My parents and I attended the free dance in Little Caesars Arena last night, and had a great time. Parking was a snap because we'd bought a parking pass to the structure right next to the arena, our seats were great, and the competition was fierce. And I got a chance to throw a stuffed animal on the ice - a dream of mine!
We got there right at 6:15 when the first three pairs danced. I had seen them all the night before on television, so I knew what to expect. One of them - Nicole Takahashi - skated a Russian dance with her partner, and then later on I saw her in the concourse! That was pretty cool.
I immediately spotted the kiss-and-cry area, which was across the arena from our seats. I saw where the NBC broadcast was (it wasn't hard; just look for all the lights), and admired the GIANT jumbotron that sits over the ice. (When I went to Stars On Ice, they didn't use the jumbotron at all, so I was having fun watching it.)
Unbeknownst to me, they were doing their induction of figure skaters into the Hall of Fame, and so I got to see Timothy Goebel in person! He's one of the first U.S. skaters I remember watching and enjoying (2002 "Rhapsody in Blue" - when I realized male figure skaters didn't have to wear puffy sleeves or skin-tight unitards to perform). Of course, now his luscious locks are shaved off, which was a shame. But it was great to see him!
Out around the concourse was a variety of booths. There were several booths that sold skates, and another one full of skating dresses. Geico had a couple of sign booths where you could write words of support for the skaters; I chose to write "CHOCKIN' AWESOME!" on mine. (I dunno if it was any good; it was spur of the moment!) I enjoyed the free swag from the U.S. Figure Skating booth with all the inspirational quotes from current figure skaters!
The crowd was definitely into it, and it was awesome getting to be part of the current that pushes the skaters on in their dances. I was worried that without analyst commentary I wouldn't know if something was good or not, but with my knowledge of ice dance I could tell when a good routine was just "good" and when something was "great." Madison Chock and Evan Bates and Madison Hubbell and Zack Donohue were definitely world class and a step above everyone else, but there were a few couples that showed glimpses of greatness to come. Elicia Reynolds and Stephen Reynolds had some amazing lifts, and Karina Manta and Joseph Johnson got the crowd into their "Sweet Dreams" dance with some great parallel moves. (They got my stuffed panda, who was named Eury after the Eurythmics song they danced to.)
There was muttering among the crowd when Chock and Bates were placed second below Hubbell and Donohue. It was incredibly close, but it seemed like most of us thought that Chock and Bates' dance was better.
My parents and I moved our seats to the third row right behind the podium to watch the awards ceremony, and we were treated to the top for pairs right in front of us, plus appearances by Charlie White, Meryl Davis, Tanith White (nee Belbin), and Ben Agosto, who were presenting awards to the skaters!
Let's hope the snow goes away so that we can get over to the men's skate today. I gotta see Jason Brown, Vincent Zhou, and Nathan Chen compete for the top spot!
Watch my video of the night HERE: