Monday, January 25, 2010

Iditarod 2010

It's getting to be that time of year again! We have just over a month left before the hardiest dogs along with a special breed of men and women hit the Iditarod Trail in a two week test of strength and determination. The Iditarod is the Last Great Race On Earth for good reason.

I've grown up with the race always being a part of life - no not as a musher or anything like that - but an Alaskan. It's our sport, even if we don't race it, it's OURS. No one else in the world has one quite like it. Some would like to take it away, which makes it all the more beloved by those of us who knows what it really stands for. What it's really all about.

What makes me jump into this mode when it doesn't even come to town until March? I got my first email from the Iditarod Volunteers of the year! I have been asked to help with the sales table at the Iditarod Race Headquarters in Anchorage (Millenium Hotel). So I'm a bit giddy this evening. And I just had to share. I'll go now...

Well, give me a team
And a good lead dog
And a sled that's built so fine!

And let me race
Those miles to Nome,
One thousand forty-nine!

And when I get
Back to my home
Hey, I can tell my tale!

I did, I did, I did
The Iditarod Trail!!

Photo by Antonia Reitter(Me!). Iditarod Trail lyrics by Hobo Jim.

Change in Plans

I was going to post my final thoughts on Nationals tonight, but have been side tracked thanks to Aaron's blog, "Axels, Loops, and Spins" report on Johnny Weir's latest turn in the media.

This time it's not about what he's said, or what team he supports other than the USA... or even his sexuality. Nope, it's what he's wearing.

In 2006 he got flack for wearing a CCCP jacket. This year, it's fur.

That's right; earthquakes in Haiti, children starving world wide, shoot the fable of global warming all seem to be on most people's top priorities...

but not for those oh so wonderful "Friends of Animals" let the humans starve and suffer, it's the animals that we need to worry about.

Let me preface by saying I am not a sadist who enjoys pulling wings off of butterflies just to see what happens. I appreciate all of God's creation, and do believe they have a purpose on this earth other than for humans to abuse. I don't, however, believe they are sacred to the point of worshipping them or not using them for food and for clothing purposes.

I am a hunter, a fisher, and I love watching the Iditarod. I believe some animals are bred for working, some are bred for food, and some are just around to be pretty. This, in part, comes from my upbringing in Alaska. While I lived in a main town in South Central Alaska, we still lived off the land. Hate to break it to the "bunny hugger" community, but being Vegan in Alaska is five million times harder than anywhere in mainstream America. We can't grow a lot of what we'd need to have a healthy diet, and veggies and fruits do NOT come cheap up here in ANY season. It's bad enough in the big communities, try living out in Rural (or Remote) Alaska where an apple is considered a delacacy most times of the year. We have to live off the land if we're going to survive... when times are hard we can't just go to the supermarket.

Johnny case, you say, is different. It's in the name of fashion. I would agree in that I don't believe in hunting animals just for sport. But if it serves a purpose it can be argued that it's right. No, I know, you say it can't, but it wound't be an argument if it were one sided, now, would it.

Johnny wears fur, I'd argue it's weird for other reasons (mainly his gender plays a part) but it works for the costume he's using. Where do we get off dictating what he wears. Seems to me if we can't tell a person how to live their life sexually, or what job to have, or how many kids to have.... what we wear shouldn't be a freedom that is taken away either. It's a minute problem in a world filled with many more.

And, no, this is not a rant from a "Johnny's Angel" or general fan of the man. I honestly can't say I like the guy. I prefer a different sort of skater. That's just me. But, of all the problems one could have with him, seriously? A tuft of fur is what churns your stomach.

Well, whatever floats your boat.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

My Nationals Highlight

There were quite a few fantastic moments, but only ONE program/skater keeps calling out for multiple viewings. That is, of course, Ryan Bradley's Long Program.

One of the reasons I went and looked it up on YouTube Tonight was due to my wonderful best friend who has no clue about figure skating other than some of the men are extremely hot (to give you an idea of her knowledge, she asks every year if Tim Goebel is skating in this event or another). Tonight we were talking and one of her final comments while watching the finale of the US Skating Spectacular was that she couldn't figure out WHY I liked skating. That she found it dull.

Well, yeah, when she listed the skaters she'd actually seen I could understand. But, for ever basic skating competitive program, there are is an equal ratio of those that are more than placements and points (though they won't refuse them if they're good!). Ryan Bradley has always been that type of skater.

So, before I sign off for bed, I leave you with this:

The more I watch the more I wish he and Weir'd been reversed. But, what's done is done.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Look who's back in town!

Sasha Cohen proved many wrong this morning when she finally took to the Nationals practice ice. Many have been waiting for this hyped event. Sasha Cohen: Back in the Competition.

Her practice was promising, during her run through she hit her jump combination and her double axel. Her solo jump - the triple flip - ended in a fall, but still, she looks strong. But, she isn't unbeatable. Not this time.

The others hoping to win one of the two spots are also making a buzz in Spokane, albeit a softer one. Rachel Flatt, Ashley Wagner, Alissa Czisny, Mirai Nagasu, and Caroline Zhang all have equal chances and are all favored to do well. All have their strong points, but, like Cohen, all have a long way to go to be the clear front runner. Where they all have an advantage over Cohen is they've not been out of competition these past few seasons - and they're not in the spotlight.

First up tomorrow will be Rachel Flatt. She's been the bridesmaid the last couple of seasons at these championships (coming in second in 2008 to Mirai Nagasu, and second to Alissa Czisny last year) and many are wondering - and hoping - that this is her year. She IS the top ranked US lady in the world rankings, but that doesn't mean she'll win here (Evan Lysacek is the top ranked man in the world, and he came in second to Jeremy Abbott this past weekend). Rachel has the goods, and rarely misses a delivery, but she seems to lack the spark one needs to really win the judges over. She's sailing fairly low on the radar, but then outside of Sasha none of the ladies seem to be getting the attention of the press.

Last year's champion, Alissa Czisny is a total wildcard. No one is sure which Alissa will show up, but the audience is guarunteed to see a skater who won't bring everything she has to the table - aside from breathtaking skating. Even with the flawed jumps (pops, falls, negated) her programs seem to capture attention. Her girl next door looks make it incredibly difficult not to root for her. Will she be able to hang onto her title? Improving upon what she did last year will be the only way she'll get that lucky twice. Will she make the Olympic Team? It'll take a whole lot more than that megawatt smile.

Favored by *this* author is Ashley Wagner for no other reason than personal preference! (hey it's my blog I can be biased, girl skated for Alaska not too long ago, how awesome is that?) She's not the totally "pretty little ice princess" that the others are. She's also not a diva. She's an athlete. She's artistic second. She's all sport. And she looks fantastic doing it. She's determined to become a better skater, taking the time to correct her flawed edges in her jumps. She's not fully there, the tech caller is still dinging her, but she's making the effort. Money's on her to fly under the radar and take it all - so long as she stays focussed on the job ahead and not the outcome. She wants this one bad

The underdogs are Nagasu and Zhang. Both have been bitten by the puberty bug. They were dynamos when they came on the scene, and are still incredibly promising - but their recent growth spurts have made their ascent to the top slow considerable.

Nagasu had difficulty handling the pressure of National Champion as she won when she was just fourteen. A lot of expectations were heaped upon her, and coupled with her growth spurt last season was an emotionally rough one. No one could blame her for wanting to have a redeeming nationals, and that makes for a great underdog type story. She stated in interviews earlier this week that she was just looking for the joy in the sport again; there's always 2014! Here's hoping she has a fantastic competition, and who knows she might just see Olympics 2010 up close and personal!

Caroline Zhang. Touted as the "next Michelle Kwan" by most, she combines the simplicity of the American Sports Icon with the flexibility of fellow competitor Sasha Cohen. Problems for Caroline, though, are her speed and her jumps. She gets nailed for underrotation and wrong edge take offs, and she is painfully slow. She's getting better. 2010 may not be her year, but one has to wonder just how long she'll continue before getting completely discouraged. She certainly shows her frustration with teh judging; should she begin to really work on what they want - mainly speed - she'd be better off. Is it within her to go all out in Spokane? She's not the most flexible this year with Cohen back in the mix, so she's going to have to pull out all the stops so that she's not lost in teh shuffle.

No matter what, the ladies short program is going to be hyped to the hilt, and shouldn't be disappointing (why would it? Pairs and Men killed over the weekend!) Good luck to all the competitors, not just the favorites. What a great birthday present for me!

Photos by Getty Images and Associated Press c/o

Monday, January 18, 2010

No Surprise For Men's Olympic Team

Yesterday afternoon was one heck of a men's event. Yes, there were some falls, yes there were some tears. Mainly from Ryan Bradley's fans as we realized his dreams of the Olympics will probably never be realized.

The little things really started adding up for all of the men in Spokane Sunday afternoon. Jeremy Abbot was the sole skater who rose to the occasion and nailed everything. He rightly deserved his placement and his score. It was pretty inspired. The question this blogger has is: will this be a repeat of last season? Will Nationals be his shining moment and then the rest is downhill? We'll see next month.

The biggest shock, possibly, was Evan Lysacek actually going for the quad. To be honest, no one was going to touch Jeremy with the long program he had, but it was still a risky move on Evan's part. He fell, not completing the rotation. Interestingly enough this US Nationals has had the most fair judging that skating's seen in a very long while - and I think EVER in the history of a National Championship (in any country!).

For Sandra Besic to come out and say that Evan deserved the title (this was prior to Jeremy taking the ice) based on the "magic of the program" was laughable. Evan made simple, basic, mistakes in both the Short and Long program; he practically gave the title away.

This should not concern those who believe Evan to be the best shot at a medal. He typically does not skate lights out at nationals - Spokane 2007 being the major exception since Evan became one of the Elite - and seems to save it for Worlds. With the Olympics being the main prize and goal, it should not come as a surprise that he was merely attempting to tick off the elements. This has worked in the past for Evan - he is World Champion the same year he barely made the World Team - so why think it won't continue to work.

Johnny Weir was the spoiler. No one knew WHICH Weir would show up. The confident ready to win avante garde skater with nothing to lose, or the scared to death he's going to fail skater who just hopes he stands upright for four-plus minutes. It seems that both came to the table. Johnny was on fire in the Short Program, he was sassy and completely his own skater. And it worked. He nearly tied Evan, and had their skating orders been reversed, their scores/placements might have been as well. But, the long program brought out the ball of nerves. It was incredibly evident that the pressure was beinging to take its toll on Johnny. The USFSA made it clear last season that they weren't going to give out favors for him, and he knew it going into the Long Program.

The one downer was - there aren't four spots on the Men's team. Ryan Bradley made costly errors in the Short Program only to completely rebound in his Long Program with two quads and more personality than the rest of the top skaters COMBINED. Such is the trademark of Ryan Bradley, and if SOI doesn't sign him up they'll make the biggest mistake - and they can't afford that right now.

So half of the US Figure Skating Team for Vancouver has been decided.
Pairs are Caydee Denney & Jeremy Barrett, and Amanda Evora & Mark Ladwig
Men are Jeremy Abbott, Evan Lysacek, and Johnny Weir.

Can't wait for the rest of the events, it's a great year for USFigure Skating!

Photos (c) Getty Images & The Associated Press c/o

Caption This!

Gotta love awkward moments created by camera...
Photo (c) Getty Images c/o

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The right pairs are going to Vancouver.

I was so happy to see reputation judging get thrown out the window during the pairs competition in Spokane. While it was devastating to see Keauna & Rockne falter as much as they did, and Brooke and Ben not make it onto the big podium (still don't get teh whole pewter medal thing, but I digress), it was fantastic to watch Caydee & Jeremy and Amanda and Mark skate like never before and grab first and second.

Caydee and Jeremy have fast tracked their careers to the point where they're now the new "It" team. I've seem Jeremy skate and struggle with other partners for a few years at nationals, but this time it's working. Caydee is MAGIC out there and she brings out a different skater in him. With time they'll settle down and -I believe- will become one of the US golden pairs. I really do have faith. I know that Keauna and Rockne have been given a similar prediction, and -perhaps- they still will, but for now the stars are a little team from Florida.

Also from Florida - Amanda and Mark - it took 8 years of dedication, hard work, and heart, but they finally made it. My friend runs a great fan site for them and I just know she was insane there in spokane watching them skate that amazing long program and then waiting to find out if they'd hold onto second.

Ultimately I believe the right decision was made to go with the top two teams for teh Olympic team. Realistically, the US does not have a chance at a podium finish, and while we do want the highest placements possible, it's also about achieving dreams. Amanda and Mark and Caydee and Jeremy's stories make for great television, which is the only way pairs figure skating wins in the US this year. I know NBC put all of their eggs in Keauna and Rockne's basket, but they're just going to have to deal with the changes... roll with the punches... and all that jazz.

Good night from the land of the midnight... well... snow...

Alaska Teen Makes Senior Debut A Good 'Un.

Last night I stayed up well past what I planned watching the US Figure Skating Championships Men's Short Programs on Ice Network. Of course it's always fun to see Johnny Weir, Jeremy Abbot, and Evan Lysacek battle it out, with a little sexy humor from Ryan Bradley thrown in for good measure.

But, the highlight for me was Keegan Messing. I've watched this kid climb the ranks, and being a fellow Alaskan, it made me proud. We, sadly, don't have a lot of elite skaters up here... and so when one does make it to seniors and grabs the spotlight and people take notice, it makes me happy.

Keegan's been making waves since his days in the Novice, and now he's on the Senior stage skating against some of the best in the World. I was giddy with anticipation, hoping his senior nationals debut would be a good one...

He did NOT disappoint. It wasn't perfect - he didn't do the required combination - but other than a jump issue he was spot on. And he's turned the heads of skating fans who only follow the senior level. I was cheering from start to finish in my bed room watching an all too small screen as he blew through his program. He really does give off a young Scott Hamilton vibe. It was a solid start to a - hopefully - long and successful competitive career. Ralph and Rory have done an excellent job on his skating.

As for the top field, it's no surprise with teh results. Ryan Bradley is the biggest disappointment, after that fantastic openning with the Quad-Triple combination I thought we might have a real competition on our hands, but no such luck. Hopefully he can pull out all the stops for the Long Program and really show the world who he is.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Disney, Disney....

Sooooooo, I'm going to Walt Disney World for my fifth trip this November. If you know me at all, well, you know I just went last January (a week ago this Tuesday it'll have been a full year. It makes me sad.), and I turned 24 on Splash Mountain.

Due to work schedules, my best friend and I can't get away before then. It's a bummer that we have to wait that long to spend time with each other, but that's what happens when your best friend up and moves to Montana and you don't see her day in and day out. You want to take long trips together, which means we have to work hard for a long time between visits.

I'm uploading photos from our last disney trip to so that I can get them printed soon and get to work on our scrapbook. I have a ton of scrapping to do. I took a buttload of pictures, but then that's not surprising. I LOVE snapping. And I LOVE Disney World.

I'll see you soon, Stitch!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Scott... Hamilton!!!

I found this little gem today while posting on a fun thread at the Golden Skate Forums (if you don't already know I am one of their moderators. So yes, consider that a shameless plug if you will.

It's a moving tribute to one of the greatest skaters the world will ever know. Yes this is coming from a biased American. In 1989 I had the priveledge - though I didn't understand it at the time - of watching Scott Hamilton skate LIVE in a Disney on Ice show when they came to Anchorage, AK. I wasn't even four years old, yet, but Scott's the only thing I truly remember outside of the Mickey Mouse flashlight I got from the show. One backflip is all it took and the obsession with Scott and skating began.

After viewing this video on youtube I began to really grow nostalgic. Scott is closely tied to my childhood. He was my first true childhood hero (sorry Joe [Montana] and Jerry [Rice]) and he influenced me to the point where - even though I can't skate - I am pretty active with teh sport. I have friends on the elite level of skating, that had it not been for this obsession I'd not even have the amazing friendships that I do with fans and skaters alike.

And, again, it all stems from the short happy bald guy that skated into my heart that night in 1989. It boggles my mind all of the obstacles he had to face to get where he did. It boggles my mind that after 6 or so years of retirement he's coming back. It boggles...

Say what you will about Scott as a commentator, or a business man... or even as a skater. But for many of us, including myself, he is legendary. And a hero.

You've found your Hero's Welcome, Scott!

Welcome aboard...

Well, I've decided to bite the bullet and use this thing. This is my fifth online blog home. I went from EasyJournal, to GreatestJournal, to Live Journal, to InsaneJournal, to - finally - here. I'm a rambler. These are my thoughts, whether or not you agree with them is your business. These are my thoughts, take them for what you will.

I'm a Bible Believing Southern Baptist raised Christian. I attend one of the more... "controversial" congregations in Anchorage Alaska. I believe that the Bible is the Word of God. I am not perfect, but I strive to be - knowing full well that won't happen until Christ comes and I meet with Him in Heaven. I'm conservative in my values and my world view. I'm not an abortion clinic bomber, nor am I a bigot. But I do take the Bible for what it says and believe it to be the Law.

I was born and raised in South Central Alaska. No, I'm not an Eskimo (even if I WERE native, Eskimos are typically from a different part of teh state), and no I don't dog sled (love to watch it, and have worked for mushers)... and, no, I've never owned a polar bear or a penguin. I'm for opening ANWR and just wish the federal government would leave us alone and let us run our state. Wishful thinking on my part, I know.

I'm a figure skating and disney fanatic. I can't skate, but I've grown up watching the sport and loving many of its biggest stars. Grew up with Disney, too, and have yet to truly grow up. Daydreaming is my constant.

So this is my blog. It will, no doubt, have a little bit of everything. Bible, Figure Skating, Politics, Disney... LIFE. That's what it's all about.