Before I talk about today's events, I would like to thank the people who are e-mailing me about Nationals and my site. I love getting the e-mail, but, because I am away from morning until midnight, then I have to type this up, I don't have a chance to respond to your messages. Fell free to still e-mail me...and I promise to respond to everyone after Nationals. To the event...today, I attended the ladies short program practice, the mens long program practice, and the pairs short program. Once again, if you do not want to know about results of the pairs short (even though it already has aired on ESPN2), don't read under the horizontal line.

The first group that went today was Group B, which included Nicole Bobek, Angela Nikodinov, Sydne Vogel, and Andrea Gardiner. Nicole had a great practice! She seems back in top form! Her runthrough was great (landing a triple lutz/double toe combo, triple toe, double axle). She also landed a triple toe/triple toe combo! I could go on and on about how great she looked! She got the loudest hand of the day. I got her autograph, and a picture with her. She was so nice. We told her how great she looked, and she kept saying thank you. She is even more beautiful (on and off the ice) in person...I think I have said that for a lot of the skaters! She stayed for an extremely long time, and then went back to do a kind of mini-press conference (she stood on a chair, with many press around her.) I really hope she doesn't keep it on the practice ice, as she usually does. We shall see tomorrow (I am already nervous!) Angela also looked good today. She was sweet, too, and signed my book as well. Sydne had a great practice as well...hope that makes her feel better for the practice she had the day before. In her runthrough, she landed a triple lutz/double toe combo, triple flip, and the double axle. Andrea also had a better practice than the past few days. I had tried to get her autograph the other day, but she just disappeared behind the curtain. The same thing happened today, but she did come back out to sign. She kept apologizing for keeping us waiting. I thought that was so sweet. When asked for pictures, she put everything she was holding down...very nice of her. Also, while I was waiting for Andrea, Michelle was standing behind the barrier stretching. She did not stop smiling (good sign!) Then, this little girl went under the ropes, and went over to Michelle, who had her back turned. When Michelle turned around, she smiled (even bigger than before), and rubbed her on the head. She signed the girl's program, and the people watching applauded this (usually, skaters don't sign before the practice.) It was adorable. Also, as soon as Tonia arrived, she signed and took pictures.

I didn't see most of the second group (Group A...Tara Lipinski's group) because I was getting Nicole, Angela, and Andrea's autographs. When I was walking back to my seat, I saw Shelby Lyons fall on a jump in her runthrough...but I didn't see which one. From what I saw, the rest of her practice was OK. Tara's runthrough was great, as usual.

The final group was Group B...which included Michelle Kwan and Tonia Kwiatkowski. Michelle's practice wasn't as bad as yesterday's, but it wasn't great. In her runthrough, she fell on the triple flip, but landed the triple lutz/double toe and double axle perfectly. After the runthrough, she tried the flip again, and she fell. The third time, she landed it. She went on to land the flip at least 3 times during the session. Brittney McConn fell ( a few times) and popped her triple lutz...but she finally got it at the end of the session. At the beginning of her runthrough, Christine Kong came out of her spin.

I didn't see much of the mens. It was freezing in the arena, and we decided to go for a walk to get warmed up. When we were walking back to the rink, we saw Shephard Clark. We told him how great he was in the short, and that we wished him luck (everyone else that saw him seemed to do the same thing.) He even took pictures with us. I got back during the second group...which was supposed to include Dan Hollander..but he was a no show (but I heard he was in the morning practice.) Derrick Delmore's practice was OK. From the third group (which consists of the top 6 skaters from the short), only Todd Eldredge, Shephard, and Trifun Zivanovic skated. No Michael Weiss, and no Scott Davis (I have only seen them once this week...in the short. I would have liked to watch them practice.) Tim Goebel also didn't show up, but I heard later that he withdrew because of his injury. :-( Strangely enough, Cohen Duncan (who is in the senior ladies competition) withdrew today with the same injury. Todd didn't have a great practice. He popped is triple axle (but landed one later), doubled a lot of jumps, and didn't perform the quad. Shephard skated well, and did a great combo spin, but left before his runthrough. I heard from a friend that he signed autographs for over an hour...have I mentioned what a nice guy he is? I'm really rooting for him in the long tomorrow, and I think the rest of the crowd is too. The long program is tomorrow night, and you can see it live on ABC from 8-11 (they will also show the ladies short.)


Once again, don't read from now on if you want to wait to know the results of the short program...

First up...Shelby Lyons and Brian Wells. I thought that they wouldn't do well because she might be tired from all her practices...yet he is the one that singled the triple salchow! Such a shame. But, since most of the other pairs made mistakes, they are in 3rd place. But the gap between the first two pairs and the third , and down is amazing. Some of the pairs were so slow, their lifts were simple compared to the others, etc. I am upset about Danielle Hartsell and Steve Hartsell. They were so good in practice...they have a lot of potential, and then he stepped out of his triple toe. The were off on unison on their spins as well. Natalie Vlandis and Jared Guzman both singled their jumps...I know that he has been having trouble in practice, but I don't know about her. I didn't realize how young they were until I read an article about them today. They are ones to watch out for.

Onto the leaders...Jenni Meno and Todd Sand went second. When they landed their side by side triple toes, I thought they had it won. They were so elegant. They got a standing ovation...well deserved! I think they would have gotten higher marks (especially artistic) if they went later. Five skaters later, Kyoko Ina and Jason Dungjen were up. They were incredibly fast. Their split twist was huge! I didn't think she was ever going to come down. Their lift was great as well. They got a partial standing ovation. The crowd screamed when the scoreboard showed they were in first place. Personally, I would have put Jenni and Todd in first place...but I'm not a judge! To read an in depth review of the pairs short program check out Louis DiCesari's report. I will be adding the complete results shortly. Tomorrow is the ladies short program ( I am SO nervous!), the original dance, and the mens long program (nervous again!!)


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Photo Heather Winfield