Talk about the cherry on top of the perfect weekend sundae! I just got back from COI and wanted to share. First, do you all know how difficult it is to take notes in the dark?! I'm hoping I can read them!
So, I get to the Cow Palace and realize that I'm in the eleventh row, just to the right of center ice. A woman a few rows behind me asked, "Excuse me - how did you get a seat in that section?" "I bought it in February!" I replied. Since I went by myself, I had an excellent opportunity to make some new friends, and we all talked figure skating until the show started. The teenager next to me had just gotten into the sport and is a huge Ben Agosto fan, so we bonded immediately. (I believe I said "Oh, we're gonna have FUN!") As we went through the program, I asked her, "Who do you like better, Evan or Johnny?" She didn't know yet. That changed before the show ended. We had a really good crowd, considering that they'd been in Sacramento and San Jose earlier that weekend. The cheap seats were nearly 3/4 full, and we were packed in like sardines on the floor.
The opening number was good - Johnny came out to Green Day's "Boulevard of Broken Dreams". (There's always next season, hon.) Inoue and Baldwin tried the throw 3A and Rena crashed and burned on the landing, but I appreciated the attempt. Michelle bobbled on her Charlotte, but who cares, right? It's an exhibition! Sasha got the biggest hand in the opener.
Rudy Galindo opened with his disco number, and I opened with my traditional COI cry, "We love you, Rudy!" So what if the boy dresses like a disco ball! He was totally connected with the audience, and at one point, when Donna Summer sings (from "Last Dance") "...to scold me", he winked at us and slapped his backside, and then pulled out what looked like a flogger from somewhere in his costume (?!) for the line "Cause when I'm bad I'm so so bad..." Tsk, tsk, Rudy. This is a family show!
Surya Bonaly then skated to some Latin music that I didn't recognize, aced the backflip with the one-foot landing, and kept the crowd happy. Some of her elements (spins, especially) still look a little awkward, but she's got all the power and speed she's always had. I like her so much better as a pro skater.
Then Rena and John came out and skated to Barry Manilow's "Mandy". My notes at this point read "Mandy?! [color=red]*[/color][color=red]*[/color][color=red]*[/color]?!" (Did they lose their dog?) So I'm not a Barry Manilow fan. But they sold that program, and the way they look at each other is something very special. It really doesn't come across on TV, but their emotional connection is beautiful to see. I'm loving me some Inoue and Baldwin. Who'da thunk it, even just last year?
They were followed by Dan Hollander, who did his competiton program with the Dick Button voiceover. Truly funny. Big crowd-pleaser, without having to be a big name. Dan Hollander rocks. Trust me.
Then Johnny Weir came out to do "My Way". I got a better sense of the program's build-up live than I did watching it on TV. Apart from a step-out on a landing, he was perfect. I heard lots of little girls expressing their adoration. If they'd have allowed us to toss stuffed animals, I could have beaned him with a teddy bear, I was so close. (I'm not being snarky, really, I love the Johnny enough to write songs about him, 'kay? In fact, it was all I could do not to sing "Weir's Way" out loud.)
Then Tanith and Ben took the ice, and my new friend and I squealed in delight. They did their revised original dance, and I restrained myself from bellowing, "Tanith, point your toe!". Toes aside, they were wonderful. Even more wonderful was that they stayed in the wings to watch the next skater. How cool is that this late in the tour?
Evan did his "How to Pick Music" number, and was fantastic. Every time he stopped to change his "CD", the audience expressed their displeasure that he stopped. After he'd taken his bows, I turned to the girl next to me and said, "Okay, so now who do you like better, Johnny or Evan?" "Evan", she replied, a little breathlessly (and probably starry-eyed). "Yup." said I.
A&P did their Star Wars number again. I'd have been disappointed, but they're Annisina and Peizarat, so they could have gone to the bathroom at center ice and I would have stood up to applaud. No objectivity here! Deal with it. Besides, the new fan next to me was delighted. (She has a bit of a crush on John Zimmerman, and before A&P started, I said, "If you like John Zimmerman, you'll like Gwendal Peizarat, too." She did.)
Then Viktor came out with his blues number, and the crowd ate him up with a spoon. My notes read "he's still got it!" What else is there to say? Well, I did take it upon myself to educate the newbie. "He won his first Olympic medal in 1988." "Wow!", said my new friend. I'm thinking that was before she was born.
Then came the intermission, in which I explained Dan Hollander to one patron who missed his eligible career, while the new girl borrowed my program and read about Sonja Henie. (Yes, this year's program has Sonja on the cover and has a couple of pages devoted to her. Nice touch.)
My notes are really sketchy for the second half of the show. Irina Grigorian opened the second half with her hula hoops, and she brought down the house. She was out of my leg of the tour last year with an injury, so today was the first time I got to see her. I have one word in my notes (literally): "WOW!" I can see why she was a World Professional Champion. How the heck does she do that?!
Then...OMG...Stephane. The camera does not do that young man justice. He's absolutely beautiful. I didn't recogize the music he skated to, but he started the program in a mask. ("No!" I said.) After a bit, he stopped right in front of me (not the ten rows in front of me, mind you, just ME) and...took off his mask. I'm not sure exactly what noise came out of my mouth, but the kid asked her mom, "What did he do?" "He took off his mask", her mom replied. Later in the program he flubbed the first attempt to pick the mask up, and smiled at me...okay, us. There aren't words. I have no notes. I wasn't about to look away.
Then Slute did her Fosse number and the only note I have is "great smile!". She looked really happy out there. The crowd loved her.
Then Besedin and Polishchuk did their acrobatics, and the newbie's reaction was almost as much fun as the program. They went into the move where one does a one-armed handstand atop the other's head and she said, "Oh. No. Way." "Way!", said I.
Totmyanina and Marinin followed and were near perfection, although I found it jarring when they did a headbanger move and Tatiana kept touching the ice with her hand. It didn't look intentional. They seem so much less remote live. I found myself thinking "Protopopov..." And that's a good thing.
Then Shizuka took the ice to do "You Raise Me Up". And she made me cry. First time for that. Thanks, Shizza! She was truly breathtaking.
Sasha came out to do "God Bless America", and was nearly as beautiful as Shizuka. Absolutely flawless.
And then, would you believe it? I squealed like a 16-year-old fangirl for Evgeny Plushenko. Skating to "Tosca"! He left absolutely no doubt who was THE Olympic Gold Medalist. And if that wasn't enough...
Michelle Kwan made her entrance in a very short silver sequined number to perform to "A Song for You". My notes read "CROWD GOES APES**T!" She left absolutely no doubt that it was Michelle the crowd had come to see that day. And that's why she's still closing the show. And she'll close the show even if she needs a walker to assist her spirals. I'm not complaining.
The closing number was a closing number. Everyone looked great and we all stood up to cheer.
Much better than last year's show. And I found that going by myself wasn't the drag I thought it would be! I hope to run into the people I met today at SOI. Shark Pond, here I come!
Forgive the fangirly running on.