Monday, April 15, 2013

Watching Team USA

This past weekend I had the privilege of attending the 2013 Synchronized Skating World Championships in Boston, Massachusetts.  Although there were several DREAM team members competing, I was not one of them, and this allowed me a very unique experience. As a competitor, I usually do not have the opportunity to relax and enjoy a competition, as I experience the blur of the event. As a spectator, my eyes were opened to all the other things that go on while I am “in the zone” and focused on my job to “leave it all on the ice”. As a member of the DREAM program, I had the amazing opportunity of not only painting spectators’ faces, but also signing autographs! My fellow DREAM team members Sharon Neff, Ashley Tomich, Dana Manson, Katilyn Peterson and I met with young skaters before opening ceremonies on Friday and signed cards with our photos on them as well as programs and tickets! It was a very humbling experience and one that I will remember for a very long time.

I also had the opportunity to watch two of my former teammates, Ashley Mulhern and Audrey McQuade, compete at the World championships. Ashley, Audrey and I skated together on Skyliners for many years. Our very first year together we skated on the juvenile line and that was the first year I competed at a national championship (in San Diego, which was a very long time ago). 

One of the greatest parts of this competition was the crowd!  Because the World Championships are only held in the United States infrequently, synchro skaters and fans traveled from all over the US to be in Boston. It was great to see friends that I’ve made over the years from all different teams come together to support our fellow Team USA competitors. Throughout the stands you could see several spectators sporting both historical and new Team USA jackets. One of my former coaches, Natalie Martello, wore the one she had received when she used to compete. It’s pretty amazing how all these skaters chain together from one era to another. 

A former Miami University camp counselor of mine, Lauren Magliola, brought some of her skating students over to the Athlete Development booth while my fellow DREAM team members and I were signing autographs in order for us all to meet and share our skating triumphs. It was adorable to talk to all of her young skaters and see how much enthusiasm they have for the sport at such a young age! One of them even told me that she wanted to skate for Miami one day!  It was great to talk to them and to tell them how I had known Lauren when I was just about their age and that my dream came true when I was accepted to Miami University.


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

An experience never to be forgotten

 It is hard to put the past week into words.  From the beginning, this World Championship was unlike any other the Haydenettes and I had ever attended. Instead of multiple flights, we simply drove into the city for practice as if it were any other day of the week.  The difference was that we arrived to find countries from all over the world waiting for us.  The week was filled with multiple practices each day. To open up the competition a draw ceremony was held on Thursday night.  Each team made a short video that they felt showed their personality.  It was so much fun to see how similar and goofy all the teams were. There were also shout outs from a few of the Boston Bruins to the teams representing their home countries!  For that night we were not competitors, we were all just skaters who loved Synchro.

Former DREAMer Erica Hoffman and I.

The next night everything became real. The short program was absolutely amazing! We skated with our hearts and enjoyed support from a full arena. The only way to explain our moments spent on the ice is in one word, love!  After all was said and done we found ourselves in 2nd place.  Upon returning to the hotel the team held a small medal ceremony with just our coach Saga Krantz. It was so special to have some time to celebrate within the team. That night was a high unlike any other, but it was time to focus once again because the competition was far from over.

The last night of the competition we were 19th in the skating order, just as we had been for the short program.  Knowing it was the last night of not only competition, but our season as well, we knew we could give absolutely all that we had left. The feeling of unity on the ice was incredible. Each one of us skated not only with, but for each other. Hitting the ending position was a moment none of us will soon forget.  We knew at that moment we had done what had come to do. We skated with our hearts and put out two programs that showed who we were as a team.
This year had many ups and downs, but the downs did nothing but help to fuel our hard work. This was a very special team and I will always love all the girls who took on the World with me, in front of all of those who were there to support us in our home town! A particularly special moment was when Lynn Benson, the founding coach of the Haydenettes, gave us each our bronze metal. This team has so much history and it is amazing to be a part of that.

Receiving our bronze medals from Lynn Benson
There is no feeling like that of representing ones country on the World stage and we were so happy to share the experience with The University of Miami! Congrats on two fabulous skates! A special congratulation to all the teams who took part in the competition and goodbye for now from Boston!


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

"Leaving Our Mark" 2013 World Synchronized Skating Championships

Hey Everyone!

After the overwhelming excitement that the short program brought, stepping out onto fresh ice with the whole crowd dressed in red, white, and blue, we honestly didn’t know how it could get any better than that. Yet somehow, the night of the long program, this same thrill occurred again, as if we were all experiencing it for the very first time. I’m not sure that anything will ever be able to top the feeling of stepping out onto the ice and being completely overtaken by the roaring of the crowd and the blur of our country’s colors filling the air.

DREAMmates Ashley and Ashleigh. Photo by Sarah Arnold
As we prepared to compete, we completely transformed from ballerinas the previous night, into flirty, fierce, and fabulous flappers. At last it was time to perform and leave absolutely everything that we had out on the ice for our final time this season. The crowd was on their feet and roaring once again. Hearing them announce, “Representing the United States of America, Team USA 2” is one of the most powerful and touching things a skater will ever hear. The crowd was so unbelievably supportive, that as we stood in our warm-up block, it was almost impossible to hear the one skater screaming at the top of her lungs for us to begin. At this, we all pulled together and counted “5-6-7-8” as one, so that we could begin as a unit. Once we had done this, I could feel that it was going to be a great skate because it seemed that all 16 hearts were beating as one. We hit our opening pose and I was so completely in the moment that from there, our skate almost became a blur. The thing that I remember most clearly from our program was coming around in my 135 in the moves in the field element and just pausing for those few seconds to soak everything in and fully enjoy the moment. When we hit the ending pose, I knew it didn’t matter what the score was, but instead that we had brought America to their feet and made them proud with two of our best skates of the season.
Team USA 2 overjoyed with their final long program skate of the season.

Ashley Mulhern and Audrey McQuade, Team USA World Team Members
It was amazing to watch the final 8 teams compete their long programs and to be able to cheer on our fellow Team USA teammates, the Haydenettes, as they skated a wonderful long program performance, earning them their fourth World Bronze Medal. We couldn’t have been more proud of them or to be able to call them our teammates.

Ashley Mulhern and number 1 Fan, sister Madison Mulhern.
Just walking around the arena during the ice cuts was an unbelievable experience in itself. People from all over the country had come to watch us compete and we had made them proud to be from the USA. I could not believe that young skaters were asking me to sign their programs and take pictures with them, when just 3 years ago I was sitting in their seats, watching Team USA compete at the World Championships in Colorado, USA. This was such an honor for me and goes to show that dreams truly do come true. I was also incredibly lucky to have many of my family members there to support me as well. In addition to those from the US, I have made many friends from all over the world while competing on Team USA over the past 6 years. I was completely overjoyed to reunite with them and share this amazing experience in my home country.

The 2013 ISU World Synchronized Skating Championships ended with an amazing competitors party at the Top of the Hub, overlooking all of Boston. It was amazing to see all of the competitors, from 15 different countries, come together to celebrate a common accomplishment, after competing against each other all weekend.

As a team, we did not set a goal of a certain place we wanted to get, but rather the goal of “leaving our mark” on the world, and I think that it is safe to say that we did just that! I am extremely proud of all that my teammates and I have accomplished this year was very happy to end on such a wonderful note!

Congratulations to Team Unique (FIN 1), Nexxice (CAN 1), and the Haydenettes (USA 1) on their medals and to all teams for such an extraordinary weekend! Thank you to all of the incredible fans for their support and for making this weekend truly unforgettable!

Miami University Team USA 2
Love & Honor,
Ashley Mulhern

Saturday, April 6, 2013

What it is all about

Tonight was a night that will never be duplicated. Simply put, the night was all about the love of the sport. Our coach, Saga Krantz, has always been able to give us calming perspective, and the words she spoke before we competed the short program were no exception. As a team we had prepared ourselves for a home crowd, but it was hard to imagine what that would really mean. When she was still skating herself, before coming to the United States, Saga had competed in a World Championship in her home country of Finland and her team took home the silver medal. Her advice to us was to take it all in, and we did.

This sport is unlike any other. You are not only working with others, you are becoming one large piece of a unit. That is what we were looking to accomplish in our short program skate. Our focus when stepping out onto the ice was not to grab a medal, but rather to skate for all those hours we had spent falling and getting back up. We skated for all the painful practices and all of the years of training. We skated for our families, who have all given so much for us to be able to reach our dreams. We skated for our teammates who were going to be right by our sides the entire time, and who had been through all of the tedious training. But more than anything, we skated for that little girl inside each one of us who dreamed of becoming a Haydenette and skating at a World Championship.

Stepping onto the ice was extremely emotional. The moment they announced “Team United States of America 1” the crowd was set ablaze. I had never heard such a roar of applause, and looking into the audience each face was covered with a smile. An overwhelming sense of pure joy filled the arena, but yet there was also a sense of serenity that allowed us to stay focused. We knew what we had to do, we stayed in our zone, and when we hit the ending position we were able to let the emotion fully sink it.

Both of the United States teams put out strong skates and we could not be more excited to share this experience with all of our team members on Miami! Best of luck to all of those competing tonight!


Friday, April 5, 2013

On the World Stage

We have arrived in Boston! 

DREAMers Ashley and Ashleigh ready to go
With a plane ride of only 2 hours, the trip was short and sweet. Upon our arrival, we met up with our team leader, Robin, and the Haydenettes at our outstanding hotel located right in the heart of Boston… it even has a Starbucks inside – a perfect treat for hard-working skaters! We all went to bed the first night with excitement for what was to come.

At the beginning of each day here, Robin has been giving us all a slip of paper with a quote that has fired us up for our practices. We love our awesome team leader! Wednesday and Thursday were long days, but the adrenaline of this competition and excitement of the atmosphere propelled us through some great practices that left us feeling so ready going into the short program competition tonight. 

USA 2 about to take the ice for practice at Agganis Arena

The official draw ceremony was held last night. Each team had made a short video about themselves and these were shown as the teams were called up to draw. It was so much fun to see the unique personalities of all of the teams showcased in their videos. We had so much fun making ours! 
Miami skaters Vanessa, Ashleigh, Maggie, and Chandler at the draw

We drew 6th and will have clean ice to skate on for our short program. It is hard to believe the time is finally here to show off our programs. Miami is ready to astound the world.

Let the competition begin! 


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Welcoming the World as they Ship off to Boston

The Haydenettes and I could not be more excited about the upcoming World Championships in Boston!  In preparation for the competition we have been upping our practice hours and increasing the amount of program run-throughs during practice.  Our main focus had become consistency, so besides a few changes here and there we have been making sure each element of the program is clean and performed with an effortless look.
After winning U.S. Championships in March!
Two weeks before our scheduled departure for worlds we sat down as a team and discussed what we were excited for with the upcoming competition. It is very clear that we each realize that this World Championship is going to be unlike any other we will ever have the privilege of skating in. Our team comes from 10 different states across the country, but each one of us made Boston our home when we joined the Haydenettes.

Skating at U.S. Championships.
This is going to be the first time many of our families and friends will be able to attend the World Championship event. I can only imagine what it will be like to have that much support in the stands. After skating in Finland and Sweden for the last two World Championships and seeing their extreme fans, it will be fun to see the United States give them a run for their money! It will be great to join Miami at the World Championships. I could not be more excited to skate for the same team as many of my former teammates once again, Team USA. 

Me and a few former teammates, Chandler Carroll, Maggie Maier,  and Vanessa Thornton 
In the past few days we have begun to spot teams from around the world walking around the city. We cannot wait to join them and spend the week doing what we love, with all the people that we love around us!  

See you in Boston,


Monday, April 1, 2013

Miami Ready to Take on the World

Hey Everyone!

After an exciting Nationals, where we were overjoyed to have regained our spot back on the World Team, it’s hard to believe we will be headed to Boston in just a few short days. This World Championship is particularly special to Miami because it will be the first time we compete at a Worlds in our home country.

2013 World Team DREAMers
Building off the momentum from Nationals, we have spent the past few weeks hard at work, fully committed to pushing our programs to their fullest potential. We’ve taken our training to new heights by not only concentrating on the technical mark, but designating each day to focus on a specific program component. We couldn’t be more excited to show off our polished programs.

It’s surely going to be an extraordinary week. To have the support of the home crowd, with so many members of the Miami Skating family in attendance will be an experience we know we won't forget. We can’t wait to welcome all of our competitors to the United States - we couldn’t be more ready for this fierce competition to begin!

See you in Boston!

Love and Honor,
Ashley and Ashleigh