Boardwalk Blog (#8)

by Michelle Wojdyla, Special to U.S. Figure Skating Online
The electrical panel in the media work room at Smart Ones Skate America
Photo by Michelle Wojdyla

(10/22/05) - Saturday, 12:05 p.m.

Got to the arena in time for the last group of dance. I love photographing dance. Definitely my favorite. No matter the skill level, there are always good photo moments.

The ladies practices were somewhat unremarkable, and that is not a bad thing. Yoshie Onda and Elena Sokolova both continue to look strong. Emily Hughes showed no signs of after-effects from last night's short program. Alissa's spins and spiral continue to wow the crowd.

And speaking of the crowd, this has got to be one of the most enthusiastic ever for a Skate America. Very knowledgeable about skating, not just, Ooh, there's a jump!

12:15 p.m.

Ken Congemi was up in the media room and looked over my shoulder at some of my photos of Bebe Liang. He said he liked the one of her leaning over the boards in practice that ran on the web the other day. Hearing something like that is the coolest part, for me, of being a photographer. When the subject (or person closely associated with the subject) is moved in some way by what I've captured, it's the biggest compliment.

The radiator pipes in the media work room at Smart Ones Skate America.

12:21 p.m.

I think it's raining in the media workroom. This can't be good.

And a bird just flew by.

There is a monsoon outside, and my colleagues are coming in looking a little soggy. Actually, a lot soggy.

The media workroom is the stage on which Miss America pageants were held. It's very old and Phantom of the Opera-y. The acoustics are good, and if you sneeze, it's very, very loud. Up on my right is a very old electrical panel that runs nearly the length of the stage (see photo). It kind of looks like ancient school lockers, but with lots of levers and knobs and stuff. There are pipes that run all up the wall (see photo). Overhead are lighting rigs and various ladders and crawl passages. It's amazing to think about the history of this arena. From the ice arena, there is a giant painting of a ship that takes up nearly 200 feet (wide). In actuality, this is the curtain that is covering the proscenium of the stage. It can be raised and lowered. On Tuesday, when I arrived, it was raised halfway. Since then it's been down. The media room side is a very thick black curtain.

While it's certainly not state of the art, it's got such a cool ambiance. And wireless Internet.

Saturday, 1:30 p.m.

I went up to watch the Chinese and Canadians practice. As soon as I arrived, Dan Zhang and Hao Zhang were doing the throw triple loop. Dan wiped out, landing on her butt with her legs in front of her. The momentum caused her to crash back-first into the boards. She sat there, and Hao ran over and cradled her in his arms. He then helped her to her feet and they went over to their coach. After a short break, they tried to work through the rest of the practice. Dan singled or doubled her jumps and kept bailing on the throw.