Journal-July 11, 2014

Hello everyone! Again, sorry for delaying this update for so long. I had intended to write it sooner, but there was a reason for my delay, I promise!

Four weeks ago, I collided with one of the skaters at our rink and got a fist to the side of the head, resulting in a concussion. I must have been in shock when it happened, because I got up and kept going with my program, finishing to the end. When it was time for the next session I started getting a really bad headache that wouldn’t go away. The next day when I tried to skate, I felt nauseous and decided that maybe this wasn’t the best idea. That Saturday (two days after the accident), I was teaching and had to go to the ER because my headaches were so intense. That was where I had my original concussion diagnosis. I took five days or so off before heading slowly back to the ice. I was able to start jumping after a few days and was almost headache-free. Then, I thought that I might be able to try and spin. Poor choice on my part. The headaches started up again and I had to take more time off the ice. Fast forward to about a week and a half ago. I’m back on the ice, but since I am in the ISP (USFS’ International Selection Pool), I have to follow the “return to play” procedure. (This is a smart idea anyways, since the brain isn’t something you want to play around with!) The past week or so has been filled with doctors visits, trips to PT and modified skating. However, on Tuesday of this week I got the OK from the doctor to resume full training. I’ve been able to jump at almost full strength, doing everything except quad toe. I had to be careful, because falling hurt my head. The less falling, the quicker my recovery. Therefore, the quad has been out of my training routine. I’ve also been able to resume spinning. The hardest thing now is to put the spins in my program and still attempt to have something resembling stamina!

Because…….. I’m competing at LA Open this weekend! This was something I was very adamant about. Minus the spins, I have been able to run full programs, albeit without the quad. I’m not really worried about anything other than stamina for this competition, however, it is probably good that I wasn’t able to train at full capacity for the past month, as I always seem to peak in the summer. I guess it is a blessing in disguise.

As for my programs, I am very excited to announce them to you here. My short program is to “O Fortuna” from Carmina Burana by Carl Orff, choreographed by Karen Kwan-Oppegard. My long program is from “Don Quixote” by Ludwig Minkus, choreographed by Peter Oppegard. The short program music was actually chosen by Karen. We played around with a couple of ideas, trying to move into different directions, possibly, before we decided on this piece. It’s a very large, strong, and bold piece of music and I’ve never really done anything like this. Usually, my music is more romantic and reserved, so this is pushing me into another facet of my skating. I was the one who chose the music for the long. I haven’t done a really ballet since my final Junior International season, with “Sleeping Beauty” and “Romeo and Juliet” by Tchaikovsky (unless you count “Spartacus” the next season, but I don’t regard that as “classic”). It’s something that I think I’m good at and is natural for me (can I say this without sounding cocky?). Peter has never choreographed an entire program by himself for me and I was truly impressed by his artistic genius. Nothing goes unnoticed by him. Every detail was choreographed in a way that I’ve never experienced before. Having him choreograph for me was extremely rewarding. I really can’t wait for you guys to see these programs!

What else has happened to me in the past six months? I was fortunate enough to get to see my sister perform on Holiday on Ice’s “Ice Age: Live” tour in Prague, Czech Republic, shortly after Nationals. I’ve always been so proud of her and to be able to see her skate on such a large, wonderful stage was something I will never forget. She was wonderful and words truly can’t describe how much it meant for me to be able to see her perform.

In the beginning of May, I made my Sacrament of Confirmation in the Roman Catholic Church. This was such an emotional experience for me. I’ve always been a religious person, but because of skating, never had time to make my confirmation as a kid. For all of the non-religious people reading this journal entry, a confirmation is basically the Church putting a stamp on what we have learned as Catholics, as approved by the Church. I had been attending classes every Sunday for two hours starting in September of 2013 and actually continuing through June of this year. My mom and my sister were able to fly out here for the ceremony and one of my best friends from back in Michigan also flew out and was my sponsor. One of the bishops from the archdiocese presided over the ceremony and it was one of the most beautiful and emotional experiences of my life. It was made even greater and more intimate by the fact that so many of my friends from the rink, Catholic and non-Catholic, came to support me. Afterwards, Caroline (Zhang) threw a great big party at her house for me. It was great to see how the hand of God can bring so many people, believers and non-believers together and show us the greatest truth in life, which is love.

The next month, as a result of my occasional impulsive behavior, I decided to surprise my brother for his high school graduation. The only person who knew I was coming home was my sister who had to pick me up from the airport. My mom had been tease-nagging me about how this was the first time one of her kids was graduation from high school and she wouldn’t have pictures of all of us together on that day. Needless to say, since I’m a mama’s boy (and proud of it), I caved in and bought a plane ticket home. I think she was more excited that I was home than my brother! I walked in the house as she walked down the stairs and, with tears in her eyes, happily proceeded to yell at me about how I can’t afford it and shouldn’t have come home. I haven’t been home since Skate Detroit of last year, so again, the experience was great and I’m so proud of my brother for his graduation.

Looking back, I have to say that I’ve had a truly blessed past six months. Sure, things have been a little rocky, but whose life doesn’t get that way sometimes? I’m really looking forward to what this season will bring me. I’ve decided that I’m not going to share my goals with you guys, but rather will keep them to myself this time. I’m at the point in my skating career where I’m skating because I love it. I’ve had so many astoundingly wonderful experiences and as they say, it’s all gravy at this point. That is what they say, isn’t it? It’s my birthday next week and I’m turning 24, so I’m not exactly hip like this next generation of skaters. But you know what, that’s perfectly fine with me. I’m happy to sit at home and read in my bed after a long day of skating and teaching. I feel like I’m in a really great place in skating and life right now, and I am honored to have shared this much of my career already with wonderful family, friends, and fans. Here’s to, hopefully, a few more good years of skating! Until next time…