Saturday, April 9, 2011

Miami Worlds Update 3

Well, we can certainly say skating our first World Championship performance lived up to our expectations.

As we walked toward the entrance to the ice for the short program both of us couldn’t help but shed a few tears. It was overwhelming and a true honor to be standing rink side realizing as we looked out into the stands with a packed audience that we are participating in something that is so few and far between. We were truly honored and humbled as we stepped foot on the ice and they announced “Team USA 2.”

We kept hearing from our teammates that had been to worlds before that the experience was one that couldn’t be described, and until now we didn’t know what that meant. After competing short we truly understand now that words really don’t do it justice, it’s just something you need to be a part of.

We saw lots of Finnish flags swarming the arena, along with large sections of proud U.S. parents and fans. The music began and instantly the entire audience began clapping in time to the music. It was really incredible to have the whole arena cheering us on, rather than just the USA section. Everyone obviously has their favorites, but for the most part, they’re all here because they share a common love for skating. That was something that really made the experience unique. For 15 of us, this was our first World Championship skate. We put out a solid performance and were happy with the way we delivered.

After we skated, we got to sit in the stands and cheer on the Haydenettes. They, along with the rest of the last group, did an awesome job. It was an incredible evening of skating and we’re looking forward to what the free skate has to offer.

Back in the hotel today after our free skate official practice, we were stopped in the lobby for a pep talk from Scott Hamilton. He had great words of advice, as always, but one of the best parts of our conversation with him was talking about the similar experiences we shared working with choreographer, Sarah Kawaraha. We talked about how in painting the picture of our free skate, at first it seems like a confused mess full of choreography that we have no idea how to do. Then all of a sudden we look back on the season and realize we finally got the steps down and the heads and arms all work together the way they’re supposed to! It was an amazing moment to cherish, and something we certainly won’t forget. With just a little bit left the competition, we’re really soaking it all in, enjoying every moment.

Love and honor,

Taylor and Sarah

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Worlds Update: Miami Day 2

Hello again,

Wednesday’s practices were off to a great start. It was nice to get our feet under us and see the arena. We had practice at 4:30 and 9:00 pm. In between we sat in the arena and watched the Japanese, Russian, and Swedish teams practice. By the time we got back to the hotel it was 10:00 pm. We had a late dinner with fantastic food and lots of variety. After dinner we went straight to bed.
Thursday mornings’ practice went well too. We practiced the short program full run-through and sections on the main ice. . It was nice to cheer on the Haydenettes as they took the ice immediately after our practice. After our first practice we came back to the hotel for video review and lunch. Our second practice was later in the afternoon, and we focused on the free skate. We’ve been really pleased with our progress at each practice and feel good about going into the competition. After a short break at the hotel, we headed back to the arena for the draw. It was an awesome ceremony with more than one hundred Finish skaters taking part in the event. From pre-juvenile through senior, the skaters were on the ice together performing a program with neon tank tops, black tights and glow lights. To top it off, the skaters were accompanied by a live singer performing at the side of the arena. As for the draw, the skaters formed a human number of the skate order for each team. Miami drew 15th and Haydenettes 16th. What are the odds we’d be skating back to back?

Dinner was a bit chaotic tonight, as all the teams were filing into the hotel at the same time after the draw. It’s interesting to have so many teams from multiple countries all packed into one area, all speaking different languages, coming from different backgrounds, but all here for the same reason. Hearing a mixture of Italian, Swedish, Finnish, and more being spoken around us is such a great experience because we’re thrown into something bigger than we’ve ever been a part of. It truly reminds us of how honored and excited we are to be here to represent our country! We’re looking forward to getting the competition started tomorrow evening with the short program!

Stay tuned,

Sarah & Taylor

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Miami Worlds Update: Day 1

Mao from Finland!

After traveling from Ohio to Detroit, followed by Amsterdam and then Finland, we finally arrived in Helsinki. We weren’t sure if we were going to make our flight from Amsterdam, as we had barely any time to catch the next flight. Some of us were sprinting through the airport while passerby cheered us on!

Although we were a bit jet lagged when we arrived, we had the afternoon to walk around, grab lunch and do some shopping. It was great walking around the downtown area, immersing ourselves in the culture. After touring the city in our groups we came back together for dinner at the hotel, a quick team meeting and then off to bed.

This morning we got to sleep in a little, we had breakfast, offering a large assortment to choose from. We had a team meeting with Haydenettes and did some stretching and off-ice later in the morning. It felt good to get our bodies moving since we don’t skate until later tonight. This evening we have our first practice at the practice arena, and then a second practice in the main arena. We’re looking forward to seeing what the rinks look like and getting on the ice for the first time in Finland!

That’s all for now. More updates to come.

Love and honor,

Taylor and Sarah

Sunday, April 3, 2011

JWCC - An Amazing End to an Even More Amazing Season

Hey Everyone,

First I just want to start out by apologizing for the extreme delay in my posting this blog. These past few weeks since the Junior World Challenge Cup have been spent hard at work, trying to finish piles of makeup school work I have from missing 2 weeks in a row between the U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships and the JWCC. That being said, the week spent in Switzerland for the 2011 JWCC is one that I know I will never forget.

The morning of the free skate, we were ready to go and knew that the points between 2nd place and 8th place were extremely close, so there was definitely room for movement. We skated an official practice that we were all very proud of, and were just hoping for a repeat performance with a little more expression that night. Before we knew it, our last day in Neuchรขtel had flown by and it was time to start our final hair and makeup of the year. Soon we were on the bus and heading to the rink, following tradition by singing the songs that we always sing. We had a fun and energy filled warm-up outside of the rink before heading into the locker room. Our expression was brought out during that warm-up and we knew we were ready to “get the job done!” To end our time outside, we gathered in a tight circle and belted “Proud to be an American” at the top of our lungs. This was just what we needed to remind us of the honor that we have been given to be able to represent our country in such a high level competition. In the locker room the energy continued as we sang and were read good luck wishes from skaters and families of the younger Skyliner lines. This meant so much to us and got us completely ready to take the ice.

Taking the ice was unbelievable. You could just feel the whole crowd behind us, hoping that we skated our best. For me, this performance was so important and special because it was my last skate with this team, which really became like sisters to me. After doing the signal and hitting my opening pose, I just had to slip in an “I love you girls!” before the music began. The program felt very strong and the performance factor seemed higher than ever before. I was literally skating my heart out and trying to leave it all out on the ice. Getting off the ice after another performance of a life time, I could not have been more proud of my teammates. Personally, I am not someone who ever cries, no matter how happy I am, but that night, after that program, with those teammates by my side, I cried. It was such a special performance and an amazing way for me to end 4 amazing years with the Skyliners junior team. We were all so proud of each other and all that we accomplished this season. It truly was the best season ever, and at that point it really didn’t matter to us where we ended up overall that night.

We quickly headed up to the stands to watch the final group of teams compete. As Braemar took the ice, we went wild and displayed our USA pride for our teammates. They skated their “Alice in Wonderland” program beautifully and it was absolutely the best performance of their season. We were so proud of them, and when their score came up, it was almost certain that they would receive a World medal. We could not have been happier for them. As the competition came to an end and Team Braemar took the ice to get their bronze medals, we all stood at the railing and cheered at the top of our lungs once again. This was amazing for both Team Braemar and the U.S. Congrats again Team Braemar! Way to make our country proud!

Looking back on my final season on Skyliners, I could not have asked for anything more. A National Championship and 5th place in the world… Wow! This was an unbelievable season filled with memories and friendships that I know will never fade away.

From Junior World Challenge Cup to the World Synchronized Skating Championships, from Switzerland to Finland, I want to wish the Team USA World Team, Haydenettes and Miami University, safe travels next week as they head overseas. Good Luck and I know that you girls will be beautiful and represent us well! I wish I could be there, but will be watching and cheering from home!

Love Always,

Ashley Mulhern