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My encounter with the 3 -time World & 2002 Olympic Champ!

SKATE AMERICA :
October 2001
Colorado Springs, CO

Just Hanging Out...

Talking With...

JAMIE SALE & DAVID PELLETIER

I actually just met Jamie and David in the concourse of the Colorado Springs Worls Arena. I introduced myself after Jamie almost literally bumped into me in the crowd, and I mentioned how much I enjoyed their new programs -- especially the short.

Jamie and David give some of the creditfor that number to my buddy, Kurt Browning, who had "helped out" with some of the choreography, particularly "David's parts." I told them that you could definately see a certain KB influence. Jamie admitted that "growing up in Alberta, Kurt has been an inspiration to her for long time." They both really enjoyed working with th four-time World champ.

I also had the opportunity to watch the ABC replay of their long program with them in the deli at hotel... just Jamie, David, my mother, myself... and a waiter, who was quite surprised to see his customers appear on the TV screen.

"Is that you?" he asked after a double-take. The pair was quite gracious in admitting that it was them. Then again, they are very gracious about everything. .

They seemed pleased with the program, as a whole -- except for Jamie's double (instead of a triple) toe loop. Jamie also said her hair wasn't quite right! Their highlight spin is a beautiful variation of pair sit. They credit former U.S. Ice Dance Champions Elizabeth Punsalan and Jarrod Swallow for helping them create this innovation.

After Dave justly took a moment to savor their marks, they posed for a photo… and then they were off to exhibition practice.

Talking With…

SHAE-LYNN BOURNE & VICTOR KRAATZ

I encountered Shae &Vic immediately upon registering at the Sheraton Hotel. They were in the lobby, waiting for a taxi. I had met them several times previously. The week has started off under rather windy conditions, so both were glad that my flight had touched down safely… but, of course, the conversation quickly turned to skating. They were very excited about this year free dance to a Michael Jackson medley. Shae-Lynn admitted that is would be "quite different" from last year's more classical approach, but she hoped I would enjoy it. The taxi arrived, but it was not the last I would see of the Canadian Ice Dance Champions.

I caught them coming in from their final OD practice. After posing for the photo you see above, Shae had things to do, but Vic chatted a moment. (I know he wasn't supposed to. He was there to eat, sleep, and skate ONLY!) But he was curious as to why I was not at Kurt Browning's show in Vancouver that day, since he knows we are close.

I told him that I already had plans to come to Skate America before I knew about Kurt's event, and I had been to Vancouver twice in the last year (once for Worlds and once for Stars On Ice), and this just worked out better all the way around. Besides, Vic was the second person to ask me that in 24 hours… so Kurt & I must be developing quite a reputation… Anyway, Vic loves Vancouver. He hopes to settle there when his skating days are over. But right now… it's eat, sleep and skate… so he had to rush off before he got caught doing anything else!

Talking With…

BEN AGOSTO

Coincedentally, I had the opportunity to meet Ben's partner Tannith Belbin at the Sheraton hotel earlier. When Local Organizing Committee Chair, Carolyn Kruse, introduced us. Tannith is very sweet…and obviously.. .very pretty… But Ben was the one I had a real conversation with!

Susie Wynne brought him over at the arena after the free dance. She used to be his coach before he partnered with Tannith and she took her current position with ABC Sports. Their free dance looked much stronger than last year at Worlds. I said it was a shame that they would be ineligible for the 2002 Olympics, due to the fact that there was not enough time for Tannith to obtain U.S. Citizenship.

"We didn't think it was an issue when we got together," Ben replied. Apparently, they never dreamed they would move up the ladder as quickly as they have.

Ben remarked that in many countries skaters are offered citizenship "as soon as they step off the plane," if they agree to partner a citizen. American INS rules are much more stringent, however. I suggested that maybe they should be allowed to represent "NORTH AMERICA", since Tannith is Canadian. (I said it as a joke, but at this time when Nations should be pulling together, I serious don't think it's a half-bad idea!) I told Ben I'd see him in Los Angeles at Nationals, but actually we met again at Breakfast the next morning. He was eating alone in the restaurant, as he had overslept and the athlete's breakfast was no longer being served.

I was very impressed, Ben is a very kind and personable young man. I look forward to seeing Ben and Tannith at U.S. Nationals in Los Angeles and many other events in the future.

SPECIAL THANKS TO....

SUSIE WYNNE, CAROLYN KRUSE, GIL STEWART & HIS SKATE AMERICA TRANSPORTATION CREW. COULDN'T HAVE DONE IT WITHOUT YOU!!!!!!!

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All material Copyright 2001 by John H. Baker, unless otherwise indicated.

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