One of my favorite skaters, both when I was growing up and now also, is Scott Hamilton. He’s from my hometown of Bowling Green, Ohio; he’s a wonderful role model and a great person; and, of course, he’s such a great entertainer and skater. This year, for my first time, I had the privilege and honor to be a part of Scott’s show, the 12th annual An Evening with Scott Hamilton and Friends ice show and gala. This year’s show starred Sheryl Crow as the live artist, and it was so much fun to meet her and to skate to one of her songs. And, of course, I had fun with all the other skaters, as well; I was so honored to be included among such amazing and legendary skaters. It’s always nice to take a moment, step out of the competition atmosphere, and just enjoy skating for the audience. The gala dinner following the show was also really impressive, and the entire evening raised an impressive amount of money to benefit Scott’s CARES initiative!
The weekend following Scott Hamilton’s show, I did two exhibitions: the first was an exhibition at my rink, the Detroit Skating Club, where I skated my short program. We had changed the program a little bit, and the exhibition gave me the opportunity to skate the new program under pressure. Immediately following that exhibition, I hopped in my car and drove down to the ice arena in Bowling Green, Ohio, where I grew up. The rink and skating club were putting up a banner in my honor, and I skated an exhibition there preceding the hockey game that evening. Between periods in the hockey game, there was a presentation, a few short speeches, and the unveiling of the banner–which is now hanging in the arena, right next to Scott Hamilton’s banner! Later in the evening, my sister and I took the time to skate with all the kids from the club. I had an amazing time that day in Bowling Green, visiting old friends–and being there brought back a lot of memories from growing up and skating in that rink.
The week following (yes, I was extremely busy between Skate America and Trophee Eric Bombard), I traveled to France for my second Grand Prix competition. This was my second time visiting Paris–one of my favorite cities!–and I again enjoyed being there. The competition itself was not my best. I made some mistakes in my short program, but I learned from my mistakes, and I was much happier with my efforts in the long program. And, best of all, my results at the competition qualified me for the Grand Prix Final, for the second year in a row! Of course, being busy at the competition, I was again unable to see much of the city, except for the last evening we were there, after the competition and exhibition were finished; someday, I plan to go back to Paris, just to visit and enjoy the city!
After returning home from France, I had two weeks to prepare for the Grand Prix Final. While I felt as though, in my preparations for the final, my skating was improving, I unfortunately injured myself when I arrived in Quebec, at the beginning of my first practice session. While it was a minor injury, the timing of it was unfortunate, and it made it extremely difficult to compete my best there. However, I truly believe that everything happens for a reason, including things like that injury. I’m fortunate that the injury wasn’t something worse and that I had the opportunity to try to compete even though I was injured.
And, to put everything into perspective: my heart goes out to Mao Asada and her family, during this time. While I never knew Mrs. Asada, I do know that she raised two amazing and kind-hearted daughters; my thoughts and prayers are with the family.
While I was in Quebec, I had the opportunity my final day there to walk around and admire the beautiful city. To make it even more perfect, there was a blanket of snow on the ground and Christmas decorations all around!
Following the final, I took a week off from skating, to rest and to recover from my injury. I was able to enjoy a quiet Christmas, with my parents and sister and brother-in-law, and a fun New Year’s Eve with my skating friends. And I’m back on the ice, training hard and preparing for my next competition: the US Championships in San Jose!!!
As promised, I’m trying to update my blog more often!! I’ve been super busy, between training and traveling, doing shows and competing, but I’ve been enjoying all of it
Ever since I was young and heard about the Fashion on Ice show, I’ve wanted to be in that show. And this year, finally, I was invited to be a part of the show. The designers for this year’s show were Betsey Johnson and Giles Mendel (of J. Mendel). Betsey Johnson designed the costumes for the first half of the show, in which I skated my “Dancing with Myself” program. I loved the costume she designed for me, and I loved meeting her–she is such a cool and fun person!! Giles Mendel designed the costumes for the second half of the show (and designed the costume for my “Moon River” program), and he designed some gorgeous costumes! I had such a great time meeting him and his team, also. The entire show was really enjoyable, and the whole cast had so much fun!
Ryan, Joannie, me, Betsey Johnson, Meryl, and Jeremy in our costumes that Betsey designed
me and Jeremy in our costumes designed by Giles Mendel
The very next week, after Fashion on Ice, I was off to Japan, for my first (unofficial) competition of the season–the Japan Open. As always, I love skating in Japan, and this time was no exception; the audience there is so appreciative of our skating. For this competition, which consisted solely of the long programs, we competed as teams. I was part of Team North America, along with Joannie Rochette, Jeff Buttle, and Patrick Chan. Joannie and Jeff were so impressive, both bringing back long programs from several years ago, and of course, Patrick was great! I didn’t skate my best, but I was grateful for the opportunity to compete my program once before the Grand Prix season started.
And, of course, I was honored to be part of the first Team North America to win the Japan Open!
And, finally, the season has officially started, beginning with Skate America. I was really excited to be competing at Skate America again (it’s been several years since I last competed at Skate America), but I have to admit, I was also very nervous, because I wanted to skate well in front of the home crowd. I did enjoy the competition, though, (and the warm weather in California!) and it felt good to be competing once again. Of course, both of my programs still need a lot of work, but I felt as though the competition was a good start for the season. And it’s so amazing, and at the same time humbling, to stand on top of the podium and hear the national anthem being played!
Between the traveling and training, I also had a little bit of time to hang out with my friends at home!
Visting the cider mill with Adam, William, Jeremy, and Valentina!
Picnic by the lake with Adam, Danielle, and Jeremy (photo courtesy of Greg Merriman–thanks, Greg!!)
with Mr. Don Jackson at the Jackson skate booth–I love my Jackson skates!!
All right, my break at the rink is almost over, so I have to go now! I’ll try to update my blog again soon!
Hi everyone! I hope you have all had a great summer! Thanks for stopping by and checking out my newly-redesigned website!
I had a fun summer, filled with lots of traveling and performing and training and enjoying time with friends and family. Beginning in June, I don’t think I spent more than a week or two at home at one time, without traveling somewhere. My first show of the summer, though, was actually at home, at the Detroit Skating Club’s annual ice show. This year, we dedicated one night of the show to benefit the relief efforts in Japan, and we skated in an additional exhibition after the show, dedicated to Japan, and spotlighting our visiting Japanese friends, Takahiko Kozuka, Akiko Suzuki, and Haruka Imai, along with Yuka Sato, who hosted the event. (She also skated a little bit, which, as always, is the highlight of the show for me, because I love watching her elegant, graceful skating!)
Immediately following that show, I flew to Florida for a short vacation with my mom. It was so nice to get away from everything for a few days and to just enjoy the sunshine, warm (well, actually, hot!) weather, and the beach. Of course, the vacation was over too soon, but I was excited to get back to the rink, to start my training for this new season!
The Detroit Skating Club is really busy now, and I’m so excited to have so many great skaters to train with. Summer training with everyone was motivating and inspiring, and I am so grateful to have so many friends to skate with every day! I kept very busy this summer, working hard to improve my skating, my jumps, and to choreograph two new programs. Pasquale Camerlengo choreographed my long program, to Valse Triste, and as before, I loved both working with him and the program that he created for me! My short program took a little bit longer to find the right music, and we keep searching and searching for that perfect music. Then, Yuka came up with the idea of using La Vie En Rose. As soon as she suggested that song, I knew it was the perfect choice for my short program! Yuka and Pasquale both choreographed that program, and I really enjoyed the collaboration in choreography! I love both of my program this season!
Among the shows that I did this summer, some of my favorite were the Sun Valley summer ice show, The Ice tour in Japan, and the show to benefit the US Athletic Foundation. I always enjoy visiting Sun Valley–one of the most beautiful places in the US, in my opinion!–and I was excited to return there again this year for one of the shows. I was also very excited to go to Japan this summer, for The Ice 2011 tour; it was my first time doing shows in Japan. Skating in Japan is always such a great experience, and doing the shows there was no exception. The audience is so appreciative, and I love performing for them! The whole tour was a lot of fun, and I had a great time visiting Japan and skating with the other cast members. Another show that I really enjoying skating in this summer was the show that my friend Nicholas LaRoche put together, to benefit the US Athletic Foundation. The show was so much fun, and it gave me a chance to debut my short program for the first time (in brand-new skates, too).
After all those shows, it was finally time to put all my energy into preparing for the competition season, beginning with Champs Camp in Colorado Springs. The format was the same as last year, with a simulated competition atmosphere in which we “competed” our short and long programs for the officials and judges. It felt good to get back into my “competition” mode, and I got good feedback that I can apply to my programs for this season. I’m really looking forward to this new season, and I’m excited to improve on my performances from last season!
Thanks again for visiting my website!!
I consider it an honor to represent the United States as the 2009 National Ladies Champion, an aspiration that I have worked to attain for a very long time. I was so happy to have achieved that goal in my skating career, and even more so this year because the competition took place in Ohio, the state in which I was born and lived most of my life, until recently. My family and many of my friends from both Ohio and Michigan were in attendance that weekend, making it a very special time for me too. Scott Hamilton (from Bowling Green) was commentating; Melissa Telecky (a Bowling Green skater who trains with me in Detroit) was competing with me at the senior ladies level; and my very first skating coach, Shelly Bressler, also from Bowling Green, came to watch the event. I was excited to see many friends from the area surrounding Cleveland also. Amber and I used to train in Cleveland for a while, before going to Detroit to continue our skating lessons, and it had been a long time since I had been able to see some of my skating friends from the area.
As the U.S. champion, I was invited to compete at the Four Continents and Worlds competitions as my next events. It was while I was in Cleveland that I decided not to go to Harbin, China, for the World University Games, due to the travel distance, and the jet lag that I would most likely experience while trying to train for Worlds when I got back to the U.S. I probably would not have gone to Four Continents after this National competition (because the events were so close together) except that it was being held in Vancouver, Canada, the site of the 2010 Winter Olympics, and I did not want to miss the opportunity to skate at the arena! In addition, I love competing in Canada, and I am looking forward to training for this upcoming season with a goal of being on the U.S. Olympic team.
On February 21 st my family and I were invited to BGSU to attend the 25 th anniversary celebration of Scott Hamilton’s winning the Olympic gold medal in Sarajevo. My first skating coach from Bowling Green, Shelly Bressler, and Melissa Telecky and her parents were also there, in addition to Kitty and Peter Carruthers, who won the silver medal at the same Olympic games. Scott initiated the idea to celebrate his 25 th anniversary with a fundraising gala for the College of Business Administration’s Dallas-Hamilton Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership. (In 2004, Scott and Tracie Hamilton, and Bill and Beverly Dallas donated $3 million to create this Center). This was the first time that I had met Scott’s wife, Tracie; unfortunately, I didn’t get to meet his sons. Scott and his wife are two wonderful people, great role models, and always have a positive outlook. Bowling Green was also celebrating a three day Winterfest that weekend, but we were unable to attend the festivities; we had already planned to attend the church we used to attend while living in Bowling Green (Hope Baptist Church in Toledo), since they were celebrating the 30 th anniversary of their establishment that Sunday.
The following weekend after Worlds in LA, I was on my way to skate in the Boston Ice Chips show, and from there flew directly to New York to be a part of the “Skating with the Stars, Under the Stars” Gala in Harlem. It’s a great program that not only promotes physical well-being for girls, but also helps them to develop greater skills (character development, focus, determination, self-esteem, etc.) in their daily lives.
Following that weekend, I was home for a short time to try to get ahead on the schoolwork due in some of my classes, before I was off traveling once again, this time to Korea to be a part of Kim Yu-na’s 2 nd Festa on Ice show. That was an amazing experience! It was an extensive week with the long days of practice, and putting together the show, but everyone there had great time learning and practicing the numbers. Some of the cast of skaters included Shizuka Arakawa, Jeremy Abbott, Johnny Weir, Stephane Lambiel, Adam Rippon, Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue, and the Chinese pair team of Dan Zhang and Hao Zhang. David Wilson was the choreographer for the show, and my coach Yuka Sato came with me to Korea, so she also gave her input into some of the numbers. The show not only included skating, but also incorporated stage dance performers, singers, and a Korean rhythmic gymnast. The audience and fans in Korea are probably the loudest and most enthusiastic skating fans I have ever seen at skating shows. They react like rock-star fans at a concert, and they definitely enjoy the skating. The bus ride between the hotel and the ice arena was quite entertaining as well, since we were in a karaoke bus! And if you like Korean food, there was a great variety of it there for us. Unfortunately, I don’t like to eat rice, I don’t eat much beef, I am allergic to crab (so I had to stay away from most of the seafood), so finding food to eat was one of my bigger challenges while I was there for the week.
As soon as I got back to the U.S., I was off to Toronto to work on my new short program with David Wilson at the Cricket Club. David and I were both feeling the effects of the time change and the long show week in Korea, but we managed to put together a great new short program! Also, while I was there, Adam Rippon and I worked together with Tracy Wilson on our stroking. It was a quick few days there, but I plan to go back sometime this summer for more work on my programs, and also try to find time to have Kurt Browning work with me on a fun new show program.
I was back in the States just in time to finish a few papers that were due before finals, and then take my final exams. I went to my graduation on May 9 th, and graduated summa cum laude with a 4.0 GPA, accomplishing another one of my goals for this year. I am planning to take this year off from school; and, in addition to training, I hope to have a little extra free time to catch up on some artwork, brush up on my French, play the piano, and do some teaching at Detroit Skating Club.
After graduation, I was off to LA for the NBC and USOC promotional shoot in preparation for the Olympic year. It was nice to have everything in one place, even if it made for a busy schedule. I did get to spend a little free time there with one of my good friends, Nick LaRoche. Last year when I was in LA, he invited me to see “Wicked,” in which his friend was performing. He also introduced me to another one of his friends performing in the show, Adam Lambert. Adam was going to have to leave the show, however, because he had tried out for American Idol, and was going on to the next round of auditions. After that, I was instantly an American Idol fan for the season, and kept waiting to see Adam on TV. The rest is history! I did want him to win, but he will have a great career, regardless!
In May, I was able to get back to Wisconsin to visit some of my relatives, and I skated at the Petit Center while I was there. My family and I then went on vacation for a week in Florida, where I enjoyed the time away from the ice, and spent a lot of time on the beach, biking, and even played some tennis in the 90 degree heat.
I was back to Detroit in time to be a part of Detroit Skating Club’s 10th anniversary ice show that just ended this past weekend. Our summer skating schedule has just started, and I am looking forward to beginning my training for this new season. I am extremely excited to have Jeremy Abbott, and Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje as training mates this season. Massimo Scali and Federica Faiella have not returned yet from Italy, but they should be back in Detroit in a few weeks, also. We will all be doing the Grand Prix Skate Canada together, which should be a lot of fun. I was really hoping to get that assignment, as I always enjoy competing in Canada, and this year it is so close to Detroit that many of my friends and my family might be able to attend also. My other Grand Prix assignment is Russia, so this will be my third time returning there.
This past weekend I attended U.S. Figure Skating’s Champs Camp, which involved a lot of meetings and important information. I enjoyed hanging out with all my skating friends over the weekend. The most exciting part of the weekend, though, was learning how to fence!
I guess that finally brings me up to the present. I hope to be adding a few photos in the near future. I want to thank everyone who has supported and encouraged me throughout the years! Thanks for visiting my website, and have a great summer!
Happy New Year! 2008 was an exciting year, and I am looking forward to the highlights and challenges that this New Year will bring. I have been busy with school this past year, and I haven’t really had the opportunity to do any journal entries. I am definitely looking forward to graduating this upcoming May, and I will be taking full-time course work at BGSU again this semester, so I thought I would at least try to summarize some of the things I did in 2008, before classes begin again.
I started off 2008 with a cast on my hand because of a broken thumb, but within a few weeks after U.S. Nationals it did come off; the other change that I made after Nationals was with my skates. I had been in the Jacksonhinged boots for a number of years, which helped prevent me from getting the enlarged bursas on my ankles, something that I struggled with for so many years in the past. Jackson worked with me to develop a regular boot, with a few changes to it making the transfer back to the traditional boot a little easier. Since I wasn’t going to Worlds or Four Continents to compete, I had a couple of weeks to readjust to skating in them. After the initial switch, I noticed that the hinged boots had made my ankles very strong and that I no longer needed to lace my boots up as tightly as I used to. I feel very comfortable in the traditional boot now, and I strongly believe that having been in the hinged boot extended my capability to continue skating and competing without injury.
Between the months of February and May, I had the opportunity to skate in a few shows in the Midwest. The shows in which I performed were in Traverse City, Michigan; Springfield, Illinois; Cleveland, Ohio at the Cleveland Skating Club; and the Superstars on Ice show in Skokie, Illinois.
I also planned to begin competing early in the season, starting with my short program at the Ann Arbor, Michigan, competition in May; however, my family’s vacation began the day that I was supposed to compete. I chose to take the much-needed vacation and went with my parents and sister to Sanibel Island, Florida. (The last time we vacationed was four years previous to that when my sister and I graduated from high school.) She had just graduated from college in May, and my mom and dad wanted to go somewhere to celebrate a postponed 30th wedding anniversary, too. We enjoyed Sanibel four years ago, when we visited there, so we went back again. We had a long snowy winter in Michigan and the Midwest last year too, so the warm weather and sunshine were much appreciated. I had not taken any time off the previous season because of the Champions on Ice tour, and I was strongly feeling the effects of that decision even before the 2008 Nationals.
After I returned from vacation, I performed in the Detroit Skating Club show, and in the following weeks, I began training my new long program to music from the film Dr. Zhivago, choreographed by David Wilson. Dr. Zhivago is a special piece for me since my great-great grandmother was born in Russia, and (her daughter) my great-Grandma Starr’s favorite music was Lara’s Theme. My coaches and I chose to keep my short program for another season. My first competition of the season was in Grand Rapids, Michigan; I then competed at the Liberty competition for the first time. I usually do the Detroit Skating Club competition since it is where I train, but I had previously made plans to train that week in Fargo, North Dakota, and spend the week with a skating family and friends in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota. From there, I flew home and the following day left for Sun Valley, Idaho. There, I trained for the week with Brian Boitano and Linda Leaver, I performed in the show, and then I trained with them some more before going to the Collegiate National Championships in Denver, Colorado. I did a lot of biking again in Sun Valley also; they have fantastic trails, if you don’t mind the altitude. I was able to ride the lift to the top of Bald Mountain while I was there and gaze at the beautiful view of the valley below. While I was in Sun Valley, I was also able to see the opening performance of their symphony in the new amphitheater. We watched the construction workers all week as they almost miraculously labored to finish the building and grounds before the deadline. All of the skaters (and friends) had a picnic on the grounds that evening while listening to the orchestra and viewing the mountains in the background. I know there were no seats left inside the amphitheater, and I don’t think there was much empty space left on the surrounding grounds, either!
When I arrived in Denver, I had already adjusted to the altitude thanks to my training in Sun Valley, so my program run-throughs went rather well for early in the season. I wasn’t ready to compete a program a day for three straight days, though. (There was a qualifying round for the championship ladies competition, followed by a short program and a final long program.) It was nice to compete and skate with other skaters who are also going to college full-time while trying to juggle their skating training. (I was also taking a summer school class, and I had to take the final exam the day of competition. What I hadn’t thought about before that was the time difference from the time zone in Ohio, so my final was about 6 a.m.) The last time that I was able to compete at collegiate championships was 2004 when it was only a couple of hours from my hometown of Bowling Green, Ohio. Since that time, the competition dates or places didn’t fit into my training schedule, so I was excited when I found out that I could compete at the championships again. This year, as the collegiate champion, I will be able to attend the World University Games in Harbin, China! I had the opportunity to attend the university games previously, but at that time the competition schedule conflicted with U.S. Nationals. This year, they are at different times. I have competed in Harbin before, when I was there in 2007 for their Grand Prix event. I believe we will be competing at the same arena, but will be staying in an athlete village with athletes competing in other winter sports at the games. It was cold in Harbin last November; I can just imagine what it will be like in February, and being so close to Siberia!
My sister and I were asked by adult skaters if we would hold a spin seminar; we conducted the seminar at the Detroit Skating Club this past August. We had a great turn out, and we both enjoyed working with adult skaters. (My mom was an adult skater at one time, and that is how both Amber and I started skating in Bowling Green, Ohio, when we were very young.) Amber and I both teach figure skating, but most of our students are young, so teaching adults was a nice change.
At the end of summer, my family and I drove to Wisconsin to visit family and to take a break from skating and school, before getting ready for the fall season and BGSU classes. After that short break, I got back into training again. My first competition was in Wyandotte, Michigan, in September, where I skated very well. Soon afterwards, I went to Oberstdorf, Germany, for the Nebelhorn Trophy competition, where I won the gold medal and had the opportunity to get my programs in front of international judges.
When I returned from Germany, I flew to L.A. for the McDonald’s Family Tribute on Ice show. Performing at the show were Mario, Nick Lachey, and Almost Amy (which included Mark Ballas and Derek Hough from Dancing With the Stars). I don’t think that any of us skaters doing the show had ever skated on an ice surface that small. (In other words, it was postage-stamp size!) It was challenging to work all of the choreography into that tiny area, especially when we were performing group numbers. From there, I flew directly to Montreal, Canada for a photo shoot with Mondor. (I had done a photo shoot for a jewelry advertisement also this past year and a few modeling jobs with MAC, and some modeling jobs during the Red Bull Air Races and the NASCAR races at the Michigan International Speedway, but not much more than that because of time and scheduling conflicts. A new Michigan law has brought much business from the movie industry here; and I did some auditions for films, but I could not commit to any time schedule because it would take away from my training time before the Grand Prix competitions.)
Brian Boitano and Linda Leaver came to work with me in Detroit the week before Skate Canada. Brian had shows in Ohio and Illinois with a week between the two, so they stayed in Detroit, which was nice for me—one less trip that I would have to make before going to Canada. And it was great to have Brian skate at Detroit Skating Club that week too! Initially, I had only been invited to Skate Canada, in Ottawa this year for the Grand Prix series. I always enjoy competing in Canada, and they have many figure skating fans. I was happy to earn another medal for the U.S., but I also hoped to get another opportunity to compete on the Grand Prix series. My next competition was to be Midwest Sectionals in Dallas. We had made last minute flight arrangements for going to Texas, but then the next day had to cancel everything, because I was assigned Cup of Russia after one of the Finnish skaters withdrew due to injury. I had been to Moscow for a previous Grand Prix event, but this time we competed at another arena and stayed at a different hotel in another part of the city. Both the arena and hotel were much nicer than last time, but the bus ride to the arena could take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour and a half because of traffic, so planning the time schedule for the day was slightly challenging! I had some trouble adjusting to the ice there, which in turn seemed to affect some of my jumps. I would have liked to have arrived at least a day earlier to help me adjust to the time change and the ice, but this season the athletes are being sent to the competition later in the week than we used to. I did get used to the snow there, though, before coming back to an early winter in Michigan. I think it snowed almost every night we were there.
My family again traveled to Wisconsin; this time for the Thanksgiving holiday to spend time with our grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and their pet cats and dogs. We thought it might be safer to visit before the snow season got started, but we still ended up leaving earlier than planned because of a big storm. And we ended up driving in the snow and bringing it back to Michigan with us.
I was an alternate for the Grand Prix Final, but I was already scheduled to perform in some December ice shows to keep myself busy, besides having finals at school. The first show was in Wheeling, West Virginia. It was their Symphony on Ice show, and I skated to live orchestral music for both of my numbers. I had only done that once previously in St. Clair Shores, Michigan, quite a few years ago. My luggage didn’t arrive until the afternoon of the show, but at least I had been able to carry my skates on the plane out of Detroit’s airport. The same thing happened on the return trip, but again, I managed to carry on my skates. From there, I went to Dallas, Texas, to do the Christmas tree lighting show at the Galleria Mall. It is a short Christmas show put on at the skating rink during the Christmas holiday season, complete with a Santa (Dan Hollander) on skates that shoot flames (the skates that is, not Dan). It’s quite impressive seeing him do his back flip in a Santa costume with fireworks coming of the back of his skates, on a small rink surface with an 85-foot-tall decorated Christmas tree in the center of the ice. (By the way, this ice surface is still larger than the one used for the McDonald’s Family Tribute ice show.) I was also scheduled to participate in Brian Boitano’s show in December, but the show ended up being cancelled. That gave me extra time to get ready for school finals!
The following week I spent in Toronto working with my choreographer, David Wilson on my programs, and he also choreographed a new show number for me too. I made it back to Detroit just in time before the big snowstorm of the season hit. (We all hope that was the big one anyway!) What would Christmas in the Midwest be without snow!? My family and I stayed in the area for Christmas and New Year’s; travel during snow season has been tricky both last winter and this winter so far.
Well, that brings me up to the New Year. Our weather has been quite “wintry” so far. Over 200,000 residents in the Detroit area lost power for over a week between Christmas and New Year’s because of a high wind storm. Our family had power and heat, but our skating club lost its power and, of course, the ice, so we all had to scramble to find alternate training facilities for a week. That also happened during the first week of our summer skating schedule this year too, because of strong thunderstorm winds. ( Chicago, you can keep your windy city to yourself, please; we have enough problems here in Detroit that seem to be making national headlines lately…that’s another journal entry in itself!)
I am looking forward to competing in Cleveland later this month; I hope to see many of you there. My schedule, that I know of so far this year, will also include competing at the World University Games in February, performing in the Bowling Green, Ohio ice show in April, and graduating in May! I want to thank all of you for your emails and letters, and a special thank you to those of you who have generously supported me financially, as I continue my training and competing. I am very grateful for my on ice coaches (Julie Berlin, Linda Leaver, Brian Boitano, Yuka Sato, Natalia Deller, and Amber Czisny); my trainer, Debbie Pitsos, my ballet instructor and coach, Stephanie Pizzo, and my choreographers (David Wilson, Kurt Browning, and Lori Nichol), the Jackson skate company, especially Raj Misir, and, of course, the wonderful people at Figure Skaters Online!
As is typical of me, it has been awhile, so I will try to pick up where I left off since my last journal entry:
U.S. Nationals was over, and I think that all of the medalists were asked to compete at Four Continents Championships this year since it was in the U.S. I was tired out after nationals and wanted to rest before Worlds and go back to my training feeling fresh, but that didn’t happen. I went to Colorado Springs instead. My coach brought her youngest son along; his goal was to be on television! He did accomplish that goal, on European TV anyway; we had him sit in a certain spot in the stands during my Don Quixote exhibition program, where I would go over to the audience and flirt a little and then throw snow from my blades towards someone over there. He, unknowingly, was in that very seat. We found the tape of it on a Euro sport station that someone had put onto YouTube….he looked quite surprised! The only other thing that I might mention about this trip was the travel time to get to Colorado. It was in the U.S., but it took us 24 hours to get there, another one of my “great” travel ordeals that I won’t waste time describing here. Maybe instead of travel miles, I should be getting travel hours from the airlines!
Japan was next on my travel and competition agenda. I had been there a few times already for competition, but this was the first time my coach, Julie, would be going there. My mom and I assured her that she would like Tokyo, despite the long flight there. The people of Japan are very friendly and polite, and the city seems to have very little crime and is very clean, despite its large population. They are also great figure skating fans. Although I did not put out my best performances there, one of my goals last season was to make it to Worlds, and I did just that. I tried to watch as many of the other skating disciplines practice and compete, and tried to learn as much as I could for my first trip to Worlds.
Returning from that competition, I still had to perform at Marshall’s in Reading, PA, the sight of this year’s Skate America. I believe it was about a week after coming back from Japan. The world and junior world team would all perform two exhibition programs, and most of us that went to Worlds only had one program choreographed by this time. I wouldn’t be taking any time off after returning from Japan when I had another program to get ready. That week I was also asked to skate in a benefit show in Canton, Michigan, along with Tanith and Ben, Brooke and Ben, and Meryl and Charlie. A young girl, Natalie Salazar, who was a skater at the Artic Edge Ice Arena, had been diagnosed earlier last year with cancer, and the club and community wanted to help her family by raising money to help with her medical expenses. Tired as I may have been, I gladly agreed to skate. Natalie’s life and the testimony of her bravery with her cancer reminded me often last year of what is really important in this life, and how much I have to be thankful for. Sadly, as I write this, I just received a phone call that she lost her battle with cancer last night. She will be missed by the Detroit area skating community, but she will be remembered, I’m sure, by many for her always positive attitude and courage.
I had the great privilege to do the entire Champions Tour this year, visit many cities while doing so, and meet many wonderful people. The only weekend I missed was when the show was in my training town, Detroit, since I was previously asked to do the Bowling Green, Ohio, show that same weekend with my sister. Partway through the tour, Tom Collins asked me to change from doing a new show program to do my long program (although a shortened version of it). I was sick a lot of the time on tour, thanks to springtime allergies and a couple of flu bugs, but I was probably better off in ice arenas than outdoors. We did get to have a few days off in a few cities, where I got to spend time at the LA beach with skating friends, and even go sailing with Shae Lynn in Seattle (I even got to steer the sailboat for awhile!). In San Francisco, some of us went sight seeing and took in a tour of Alcatraz. I tried my hand at the guitar, taking a few lessons from Gwendal on the tour bus or at the airport, even learning a song or maybe two?
School and Champions on Ice Tour ended the first week of June; I was planning to take a week off from skating; however, I was asked to do the shows at my home club, Detroit Skating Club, the following week, so I did not get that much needed vacation. I did four of the five shows and took Sunday off before heading to Canada for two weeks. The first week in Toronto David Wilson choreographed my new long program to West Side Story. I also worked with Jackson Skate Company during that time trying out their newest version of the hinge boots and tried out three different kinds of blades (I decided that the blades I had were the best ones for me). My second week in Toronto, Lori Nichol and I worked together to find short program music (we decided on The Swan), and then she choreographed it. Then, to stretch my mind even more choreographically in such a short time, Kurt Browning worked on my new exhibition program, that week also. He chose the piece, but I thought it might be fun to do, so I agreed to “step out of the box”. So my mornings were spent being the graceful swan, and my afternoons I spent moving to a piece by BodyRockers. I tried not to do much jumping those two weeks, as I knew they might be my only weeks before I had to start training programs again. Getting three programs choreographed in 8½ days isn’t something I would recommend, but my spring and summer schedule this year was making it almost impossible to do them at any other time. I feel very fortunate and thankful to have had the opportunity to work with David, Lori, and Kurt. I have gained something special from each of them that I hope I will be able to give back to other skaters and skating fans in the future.
I had to rush back to Detroit to fly out to Champs Camp being held in Colorado Springs that weekend. Most of the U.S. team skaters were there since it was a mandatory meeting. It was nice to visit with some of my friends that I hadn’t seen for a while.
Back at DSC the following Monday, I had a week to train my new short and exhibition programs for the Sun Valley show that I was doing in a week. When you have no down time from one season to the next, training can be difficult, even if the programs are new and exciting; at least, I would be in Sun Valley for the entire week training before the show, and that was somewhat of a vacation for me to look forward to as I had never been there before. Training in the altitude was a little challenging at first, since I hadn’t been doing these programs longer than a week—of course, not as challenging as was biking in the mountains with my mom! I’m used to flat trails, not mountains! The scenery was beautiful there, and it was unusually hot the entire week, sunny and in the 90’s (just the way I like it!). Being able to perform on their outdoor ice rink under the stars was a special experience for me. I spent the Sunday after the show in Sun Valley, since my mom and I couldn’t get a flight back to Detroit until Monday. We went horseback riding—my first time ever! I wanted to climb one of the mountains in Sun Valley that week, but I decided to let my horse do it for me. What a fantastic view from the top! Unfortunately, I have no photos of that day because I lost them when I transferred them from my camera to my computer
My only nonskating week this year was during the week of Skate Detroit in July. I spent that week in New York City and participated in an acting and modeling competition. I went there with an acting and modeling group from an agency in Detroit with whom I train. We were there for 7 long days, but aside from the competition, I did get to see Ground Zero and the Empire State Building, take a harbor tour, and do some shopping.
Again, back on the ice the following Monday only to train four more days before flying again, this time to Dallas with my coach to assist with a spin clinic. I finally realized I had enough NW Airline miles to become a silver-elite member, which means that I could upgrade my seating to business class if there was space available on my flights. Yeah, more leg room (sometimes)! I wish I could do that for my Grand Prix trips to China and Japan, but those seats are never available for trips like that. The spin clinic was held at the Galleria mall ice rink—it was really neat to skate inside a mall.
I was home to skate the following Monday, again, for only four days before my family and I drove to Wisconsin for a family wedding. It was my cousin’s wedding, and the ceremony was in a country church built in the 1800’s. She had an outdoor Wisconsin prairie reception, and the weather was hot and sunny. We had spent the day before the wedding at my grandparents’ home and even had enough time for that yearly water balloon fight in their backyard! The drive back to Detroit from the Madison area was a long, hot one though.
I was planning to do the DuPage competition for my required monitoring event, but I chose not to travel back through the Chicago area the weekend following my trip to Wisconsin. I stayed home to train, and the farthest that I went that week was to Bowling Green, Ohio, to buy my books for the fall semester. School started August 20th and I was taking a full load again. By January I will almost be a senior, only five credits short.
A week into the school semester I had all four wisdom teeth removed, and fortunately I only missed one day of training. Three weeks later though, I discovered that I got an infection, and now I’m on antibiotics, trying to get over that.
Labor Day weekend and a few days following that, I was in San Francisco training. When I returned to Detroit I had to be monitored at the Wyandotte competition. I did not want to put my programs out that early, as my first Grand Prix isn’t until November, but U. S. Figure Skating requires us to be monitored. My short was obviously more ready to perform than my long program.
That just about brings me to the present; I hope now that I will be able to stay home to concentrate on my training without too many distractions—other than homework, of course.
Thanks for visiting my website, and sorry for the lack of journal entries so far this year. I am on the computer so much for classes that I needed a vacation from school and computers this past summer. Enjoy autumn and a new skating season!
I recently received an e-mail for a request that I would do a journal entry for this past Nationals in Spokane, but because I haven’t even made an entry since my fall season began, I will begin there, or at least mention a few moments of the highs or lows that I’ve had so far this competitive season. I would also like to mention again that I do not have a myspace page, and when one appears it is by someone who by identity theft has chosen to act as if they were me. My apologies go out to anyone who has believed to have had conversation with me through that false page. You can reach me through the e-mail on this website, and I will try to respond to you in a reasonable amount of time.
To begin with, my approach this season was the usual; train hard both on and off the ice, but this year I tried not to accept every show or competition that came my way early in the competitive season. Yes, the shows and competitions do help in performance and confidence building; however, I always want to perform as best as I can, and as I have learned, it tires me out before I can peak later in my season. I wanted to do one of the Senior international competitions this year for a warm-up before Skate Canada, but on the recommendation of my coaches and others, I decided to use Eastern Great-Lakes Regionals as a warm-up competition. It was close to home, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and doing that competition would not be as tiring as traveling to Europe for one of the international events. (That would mean Canada would be my third competition this season instead of my fifth, and Nationals would be my fifth, instead of my eighth.) I have competed many times in Ann Arbor, and have always enjoyed skating there; I usually can practice at my training rink, and sleep at home, instead of staying at hotels when I compete there. (This is exactly what I was able to do for this competition.) As with most of my competitive seasons, after each competition my coaches and I evaluate the programs, and then usually make some changes, either with choreography, jump order, footwork, etc., so the programs are usually works in progress as the season goes on.
With Regionals over, I had about 2 weeks to prepare for Skate Canada. That is one of my favorite competitions to do, and this year it was at the extreme opposite end of the country from Skate Canada last year, Victoria vs. Newfoundland. The flight was uneventful, Detroit-Seattle-Victoria, all in less than a day (we were only delayed a couple of hours)! I did get to see a little more of the city this year, and I really enjoyed seeing the beautiful scenery. It was a little colder and rainier than I thought it would be; we only saw sunshine the first day we arrived. Maybe the cloudy weather in the Great Lakes area isn’t so bad. Because I placed fourth, I got to do the exhibition, and I did my “Don Quixote” program that Kurt Browning choreographed. The finale was a lot of fun; Gary Beacom choreographed it. It had three parts to it and a few costume props in addition. In the first section, we each had partners, and we all wore those little yellow raincoats that looked like they came from a five- or six-year-old’s wardrobe. The guys had the rain hats and the ladies had umbrellas. We each had partners and did swing rolls in line to “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head”; Johnny Weir and I led the line. The choreographers were to act as if they didn’t like that idea, and we were to turn in our costumes for another idea. The costume crew consisted of Gary’s son who was about 3 feet tall, and he came out with the costume rack, and then provided us with the new attire, big sunglasses. We all then followed Gary around the ice doing all sorts of bizarre moves to some strange music. Again, it was not supposed to be what the choreographer liked, so we turned in our sunglasses, and proceeded to make two lines on opposite ends of the ice, doing more strange choreography and then all at the same moment start running in place on our toe picks. From there we each did our little solo trick for the audience, and took our bows. It was probably the most involved finale that I have been in, but I think we all had a great time with it.
The competitors’ banquet party was a little different also. The theme of the party was “Black and Bling”, so most of us wore black with a few sparkles of jewelry. We were all given black feather boas to wear when we arrived. There were also a few contests for the skaters too, as who could come up with the best costume with their boas; our table didn’t win that, but another did when one of the groups at a table transformed one of their skaters into a black chicken with their boas.
I had a little less than two weeks to get ready for Cup of Russia, which was the week of Thanksgiving. I was excited to compete there and visit the country. I have been taking Russian language and culture at BGSU, so it would be interesting to see some of the country in person. The trip turned out to be longer than I thought, with the 5 hour layover for connections in Frankfurt, and the long bus ride from the airport to the hotel in Moscow; it was probably about a 19 hour trip.
I did not have one of my better performances at this competition, although, I felt that I was well prepared with my training. Since I knew that I wouldn’t be going to the Grand Prix Final this year (I really wanted to see St. Petersburg), I had extra time for training and I did make some changes when I returned home.
At some of my international competitions, the Ladies’ event isn’t always the last event to compete, and this was the case in Russia. I was, therefore, able to watch some of the pair’s freeskate event, and most of the men’s freeskate competition. That was an exciting event to watch; Brian Joubert had a clean long program that included three quads!
The day after I competed in Russia, I was able to do a little sight-seeing on Sunday morning and afternoon. My coach, Theresa, my mom, and I went with one of the U.S. judges, Roger Glenn, by bus to see Red Square, St. Basil’s Cathedral, the Kremlin, Lenin’s tomb, and the GUM. We then tried to take the bus to do a little souvenir shopping, but got a little lost. We walked for quite a while, and then I decided to try using my Russian language skills to get directions. We found out that we were only a few minutes from where we wanted to be, so we did our shopping (I only bought matrushkas), had dinner, and decided to walk back to the hotel. Almost all of the crosswalks are underground, so that was interesting trying to find out which tunnel to use, since not every tunnel allows you to go either way across the street. We did get to see some beautiful architecture and statues on our excursion that day, and it didn’t rain or snow on us, but the sun never came out the entire week we were in Moscow. Morning, afternoon, and evening all looked just about the same. We made it back to the hotel just in time to take the bus over to the arena and watch the exhibition, and then it was back to the hotel for the banquet and packing.
Back home again I made some changes in my training, continued working on my triple-triple jump combinations, triple axels on the jump harness (so I didn’t injure myself before nationals), visited my choreographer, David Wilson, in Toronto, and began back-to-back run-throughs of both of my programs everyday. I was part of the Christmas tree lighting exhibition in downtown Detroit this year, and it was really the first time that I was able to skate outdoors here.
Nationals was scheduled later in January this season, so I was able to take a few days off from training to visit family in Wisconsin. There was no snow there or in Detroit this Christmas; I guess Colorado received everyone’s storms this year!
When I made airline reservations to Spokane for nationals, I chose to go through Denver rather than Minneapolis/St. Paul, because I thought my chances of delays due to snowstorms would be fewer that way. I was hoping that Denver was getting its bad weather out of its system before I would have to fly through there; Denver’s airport wasn’t having too good of a reputation so far this winter. It did take 13 hours for us to go from Detroit to Spokane, but at least we made the trip safely, although we were tired when we arrived.
My practices at nationals seemed to go well, although I didn’t really like the ice at the Convention Center arena. My blades felt like they were sticking in the ice when I would take off for my jumps or land them. At least I would be doing my competition programs at the Spokane arena instead, so I tried not to let it bother me. I had two interviews on Wednesday after my two practices, and I was also able to watch some of the junior men’s short program competition that day also. I train with William Brewster and Jonathan Cassar at the Detroit Skating Club, so I wanted to be able to cheer them on and see them compete their short programs.
Thursday was the short program competition. I drew 19 th. That put me at fourth in my warm-up to skate. I felt very relaxed, and prepared, so when I popped my lutz, I didn’t expect it. I just tried to stay focused and finish the rest of my program as I had trained it. I was fifth after the short program. That evening I went with my coach Julie and my agent Rocky to the Tom Collins Reception. I spent a long time talking to Brian Boitano while I was there (he gave me some great advice), but I had to get back to the hotel and get some sleep for my morning practice on Friday. That practice was at the Convention Center, and Kurt Browning was my coach that day, since Julie was with Jonathan Cassar at the Spokane Arena for the junior men’s freeskate. I have a great respect for Kurt Browning, for his many accomplishments in competitive figure skating, for his love of this sport, and his continued involvement in skating through shows, commentating, and choreography. Not to mention that he can keep you entertained, even without his skates on. ESPN did ask us if it was okay to microphone Kurt during our practice session, and film us also. I didn’t mind….I think I was almost immune to noticing the camera there after all of the practice I had last season during the filming of “Ice Diaries”. I don’t know if much of that morning was actually used for television, but Kurt and I both thought that they should have used the part where he and I were both doing handstands before I got on the ice.
My dad and sister both arrived in Spokane on Friday afternoon; we all went to watch the last warm-up group for the championship pair’s freeskate event. (We did see Derek and Tiffany’s throw quad salchow on the warm-up!)
Saturday I wore my competition dress for the 20 minute warm-up, as I do for my short program warm-up also. One thing that seemed different for me at nationals this year was that I felt that the championship ladies practices were earlier in the day than in past years. That was fine for me since I train mornings and early afternoons. This year the event was also scheduled before the men’s freeskate event. I don’t ever remember that happening before. I drew first to skate in the last warm-up group, a position that I am very used to and comfortable with. My goal was to entertain the audience and judges with my “Sabrina” program choreographed by David Wilson. He and Kurt Browning have helped me this year in the development of my presentation and expression. I watched many of Audrey Hepburn’s films this year to help with that also. After my skate, I had a hard time holding back tears. I had skated an almost perfect program, to win the long program. Two years ago at nationals I remember competing my long program with the flu; not this year! Last year I struggled with boot problems and then losing confidence in myself; not this year! Thank you for the standing ovation!!!!!!!!! You were a great supporting audience—to all of the competitors. After the ladies’ event, I was so happy to have won the freeskate, but since I do like the new judging system, I cannot complain about placements. I am just excited to go to Worlds and the Four Continents Championships this year. One of my goals this year was to be on the podium at Nationals and make the world team, and now I am back to training to reach my goals for the World Championships.
WOW! It’s September, back to school time, and I haven’t written anything in my website journal. Since my sister and I used A-Beka’s correspondence program through high school; we were never really assigned to do an essay about “How I spent my Summer Vacation”, nor will I probably ever have to do one of those in college either. If I were to do one for this past summer, it would probably go somewhat like this (a rough draft with very long run-ons):
May….finished finals at BGSU, packed for a month away from home, drove to Detroit to do the Champions tour there, drove that evening to Toronto, spent most of the week there to have a new long program choreographed by David Wilson, flew to Tokyo for the weekend to compete my old long program, and then perform a new show number (choreographed by Kurt Browning) that same evening as a part of the North American team (with Jeffrey Buttle, Emanuel Sandhu, and Joannie Rochette), competing against Team Europe and Team Japan; we ended up in second place; flew to Chicago on Monday to skate in the Superstars on Ice show Tuesday evening, shopped a little, and then did 6 more shows there; modeled for Leo’s Dancewear Catalog; drove to Wisconsin to visit family, had a great water balloon, hose, and water bucket fight, and attended one of my cousin’s weddings, didn’t skate there, packed again, and drove to Ohio only to pack up our belongings and move to the Detroit area the following day, unpacked our belongings on the weekend, and started a summer skating schedule the next day; skated in the Detroit Skating Club’s show the following weekend. (That all seems so long ago!)
June, July….skated, enjoyed the warm summer weather and sunshine, went swimming and water skiing, celebrated my 19 th birthday, went out to eat, did some rock climbing, danced some jazz and ballet (always ballet), went boating on some of the Detroit area lakes, watched the fireworks, biked a lot of trails, skated, drove to Toronto again to work with David Wilson, went to Ilia Kulik’s skating seminar at the Cricket Club, and worked with him privately on some of my jumps, drove back to Detroit (notice that now I live and train in the same city, I am driving to another city!), was monitored late in the evening during Skate Detroit competition by US Figure Skating, watched some of the competition there, enjoyed being able to go out more with my friends (now that I live in Michigan), skated some more (enjoying my new choreography, working on my triple-triple jumps, and trying to get my triple axel), flew to Boston for the week to train at the Skating Club of Boston, and spend some time there with friends, played a lot of tennis, saw a few movies, went to a water park near Boston, and was sick for almost a month with a cold/flu and hives from????????, but still skated, skated again in Toronto with David Wilson, and worked with Brian Orser there too, went car shopping, more car shopping, more skating, finally bought a car, read a little (but definitely not as much as during the school year), studied some more French and Russian, visited the library, talked to friends online, wrote some letters, visited a different church almost every weekend to find one closer to our new home than our church in Toledo, did some artwork, skated some more, and broke in another pair of new hinge skates for the fall season, (it took a while to figure out why we couldn’t get some of the pairs of skates mounted the way I liked them, but I didn’t want to have to struggle with that problem this season as I did last season after Skate Canada….anyone who has skated awhile understands how difficult it is to try to train in skates when their blades aren’t aligned the way they are supposed to).
August….let’s see, more skating and ballet, biked some more, shopped, played more tennis, swam, did a little ice dancing, watched some of Detroit’s Dream Cruise on Woodward Ave., went to a bonfire, roasted marshmallows, competed at DuPage for US Figure Skating monitoring (was pleased with my short program, and put out my long for the first time), and finally made a trip back to Bowling Green to purchase my ridiculously overpriced books for the fall semester, auditioned with my sister for acting and modeling again, and drove to Toronto to work with David Wilson and Kurt Browning (I have really learned a lot from David Wilson, and if you call working with Kurt Browning “work,” it has been as much a joy to work with him as it is to watch him skate).
Our fall skating schedules at Detroit Skating Club and at the Arctic Edge Ice Arena have started, and I am looking forward to this upcoming season, competing and performing new programs, traveling and visiting new places, meeting and making new friends, seeing old ones again, overcoming new challenges, and learning. I am also so thankful for all of the opportunities that I have been able to experience this summer, for friendships, and for supportive coaches, choreographers, and family. I hope you have all had a great summer, and thanks for visiting my website.
I’m sorry that I haven’t written a journal entry for so long, but I have held off doing so because there have been some problems with other websites claiming to be mine, and using information and photos from this website on those sites. Just for clarification to those who have contacted me through other websites, figure skaters online is the only website that I have set up in which you are able to e-mail me personally, and yes, this one is really me answering you back.
The last competition of my season was the World Junior Championships in Ljubljana, Slovenia. The U.S. team competing there was probably the largest team we’ve ever had, with three skaters or teams in every discipline! Because there were so many ladies competing at the competition, we had to qualify with a long program. For the qualifying round, I drew first to skate. Because the competition for the first qualifying group began at 9:15 in the morning, my practice was at six that morning! Because the practice rink was far from the hotel, I had to get up quite early to practice. After the practice, I had to go right to the competition rink, because there was not much time before the competition started. I actually skated very well, and only messed up the very last jump in the program. After placing third in the qualifying, I was in the last warm-up group for the short program, where I again drew first to skate. I skated a clean short program, and placed fourth, behind Yu-Na Kim, Mao Asada, and Christine Zukowski. After the short program, we had a day to rest before competing our final long program. For the long program, I was in the last warm-up group again, but this time, I didn’t draw first to skate! This program did not go as well as the other two programs, and I moved down to sixth place overall. I was disappointed with how I had skated that program, but I did skate two good programs at the competition.
Because the ladies were done competing before the dance and the men’s events were over, I was able to spend some time sightseeing in Ljubljana and watching other events at the competition. I enjoyed walking around the “ Old Town,” and also had fun walking up the mountain to the Ljubljana castle with Meryl Davis and Charlie White. We walked up a small, winding trail covered with snow to the castle, but decided to take the road on the way down, because we didn’t want to slide down the mountain!
I didn’t have much of a break from skating after Jr. World’s. First, I was asked to be one of the guest skaters for an ice show in Findlay, Ohio. I had to use one of my old exhibition numbers because I wasn’t going to get my new show number choreographed until the following week. Ilia Kulik was the other guest skater. I enjoyed being a part of that show, and seeing old friends that I used to skate with in Bowling Green. (Not to mention that Findlay is only about 20 miles from home, and I could sleep in my own bed after each show instead of in a hotel room.) School was also back in session, but it was nice to have had spring break at the same time that I was away at Jr. World’s.
After the shows in Findlay, I took that Monday off from skating; on Tuesday, after skating in Detroit, I left for Toronto to get my new show number choreographed. I also had to train two other show numbers that week, because I was asked to skate in the Boston Ice Chips Show on the weekend. I had a lot of fun with the new choreography, but I was really exhausted by the end of the week. It was a little different for me to be skating on a rink that has no boards, since I am used to training on hockey rinks. I also couldn’t believe how congested the traffic was on the highways and city streets in Toronto!
Friday night I drove back to Detroit in order to take a plane to Boston early the next morning. The flight went well, and I was even able to carry my skates on the plane both to Boston and back to Detroit. That’s always a good feeling for skaters to know, that our skates will arrive when needed! The show was at the same arena on Harvard’s campus where I skated for the Jimmy Fund last fall. The other guest skaters were Rena Inoue and John Baldwin, Scott Smith, Stephen Carriere, and Julia Vlasov and Drew Meekins. I had been at international competitions with each of them this season, so it was nice to be able to spend some time with them again.
I arrived back in Detroit late Sunday evening, and I was off on another flight to Delaware early Monday morning. My coach Julianne Berlin, Jonathan Cassar, and I were helping with a Jackson hinge-boot demonstration and presentation at the University of Delaware. Mark Ladwig and Amamda Evora were also demonstrating, and their coach Kerry Leitch spoke to the audience about the skates. Priscilla Hill was also there with some of her students who use these skates. Personally, I have been very pleased with the hinge-boots, and I would like to continue using them for training and competing. My hope is that this type of boot will help to prevent many of the injuries that skaters seem to acquire over their many years of training. We spent the night in Delaware before returning to Detroit on Tuesday. I actually had a few days to skate in Detroit before my next trip. On Friday, I was off to Toronto again to skate and work a little with my choreographer on new music for my long program. Just before I went there I found out that I was invited to compete at the Japan Open Competition. That meant training my old long program again. (And I thought I only got last minute notice for competitions in the fall!!) This will be a team competition; North America, Japan, and Europe. My team will be Jeffrey Buttle, Joannie Rochette, and Emanuel Sandhu.
This week I have my finals at BGSU. I will not be taking classes this summer, but I plan to work independently on my French in order to take credit by examination for one of the French courses this fall. I will be a junior this fall, and I had a great sophomore year. I received an award for International Studies sophomore of the year, and first year outstanding Russian student award.
I may not have another journal entry for awhile again because on May 7 th I leave home and will not return again until May 30 th. On Sunday I will be skating in the Detroit Champions on Ice show, and that evening I will be driving to Toronto to spend part of the next week there getting my new long program choreographed. On Thursday morning I will fly to Japan to compete my old long program for the Japan Open, and on Monday I will fly to Chicago. In Chicago, I will be skating in the Superstars on Ice show on Tuesday. Thursday through Sunday I will be a guest skater for the ice shows for the Dupage skating club. Last summer I modeled for the Leo’s Dancewear costume catalog, and I will try to meet with them in Chicago also sometime that week to possibly do some modeling again this summer if my schedule allows me to do it.
I really love traveling, but by the end of the month I will need a break from skating, and I am planning to take a week or two off to visit relatives in Wisconsin before returning to Ohio. It will then be June!!!!!(I already have plans to be one of the guest skaters at the Detroit Skating Club show in early June.) Have a great summer everyone, and thanks for visiting my website!
Happy New Year, although my skating year isn’t over yet, as I am still training for my last competition of the 2005-2006 year, the World Junior Championships in Slovenia. This is the second time that I will be competing in Slovenia; my first competition there was the Triglav Trophy in 2001, my very first international competition.
After Skate Canada, I returned to the U.S. without any of the travel difficulty that I had going to Canada and when I returned, I had a week to get ready for the Detroit Skating Club’s Hurricane Relief Show. The skates that I had been wearing for most of my season were starting to breakdown, not fit properly, and the alignment was starting to affect my skating technique, so I received a new pair from Jackson. That’s when I started having equipment problems. (Before I go on I do need to say that I really like the new hinge boots, and I do not want to return to the traditional style of boot.) The first pair I received had to be returned, because of improper fit; the second pair we could not get the right blade mounted to any alignment that would feel comfortable, so I received a third pair. This pair seemed to work better, although when I skated in this pair, the left boot and blade did not feel correct. By this time I was beginning to feel that I was losing most of my jump technique by trying to adjust to each pair of new boots. In the end, I decided to use a right boot from the newest pair and the left boot from an older pair. That would be the best I could do with the little remaining time I had to train for Marshall’s and the Grand Prix Final. I was able to skate and train this way, but I never felt completely comfortable, and probably began losing my confidence at a time in my season when I should have been very comfortable with my skating and training.
I think that most of the national competitors from the Detroit Skating Club did the Hurricane Relief show; in addition, Matt Savoie was asked to skate in the show also. There was a party afterwards, and one of the big highlights for some of us was the chocolate fountain. Charlie White and I did try a few “daring” delights, like chicken and shrimp dipped in chocolate (and yes, it tasted just as you would expect, sugar and grease—not highly recommended for a figure skater’s regular diet either)!
I can probably mention it now, as some of “Ice Diaries” has already aired; I have been a part of that documentary, and I have been video-taped and interviewed for the show since early fall, the week before Campbell’s competition. I was supposed to be followed only at Skate Canada and U.S. Nationals, but as it turned out, I was video-taped during every competition and show that I was a part of since the Campbell’s competition. The production crew followed me back to Ohio after my training day, and they even attended some of my classes on campus. The main reason that I agreed to do this show was that I needed the income for my training, but in the end it was great media training and a good learning experience for me.
It was also a very different learning experience to be involved with this year’s Marshall’s competition. It was an “American Idol” type of competition with the audience involved in the voting; Dick Button, Peggy Fleming, and Peter Carruthers as judges; and Kurt Browning as the host. I also had to make sure that I was finished with my first semester final exams before I went to this competition in Boston, because I would return to Detroit for a morning practice and then board another plane for the Grand Prix Final in Tokyo, Japan that same day. (My semester finals were originally scheduled during the week of the Grand Prix Final.) Of course, the production crew for “Ice Diaries” was in Boston taping also, and I did an interview there with Jennifer Kirk, which was to be included in one of the episodes.
I was looking forward to going to the final, as it was one of my goals for this season; however, I thought that the American team would be a little larger than it turned out to be. A team of one going all the way to Asia seemed somewhat lonesome, and perhaps a little too close to nationals for some skaters, but I really wanted the experience of competing at the final, and taking the long trip to Tokyo. Usually my internationals have been in Europe or North America, so this would help me learn how to adjust to competing so far away. (Also, I believe next year’s Worlds will be at the same arena—another reason for me to be there this year.
The flight to Tokyo was 13 hours, but at least I didn’t have to change planes or have long layovers at any other airport along the way. I did some letter writing, reading, and studying some of my French (I was skipping the second semester class and was planning to take the third semester instead, so I thought I’d better look at the work that I would be skipping over). I watched part of a movie, slept, ate, had time to do nothing, and still hadn’t arrived at the airport in Tokyo! When we (my coach Theresa, my mom, and the “Ice Diaries” crew) arrived it was quite dark, so we didn’t see much of the city during our one and a half hour bus trip to the hotel.
The next morning when I looked outside of my hotel room window I couldn’t believe the number of skyscrapers that I saw. They seemed almost as endless as the corn or soybean fields back in Ohio! It was nice to see the mountains in the distance, though. (I might add for those who live in the Great Lakes region of the U.S. that the sun was shining everyday that I was in Japan! I’m not sure I saw that much sunshine in Ohio in all of November and December combined.) Since I did not have practice until much later in the day, my team leader took us on one of the city trains to an outdoor shopping area to walk around. Every train that we saw was packed with people all crammed onboard, and ours was no different. One thing I noticed while I was walking around in Tokyo was that all of the restaurants have displays of plastic food in their windows! I guess that gives you a better idea of what it might be that you are eating (not that anything was recognizable). I did manage to try some octopus that week, but that was the extent of my culinary delights. I also had not realized that drivers in Tokyo drive on the same side of the road as in England, the left side, so when you are walking through the city you would stay to the left side when you are approaching people coming in your direction.
Practices at the arena were quite interesting, too. As I skated, I noticed that the ice was very loud beneath me. I found out later that underneath us was a swimming pool, and that we were really in a natatorium. Another interesting thing was the unbelievable number of Japanese camera crews and photographers that were at the arena. I think that at one end of the ice I saw nothing but zoom lens cameras, and while skating around that end I could hear the continual sound of cameras clicking. (The “Ice Diaries” cameras no longer seemed a nuisance to me, but I realized that this experience had been teaching me how to become numb to cameras in my face—by the way, the “Ice Diaries” crew was always very pleasant and polite; I just had my privacy interrupted periodically!) My practices were going well, but I was still having boot issues and they were causing some problems with my left foot. Considering the trouble that I was having with my skates, I competed fairly well. I ended up sixth overall, in my first Grand Prix Final.
Before we had to leave to go back home, we had an extra day in Tokyo to go sightseeing. I started the day off with the harbor boat tour, and then a visit to one of the religious shrines and the nearby souvenir booths (with the surrounding mobs of people!) and aromas in the air of the local Japanese dishes. We also visited Ropongee Hills, which, I believe, was the tallest building in Tokyo. We went to the top observation floor, and could see the entire city of Tokyo in every direction, and the mountains, including Mt. Fuji. It was amazing to see skyscrapers everywhere we looked, and to see how the Japanese used the rooftops of their buildings, placing gardens, tennis courts, running tracks, etc. on top of their buildings.
After returning to Ohio, my body really discovered jet lag the next week; I took two days off from training, but I wasn’t able to sleep the night through for over a week. That didn’t help much, as I had to get ready for U.S. Nationals quickly. Bowling Green State University and Bowling Green Skating Club had a nationals send-off for me two days after I came home from Japan; some of my friends from the Detroit area, and from Bowling Green skated in it, but I was not ready to put my skates back on to perform yet. As it was, I had to do the Champions Ice Revue at DSC that Friday, where I did my short program even though I was still recovering from jet lag.
Christmas was the next weekend, and having been to Marshall’s and then Japan in December, I hadn’t had much time to even think about the holidays, let alone get ready for them. I also had nationals on my mind, and skates that were not very comfortable for me to skate in. Because the holidays were a very busy time for me, I didn’t get to visit my relatives for Christmas.
Probably the most surprising news at nationals was that Michelle Kwan would not be competing, but that she would still try to receive a spot on the Olympic team. I stayed in Ohio until the day before the short program, just to use the extra time for training. The flight to St. Louis was only 1-2 hours long also. I had to do three interviews after arriving in St. Louis, and I was able to watch some of the junior free dance competition afterwards. My practices on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday went well, but I was not happy about my competition programs. Last year when I came to nationals I got the flu at the same time that I had to compete; this year I was one of the fortunate ones that did not get the flu. I was assigned to the Junior World Championships in Slovenia after nationals, which would mean that I would have to change my short program to the requirements for this season, and also shorten my long program—in other words, try to keep the same elements in a shorter amount of time.
My new semester at school has started, I’m busy again with training, and I have another new pair of skates that I am trying to adjust to. They seem to feel better than the last pair, and I am able to work on some things again that I was unable to do in my last pair. After Junior Worlds (which is during my spring break at school), I will be involved with some shows in Ohio, Michigan, and Illinois, and also some shows with Champions on Ice tour. That should keep me busy this spring and summer!
I’d really like to thank all of you who sent me the encouraging e-mails and notes this season; they have been a great help to me after a disappointing skate at nationals and they are especially supportive to me as I continue to train and set new goals with my skating.