First, I made the St. Paul Newspaper! They did a story on Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto about their victory. It talks of a fluorescent green Frisbee a "fan airmailed down to her from the stands at the Xcel Energy Center" with the words "Simply Amazing" scribbled on the back...yep that was me! So often when you through gifts down to the ice the competitors get so many that they don't really get to really look through them individually, glad that Frisbee made it to her.
The men's final was great! First, kudos to Eliot Halverson for doing a great job in the free skate and representing St. Paul very well. The top six men all did a great job. Scott Smith got things rolling with a great free skate. I can't remember the last time I'd seen him skate so well and when he finished his program he was pumped! Ryan Bradley showed great charm in his Charlie Chaplin routine but hit the ice hard on a quad toe attempt. Overall though it was a very pleasing performance and a respectable 5th place finish. Jeremy Abbott came and delivered an elegant sweeping program to Khachaturian's "Masquerade Waltz." Jeremy also attempted a quad (he stepped out of it) and landed several successful triple jumps including a triple axel in the back half of his program. His excellent speed, awesome spins, attention to detail and strong component mark got him to fourth place. The bronze medal went to Stephen Carriere (I totally pegged this way back during the Grand Prix!). He was crowd pleasing, energetic, had fantastic spins, great jumps, he really is a whole package skater. Look for him to do well at Worlds!
The story here is the top two men and what a story it is to tell. Johnny had a thin lead over Evan after the short program. Evan took the ice for his free and opened up with a quad toe triple toe combo, but he did a three turn out of the quad. He went on to land a Triple Axel double toe double loop combo in the back half of the program. The program ended with that signature footwork that really brought the crowd to it's feet. The program was solid but he did just a bit of hangin on to some of the jumps, but you have to give him credit for going after the technical merit past the halfway point. Johnny came out an opened with a quad toe that he slightly two footed (but kudos to him for going for it!) and then went on a triple jump frenzy landing triple after triple perfectly! He had a little jilt on his final triple flip but it was an outstanding program. The only criticism is that his program is heavily front loaded with jumps. Here's where it gets intense. Evan squeaked by with a higher Technical Element Score for the better technical skill after the halfway mark. Johnny won the Component Score with better jump control and beautiful line and extension. When the dust settled and the scores went up...it was a tie! They had exactly the same score! The crowd was slightly bedazzled at this point and the announcer came on and said because Evan won the free skate (and he did so just barely) he won the gold but talk about a nail biter! Both were in good spirits during the Ice Network press conference and seemed thrilled about their performances and that it was so close.
The exhibition was amazing. All of the top skaters got to take another turn around the ice. The Miami University Syncro team came and wowed us with their skill. Some local Special Olympics came and put on a show for us. However the most exciting part for me came at the end. All of the skaters got to throw goodies such as t-shirts and stuff that they had signed into the crowd. I happened to be the recipient of a US Figure Skating Tee signed by Charlie White! It was a great end to a great week.
Side note, and this is unofficial because it hasn't been reported on the USFSA site but the Pioneer Press reported that the USFSA has in fact put Meissner on the World Team along with Ashley Wagner and Beatrisa Liang.
Full results here!