Sunday, March 4, 2018

Hello from Bulgaria!

We arrived yesterday afternoon and took a shuttle to the hotel, got our rooms and accreditation. After unpacking a bit, Logan, Massy, and I were all super hungry so we grabbed a bite in the lobby and then went for a walk to get our bodies moving a bit and explore the city.

At first, there didn’t seem to be many beautiful buildings, but then when we got closer to the city center we saw many old, beautiful churches. Sofia is an interesting city because there are a variety of old buildings and newer buildings all dispersed throughout. Some cities have the “old town” and “new town”, where development took place, but that isn’t the case in Sofia. Some buildings are not old in style of architecture but very rundown, some are very modern and beautiful, and some are gorgeous, old, buildings that can’t be found in many western cities. We returned from our little expedition with much more appreciation for the city than when we began.

We then had our team meeting where the team leaders hand out any information we need and, of course, the festive merch to wear when we cheer for each other. I love our team and I am so happy to be here with people that I know so well and have traveled with (mostly) over the past few years. It’s really special to be able to visit new places with friends that you have grown and matured with over the years, as athletes and as people.

After the team meeting, a bunch of us went up to have some dinner and we ate with a few of the Canadian and Spanish skaters of various disciplines. After that, we all went our separate ways and crashed into bed.

~ Chloe

Monday, March 5, 2018

I woke up this morning feeling very excited and awake. Upon realizing that it was only 3:30, I tried to calm down and eventually I fell back asleep. When I finally woke up later closer to my alarm time, I dragged myself out of bed, put on some makeup, and went to do my hair. The voltage is different here than in the US, so the curling iron wouldn’t work, but I managed to somewhat (emphasis on somewhat) get my hair in a decent style for practice. After finishing getting ready, I went down and had a quick breakfast before leaving for our first practice at the main arena. Practice went really well! We did our free dance this morning, so we will do short dance later tonight on the practice rink.

After practice we had lunch with some of the other Americans and some Canadian skaters as well. After that, I caught up with a close friend that I hadn’t seen in ages, took a nap, and here I am! It’s only 6pm and we have practice around 9, so I’m finishing this blog here because when I get back from practice I know I will pass out for the night.

Ok, I hope you enjoyed these first two entries!

I’m excited to share some random details with you throughout the week.

~ Chloe


Tuesday, March 6, 2018
Hello again!
It’s currently Tuesday night here in Sofia, and I’m in bed writing this feeling very happy with how the day went.
I woke up naturally, cuddled (myself) for a bit, and felt super well-rested. When I finally decided to get out of bed, I was starving so I went down for breakfast. Breakfast was a lot of fun because many of the other Team USA members were there as well as friends from other countries. I may have mentioned this yesterday, but one of the best things about traveling internationally for competitions is meeting amazing people and being able to all join together periodically, no matter where we live and no matter where we are from.
After breakfast, I went up to the room to chill and begin getting ready for the day. We then left for the rink to have the short dance draw for tomorrow’s competition. The draw was fine, and the starting order for the US teams is as follows: 
Caroline and Gordon-23
Me and Logan-19
Christina and Anthony-28
We had a while to chill out in the skaters lounge after the draw before warming up and having practice. Practice went really well for us, we felt very comfortable in the ice and into the programs and the music. They’re playing the music really loudly which I love because it helps me get lost in the mood of the program even more. This practice made me feel very confident and ready for the competition tomorrow, and I am honestly excited to go out and show how hard we have been working and what we have developed over this whole season. To be honest I am a little bit nervous because I think that’s natural to feel as an athlete wanting to pull off what you work so hard to do, but more than anything I am ready to go out and have fun, knowing how much training has gone into this.
Anyways, after practice, upon arriving at the hotel, I took a super long nap. When I woke up it was pretty much dinner time so I went down and ate with Logan and two other dancers Zachary (from Canada) and George (Great Britain). We played some card games after eating and resigned after a while when it seemed to be never ending. At that point I migrated over to another table and sat and talked with a bunch of Canadian skaters, some other US skaters, an Italian (who you may know from the Olympics, Matteo), and a couple Spanish skaters. We had a fun time talking for what felt like ages and then finally separated and went to our rooms.
Now I am here, about to go to sleep, and as I said at the beginning of this, I am very happy with how the day went and looking forward to what tomorrow has to bring!
~ Chloe
Wednesday, Marcy 7, 2018
Hi! Sorry this blog is so late. I was so exhausted after the events of yesterday, I couldn’t keep my eyes open long enough to write!
The day flew by, beginning with practice that went really well. We felt ready and excited to compete the short dance and show what we can do. After getting back to the hotel, I took a nap which is kind of my competition ritual, and woke up to find that my makeup was still perfectly in place which was extremely satisfying.
We took the bus back to the rink, warmed up, and got on the ice to compete. I thought it would feel super nerve-racking because it’s our first Junior Worlds, but I felt excited and ready. I told Logan that we need to just skate like we do in practice every day and enjoy the program because it would be our last time ever getting to perform this program. We skated a strong short dance and kept good energy the whole way through. There’s nothing better than the feeling of finishing a program knowing you put everything into it, and when we got off and hugged Massy it was a truly gratifying feeling. We have been through a lot of change and had some difficult times this season, but finishing with this competition feels like the perfect ending to the year. However, it’s not over yet and we are so ready to fight in the free and give it 100%. Our free dance this year is music that Logan and I both love and naturally connect to, and it has gone through a lot of changes and development along with us this year. Tomorrow, we hope to enjoy every second of it and see where it takes us.
The two other US dance teams, Caroline and Gordon and Christina and Anthony, skated after us and both did well. Caroline and Gordon had an amazing skate and sit 5th and 6th. We are in 8th currently which isn’t where we want to end up, so we are ready to fight which is one of our strengths. 
After competing and having the draw for free dance, we went out to dinner with my parents. Up until last night, I thought that Sofia had some nice buildings, but was generally not my absolute favorite. However, we ate on the rooftop of a hotel with an amazing view of the cathedral, and it completely changed my perspective of the city. The food was incredible and afterwards I spoke to a Bulgarian man who work at the hotel about Bulgarian culture. He had spent three years living in the states and we talked about how lovely it is that Sofia is not so commercial but rather quiet and lovely in its own way. The culture has grown for years and years but so many of the traditions have remained, which is another beautiful quality.
Today we will have one practice later and then probably just have dinner and go to sleep. It’s already noon here and I have literally just been sleeping ALL morning, so there’s not going to be anything to write about today, I presume.
Talk to you soon!
~ Chloe
Saturday, March 10, 2018
It’s Saturday morning, and Junior Worlds is almost coming to an end…and it has been everything I hoped it would be, and more.  Today we have ladies and mens long program which will be so exciting! I’ll report in about that later.
We finished up our dance event last night after a day of napping, practice, and a bit of wandering. The event was incredible and most teams skated very strong programs.  It has been so much fun to share this experience with our friends and teammates Christina and Anthony and Caroline and Gordon. Team USA made a great showing – all teams skated beautiful and strong free dances last night with Christina and Anthony pulling up to second place, and the Greens to sixth! and Logan and I ended up moving to seventh place,  We are so happy with our performance and the competition as a whole. Last night we were full of passion and joy and were able to deliver technically and artistically what we hoped to. This has been a year of a lot of transition for us so we were just thrilled to be here and wanted to do our best for ourselves and USFS. We felt that we met those goals, and enjoyed skating each program. We are so excited to launch into next year with renewed passion and commitment to reach significantly higher goals. 
I can definitely speak for both Logan and myself in saying that it’s hard to express how grateful we are to our coaching team and Massy who saw us through this exciting time Worlds. I’ll report back later after some more has gone on!
Okay, back to the present. This morning, Logan and I went to my parent’s hotel for breakfast and had a delicious buffet with a view of the city. Afterwards we walked around a bit and saw beautiful buildings and parks as the weather was perfect. 

SOFIA FACT: Sofia is one of Europe’s architecturally most beautiful cities, according to Conde Nast Traveler, with Roman, Ottoman and Byzantine buildings mixed in with big parks filled with children, families and dogs –and delicious restaurants!

After that we went to the arena to watch men compete. Camden was the first of the U.S. men, and he skated an exciting program that was SO fun to watch and pulled up to fourth (and sixth overall). Tomoki was later on in the event and also skated really beautifully, finishing in seventh. The final U.S. man was Alexei, and we were all so excited to cheer him on at his shot for gold. In a terrible turn of events, but nothing he can’t get through with strength (!!!), Alex fell on his first jump (which I believe was to be a quad something.. sorry I really don’t know jumps!) and injured his leg. I don’t know exactly what the injury is, but it was extremely scary and after trying to keep going through the extraordinary pain, he had to withdraw. We all were devastated but also know that Alex is super optimistic and will heal quickly.
I’m off to go cheer on ladies now, talk to you soon!
~ Chloe

Sunday, March 11, 2018

This past week in Bulgaria has been an incredible experience that is going to be hard to summarize and conclude.

Beginning with the achievements of our awesome team, it was a very successful trip! The pairs TJ and Sarah and Audrey and Misha had a strong finish and were able to secure three spots for next year! Our ladies, Ting and Emmy, both put out beautiful programs, and our men skated super strong short programs with Alex winning the small medal, and despite Alex’s awful injury in the long, Camden and Tomoki both put out solid and exciting long programs. The dance event also concluded amazingly as Christina and Anthony moved up to take home silver, Caroline and Gordon skated two strong programs, and Logan and myself had two of the best programs of our career together. It feels so awesome to be finishing the season on such a positive note and be able to look forward to next year with new goals and momentum.

So, the last time I updated you was Saturday morning. Since then, we attended ladies long program which was an unbelievable event. Afterwards, we attended the closing banquet and danced for HOURS with all of the competitors from all different countries. It was truly a perfect way to cap off a beautiful week, and everyone was just full of joy and I guess a sort of relief and freedom as the season had concluded (for most). The next day was spent mainly in bed for me because we stayed up so late dancing and hanging out afterwards, but later in the day my roommate Emmy and I went to the arena to watch the gala. It was really fun and entertaining, as pretty much the entire week was looking back on it whenever I was with Emmy. I am so grateful to have roomed with her this week and to be flying back to the states with a new friend that I feel like I’ve known for ages.

After the gala, everyone went back to the hotel to finish packing before having a team dinner at a traditional Bulgarian restaurant, and then just hanging out all night until we took our various busses to the airport. Something super wonderful about being on the junior international circuit for several years is the friendships that form throughout, and I was able to spend a lot of time with close friends that I rarely get to see this week which was so special. As much as I love that, it makes leaving and going back to normal life much harder.

So, I guess this is where I leave you! I am full of love from the week and also gratitude: to US figure skating for the opportunity, our coaches for preparing us physically, mentally, and so much more that I can’t even begin to describe. I am SO grateful to our team leaders, doctors, and other mentors that have led us through this week and helped with everything from mental support to technical issues and tissues needed rinkside. This trip would literally have been impossible without you! Of course, i am endlessly grateful for my parents and for Logan… and many more people but this has begun to sound like an Oscars acceptance speech.

Thank you so much for reading this! I hope you’ve enjoyed my brief recaps of the events of my week at Junior Worlds!

~ Chloe