2011 Ondrej Nepela Memorial Blog by Colin McManus

Slovakia Blog 3 – Major Disappointment

So I had my 6:15 a.m. wake up call. I dragged myself out of bed and into the shower (which is quite an adventure seeing as we have NO SHOWER CURTAIN) and met Stasia and Karen in the lobby for the 6:45 a.m. bus to the rink for our warm-up.

The warm-up felt great! We were both really relaxed and loving the whole skating last thing. It gave us great confidence for the short dance event later that day. After the warm-up, we headed back to the hotel to catch breakfast before it closed at 10:00, and we made it back at about 9:20. We went right up to breakfast and my roommate, Grant Hochstein, met us there. We sat for a while just talking about everything, and once again they kicked us out! We kept thinking, “Wow, they must hate us here!”

Since breakfast was clearly over, I went back to the room and napped…for two hours (which is about an hour and a half longer than my planned power nap). I ended up having just enough time to gather my things and make it back down to the lobby for the 12:45 bus to the rink for our event.

I got on the bus and put all my stuff down, and realized I didn’t have my costume! Chaos ensues…for the third time. I ran out of the bus, to the hotel, to get back to my room, to get my darn short dance costume, to get back on the darn bus so I didn’t miss my darn event. I’m sensing recurring themes here: I don’t know what it is about this trip to Bratislava and having to run around like a mad man at least once every day!

We made it back to the rink (with costume in hand) and ready to compete! We had a great five-minute warm up and skated our program very well! When we got off the ice, we were so happy with how we skated! We were a little disappointed with our placement, but we really skated our butts off, and there is always the free dance tomorrow!!

After we got back from the rink, we decided to venture back into Old Town, and this time Grant came with us! We went back on the trams, and made it to historic Bratislava with no problems. We have quickly become pros at navigating our way through Bratislava, and today was a bit more walking and a lot less shopping. Our main goal for the day was to get up to the castle!

There is a huge castle that you can see from Old Town; it dates back to the 1700s, and it’s rather famous around here. It looks so beautiful and historic from down in the town. You make the hike all the way up to the top hoping to see a grand fortress. We finally got up to the top with this amazing view of the city. We turn around to look at the castle, and the one word I have to sum it all up is MAJOR DISAPPOINTMENT (well I guess that’s two words, but just “disappointment” alone doesn’t do our major disappointment justice).

The reason I say “major disappointment” is because there was nothing historic about it. They were doing all of these modern renovations to it, and there was nothing about the castle that screamed, “Hello, I’ve been here for hundreds of years.” We expected historic castle, and we got sawdust and fresh paint. Oh well, at least we got our exercise, plus the dinner we had once we got back to Old Town made up for the “Old Town/New Castle” fiasco. So the day ended well!
We got back to the trams and safely into our respective hotel rooms with just enough time to get ready for bed. I have a 6:00 a.m. wake up call, and a free dance waiting for me tomorrow!

Until next time!

Slovakia Blog 2 – Cobblestones and Castles

The day started with an 8:30 a.m. wake up call. I met Stasia and Karen for breakfast at 9:00, and we stayed for about an hour just chitchatting away (until they kicked us out!). We went back to our respective rooms, and then met up in the lobby a little while later to catch the bus over to the rink for our official practice. It takes about five minutes to get to the rink from the hotel.

While we were on our way to the locker rooms, some random man who wanted our autographs stopped us. He pulled out a picture of Stasia and me from Junior Worlds, and we both signed it. Then he pulled out two more pictures. One was of Stasia and Dean Copely from their novice year, and the other was of Kate McDermott and me from our intermediate year. What a blast from the past! We signed our respective photos and went on to get ready for our practice.

The practice was great! Only two teams showed up (Stasia and I, and the German team, Nelli Zhiganshina & Alexander Gazsi), and we skated very well! We even made new friends with the German dancers, who were very nice. I’m sure they were just as happy that only one other team showed up! Our practice ended at 1:55 — and we needed to catch the 2:00 bus! We really needed to hustle if we were going to make that bus, but luckily for us we had some practice with that from sprinting through the terminals of the Atlanta airport the other day. We caught the bus with costumes and skates still on, but it well worth it considering the bus didn’t come back for another hour.

We got back to the hotel, changed, and reconvened in the lobby to make our way to the “Old Town.” The Old Town is the historic city in Bratislava that has amazing architecture, quaint shops, and outdoor cafes. In order to get there we decided to be true locals and take the trams instead of a taxi. It was actually easy…once we found out direction we were going in. It took about 10 minutes to get there, and with the help of some friendly Slovakians, we found our way safely.

Once we got there, we decided to go back through the winding streets to see what little souvenirs we could find. We came across some touristy shops, and some street vendors…oh yeah and a CASTLE! We shopped and strolled for about two hours or so over treacherous cobblestone, that poor Karen tripped over…twice…in a row.

We found a nice little café in the center of historic Bratislava, and we sat there for a little while. We had a late lunch and just people-watched, and we felt oh-so-European. We ventured back to the tram stop with our fingers crossed in hopes that we would recognize our “home” stop — something made more challenging because it was now dark out! Luckily we found it, and made our way back to the hotel.

It was really a great day, and hopefully we can head back into Old Town on Saturday night after the free dance.

Now it’s time for some sleep! I have a 6:10 a.m. wake-up call to start my day tomorrow!

Here we go!






Slovakia Blog 1 – Cross-Country Cardio

Finally arrived in Slovakia!

Just taking my free time before the Draw Ceremony later to sit down and RELAX. It has been a whirlwind trip so far. We skated two early sessions at UDel on Tuesday and left from there to go to Philadelphia Airport. Our first flight to Atlanta went off without a hitch, which was great because we had a pretty tight connection to make. Stasia and I got a row to ourselves, which was very nice (and we were hoping that theme would continue throughout the trip).

We land in Atlanta and we are taxing to our gate…and then we stop moving.

Five minutes go by.

Ten minutes go by.

Now we are starting to freak out just a little bit.

Our coach, Karen, was seated closer to the front of the plane; once we arrived she was able to get off the plane quicker than we were. She asked the attendants at our gate to call our connection flight and tell them that we are on our way. The attendants at the gate said we would be fine, but we were not so sure of that. We had about five minutes to get to Terminal E, and we were all the way in Terminal A.

What did we do? WE RAN FOR IT!

We were really booking it, weaving through people, dodging trams, and I almost pushed over an old lady. Then we get to the end of Terminal A…and…we have to take a train to get to the other terminals!

So now we wait for the damn train.

Terminal B comes and goes…Terminal C…Terminal D…

TERMINAL E! We sprinted off the train, chaos ensues, and Stasia shoulder-checks some poor old man getting onto the escalator. I’m sure we blazed a trail of madness through Atlanta Airport. We get up the escalator, and our flight to Brussels was leaving from gate E2.

Of course, it makes complete sense to start with gate E20, right?

So chaos ensues once again, as I was at a full out sprint to gate E2. We get to the gate at final boarding call, and they rush us onto the plane. Who needs free dance run-throughs when you have only 5 minutes to make it to your connecting flight?

The rest of the trip went smoothly. Once we landed in Brussels, we had our last flight to Slovakia. We arrived in Slovakia around noon, got to the hotel around 1:10, and we needed to leave the hotel by 1:30 to get to a 2:30 practice.

Practice went really well, and we got through mostly everything. We got back to the hotel about an hour ago, and Karen and I made a quick trip to the sketchy grocery store. Once we got back I took a MUCH NEEDED shower, and now I am off to the Drawing Ceremony! Hopefully tomorrow will be a much more relaxed day, but needless to say I am going to sleep well tonight!

Until next time!