Monday, January 31, 2011

2011 Smucker's Skating Spectacular

This past weekend, the Skyliners had the privilege of performing at the 2011 Smucker's Skating Spectacular that took place in Greensboro, North Carolina after the U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

Saturday, we went to the rink for our normal practice, but instead of walking next door to the gym after we got off the ice, we all piled into our parents' cars and caravanned over to Newark Airport. Upon arrival in North Carolina, we went to the hotel for a quick dinner then went to the arena to watch the senior ladies free skate. The stands were packed. As we watched each competitor enter the ice, we realized how nerve racking and intimidating it must be to get on the ice all alone in front of so many people, including judges, spectators, and television cameras. At this moment we knew why we are synchro skaters. We love taking the ice as a team.

Sunday morning we had an early wake up and went to the arena for practice. Although it was very early, we had a strong practice and felt confident for our performance that night.

After practice, we went to a Waffle House for breakfast. I was hungry and in the mood for pancakes. Without checking the menu, and wrongfully assuming that all breakfast places had pancakes, I asked the waitress for chocolate chip pancakes. She replied, "This is Waffle House..." Oops! Then we went back to the hotel for nap/homework time.

After our rest, we went to the rink for the Men's Free Skate. We all especially enjoyed Ryan Bradley's program. His expression was amazing and you could tell he was really enjoying himself. I was so happy for him when he won. When the competition was over we walked around the arena and did a little shopping, then went down to our locker room for hair and makeup. When we finished getting ready, we put on our dresses and skates and did our usual locker room pump-up routine.

Finally, it was time to skate. On our way from the locker room to the ice we saw all the other skaters that were performing hanging out in the Athlete's Lounge. Jeremy Abbott and Ryan Bradley wished us luck, and when Even Lysacek asked us what we skate to, we all replied, "Phantom of the Opera." He laughed and said, "You speak in unison too?" We were star struck.

Skating was surreal. The audience was huge, full of people who had never seen synchro before. They especially enjoyed our moves-in-isolation and moves-in-the-field elements. The crowd responded to our program with a standing ovation.

Overall, going to Greensboro was an awesome experience. Watching the skating was amazing and performing was incredible. We had so much fun. And to top it all off, we got a picture with Tara Lipinski at the airport on our way home!

Ci vediamo a Milano! (See you in Milan!)


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

2011 Junior World Team Selection Competition

Getting off the plane in Milwaukee on Wednesday night, it felt like just another competition, but in the end, it turned out to be so much more than that. Going into the Junior World Team Selection Competition, we all knew that there was a lot on the line, and we were hoping to earn a spot once again on the World Junior Team. Still, we were extremely excited and knew that we were ready for the intense competition that the weekend was sure to bring.
We woke up and headed to the rink, soon finding out that we would be skating fourth in the first flight. We were very excited about this because it meant that we would get a chance to watch the teams that were competing after the ice cut. We got on the ice for our official and were very pleased to skate two clean run-throughs before getting off.
After lunch and another quick practice, we could not wait to get back to the hotel to start hair and make-up and put on our brand new team USA warm-ups for the first time. Walking into the rink for the short program, we were beyond excited and so ready to compete. We took the ice with confidence in our short program and turned on our over-the-top expression the minute the music started. Hitting our ending pose, we were thrilled to hear the crowd respond so positively to our bright and exciting short program. As we stood in the kiss and cry, we couldn’t have been happier with our score of 56.72.
Once we got out of the locker room, we headed for the stands and cheered loudly for our friends on the teams still competing. As the night came to an end, we sat in first place, but we knew that it was not over 'til it was over, and we would need to keep up the energy we had in the short if we wanted to stay on top.
The next morning we woke up to learn that we would be skating third in the second flight. We were off to the rink once again and getting ready for our free skate official practice. It went well, but not everything was exactly the way that we wanted to perform it that night, so we were happy to have one more practice, directly following our official, before we were to compete that night. We completed our hair and make-up and a quick warm-up at the hotel before going over to the warm-up area near the rink. Entering our locker room, we could not have been more pumped up to compete. Yet somehow we were able to psych ourselves up even more as we waited ready in the locker room for almost a half hour. We danced and cheered, until finally we were told that they were ready for us.
As we stepped onto the ice, I knew we were ready and we all had a new confidence that I hadn’t seen before. Going through our “Phantom of the Opera” program I could hear Josh’s screams of joy getting louder with each element. As we traveled our moving wheel, our last element, that’s when it all hit me: we had just given it our all. Kneeling on the ice in our ending pose, I was completely overwhelmed with pride from the way the team had just skated. As our scores were announced, our jaws dropped with shock as we heard 120.94, and then the screams came out. We were all so proud of ourselves and each other. We then headed over to the end of the rink, where both Team Braemar and Miami were standing.
As we waited for the competition to end, we cheered on the other teams. Once the competition had come to an end and it was determined that we would be going to the Junior World Challenge Cup in Neuch√Ętel, Switzerland, along with Team Braemar, we were beside ourselves. Our two teams jumped up and down congratulating each other. We were then called back onto the ice and announced as Team USA1. This was an amazing feeling, and I was filled with so much pride when handed a bouquet of flowers for my team.
We spent some time on the ice taking picture after picture with Team Braemar as the 2011 World Junior Team. To finish off an extremely exciting competition, we took the bus to a restaurant where there was a DJ playing music. There, the Skyliners and Team Braemar danced the night away together, celebrating our success.
This was an extremely exciting and very successful competition for us. We know that there is a lot of hard work ahead of us, but we are looking forward to every minute of it. We could not be more thrilled to be going to Switzerland with Team Braemar. We are already very close friends, but I know that the friendship we have will grow even that much more.
Talk to you soon,

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Free Skate from Austria

Hi All!

Drawing last for the free skate, the Haydenettes got to sleep in for the first time all week! We had a wake up call to head to the rink and watch the Lexettes official practice. The Haydenettes were so proud of them! Their official practice was so strong and impressive and we knew they were determined and ready to compete! Upon return to the hotel the Haydenettes completed our hair and make-up for our official practice. Official practice went very well, and we returned to the hotel anxious to watch the video to see what we could improve on for the night's competition.After our competitions preparations, we got to the rink and heard the Lexettes had improved to a third place finished, we were thrilled for them! We had a nice warm-up and we were so excited to put on our fishnet tights! With our new favorite quote from free skate, "It's a life, it's a style, it's a need, it's Burlesque." we were ready to debut ourfree skate to an international crowd! Our skate was extremely expressive, we have improved in our second marks and are thrilled to improve with the expression. We had two falls in the no point intersection but our skaters got up and back in so fast, the team saw no effect the rest of the program. We ended the competition with a second place finish behind Finland's Marigold Ice Unity. They Haydenettes are so proud to be able to compete for the United States and we thought our USA team at this competition was so strong!

After award ceremony we were able to go back to the hotel and have some dinner and hang out at the hotel with the Lexettes and some parents! The Haydenettes and Lexettes left for Munich Airport early the next morning en route to Boston!

Salzburg was beautiful! The Alps were visible from the windows at the Eisarena in Salzburg. Being able to compete in such a beautiful country was incredible!

Keep Posted for our blogs from Easterns!

-Jenna and Noelle (photo credit: Erika Hoffman)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Free Skate Program in Austria!

What a day! As I write this, I'm sitting with my other Starlights teammates relaxing together after our post-competition dinner. We got to sleep a little extra this morning, with official practice starting at noon. We came off of the ice feeling ready and anxious for the competition. Hair and makeup began as soon as we got back to the hotel. Thankfully, the Lexettes were nice enough to lend us some sewing supplies for our hair!

At our floor practice before heading over to the arena, we worked a lot on expression and performing for both the judges AND each other. After our warm up and floor run through, we were in the locker room! Leading off the freeskate competition was a whole new experience. While there were some shaky pieces of the program, we are really excited to build off of it in the coming month before the U.S. Championships. We ended up with a fifth place finish, and were very happy with this, especially at an international competition!

We were SO proud of our U.S. teammates, with Miami Junior's 6th place finish, the Lexettes taking home the bronze medal in junior, and especially the Haydenettes and their silver medal! It was so much fun to be standing in the stands cheering 'USA!!' as loud as we could. I take a lot of pride in those three letters and representing my country is a HUGE honor!

The Mozart Cup was such a wonderful competition, and it was awesome to compete in its inaugural year. I really hope that teams in the future have the opportunity to attend and have as great an experience as I did!


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Short Program in Austria!

When I woke up this morning, I could already feel the excitement building! Today was the day of our short program at the Mozart Cup. After a good breakfast, we headed over to our official practice. It was strong and we were able to accomplish what we had been working especially hard on during prior practices. We left the arena in high spirits, and anxious to come back this evening! After a carbo-load pasta lunch at a nearby Italian restaurant, we headed back to the hotel for a bit of rest before we began getting ready for the competition.

After hair and makeup, we all got together and each wrote down our fears and what we were nervous about for that night on a sheet of paper. Then, all together, we ripped them up and threw them away! It definitely calmed a lot of our jitters, and we began our floor practice with new confidence. We carried this new confidence into the arena, did our floor practice run throughs and warm up, and before we knew it we were in the locker room lacing up our skates!

The skate was so exhilarating! Even from our first step on the ice, we saw all of our U.S. teammates on Haydenettes, Lexettes, and Miami junior cheering in the stands, and we completely fed off of their energy. We skated a strong, clean short program, which we were extremely proud of. There is no better feeling than skating a program that you know you can be proud of, and its definitely a great way to head into both the free skate as well as the U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships. We are extremely proud of our Haydenettes teammates for their second place finish and of our fifth place after the short program.

And now there is the free skate tomorrow! My teammates and I are SO excited to show off this program on the international stage tomorrow evening! At the draw ceremony, we picked lucky number 1, so make sure you tune in to the live broadcast early!


Short Program Day in Austria!

Today the Haydenettes and Lexettes woke up to sunny morning in Salzburg. We ate breakfast and immediately started our hair and make-up for official practice. Once getting to the rink we were able to cheer on the Lexettes at official before we headed to warm-up. Our official practice did not start off so nice, however, we recovered and ended on a strong note!
We headed back to the hotel to watch video, and then were directed to grab lunch at the local supermarket, and rest-up!! Afterwards we started our hair and make-up and our normal traditions and we were off to compete. Taking the ice first in the senior event, we had a very energetic and strong skate, and we all came off the ice very pleased. Our goal is always to improve on our previous skate, and we felt we have done just that!

The Haydenettes then joined the Lexettes and Miami University junior to watch our fellow Team USA members the Starlights. Their short program was also beaming with energy and very crisp!

We drew to skate last in tomorrow night's free skate competition. We are very excited to debut our free skate internationally!!

Goodnight from Austria,
-Jenna and Noelle

Friday, January 21, 2011

Mozart Cup 2011 Haydenettes

Hey its Jenna and Noelle!

We arrived in Munich on Thursday morning and then drove two hours to Salzburg. All of the Haydenettes were excited to be in Austria for the first Mozart Cup! We had our first practice Thursday afternoon at the official arena, where we worked on both the short and long programs. From the ice surface you can see the beautiful mountains topped with fresh snow. It's a gorgeous sight.
After practice we went back to the hotel for dinner. Everyone on the team was amazed at how pretty the sights of the city and countryside of Austria were. We then had a Team USA meeting with the Starlights, Lexettes and several of the USA officials. Off to bed.

We woke up early for our drive to the unofficial arena an hour and a half away. We watched Nexxice junior for a couple minutes before watching our own Lexettes practice. Then the Haydenettes took the ice for an hour. We had a great practice full of energy for the competition. After our practices we took the bus to the Chapel from the Sound of Music where
the Von Trapp's got married in the movie! The town where the Chapel is located is very cute. All the buildings are different colors and the architecture is stunning. After, we went into downtown Salzburg for some shopping. Throughout the city, there was a large carnival going on where tons of marching bands from all over Europe came to play. They were wearing jester costumes and tons of face paint! We also saw the Croatian and Finnish teams while shopping in some of the popular destinations such as Zara and H&M. After a couple hours shopping we headed back to the hotel for rest and dinner.

Tomorrow is the short program! We are all excited for the competition to start! Good luck to all the teams :-)

Jenna and Noelle

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Our First Day in Austria!

Hi, everyone! We’re finally here in Austria! After a relatively smooth flight across the Atlantic, my Starlights senior teammates and I arrived in Salzburg around noon. We grabbed a quick bite to eat, and then were on our way for a walking tour of the city (to take in some of the amazing sights as well as to keep ourselves awake!). The tour was a lot of fun, and the snowy weather made it all the more beautiful! After dinner, we had a team meeting with our team leaders, Bob Bauer and Karin Sherr, U.S. judge Jeannette Davey, the Haydenettes and the Lexettes; now, it's off to bed for us, as we’ll be up bright and early for our unofficial practice tomorrow morning! I’ve included a couple of pictures from our tour today.


Monday, January 17, 2011

Cup of Berlin Update!

Hey, it's Annaleigh again!

On Saturday night, we stepped into our character the minute we began off-ice warm up at the hotel. You could feel the excitement rising in our team. After a short walk to the ice rink, we then practiced our intense facial expressions and ended our off-ice with a loud “USA!” Our long program felt spectacular when we were on the ice. There were, however, a few bobbles here and there and we ended in fourth place. We were disappointed about being so close to third, but the improvement in our component scores made us proud.

The funny thing about this trip was that Chicago Jazz junior and California Gold were so alike! First of all, we both drew third at the draw for short program. Then, we both placed third after short. When the draw for long program came around, both teams skated fifth. And finally, we both ended up in fourth place. I was so baffled by the coincidence of it all!

After six days in Berlin, we are headed back to California. International competitions are always such amazing experiences, and this one is not to be left out! From touring the famous sights to stepping onto the ice for long program, the emotions we felt ranged from feeling very jet lagged to becoming ecstatic after ending our programs.

Love, Annaleigh

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Willkommen in Berlin

I am pleased to announce that California Gold and Chicago Jazz junior have made it safely to Berlin! We have already had a few hours on the ice at the practice rink that got us out of our travel daze and into competition mode. Our practice this morning was extremely productive and we had some great run-throughs.

After our practice this morning, we had the opportunity to go out and tour the brilliant city of Berlin. We bought day passes for the "Bahnhoff," Berlin's subway system, and visited major sights such as the Brandenberg Gate, the Berlin Wall and Checkpoint Charlie. After seeing the streets of Berlin, we just had to stop in a chocolate shop called Fassbender & Rausch and have ourselves a nice cup of hot chocolate.
Tonight, we had an amazing time skating our short program. The fun and swanky program is always a blast to get into with our ridiculous surprised and smiley faces! Going into free skate tomorrow, we are sitting in third place and are ready to push ourselves to skate a fast and clean program. GO TEAM USA!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

December Madness

Typically, December is a month filled with shopping, preparing for the holidays and hanging out with friends and family. Well, this month definitely was a busy one, but filled with so many exciting synchro events, that there was minimal time for shopping. Still, with all of these events came several reunions and countless hours spent with teammates.

The month started with a trip to Michigan for the Dr. Richard Porter Classic. The Skyliners junior team was excited because it was the first time we would get the chance to compete against the midwestern junior teams and a few teams from Canada. Before competing the short program, we headed to the rink to cheer on our intermediate team. As they took the ice, we (the novice team, too) cheered as loud as we could to support our fellow teammates. They wowed us once again with their fast and fun "Glee" themed program and won gold in their group.

Finally it was our turn to compete and we were so excited to show the crowd our energetic and bright program to “Don’t Rain on My Parade.” We skated well with just one small fall and were BEYOND ecstatic with our second place finish.

As we waited to perform our long program the next day, we spotted three former teammates, who now compete on two different collegiate teams, coming to cheer us on. We were very happy with the way we skated while still knowing there was room to improve. Hearing our score of 101, we were thrilled and could not believe that we had won the long program and came in second overall to one of the top Canadian teams, Gold Ice. We were extremely proud of our performance that weekend and had a wonderful experience at the Porter competition. Throughout the weekend, we were happy to reconnect with several friends we hadn’t seen in a while, as well as catch up and take a few quick pictures with our Dreammates.

The second weekend of December was upon us and we were off to Cape Cod for the second competition weekend in a row. We once again competed against the East Coast junior teams including the Lexettes, Team Image and the Synchroettes. We were really happy after competing the short program. The next day we had some time before we competed, where we were able to help the younger teams prepare for their competitions including sewing in the juvenile skaters hair pieces for their “Hairspray” program.

As the last division that night, we competed our “Phantom of the Opera” long program placing first. Cape Cod is always a fun competition that brings back so many memories of competing there year after year in the younger divisions.

Weekend number three put us into our favorite city, New York. That Friday, directly after school, we all raced to the train stations in our towns, just in time to board extremely crowded trains and meet each other at Grand Central Terminal. From there, we traveled together to the Chelsea Piers rink, home of the Skating Club of New York, for the annual "Holiday on the Hudson" skating show. We had a great time spending the night together as a team and performing under the spotlights in front of a crowd that doesn’t often get to see synchronized skating.

Finally, this last week of December has been spent busily preparing for the Junior World Team Selection Competition to be held next week in Fond du Lac, Wis. We have spent this week at the rink, once again, for our “Christmas Bootcamp,” as we like to call it. It has been hard, but a lot of fun and we have loved getting to spend so much time together. We are extremely excited to compete again next weekend and cannot wait reunite with friends from all over the country.

See you all at Fondy,

Ashley and Audrey