MICHELLE IS IN THE HOUSE!!!!! I have great news for all of you! Here goes: I got to the Target Center right as the doors opened and found out that Michelle is in Qualifying Group A #18 (long program). That meant that she would be skating in 15 minutes!! YEAH, I didn't miss her. I saw her dad outside as I walked in and said "Hello". I asked him how she was doing and he said "OK". I was a little curious at that response! I got in there and there weren't that many people in the stands. I sat close to where I could get her autograph and was very close to the ice. When she finally appeared we all gasped with excitement. "There she is!" was whispered all around. Some cheered quietly and everyone smiled. I think that having to wait all this time to see her made today even more exciting. She looked very beautiful and relaxed. There were some media people there but because of the early hour it was relatively quiet. She took the ice and was announced and we cheered as loud as we could. She smiled and seemed to enjoy the very partisan crowd.

She warmed up a few single jumps and then began to knock off all the triples and the 2 axel. She landed a few clean 3 lutz, 2 toe combos. (from now one I am going to use these abbreviations for jumps) x=axel, z=lutz, f=flip, l=loop, s=salchow, t=toe.

As Michelle was practicing I saw Midori Ito walking around in the stands. I recognized her immediately (she is almost smaller than Tara) and got her autograph!

I then decided to go over to where Frank was so I could see her face close up and get a few pictures. I saw them working together and she seemed to be having a good time. At one point my friend heard Frank say "Now skate like a bat out of hell" and she said "OK"! When she did her run-through she did everything perfect except for doubling the loop. I also noticed that she replaced the 3l 2t with the old 3t 2t.

She later singled an axel and did do the 3l 2t combo. She did not fall once in this practice session! After they were done I got in position for an autograph (I brought her book with) and was able to see her very close. When she was signing my book she looked at me and I told her that I consider it a gift every time I get to see her skate. She seemed flattered and pleased and said "Thank you". I smiled and said "No, Thank you!" It was so exciting to talk to her! She was so lovely and gracious to everyone! Frank finally came and took her away before she could finish signing.

The next group included Vanessa Gusmerolli, Maria B, Yankun Du, Silvia (ITA) and a few others. I cheered when Vanessa came out and she smiled at me. She didn't exactly have a great practice but I still like her anyway! Silvia landed a few nice jumps but mostly impressed us with the beauty in her appearance and skating. Yankun fell a lot and seemed discouraged.

Tanja was back and as beautiful as ever. Her run-through was a little ragged including a fall and a popped axel. She got the other triples though (including the 3l) and still smiled through it all.

I saw Brian Boitano show up in the announce booth and got very excited. I hoped to get his autograph but didn't know how or when.

I left and went to parade and unfortunately saw Meno & Sand as they were taking their final bows at the end of their practice. They look good and I got their autographs afterwards. Apparently we heard from others who saw them skate that they skated well and Ina & Dungjen had an awesome practice including several side by side 3t's.

I saw a few men today too. Yagudin landed a 4t, 3x 3t, 3f 3t, and all the others perfectly as well. He had a very good death drop not quite a Boitano but very good still.

The Canadian pairs were not particularly impressive but Xue & Hongbo were! They could medal here especially if Ina & Dungjen falter. They have the best 3t's around and a great 2 and 3 twist.

I went back to the beginning of the men's qualifying competition and saw Dick Button in the announce booth. It was fun to see him for real. BTW, he looks bigger than I thought.

Zagorodniuk (UKR) skated well and landed 3x 2t, tano z, 3f, 3l, 3s and popped something probably 3t. His scores were between 5.2-5.8. I think he is in 3rd place in the men's group A. Weiss, Shmerkin and Cousins were next. Weiss was first and skated great! GO USA!! He fell on the 3x in warm-up but then landed it right after. In the performance he landed everything including the 4z (2 footed though) He had a 3t 3t and 3x 2t. The only problem was a scary landing on the 3l. He smiled and obviously didn't seen too concerned. He seemed to run out of gas at the end but landed a 3z no problem. The crowd was waving flags and cheering him loudly. He is after all the first American to compete at these worlds and he represented us well! CONGRATS MICHAEL! His scores were 5.4-5.8. He stayed in first until you-know-who skated (later....)

Stephen Cousins had a pretty good skate but stumbled on his 3x. The crowd loves him here and his scores were 4.8-5.5.

I went back to parade to see Michelle and saw the end of the OD practice with Krylova & Ovsiannikov. They looked great and I caught them afterwards for autographs. I asked her about the OD music and she didn't know what the name was nor did he!! BTW, She is very tall compared to the other skaters. I watched Michelle stretch and warm up with Frank from an observation level sort-of and she was only about 10 feet away from us and behind the glass and down about 10 feet. It was fun to watch her interact with him. They were joking around and having fun. She had on a wonderful sleeveless dress that was black crushed velvet with some green smoothed into it, very classy. She took to the ice and again the crowd went wild. Her run-through of the short was absolutely perfect and gorgeous. She fell on one 3z and stepped out of another but all the others were perfect and many in combination with the 2t. I haven't seen her try any 3 3 combo's at all yet. I found out from a reliable source that Todd did great at qualifying, did not do a quad but is solidly in first place with mostly 5.7-5.9 marks. He even got a standing ovation!

When I came back to the Target Center I walked past Dick Button talking to Todd's mom but didn't recognized him right away (his back was to me) when I was going up the stairs I saw him and went back down to get his autograph. He obliged and I joked with him about his picture on his id badge. He is winking and trying to look silly!

I then went upstairs to try to see if Brian was still around and believe it or not I almost literally ran into him. He was rushing somewhere and I saw him and said "Brian, Hi, can I get your autograph" He said there was an emergency and said he'd be back. He did come back (how sweet) and signed his book for me. He talked with my friend Laura & I for a while and was very nice. What an honor!!

I saw Alexander Zhulin but couldn't get his autograph. He must be coaching / choreographing for someone here??? I also saw Nina Petrenko but no baby and no Viktor. I must say that it is hard to watch the skating sometimes when you've got Boitano, Button, Heiss, Underhill, Ito, Doug Leigh, Alexsei Mishin, Cathy Casey & Galina hanging around!!!!

Plushenko did great in the qualifying and also got a standing ovation. As of 2 days ago he wasn't even going to be competing but now that Ilya withdrew he's in! Watch out world here all 15 years of him comes! He was amazing and landed perfectly a 4t, 3x 3t, 3z 3t, 3f, 3l & 3s, His Biellman spin is getting better and was very good tonight. His scores were almost all 5.7-5.9! The poor Mexican guy didn't even land one clean triple, It was so sad!! The crowd tried to cheer him on but he was last place for sure. He skated with about half the speed of all the other skaters and looked scared to death.

Guo Zhengsin (CHN) landed 2 clean 4t's and 2 3x's but was still at the bottom of the list to qualify.

I noticed that there are even microphones to capture crown noise here!

Last of the noteworthy skaters was Alexsei Yagudin who landed everything perfectly as well. including 3x 3t, 3z 3t, 3x, 3z, 3s & 3l (no quad). He only is in second place behind Plushenko in group B.

I can't believe how many famous people are here, I am going crazy!!!

I will get to see Katia and Kurt tomorrow, are you jealous???? :)

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Photo Heather Winfield