Hello and welcome to the latest blog for me and Josh. Last time we wrote, we had just gotten back from competing in Detroit and training in Montréal with many great teams. Shortly after, we were assigned to Ondrej Nepela Trophy, a challenger series international competition in Bratislava, Slovakia. Although we hadn’t announced our assignment due to USFS policy (we aren’t allowed to announce it until they do), we had about a month and half to train for this upcoming international and the process was an adventurous one.
Earlier in the year we talked about using a different dressmaker than previous years together; someone we had both used in the past and agreed that she makes beautiful costumes. We contacted her early on and she agreed to do them. After sending our measurements and looking at many stunning sketches she emailed us, we sent our deposits and asked for the costumes by Labor Day weekend (well before our international season). As that weekend rolled around and we didn’t have our costumes we began to grow anxious. We attempted to contact her every few days to make sure she was working on them and we were very disappointed with her lack of communication. A couple weeks later and we still hadn’t been updated on the progress of our costumes. Our competition was just around the corner and we were beginning to feel like we wouldn’t have anything to wear. Josh had a backup costume for one of the programs, but I had nothing! We tried every way of contacting her, but she had simply ghosted us. At one point, Josh called her 12 different times in one day and 50 times in a week; he sounds like Adele in “Hello”. Luckily, we have a seamstress at our rink who was willing to lend a helping hand. The weekend before we left she whipped up a beautiful long program dress for me that fits my role of Scarlet from Gone With the Wind and also made Josh a fitted white shirt to go with my red dress. Both turned out amazing, especially considering they were done over a weekend! For our short program, I borrowed a classy black dress that Amanda Evora happened to have around. Thank you Dawn and Amanda for coming to our rescue! Long story short, we never received our costumes and ended up asking for our deposits back after a lot of unnecessary stress and frustration. We are now working on getting our costumes done for our short program to You Raise Me Up.
In the midst of all that, Hurricane Irma was approaching. Initial reports had Irma totally missing our area so we stayed put. However, as Irma got closer, we were right in its path. The hurricane was heading straight towards the gulf coast but it was so big that it would be covering the whole state. As it got closer at a category 4, shelves in the stores were completely barren; there was no water and no bread, but there was plenty of panic. Gas stations were running out of gas and everyone was fleeing the state. We waited it out for as long as we could, but after hearing the surge might cover our home and a mandatory evacuation in our county was called for, we packed up as much as we could and drove to a friend’s house that was away from the surge and safe to stay in. Luckily for us, Irma passed fairly quickly and we were able to head home after only 1 day, but we were without power for 5 days. The rink had lost power and we were without ice for a couple of days the week before our international. Fortunately, we were able to skate at a different rink one day and got our heads back in the game after the chaos. Things are mostly back to normal in Florida, but the occasional sighting of a downed tree or torn down sign serves as a reminder of the destructive force that we nearly caused us devastation.
After all that craziness, we left off to Bratislava. Arriving in Vienna wasn’t so bad because it was a short bus ride away. I wish we had a chance to see Vienna too, but I guess we’ll save that trip for another time! We arrived rather early and actually had practice our first day alongside singles skaters. It’s strange, but cool to be on the ice while skaters like Keiji Tanaka and Grant Hochstein are pulling quads off. Of course, we had to navigate our lifts around these quads, which is like an adventure in itself. The day of the short program, Lyndon had us do a full run through of our program in practice ice. A clean run-through in practice gave us confidence for the real thing later on. We set a new personal best in our short program by nearly 7 points. Although we weren’t quite perfect, we felt like we did the short to nearly the best of our abilities while also leaving room to improve. Similarly, in our free skate we attacked our elements and came out with a result that we are happy with. We know we can do better, but we are really happy with getting a new personal best overall score and with where we are at this time in the season.
The day after the free skate, Josh and I took a walk from the hotel to visit their presidential palace and the castle in town. We left with some cool memorabilia and experiences as well. Later, we spent some time with most of the rest of the American and Canadian delegations and had a great time. We left Bratislava the next day happy, fulfilled, and ready to get back to work.
The trip to Bratislava and the competition was a success for us; we did a triple twist in international competition for the first time, we got a level 4 on our footwork, and although we had some imperfections, we put out three triple jumps and three throw triples. Understanding that the differences between us and the people beating us is performance and quality, we set to work on our skating quality right away. We spent the first week back working on only skating and death spirals (we got no credit in our free skate and we are looking to correct this immediately). Now, in our second week, we have spent more time on these details and also spent more time with our short program choreographer, Ilona Melnichenko. We are now actually in the car on the way back from working with Ilona and feel like we accomplished a great deal with her. Although we didn’t make any drastic changes, we did upgrade the footwork to increase our speed and spent some time detailing other parts. In addition to working with her on choreography, we also got some help with her from stroking. Her dance background and keen eye are incredibly helpful for our stroking. We are returning to train as normal next week and build back up for our next international event. Our goals are to increase our scores even further for a new personal best, to increase the quality of our elements, and to show a difference in our skating abilities at our next international. We look forward to blogging for you all again after our next event, thank you for reading and thank you for supporting us (: