Mel’s Skate Canada Blog: Brought to You By Insomnia

blog2-hdSo I accidentally fell asleep at 10.30 p.m. last night and since this fall, my body has learned to accept sleep in no longer than 5-hour intervals, I was wide awake at 3.30 a.m. I’m sure that I will feel pretty awesome by the time the short dance rolls around tonight!

I was working on this when I passed out over my computer last night, so I figured that I might as well finish my blog. I had a good day at the rink yesterday, despite being exhausted and cranky. Seriously, I apologize to anyone that had the misfortune of speaking to me yesterday. I promise I’ll be well-caffeinated and back to my usual self today! Anyway, I was especially happy that I was able to see all of the short and free dances. I don’t think any team did full run-throughs of both dances, but I got some good glimpses.

I have to mention Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir first, since I had definitely been a bit of a skeptic in regards to their Carmen free dance. Friends, I am not a skeptic anymore. Even just seeing pieces of that program from the “wrong” side of the rink, I think that program is going to be incredible. I can definitely the influence from an outside choreographer—they have a lot of new movements in this piece—and the lifts are mind-blowing. I hope they don’t get with an illegal element on their first lift, though. From my angle, it looked like Scott supported Tessa above his head on the first toss (yes, I said first toss—they have more than one in the first lift), but again, I was sitting directly opposite the judges, so perhaps the arm positions look different from the front. Anyway…no other problems and no signs of the previous injury from the Olympic champs. I liked their short dance, too, although I had trouble picking off moments for photos, since the portions that they did were constantly moving in closed holds. Good for the choreography score…not so great for photos.

I think that the field is quite stacked here in Windsor with a lot of solid teams. Based on the first practice today, I thought I saw a couple of groups outlined, but in the second practice, the teams who seemed a bit weak early in the day finished the day much stronger, while a few of the other teams struggled. The second practice had more mistakes than the first, including a couple of falls, but it didn’t look like anyone was hurt badly. Cappellini & Lanotte came down on a curve lift, I think, although I saw them hit the lift earlier in the session. Hubbell & Donohue also took a tumble, but besides that, I thought that they looked really sharp in their FD practice. 

blog2-ggI watched the second practice for almost everyone else in the competition, only skipping the second group of pairs to charge my batteries and get caught up on submitting dance photos. Everything is a bit of a blur, so the standouts that I can remember were Gracie Gold, Nobunari Oda, and Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford. Gold hit nearly everything, including some HUGE triple-triples. I was very impressed with my hometown girl! Oda looked great in his SP run-through. It was like he was saying, “Hey, my teammates may have swept Skate America last week, but I’m still in the running, too!” And Duhamel & Radford weren’t perfect today, but they just looked really strong, and something about their free program really connected with me. 

After practices ended, I headed to my hotel. I’m not staying downtown at one of the official places, so I was a little worried to see how my hotel would turn out (it’s not one of the usual chains), but it’s fairly nice inside. I was upgraded to a mini suite because the hotel is having a busy weekend, the guy at the desk told me, so I have a kitchen area and a little table, as well as a couch and coffee table and flat screen TV. I am loving the ‘90s walllpaper! Of course, I was too tired and cranky last night to go to the grocery store, so the kitchen has remained empty and I doubt I will actually use it, but I am appreciating the extra space.

Unfortunately, as with most hotels built before the past decade, the only 3-prong outlet is behind the bed, so I’m still stuck sitting there to get any work done, which means that it’s a lot easier for me to nod off while working, as I did last night around 10.30, thus beginning the cycle of 4 a.m. insomnia.

So let’s close with some fun facts about Windsor, shall we? When I lived in Lansing, Michigan, I think I shopped at the Devonshire Mall in Windsor more often than I shopped at home. I’m still not sure why we were so enamoured with Windsor, but whenever my best friend and I needed something to do, one of us would say to the other, “Hey…I need another Canadian political science book (or a new Roots sweatshirt, or a taste of Swiss Chalet). Wanna go to Windsor?” I’m surprised the border guards kept letting us through without suspecting us of something. Anyway, during those two-and-a-half years, I learned a lot about Windsor, and it’s time for me to share this knowledge with all of you.

  • The Windsor-Detroit border is the only place where the United States is due north of Canada. There’s a plaque downtown to commemorate one of the spots. I once took a dorky photo there.
  • The WFCU Centre is only 4 years old. Before then, major ice-related events in Windsor were held at the Windsor Arena downtown, somewhat affectionately known as “The Barn.” I once attended a show at The Barn. I had an on-ice seat. We were staying downtown, so we walked a few blocks over to the arena. It was raining. My hair developed ice crystals within 5 minutes of taking my seat. The locker rooms were on the same level as the concourse, so the whole place smelled like the inside of a hockey player’s gear bag. It’s too bad that the arena isn’t downtown anymore, but seriously, I’m so glad that Skate Canada is not at The Barn.
  • At the aforementioned show, I met one of my favourite skaters from my childhood, Josée Chouinard. I interrupted her while she was munching on a piece of divinity and she was incredibly gracious and told me how much she loved my hometown.
  • The area downtown along the Detroit River is home to a sculpture garden. I wrote about it for my first published travel piece, a column in my undergrad newspaper.
  • I’m not sure if they still do, but the University of Windsor used to make the best ballpoint pens EVER. Seriously. Wrote like a dream. Until the ink ran out.
  • Windsor is home to the only restaurant where I’ve tipped over 100% of my bill. (Waitress was an ice dancer, I considered it a training grant.)
  • I celebrated Canada Day here in 2004 and 2006. In 2004, some friends and I came down for the waterfront festivities because they’d seen a poster advertising “80’s Pop Star Tiffany!” We were so surprised that she was a) still performing and b) not performing inside a mall that we decided we had to see it. When we got here, the Canada Day entertainment was being provided by “Windsor’s Own Tiffany,” who was not an 80’s Pop Star, but rather, a girl who was born in the 80’s who had “Tiffany” bedazzled down her jeans, a rather liberal interpretation of singing on pitch, and a troupe of backup dancers with questionable choreography. It was a letdown from which I have never recovered.

In conclusion…I don’t necessarily love Windsor, but I’ve made quite a few memories here and I’m looking forward to more. The good news is that I fell back asleep while writing this, got up again, had breakfast, and got ready to go. I’m now going to head to the rink by way of the Starbucks inside the Chapters at the Devonshire Mall, where I have many fond memories of meeting friends to spend hours talking skating. And accidentally buying $20 worth of tissue paper.