We went to the Marriot before the event again to eat, but I didnít see anyone there this time. I actually didnít eat too much...I was too nervous for the competition.

We had to go to the will call window to get my ticket since we didnít receive it in the mail. (They said they sent it, but I know another group of people that ordered tickets the day before me, and they didnít receive them via mail either.) I finally had my front row seat ticket in my hands. :-) Even my parentsí seats werenít too bad. Even though it was in the second level, it wasnít too high up. Some of my momís pictures were better than mine! (She was telling me that she was right behind where some of the photographers/reporters sat. They had the pictures they took on the computer, and they were fixing them up right there. She said it was pretty neat. :-))

Anyway, when I got to my seat I was SO excited! It wasnít the section right next to where the skaters came out (I figured out later that was because that section was for the VIPs), but it was the next section over. I was on the end seat. When I watched the tape later, I saw myself on TV many times...but thatís just because I knew where I was. It was also right behind the scrolling ads, at almost the very end of the ad. I had on a pink shirt, I have dark hair...maybe you saw me?

I looked to the people that were sitting on the aisle in the section next to me, and it was Michael Weissís father and (I think) sister. She smiled at me, I smiled back. The usher (who was very nice) said to them, ďwerenít you here last night?Ē (the night of the mens long.) I guess he didnít know who they were! ;-) Before the competition even started, they got up and went backstage. Then, Verne Lunquist walked right past me, and sat in the third row of the section next to me. Later on, a bunch of people were walking in the same section that Ted Turner and Jane Fonda sat the other night. I figured it was them, but there were a lot of people walking around there. After everything was settled, I looked back, and saw it was President Carter! Wow. That is the closest I have ever been to a president (ah, but I would get closer later.) There was a rumor going around earlier that President Clinton might be there since he was in the Hamptons, and I asked the usher if he knew anything, but he said the president wasnít at the arena yet. That made me believe that he might show up (he didnít.)

When I first sat down, there were many empty seats around me (and I was hoping maybe my mom could join me down there), but they filled up before the competition started. Not only that, but the whole arena filled up! (I learned later that the 3rd level seats were going for $5 that day, and about 2500 people bought seats that cheap to see such great skaters!) The people next to me, behind me, and all around the arena had signs for Michelle. I was thinking of making a sign, but, at the last minute, changed my mind and bought a bear for Michelle (hoping she would come over and take it.)

Just as the dancers took the ice for the warmups, a few people sat in the seats where Michaelís family was earlier. There were a few other people in that section that I know I have seen before, but I couldnít think of who they were! During the dance warmups, Krylova and Ovsiannikov, Lobacheva and Averbukh, and Grushina and Goncharov all skated by me one after another. They all did the same ďmoveĒ, so I could see how much faster K&O were than the others.

I was pleasantly surprised that TBS showed everyone on TV. The first group up was Grushina/Goncharov. They went into their opening pose, and then something happened to their music. They had to a wait a little, then start again. Their first marks were four 5.3s, and one 5.2. Their second mark were all 5.4s.

The next group was Joseph/Butler. Before they started, Jessica looked right at the people that were sitting in the aisle next to me, and they smiled at each other, so I figured they were related to her. The crowd obviously cheered for them, and then booed when their marks came up. For some reason, I thought that they had a tiny stumble in footwork when they went past me, but I didnít see it on TV, so I guess I was wrong. Their first marks were two 5.2s, one 5.1, one 5.3, and one 5.4. Their second marks were three 5.3s, one 5.4 and one 5.5.

Lobacheva/Averbukh had a stumble during their program, but it was hard to tell from where I was sitting (it kind of looked like it was part of the program.) On TV, of course, you could obviously see what happened. Their first marks were two 5.6s, one 5.8 (guess they didnít see the stumble!), one 5.7 and one 5.5. Their second marks were three 5.8s and two 5.7s.

Krylova/Ovsiannikov were last. I really hope thatís the last time I see that program! It seems like I have seen it 100 times! I think I liked it a little better in person though. They obviously were ahead of the others. Itís strange...I didnít really notice her facial expressions as much in person (but I must be the only one that thinks that.) For some reason, I didnít see her face that much, I guess...her back was always towards me. Their first marks were two 5.8s and three 5.9. Their second marks were two 6.0s (!) and three 5.9s.

The dance was over and, wow! Huge shock...the standings never changed from the compulsories! (That made it easier for me to post the results, though...just had to cut and paste!) After walking around trying to find someone, I came back to my seat just in time for the first group of ladies to take the ice for warmups. In the order of skate...Elena Sokolova, Irina Slutskaya, Anna Rechnio, and Angela Nikodinov. First thing we all noticed...Irina still has that tail. Most looked pretty good in warmups, though Anna seemed to be having trouble.

First up was Elena. Her performance was so-so. Not much kick to the program, if you know what I mean. She doubled a few of her jumps. Her marks:
5.2 5.2 5.2 5.2 5.2 5.2 5.2
5.3 5.3 5.2 5.3 5.2 5.3 5.3

Next up, Irina. She didnít do the second jump in her combo, and I remember her falling. I never really liked this program too much, but tonight it didnít have any spark, either. Her marks:
5.5 5.4 5.2 5.6 5.4 5.0 5.4
5.6 5.4 5.3 5.7 5.6 5.3 5.6

While we were waiting for Irinaís marks, I saw Joseph and Butler going to sit down in the second next to me. It looked like, at first, the usher wasnít going to let them sit there! But, he finally did...they laughed about it. Then, I looked a few seats over, and saw Karen Kwan sitting there!

Anna was next. I think it is a new number...I didnít recognize the program. Did she do any triple jumps? It seemed that she either fell, or doubled the jump (and threw in a couple single axels.) She was SO fast, though. Her marks:
4.8 4.8 4.6 4.5 4.7 4.4 4.5
4.9 4.9 4.9 5.2 5.0 5.2 5.0

Angela was the last skater in this group. She did great! Iím so proud of her. :-) It was probably the best I have seen her. I really wish she could have medaled. Her marks:
5.6 5.6 5.6 5.5 5.4 5.5 5.6
5.6 5.5 5.5 5.5 5.3 5.4 5.5

Before and after Angelaís marks were announced, I watched where they skaters come onto the ice and, you guessed it, watched Michelle. The camera was always on her...she never got a break. At one point, she was playing around with the camera...good to see she was in good spirits before taking the ice. :-) From that point one, the place was screaming for her! As she and Maria Butyrskaya, Victoria Volchkova, and Laetitia Hubert took the ice, the place went nuts! There were SO many signs for her (the people next to me had one, too, so it was OK I didnít make one.) It seemed like no one was paying attention to the others. I guess you could look at it two ways...one, I felt sorry that everyone was only watching Michelle since they are all great skaters. Or, two, at least none of them had any pressure on them during the warmup!

All of the skaters had a good warmup. Again, any little thing Michelle did, the crowd cheered. At one point, Michelle did a perfect triple loop right in front of me. When she landed it, she locked eyes with me, and smiled right at me!! Afterwards, I said to the people next to me about it, and they said they saw it too! So it wasnít my imagination. ;-) Check out this picture from Earthcam that I think is the moment when she landed the loop! See me in the pink top at the end? Yea, in this picture itís hard to see...I just look like a blob. ;-) Most of the pictures I took were during the warmup so I could just enjoy her performance. But, I was so mad I didnít take it when she smiled right at me! At least I knew she would be doing her ďperfectĒ triple loop right in front of me...

The warmup was over. Down went the signs, and out came Maria. She fell 3 times, and put her hand down once. It was also a pretty lackluster performance. I figured that was it for her. But, I really wasnít as shocked when I saw her ridiculously high marks since she was over scored in the short program as well. My dad (who knows nothing about skating) said he also figured she was out of the medals after that program (he of course was rooting for Angela to medal.) When he saw the marks, he couldnít believe it. Iím sorry, but it is judging like that that confuses those that donít understand the judging, and also gives more fuel to the fire that skating isnít a sport because of the judging. *sigh* Her marks (which if you havenít figured out by now, were way too high. 5.8?? What?):
5.5 5.2 5.3 5.6 5.5 5.3 5.5
5.8 5.2 5.7 5.8 5.7 5.7 5.7

Victoria was next. Her costume just looked like a warmup outfit to me. Even though she was in 3rd after the short, people around me were still trying to figure out who she is. She fell once, but, other than that, not bad for 16. (But a 4.9 from the Canadian judge?) Her marks:
5.7 5.5 5.5 5.2 5.4 5.3 5.5
5.7 5.5 5.3 5.4 5.2 4.9 5.6

The screaming was deafening for Michelle! She smiled the whole every second that night. When she was waiting to come out for the warmups, in the warmups, when she was about to take the ice before her performance, and while she was skating. She was so calm...probably more calm than me!! I was literally on the edge of my seat. Every time I have seen her in person, she has skated perfectly. Would she do it again? That program is just so beautiful. It didnít bring tears to my eyes like her short did, but it is still wonderful. After she landed her double axel (which always scares me since she is having trouble with it lately), I breathed a little easier. Well, she is coming towards me to do her triple loop. I was debating whether to take a picture of her (my flash is turned off, of course!) when she did the jump since it was right in front of me, but I decided not to. Down she went (and back up with a smile on her face.) First I was shocked, and then I was so glad I didnít take the picture...I would have blamed myself that taking a picture made her fall! LOL. She later doubled her sal, but her program was still ahead of everyone else. No one had a perfect program. They all must be so tired from this long season. Everyone was running to the boards to throw things for Michelle. I got up, and waved my bear that I brought for her. But, I think there were too many people waving flowers, etc...she would have been there all day! I saw that, after her bows, she looked at us, smiled, and skated off the ice. So, I carefully but the bear on the ice, and the flower girl took it away to put in one of the huge bags. For all the other skaters, 3 or 4 flower girls (and flower boy) came out to clear the ice. For Michelle, there were 10! And, it STILL took forever to clear the ice. I never saw anything like it in person, or even on TV! It was amazing. Her marks:
5.8 5.8 5.8 5.7 5.8 5.7 5.8
5.9 5.9 5.9 5.9 5.9 5.9 5.9

Poor Laetitia had to go next. She had to wait for all those gifts to be taken away. At one point during her program (after she messed up one of her jumps), she skated past her coach at the boards, he said something to her, and she just gave him this look...I canít explain it. It was pretty funny. Kind of like ďAh, Iím trying! How much longer do I have to be here?Ē look. When she was done, skated into a flower girl. She hugged the girl, took her hand, and skated with her to the other end of the rink to pick up a flower, and then she hugged her again. SO sweet!! Really endeared her to the audience. :-) Her marks:
5.5 5.5 5.2 5.3 5.5 4.9 5.3
5.5 5.6 5.5 5.3 5.6 5.2 5.7

When Laetitia was bowing, I was about to take a picture, and all these guys ran in front of me. I was annoyed that I almost took a picture of them instead of her. And then, the next one that passed by me was President Carter! I couldnít believe it. He smiled and waved to us. There were SO many secret service men! He went backstage, and I knew that he was probably going to be giving out the medals.

Almost right away, the medal ceremony started. The podium was right in front of me, so I didnít get any pictures from the front of the podium (my mom did, but they arenít close up.) Donít know why, but they didnít give out one of those huge checks like they gave all the other winners. It was great to see a medal ceremony for an international event! To see the flags go up, and hear the national anthem for the winners. :-) The dance ceremony was first. When Oleg Ovsiannikov was getting off the podium, his toe pic got caught in the podium and made a hole! They skated around the rink once, but never came over to where I was sitting because they couldnít get past the cable from the video cameras. :-( After the dancers got off the ice, I saw Michelle hug Irina Lobachova.

Then it was time for the ladies medal ceremony, and everyone ran to the boards. I almost had to squeeze in there! They announced who would be giving out the medals, and I was right earlier...it was President Carter and his wife! They got a standing ovation. Then, they announce Michelle, and the place goes crazy AGAIN! :-) When Maria went on the podium, Michelle pointed out the hole made by Oleg, so Maria wouldnít get hurt. It was a wonderful feeling to hear the national anthem being played. Again, when they skated around, they didnít come near us. Everyone near me had flowers, and they were waving them for Michelle. When she got off the ice, I went to take a picture, but the boy next to me stuck his arm out, so I have a picture of an arm instead. :-( On the other side of me, people were screaming for Michelle, but she was at the other end of the arena. Maria was close, so they started screaming her name instead. ;-) She did come over, and hug the people, which was very nice. I think Victoria might have done the same thing. Then, it was all over. Live skating always goes by SO fast! Iím already looking forward to the next skating event I am going to...ďSkaters Tribute to Broadway.Ē Canít wait!!

BTW, we put new batteries in our cameras this time. :-) My mom and I both took 2 rolls of film each. A lot of mine didnít come out...they were really blurry. But, I did get some good ones. My pictures will be posted hopefully sometime this week.

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Photo © Heather Winfield