Skate America 2017 Day 3: Exhibition

December 01, 2017
By Suzanne Herrmann
Photos © Suzanne Herrmann

Exhibition Day! Which was actually the same day as the last day of competition. Props to the skaters who competed and participated in the gala!

As mentioned in the report of the first competition day, I am an adult skater and took part in a group exhibition number that opened the post-competition gala.
I arrived at the arena at about 7:30 in the morning to meet with my group of almost 150 skaters to prepare for dress rehearsal at 8am. With only 2 practices, 2 hours a piece, we put together a group exhibition number showcasing skaters of all levels aged 6 through 75. The moment I remember best was when the announcer stated, "THIS is US Figure Skating," showcasing a snapshot of the depth of figure skating in the United States.
Choreographer, Scott Brown, who coaches Bradie Tennell, headed up the choreography and strove to keep it simple enough for us to perform well, yet aesthetically pleasing to the audience. Our focus, being the Olympic year, were the Olympic rings. The walk there began at the Lussi Ballroom, included a hallway, walking on a ramp along the far edge of the 32 rink by the wall, literally balancing on precarious ledges and hopping over ice so we wouldn’t slip and fall. THEN, we were taken for a brief walk outside ON SNOW to the 80 rink and walked into the arena and walked through the crowd the length of the arena and down a set of stairs, and lined up in the US rink to take the ice on the 80—all in our skates! We took the grand tour! As we lined up to take the ice, those in the back – the black ring made up of 20 adults—were able to see the first few skaters after us getting ready to take the ice. Adam Rippon, from the United States, was back there and said he would not be skating due to his dislocated shoulder. Smart to rest it considering he has qualified for the Grand Prix Final! We took to the ice to the Olympic Anthem, Bugler’s Dream. Something that is probably not obvious to the audience is how difficult it is to get almost 150 skaters through the door on the ice in the allotted time frame! During practice they said, "Run! Run!" It ended up working out fantastically. We skated out two by two, and I was half of the second to last pair. After we stood around the edge of the ice, we formed the rings and the two circles made up of younger kids, yellow and green circled around through the other 3 circles. They did great with only one minor break in the circle. We returned to position after a kick line that was modest in difficulty but impressive in size. We could barely fit all the people that made up the blue, black and red rings across the length of the ice!

At the very end, we all spun in our respective circles to complete our performance and exited off the ice to the congratulations of Aliona Savchenko. It was cute (as I said, there were 20 adults—a great number, but there were many more kids!). We were instructed to return to the Lussi Ballroom to remove our skates before we could step in to watch the gala so I missed the first 2 numbers.
The exhibition itself was fun. It’s always good to see skating not under competition pressure. Fun show highlights:

  • Nathan Chen did a quad…because he can!...seriously, how hard are they really for him? He makes them look effortless!
  • Jean-Luc Baker came to pose at the boards for us dressed like Austin Powers before the finale.
  • Maia and Alex Shibutani’s program included some of a previous short dance and was popular with the crowd.

  • Adam came out to announce that he wouldn’t be skating and introduced one of his fellow-American couples to the ice.
  • The announcer had a Canadian introduce a Canadian team because he doesn’t speak Canadian well (the joke being that he doesn’t have a Canadian accent..)
  • There was a race between 3 learn to skate kids around tires set along the length of the ice. It was really cute! They were pretty fast and all came in under 15 seconds.
  • Group numbers are always neat – I love to see pair/dance lifts and jumps performed simultaneously.
  • We were treated to a performance by the US Synchro team, The Skyliners. Synchro is best enjoyed from higher up in the arena as it is easier to see formations and blocks, but I still have a great appreciation for speed and unison up close.

  • At the end of the gala, the skaters tossed t-shirts that said, "I spent my Thanksgiving in Lake Placid at Bridgestone Skate America" as it was the American Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

One might think that was a lovely end to a wonderful weekend, but it surprisingly didn’t end there! We walked up to the Crowne Plaza on the hill that provides a beautiful view of the town and Mirror Lake to the restaurant as I knew they’d be serving good food—and after spending 3 days in the arena enjoying every minute and not leaving to eat, I was ready for a tasty meal!
My friends and I ended up sitting next to a handful of the Russian skaters and Luca Lanotte and we bought them a round of drinks. Daniel Samohin was chilling on a couch a bit further in the place, so my friends and I then walked over to him as we didn’t want to leave him out and ended up talking to him for a long while. He said I can let you all know he is doing well. He had his arm in a sling and his shoulder is doing ok. He has a pulled muscle in his arm but no major damage, which we were relieved to hear. He’s off from jumping for a couple weeks so he will take the time to work on skating skills. Danny was a pleasure to speak with and he will do well for skating—actual skating as well as his involvement in the community. He also showed us a picture of his little dog that looks like a fox, Maximus. So cute! If you haven’t already, go follow him on Instagram (where you can find a picture of his dog!). You will also find the link to his new vlog on YouTube in his IG bio!
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