Well...hmm...what can I say? Today was probably one of the worst days of my life (other than watching COI), but Iíll only fill you in on the things important to this review, sparing you the complete details of my day. Letís start from the beginning. Iíve gone to COI every year since Ď93, but this year I didnít think I was going to be able to make it. I had to be in Montreal for a family function this weekend... of course, I had probably the best seats we ever had (center ice, 2nd row), and backstage passes. Iíve been trying to figure out a way to get back in time for months. A few days before we left, I decided to fly back Sunday at 7:30am, meaning Iíd get back 9:15, with plenty of time to spare for the 3pm show. Well, what I did not expect, was snow in April...April (and I donít want to hear anyone complain about the snow in Philly, cause it was snowing in Montreal)! Well, long story short, we boarded the plane around 7:30....plane did not take off until after 1, didnít get off the plane until about 2:40...show starts at 3. My mom was supposed to pick me up at the airport, then we'd go home for a while, then drive to the arena. Obviously, we didnít have time for that (it would be 40 minutes each way at least), so we went right to the arena (luckily my mom took the tickets with her), arriving a little after 3 (show always starts late, so at that point I wasnít worried about missing the show.) BUT, we didnít have our cameras OR backstage passes....that whining, groaning, noises you hear are me. Obviously I was really upset about this, plus being upset about my earlier experiences (details not important unless you want to hear me really complain). So, I really didnít get into the show until right before intermission (so sorry if Iím not too enthusiastic at some skaters/programs which I should be excited about.) Also, I didnít have my notepad to take notes, and the only paper I had was the back of a receipt, so I could only write one word or so about each person (not even able to write what each skater did at the beginning!) I had the seat numbers of everyone in that notepad, so thatís why I wasnít able to meet up with anyone (sorry!)

Two things about my mom waiting at the airport...she bought a disposable camera, so at least we had that (though what could we possibly get with that...and we had such good seats...argh, never mind.) I doubt any of them will come out, but we tried only taking the pictures when they were near us...Iíll let you know when they come back if any were good enough to scan in (cross your fingers...I need some luck).

The other thing is probably more exciting...probably most to my mom, and less to me, since it was another thing I missed. Well (Iíve said that a lot lately, havenít I?), weíre walking through the airport to the car, when my mom says to me, ďYouíll never believe who was here.Ē She was looking in one of the stores or something when she heard someone say ďoh, I donít know. Maybe thereís an ice show or something today?Ē She turned and looked, and there they were...the whole cast of COI walking through the airport! My mom (and one of the things I was thinking about while waiting for the plane to take off for 5 hours) was even worried that the show would be canceled because they wouldnít make it, since flights all along the east coast were canceled. She said that she was just stunned, watching them all walk in front of her, she didnít know what to do. This was around 11am (their flight from Boston was delayed...I donít know what time it was supposed to come in.) She said that they all looked exhausted and upset. Some were carrying a tote bag (Michelle was), while others had nothing with them. She saw skater after skater walk in front of her. She spotted Nicole when she passed right away, and then saw that Michelle was walking in the same row as her. I tried to pump her for as much information as I could (what were they wearing, who was with who, LOL...stupid little things that probably only I care about), but she really couldnít remember everything, and take it all in. My mom finally got out of her state of shock, and started smiling at the skaters. She didnít want to say anything since they all looked so tired (I told her she could have at least said good luck tonight or something, LOL). But, she did finally say something like ďAre you still going to skate tonight?Ē And Philippe actually stopped and spoke with her for a little bit. She said he was very nice. My mom has always liked him, but now heís one of her favorites. ;) She said she saw the ďred headed dancer,Ē and I got really excited thinking Marina Anissina & Gwendal Peizerat would be skating at the show, since I had never seen them in person....but it was Klimova (whose hair is really red now) she meant. Oh! Speaking of A&P, when I was at the Montreal airport, I passed by a store that had magazines in the window, and stopped in my tracks when I saw a huge display of magazines that had A&P in the cover! It was a magazine in French (ďMatchĒ or something? I know Iíve heard of the magazine online before.) I should have gotten it, at least to look through it (not that I would be able to read it or anything, but I did have a lot of Canadian money I received as change, so I should have used it.) I figured the trip was only an hour and a half....*sigh*.

LOL...OK, enough about the pre-show hysterics. Letís get to the actual show. Iíll try not to complain too much during this review about the way my luck went. This is a skating review, Iíll spare you my pain and misery. ;) I canít really say what I thought about the show in general, since I didnít really get into it until a few skaters before intermission. Most of the skaters were off on their jumps. I donít want to make excuses for anyone, but I assumed it was because they got in so late, and all seemed so tired. As usual, the crowd here didnít seem to know who most of the non-famous skaters were. There were no standing ovations until the end (Iím not exactly sure anyone deserved it though), and, as always is the case with me, I sat around people who never seemed to clap at anything. It was really weird to think that just a week ago, most of these skaters were at Worlds. I wonder how they gear up for a relaxed show (though Iím sure grueling tour), after all that pressure for Worlds just a few days earlier.

Show started about 15 minutes late, as always, but it was just enough time for us to get in there, buy a program, and get to our seats. As always, the show started with everyone skating out, and then each being individually introduced. I really tried to pay attention, but I was still pretty wired from earlier. Unlike past years, there was sort of a theme...all the skaters wore costumes that had gold Olympic rings them. Most of the costumes were black or white I think. Now, usually I know from previous online reviews on who will be at the show, the skate order, etc. But I wasnít online since Thursday, so I didnít know anything about who would be there. I was pleasantly surprised that Sarah was there (her hair cut looks so much better to me in person, unless it was cut since.) Iím trying to remember if Irina was announced in the beginning, but I was happy to see she was there too. Dan was a nice surprise. I knew Sasha was going to be at some stops, but she wasnít in the beginning, so I figured that Philly wasnít one of them. The only disappointment was that Dorothy wasnít there. I thought she was only not doing the Colorado show. Evgeny Plushenko did a combination with 3 jumps. Rudy got a HUGE ovation. Michelle came out second to last, I think. She wore had a white costume. She did her spiral, which probably won the flash-o-meter of the first half. I donít think she did a spin, but I canít be positive that she didnít. The music for her was ďThatís the Way it isĒ by Celine Dion. Unless someone refreshes my memory, I canít remember any of the other music played. Probably the biggest ovations in the beginning went to Michelle, Brian, and Rudy. Onto the rest of the show, in order of appearance, with their music in italics:

Sarah Hughes- The Prayer. Like I said earlier, her hair looked really nice, and her costume was gorgeous (Iím pretty sure it was one of the ones she wore at Worlds.) I was really impressed with her speed. Iíve always liked her, but thought she still looked kind of gawky when she skated. But I didnít during this program...very nice. She smiled almost though out the whole program. She landed several jumps, and then fell on her loop right near me. But, she still had that smile while she was getting up. Nice applause. I heard someone around me say ďSarah Hughes! How could you not know her?Ē

Evgeny Plushenko- Free skate. A lot of jumps, including a triple axel. Looking into the audience (at least when he passed by us) a lot.

Dan Hollander- South Park and Dude Looks Like a Lady. The audience loved it. Had to explain to my mom it was South Park, while I heard someone else say ďOh! South Place!Ē I had never seen this before. He came out dressed like Cartman from South Park, and then took it off to show he was wearing a Mrs. Doubtfire like costume, with a gray wig. Huge ovation after.

Sasha Cohen- Anytime, Anywhere. As I said earlier, I didnít think she was going to be here, so I was happy when she was. She stepped out of a few of her jumps. As she was going into another jump, she skated right by us, and you could see she had this look of determination on her face....and she landed a triple salchow. Nice spins, and I especially liked her cannonball sit spin. Lots of flashes when she did her spiral (holding her leg straight up next to her, if you know what I mean.) People around me seemed to be impressed, and I heard someone say ďWow, sheís only 13?Ē LOL, I agree with the wow, but sheís not 13. ;)

Usova & Platov- Skated to that song that just about every dance team skated to. Little did I know that another team would use it later that day. Lots of lifts.

Michael Weiss- SuperfreakandYou Can't Touch This. With his shiny gold pants. Looked tired. Fell face first during footwork towards the end of the program (looked like he picked something up from the ice later.) After that he seemed a lot slower.

Nicole Bobek- I Need to KnowandLet's Get Loud. Wearing a bright pink costume, hair high in a pony tail. Her right ankle looked like it was wrapped up. It was a typical Nicole program I guess, and after seeing Sarah and Sasha earlier, I was wondering what she thinks about staying eligible with all the young skaters.

Punsalan & Swallow- Woman. Skating with a broom. Sorry I donít have too much to say about them.

Rudy Galindo- Send in the Clowns. Wow. Well, a week ago I probably would have just been happy that he didnít do the Village People program again, but this program was very moving. It was probably about the time I started to get into the show. He received a wonderful ovation.

Berezhnaya & Sikharulidze- Smooth. Started off skating to some sultry music, which then went into Smooth (which I think is a great skating song.) There was something I wanted to say about the lift where she does a split on his back, but I forget now!

Viktor Petrenko- Mambo Number 5. The program that he skates with the doll. My favorite part is when he spins...it looks like the doll is doing laybacks and such...really cool. Crowd loved it.

Intermission

Besedin & Polishuk Acrobatic skaters. Did a lot of things that I would not be able to explain on a family oriented website. ;) I guess I didnít love it as much as everyone else did, as there were tons of flashes going off, and a huge ovation after, bigger than some of the skaters people were paying to see.

Irina Slutskaya- Wore a purple costume, new program to music I donít know. Did her three turns into a triple loop, which I just love. I did have a small piece of paper to write a little more notes down after intermission (thanks Louis!), but at this point, I donít know what I was thinking of, since some of my notes make no sense. I wrote down ďcell.Ē Does anyone have any clue what that means? LOL Didnít get much of an applause, which I thought was ashame, especially after the season she had, youíd think people would know who she was.

Elvis Stojko- Right About Now.. Not sure if thatís the name of the song, but hopefully you know what I mean. He came really close to the boards (at least by us) a lot. Iíve noticed that some skaters mouth the words to the song they are skating to. Well, Elvis was actually singing some of it, I think. I know I heard a few words when he came by us. I thought that was really funny. Audience was screaming for him throughout.

Klimova & Ponomarenko- Donít know what they skated to. More of an upbeat program than they usually do.

Surya Bonaly- End of the program was skated to The Phantom Menance. Landed many jumps (7 I think), plus her one-foot backflip twice (once into triple sal?) I think she slipped during a spin.

Todd Eldredge- Glory. Beautiful program, as usual, though it seemed more of a competition than exhibition program to me. I think he was wearing his ID4 costume. I wish he could teach spinning to other skaters. ;)

Kazakova & Dmitriev- . Also skated to the-song-I-donít-know-that-everyone-skates-to. I thought they had a rule that two skaters couldnít use the same music. Guess not. He was mouthing the words (but not singing like Elvis, LOL), and was really into it.

Oksana Baiul- Dove' L'Amore. It was an off night jump wise for all the skaters (trying to think if anyone was completely clean), but it was especially not her night. Doubled two jumps, and singled her first axel. When she was going into her second double axel attempt, she took a deep breath, and I really thought she was going to land it...but she only singled it, and sort of shrugged after. She did land one in the finale, though, and was very happy about it.

Philippe Candeloro- Braveheart. I think it was better on in person than on TV, though I still thought it was a little too long. At the end, instead of having a judge put the black hood over his head, a masked man with no shirt on skated onto the ice and did it (I wonder who it was.)

Brasseur & Eisler- Canít remember what they skated to, though I know itís a song I know. A good program until they fell going into one of their lifts. I think he sort of fell on top of her, and she seemed a little out of it at first, though they continued on with their program, doing all their scary moves. After this year, I am always nervous when any pair does a lift.

Brian Boitano- Wild Elephants. I donít think I love this program, but I love that it is different. He did a 3 jump combo at the other end of the ice that looked like was going to go into the lights on the ice. His tano lutz almost went into the audience.

Michelle Kwan- The World is Not Enough. I had heard the rumor that she might do a new program to James Bond, and here she comes out with a new costume, so I was pleasantly surprised. Her costume was a one sleeved black leotard. It was a sultry program. I think the mood would have been even better if she wore her hair down (like in the opening) instead of up and down (like at Worlds.) Well...I didnít really like the program. I usually donít fall in love with a program of hers the first time I see it (with a few exceptions), and this one just didnít seem to do anything for me. I like the music, I like the costume, I like that sheís trying something different, and maybe Iíll like it when I see it on TV, but...I was more happy to be watching Michelle, than watching Michelle do this program (if that makes any sense.) Though, I will say that just as we saw at Worlds, her speed was very much improved from last year, and her spins were great (if she improved that much in a few weeks, imagine how much she can improve before the start of next season!) When she came out, there were tons of flashes going off. Then, as she was going into a triple toe, there were SO many flashes, I thought I was going to be blinded. I have no idea how she landed the jump, but she did. Everything she did, there were flashes going off, but she only missed by doubling a lutz. She also did a triple salchow, and I think another triple toe. The new layback was in there (but not for a long enough time for me, LOL), but her spiral (started just in front of us), and charlotte was. *sigh* I really wish we had our camera...I just know the disposable isnít going to cut it.

Finale:

Well, last year I said the best part was the ending, and I didnít think anything would come close to it. Well! This year, the finale was to Bolero, and was amazing! When the first notes started playing, I thought, how can this possibly work? But it did! There was so much going on, thereís no way I could describe it all. Like last year, I marvel at how they only had a few days to put this together, and yet it looks like they had months to practice it. Sarah really seemed to be enjoying herself, and I think this is really going to help her presentation wise. Towards the beginning of the finale, she and maybe six other skaters were out there, and she was doing a spiral, with the rest of them in a line around her (3 on each side), they were rotating. It was a three ring circus, I didnít know where to look. At some points, the skaters would go right to the boards. One time Sarah was standing right in front of us (with a HUGE smile.) Another time, Platov was standing near us, and was very into it...he was very serious looking into the audience. The woman sitting in front of him was hysterical, but it didnít throw him. Later, Todd was standing in that same spot, and looked straight at people, and smiling, pointing at someone once. He really had a fun time with it. Michelle was the second to last one out. At that point, all the skaters were at center ice, and lifted her horizontally (not sure if she was supposed to be in the air longer or not), and then they bunched together, moving their arms kind of clockwise in unison, shaking their hands (canít really explain) with Michelle skating around them. She did spiral and charlotte. I LOVED her costume. I think it was a goldish color, maybe with black dots (kind of an animal print?) Later, skaters were doing all sorts of patterns on the ice...double death drops, spirals at the same time, jumps at the same time, spins at the same time. At that point, I didnít know where to look, and then it was over! I really hope itís shown on TV (it wasnít last year), but even so, you wouldnít be able to get the effect of seeing it live. I think the ending in itself is worth the price of admission.

Check out my pictures from the show


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