Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sweet Success in Switzerland!

The Crystallettes were very excited to compete at the 2012 Neuchatel Trophy. For the past several years, the Crystallettes have competed in the Prague Cup or French Cup. So, getting to travel to Switzerland was very intriguing. Although this trip was full of challenges and obstacles, we had come to Switzerland on a mission and nothing was going to stand in our way.

We faced adversity before and during the event, but the Crystallettes persevered through illnesses and injuries and were triumphant at the international competition. One skater suffered a broken leg during a practice just 48 hours before we left and was not able to come on the trip with her team. However, we traveled with her picture and she was in every team photo. Another skater fell ill with food poisoning the night before we left, and two more were sick (pneumonia and bronchitis) after arriving in Switzerland. That wasn’t all though. During our official practice for the free skate, another skater got her hand sliced open and had to get 5 stitches after our practice ended. The Crystallettes want to extend a thank you to the Team USA Doctor, Doctor Kruse. We kept him very busy and he kept us on the ice!

Although we had challenges and minor setbacks, the Crystallettes always know how to have a great time. Switzerland was absolutely beautiful! The day we arrived, we went to see many different sights and toured the city shops. We all bought many souvenirs and lots of Swiss chocolate!

After our brief sightseeing tour, it was time to focus. We had many great practices (official and unofficial) and when it came time to do the short program we were more than ready. We were excited to show off our new program. This was only the second competition we would perform it and the first time in our brand new dresses. (The Crystallettes would like to extend a big thank you to Del Arbour for getting these dresses together so quickly and to our parents who helped bead them. The dresses turned out absolutely gorgeous!) We have a very specific warm up routine. We also have several before competition rituals. Once those were done, we were lined up along the wall ready to go. It was thrilling to hear our parents and the other USA teams support us. We ended up skating a wonderful, thrilling, and sassy short program and received good scores for it being an international competition. Our score ended up being 58.86 and it rewarded us with winning the event by 9.5 points! We improved from the London Synchrofest by almost 20 points. It was a remarkable feeling and we were very thankful and humble with the outcome because we knew that we had to do our best in the free skate on Saturday.

Our free skate official was more eventful then we anticipated. We lined up to do our first section and within the first thirty seconds a skater got her hand cut. However, that did not stop us, one of our other skaters jumped in her spot and we continued until the section was over. The skater who was cut was bandaged up and given a blue, surgical glove to wear for the rest of the practice. The rest of our practice was strong and powerful and it proved not only to ourselves, but to everyone there how mentally tough and focused we were. We warmed up later and were ready to go and even though we had a lot of distractions with the sicknesses and injuries, we knew what we had to do in order to stay in the top spot. We did not skate as well as we could have. There were 3 falls in the performance and many great elements too. We performed a solid program. We received a score of 98.80. As we waited in the locker room for the results, Holly began to give us the “you did your best speech” when Shannon called from the United States. She told Holly we won. Casey, our injured skater with the broken leg, watched the live feed and called Shannon. Shannon was at Tri State synchronized skating competition with our other teams. Holly yelled and we all cheered. Then, Chicago Jazz came busting in to our locker room to tell us the results. We were so excited. Apparently, because of our nine and half point lead in the short program it was enough to keep us in the top spot and we won the competition over all! It was one of greatest feelings! We felt like we were on top of the world. It was a very proud moment for the Crystallettes because we had all of the distractions a team could imagine, however, it did not break our focus and make us lose sight of what was important.

Switzerland was a great experience and becoming the 2012 Neuchatel Trophy Senior champions was a very humbling and rewarding experience. With nationals right around the corner, we know that we can’t let up now. We have to work harder and with more intensity because we have set the same goal for nationals that we had for Switzerland. We proved in Switzerland how mentally tough we are and how nothing will stand in the way of achieving our goal. We plan to continue to train hard for nationals. Nationals 2012 here we come! We look forward to seeing all of the teams and wish them good luck!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Haydenettes in Switzerland Part 2

Short Program was an event to see. We took the ice confident and ready to perform. We had one fall, and a music deduction, but overall we were pleased with our skate. We finished in second place. After the competition, we went back to the hotel and did video review with Saga. We reflected on which elements had gone well and which we could be improved. Finally, we applied the changes in these elements to the long program and switched our brains to Lady Gaga.

Long official practice was the following morning. After slightly disappointing scores in the short program, we were determined to improve our marks in long. We focused on making our steps clean and truly expressing the essence of Lady Gaga. Practice went very well, and we were content moving into the long program that evening.

Representing your country is a true honor. We took the ice Saturday night ready to represent Team USA in the most dignified manner. Our long program skate felt very strong. We came together as a team and put all of our energy into giving off our best performance. We left the ice proud and excited. We ended up in second place, behind the Crystallettes, fellow team USA members.

Team USA also took the top two places in Junior. We are so proud of the Lexettes and Chicago Jazz. It was a great competition for Team USA. Seeing our flag raised four times and hearing the national anthem twice was very memorable.

After the competition, we headed to the competitors party for some great food. We watched video later that night, and prepared to head back to Boston the next day.

Nationals is only a week and a half away. We got great feedback in Switzerland and are ready to get back to work. Can’t wait to see you all in Worcester!

Tessa and Audrey

Friday, February 10, 2012

Neuchatel Trophy- Haydenettes Part 1

Haydenettes arrived in Switzerland on Wednesday morning. We landed in Zurich and took a two-hour bus ride to Neuchatel. We checked into the hotel and headed to the official rink for a practice. We had a great practice then ate dinner at the hotel restaurant with Lexettes. Everyone was exhausted from traveling and skating, so we were anxious to go to bed.

On Thursday morning we woke up for another unofficial practice. The rink was freezing, but we skated well. After that we went into the town and did some shopping. There was a tourism center that had information about the competition with pictures hanging up from the Junior World Challenge Cup last year.

This morning we had short official practice. It was eventful, to say the least. Halfway through our first run-through the music started to skip. It was difficult, but we decided to push through the skate. It ended up being a pretty good run-through! We watched each other and stuck to counts. After we got the music working, we finished practice and headed back to the hotel. Now we are resting up before short program. We will update later!
After shopping we had another great dinner at the Hotel with the Lexettes then got ready for bed.


Tessa and Audrey

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Catching Up With the Starlights!

Hey Everyone! I know it has been a while since i last blogged, but I am now finding the time to FINALLY catch you all up on what us Starlights have been doing.

After the holiday season, we hit it hard with practices leading up to the Foot of the Lake Competition in my hometown of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. It was great to be able to compete in front of all my friends and family that have supported me over the years. After a long day of practice ice and critiques, it was amazing to have my mother and father host a team dinner at my house. Everyone, even our coaches Heather Paige and Jenna King, loved being able to taste some of my dads home cooked pasta and bread sticks. The next day was all about the competition for both programs. Our short program score wasn't what we had hoped for, but we had to keep on moving to make sure we were ready for long. Going from short to long in one day really made it difficult to concentrate on one event, but we made it work with placing first over all at the Foot of the Lake Competition.

Coming off the rough skates at Fondy, we all knew it was our time to start the rest of the season off right. We got extremely "motivated" and pushed ourselves to the limit when it came to practices leading up to Midwesterns in Michigan. Going into the competition we felt so ready to put both of our programs out there and show everyone what we had to offer. While warming up for the short program, we all became focused and tuned into what our coaches were saying. They gave us great advice to "just skate the program and do your job." Coming off the ice after skating that short program was one the the most amazing feelings I have ever had. We all united as a team that night and skated our hearts out to our new version of Madonna's Like a Prayer. The next day was all about our long program. We were all getting ready and goofing around making sure we were all prepared for the night. With some laughs in the the warm up area, it was time to get down to business. We got our skates on and went out there to perform our favorite program. It wasn't perfect, but it was an accomplishing weekend for both of our programs. Placing second over all, we had a very successful weekend as a Senior team.

The next stop for Starlights Senior is Milan, Italy! We are extremely excited to be leaving exactly one week! We wish all the teams competing over seas Good Luck and see you all at Nationals!


Friday, February 3, 2012

French Cup

Jet lag can be a killer, but so far California Gold has been holding up pretty well. Being all the way from the west coast of the United States, our time has been altered considerably. However, this didn't stop our team from having a great first day touring Paris, second day spent practicing and preparing for competition in Rouen and a third day in pre-competition spirits.

We have been doing considerable amounts of walking, keeping us fit and fatigued. On Tuesday we walked from Notre Dame to the Eiffel Tower, by way of the Musee d'Orsay. On Wednesday it was back and forth from the rink several times, in weather considerably colder than most California girls are used to. But this is what makes international travel, and competition, so exciting. Its about experiencing new and different things. Los Angeles is an area where many of us spend large chunks of time stuck on the freeway, not walking amongst centuries old architecture. Its a place where we rarely huddle for heat.

Thursday, after a particularly cold but productive practice, we had the opportunity to participate in the opening parade for the French Cup. We walked with teams from all over the world through the streets of Rouen and chatted with the other U.S. Teams here: Miami University senior, Team Braemar junior and Skyliners junior. All the teams performed a flash mob dance at the end of the parade. The U.S. Teams all went out to dinner together, hosted by our team leaders Robin and Bob, who gave all roses and beautiful cards. (One of my teammates began crying at this point, partially the beautiful quote on the cards, partially the jet lag catching up).

It has been a trip of firsts for many at this competition. For many members of my team this is their first time representing Team USA, for a few its their first time to Europe, it is my first time to France and I got to participate in my first international draw. This is part of why this opportunity is amazing. Skating is not only a gift in and of itself, but also gives us a context in which to exit our comfort zones and experience new things.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Latest Scoop on the Crystallettes!

Hey everybody! Since the last time I blogged we have competed in two major competitions! The Senior Crystallettes got the opportunity to compete in London, Canada at the end of December with some of the top teams in the world. We had lots of hard practices to get prepared for this competition because we knew we were competing with the best of the best. We arrived on the 27th of December and immediately got to work. We had just enough time to drop off luggage at the hotel and change into our practice clothes before we had our first practice. All of our practices were productive and went well.

The draw in London was exciting! In order to find out what number we were skating, we had the draw ceremony where myself and another member of my team, Meghan Quigley, were chosen to draw. The setup of the draw was absolutely beautiful! It was called “Synchro in the City” and was decorated incredibly girly with pink everything and wonderful chocolate covered strawberries that were gone in seconds.
One of the best parts of the draw was prince charming that escorted Meghan and I to draw our number. Instead of drawing numbers, we had to select a fashionable pair of shoes. We were the third team to go up and select our shoe. There was this darling sparkly gold heel that we both did love and wanted to pick. However, something inside me told me because it was the prettiest shoe it was number one. So, I told Meghan that we should pick the black heel with the flower on top because I had a really good feeling about it. After a short huddle with prince charming, I picked it up and it was number eight, which meant that we skated last! We were so happy with our selection and relieved because, shortly after us, another team chose that gold sparkly heel and it was indeed number one. After taking many pictures with prince charming, all of the teams dismissed to get ready for the next day of competition.

Competition day was here! Official practice for the short program was in the afternoon and then we competed our short program to “Footloose’ that night. We had a fairly good skate and did not receive the scores we wanted. However, sometimes you have to roll with the punches because we still had a long program to do the next day. We went out to eat with the Haydenettes after the competition of the short program where I got to finally meet some of the fellow DREAMers! After our nice dinner, we returned to the hotel and went to sleep. The next morning we had official practice and then had time to rest and get ready for our free skate program. We skated earlier in this segment of the competition and performed a beautiful, spunky long program. At this point, we focused on our effort. We poured every ounce into that performance. No matter what happened, we were going to be proud of what we did. We received a good score and ended up 5th for the free skate and 6th place overall. The Crystallettes were pleased to have participated in this competition. It was a great experience and we loved meeting the different members of all the different teams. After our coaches spoke to the judges, they warned us that there would be big changes when we got back to Michigan and indeed there were.

We all enjoyed our couple days off for the New Year and then got back to work. At the end of our competition in Canada, our coaches said that there would be big changes and we were all dying to know what that meant! The following weekend we had the opportunity to work with Cathy Dalton. She was amazing! After 2 days and 10 hours on the ice, they dropped the bomb on us that we would be changing our music for our short program. All of our jaws hit the ice. We were stunned and weren’t sure how to react. I was personally sad because the program to “Footloose” was my favorite program. The coaches explained why we had to change the music and we all understood. Now, we were begging to know what it was going to be. Our coaches started to put on different pieces of music for us to try our choreographed short program to. Cathy Dalton suggested a piece of music when she was here to work with us and it is called “Mercy” by Duffy. As soon as they put on “Mercy”, we began the program and it fit like a glove. We only had two weeks to get this program ready for Midwesterns. It was a tough two weeks but we did it!

Midwesterns was in Plymouth, Michigan from January 26th-29th. That was a very busy weekend for me as a skater and a coach. My Open Juvenile team was also competing in the competition that weekend and trying to coordinate all of the practices between OJ and Senior was stressful, but I managed. The Open Juvenile competition was on Friday around the same time as the Opening Ceremonies. I was performing the Flashmob that myself and three members of my team (Donae, Poe, Alyssa Shomsky, and Sharon Neff) made up with our ballet constructor Simone Calvas. The Crystallette senior team led the stadium in this activity, which was part of our Opening Ceremonies. Seeing people doing the dance in the audience made all those hours of making it up worth it. Later that night was the senior short program competition. This would be the first time we were putting out our program with new music. We were very excited and ready to rock and roll. We skated a sassy, amazing short program that got the audience excited to watch us. We were incredibly proud of what we had accomplished in only two weeks! We were given our highest score of the season- 64.11. We got wonderful compliments from many different people about our new program and the judges LOVED it. After the short program, we were in first place and we were ready to attack our long the next day.

Saturday arrived and on to the free skate! Of course, we had official practice in the morning and drove back to Dearborn to practice. Competition time came quickly. We arrived at the rink, warmed up, did some last minute primping and lined up in the tunnel to take the ice. We had a couple minor mistakes in our skate, but besides those minor errors we had a fabulous performance. For our long program we received most of our calls and our overall total score was 177.98 We received 1st place overall and we were excited with what we had accomplished that weekend, especially with a two week old short program! We ended our competition with a nice awards ceremony and a pizza party. Next stop for the Senior Crystallettes- SWITZERLAND!