2015 JGP Austria Blog #3: Signing off from Linz!

JGP-DamianSaturday- Final Day

Today was our final day here in Linz, as well as our free dance, the pairs long, and mens long. Our day started off with a somewhat early practice, 9:30am. This doesn’t seem early, but what “non-skaters” don’t realize is how long of a process it is to prepare for any event in skating (practices, warm-ups, actual competition, etc.). The ladies, especially my partner Julia, need a lot of time to perfect their hair, and stage makeup before even arriving at the rink. Then you must arrive at the rink at least one hour early to stretch and warm-up, and in the unlikely circumstance that the competition is ahead of schedule. Luckily, the higher level competitions are usually very strict on running precisely on time, and in most cases are running a little late anyway.

Long story short, a 9:30 practices means that you have to be at the rink no later than 8:30, meaning that you have to take the 8:15 shuttle from the hotel, eat breakfast at 7:30, wake up early enough to shower, in order to make breakfast, as well as do hair and makeup.

Julia and I had a very quick warm-up and then ran through two large sections of our program with the music, during our practice. We started to feel good about the competition but there was also a little more pressure than usual due to the fact that we were going into the free dance in second place. This is the first time that we’ve had a strong chance of making the podium, and we did not want to let that opportunity slip through our fingers.

We went back to the hotel after practice and had a few hours to relax/nap/fix hair and makeup before having to go back. I obviously chose to nap! If you haven’t noticed by now, I really love napping. Honestly everyone around me appreciates my naps as well… I tend to get cranky without them. I may be 21 years old, but I’m like a little child if I don’t have my naps. Julia took the time to redo her hair and make sure that she was “camera ready.”

After having a quick bite to eat, it was time to take the shuttle to the rink. We did our normal, off-ice, warm-up and then headed to the locker rooms to get our outfits and skates on. I felt excited and nervous. Naturally skaters, most at least, tend to get nervous before taking the ice. This time in particular, Julia and I both felt a little more nervous than usual. Our 5-minute warmup felt rough and we had a very hard time getting through full sections of our program. All of the teams in the top group, including us, were not willing to stop, or move out of the way for any other team. This always leads to many “close calls” and sometimes collisions.

Not having a strong warm-up definitely did not help calm our nerves. Luckily we were 4th to skate after the warm-up and had some time to walk around and get “into our legs.” Waiting for 3 other teams to go after the 5-mintue warm-up still felt like forever. Finally, it was our turn to take the ice! We got on the ice and took a few laps while the team before us waited for their scores. This felt so much better and I started to feel more grounded than in the warm-up. Our names were called, and my favorite part “representing the United States of America,” while we took our starting position. Julia and I felt that we had a fairly strong skate, for us, and were able to break our personal best score. Combined, we ended up in 3rd place. Our first international medal!!!

Team USA’s pairs skaters Chelsea and Brian finished in eighth and Lindsay and Jacob finished in ninth.  The men competed their long with Vincent finishing in second and Oleksiy in seventh.

We’re on cloud 9 that we were able to end our Junior Grand Prix career with a medal. This week has been a huge learning experience for us and I’m over the moon with how much support that we have received from both our skating friends/family, as well as skating fans around the World. Julia and I could not have accomplished this with out all of the support! We’re extremely appreciative of U.S. Figure Skating, and Team USA, for allowing us to have amazing opportunities like this one.

That’s all for me here in Linz, Austria. It’s been an amazing week and I’m so honored to have been given the opportunity to share it with the readers of Ice-dance.com! Thank you to anyone who has read this blog and everyone for all of the support this week, Julia and I truly appreciate it.