Friday, February 27, 2009

Stars in the Windy City

Last weekend I went to my first Stars on Ice show of the year, braving the potential winter weather onslaught with a road trip to Chicago. I checked the weather religiously all week, since driving through the southwest corner of Michigan in the middle of February can be pretty dicey at times. Things weren't looking good for my drive, but I never ended up hitting any snow, and I made it to Mel's in no time. Thank god for cruise control and my aversion to speed limits.

The show certainly didn't disappoint this year, and I'm happy to say that I see a few more shows in my future, thanks to two stops in Michigan, and of course the Canadian tour that stars in the spring. I'm not going to lie, I'm terrible at reviewing shows...I usually leave that up to Mel since she's the writer and we usually have the same opinion on all things skating, but I figured why not, since I have a blog now, I'll give it a shot.

I don't think I liked the group numbers this year as much as I did last year, but going up against "Hard Steele" and the Robert Palmer opening is a pretty tall order. I liked the guys number (a lot), and I really liked the transitions between the programs more this year as well. The "Don't Skate" PSA's are hilarious! They're a take on the "Don't Vote" videos that were out around election time last year, and I found myself wishing that they had them between every number. Of course there were some other great transitions too, so I suppose I should be happy with what we did get. So many great numbers this year, though...Yuka Sato's "1,2,3,4", Ilia Kulik's "Song for the King", Shen and Zhao's "Ramalama" and John Zimmerman's "I'm Gonna Crawl" were probably among my favorites.

The solo standouts for me were Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon, one of my favorite dance teams and one of the main reasons why multiple SOI stops are in my future. Going into the show I thought their first act number to "Since I've Been Loving You" by Corinne Bailey Rae was going to be my favorite. The song is hot, M-F and Patch are hot together, and the program itself sets a really intimate mood. I loved it, to say the least, but their second act number was probably the highlight of the entire show for me. Skating to "Desire" by U2, they showed a ton of personality, and I don't think M-F stopped beaming the whole time. They've blossomed even more as show skaters since last year, and it's awesome to see them touring again.

One of the pics Mel took of "Since I've Been Loving you". Some of her other photos (along with Katie's, who also spent the weekend with us) are up at Hope it's ok that I advertise that here, but everyone should go look because they both took a ton of fab photos!

We ended up chatting with Marie and Patch for a bit after the show, but since the bus pulled out pretty soon after everything wrapped up, it was a pretty brief chat. I think Mel was a little taken aback when Patrice announced that they'd never actually gotten to Downtown Chicago, and had they not had to leave that night, she probably would have offered her tour guide services. Not that I could blame her...she is a great tour guide.

I think it's a rule that you can't leave Chicago without shopping, and I'm not going to be the one to be breaking that anytime soon. We lunched at the Frango Café in Marshall Field's-Macy's on Sunday (I refuse to just call it Macy's...I worked at Marshall Field's for 3.5 years, so maybe I'm still a little bitter), which is where I snapped this slightly blurry shot:

Awesome! A whole wall of President Obama! Is anyone else still really giddy about getting to call him that? I know I am.

So that's my Stars/Chicago weekend in a nutshell. Lots of skating, good food, and hilarity, which is pretty much the norm for whenever Mel and I are together.

Not sure what's going to be up next...if anyone has any suggestions of what I can blog about, they would be much appreciated!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

I've been back from Vancouver for about a week now, and I wish my stay there would have been longer! Knowing I'll be back a year from now for the Olympics is pretty exciting, though. The city certainly has Olympic Fever, and being at the test event for figure skating only amplified that. Team Canada certainly showed they're a force to be reckoned with, winning three silvers and one gold medal. I've never been to an event quite like the ladies' long program, though. Yu Na Kim is like a rockstar in her native Korea, and there were so many people there cheering her on that it really electrified the atmosphere in the arena. My friends and I pride ourselves on our cheering skills, but even we haven't matched the volume of that crowd. Knowing what skating has gone through in North America, combined with the tough economic times everyone is going through, it was exciting to see so many people attending a skating event.

My friends and I did our fair share of sightseeing, in addition to spending hours on end roaming the PNE. I don't think I could ever get tired of being around mountains and water, and Vancouver seems to posess an open, laid back vibe that I think is missing in a lot of big cities. I am by no means a photographer, and my pictures are taken on a little Kodak digital point and shoot, but I did get some shots that I liked.

This is a shot from Queen Elizabeth Gardens, which was down the street from the friend's house where we stayed for a few days. Thanks again, Meg and Augie!

View from the back parking lot of the PNE

From the Seawall around Stanley Park

A shot from Granville Island, where I wish I had and endless supply of money and luggage room to bring home the goodies from the Public Market.

So that's Vancouver in a pretty tiny nutshell. Great city and great skating, to say the least. I can't wait to go back next year for the Games!

Also I'm hoping I won't go as long between posts next time, as I'm going to my first stop of Stars on Ice next weekend, so I'm sure I'll have plenty to say about that.