Drew Meekins: “Pairs skating is ready for a rebrand”

On first sight, you could almost mistake Drew Meekins for a current competitor in pairs skating (especially these days!). Fit and youthful at 36, Meekins retains an energetic passion for the sport of figure skating. It’s this drive that inspired him throughout his competitive career with pairs partner Julia Vlassov and culminated in the 2006 World Junior pairs title. Indeed, the former champion admits that the idea of competition still crosses his mind at times.

Today, though, Drew Meekins’s focus is on making his mark on the other side of the boards. For over a decade since his retirement, he has worked with top national and international skaters as both a coach and choreographer. Now, he’s fulfilling a longtime personal goal by launching his own pairs skating group in Colorado Springs, CO. Meekins hopes to help grow and reshape the discipline of pairs skating in the United States. 

Recently, Meekins took some time to chat with me about his competitive skating career, his development as a coach and choreographer, current trends and challenges in pairs skating, and what he hopes to accomplish with his new pairs skating group. 

Continue reading “Drew Meekins: “Pairs skating is ready for a rebrand””

Worlds 2021: Pairs Predictions

‘Tis the night before Worlds … and I have pairs predictions! Fair warning: This is a very last-minute look at the pairs field for Worlds, at the end of a very odd season of figure skating (due to the covid-19 pandemic). And, as Kirsten Moore-Towers pointed out in a pre-Worlds teleconference call, we just don’t have a lot of data for this past season. For many pairs at Worlds, this will be their first international competition of the season. So neither they, nor we, really know what to expect. Therefore, take the following predictions with a grain of salt.

These are my thoughts about where the pairs may place in Stockholm.

Continue reading “Worlds 2021: Pairs Predictions”

Meagan Duhamel: Life After the Olympics

Three years ago this month, Meagan Duhamel stood on the podium at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, having just achieved a lifetime goal. Already a World champion with partner Eric Radford, Duhamel also won two Olympic medals in Pyeongchang (team gold and individual bronze). It was the pinnacle of her figure skating career.

Duhamel/Radford at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games

Yet, as much as she savored her Olympic success, Duhamel was already looking ahead and making plans for the future. While still in Pyeongchang, she had already ventured into coaching, helping to teach North Korean pair Ryom/Kim, who also competed at the Games. Duhamel and Radford were planning a professional skating career with Stars on Ice and other shows. And she and her husband/coach Bruno Marcotte were looking to start a family.

Continue reading “Meagan Duhamel: Life After the Olympics”

The Skating Club of Boston Breaks New Ground

Despite cold and windy weather, the mood was festive Monday at the Skating Club of Boston’s groundbreaking ceremony for their new three-rink facility in Norwood, MA. It was a long-anticipated day, as planning for the new rink complex first started some 20 years ago. Now, construction will commence on what is intended to be a state-of-the-art facility, to open in summer 2020. Continue reading “The Skating Club of Boston Breaks New Ground”

Fall 2018 Update

Hi everyone! I wanted to update you on my plans for fall 2018. The season has started, Skate America has come & gone, but there’s been no pairs review of the event on A Divine Sport. Why? Well … two reasons: 1) In the aftermath of Skate America, I was too busy preparing for my trip to Skate Canada this week (more on that in a minute) to write about the action in Everett; and 2) I’ve decided to take a little break this fall from writing pairs reviews. I still love pairs as much as ever, and I’m still watching and following all the competitions closely. But after 4 years of doing pairs reviews, I just felt like I needed a bit of a rest. I may get back to writing pairs reviews for the second half of the Grand Prix series. If not then, I’ll probably get back to it later in the season for Nationals and the major championships. We’ll see.

The good news is that, even though I’m not doing reviews right now, I am going to Skate Canada this week, covering the event for another pairs/dance web site, Two for the Ice. So you can look there for some of my coverage. For the next few days, I’ll be tweeting from the Two for the Ice Twitter account:  @twofortheice. Follow there for posts from Skate Canada in Laval.

That’s all for now. Thanks to everyone who’s read my pairs reviews the last few years! I really appreciate it! And I hope to get back to them soon!

Remembering Denis Ten 1993-2018

A couple days ago, I was reminded again of all that we lost on July 19, when Denis Ten was killed in Kazakhstan.

Russian skater Sergei Voronov announced that Denis had choreographed his new short program. Usually I love it when gifted skaters try their hand at choreography; it’s wonderful to think of their artistry carrying on, even after they’re no longer skating. But this …. To know that Denis Ten’s first year as a choreographer was also his last, just left me with an ache inside. Continue reading “Remembering Denis Ten 1993-2018”

A Perfect Program: Patrick Chan’s Chopin LP

Skating fans are pretty lucky. Every season, there are many good,  and often great, programs to enjoy. Once in while, a perfect program happens. It’s a rare and special thing: When the right piece of music and the right choreography all come together at a particular moment in a skater’s career. When it happens, the program becomes part of the skater’s success, even part of their public identity sometimes. A perfect program may become iconic; a part of skating history. Continue reading “A Perfect Program: Patrick Chan’s Chopin LP”

Skate America 2015: Lots of Skater-spotting & Not Much Sleep

It was a whirlwind trip to Skate America, my first-ever Grand Prix event and my first-ever skating road trip. I’ll wrap up my coverage with some notes on my experience as a fan/writer at Skate America.

The event was held this year at Panther Arena in Milwaukee. It’s a small arena, right in downtown Milwaukee, home base for basketball/hockey teams from University of Wisconsin. Because the arena is small, the whole event had a rather relaxed, cozy feeling. The seats themselves were a little cramped with not much leg room, and there wasn’t much in the way of concession food, but it was still nice. And again, because it wasn’t too big, there was a good view from pretty much every seat in the house.

Downtown Milwaukee was attractive, but a bit sleepy compared to bigger cities. There weren’t too many people around on the streets, even on Friday, a work day. Nonetheless, there were many big hotels located conveniently close to the arena.

I was able to get a discounted rate at the official hotel for the event, the Hilton City Center in Milwaukee. This was the first time I’ve traveled to an event, and thus the first time I’ve stayed at the official hotel. It was so much fun! The skater sightings started the moment I walked in the door, and continued right up until I left. Staying at the same hotel as the skaters and officials makes it feel like you’re part of the event. The hotel itself was very nice and very convenient, with a Starbucks, buffet room, and two restaurants on the first floor. And it was just a quick 5-minute walk to the arena.

I arrived on Friday morning at 9:00 a.m., and the schedule was packed. There were practices until 2:00 on Friday, and the short programs went from 3:30-11:00 with just a brief dinner break. On Saturday, practices resumed at 7:15 a.m., continued till noon, then the long programs ran from 1:30-11:00, with dinner break.

Having attended 2 full competitions now, I’ve learned there isn’t much time for sightseeing, relaxing, or even sleep at skating events, unless you skip practices. But I love watching practice, and I figure that’s what I’m there for, so I was pretty much in the arena or the hotel nearly the whole time except for the dinner break Saturday night, when my friend and I met up with a bunch of skating fans from FSU. It was great to meet some other skating fans!!

For those interested, I spotted skaters/officials/coaches all over the place! Sightings included:

  • Alaine Chartrand talking in the lobby when I came in
  • Jenny Kirk and Dave Lease from TSL watching practice and chatting with Tom Z
  • Gracie Gold signing many autographs and speaking with fans at the arena as she left practices
  • Carly Gold relaxing in the hotel lobby (congratulated her on her recent Regionals win)
  • Danny O’Shea and Chris Knierim taking pictures and chatting pleasantly with fans at the arena Friday night after the pairs SP
  • Mariah Bell and Hawayek/Baker watching practices
  • Tammy Gambill having dinner in the pub downstairs
  • Igor Shpilband taking the elevator down before the ice dance final, with his very stylishly dressed girlfriend Adrienne Lenda
  • Adian Pitkeev waiting for the elevator by himself after the men’s SP Friday, looking very young
  • USFSA President Samuel Auxier and his wife Lynne taking the elevator up Friday night; she seemed very nice
  • ISU Figure Skating Sport Director Charlie Cyr sitting in the row behind me with, I believe, Ross Miner’s parents
  • Han Yan smiling and taking pictures with fans on the way back to the hotel
  • Jessica Pfund getting coffee at Starbucks 2 hours before her pairs final
  • Astakhova/Rogonov leaving the hotel to walk to the pairs final
  • Skaters eating a special late-night buffet dinner after the long programs ended Saturday night
  • Wang/Liu and Han Yan having breakfast the next morning at 7:00 in the buffet room

Yup . . . I’m a fangirl! 🙂 It was so much fun seeing the skaters at a competition and getting a sense of their routine there. The skaters I met personally were all nice and very friendly. I wasn’t able to get many photos, unfortunately, but I’ve included a few below.

It was a terrific weekend, and I’m already thinking about next year’s Skate America. It’s a great competition to attend because all-event ticket prices are much cheaper than Nationals or Worlds, but you still get to see many of the best American skaters and top international stars as well. I highly recommend it to anyone who hasn’t gone before.

So that’s it for my coverage from Milwaukee. Until next year, hopefully! 🙂

Danny O'Shea taking pictures with fans at the arena
Danny O’Shea posing for a photo with a fan

Gracie Gold talking with fans after practice
Gracie Gold talking with fans after practice

Cannuscio/McManus at practice
Cannuscio/McManus at practice

Hawayek/Baker practicing their FD
Hawayek/Baker practicing their FD

Han Yan talks with fans near the hotel
Han Yan talks with fans near the hotel

Denis Ten on his way back to the hotel
Denis Ten on his way back to the hotel

Warmup for the dance final
Warmup for the dance final

Before the Music Starts

Just what the world needs, right? . . . Another figure skating web site. And yet, the truly obsessed among us know there can never be too many (good) figure skating sites, just like there can never be too much figure skating.

I have been watching figure skating, more or less obsessively, since 1991. You’d think after 25 years, I’d be bored. But I’m not! For whatever reason, my love of skating continues to grow, year by year. There’s always something new happening, always more to learn. And, I find, talking and writing about skating is almost as much fun as watching it. Hence, this site. I hope that other people who also love skating will enjoy reading it from time to time. And, I hope that I can keep it updated somewhat regularly! I probably won’t ever be able to provide as much content as some of the figure skating writers whom I admire and enjoy reading. But, my goal is that, when I do have something to say, I’ll try to share it here.

My perspective on figure skating is an observer’s perspective. I do skate myself–I’ve taken lessons, both as a child and an adult, and have passed my first USFSA free skating and moves-in-the-field tests. But I’m not a coach or a competitor or a choreographer or an expert. Yet, it’s been my experience over the years that observers and fans often have a surprising and impressive amount of knowledge and insight into this sport. So I am rather proud, actually, to speak from that perspective.