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2016 World Championships

Backstage in Boston III

by Liz Leamy


(4 April 2016)  Worlds wrapped up on Sunday, and I have to say, it was probably one of the greatest events that I’ve ever attended, honestly.

It was everything one might imagine and more, as Boston hit it out of the proverbial park as the host city of this celebrated international skating fete.

All week, the TD Garden was abuzz with energy and excitement as the world’s best skaters and their coaches, families and federations descended upon this famous Boston venue to stage a show that certainly turned out to be unlike any other.

Along with the many decorated members of these various international contingents, this competition also drew thousands of spectators who filled the arena to its full 15,000 capacity almost every night over the weekend, proving that figure skating still is still as big a crowd draw as ever.

Before, during and after each of the events, hallways and sidewalks in and around the arena were constantly aflow with huge crowds of people of all ages, genders and backgrounds, all of who appeared to be clearly excited about seeing some of the best skaters in the world go head to head with one another. (The foot traffic, in fact, had been so busy here that it resembled that of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, in that you had to be patient and go with the flow.)

Busses were constantly moving in and out of the venue and security workers, event volunteers and the entire members of the TD Garden staff were always on hand to help and answer any questions, which was awesome.

Perhaps more than anything, the whole international mood and flavor in and around the arena was the best thing about this competition.

Wherever you’d go, you’d be see and be surrounded by individuals from all over the world who were often seen chatting with one another in different languages, which was cool.

The media area also had a cornucopia of writers and reporters representing areas from all over the globe, including the U.S., Canada, Japan, Russia, China, France, Finland and Australia, among other places.

In their signature fashion, the Skating Club of Boston, host (club) of the event, did an exceptional job in regard to making the athletes, coaches, officials, media members and spectators feel welcome and taken care of in every respect.

Volunteers were always on hand at the TD Garden and at the official hotel (The Marriott Copley) to answer questions and provide information to the skaters and many other factions here for the World Championships, which was great.

Perhaps the most poignant moment of the whole event, aside from all of the brilliant skating by the talented contenders, was an exchange I had with a Canadian writer on the last day of competition.

This particular individual, a prominent writer of many best-selling figure skating books over the years, perfectlly summed everything at this competition up by saying the sport ‘had given him much more in life’ than he could’ve ever imagined.

Truer words could not be spoken, really.

So it is now Monday and I’m back to my regular routine, which is nice, but an adjustment, for sure, as I miss being around so many wonderful people and watching the world’s best skaters.

Most of all, though, I miss being around the tremendous excitement and energy of all the people at the TD Garden, all of who were there, ultimately, for their love of skating.

With that, I’ll sign off for now.

Thank you Boston. You are golden!!

Side notes:

- Ari Zakarian, noted promoter and agent, talked about the idea of having an ‘Oscar’ awards type of event for figure skating, which would certainly be another means to further boost the sport.

- There were many famous former Olympians on hand at this event, including Michelle Kwan, Meryl Davis, Charlie White, Tanith Belbin White, Sarah Hughes, Tara Lipinski, Ekaterina Gordeeva, Kurt Browning, Tenley Albright and various others, which made the whole event special, to say the least.

- Allison Friedman, a former figure skater who is now a professional working and living in New York got engaged to her fiancé, Andrew Marks, during the men’s event.

As a young girl, Friedman had lived and skated in Spain, where her father and family were based due to business reasons.

In Spain, Friedman had trained at the same rink with (a young) Javier Fernandez, who she described as being “full of energy’ and ‘someone who would always make her laugh.’

On Friday night, while watching her childhood friend win a second World title, Friedman experienced even more of a magical experience with the unexpected proposal from her fiance, that is for certain.

- The energy, liveliness and conversation among all the people throughout the week were constant and what helped make this event so special.

Whether conversing with the TD Garden staff member working the elevators or seeking to get information on an event, there were always good exchanges happening.

- Just being in Boston, particularly in the area around the TD Garden, which appeared to be undergoing some major construction as part of a whole movement to revitalize and further help build the stature of this iconic American city.

- Seeing the Leonard B. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge, a breathtaking cable-stayed structure situated right next to the TD Garden.

Refurbished in 2003, this architectural work of art stretches across the Charles River and resembles the look of a ship as a means to honor and symbolize this famous historic New England port area.

- Copley Square, with is Revolutionary-era charm and fantastic history, was an incredible sight, as one could only imagine what life must’ve been like here during this extraordinary chapter in time when the U.S. was first born.

- The openness and conviviality of so many of the people here.

No matter where you might have been, whether at a Starbucks in the official hotel, on a street corner waiting for an Uber or just busy working at the venue, it was always a super-positive experience, as everyone seemed to be working together to help make this competition a winner, which it certainly was in every respect.