Konnichiwa! It’s the end of our third day in Japan, and if Day #1 was about taking flight and Day #2 was about leaving the nest, then Day #3 would be best summarized as one of flying in formation. Like geese practicing their autumn V-formations before their migration southward, we ice dancers spent our day of practice either traveling to and from Morikoro Park in Aichi, skating on the competition surface there, or resting back at the hotel. So while this type of day is necessary and even welcomed in the competition experience of any skater, it does not make for interesting blogging!
Rather than bore you with the details of our practice (“hmmmm – that rocker was a little shallow – press the edge harder”), we will share some of the various realizations that we have made here.
#1 – Japan is a wonderful country! The people are so polite to Westerners and they treat skaters like we’re rock stars! The arena is sold out for all the weekend events, and the line for the ladies SP event this afternoon was twice as long as the building. Our arena is where Mao and Daisuke trained before Sochi, and they had to install curtains to insure privacy, since the press is so rabid for skating news.
#2 – The flip side of this mini-celebrity status is the realization that we are not only representatives of our families, our coaches, and US Figure Skating, but also of the country as a whole. It’s clear that it is our responsibility to be as polite, gracious and sportsmanlike as possible in order to return the respect that is shown to us.
#3 – The other skaters here are really great people. While Ellie has already spent time internationally with many of them before, it is a new experience for Alex. We ate dinner tonight with a mix of American and Canadian skaters, and because we all have the shared common interest of skating, it was like hanging out with old friends.
#4 – Japan is a country that loves its technology, but it combines that technology with a sense of aesthetics. A simple roof to cover the line of waiting spectators becomes an undulating wave of steel and fabric. A bustling street at night is turned into an electric rainbow of colors. And we’ve even learned that a famous Japanese artist has used musical vibrations from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, as a catalyst to form his sculptures. This last fact has a special meaning to us, as our free dance is a new take on the traditional Swan Lake story, and now we are obsessed with trying to find these sculptures.
To end this blog, we’d like to say “Oh-May-Day-TOH” [congratulations] to Team USA lady Bradie Tennell on her 4th place SP performance today and wish “Gahn-BAH-Teh-Nay” [good luck] to teammates Jimmy Ma & Kevin Shum on their SP skates this evening.
~ Elliana & Alex