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Four Minutes

5 Mar

A first-person account of Jeremy Abbott’s free skate at the 2012 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships

By Gwen Abbott Asmussen

What started out simply as the men’s free skate at the 2012 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships quickly turned into the longest four minutes and 40 seconds of our lives.

As my brother, Jeremy Abbott, was taking the ice Sunday to start his program, my family and I stood, hands trembling, nerves on edge, all waiting for Jeremy to replicate his flawless performance from the previous night. As Jeremy began his program, we sat on the edges of our seats, nervously anticipating his opening jump, a quadruple toe loop. Up-up-up-up and touch-down.

We jumped up screaming and cheering as Jeremy landed a perfect quad! As he was setting up for his next jump, my stepfather, Allen Scott, wasn’t cheering. Instead he sat quietly in his seat.

“Allen! Allen!” we called out, but there was no response.

His left fist was clenched, his eyes were closed and he was rocking back and forth in his seat. This isn’t Allen’s normal response to Jeremy landing a quad.

I quickly shouted out “Call 911!” Those seated around us turned and looked at me. “Call 911! I’m not kidding! Anyone — I don’t care — please call 911!”

Many people grabbed their cell phones to help. At that moment, Jeremy was on the ice right in front of us and landed a beautiful triple Axel.

It was 50 seconds into Jeremy’s program.

Helpful fans seated near us assured me that 911 had been called and that help was on the way. As Jeremy skated to the other end of the ice, Allen regained consciousness but was still not okay. A nurse attending as a fan quickly rushed down to offer help while I headed over to the railing to see if an EMT was on the way.

One of Jeremy’s friends rushed up to offer help. I told her to please send the medics to our section. Then a physician came down and offered assistance. I told him to please look at my step dad.

It was 1:30 seconds into Jeremy program.

Nervously, I looked out onto the ice to make sure that none of our commotion was distracting Jeremy. Two minutes in and he was still executing a flawless free skate. As I looked at crowd, I could see our entire section was watching my family, not Jeremy. I felt bad knowing the drama of our situation had taken away from their watching my brother’s skate.

Then, applause filled the entire arena. I glanced toward the ice long enough to know that my brother had just landed the last of his triple jumps.

It was four minutes into Jeremy’s program.

At that moment, a nurse was checking Allen’s pulse. A physician was asking him questions. Two paramedics were rushing down the aisle toward him. And Jeremy continued to skate.

I hadn’t heard any of Jeremy’s music nor seen any of his brilliant skate, but I slowly began to grasp what was going on around me. With 10 seconds left in my brother’s performance, the crowd was already on its feet.

I turned to face the ice and watched my brother complete a near-perfect performance that not only won him his third national title but again set the highest scoring record at a U.S. Championships.

While Jeremy’s scores came up, Allen was taken downstairs and then rushed to the hospital.

Jeremy, thankfully, was oblivious to the situation. For four minutes and 40 seconds, he was focused on his performance. For those same four minutes and 40 seconds, our attention was split.

With the help of Jeremy’s agent Yuki Saegusa and his coach Jason Dungjen, I made my way backstage. I hugged my brother tightly.

“I have so many emotions running through me right now,” I told him. “I am not sure which one is coming out, so I’ll just go with it.”

I was ecstatic and scared, elated and petrified, honored and embarrassed, proud and timid — all at the same time.  I explained to Jeremy what had happened and told him Allen was going to be fine. I encouraged him to go out and skate the exhibition as beautifully as he had skated the entire weekend, which he did.

We have never had a longer four minutes in our lives. While an entire arena and international television audience watched my brother take home another well-deserved title, we saw nothing.

Thank you to all the fans and everyone at the arena who helped our family. Thank you to the paramedics, the arena staff and the staff at the hospital for getting us where we needed to go and the help we needed to get there!

And, I’m pleased to report; Allen is back home in Colorado Springs and doing well.

Meet “The Boys Who Score”

7 Feb

By Lynn Rutherford

They are Billy, Dave and Enrico – an accountant, a banker and an architect who are best friends. In figure skating circles, they’re better known as “The Boys Who Score.”

You may have seen them at a U.S. Championships, or maybe a Skate America. They’re the three guys who tally up their own scores after each man and lady skates, and then show the results to the crowd, using either their notebooks or flip-up charts.

It’s a tradition that started at the 2004 Skate America, held at Pittsburgh’s Mellon Arena.

“That was the first time we started displaying the scores, mainly because we wanted to show we could add the scores up before the actual number [is announced], and it’s relatively close,” Billy said.

“It was popular with the people around us, and we said, we’re going to do this every time.”

They don’t do it to rank skaters, and they aren’t aspiring figure skating judges. Devotees of Michelle Kwan, they realized – after the five-time world champion’s silver-medal performance at the 2002 Olympics – that they not only loved Kwan, they also loved figure skating. Combine that with the International Judging System (IJS) and the Boys’ love of numbers, and a passion for scoring was born.

“We weren’t sure if officials were going to like it, or if people around us were going to like it,” Dave said. “But everyone really did, and that’s what’s been fun, the reactions.”

“Normally, when they agree with our scores, they’re really vocal to say they agree,” Enrico said. “If they disagree, we generally don’t here that much about it. If we do, it’s ‘I have a different score; why do you have that?’ It comes from a questioning viewpoint.”

So, no brouhahas with any opinionated figure skating fans sitting in their section?

“Every once in a while, we will hold something up and someone will say, ‘No, no, that’s not true!’” Billy said. “That has happened but it’s normally in good fun, I think.”

“Sometimes, people will even say, what do the boys think? What do the boys think? And they’ll look for us,” Enrico said.

The Boys’ scores for the 2012 U.S. Figure Skating Championships trend a bit lower than those awarded by the nine official judges. Example: Jeremy Abbott, who gained 90.23 points for his short program in San Jose, earned a high of 87.45 from the Boys, courtesy of Enrico.

“That’s because we’re giving out IJS marks; at nationals, the scores tend to be a little higher,” Billy said.

You can follow the Boys Who Score’s scores on their twitter, @TheBoysWhoScore, which also provides a link to their facebook page.

So what do they think of world champion Patrick Chan’s 302.14 score, earned at the 2012 Canadian Figure Skating Championships?

“We want to go on YouTube and check out those Patrick Chan performances,” Dave said. “I think our scores would have been, combined, at least 30 or 40 points less.”

2012 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships – Day 5

26 Jan

Thursday, January 26th – HP Pavilion – San Jose, Calif.

Useful Links

Twitter  #SJ2012  |   Official Event Program

Official Event Page   |   icenetwork.com Event Page

Schedule   |   Live Results/Starting Orders

Purchase Official Event Photos (As they become available)

How to Follow the 2012 U.S. Championships

11:07 p.m. – Ladies and Pairs Highlight the First Day of Senior Competition

Agnes Zawadzki brought the fans at HP Pavilion to their feet with a first-place short program performance which earned 66.24 points at the 2012 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships. Zawadzki earned 9.80 points for the triple toe-triple toe that opened her skate and received positive grades of execution throughout. Alissa Czisny, the 2011 U.S. champion, finished second with a score of 63.14 with Ashley Wagner, Caroline Zhang and Mirai Nagasu close behind. The ladies will perform their free skate on Saturday at 4 p.m. PT.

In the senior pairs competition, Mary Beth Marley & Rockne Brubaker earned the top spot following the short program. Marley and Brubaker, competing in their second U.S. championships together, earned 65.80 points to lead reigning silver medalists Amanda Evora & Mark Ladwig and Caydee Denney & John Coughlin heading into the free skate on Sunday.

On Friday at the 2012 U.S. Championships, reigning U.S. and World champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White and Maia and Alex Shibutani highlight a strong field of ice dance competitors who will perform their short dance at beginning at 2:30 p.m. PT. At night, Jeremy Abbott, Richard Dornbush and Adam Rippon highlight a strong field of men who will take to the ice in their short program beginning at 7 p.m. PT.

For full event coverage, including results and staring orders, stories, photo galleries and more, please visit icenetwork.com.

1:38 p.m. – Junior ladies quotes

The performances of both Ashley Cain and Gracie Gold made the 2012 junior ladies a competition to remember. Click here to read their quotes from last night’s press conference.

12:33 p.m. -U.S. National Champion Figure Skater Rockne Brubaker Encourages Men to Start Something as a Big Brother

Emilie Perkins, Director of Marketing, Big Brother Big Sisters of Orange County

TUSTIN, CALIF., January 20, 2012 – Big Brother Rockne Brubaker of Aliso Viejo, a U.S. National Champion pairs skater, is encouraging other men to step up and volunteer as Big Brothers to over 100 young boys that are waiting for mentors in Orange County.  Brubaker, a resident of Aliso Viejo and 2008 & 2009 U.S. National Champion, 2010 Four Continents Silver Medalist and 2011 U.S. National Pewter Medalist, has been a Big Brother to nine year old Gavin since July of 2009.  He also served as a Big Brother while living in Colorado, before relocating to California.  Despite Brubaker’s busy training schedule and frequent travels to competitions, he makes time to take Gavin to the park and play soccer and video games.

“Being a Big Brother has been the coolest experience.  We play sports together and I’ve taught him to skate, his favorite part was falling and sliding on the ice.  Gavin has changed a lot over the last couple of years and I’m proud to be part of that.  I encourage more men to step up and become Big Brothers – it’s really easy to set  aside just a few hours a month to hang out with a boy like Gavin.”

More from Rockne and Gavin can be found in the March issue of SKATING magazine!

Wednesday Storylines

Golden Performance – Gracie Gold posts the highest score ever for a junior lady en route to the U.S. championship.

Sappenfield Sweep – Three teams under the guidance of Dalilah Sappenfield finish in order at the top in junior pairs.

Detroit Rock City – Alexandra Aldridge and Daniel Eaton, who skate for Detroit SC, win junior dance gold.

Today’s Schedule (Pacific, three hours behind Eastern)

4:00 p.m.                   Championship Pairs Short Program (Session 13)

7:00 p.m.                   Opening Ceremonies (Session 14)

7:30 p.m.                   Championship Ladies Short Program (Session 14)

2012 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships – Day 3

24 Jan

Tuesday, January 24th – HP Pavilion – San Jose, Calif.

Useful Links

Twitter  #SJ2012  |   Official Event Program

Official Event Page   |   icenetwork.com Event Page

Schedule   |   Live Results/Starting Orders

Purchase Official Event Photos (As they become available)

How to Follow the 2012 U.S. Championships

Monday Storylines

Gracie Looking for Gold – Gracie Gold posts the top score in the junior ladies short program, looking to become U.S. junior champion

First Medals Awarded – All four disciplines in the novice competition have ended and medals have been awarded. Competitors from California won three of the four gold medals.

Today’s Schedule (All times Pacific, three hours behind Eastern)

2:30 p.m.                   Junior Pairs Short Program (Session 7)

6:10 p.m.                   Junior Dance Short Dance (Session 8)

8:00 p.m.                  Junior Men Free Skate (Session 9)

JUNIOR MEN AWARDS

7:04 p.m. – From Austria to the Americas

Few have racked up the amount of frequent flyer miles recently as Rachael and Michael Parsons. The 2011 novice champions flew to Innsbruck, Austria to participate in the first ever Youth Olympic Games and then straight back to compete in the 2012 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

“It was great,” Michael Parsons said, ” It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and we really enjoyed it.”

“I had the time of my life, it was incredible,” Rachael Parsons added.

Rachael and Michael, who call Rockville, Md. home, flew home and spent only one night in their own beds before flying out to San Jose, Calif. to compete in the U.S. Championships for the first time as juniors and as the reigning novice champions. The flight from Austria to Maryland was roughly eight hours, and the flight to San Jose was six hours, but according to Michael Parsons, he has no regrets.

“The travel has been long, but it was definitely worth it. We feel good.”

Rachael and Michael Parsons finished fourth in the Youth Olympic Games and they posted a score of 50.80 in their short dance at the U.S. Championships. They will be in the medal hunt in Wednesday’s free dance.

9:55 a.m. – Vincent Zhou triple Lutz

Courtesy of U.S. Figure Skating High Performance and thanks to Tammy Gambill, here is a high-speed video of Vincent Zhou, the 2012 novice men’s U.S. champion, performing a triple Lutz. One of the ways U.S. Figure Skating helps their athletes is to record aspects of their performance in super slow-motion in order to be analyzed. See the video below:

How to Follow the 2012 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships

20 Jan

The 2012 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships will take place Jan. 22‒29 at HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif. The following is a comprehensive list of how to follow the event:

Television
The 2012 U.S. Championships will have seven hours of live, high-definition coverage of senior-level events, including two in prime-time, on NBC. NBC will also air the Smucker’s Skating Spectacular, from 2‒4 p.m. (ET) on Saturday, Feb. 4. NBC’s broadcast team will consist of Tom Hammond (play-by-play), Scott Hamilton (analyst), Sandra Bezic (analyst), Tracy Wilson (analyst) and Andrea Joyce (reporter).

NBC Broadcast Schedule (all times Eastern, subject to change, check local listing)

BROADCAST DATE EVENT

TIME (ET)

Saturday, Jan. 28 LIVE free dance

4-6 p.m.

Saturday, Jan. 28 LIVE Ladies free skate

9-11 p.m.

Sunday, Jan. 29 LIVE Men’s and Pairs free skate

3-6 p.m.

Saturday, Feb. 4 Smucker’s Skating Spectacular

2-4 p.m.

Icenetwork.com
In addition to NBC’s coverage, live and on-demand coverage of the competition will be available to Season Pass subscribers on icenetwork.com. The icenetwork.com announce team, led by Mike Mancuso, features former Olympic, World and U.S. medalists. Returning to the broadcast booth are Tonia Kwiatkowski, a three-time U.S. medalist, and Peter Carruthers, the 1984 Olympic silver medalist. Joining the broadcast team in San Jose are Sarah Hughes, the 2002 Olympic champion, Kim Navarro, a two-time U.S. ice dance medalist and Johnny Weir, a three-time U.S. champion who recently announced his intent to return to competitive figure skating. For a detailed schedule, click here.

In addition to the subscriber-based coverage on icenetwork.com there are an unprecedented number of new and different ways to use icenetwork.com to follow the U.S. Championships. In addition to live results, news stories and photo galleries and athlete bios, icenetwork.com will also provide a live look behind-the-scenes at the U.S. Championships and a way to interact with the skaters during the competition.

#TweetSeat
During senior-level competition, once selected skaters receive their marks and go through the Mixed Zone; they will enter the #TweetSeat which will provide viewers with the opportunity to interact with their favorite competitors. Fans will be able to tweet questions via Twitter using the hashtag #TweetSeat and hosts Sarah Hughes or Kim Navarro will ask your questions live. The TweetSeat video feed will be free on icenetwork.com.

AT&T Ice Desk Live
Ice Desk Live will allow fans to hear insights, reactions and commentary from icenetwork.com’s assortment of talent covering the Championships. Hosted by Peter Carruthers, this fast-paced live show will include immediate reactions following competition, previews of what is about to come and questions from fans watching at home. Weir, Hughes, Navarro and Kwiatkowski will all participate in the AT&T Ice Desk Live.

Live Press Conferences
Pull up a chair and settle in for live press conferences, free on icenetwork.com, from the 2012 U.S. Championships. During senior-level competition, the top three finishers in each discipline in the short program and short dance, as well as the top three overall finishers will participate in a press conference roughly 10 minutes after the conclusion of each competition.

In addition to the competitor press conferences, Michelle Kwan, the lone member of the 2012 Hall of Fame Class, will have a press conference on Friday, Jan. 27 beginning at 9:15 p.m. ET, which will also be available for free on icenetwork.com

Social Media

When something happens, and the fans of U.S. Figure Skating need to know about it, social media will provide the answer. Throughout the U.S. Championships, be sure to check the U.S. Figure Skating Facebook and Twitter pages as well as the icenetwork.com Twitter page for breaking news and to join the discussion.

SKATING magazine blog

Launched shortly before 2011 Hilton HHonors Skate America, the SKATING magazine blog is the official home of SKATING magazine on the Internet. SKATING magazine blog will keep a live blog throughout each day of the U.S. Championships and provide updates, insight and useful links for everything going on in San Jose. SKATING magazine blog will also post a full digital copy of the official event program from the 2012 U.S. Championships. Visit www.SKATINGmagazineblog.com and join the more than 40,000 people who have already become readers of SKATING magazine blog.

Pre-Event Conference Calls: Davis & White and Czisny

10 Jan

Today, reigning U.S. Champions Meryl Davis & Charlie White and Alissa Czisny took questions from members of the media in advance of the 2012 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships in San Jose, Calif. from Jan. 22-29.

On social media before the call, we asked fans to submit questions with the anticipation of asking two on each call, however, due to time constraints, we only had time to ask one each. Thanks to everyone who asked a question and we wanted to let you know that there will be a great opportunity to ask questions while we are in San Jose as we attempt to make this the most interactive U.S. Championships on record for our fans who follow the sport online.

Charlie White – ” I think we feel very comfortable with the elements and the musicality and the outward expression of the program, we really just want to improve, and we feel we really have improved upon, communicating with each other during the program and showing that side”

Meryl Davis added ” After the Grand Prix Final we took a look at the program and wanted to make sure we were enhancing the tenderness and emotion in relation to one another.”

Many of the great questions we received for Alissa Czisny were about how she copes mentally with the sport, here is her response to the many who asked this question.

Alissa Czisny – “I think in the past I didn’t know how to do that (cope), but now after last year making all the changes, I feel like all I can do is train my best and go out in the competition and do my best. The results, ultimately, are not in my hands, but I can control how I skate on the ice and how I prepare to skate my best”

Czisny also mentioned that despite the injury she picked up during the Grand Prix Final, she is 100% and ready to compete at the U.S. Championships.

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