2008 Skate Canada – Jennifer Wester’s Competitor Blog


Sunday, November 2, 2008
Farewell from Ottawa

Some final photos from Sunday’s closing banquet:

And now presenting….

Yes, the U.S. Team did go out of the way to find chef hats, T-fal aprons, and bring all of our new frying pans down to the lobby of the hotel to take this lovely photo. 🙂 Go USA!

Mr. & Mrs. Barantsev ready to head off to the closing banquet: “Get your Canada On” (No really, that was the title of the banquet. Read on…. )

Look! A giant Cynthia Phaneuf sign! Must be the right place. Let the banquet fun BEGIN!

Posing with trees: (L-R) Me, BeBe Liang, Alissa Czisny in the back, Amanda Evora

Just me in the trees

Being silly with Alissa

Alissa is such a “deer” person.

And always so refined

Add a lung x-ray, and this is my story told in props

At our table we see… Scott Moir impaling his ear with a stick and…

…our menu for tonight

Kim Navarro & Derek Trent at the dinner table

Mark Ladwig with Derek Trent and some kind of moose thing

Mark’s not talking about the moose thing

Yes, that does say we’re having Beavertail

Who says you can’t play with your food?

Happy Skate Canada!

That will conclude my blog from this Grand Prix. I hope you enjoyed it. One more time, I’d like to give a big thank you to everyone that supported us through the week! Thank you to ice-dance.com for giving me this opportunity to write my thoughts for you and thank you for reading them.

I hope everyone had a happy and healthy Halloween. I am going to rest and recover coming off this competition. I’ve vowed to make it to Trophee Eric Bompard in France, but I have to have doctors’ approval to do so, and thus my work now is to get healthy! As Kristi Yamaguchi promotes — please go get your flu shot, people!

Meet you back here in one week when Daniil and I go to Paris! (‘Cause you know after 6 years, I’m not letting any ol’ pneumonia keep me from getting these Grand Prix events under our belt!)


Saturday, November 1, 2008
Not how I imagined today would go

Blog5-709589Hello world.

So, Saturday in the ice rink is finished for the dancers. The morning started early — say 4 a.m. Just about all of the dance competitors were on the 5:30 a.m. bus to practice. We returned from practice about 7:00 and went for breakfast. I shouldn’t leave out the fact that we saw the sunrise after practice. *sarcasm noted*

I have to say I went back to sleep for about 30 minutes right after breakfast, then re-did my hair and makeup before heading back to the arena for the Original Dance competition at 9:30 a.m.

And here is where my day started to twist.

I mentioned before, I’ve been dealing with the problems that can come after influenza — especially if you’re forcing your body into a strenuous, cold environment day after day (before getting healthy) in need of making it to your first Grand Prix event. So this morning, I presumed that the lack of sleep from the late night/early morning competition/practice schedule was causing my cough being harder and in longer spurts again (after a day or so of having it just occur only immediately after a practice/performance and a little bit in short spurts during the day or evening). After the morning practice, I was starting to feel like I was wheezing, which was definitely making me nervous with the impending original dance. Nonetheless, I was in the mode to shake it off and knew that adrenaline would help me if there was anything getting in the way during the run-through. *I won’t comment on the run-through because you have to tune in to IceNetwork and support coverage of our dance events to see that! 🙂 *

After we got off the ice, I walked back to the dressing room and immediately my cough started in. As a second coughing fit came on, the medical staff from the organizing committee poked around the corner and notified me that they could hear me through the wall and felt I needed their services. Oops! Hmm. It’s not everyday that the doctors tell you to come see them after just hearing you cough through the wall. I took my skates off and walked to the medical room.

Can you believe they had the nerve to tell me I have pneumonia! 🙁 In fact, it was very nice that the doctor did a thorough job in diagnosing my cough, but not so nice that she had to find pneumonia.

So I’ve spent the last couple of hours getting paperwork done for the medication I’m now instructed to be on to treat my pneumonia, which of course has to be approved by ISU so I don’t get accused of doping. But it’s all documented now and on the straight and narrow.

And I will skate free dance tomorrow!

But gee, I’d love to skate healthy at some point. My luck on these things hasn’t had the best record. I’m going to have to turn into the health nut and keep carrots and pomegranates in my pocket, wear garlic around my neck or something.

Sorry I don’t have more photos for you today. Being a shutterbug was low on my list with the competition schedule being a bit crazy for us this morning. I’ll do better tomorrow. Meanwhile, spend a lot of time on ice-dance.com and tune in for free dance coverage tomorrow on IceNetwork to support the dancers!!

Get your flu shot people! Stay healthy.



Friday, October 31, 2008
Warm fuzzies from the fans

Howdy, howdy!

One down, two to go.

The Paso competition went off tonight without a hitch. We were really happy with our skate. Hoping to move up in the next couple of rounds, but we are definitely happy to have skated well. That’s all we can control, after all. I hope everyone is tuning in on IceNetwork to watch and I promise next kiss and cry I will give a shout out to Ice-dance.com.

IMG_1412-761223Speaking of the kiss and cry, I was so impressed by the handiwork of a couple of ladies in the audience who created little skates with Canadian flags on pins for us and included a handwritten note along with the gift. We’re really thankful to be treated to such hospitality by the Canadian audience.

Also, I want to give a shout out to the 83 year old Texan that manages to surprise Daniil and I at every event and warm our hearts out there on the ice by throwing us a little package of goodies — of course attaching an identification card so we know that it’s from him. The card is great. Every year the age is updated! So thank you, and thank you to everyone watching and reading. I like this sport too much to see the television coverage drop so severely.

It means so much to all the skaters to know there are people pulling for you out there in the crowds. Hopefully the Olympic Games next year will rev things up for skating in the mainstream again. Until then, skaters and fans will have to be content knowing we’re a “happy lil’ skating family.” 😀

Okay, enough with my spiel. I’m going to get some sleep. After all that, we didn’t manage to make our way into the second warm-up for tomorrow’s OD so I’ve got a 6:30 a.m. practice session. Do the math – I’ll be up EARLY.

Have a good night and I’ll talk to you tomorrow.

<3, Jenn


I’m a good Texan — with big hair issues!

Today we were greeted to audience members dressed in bright orange skeleton costumes! It was a bit of a shock! It’s not everyday you step out onto the ice in your best sparkling costumes and look up into the generally mild-mannered audience to see skeletons and ghouls. 😛 It looks like the Canadians are really into Halloween, even if everyone keeps referring to it up here as Devil’s Night.

The dancers have decided that we, too, will be in Halloween costumes tonight. Yes, all the dancers are going in pairs as matadors and capes! 😀 I know, you saw that one coming.

100_4126-736929To follow up from last night, practice this morning went well. I slept in … until 7 a.m. that is, and we were ready to go at 10 a.m. on the ice. It was the first time Angelika (Krylova) had seen my new Paso costume on me on the ice. I’m happy to say she liked it! I made the dress three weeks ago just before coming down with a nasty influenza and thus, in the cold practice rink at home, wasn’t able to show off my handy work while dealing with the cough and bronchial infections influenza can bring.

I will say, however, while the dress felt and worked great for Paso, since this was a split practice (CD & FD) it wasn’t the easiest hair or dress to perform free dance pieces. In fact, at one point late in the practice when I already thought “that’s it my French twist is going to hold out and work for me until I get off” — whoosh! — we stepped into a set of twizzles and all the bobby pins and hair wrapped up in that French twist went FLYING. The bobby pins were scattered across the ice — leading to a frantic “52 card pickup” by Daniil, me, and a few Canadian skaters trying to protect themselves from my obstacle course. 🙂 Oops! Luckily, I had a hair tie with me. It didn’t go too well with my large Paso collar to have a low ponytail wagging along, but for the last five minutes of practice, it had to do. The moral of the story: don’t presume that a compulsory dance hairdo will hold up in a free dance practice. 😀 Lesson learned.

food-734455While looking through my photos, I realized I’ve yet to talk about how great the food has been here. The dinners are ripe for Thanksgiving. I’ve taken photos of two plates we’ve indulged ourselves with. It definitely beats the seafood spaghetti we’ve experienced at other competitions. 🙂

100_4135-763336In addition, as a good Texan, I’ve already spotted a Texas flag flying over the restaurant LONE STAR around the corner from the hotel. The enticing signage reading “Fixin’ for lunch?” has me thinking if our schedule could have allowed for it, I’d love to have stopped by for a bite. Tryout the Canadian version of a Tex-Mex restaurant. Alas, it seems our schedule — dancers specifically — is not going to allow for practically any viewing of the city of Ottawa. I’ve heard through the grapevine that it’s a beautiful town, but we are definitely out of town in the farmland, so I personally will not be able to attest to that statement.

I’m off to take a nap for now.


Thursday, October 30, 2008
Practices and parties

Today was long.

The event for the athletes has started as all the disciplines ventured onto practice ice today. The dancers twice. (Below: Brent Bommentre on the bus to practice)

100_4124-737052The ice is fairly good; however, the extremely clear top layer of ice had encased a few leaves, bugs, and other unidentifiable objects. The clarity through that top layer was sharp enough to convince me that things were just lying on the ice, and at any moment someone was going to go down on the frozen house fly or other disturbance in the usually pristine ice. Luckily, no one had any fly disasters.

Practice was divided by countries today. In ice dance, the U.S. and France skated together in the first group; Russia and Canada skated in the second group. Tomorrow we will separate into our starting order groups. Meaning since the “draw” was decided by current world point rankings, Daniil and I will be in the first group for practice tomorrow morning but with any luck (and our skill *wink, wink*…) following the compulsory competition tomorrow night we will be seated in the second warm-up group. (Saving us from a 6:30 a.m. practice on Saturday! …. motives…..)

Other than practice today, the host organization treated the officials, coaches, and athletes to a welcome party that consisted of hors d’oeuvres and about four guest speakers, including a speech from the Athlete Ambassador for Skate Canada, Liz Manley.

(Tiffany Vice, Amanda Evora, Alissa Czisny, and I at the welcome party)


(Team U.S.A.)

Honestly, the athletes are rarely able to stay long at these parties, at least at those that occur before the conclusion of the competitive events. We get dressed up, take a photo or two, show ourselves to be as polite and supportive of the host as possible, and then turn around at the first available moment head back to our rooms for sleep. After all, practices may be listed at 9 or 10 a.m., but that translates to an hour earlier to the rink for warm up, catching the bus 30 minutes earlier than the that, an hour hair and makeup time pre-bus, and a 45 minute – one hour pre-makeup/hair wakeup call to give time for breakfast. Yes, 10 a.m. translates in “skater world” to a 6:45 a.m. wakeup call. Sometimes I wish I didn’t speak skater world language. 🙂 Or that practices were at least never placed earlier than 10 a.m. (in my dreams…)

Well, unfortunately I’m still trying to fight off a flu bug I’ve had for the last couple of weeks. Thus, I am going to hit the sack. I’ve slipped out of the party and am preparing for my 9:55 a.m. practice.

(Random photo of Daniil with a book he found)

I hope you enjoy reading my notes on our first Grand Prix event.

Talk to you tomorrow,


Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Out of the frying pan & into the snow

It’s Wednesday and we’ve just arrived in Ottawa for Skate Canada.

Daniil and I, now being as we’re in the skating hub of Detroit, Michigan, greeted Meryl (Davis), Charlie (White), Alyssa (Czisny), Derek (Trent), and Tiffany (Vice) at the airport for the hour and a half flight up to Ottawa.

The plane was tiny — talk about downsizing! Prior to boarding, we were all tagged with flight deck luggage tags for our carry-ons (filled with costumes per suggestion of our team leader since the post-9/11 F.A.A. does not allow figure skates to be carried on a plane. This way if we lost our skates at least we could look pretty standing next to the ice!).

Daniil on the plane

Happily, there is nothing else to say about the plane ride.

After arriving in Canada, our cheerful group passed through Customs, picked up our luggage, and was escorted by the organizing committee to a bus on which we road about 40 minutes to the hotel.

100_4108-779744Not having done my topographical research, I wasn’t expecting to see the flat, desolate scenery that was the approach into Canada’s capital city of Ottawa. By far the most rural capital I’ve visited. It certainly didn’t help that the flat farmland was covered by 6″ of October snow that we weren’t expecting. Detroit was chilled to the point of random snow flurries, but the thought of standing snow made me think Miami really needs to host an event…and soon!

The hotel, which is by the way gorgeous, is also in the middle of nowhere. 100_4110-713651 I’m telling you, we kept thinking that a city was going to pop up and show its face, but thus far we have not found any signs of a large city. People have been extremely friendly, but if it weren’t for the large sign visible from the runway as we landed at the city airport, I would not guess that this was the nation’s capital.

As soon as we got in, we met with our team leaders and received our credentials in the accreditation room. Yep, the whole team: getting our photos taken, getting our passports scanned, getting holes punched in our room keys to avoid uncomfortable mishaps!

100_4119-793134We were treated with some great goodies! “Maple Syrup Galore” is the name I’ve given to the red bag we were each given. Home Sense (the title sponsor of Skate Canada) gifted maple syrup, maple butter, maple covered pretzels, maple almonds, and maple popcorn to each competitor, all in a lovely red bag dropped off at each room.

100_4115-739982“The Frying Pan” is what I’ve named the other gift. You heard me, a frying pan. 🙂 In an Adidas Skate Canada satchel, we were handed frying pans in the accreditation room. The debate is: do we 1) make omelets or 2) chase our competition and/or partners around with the new T-Fal cookware? I suggested that we could do a new rendition of Tom and Jerry on ice — with frying pans. Exhibition number anyone??

Along with the um … pan — which I want to impress is a very nice pan — Artistry makeup gifted lipstick and eye and cheek powder tints, Bliss gifted body butter and foaming face wash travel products, and the Canadian visitors bureau added in a Canada Rocks souvenir package including an “Inukshuk” pin and bookmark, Canada Rocks key chain, and a dry erase board.

So now you know. It’s a regular ol’ Hollywood gift pack! Okay, so maybe the T-Fal isn’t diamonds, but it’s got a temperature gauge button. Oddly enough, I’m excited to make pancakes when I get home. I hope it doesn’t get dented in luggage on the way home. A rogue skate could damage the non-stick.

It’s been a long day; I’m going to hit the hay. Thanks for reading. I’ll write in again soon.

Jenn 🙂

“Hitting” the hay. Get it?