Never has a competition been as aptly named as this one. Despite it being our second international this year after Dortmund, it feels like the season has been a series of long challenges. As I am sure Louise has already told you, it has been a most interesting start to the season for us, so I shall not reflect on this again.

The day began in the most normal manner with a rather early practice, thankfully on the indoor rink. Our lucky draw of 13th made sure that at least we did not have to get up as early as some… We are staying in a lovely hotel quite near to the rink and have hired a car to get around for the next week. Of course, when we arrived back at the hotel yesterday evening, despite paying €9 per night for the car park, there were no spaces available. We spoke to the man in reception who kindly advised us to PARK SOMEWHERE ELSE! We therefore happily parked on the road outside and went through all the usual checks. Does it charge? No, not between the hours of 8pm and 9am. Imagine our surprise when we arrived back at the car the following morning to find we had been ticketed! You would never believe what for – apparently the car was facing the wrong direction! Oops!

Despite this minor hiccup, we decided there was no way this would affect our practice. We arrived at the rink in good time and warmed up, ready to go. I won’t lie and say it was our best practice ever, but hey, we can all have ones where we are slightly off. Besides, it seemed that we weren’t the only ones. There were a few tears from several of the competitors over the course of the morning as I believe several of those participating in the competition were feeling ill or under the weather. Thankfully the practice finished without too much ado, and we all departed back to our respective hotels for lunch and the usual relaxation before the competition starts. We offered a ride to our team leader back to the hotel so that she could get some breakfast before the day started again. Thankfully there were no mishaps on this trip.

After a small sleep and a bit of R&R, we decided to head down for lunch in the hotel. Unfortunately, there was nothing on the menu we fancied eating before the competition, as I am sure many competitors will tell you that there is nothing worse than eating too much before skating. You would never believe it, but eventually we ended up just across the road from our hotel at McDonalds – not the most healthy thing to be eating before skating for two athletes, you may be thinking. Thankfully we managed to buy two very simple tuna salads with dressing from their healthier range and sat happily eating these for the time being. It was then back to the hotel for the usual pre-competition hair, makeup, etc. I must note that there isn’t really much for a guy to do in this stage, so we just mostly end up sitting around waiting – it’s a great life!

The competition went much as expected. Unfortunately I cannot speak much for the other couples, as you are always so engrossed in your own preparations. I believe that both the Polish team and Hubbell/Olson had bad falls in their programs, but I did not witness them. Finally, after a lot of pacing the corridors, it was our turn to skate.

We took to the ice and skated really well. When the marks came out, we were surprised to see we had only been awarded a level 2 lift and a rather low overall technical score. We are not sure as to why, but this could have had a great impact on our marks and consequently, our placing. At present, despite the fact we lie in 7th, it is a very close competition with only a small difference in the marks between 9th and 3rd. All in all, Louise and I are really happy with the way we skated and performed. It is only our second competition this season after some huge changes in both our programs and training location. We are just hoping the added experience will help us to continue to improve for the future.

Anyway, we are still only half way through the competition, with everything left to play for! It can all change from here on!

Will keep you updated.

Lots of Love