Figure Skaters Online

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Rink side: November 9-15, 2009

Figure Skaters Online wraps-up some of the noteworthy figure skating headlines and stories of the week.

• Ando onto the Grand Prix Final in Tokyo, Japan

Japan’s Miki Ando, the 2007 World Champion, has won both her 2009 Grand Prix assignments, Rostelecom Cup of Russia and NHK Trophy, and is the first lady skater to have qualified for the Grand Prix Final in Tokyo, Japan. Ando trained for almost one week alone as her coach Nikolai Morozov went to the Cup of China in Beijing with his other student Nobunari Oda.

“I thought that I trained well, but I felt a little uncertain,” Ando said to the Golden Skate. “Maybe I was not strong enough yet (to train alone).” On Morozov’s advice, she didn’t go for the triple Lutz-triple loop combination in the short program and later was disappointed in herself that she didn’t try the combination. “A triple-triple is a key point and I’ve done it many times. In practice here I felt like something was missing and my emotions were weaker.”

Flatt’s balancing act is world class

Like many aspiring 2010 Winter Olympians, figure skater Rachael Flatt is in full training mode. She also is in four Advanced Placement classes at Cheyenne Mountain High School in Colorado Springs.

The first, AP English, starts at 6:30 a.m. AP physics follows, then, from 9 a.m. to noon, two skating sessions. In the afternoon, Flatt heads back to school for AP calculus and AP French, then back to the rink for two more sessions.

“It’s been quite an experience balancing this,” says the high school senior and 2008 world junior champion who competes this weekend at Skate America in Lake Placid, N.Y. Read more in the story Figure skater Rachael Flatt’s balancing act is world class.

• Hometown fans cheer on Emily Hughes’ return

She popped her first triple lutz Saturday night and under-rotated a triple flip. This was not exactly the way Emily Hughes envisioned her return to the figure skating limelight, but then she pulled herself together during an uneven short program at Skate America and left the ice with a half-smile.

“I don’t think this performance exemplifies what I’ve been doing in practice,” Hughes was quoted in the New York Daily News. “But maybe I needed it to make the next one better. There are a lot of people from my hometown here, and it’s nice hearing them cheer me even when things don’t go as planned.”

Mroz to set bar high at Skate America

Evan though Brandon Mroz had just turned 18 about a month before the 2009 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Cleveland, the high school senior decided to go for something bold. He landed a quadruple toe loop, one of the hardest maneuvers in the sport, and nailed it. The four-revolution jump landed him on the medal podium, with a silver medal in just his first trip to nationals at the senior level.

“For me, the quad can put you in a different league,” Mroz said to reporter Amy Rosewater before Skate America, his second Grand Prix event. “It can separate you. It’s risky, but it’s full of rewards.”

New coach and a new attitude for McLaughlin, Brubaker

Keauna McLaughlin and Rockne Brubaker, two-time U.S. Champions, were in New York City last Wednesday to promote the U.S. Olympic Committee‘s “Countdown to Vancouver – Team USA” celebration. While at Rockefeller Rink, theduo talked to Susan Chun for her Lifeskate podcast called New Coach and new attitude.

Scott Hamilton happy to be skating again

Scott Hamilton’s voice, though muffled by a bad cellphone connection, was unmistakably joyful. Hamilton, the 1984 Olympic figure skating gold medalist, returned to performing last weekend for the first time in 5½ years, skating in Cleveland for the benefit of the Scott CARES initiative at the Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Center.

He told Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times: “That’s one thing I really wanted to know. Did I stop skating back then because it was really time, or was it body chemistry or brain chemistry that was stopping me from enjoying and skating at a level I could feel good about? And just being with my friends again in that capacity and skating again made me feel like what happened 5½ years ago taking away skating wasn’t something in my control. It was an issue with my health.”