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2016 World Championships

Backstage in Boston II

by Liz Leamy


(2 April 2016)  Itís Saturday, the final day of competition at the World Championships here in Boston and I must say, itís been one incredible experience, both on and behind the so-called scenes and it is a world-class event in every respect.

The skating and performance level of these elite skaters has been tremendous in every respect, particularly that of the U.S. world team.

Last night, every single member the 2016 U.S. World menís contingent, Adam Rippon, the reigning U.S. champion, Max Aaron, the 2013 U.S. titlist and 2016 U.S. silver medalist and Grant Hochstein, the 2016 U.S. fourth-place finisher, all skated lights out and put out virtually flawless programs featuring high-flying quads, triple Axels and more, proving that the Americans can indeed hold their own against anyone.

Perhaps more than anything, it was clear that these skaters, with Rippon, Aaron and Hochstein finishing sixth, eighth and 10th respectively, are some of the best performers (artists) in the world, as they put out great programs that kept the audience glued to their seats from start to finish, proving that this country indeed is doing something very right in terms of its elite competitive strategy.

In the end, Javier Fernandez of Spain, who skated the program of his life (to a fantastic medley to Frank Sinatraís ĎGuys and Dolls,í which the audience just loved), walked away with gold, while Yuzuru Hanyu, the 2014 Japanese Olympic champion who has broken all kinds of records with his brilliant skating technique and artistry in recent years, wound up second, as he had a few missteps coming out of several jumps.

Throughout this competition, just as it has been like all week, the crowd, wh filled the entire TD Garden to nearly its 14,000 capacity, was engaged, clapping and roaring loudly throughout the programs, which made the whole experience very memorable, to say the least.

Meanwhile, the whole arena is abuzz with a global crowd, all who are there for the love of skating, really, which makes for quite a unique and United Nations-like dynamic, truly and each country has its own personality and flavor, for sure.

The Russians, with their smiling eyes and interesting inflections, are all about strength, energy and personality. Skating groups from other countries around the European Union, meanwhile, also seem to be about much of that same thing.

The Canadians, meanwhile, are a warm and lively group who seem to possess the exact mix of friendliness, discipline and competitiveness and are always clapping and cheering for one another.

The Japanese contingent, at the same time, seems to maintain a real mystique about themselves as they define the prototype of people with an amazing work ethic, quiet strength and strong sense of honoring their place in the community at all times.

Finally, the Americans, who have been amazing hosts, are spirited, compassionate and so committed to each other and their passion, just like so many international people here and serve as an engine for the whole mood of the place, really.

(Last night after Rippon finished his program, Aaron gave him a big hug in the Kiss and Cry area, which was a very warm moment of the night.)

Backstage, photographers, who have the most incredible equipment, are running around making sure to capture the skaters at the Ďrightí moment, while writers, all situated in the media area, sit with their computers writing and catching up in the bleachers.

The long row of officials alongside the rink is also an incredible sight, as they represent each country from around the world, just like the skaters and all have such a commanding presence.

At the same time, the staff of the TD Garden is also incredible and are so kind, straightforward and committed to doing the best job possible so the skaters and everyone else here has a good, safe and one-of-a-kind experience. (Whether in the elevators, stairwells or walkways, they always say Ďhello,í smile and have something kind to say, which has totally set the positive mood here, honestly.)

The greatest faction of people, however, has really been the crowd of people who have been showing up to watch this competition over the last few days.

The people sitting in the stands have been amazing, truly and as a whole, and are to be commended for their enthusiasm, spirit and support. Ultimately, this group has been much of the reason why this event has been so exceptional.

If there might be any downside to this competition, Iíd have to say itís the slowness of the elevators, which is really no big deal. (Actually, itís a great way to get to know people and they really donít take that long, but if I were to try to come up with anything, that probably would be it.)

The buses run right on time, thereís always plenty to hop onto at practically any given moment and getting anywhere in the city is really easy.

If I were have to describe the whole mood here, Iíd have to steal what my Uber driver said to me on the way home to my hotel from the TD Garden last night.

A native of Uganda who has lived in Boston for several years, he pointed out how much people like to help each other around here and said that was the best part about living in the city.

Based upon my experience so far at this Worlds, I have to say, truer words could not be spoken.

With that, itíll be exciting to go back for the last day of competition today.

Cheers!