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Thread: Nationals Advice.....

  1. #1
    Rinkside
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    Nationals Advice.....

    I am going to Nationals in Portland in January. I have never been to a live competion before, I'm very excited. I am looking for some advise from people who have attented Nationals before. What kind of things should I pack? Is the rink cold, especially during practices? When is the best time to try to meet the skaters, or get autographs? What is the best way to share results and my thoughts and feelings with people on the forums? I'm so nervous and excited and am counting the days already.
    Thanks in advance for the advise,
    LadyM76

  2. #2
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    You'll get lots of advice but here's a start.

    Dress in layers. Usually at the first of the week it is very cold but when the arena gets crowded it is a lot warmer. It also tends to be colder when you are close to the ice. Don't go by what the temperature is outside. The coldest I have ever been at Nationals was in Pheonix. In Dallas, many expected it to be mild - it was freezing in the wind.

    Go to practices, especially for novice and junior. Some of the senior competitors don't show up at practice very often, but the lower disciplines do. Don't focus on seniors alone. There will be a discipline that you miss no matter what you do, so just do as much as you can. Decide on a few skaters you would like to see and follow those events.

    Walk around during the ice breaks. Meet new people. Think about food in advance. Most arenas don't open the food booths until the middle of the week. It can get dicey, especially if security is strict about those things. Every city is different so you won't know about the food situation/security situation till you get there.

    Know the general courtesy situations. When there is a skating program going on on the ice, try not to go up and down the aisles and make sure you aren't blocking someone's view. Use discretion about asking for autographs - never during a practice session. Remember this is the most important competition of the year for most, if not all, of these skaters. They need to concentrate on the skating.

    Do not take flash photography in the arenas - NEVER! I'm one of those people who never thought this was all that big a deal till I saw more than one skater fall because of a flash. I saw it once during a competition and I am sure it cost that skater a medal.

    Most of all - Enjoy. It's so easy to meet people and they all love skating. Sometimes people who look a little different are the most enjoyable to talk to. Enjoy it just for skating's sake. Your person may do well or they may bomb, but skating is still wonderful.

    Last thought - be careful when you talk about a skater - you may be sitting near their mother.
    Last edited by A.H.Black; 10-31-2004 at 09:45 AM.

  3. #3
    PATCH NJSk8Fan's Avatar
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    I don't have much advice for you, but do want to say have a wonderful time and safe trip.
    We're in driving distance from Philadlephia, where '98 Nat's were held and we attended a few of the events. I'm sure it varies from arena to arena, so I would suggest dress in layers. I had a light weight long-sleeved turtle neck on under a heavy sweater. We had to leave the arena between events and we sat in our car to have a snack...I ended up taking the turtle neck off from under the sweater as I'd been way too warm in the arena with both on.
    Things have changed since 9-11, so I don't think you can do this, but in '98, we took our own drinks and snacks with us as the soda from the vendors tasted terrible of "city water" mixed with the soda's syrup.
    Enjoy the experience!

  4. #4
    and... World Peace! Tonichelle's Avatar
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    Do not take flash photography in the arenas - NEVER!
    AMEN! Flash is great but in ice situations it does no good unless you are parallel with teh ice anyway.. too much feedback so the pic would get over exposed and it is VERY distracting to skaters and spectators alike.

    I am taking my camera and I'm so glad I can't use a flash... that really cuts down on my weight on the camera!

  5. #5
    Da' Spellin' Homegirl Grgranny's Avatar
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    Most arenas won't let you take any food in. I don't know if they're going through everyone's purses etc. or not. I think most of them do. I find that it's a lot easier if you have some kind of bag besides your purse as you end up taking cameras etc. If you want, email me and I'll tell you something I did and it worked. It is colder in the front row because of the breeze off the moving skaters, etc. Most of the front rows are saved for the skating clubs and volunteers. I found that the restrooms are all full whenever there's a break so if you know there's a break coming, go to the hall and watch from the back row during the last skater and hike to it as soon as they're finished skating. Be prepared to step in lots of spilled sugary drinks, ugh. Sometimes I wish I had taken earplugs when the people around are very noisy. If you can't turn off your flash, cover it with adhesive tape. They will probably ask you to turn on your camera in case someone tries to have one jimmied so it would explode.

  6. #6
    Da' Spellin' Homegirl Grgranny's Avatar
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    P S Have a great time. Post your experience for us too. And you can tell us all little hints you might have afterwards.

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    Quote Originally Posted by A.H.Black
    Last thought - be careful when you talk about a skater - you may be sitting near their mother.
    A big yes to that one. I was watching the pairs practice at the 2002 US Nationals and ended up talking to a lady about Parchem and Kalesavich. Fortunately I was gushing. Imagine my surprise when she called them over and I found out that she was Aaron's mother. So I got introduced to the lovely duo. It's a great memory but it just proves you never know who you're talking to.

  8. #8
    Rinkside
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    Thanks Everyone....

    Thanks for the advise, I'm sure it will come in handy. I have so much respect for the skaters that I would never say anything bad about any of them. Plus my Mom's favorite remark to me growing up was "If you can't say anything nice don't say anything at all" We're all lucky to watch and enjoy all the skaters. Any suggestions about the best way to share my thoughts, feelings and of course the results??? I am very excited to be able to share results with people following the results online. I really enjoy being able to follow the results of competitions online.
    Thanks Again
    LadyM76

  9. #9
    Custom Title Joesitz's Avatar
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    Bring extra money to buy souveniers, books, tapes and other skating memorabilia. As Granny says,devise a way to sneak in some food since the hot dogs are generally not that tasty (my opinion) and priced way out. If you are excited about the competitions as I am you will eat less, and burn more calories in a small amount of time. Count on losing 2 lbs at the end of the competition.

    Definitely bring a sweater especially during practice sessions when I think the arena is at its coldest.

    Check out the area where the skaters come on and go off the ice. Since seating at practice sessions are open to all, try this area for real close ups of the skaters, their coaches, and the avid commeraderie that ensues. Don't forget your autograph album and pens for autographs.

    You can sneak into good seats if you know where vacancies are. However, during Ladies Free skate, there will be no vacancies, and Men's Free Skate, there wont be much. It's easy to meet new people in the area you are sitting and exchange views on skating.

    Enjoy the whole ambience. It's really nice.

    Joe

  10. #10
    In my heart, I'm actually Canadian....
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joesitz

    You can sneak into good seats if you know where vacancies are. However, during Ladies Free skate, there will be no vacancies, and Men's Free Skate, there wont be much. It's easy to meet new people in the area you are sitting and exchange views on skating.



    Joe
    Maybe you can, maybe you can't. I've never actually been to a Nationals, but based on my Worlds experience (Vancouver '01), depending on how gung-ho the ushers are, they may not let you move. Not that there were any empty seats available at any point in Vancouver anyway during the competition, but, at least where I was sitting, those ushers were pretty hard-nosed about making sure you sat where you were supposed to.

    DEFINITELY dress warm. Of course, Portland in January, you're pretty much going to be doing that anyway (I lived there for 6 years, believe me, I KNOW!! ) I spent the entire week at the Worlds wearing a very heavy turtleneck sweater and a jacket because the sweater was the only thing I wasn't shivering in. Actually, the Rose Garden, which is where I believe the Nats are going to be, is a larger arena than GM Palace in Vancouver, so it will probably be even colder there. Practice sessions are going to be a bit colder, because there's less people around and therefore less body heat floating around, plus (see next paragraph) you'll be closer to the actual ice surface.

    As for meeting the skaters, what I reccomend is, find out where Kiss N Cry is and park yourself as close as you can to it during practice sessions. This of course is where the skaters will come off the ice at the end of the session and if my experience is any indication, they will be signing autographs on their way off the ice for all the other people sitting in that general area. I wish I had discovered this trick much earlier in the week in Vancouver; had it not been for a couple of very nice Canadian ladies I met on the evening of the last dance practice, it never would have occured to me.

    If you're going to be sitting in or near the rafters, pack binoculars. This actually isn't a bad idea regardless of how good your seats are. You can get a close-up view of the action, plus during down time (rink resurfacing, etc.) it can be very entertaining. In Vancouver, I happened upon the sight of Elvis Stojko making out with his girlfriend in or near the CBC booth. [It was in a tasteful fashion and for the record, I only looked for about 5 seconds ] So, you never know what you might be able to see!

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by A.H.Black
    [
    Last thought - be careful when you talk about a skater - you may be sitting near their mother.
    Or their grandparents, aunts/uncles, cousins, etc.... I've definitely put my foot in my mouth before.

    Bring gloves/mittens to wear in the arena - I use the "stretchy" kind that many skaters wear on ice. They're light enough that I can grab things out of my bag and not sweat in the arena but they still keep my hands warm.

    If you want to get out for some food, pick a place farther away - it will be less crowded and you'll probably end up getting faster service and get back to the arena sooner than the people picking the close spots. In Portland, there is a great trolley system, and a stop directly outside the front of the Rose Garden. That stop is part of the free fare zone that includes the area from Lloyd Center to downtown Portland. You might want to hop the trolley and go into downtown for lunch/dinner.

  12. #12
    Custom Title Joesitz's Avatar
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    Thanks PAskate - That information on the surroundings of the Rose Garden is good to know. This will be my second Nats (I was in Atlanta, and it was cold inside and outside) and in March it will be my third Worlds. I'll need information on the Moscow vicinity.

    Joe

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    Meeting the skaters

    I have found that the best time to meet the skaters is when they come in from or head out to their buses. They mostly come in together & leave together. Of coarse Michelle & Sasha sneak out the back but you can meet them at the bar next to the after party, the night between the final competition & the exhibitions. Sasha also likes Asian food. We sat next to her & Robin the evening before finals in Atlanta. Oh yes...watch what you say... I returned to mens practices from a walk & was going on about how Tim really needed to take some dance classes if he ever wanted to beat the Russians only to find out that his Mother had sat down in front of us while I was gone. If looks could kill....

  14. #14
    Custom Title MFarone's Avatar
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    Nationals advice

    My goodness, you've gotten a lot of good advice. This is something that I've found quite useful. Before I leave for Nationals, I print out the practice schedule and the practice groups. Michelle Kwan is my favorite skater so I find out which group she is in and mark her group on the practice schedule with a highlighter. Then I set up a little schedule for myself - I have to be at this arena at whatever time - and fill in around that particular practice group. It is true that most of the time the top ladies don't show up until Wednesday but I still like to watch the "up and comers" practicing. No matter how hard you try to see it all it is just impossible because there are usually three things going on in at least two arenas - all at the same time By the end of the week I am exhausted and happy. Have a great time.

    Maureen

  15. #15
    Sal-Kowabunga!
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    Okay, from my experience at Nationals and Worlds.....

    Clothing--dress in layers. you'll find the temp changes in the rink during the competition. Or maybe you just feel the temp change. you'll be glad you can add or subtract, even if it feels silly (or looks silly), it makes you more comfortable.

    Food--come early the first day and stroll the neighborhood and scope out the area eateries. In Cleveland, we had a short underground tunnel stroll to a food court. In DC, there were lots of restaurants nearby but the best part was the closeness of Chinatown. I found a super Chinese place that had great food, great service and good prices. Can't you tell I ate there multiple times?

    Company--we skate fans are used to being isolated (unless we are skaters or family) so it is the BEST time talking to other fans. I found people to hang out with every competition I've ever attended.

    And, of course, HAVE FUN!

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