Hello and welcome to our latest blog!
Since the last time we wrote, we have made our journey to Poland and back for the Warsaw Cup, the eighth of ten Challenger Series events. In preparation for the rest of the season, we made some minor changes to our short program with the help of our choreographer, Ilona Melnichenko. The purpose of these changes was to help us relax while also adding a little complexity, musicality, and speed to our program. Additionally, we doubled our lesson time with Amanda Evora to spend extra time working on the fine details of both programs and the death spirals we feature as well.
The trip to Warsaw and back was especially long. We left For Warsaw on November 14th at noon, and landed in Warsaw on November 15th at noon! There was a six-hour time difference, but it was still an 18-hour travel day consisting of three flights nonetheless. After touching down in Poland, we headed to the hotel and settled in. I got assigned to Andrew Torgashev, 2015 US Junior Men’s champion, as my roommate, while Jessica was lucky enough to get her own room. Wednesday night we had our first of many experiences of Polish food, and went to bed ready to attack our first practice the next day in Warsaw. From the time we landed in Warsaw to the time we practiced was over 30 hours as we finally got to practice Thursday night. Practice time overall in Poland was rather limited; initially we were set to practice on Thursday and Saturday with competition on Friday and Sunday and no 20-minute warm-up on either competition day. This kind of schedule is rather unusual for a competition and we got them to add an official practice ice on Sunday morning, albeit at 6:45 in the morning.
To say we felt confident in practice in Warsaw would be an understatement. Through our first practice we did not have any step-outs, falls, or anything. Probably the best practice we could hope for, along with a clean run-through of our short program. Friday was definitely a strange experience. With our performance coming at night and no 20-minute warm-up, we had all day to do nothing but mentally prepare for our short. We did a light workout in the early afternoon and got ourselves ready to show off how we have improved our interpretation of “You Raise Me Up”. It was a bit of a disappointment to miss the throw in the program; the element just had a little too much height and unfortunately, we could not nail it like we had in practice. However, we got a better twist in our short than we did in Slovakia, a solid triple salchow side by side that prompted one of the judges to award us a +3, a higher-level death spiral than our last time out, a level 4 footwork and a solid lift. The only thing that we are left wondering about from the short is that we got a level 2 pair spin, an element we felt we repeated similarly in the free skate to the tune of a level 4. We felt that we had somewhat improved our interpretation from Slovakia, although we lose some of the effect of the program when there is a missed element.
On Saturday morning we practiced again and had a great, but partial, run thru of our free skate. All of our elements were solid and once again we felt confident for our program the next day. Since our practice was early, we headed to the old city area of Warsaw with a friend of mine who happens to speak Polish and acted as a handy tour guide. We got our third experience of Polish food and definitely could not get enough of the pierogis. With an early practice coming up, we went to bed early. On Sunday we had practice ice at 6:45, which means we had to take the 6 AM bus to get there and in turn get up super early compared to the other days. Only Team USA bothered to show up at the early morning practice as the only other competitors at practice were Chelsea Liu and Brian Johnson. After going back to the hotel to grab breakfast and completely prepare, we came back to the rink and got ready to show our long. Our long program started out in a very unfortunate matter. As our quest to have an internationally adequate twist has been coming along, we are really trying to catch the twist smoothly. Unluckily, when I tried to catch the twist, I set Jessica down and she got back on her blade and fell backwards. This faux pas also gave us a bad set-up for our triple toes which we took a fall on as well. From there, we recovered somewhat; we followed up the two opening mistakes with a solid level four lift and a triple sal-double toe loop combination that we improvised in after we were unable to do the combo on the triple toe loop. Although the throws were imperfect, we were able to stay on our feet this time and had solid lifts to go along with it (despite missing a feature on our second lift, it was better than Slovakia). One of the more disappointing things about the free program is that we got no value on our death spiral. Between Ondrej Nepela Trophy in September and our event last week we have spent a lot of time ensuring that we had a good death spiral, because in Slovakia we also missed credit on our death spiral. In practice we are doing a level 3 and getting close to a level 4, but in competition we got nothing. Still, even with two falls and no value on our death spiral we were close to our technical score in Slovakia which is extremely encouraging.
Although we did not skate our best, we learned a lot from our trip in Warsaw. We felt like we lost a lot of interpretation when we started our free skate out so poorly and this will be a focal point for us between now and the US Championships in January. Additionally, we will really hammer the death spiral and twist to improve those to the level that we expect them to be. While we did not meet our goals for this competition, we did learn a lot about how and what we need to improve for the rest of this year. We are going to work on adding a three-jump combination to our free skate, ensuring that our death spiral is consistently good quality, and on learning to perform and really skate our programs.
Now we are home with our respective families for a great Thanksgiving weekend, but we are eager to get back to work. In between now and Nationals we will do a local Christmas show, but our eyes will be set on the prize in San Jose. We look forward to showing our hard work at the US Championships and cannot wait to put it all out there on the ice at the SAP Center. Thanks again for reading our blog and we hope to write about our successes in our next blog after the US Championships 😊