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For Meissner, 'Blades' cuts it

The Baltimore Sun

Forget the triple axel, the layback spiral or any fancy footwork. From now on, it's the "Galloping Peacock" for Kimmie Meissner.

"I'm incorporating it into my program next season, definitely," said the U.S. women's figure skating champion, her slender arms gracefully undulating in a dead-on impression of actor Jon Heder's signature move in Blades of Glory. "The audience will go crazy when they see it."

It obviously impressed Meissner, who also thought the movie was pretty good, too, giving it four skates out of a possible five.

A gloomy Sunday afternoon seemed like a perfect opportunity for a double date with Meissner. Just the champ and her dad, Paul, and my husband of almost 20 years and I and, oh yes, our chaperone, the champ's mom, Judy.

Our entertainment of choice - if not by popular fiat - was the figure skating sendup starring Will Ferrell and Heder as the first male pairs team. It topped the box office last weekend with $33 million in sales.

"Everyone's asked me if I've seen it," I said to Meissner on the phone as we picked the time and place.

"Everyone's asking me the same thing," she replied, just a week after returning from Tokyo, where she finished fourth in the World Figure Skating Championships.

We settled into seats at the Regal Bel Air 14, the place where the Meissners usually watch Hollywood's latest offerings, with $45 worth of drinks, popcorn and strawberry Twizzlers.

"This is how the Meissners roll," said the champ, sinking into her seat.

The film includes some of her skating friends and heroes in cameo roles - Scott Hamilton, Dorothy Hamill, Peggy Fleming and Brian Boitano - but not her role model, Michelle Kwan, who had a cameo in a 2005 movie that left Meissner "so disappointed." More on that later.

Meissner knows a little bit about pairs - the regular kind - having tried them briefly at the novice level and again with Shaun Rogers of Millersville, an attempt that ended when Meissner fell on her partner's head during a lift move.

The opening minutes of the film set the tone, when Heder, playing the "artistic" one (think a blond Johnny Weir) dressed in peacock plumage, flows across the ice to the skate favorite "Time to Say Goodbye."

The champ giggled.

Then came Heder's goofy Galloping Peacock, and she giggled some more.

"It's like a level four or five, at least, in the footwork sequence," she said, turning a critical eye to the performance and picking an off-the-charts score.

She laughed at the fight sequence that ends with the competition mascot set ablaze by the Olympic-style torch, and then she laughed some more at the cut-rate kiddie ice show in which Ferrell has to work to make ends meet after he is banned for life for the brawl.

"Oh, man, that's what comes after," she said, perhaps envisioning the post-competition day she would don a frog suit.

Meissner grew silent when an attempted "Iron Lotus" trick ends with a Korean skater accidentally slicing off the head of another.

"That was intense," she said.

Could a skate actually sever a head?

"No, I don't think it's possible," she said, pausing to consider the possibility. "I mean, you could hurt someone pretty bad. You could make them bleed to death, but I don't think you could actually go all the way through."

Meissner applauded the theatrical turn of Hamilton, who plays a TV color commentator, and Boitano, Hamill and Fleming as the federation judges who impose the lifetime ban on Heder and Ferrell.

She also had a soft spot in her heart for Hector, the obsessive fan who finds the loophole in figure skating rules that allows a male pairs team and sends Heder off with the cheerful warning, "Don't forget, I'm going to kill you later."

"He was a little bit over the top. I haven't run into anyone like that. Some people close to that, but not like that," she said.

In the same truth-stretching neighborhood is one of the character's definition of her sport: "Skating is gliding with a couple of jumps while trying not to fall."

"It's obviously a little harder," said Meissner, smiling. "You have to throw in a couple of spins here and there."

Figure skating flicks have come a long way since 1937, when Sonja Henie laced them up for Thin Ice. But the 2005 movie, Ice Princess, with a cameo appearance by Kwan, isn't one Meissner will put on her "best" list with her favorite movie, Dumb and Dumber.

"Don't even get me started on it. In a day, she discovered the formula to the triple axel. She needs to tell me that formula," said Meissner, one of only two U.S. women to land the 3 1/2 -revolution jump in competition. "Try two years, three years."

Her final glorious assessment?

"It went to the extreme of everything, but there was some truth in there," Meissner said. "There were parts where I was thinking, 'Hmmm, they know their stuff.'"


"I'll keep the secret of what the truth part is," she said, grinning.


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