Ice Pick of the Week: We Are the Worlds

Is winter over already? In fact, did winter even arrive here this year? Los Angeles may not seem like a winter wonderland, especially to folks around the rest of the country who are still digging out their cars from piled-up banks of snow, but this week our fair city gets to host the ISU World Figure Skating Championships for the first time in the history of the competition, which started in 1896. The truth is, Southern California has had a long relationship with figure skating; Sasha Cohen, Peggy Fleming, Tai Babilonia & Randy Gardner and, of course, Michelle Kwan (the sport's equivalent to Michael Jordan) are among the many skaters who were raised in the Southland. And there are several skaters with local ties competing this week, including El Segundo's Evan Lysacek (pictured), a two-time World bronze medalist; Del Mar's Rachael Flatt, an energetically appealing jump specialist; veteran pairs team Rena Inoue & John Baldwin; and the precociously talented young skaters Bebe Liang and Mirai Nagasu. Korea's Yu-Na Kim and Japan's Mao Asada (who might attempt an unprecedented quad jump) should battle for the gold in the ladies event, but keep an eye on Flatt and Ohio's relatively mature Alissa Czisny (age 21), the new U.S. champ, who skates with a welcome artistic elegance. On the men's side, Lysacek could be tested by fellow Americans Jeremy Abbott and Brandon Mroz, Canada's Patrick Chan and last year's World champ, the redoubtable Brian Joubert of France. The pairs competition will likely come down to three of China's high-flying, death-defying teams: Xue Shen & Hongbo Zhao, Qing Pang & Jian Tong or Dan Zhang & Hao Zhang. In the more formally grounded and graceful ice-dancing event, we're pulling for the terminally vivacious Tanith Belbin and partner Benjamin Agosto to finally snag their first World gold medal.
March 22-29, 2009

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