2023 U.S. Solo Dance Finals by Bella Danic

Tuesday, September 13, 2023
My name is Isabella Danic and I am competing at the 2023 National Solo Dance Final in the Silver Solo Combined event and the Intermediate Solo Combined event. I started skating when I was 8 years old and once I stepped on the ice I knew I loved it.
I train at The Arctic Edge Training Center in Canton Michigan. My skate club is Arctic Figure Skating Club. My Dance Coaches are Greg Zuerlein, Dean Copely and Charlotte Maxwell. I also still work on spins and performance with my former Pairs Coach Jim Peterson. I left Pair skating 1 1/2 years ago and decided to completely focus on Ice Dance and test out of freestyle. I am passionate about Ice Dance and I’m so excited that I qualified for Solo Nationals.
Travel Day
Today is September 12th 2023, today I woke up just like every other day but it wasn’t just any other day. Today I am leaving for the National Solo Dance Finals! I hopped out of bed and did my normal routine for school. I am a freshman at Powers Catholic in Flint Michigan and I love school! Everyday I leave school at 12:20 right after lunch for skating and today I was leaving to go home to finish packing. Once I finished packing I grabbed all of my skating stuff and hugged my Dad goodbye. My dog Lily really wanted to come with us but she had to stay home. She made us all laugh that she wouldn’t leave the side of the car waiting to be put in. After one escape from inside back to sitting at the side of the car we left.

It’s only my mom and I heading to Nationals but my dad will come on Friday. We then drove almost six hours to our hotel. The competition rink is very close to our hotel, just minutes away. 

My mom and I are both tired and decided not to venture into Chicago tonight for dinner. That sounded like a great idea earlier today! We went to dinner close by and got some yummy frozen yogurt for desert. Now I am finishing the night out doing homework and writing this blog. I am so exited for the first day of practice tomorrow. I can’t wait to put faces to names in the standings. I really want to watch and meet Brooke Tufts. Time for bed. Excited to tell you all about my first day at Nationals tomorrow! Good night!
~ Bella

Wednesday, September 13, 2023
It’s Wednesday and I got to sleep in this morning even though I always wake up early no matter what! My first practice ice doesn’t start until 11! I don’t know how I got so lucky! We went down to the hotel’s restaurant for a delicious breakfast. It was so yummy! We are staying at one of the US Figure Skating host hotels, the Renaissance Suites. Great choice USFS! It took me a little bit of time to fall asleep, but once I did I had a great sleep!
Time to get ready for Day One’s Official and Unofficial Practice Ice.  I’m wearing my favorite shirt I got while competing at the Copper Cup in Utah. It’s from the Lululemon store in Park City. They can stamp their shirts with a fun Park City logo as a unique souvenir and a great memento of your visit. I ran into several of my Copper Cup Solo Dance competitors there while shopping!
My first official practice ice went well and I’m so happy that they limited the number of skaters on the practice. It helped all of us get our work done without running into one another! Ran back to our hotel for an hour then it’s back to the rink for an unofficial practice ice. My second practice ice was not official and it was in the ice that we aren’t competing on. The ice is so nice and smooth! I had a good skate and Coach Dean was happy. Time for a quick lunch before my next official practice ice on Rink A.  I love Chick-fil-a and there is one close to the rink! Practice finished and back to the hotel for a bit to work on some Biology homework!
Had my final official practice ice for the day. My Coach Dean was happy and so was I with my skate. Heading back to the hotel to change and go to dinner. The restaurant surprised my mom and I with congratulations confetti all over our table. I had a great meal and we blasted Pit Bull’s Time Of Our Lives on the way back to the hotel!  I’m so excited for day two! COMPETITION!!!!
~ Bella

Thursday, September 14, 2023

6am came too fast today. I woke up feeling a little tired and sore. I hit my snooze and finally got up! It’s finally day one of Solo Dance Final’s competition! I’ve waited so long for this day! I’m just so happy to be here and I want myself to enjoy it and not stress myself out. Easier said than done. This is my first time competing at Nationals and I am so excited! I have a 7am practice ice session to start the day. Then my two Silver Pattern Combined events, the Tango and the Rocker Foxtrot. We arrived at the rink and the chill vibe of yesterday is definitely gone! That’s ok tho. I’m ready for the Nationals competitive vibe. I see Coach Dean and he always puts me at ease. I’m starting to get excited. Time for practice! 

Practice ice went well. Heading back to the hotel to eat breakfast and get ready. I’m happy my hair and makeup cooperated with me. Heading back to the rink. By the way I forgot to mention my Solo Dance Nationals coat! I now have one and it’s gorgeous! So happy to finally wear one! All Season I’ve watched skaters wear theirs from previous years! Now I have one too! ❤️
I am skating first in the Tango. That makes me so nervous. That doesn’t always go my way, but my coach tells me to not worry and just set the bar. Someone has to go first, this time it’s you. I am ready to do this. Trust my training. We have our warm up. I actually feel pretty good and Coach Dean calms my nerves. I am so happy just to be here. I’m going to go out and do what I do. I’ve worked hard all season to be here. Warm up is over. Everyone leaves and they shut the door, I felt the nerves come but I told them to go away. My name is called. It’s show time!
I am very happy with my very first skate on Nationals ice. I skate to the door and Coach Dean is waiting with a smile. He must be happy. I feel relieved. Regardless of what happens next I’m so proud of myself and I feel good about my skate! Since I’m first, who knows if I have a good or bad score. I get my score and I’m happy with it. Now it’s the waiting game!
Overall I finished in 7th. I’m so happy! My goal was top 10! I have to rush back to the hotel to change for my upcoming Rocker Foxtrot. I am again in the first warmup group so I need to stay in the zone. I am back and ready. I skate and I am happy with my skate, missed a few points and I know it. Overall tho I am happy and so is my Coach. It’s the waiting game once again. I ended up finishing in 8th place. I am so happy and I reached my Season goals of making it to Nationals and finishing within the top 10 in the Nation. It was a good day! 
I was taking my skates off and saw that Brooke Tufts was sitting not far from me. I don’t need to tell you who she is, but I will. She is one of the top Senior Solo Ice Dancers in the Nation. I really wanted to meet her and watch her skate. I told my mom I want to go over and meet her and ask for a picture!

So I did! She couldn’t have been nicer! She has a wonderful smile and is gorgeous! She was so sweet to my mom and I! I can’t wait to cheer her on tomorrow! Today was a great day! I had such a wonderful experience at my very first Solo Dance Nationals event! Excited for tomorrow.
~ Bella

Friday, September 15, 2023
Up early to have breakfast at the hotel before getting ready for today’s first Intermediate Combined Event, the European Waltz. I did my makeup and hair. I decided not to do anything different for Nationals. I am keeping my simple bun and same makeup I’ve had all season. I don’t have to be at the rink quite so early since I am skating last. My dad is flying in early from Flint to Chicago this morning. I am excited to have him come.
I’m doing my normal pre-competition warm up and off ice run through outside. An Uber pulls up and its my dad! I am so happy to see him! It’s almost time to put my skates on and go to the ice. My Coach has other skaters in this event so I know he will come to me soon.
It’s my turn. I have done this so many times this season. I am ready. I go, I skate, I am happy. So is Coach Dean. I feel really good about my pattern. Waiting for the score….. Disappointed. Judging in figure skating is a very complicated thing. I am from a family of runners. You run, you get a time. It’s black and white. Skating is complicated, but I get it. There are some very good things about my score, but some things that aren’t so good. I wanted to place higher. I am mad at myself, but everyone is really good. I still have my free-dance tomorrow to redeem myself. That’s all I can think about all day.
I watched the Senior rhythm dance. It was amazing! I feel like a new person. I sat by some amazing skater’s I just met and we had a blast clapping during the programs! I had to cheer on Brooke Tufts! She did amazing and placed first!!! I have another practice ice and then after I want to cheer on one of our Michigan skater’s from Kalamazoo, Olivia Brooks in Juvenile Combined Free Dance. We watch and I get to see her win the Juvenile National title! We share our Coach, Dean! I know he is so excited for her and I am so incredibly happy for the both of them! How exciting for her to win!
Time for dinner and bed. I have a big day tomorrow. I really want to do well. Night.
~ Bella

Saturday September 16, 2023
It’s the last day of Solo Dance Nationals 2023! I had a good sleep last night. I’m going to just drink a lot of water and have some fruit and a bran muffin. I don’t want my stomach to hurt and it’s an early skate. I get ready and it’s time to go.
I’m at the rink and warming up outside. I run through my program off ice. There wasn’t any early practice ice available this morning. That makes me a bit nervous. I like to run through everything on the ice before compete/skate, not just be fresh and have a first run through.
I feel ready. I’m going to go out and do my best. I’m having a hard time writing this if I can be honest. Nationals is a lot! A lot of emotions. It’s been a long week. I’m so incredibly grateful to be with this group of amazing skaters who qualified! Everyone is so good! I’ve switched my discipline and focus completely to ice dance this year. My goal was to make it to Nationals and I did! Yet now that, I’m here I want more. I have to understand that it’s my first time. I’ll do something’s differently if I qualify again next year. I’ve learned so many valuable lessons. I’m going to try to be kind to myself, or the things that went wrong and celebrate the things I did right. I am so incredibly happy to be in the company of so many amazing skaters and be a part of this event!
Thank you for choosing me Ice-Dance.com to share my first experience qualifying and competing at Nationals! I met so many new friends and got to watch so many amazing skates. I feel like I became a better skater and a better competitor. Congratulations to the medalists at this years event. I am ready to go home and start preparations for next year. Peace out!
~ Bella