood all the judging except the team that was first in the Waltz and second in the Blues. I had them much lower in each dance. Oh well. The LOC has decided that they will not be selling or distributing start orders or results. They will post them on the bulletin boards and they are available on the web site. I give this policy a big thumbs down. The sound system at the arena was much better today. The music that sounded like toddlers banging on pans yesterday had actual notes today. The food at the Reunion Arena is quite possibly the worst I have ever tasted. People are planning ways to bring in contraband to get through the day of Novice events tomorrow.I'll let you know what happens.

January 13
Novice Free notes are up. We have a new nominee for worst costume of the year. And they were really good skaters with a really good program. The costume wasn't only ....way too busy - a piece of it fell of and caused a disruption in their free dance. Evil costume.The rest of the dance was relatively uneventful. A lot of big band and swing (yeah). Some quite servicable skating overall. We were able to bring in enough beef jerky and nuts to get us through the day without eating the arena food. I was forced to buy some water though. $2.50. Curses. Oh well. I skipped Junior CD to go get dinner tonight. I am skipping their OD tomorrow to go see the Sr. practices out at Duncanville. Then I will make my first visit to the "big arena" for Sr. CD tomorrow night. Tomorrow will be a late night, so I don't anticipate an update unless I get time between the practices and the CD.

January 14
-Almost none of the pairs from group A showed up at the morning practice. The Baldwin brother's and their partners each showed up in their groups. John and Rena looked very strong. Dick Button came in and watched them. They were working on the 3 twist. - it seems to be just a smidge short of rotation at times -but compared to the other pairs that showed up later it was a world class skate by them. A friend of mine who saw a later practice says Steve Hartsell and his partner look like the class of the field.. I'll let you know if I concur when I see them. Spielberg and Joright reportedly had a very rough practice. Scott and Dulebohn looked good (say the reports) and the Stieglers do very short practices without full runthroughs. They did an impressive lift and some very nice choreography. They had some trouble on the side by side jumps - they eventually got them done.
-The Sr. Men's practice was a mixed bag. Moments of brillance with some sloppy skating in between. I did not recognize Johnny Weir at all. His hair is ...burgundy? And looks like he stuck his finger in a light socket. Skating to Dr. Zhivago. Very reminiscent of the "Umbrellas" program for me. Scott Smith stood out in the morning session I watched. Kept the tension throughout his run through - did the quad sal. I enjoyed the program. Shepherd Clark is skating to "Memories". Think of my days in the sun.......:)). I love this sport.Tim has gone back to last year's free skate. Had a couple of problems on the run-through, but fixed them in the post-mortem session. Frank Carroll must have been over with the Sr. Ladies as Russ Witherby and Ken Congemi were doing the board work for Tim. Jordan Wilson is a skater with a huge ":wow" factor. His jumps are ....big. His program this year to the Grand Canyon Suite is really nice for him. Good Spread Eagle (Him and Shep on one session - hog heaven for Spread Eagle fans) and an Ina Bauer. I know Jordan does a quad toe - not sure if he was worikng it yesterday or not. Evan Lysesek also looked strong to me.
- The CD was mostly as expected. Lang and Tchernychecv didn't look like a team lacking in training. Bebin and Agosto lacked the speed to overtake them. Matt Gates took a spill on his Tango Romantico and took his partner along for the ride. Justin Pekarek and his partner looked ...young & new.. I might have had Gregory and Petukov a spot lower in the Tango...but it wasn't that serious. Galler-Rabinowitz and Mitchell and Moxley and Kirsanov were a surprise to me. I remember G-R &M from prior years, but they are stronger than I expected them to be now. The other team I was not familar with at all and so I expected them to look rough. Nope. Very strong. Oh - and Navarro and Shmalo looked very off in their dances. Tugging and pulling and missed steps and ..eesh. I was very surprised by that.
-On the organization front - the buses are an issue. Particularly at the practice venue. I waited over 45 minutes for a blue bus while 3 red busses went by me. I spoke to the info people (very nice people - everyone of them) and said - look - I am NOT a crazed killer. That bus is going to my hotel - I need to be at my hotel. Just let me ride the Red bus. The LOC is wasting money running 2 seperate lines to the Distant rink. Oy. And of course when the event let out last night no one could have possibly forseen the need for several busses to be at the arena at the same time. Just like no one has forseen that for the last 6 nationals. ARGHHHHHH. Heaven forbid.
-They have the hockey glass up behind the judges at the main arena. I am sure the people sitting behind them will be pleased. I have awful seats. They are in the 3rd row, but WAY at the end - I can't see practically one whole side of the arena. And a tall woman with HUGE hair is sitting in front of me. I actually moved BACK a row to try to get over her hair. And they didn't show the dances on the jumbotron at all, so I missed a bunch of it. I am going to talk to the organizers today and try to get more centered seats as I can not shoot photos hardly at all- heck I can barely see. The angle the seats are at is real bad in this arena - I have been in places where the people in front of you don't block as much ice with their heads as they do here. I am not happy. But today is open seating at the other arena with the Jr. Events. So I get good seats and no food. LOL. Oh - all the shops sold out of the small sizes in the merchadise on like Friday. All the skaters need small or extra small and all the places have are the big ol' fan sizes. Good for the big ol' fans. Sad for the skaties.
- Oh - the security at the main venue is not tighter. They peek in your bag and you walk through a metal detector. Ta-da. And the food is much better. They have Bbq and a real green salad (I hear a heavenly choir). I went to SP-Teri and got measured for yet another pair of boots. My husband suspects I am actually aiming to collect a pair from every manufacturer.

January 15 - They got muffins and fruit and hot chocolate over at Reunion now. They had busses PILED up at the end of the events last night. So it is nice to know they are trying to patch up problems as they occur. I posted a bit over on Sr Dance. Posted on the Sr. Pairs short and the Jr. Men and Ladies Short. Now I have to shower and rush off to see another day of events. I am so tired and I have a headache and Sandra is right- it is way to hard to try to put up notes during Nationals. ::))).

January 16 - I put some quick notes up on the Sr. men and ladies short and the Jr pairs short. I skipped out on the Jr. Free Dance to get lunch. Sorry dance fans - I am getting too old and tired to do Nationals 100% anymore. Gotta full day today. See you all tomorrow (Aieeee...)

January 17 - Ok - The Jr men and ladies free skates, the Sr. free dance and the Sr. pairs Free are all up. Attendance is sooo down here. I wonder if the USFSA will ever get around to ASKING why people aren't coming. Hello - Here I am - Tired and hungry and sick of being searched and scanned and hating not being able to ride the busses with the competitiors or throw them prizes and paying $1000.00 for the right to be treated like a #$#% criminal by the USFSA/arenas. Just ask me. I will be happy to tell you why. Since you have the orders for all even tickets for the last gazillion years of nationals, why not ask people who stopped buying tickets WHY they stopped??? Hello - here we are - Talk to us!!!!!Nationals is a grueling Spectator Boot Camp (Thank you Catherine). They do NOTHING to make it easier or more comfortable and everything to wring the last bleeping dollar out of us and the skaters. Dallas's LOC seemed to be asking the correct questions, but they were unable or unwilling to do the things we told them would make it better. The handicapped parking and the busses for spectators are on the opposite side from the ONE AND ONLY door they open in the practice/Novice/Jr venue. The Food in that arena is awful. The USFSA, ABC and LOC took all the best seats in the main arena for themselves so the paying customers get lousy views from their $1000.00 seats. I wonder why people don't come??? What could it be???? The real question is why DO we still come???? Ask me that in a few more weeks when I have recovered.

Post Event Wrap Up - Wow - was I crabby or what :)). You know - The hotel was better than Salt Lake's Nationals(it had several restaraunts and a HUGE bar). But it was right next to the train station and they allow smoking indoors in Dallas. It was really hard to get to any sort of Quickie Mart. They wouldn't let you leave the secondary arena and come back in, so you were stuck for whole days of Novice and Jr events with nothing but arena food. My seats were dreadful - especially for taking photos and it really is galling to see entire empty sections of prime seast that have obviously been set aside for ABC's equipment. If Dick and Peggy et al are just going to watch the competition on monitors (they have to in order to get decent views due to cameras and the size of the arena) why do they even set up a broadcast table in the arena? Couldn't they just watch from a comfy hotel room or trailer out back? LOL -that'll be the day. Men's is usually my favorite event.. then pairs. No wonder I am cranky. Wow. What a mess. I am going to go finish up the notes on the Sr. events now. You all have seen some of the damage on TV - I'll go lite on those programs. By the way - if the USFSA were to ask me why I keep going -it is because every once in a while, there is a moment that makes it all worth while. Rudy in San Jose. Yebin Mok's short program here. Both of Michelle's programs here. Moments that transcend the creature discomforts and make this silly sport seem like something completely worth the wacked out amount of time and money and obsession I give it. And that is why they can't seem to drive me away.

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.

We are busy scanning in the photos this weekend (January 25/26) I hope to have the medalists up by Monday. After that it'll be kids I know and costumes that stuck out)

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 26, 2003 4:52 AM