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Icenetwork.com's trusty bloggers bring you all the backstage goings-on at Harvard benefit show
By Sarah S. Brannen and Drew Meekins, special to icenetwork.com
(10/18/2011) - We had both been looking forward to the annual An Evening with Champions show for months. Unfortunately, at the last minute, Drew wasn't able to fly to Boston from his training base in Colorado, so Sarah decided to call in reinforcements to help out. Senior Eastern Sectional competitor Brad Vigorito filled in on Sunday, and "What the Buck" star Michael Buckley joined her on Saturday night. Both gentlemen took copious and thorough notes while Sarah took pictures, and she couldn't have done it without them. Many thanks!
It was very exciting to see Yu-Na Kim in person for the first time, and she was wonderful. Evening with Champions organizers told us both shows were sold out, and fans came from as far away as England, Japan and Korea. Everyone wanted to know what had made Kim decide to skate in the show; it's the first time she has performed in the U.S. in more than a year.
"Last year, I was invited, but I couldn't go because of the training for the world championships, but this time I made it!" she said. "There's no pressure; you can skate together [in] group numbers, having fun. I'm happy to meet new skaters."
When she arrived home in Korea on Tuesday, Kim told a Korean news agency that she will not be competing at all this season. We wish her the best in all she does.
Buckley's favorite discovery of the night was Shawn Sawyer, who did his spectacular Alice in Wonderland program, to our delight.
"I am obsessed with him! I keep watching his programs on YouTube." Buckley said. "I wish I had followed him more as an amateur, but I am a big fan now. His choreography and performance ability are absolutely unique and captivating."
At intermission, we made our way through the high security to talk to Sawyer backstage. We knew he was a painter, and it turns out that painting is his chief occupation since he retired from competition.
"I really want to pursue my career as an artist," Sawyer told us. "I think that would fulfill everything that I can hope for. I'm working really hard on an art exhibition that I want to have out within a year. It's going to be called 'A Second Cup of Shiraz' because I paint with red wine and coffee. I do it on a stretched canvas, and I work with all kinds of coffees, all kinds of wine — sometime I use Cabernet, sometime I use Zinfandel [as well as Shiraz]. Some of it goes on the canvas, and the other half goes in my stomach. The show will be in Montreal, but I don't know where yet."
What type of paintings are they?
"They're a little bit abstract, but I wouldn't call them abstract because you can tell what it is. It's more a … I've totally forgotten the name — I know the name in French: surréaliste – oh, surrealism! I always do that! It's the same word. Surrealism."
Sawyer told us that he's a native French speaker, and he said he hasn't been speaking in English much lately, hence the search for the right word. We asked whether he plans to continue skating.
"Absolutely," he said. "Skating is a part of me; it's in me whether I love it or hate it. I'm done competing. I had my best season last year, so I'm happy with that. I'm going to coach. I want to do a lot of choreography and just get my artwork out there. That's my number one thing."
We had to ask Sawyer about his haircut: long in the back and shaved on the sides.
"I did it myself with a dog clipper," he said, laughing. "I'm telling you, I'm entering the artist world."