Thursday, March 7, 2013

Hei maasta Suomi! (Hello from Finland!)

So far we have been having a great time here in Helsinki. We flew in on Tuesday and began our week by getting off the plane, making a quick stop at our hotel and heading straight to the rink. It felt good to loosen up on the ice and skate. After practice, we took a peek at the competition arena and were impressed by the size of the rink. The venue is enormous and the arena is decorated with pink balloons and signs. This is the first ever ISU Junior World Championships and it looks like this event is going to be huge! I am so excited and honored that we are a part of it.

On Wednesday morning, we enjoyed the breakfast at the hotel. I personally was a fan of the Finnish meatballs and fruit cocktail. All the competing teams are staying at the same hotel which has given us the chance to meet skaters from all around the world. We saw some of our friends on Great Britain and befriended some skaters from South Africa. They told me it was the first time many of them have seen snow (there’s a lot of snow here!) and it is also their first competition. What an exciting way to debut their programs: at the Junior World Championships! We had a good time bonding and hopefully we will continue to meet some more skaters throughout the week. After breakfast we had another practice where we worked on sections of our long and short programs. We were satisfied after skating and later on we headed into town to do a little shopping. Many of my teammates bought “Luhta” jackets, a popular Finnish brand. I think they look very stylish in their new clothing. We ate a delicious dinner at Stone’s Pub to end the day and took a tram ride back to the hotel.

This morning we had a quick unofficial practice and this afternoon we skated for the first time in the competition arena. The rink is olympic sized and the ice feels perfect. We skated solid run throughs of both of our programs and are feeling confident for the competition tomorrow. Tonight ended with the opening ceremonies. The show was a circus theme and was an incredible experience. There were acrobats, hula hoopers, pairs skaters and lots of synchro teams. During the circus show, the announcer said, “It looks like there’s magic in the air.” I couldn’t agree with her more. I definitely think this will be an unforgettable experience and a once in a lifetime opportunity. I can’t wait to take it all in with my teammates and compete tomorrow! Wishing great skates to all teams!