13jgpmex-1¡Hola de Mexico (aka “Greetings from Mexico”)!! I am excited to keep you all up to date on all that is happening in Mexico City at the Junior Grand Prix Mexico Cup this week! For those who don’t know me, my name is Kaitlin Hawayek and I am a junior ice dancer representing Team USA with Jean Luc Baker! This will be my sixth international event competing for U.S. Figure Skating, including Junior Worlds last year in Milan, Italy. Jean Luc and I train in Detroit, Michigan, under the expert coaching of Angelika Krylova, Pasquale Camerlengo, and Massimo Scali, and we are very excited for the season ahead!

Yesterday’s flight was quite a treat compared to most international travel. We made it to Mexico safe and sound after only four hours in the air on a direct flight, not to mention only an hour time change, which we all know means NO JET LAG. Yay! My day finished last night with a team meeting where I met my other U.S. teammates that are competing in the men’s, ladies, and ice dance events (no pairs at this JGP). This being my third year of international travel, it is fun to watch some of our rookies of the JGP circuit get to experience the excitement and accomplishment that comes with representing Team USA!

As today wraps up, I am excited to say that it has been another busy and productive day in Mexico City. 7 a.m. rolled around and I was wide awake, ready to do hair and makeup (for most female skaters, I think we can all relate and appreciate the time and effort that takes). Jean Luc, our coach Massimo, and I took the 10 o’clock bus to the rink, arriving around 10:30, and what a surprise we were in for! As I walked in to the Fun Central Cuautitlan, where the competition is being held, I couldn’t help but laugh! It looked like I had walked into a carnival, with a carousel, a playground, and a multitude of arcade games situated directly next to the ice! As we were waiting for our draw, Jean Luc and Massimo and I couldn’t help but play some of the games and pose for some pictures next to the giant animals figures that were around the arena. (Photos below!)

After practice was done and all of Team USA was back at the hotel, we met for some group photos and a nice team dinner (big thanks to our team leader Stephanie Matthewson for organizing it). It’s always nice to meet other skaters and build new friendships throughout each season—you never know when you might get to travel together again, and it’s good to be surrounded by familiar faces from competition to competition!

Tomorrow, the competition kicks off with Short Dance at 4:30 pm and Men’s Short Program at 6:30 pm (Central Time). Jean Luc and I skate seventh out of seven teams and are very excited to compete internationally for the first time this season! Stay tuned for more updates as the week goes by! As for me, it’s off to get some sleep now- 5 a.m. wake up calls are always my favorite (cue laughter). Good night, buenas noches!

– Kaitlin