Tag Archives: Johnny Weir

Deathly Hallows Part 1 Is Out—I Haven’t Seen It, But I Have Seen These Pictures

Daniel Radcliffe/Emma Watson/Rupert Grint/thedailybeast.com

I did a lot of really important things this morning. Culling these pictures from the World Wide Web was one of them.

First of all, yipes to Emma Watson for wearing a sheer lace dress with a super short feathered skirt. I hated the whole thing when I saw a photo during her Letterman appearance (where she did a hilarious impression of an American accent, saying “Oh my GOD, are you that girl from Harry Potter?), but I have come around on the whole thing, even though I do not condone the haircut.

To summarize, that was a laudatory “yipes.”

Helena Bonham Carter LAtimes.com/Dave Hogan/Getty Images

And then there was Helena Bonham Carter, who I love as a rule (and have loved ever since I saw Twelfth Night).

But, looking at her dress, that is one crazy lady who is maybe having a little trouble letting go of her Potter character.

I find myself at a bit of a loss. The fan in this next photo, on the other hand, finds himself at a bit of a win as Helena looks dangerously close to what I will refer to as a “nipple pop. “

The woman next to him looks suitably concerned/judgmental.

Helena Bonham Carter/LAtimes.com/Dave Hogan/Getty Images

Also, I am going to go right ahead and admit, that if my hair could be that voluminous, I might have to wear it like that every, every day.

Johnny Weir/thedailybeast.com

And of course, you know who was at the New York premiere? Johnny Weir, obviously—and dressed up as a vintage English schoolboy to boot. And thrilled. I cannot quite decide how it measures up to his Kentucky derby red carpet appearance, but it brought me joy.

Although I cannot say I am OK with the blue socks.

 

Related:

15 Funniest Harry Potter Moments (Movies 1-6)

Top Three Severus Snape Moments in Harry Potter 1-6

Was John Lennon the Model for Harry Potter?

 

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Things You Need to Know From the Past Week or So

In case you don’t follow me on Twitter, which honestly, you really should because I am just a wealth of wonderful information, quips and minutiae… I am going to go all bullet points on you and note a couple things that you should note if you haven’t already.

  1. George W. Bush’s mother put a miscarried fetus in a jar and that somehow made Dubya super pro-life. Dear creepy, stop. Old news by now, but still. Ew.
  2. Johnny Weir will be judging—aka utilizing his second nature—on ABC’s Skating with the Stars, a post-Olympic year take-off of Dancing with the Stars which is sure to be horrid and amazing all at the same time. I cannot wait.
  3. Scott Hamilton returned to comment on figure skating at Skate America and there will be a post to follow, revealing all the magic.
  4. On the final and drunkest hour of the The Today Show, Kathie Lee and Hoda recently re-created the evolution of dance YouTube video. Kathie Lee threw a tantrum the entire time. Hoda got really excited about “getting low” and the whole thing is hilarious and merits watching to the end. Promise.
  5. A coyote was spotting gamboling down State Street in Chicago moments after my “Fear the Coyote” post, thus confirming all my fears ever and that I suffer not because I live in the wilderness but because they have no fear. Note that last year one wandered into a Loop restaurant and just hung out unnoticed for way too long.
  6. I learned by watching Conan that that really is Jack McBrayer’s voice.
  7. And if you really live under a rock, Tina Fey won the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. Amy Poehler said she was rocking the Evita essence.
  8. Lastly, Andy Samberg’s SNL digital short about the Model UN was fully hilarious and my sister and I might be in the process of memorizing it inadvertently, because we like to shout it randomly at each other. You heard it here first.
  9. The Chicago Sun-Times misspelled Kate Middleton as “Middleman” throughout an entire article on her and Prince William’s engagement in today’s paper. It was the saddest thing I ever skimmed, because in another article that was specifically about her ring, they had the spelling correct. Does this mean I can get a job as fact-checker or something?
  10. And last but not least—in fact most—the Beatles are finally on iTunes, and I found out from Voldemorte. (P.S. if you have an extra ticket for Harry Potter this weekend, call me).

 

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Derby Day with Bob Costas & a Random Sullivan

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Calvin Borel rides Super Saver to the finish/ nbcsports.msnbc.com

In case the title had you worried: Never fear, there were mint juleps as well. Take a deep breath.

As a kid I spent what felt like a fair amount of time at the Belmont Race Track with my family. One of my uncles was working there at the time and I loved horses like a great many little girls are wont to do. I read kid fiction about horseback-riding gals, I stole souvenir Belmont glasses from my grandmother, and I demanded that every vacation involve a jaunt on a horse since it had become to clear to me early on that never would my parents actually purchase me a pony.

It is a sad reality with which many children are forced to make their peace at one point or another.

Trainer Todd Pletcher celebrates Super Saver's Win/ nbcsports.msnbc.com

As the years went on, my uncle no longer worked at the race track, the juvenile fiction became predictable (though always ever so inspiring and tear-jerking), the glasses broke and my family started kayaking on vacation instead.

My love for horses and racing sports persevered over the years, despite my failure to be capable of reaching great speeds myself, with or without the help of  horse. Racing sports are the best because you get can pick one or two random names to back if you know nothing about the field, and unless you are into marathons the action is immediate, brief and thrilling to the end. Perfect entertainment.

thefrisky.com

In college I met Kathleen who has spent a fair amount of time at the race track in Saratoga and owns more than one appropriate hat, much like Johnny Weir. Match made in heaven? Yes. We set out Saturday afternoon to enjoy the day and the Derby from Manhattan. We ended up at a random sports bar not far from Washington Square Park called Reservoir.

We settled in directly in front of a prime plasma screen, ordered ourselves a couple of mint juleps, persuaded the bartender to set the television to the derby before any one else had shown up for the race and proceeded to wow fellow barflies with our knowledge of Derby procedure.

It did not take a lot.

It also did not take a lot to make them commence in their judgment of us as crazy girls. I think it started when Bob Costas– everyone’s favorite sportscaster– appeared on-screen. We might have screamed, “Bob!” People might have turned and stared. But it mattered not. The question at hand was how could I have ever forgotten to depend on Bob Costas to appear for a high-profile, obscure, rich man sport?

If only it had been possible to hear what I am sure was insightful, winning and profound commentary from The Costas. Instead, we had to resort to pondering why he appeared to be holding court in a  rec room where people were playing pool and generally looking utterly unaware of the élite happenings out in the weather on the track. It wasn’t just us– everyone was wondering why Bob was sitting in a fluorescent basement. As I recall he may have escaped just before the race for the roses; however, by then we had a whole new set of problems unrelated to the producers of derby coverage.

Our new problems were embodied in the person of a Mr. Sullivan, a middle-aged man with poor vision and a few thousand dollars running on a horse that did not win. Luckily, Sullivan had grown up in a betting family and he had strategy that involved betting on a variety of horses and placements. I have no real concept of how such things work, so I’ll leave it at that.

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Anyways, Sullivan decided to join our table right below the plasma because he had apparently forgotten to bring his glasses. So we sat, we drank and we chatted with the man three sheets to the wind. He was a little wobbly, his drinks had a tendency to slosh over the sides and he told us many of tale of his gambling youth. In the end he was generally harmless, if a mildly irritating interloper who invited us to return to the bar for the Preakness.

So now you know where to find me later this month. Clearly. Care to join?

nbcsports.msnbc.com

nbcsports.msnbc.com

Also, in the never-ending list of Olympian perks… a handful of Vancouver competitors put on white suits and wide-brimmed hats to celebrate what Bob Costas has refereed to as an iconic element of Americana. Short track speed skater Allison Baver donned a wide-brimmed black number, although not quite as wide-brimmed as Johnny Weir’s. Bode Miller unsurprisingly was not wearing a hat, but did go for a festive white Derby Day suit. Also, not that tiny red feathered situation being rocked by the lady with the microphone, as a sidenote.

Olympians get invited to the best stuff.

One of these days–despite our non-Olympian, wealthy Southern or movie star statuses– Kathleen and I will go to the Derby and we will wear hats and it will not rain and Bob Costas will not waste his afternoon in a basement.

This will happen.

In the meantime, I have a gambling buddy for the Preakness and plans to go to Belmont for the Stakes.

Oh and in case you were wondering and had not yet figured it out, my horse Devil May Care did not win, but Super Saver did.

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Ice Theatre of New York: An Alternative Figure Skating Vehicle

Alizah Allen, Eve Chalom & Angela Chiang

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A couple of weeks ago I recounted my  journey to the Nassau Coliseum and the experience of attending Stars On Ice; I reflected on the kitsch of a poppy ice show and the thrill of seeing Olympians perform in person. Last week (April 29, 2010) I was lucky enough to have an opportunity not only to witness two-time Olympian Johnny Weir deliver a premiere skate, but to experience a totally unexpected genre of figure skating melded with modern dance.

Ice Theatre of New York pushes the boundaries of traditional figure skating, specifically ice dancing; however, this is not the ice dancing with which one familiar from the Olympics, televised figure skating specials and tours such as Stars On Ice. Instead, ITNY approaches the sport as a vehicle for theatrical performance, embracing and emphasizing the artistic side of the figure skating. With such a creative and lyrical focus, it is no wonder that Johnny Weir would be interested in joining the company for a special Opening Night performance.

Evan Lysavek/ Jewel Samad/ Getty Images

Johnny Weir/ Junko Kimura/ Getty Images

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over the past several years the top two men in American figure skating have been Evan Lysacek (the reigning Olympic Champion) and Johnny Weir (three-time National Champion), the former characterized as an athletic technician, the latter as a lyrical artist whose ways fared better under the old scoring system versus the new element-based tally. Lysacek has been performing with Stars On Ice, the only remaining national figure skating tour, while Weir has been closed out of such exposure since Champions on Ice folded in 2007 (he skated with that tour from 2004-2007). Instead Weir has appeared at such events as this, and on international tours such as Evgeny Plushenko’s Kings On Ice show in Russia.

Weir performed two exhibition programs for the ITNY opening night extravaganza. His appearance was clearly the marquee event of the show–fans roaring their love from first to last step on the ice. He presented a new program entitled “Heartbroken,” designed specifically to première at the ITNY event, choreographed himself and set to music by Richard Clayderman.

Johnny Weir: Heartbroken

Weir also gave the crowd that for which they had truly come: a new Lady Gaga program. It was “Bad Romance,” there was an undefinable gold sequined shoulder/collar detail, clusters of feathers on his hips and a whole lot of sass. He also threw himself in a completely horizontal knee-slide across the entire ice. Twice. And then popped right back up and continued with the fabulousness. Maybe it was the intimacy of the space (which for ice rink standards is minuscule), maybe it was a reflection of how far away I had been seated for Stars On Ice, but being about 20 feet away from Weir for his jumps and spins gave me a whole new appreciation for the speed that is at stake. I could not attain a single decent photo of him spinning or spiraling– and oh did I try.

Johnny Weir: Bad Romance

But more on Johnny Weir later. Here I would like to reflect of existence of Ice Theatre of New York in conjunction with a pop culture tour like Stars On Ice.

On the one hand, Stars On Ice is traditional and classic–kitsch points and competition style skates combined into an experience of Americana in the tradition of the Ice Capades– whereas ITNY identifies with avant-garde modern dance, pushing away from classic figure skating and resulting in highbrow figure skating performance that brings “classy” rather than “classic” to the table.

According to the organization’s statement, “ITNY’s vision is to bridge the divide between the dance and skating worlds and the organization has done so by commissioning works from renowned dance choreographers including Twyla Tharp, Lar Lubovitch, Peter Martins, Susan Marshall, Ann Carlson and David Parsons; as well as works by noted ice choreographers such as Douglas Webster, Katherine Healy and David Liu.”

 

Kim Navarro & Brent Bommentre

ITNY features nontraditional pairings, small and large groups, as well as traditional ice dance couples, such as Kim Navarro and Brent Bommentre who skated one pop style piece to “Give Me One Reason,” that might have fit into a Stars On Ice program, as well as participating in less traditional pieces with other company members.

Line Haddad & Tyrrell Gene, Kim Navarro & Douglas Webster: Heart

Aside from all the rabid Johnny Weir internet fan girls (of whom there were many and many of whom were actually quite loud and rude regarding the other performers), the whole evening was very enjoyable. It was a delightful blend of dance concepts and figure skating athleticism and technique. There were a variety of interludes throughout the evening that featured a lone skater practicing school figures of increasing difficulty, prompting the audience to reflect on the journey and dedication of figure skaters. It was during these brief moments that a distinct percentage of the audience voiced their boredom and proved an inability to appreciate the beauty and strength inherent in these movements executed by Elisabeth L’Heureux.

Elizabeth L

The idea of developing skating skills overtime was further explored by a humorous solo piece performed by Kenny Moir who portrayed the evolution from a slip’n’slide disaster on ice to a joyful bona fide figure skater. Moir skated “In A Nutshell” to Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto and ended the piece by helping another “new” skater take his first steps on ice.

Kenny Moir

Curtain Call with Eve Chalom, Michele Forchione & Marni Halasa (La Revolte des Enfants)

Based on the variety of selection at the ITNY show, ranging from a Renaissance-style group court dance to a three woman interpretation of a Coldplay’s “Fix You” played by a string quartet and a very experimental three woman piece in which the skaters were all connected to each other by thick spandex sheets connected their unitards, providing a dynamic element for movement and manipulation.

I dare you to encounter something that bizarrely challenging at Stars On Ice. On the other hand, Stars On Ice brought performances by favorite Olympian athletes into my life, and I loved that. There is no fair means of comparing the two events with an eye towards determining whether one is better than the other, but if you have any interest in figure skating and you have the opportunity to experience such diverse modes of presenting this favored obscure winter sport, I urge you to take advantage of the opportunity– it will bring a whole new level to your understanding and appreciation of figure skating and the endless possibilities inherent in the form.

Ice Theater of New York has a regular annual season, in addition to tours outside of New York city, special singular events and international appearances.

For additional pictures, see my ITNY 2010 Opening Night gallery.

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Johnny Weir et al at Ice Theatre of New York Picture Gallery

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Picture gallery from the Opening Night performance of the Ice Theatre of New York is up, featuring Johnny Weir skating a première performance of Heartbroke and a glittering rendition of Bad Romance, as well as two-time National bronze medalist ice dancers Kim Navarro and Brent Bommentre.

Company Curtain Call with Johnny Weir

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Shocking Performances, A Displaced Queen & the Olympic Hangover: Ladies’ Figure Skating World Championships

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If Johnny Weir has said it once, he has said it a hundred times: “the Olympic hangover” had a huge effect on the figure skating world championships this year. Several of the top male competitors– including Weir– dropped out of the competition and the women– especially those on the younger side– appear to have cracked under the pressure of the final act to the Olympic season beginning a mere three weeks after closing ceremonies. After the free skates Tara Lipinski (who called the programs with Andrea Joyce and also provided commentary with Johnny Weir and Peter Carruthers in the so-called Universal Sports “loft”) exclaimed in exasperation, “These ladies need to learn to handle pressure!”

While the men’s championship was already a completely different beast from Olympic competition due to the absence of leaders Evan Lysacek and Evgeny Plushenko, the women’s field retained an almost full roster of high-ranking skaters, excluding bronze Olympian Joannie Rochette.

There were opportunities for redemption– as in the men’s competition–, titles to be defended and expectations to be met. There was potential for drama and drama was had.

The Short Programs:

UniversalSports.com

Mirai Nagasu skated a downright spectacular short program, earning her a 70.04 point personal best providing the breakout performance of the competition. As analyst Peter Carruthers said: “Wow– did she just rock the place!”

Nagasu’s dreamy skate preceding the most shocking of the short programs: Olympic champion Kim Yu-Na delivered an oddly off performance of her James Bond routine, leaving the arena stunned silent upon receipt of her score: 60.03, ten points below Nagasu (who skated just before her) and a full eighteen points below her Olympic showing.

Coming off the ice Kim said something about a boot lace to her coach. She has also expressed having difficulty remaining focused and motivated after the emotional and physical strain of the Olympic games in Vancouver last month. She shortened a triple flip, had wobbly landings and some issues on a spiral sequence.

Neither fans nor commentators nor Kim herself seemed to have any idea what to do with such a result. Lipinski put it simply: “It’s so shocking.”

Weir continued with, “I think she’s so used to skating clean– it shocks not only us but it shocks her.”

One of the most shocking results of Kim’s short program is that she did not score high enough to warm up and skate with the last group for the long program. Her final placement for the short program was seventh position.

UniversalSports.com

Due to Kim’s poor showing, Olympic silver medalist Mao Asada of Japan found herself in prime position to challenge the Olympic champion and defending World Champion Kim Yu-Na. Asada’s short program put her into second place just a few points behind Nagasu. Asada of course had been the Kim’s main rival over the  years; this season found her more and more unable to catch up as Kim continued to excel at a meteoric rate. In fact, in the past two years Kim had only ceded once to the competition– that competition was Asada still fighting her end of a fading rivalry against a fierce opponent. After the short program Weir selected Asada as his pick for the top of the podium.

Laura Lepisto of Finland took third place after the short program, after having been somewhat discounted in Vancouver.

The Free Skate:

Kim Yu-Na delivered another lackluster performance for her free skate. As she came off the ice, Lipinski forecasted: “I know she wants to defend her title, but I’m not sure that’s going to be enough to win.”  She suffered an unlikely fall, a scratched jump and substituted with a waltz jump, which– sidebar–  Tara Lipinski declared  is the jump you learn when you are three years old. Lipinski appeared to be quite frustrated with the inconsistency of the performances at these Worlds.

Giampiero Sposito/ Getty Images/ UniversalSports.com

Surprisingly Kim’s free skate was scored the highest, allowing her to somewhat overcome her short program and land on the podium for the silver medal. I for one was  shocked by the final standings, particularly when confronted by the utterly defeatist attitude that Kim took onto the ice. Weir even observed that it “looked like she was hating being out there,” and Lipinski commented on “the way she got up was so slow” after falling on a salchow.

Damien Meyers/ Getty Images/ UniversalSports.com

Skating after Kim, Asada put in a strong performance that was somehow scored below Kim’s free skate but still placed Asada in first place when combined with her short program. Asada delivered her trademark triple axel twice, prompting Lipinski to exclaim,”Her jumps are just so smooth!”

A final declaration by Joyce: “Wow! What a terrific  performance by Mao Asada and she knows it!”

Skating second to last, it seemed that Mirai Nagasu was well within reach of the podium, if not the top spot. Lipinski uttered ill-fated words: “These next four minutes could really change [Nagasu’s] career.” [Full recap of Nagasu at the Worlds]

Clearly there were a lot of nerves at stake given Nagasu’s unexpected ranking coming out of the short program and it appears that at the end of such a high-stress Olympic-year season the pressure was just too much. Instead of being bolstered by her short program performance, Nagasu caught herself a bunch of nerves and despite fighting her way through the entire program could not hang on and ended up in a disappointing seventh place.

Yuri Kadobnovi/ Getty Images/ UniversalSport.com

Laura Lepisto again put in another solid skate, placing sixth in the free skate and holding on to her third place position overall for the bronze medal behind Kim Yu-Na in an unaccustomed number two position and Mao Asada claiming a deserved and hard-won gold at the top.

Weir, as usual, reflected on the subjectivity of judging in figure skating, saying that he felt Nagasu was overly punished for her mistakes. Regarding Lepisto he said that although she stated well, she only has doubles in her repertoire: “She didn’t have the jumps… It was disappointing for me to see that as a bronze medal performance,” which he thinks would have been more fairly awarded to Miki Ando of Japan.

I for one loved seeing the reality of competition in this ladies championship, especially after the Olympic where Kim Yu-Na was so unstoppable that the competition was downgraded to a fight for silver and bronze. Torino bore witness to the fierceness that is Mao Asada, the lady who lands multiple triple axels and who continued to challenge herself to challenge Kim Yu-Na for the gold– even at the Olympics.

Her triple axels even made Tara Lipinski’s ‘best moments’ list: “Watching Mao land a second triple axel, I just admire her so much!”

It really was a most exciting competition to watch; both more exciting and more devastating that the Olympics– a battle to the end. I give Mao Asada the Words to Bumble Fierce Award.

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Ups & Downs: Mirai Nagasu at the 2010 ISU World Championships

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Clive Rose/Getty Images/ UniversalSports.com

Mirai Nagasu skated a downright spectacular short program, earning her a 70.04 point personal best providing the breakout performance of the competition. The camera caught her exclaiming, “yeah!” in the kiss and cry area upon hearing her score. When asked to name her “best moments” of the 2010 World Championships, Lipinski recalled the grin on Nagasu’s face in the final pose of her short program, soaking it all in and “really enjoying the moment.” Weir tried to describe the emotions at play in the final pose of a stellar skate: “That beautiful joy, and just– you know, holding that end position.”

But back to the beginning…

As Nagasu entered the ice Andrea Joyce noted, “What a fighter she has come to be.” Lipinski reflected, “The focus she has just before she skates is amazing.” As such a young skater competing again the likes of Kim Yu-Na and Mao Asada, Nagasu had not been lauded as a skater in contention for a medal at the Olympics, making her fourth place finish quite the fighting statement. Her first place score for the short program declared yet again that Nagasu is, as she likes to say, “the future.”

Clive Rose/ Getty Images/ UniversalSports.com

It was a spectacular performance full of Nagasu’s unparalleled trademark spins, spirals and fluid grace, leading Lipinski to comment, “This is what she does best… I don’t think anybody can match her on the spins orthe spirals… Look at the flexibility, it’s amazing! … She keeps the speed throughout the entire spin.”

Weir exclaimed, “She has to be missing bones in her back! … It’s gorgeous, no one can do that.”

And Lipinski went on to praise the totality of Nagasu’s skating, because of course it is not just about the spins: “[Nagasu] really mastered the ability the art of just skating in and out of a jump… [and] she not only has the flexibility, but she has the jumps.”

Weir also reflected on how inspiring it must be for Nagasu to train with Olympic champion Evan Lysacek, widely regarded as having an incredibly admirable training ethic and total skating style: “Making sure you’re performing from your head to your toes.”

After the short program Nagasu spoke to reporters, remaining grounded in the ongoing battle of competition: “I think it was a good way to do my very last short program this year… I just need to stay focused… It was really important to me to be able to do the triple-triple here after the Olympics.. After the Olympics I’ve been really tired, but I’m glad that I stuck to it and did the best performance that I could here.” She went on to say elude to the hard work ahead for next season to keep her momentum going.

Lipinski closed the discussion on Nagasu’s short program by saying that “Mirai really needs to prove herself and she knows this is the place to do it.”

Unfortunately the pressure would prove to be too much for Mirai Nagasu, who despite a strong lead coming out of the short program (in which she had scored ten points higher than Kim Yu-Na with an out-of-character skate directly following Nagasu), would finish the world championships in seventh place.

Nagasu’s free skate began with Lipinski– who had earlier cautioned Weir’s prediction that Mao Asada would take the gold in favor of Nagasu– solemnly stating, “These next four minutes could really change her career.”

I look back on my notes and I feel devastation.

Nagasu made a mistake on her first jump, downgrading a triple to a double lutz prompting commentators to say that, “She needs to take control now and forget about that.” As she settled into the program recovery seemed possible: “She is in a little bit of a trouble. She just needs to make sure she can get on the podium– but I think she can.”

UniversalSports.com

Nagasu unfortunately continued to have trouble with the take-off on combo and later fell on a double axel landing, prompting: “I think it’s just nerves sitting in first place… knowing you could win your first world championships.”

Instead of a triumphant end pose, Nagasu smacked her head with both hands in frustration. As she came off the ice she apologized to coach Frank Carroll who put things in perspective: “You’re not dead.”

When judges delivered her scores the girl who “showed a lot of spunk and a lot of fight at the Olympics,” and shocked Torino with a phenomenal short program was pushed back into seventh place.

Afterwards, a distraught Nagasu fought back tears to speak with reporters (sidebar: her coach has said such things as “There’s no crying in figure skating,” after Nagasu’s rough 2008/09 season). Nagasu struggled saying, “I just wanted to come here and improve on my performance at the Olympics… and I feel really bad. I’m just gonna work harder and do better next year.” She said she has not been this low since she was eleven. It was a sad story, but it marks the impetus for a season driven by the desire for redemption at the 2011 Worlds, where Nagasu is sure to fight harder than ever before to get onto that podium and take what was almost hers.

As Andrea Joyce said: “[Nagasu] has her eyes looking forward always.” Looking forward to seeing her fight it out next season.

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