China’s fifteen year-old Wenjing Sui is as perky off the ice as she is on the ice. In the elevator today, the tiny skater smiled and said hello to me as we headed to our respective rooms in the official hotel. As we got off the elevator, she looked back with her usual flair and waved to me as she disappeared down the hall.
Mike Slipchuk, Skate Canada’s High Performance Director and I discussed Jessica Dube’s intention to skate singles at the Canadian National Championships later this season. As it was explained to me, due to Dube being assigned to the Grand Prix, she was given a bye through Sectionals even though she withdrew from her international assignments. As such, Dube needs to compete only at Challenge and place high enough to earn a spot to compete in Victoria. On a related note, Slipchuk reported that he visited Dube last week to monitor her progress, and shared that she is looking great.
Priscilla Hill was working triple duty tonight at the men’s short program. In her first Skate America as a coach, Hill had three men in the competition- and they competed one right after another. Hill coaches fourth place finisher Armin Mahbanoozadeh, American Steven Carriere, and Austrian Viktor Pfeifer. Hill is known for matching her own outfits to her skaters’ costumes, and tonight she had her work cut out for her. Hill wore a necklace that had black and white pieces matching Carriere’s costume and also had fluorescent pink beads to match Pfeiffer’s outfit. She smartly complimented her outfit with a bronze scarf to match Mahbanoozadeh’s costume. She admits that the freeskate presents more of a fashion challenge, but she’s got it well under control.
Five men in tonight’s competition have competed within the US Figure Skating system- Mahbanoozadeh, Carriere, and Rippon are representing Team USA here in Portland. Austria’s Pfeifer competed at the 2007-08 Eastern Sectionals, but failed to make it to the 2008 US National Championships. Japan’s Daisuke Murakami skated for Team USA at the 2006 Junior World Championships, and placed fifteenth at the 2007 US Championships before switching over to compete for his home country.