Three American Skating Stories from Champs Camp Week

A couple of clips come out, along with the news of Vincent Zhou changing his long program; Karen Chen to write an autobiography for elementary school readers.

In the last days before the Junior Grand Prix began, as has become the tradition, the top American skaters gathered in Colorado Springs for the annual Champs Camp. Here they did a lot of media work, including photoshoots, skated their programs for officials for feedback, and attended seminars. Social media was working overtime to give us photos of everyone, with two ice dance teams each having a turn to take over U.S. Figure Skating’s Instagram, and skaters also answered fan questions on Twitter.

The best response by far came from Adam Rippon:

(Particularly appropriate considering exactly what he’s skating his short program to this season!)

But for all the fans were kept busy this week with photos of skaters posing, doing things around Colorado Springs and its World Arena, and watching Monday’s solar eclipse, there isn’t always much news of substance at Champs Camp, especially when the skaters just recite clichés to the media, or things they’ve said already. This year, the week saw a handful of things to note.

A Little Bit of Previewing

Although the main purpose of Champs Camp is the U.S. test skates, those remain closed to the public, and we have to settle for whatever little we hear about them. Except this year, we did get a few seconds’ glimpse. First coach Becky Calvin uploaded a few seconds of Mirai Nagasu nailing a triple axel in her free. The Nagasu herself uploaded the whole opening to Instagram, along with a practice clip

Really, that lady’s starting to look better all the time.

Also, while we didn’t get a look at Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue’s new programs on ice, but we did get a look at one of their lifts off it and it’s quite a sexy one:

#champscamp17 @splashmadison @zachtdonohue strike a pose from one of this season's lifts.

A post shared by ice network (@icenetwork) on

Vincent Zhou’s Program Change

Earlier this summer, we saw on IceNetwork a series of blogs by Vincent Zhou, chronicling the making of his Romeo + Juliet free program, which everyone swore was the best choice for him, even if the music is heavily used. It seems, however, that their belief in that didn’t survive the summer, because he announced at Champs Camp that he’s getting a new one to Moulin Rouge. Now that’s the music he’s raving about, even expressing a belief that no one’s ever skated to “Come What May,” which closes the program. He must not watch very much pairs skating, or ice dance. Lack of explanation for the change makes the whole thing feel even more absurd. Perhaps Nathan Chen has the right idea, not revealing his music choices too early.

The article interviewed all four of the U.S.’s top men, who talked about programs and quads both. Adam Rippon thus talked about skating to his own singing, and how he wants to do something no one’s done before, despite the risk. Going back the quad lutz, too, is a risk for him, since he’s never come close to landing it. But with four powerhouse men, two with a *lot* of quads, and only three Olympic berths, that one may be a risk Rippon has to take.

Karen Chen Writing Her Autobiography

It’s still not too common for skaters to write memoirs, and most of who have did so after they retired. But Karen Chen’s doing something a little different: she’s writing one for a young audience, ages 8 to 12 officially. She’s got the support of Kristi Yamaguchi, who’s written children’s fiction. HarperCollins, who have agreed to publish it, have a blurb making her story so far sound impressive. Which perhaps reminds even us older cynics that it kind of is impressive for the daughter of immigrants to rise to the top of an expensive sport and win a shock national title only a year after breaking her ankle. The book’s young readers will recognize that without any trouble at all, and it should also teach them about skating and help get them excited for the Olympics.

She will have a professional co-author, though you have to take a good look at the front cover to spot that. Assuming Natalie England knows what she’s doing, we thus don’t have to worry about this book being too badly written. So we may never be able to be entirely sure how much of the actual writing Karen Chen’s done, but at least it should still be her story, hopefully told with as many of her words as is practical.



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