Yea! The day was finally here! The Goodwill Games ladies short and original dance programs. This is the first time I traveled for a skating event out of the Philly/South Jersey area. We drove in from Philadelphia, and we didnít know how long it would take us to get to the arena. So, we left at 3pm (for a 8pm start time.) We got there at 5:30pm, so we had a lot of time to wait. The security guy told us we could get into the arena at 6:30. Across the street from the Nassau Coliseum is the Marriott, where the athletes stay. We went there to wait for the arena to open. I, the celeb spotting person I am (LOL), kept my eyes open the whole time. Who knows who could be there...maybe I would run into one of the men or pairs skaters? We walked past the elevators, and I saw a back that I could have sworn was Oksana Baiul. I donít know if she would have been there, and I doubt it was her, but she was talking to someone, and it did sound a lot like her. She said something to the other woman about Elena Berezhnaya, and then went on the elevator.

In the lobby, I saw a table with some Goodwill Games stuff. I took several booklets with Michelle on the cover, and cardboard sheets with 9 athletes, including Michelle, on them. They were kind of like baseball cards with stats (sport, height, weight, birth date, and birth place) and a little about the athlete on the back. Michelleís says ďMichelle is one of the best figure skaters in the world. After winning the junior world championships in 1994, Michelle went on to earn a silver medal at the Goodwill Games in St. Petersburg, Russia. At age 15, Michelle won the 1996 world championships. In 1998, she won the silver medal at the Winter Olympics, and then won the world title.Ē There is then the question, ďWho won the gold medal in figure skating at the 1994 Goodwill Games?Ē Answer? Surya Bonaly of France. BTW, the other athletes on these sheets were Michael Johnson, Mike McCarthy, Karch Kiraly, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Dan Oí Brien, Dominique Dawes, Alexander Propov, and Michellie Jones.

Anyway, we then walked to the gift shop to see if they sold Goodwill Games souvenirs (they didnít.) As we were walking back, I saw someone with a USA swimming jacket on. Then, a whole group of women were walking towards us. I immediately recognized Jenny Thompson (she had a big hat on.) I didnít know if I should wish them luck, because I forgot when they were swimming! Oh well, that was a nice encounter. :-)

There were volunteers handing out lemonade by the door. I watched them ask a girl if she wanted some, and she said no. When she turned, I saw it was Karen Kwan! I was so excited. Interning for Vera Wang is obviously helping her fashion sense (not that she didnít have any before!) She had a white blouse with a cute brown skirt, and chunky beige sandals. It looked like she had blond highlights in her hair. She looked very confident when she was walking. She sat on the couch all one recognized her! I probably should have gone over there...but I didnít. I didnít know what to say! I met her briefly at Nationals, so I already had her autograph. My dad kept telling me to go over and say hi, but then she got up, and walked away. Seeing Michelleís sister made me more excited for the competition!

It was then about 6:30, so we decided to walk back to the arena. As we got up, I saw Morry Stillwell (the former president of the USFSA.) We got to the arena, and they said they werenít opening until 7. But the other guy said 6:30!! The security guard said ďWell, what can I tell you? He lied.Ē *sigh* So, we sat out there for a half hour. Volunteers kept going in and out of the arena, and I saw one that had a skate signed by Todd Eldredge. :-) During that time, the first of 3 annoying/upsetting things happened. We found out the battery on one of our cameras was dead! And this was after we had put the film in. Strike one (two and three come later.)

Finally, we were able to get in. As soon as we walked in, there were more pamphlets with Michelleís picture (from her winter program.) Yea! Then we were in!! I bought a program and a rose (for guess who.) Then, we bought a pin and a T-shirt, and saw if you bought over $25 worth of merchandise (which we did) with a Discover Card, you would get a free program. Ugh! Too late! We then went to our seats. I couldnít believe how close the seats were! Actually, I couldnít believe how small the arena is! At the CoreStates Center, one section would be the 100 and the 200 level here! We were in center ice, opposite the judges (and, luckily, on the side of the scrolling advertisement thing...I would be SO annoyed if I had to watch that!) I became very excited about my long program seats...they are in the front row, right by where the skaters come out! (And I think I am on the end seat!!) Anyway, even with the small arena, the place wasnít sold out at all. Such a shame.

At 8pm, the original dance started. I was so happy it was still the jive because I knew my dad would love it. :-) (He has only been to one other skating event...and he really isnít a fan of skating, but he took us because we didnít want to drive up there a lone. I wasnít sure how he would like it, but he seemed to have fun. It was funny to have to explain things to him, though!) Surprise, surprise...the standings stayed the same as the compulsory dance. Iím not sure how much of this was on TV (although since there were only 4 teams, I would expect them to show them all.) Still, I know lots of people donít have cable, so Iíll include the marks.

Krylova/Ovsiannikov were great as usual. Their first marks were four 5.8s and one 5.9. Their second marks were all 5.9s.

Lobacheva/Averbukh were pretty good. I saw them sitting in the stands during the ladies long having a great time. Their first marks were three 5.6s, a 5.7 and a 5.5. Their second marks were three 5.8s and two 5.7s.

The next group was Grushina/Goncharov. The first half of the program was good. Then a bunch of people walked in the aisle next to me, and I couldnít see the skaters. One of the most annoying things to me is when people come in after a show starts. We were there hours early, they could at least be there on time. Itís even worse when they come in during the skaterís number. Show them some respect! Strike 2. One of the women that went by I thought looked a lot like Jane Fonda. I went to tell my mom who I thought it was, and then we saw Ted Turner. Well, that stole our attention for the rest of Grushina/Goncharovís number, so I donít know what happened. Their first marks were three 5.3s, a 5.2, and a 5.4. Their second marks were three 5.4s and two 5.3s.

The final couple was Joseph/Butler, obviously the crowdís favorite. People were screaming before the number started, and throughout! Well, half way through, my mom told me our camera wasnít working...we saw that the battery light was flashing! What luck! We bring two camera, and both had dead batteries!! (My mom checked them before we left and they were OK...I donít know what happened.) Strike three...weíre out. That just gave me a terrible feeling about the ladies competition. Joseph/Butler did great...we all knew they would be in last, but still. They had a little slip during their end pose, but that didnít matter. I had brought my 6.0 sign from Nationals, and I waved it around when they were done. Their first marks were two 5.1s, one 5.0, one 5.2 and one 5.3. Their second marks were two 5.2s, two 5.3s, and one 5.5.

The dance was over fast!! They had a guy in a Tazmanian Devil suit dance around while some of the flower girls skated around them. Then, the zamboni came out. So, I went over to meet a few of my online friends (although I missed one...hopefully Iíll see her Saturday.) As I was coming back to my section, I saw Michelleís mom and agent standing in the entrance to my section talking with a security guard. When they were done, and I had to pass by, I said to her mom, ďGoodluck to Michelle. I love her.Ē They both smiled, and she said thank you. :-) When I got back, my parents said that Karen Kwan was signing autographs for a long time for fans (how nice!). But, Jane Fonda wouldnít sign for anyone. (If you ask me, any time I looked at Jane and Ted, they never seemed to be interested in what was going on.)

OK, so now the ladies were about to start!! I started getting more nervous for Michelle. In the first group were Laetitia Hubert, Angela Nikodinov, Anna Rechnio, and Maria Butyrskaya. The warmups didnít go too bad. Anna was double footing a lot of her jumps, and fell twice (I think) on her combo. Other than Michelle, she was the skater I was most excited to see live. I had heard such great things about her from those at Worlds. We spotted Todd Eldredge where the skaters stand before going onto the ice at this time, too. :-) He was smiling the whole time.

First up was Laetitia Hubert. She was landing the jumps, but the program seemed kind of slow. Then, at the very end, she popped her 2x axel, and fell...right in front of the judges! We all felt bad. Her marks:
5.0 5.1 5.1 5.0 5.1 5.0 5.1
5.5 5.5 5.5 5.4 5.6 5.6 5.5

Next was Angela. As with J&B, the crowd went crazy for an American. :-) New program (but old long program costume)? Again, she was doing well with her combo and 2x axel (she got a huge smile when she landed that.) But, then she fell on her triple. Oh well. Her marks:
5.0 5.0 4.8 4.9 5.0 5.1 5.0
5.3 5.4 5.4 5.3 5.5 5.4 5.3

Next up, Anna. Her costume was very pretty. I think it was a new program. She just didnít seem to have it today. As we saw in her warmup, she messed up on her combo. When she was skating, she really reminded me of Nicole. Her stroking...I donít know what it was, but I thought I saw a Nicole double out there. Not her best performance...she is in second to last place. Her marks:
5.2 5.0 4.7 4.9 5.1 4.8 4.9
5.5 5. 3 5.1 5.5 5.3 5.5 5.4

Final skater in the group...Maria. The crowd seemed to like the opening bars of her music, and then she goes and ruins the program for them. ;-) She touched down on the lutz of her combo, and threw in a double toe (and not a very good one.) She also messed up her triple jump. The first group was done, and no one was clean! Not a very good competition so far. Many thought her marks were too high. I donít know...I know the judging here has been booed in every discipline so far. A woman next to us (I think a skating official type person) said that the judges were watching another skater. Who would have thought that the type of performance she had would put her in 2nd? Her marks:
5.3 5.3 5.2 5.0 5.1 5.0 5.1
5.8 5. 7 5. 7 5.7 5.4 5.7 5.7

First group done, final group about to come out. It was obviously a VERY pro-Michelle crowd. Before Maria got off the ice, they showed on the screen above the ice that Michelle was about to go on for the warmups. The crowd erupted! When they called her name to get on the ice, they were (they? I mean we!) screaming. Lots of US flags were waving, and there were quite a few signs for her. The other skaters in this group were Victoria Volchkova, Elena Sokolova, and Irina Slutskaya. Victoria (who, I donít think, one person in that arena knew. They all said ďwhoís that girl in the pink?Ē Even when they announced her name, ďwho?Ē was heard.) didnít land much in the warmups. She fell at least twice that I saw. I almost didnít recognize Irina...WOW! She looks a lot more mature with her hair cut (but what was that little tail she had on her? Other than that, I liked the cut.) And, her costume seemed more mature than some I have seen in the past, though that color seemed to drain her out. But, I mostly paid attention to Michelle. The word buzzing around the arena was her tan line (LOL.) She does have a great tan...and she gets to go to Hawaii for more? No fair! ;-) Just about anything she did brought applause from the crowd...even her warmup axel jumps. ;-) She landed a few great 2x axels, and 2 triples that I didnít see because people were standing. She fell on her combo once, which brought gasps from the crowd...and then ďitís only practice.Ē Then, warmups were over, and the competition started again.

First up was Victoria. She was the first one to have a clean performance! Turns out she would be one of only two skates with clean programs. Took the judges a LONG time for the marks to come up. Her marks:
5.5 5.4 5.2 5.5 5.4 5.4 5.2
5.5 5.4 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.1 5.2

Another skater I like, and hope to see more of was next...Elena. I believe this is a new program (only said ďBluesĒ on the screen.) Itís almost 5am, and I am drawing a blank of what she did wrong...combo, single 3x jump, or both? I know she did her 2x axel with the arm over the head that the judges seem to like. Her marks:
5.2 5.1 5.1 4.7 4.9 4.6 4.9
5.6 5.6 5.6 5.4 5.5 5.3 5.3

You guessed it, the second Michelle stepped on the ice, the screaming started again. The screaming didnít stop until she had already skated (with people going ďshh!Ē to try to quiet them. We didnít want her concentration to be shot.) But, after that (until she did her jump), it became completely silent. Everyone didnít stop about how much pressure was on her...I was SO nervous! Not as bad as Nationals, but still bad. Oh, how I love this program!! Itís a shame that this is the last time we will see it (though I canít wait to see what she will do next!) When the music started, I already got the chills. As she was going into her 3x lutz/2x toe, I didnít breathe. Seemed a little slow after the lutz, but then she pulled it out! When she was going into her 2x axel, I held my breath again. Yea! Landed nice and clean. And then, her triple toe....she landed it! The place went nuts!! She was smiling throughout the performance, but after that jump, the smile was HUGE! Of course, her spiral is just amazing. She was still in her Y spin I stood up! I waved my 6.0 sign proudly!! Her program was so...I canít even put it into words. After a year, I have given up! It wasnít as good as Nationals, but I think it was pretty close. SO many flowers were thrown onto the ice. For all the other skaters, they only had two flower girls. But, for Michelle, there were at least 4. Also, I saw someone threw a great portrait of Michelle they had drawn. People didnít stop screaming again until she had left the kiss and cry area. We were all disappointed she didnít get more 6.0s (if thatís not a perfect artistic program, I donít know what is), but I know itís harder to get 6.0s in international competition. They were still easily the best marks of the night, and I could finally breathe! Her marks:
5.8 5.9 5.9 5.8 5.8 5.9 5.9
5.9 5.9 6.0 5.9 5.9 5.9 5.9

Poor Irina had to go after that. I had heard that this was a great new program, so I couldnít wait for her to start. Unfortunately, she doubled her triple loop, and fell on her combo. She did not look pleased (obviously). Ted Turner and company left before they even gave her marks (personally, I donít know why he was there...they didnít even seem too excited with Michelleís performance.) Irinaís marks (in case Ted wants to know what he missed...LOL):
5.1 5.1 4.7 4.9 5.0 4.8 54.8
5.7 5.4 5.4 5.6 5.7 5.7 5.7

Other than Michelleís wonderful performance, it was a pretty disappointing night. Only two clean performances. I guess these Goodwill Games arenít going too well...the mens werenít clean either, and, from what I have heard (thanks TBS for showing us 2 whole pairs teams Wed night), the pairs werenít good either. Letís hope for cleaner long programs! After the ladies short, they had local young skaters do precision type stuff, with some spinning and jumping. After that, it was all over. Hope you enjoyed this. :-) I canít wait for Saturday!!

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