Today, I went to the championship mens short and pairs long program practice.

The mens practice started with group B. Today, Brian Buetch skated, but Michael Weiss was still not here. Unlike yesterday, most of the skaters did complete run-throughs of their short programs. Shephard Clark was the only skater in this group not to do his whole program. He only did his jumps (which included a fall out of the triple axle), some spins (although they were pretty fast, he moved throughout it), and his footwork. When he got off the ice, I got his autograph. He said that they ice (a makeshift rink in the Convention Center) was the "weirdest he had ever skated on", but the ice at the main arenas were great, "they always are at Nationals." I also heard other skaters complaining that the ice was too hard and brittle.

Before the final group skated, I spotted Tim Goebel. I asked him if he was feeling better, and he said yes. Then I said that when I originally heard that he wasn't going to be competing here, I was very upset. He seemed happy about that, and said thank you. Also, Todd Eldredge skated to his music today. His short was skated flawlessly, including his triple axle/triple toe.

After each group was done practicing, I went over and got lost of autographs. All of the skaters signed and posed for pictures for anyone that asked. I am beginning to think that a prerequisite to be a skater is that you must be nice. I don't think one person was turned down. I had my picture taken with more skaters today, including Derrick Delmore and Dan Hollander. Also, I got an autograph from and took a picture with Carol Heiss Jenkins and Frank Carroll (who seemed in better spirits today than yesterday.) One of my friends asked Frank when Michelle would be arriving, and he said she was already here, and would be in the practice tomorrow. I was so happy. But, he also told her the same thing about Michelle...that she is so-so. I'll see for myself tomorrow! Later, Dick Button arrived. We went over and got his picture and autograph. He joked around with us, asking if we knew who Carol Heiss Jenkins was, and we told him we already got her autograph. One more thing about Carol Heiss Jenkins...she is even more beautiful in person than on TV. And, once again, very nice. Then, the first group of pairs took the ice. Group A was supposed to consist of Kyoko Ina /Jason Dungjen, Danielle Hartsell/Steve Hartsell, Katie Barnhart/Charles Bernhard IV, and Tiffany Scott/Phillip Dulebohn, but only Hartsell/Hartsell showed up. So they had the ice to themselves for 40 minutes. Their practice was generally good, except for one terrible fall. Steve had problems catching Danielle after their throw split twist. He fell on top of her, but they quickly got up, and didn't look hurt. The rest of the practice was good. I also got both their autographs, but it seemed like most of the spectators only wanted her autograph. They went out of their was to pose for pictures.

In group B, only Jenni Meno/Todd Sand, Christie Moxley/Jeffrey Weiss, and Naomi Grabow/Benjamin Oberman showed up. Absent were Stephanie Woodman/Jim Peterson and Tiffany Steigler/Johnnie Steigler. The one thing that stood out in this practice was that I didn't see Todd Sand land a triple toe once. But, they were very much in unison. Also, with the other two groups, you could loudly hear them skating, but Jenni and Todd were almost completely quiet. After the practice, Jenni and Todd were bombarded by fans. I think only Todd had more requests for autographs. When I was getting Jenni's autograph, someone from a station in Seatle was taping it. So, if you live there, maybe you'll see me on the news. After that, we left. I received about 15 autographs, and tons of pictures. I can't wait until tomorrow for the ladies practice. Both Tara and Michelle are here, Sydne Vogel is arriving tomorrow, and I heard that Tonia Kwiatkowski is here, too. It should be a great practice, so check back tomorrow for my report. It will be up pretty late because I am hoping to go to both practices...the final one ends around midnight.

Also today, the the Novice Ladies Short Program, Novice Compulsory Dance, Novice Men Short Program, and the Novice Pairs Short Program took place. To read about it, check out Louis DiCesari's report.

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Photo Heather Winfield