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A Holly, jolly blog: Moore reports from Slovakia

U.S. ice dancer relates Team USA hijinks from Kosice
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Holly Moore (front, right) and other U.S. skaters cheer on their teammates. -courtesy of Holly Moore

With ice dance partner Daniel Klaber, Holly Moore is the 2012 U.S. novice champion and the 2013 U.S. junior pewter medalist. She bloged for icenetwork from the third Junior Grand Prix event of the season, in Kosice, Slovakia.

Monday, Sept. 16

As the competition wound to a close, Team USA stayed strong throughout all the disciplines in the free skates Saturday and Sunday.

On Saturday night, the ladies and the pairs competed, and all of Team USA's competitors turned up the heat! In pairs, Chelsea Liu and Devin Perini pulled up two places, and with their strong showing, they ended up fifth overall. Kaitlin Budd and Nikita Cheban also skated their hardest and ended up seventh.

The ladies event went well into the night (I was already asleep when my roommate, Barbie Long, came home from the competition at 11:30 p.m.), but Team USA's ladies kept up the sass in their free skates. Barbie skated a fabulously strong program and pulled up two places, ending up fifth. Karen Chen also skated absolutely AMAZINGLY and brought home the gold!

After such fabulous results from the ladies and the pairs, the men and dancers felt good vibes for Team USA. 

After sleeping in all the way until 6:30 a.m. (a huge luxury compared to 5 a.m. the previous day), we had a free dance practice Sunday morning. We were feeling confident and excited for the free dance; we were just going to go out there and have fun and perform the pants off our program.

While we were skating, the crowd was absolutely amazing. As the music sped up, they began clapping to the beat, and we could feel their excitement and were able to feed off their energy. We had the absolute best time out there and left it all on the ice. It felt so good to see our hard work pay off, and we moved into third place. Our teammates, Rachel Parsons and Michael Parsons, also skated an awesome free dance, and they finished second. Team USA had two ice dance medalists!

Standing on the podium to receive our first international medal was indescribable. Knowing that we made our country proud, and seeing not one but two flags with stars and stripes being raised, was a moment that I will never forget.

The last event of the competition was the men's. With all of Team USA cheering them on from the stands, Nix Phengsy and Shotaro Omori both skated their hearts out and never gave up. Nix ended up pulling up to 16th, and Shotaro ended up fifth.

We finished the trip having a team dinner and thanking our wonderful team leader, Kathaleen Cutone; team doctor Richard Gayle; and judges, Kenae Tagawa and Peggy Graham.

I am sitting in the Vienna airport, having been officially awake for 24 hours straight. (This was only the first of our four flights back home, but not to worry: I decided not to wear my sparkly pants so that I didn't get patted down at EVERY SINGLE security checkpoint!) All of Team USA had to catch a 3 a.m. bus to the airport in Kosice, so it's safe to say that we all got no sleep last night.

It was so sad to leave Kosice and to have to say goodbye to our teammates. We all had such great times on the trip and became like a big family. 

Team USA had quite the success in Kosice, and the experience was absolutely incredible. I feel so blessed to be a part of such a special and talented team, and to have the privilege to travel the world to do what I love.

Thank you to all who have read about our amazing experiences. I loved sharing my little piece of the story, and I hope I could describe the trip to you all half as wonderfully as it really was.

Saturday, Sept. 14

Team USA is making its country proud here in Kosice!

Yesterday was a big day for the pairs, ladies and men. They all competed their short programs, and Team USA had a FABULOUS showing (of course). In pairs, Kaitlin and Nikita made quite the splash in their international debut. They are in fourth place after the short, merely a point out of third. Also making their international debut, Chelsea and Devin are close behind in seventh place. They also skated wonderfully.

In the ladies event, Karen is leading the field by quite a few points after a very strong program. Barbie also made her country proud, finishing seventh.

The men skated late into the night, and Shotaro took second place, sitting less than a point out of first. Nix made a very strong international debut and is 20th.

After such amazing performances last night, the dancers sure had a lot to live up to in today's short dance. After our 5 a.m. wake-up call (we didn't even skate until the third warm-up group!), we headed to the rink. Practice went well, and we were ready to go compete.

When we were competing our short dance, we just went out there and had the best time ever! My favorite part about competing has always been performing for the audience and bringing a smile to everyone's face, and I'm hoping the audience had just as much fun as we did in our performance. We are in fourth place after the short dance. Rachel and Michael skated absolutely amazingly and are in second.

We then had the draw for the free dance. Both we and Rachel and Michael were not only excited about how well the U.S. dancers did but also that we are all now in the last warm-up group and get to sleep in tomorrow morning. For the free dance, Rachel and Michael drew 18th and we drew 19th. It's great to have two U.S. teams represented in the final warm-up group, not to mention skating one right after the other yet again. 

Daniel and I are SUPER excited for our free dance Sunday. We can't wait to get out there, be sassy and, of course, entertain everyone!

Now it's time to get suited up in our patriotic gear to go cheer on our pairs teams as they compete their free skates. GO TEAM USA!

Friday, Sept. 13

Yet another beautiful and sunny day here in Kosice!

Yesterday we had our first practices, and they went really well. The arena is HUGE, and it's so much fun to be able to skate in such a beautiful place.

In between practices yesterday, we had the draw for the short dance. We drew 11th, and Rachel and Michael drew 12th.

After the draw, we had our free dance practice, and it went great. One of Team USA's pair teams, Chelsea and Devin, cheered us and Rachel and Michael on throughout the practice, and afterward, we all went to dinner together. 

After an exhausting day of practice, another 11 hours of sleep was just what I needed! We only have one practice today, and then we start competition tomorrow. The pairs, ladies and men all skate their short programs today, so we are lucky to have the whole rest of the day to watch our teammates and cheer them on.

Our team leader, Kathaleen, made sure that we are well-equipped to be decked out in all things red, white and blue to cheer for the team. (I even got sparkly red, white and blue clip-ins for my hair!) 

Before the competition starts this afternoon, I am looking forward to exploring the city a bit. It's a beautiful place (not to mention there's a GIANT mall across the street). The weather is just perfect, seemingly always in the 70-somethings, and I cant wait to walk around.

Good luck to our pairs, ladies and men today as they begin their competitions with their short programs! The dancers will be cheering them on, patriotic sparkly hair extensions and all.

Go Team USA!

Thursday, Sept. 12

We finally made it here to Kosice! (I learned that it's pronounced "Ko-sheet-sa," much thanks to Google.)

We arrived Wednesday around 3 after what seemed to be a marathon of flights. After leaving Detroit at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, we flew through Frankfurt and Vienna before finally arriving in beautiful Slovakia. 

The flights were pretty much smooth sailing for us, other than security stopping me at every checkpoint to pat me down and swab my hands because my sparkly sweatpants set off the metal detector alarms. (I cant help it; I didn't choose the sparkle life, the sparkle life chose me.) Also, I successfully got a measly two hours of sleep throughout the entire duration of the trip; safe to say, I was absolutely exhausted when we arrived.

When we arrived in Vienna, there seemed to be a skating reunion at the airport. As we walked to our gate for our flight to Kosice, we saw skaters everywhere. We met our wonderful team leader, as well as our team judges and many of the other Team USA skaters. Skaters from all over the world were there as well, and our teeny, tiny little plane was stuffed to the gills with skaters going to the competition. It was fun to see familiar faces and catch up with those we haven't seen in a while.

On the flight, I sat next to Shotaro. We had fun comparing our many flights and travel experiences we encountered on our way.

After we arrived, we went to the hotel to check in. The rooms our absolutely amazing! (I'm pretty sure our bathroom is just as big as the bedroom, and we are fully stocked with refrigerators and a walk-in closet.) My roommate is Barbie. We roomed together years and years ago when we were both novice and competing at the U.S. Developmental Team competition in San Francisco, so it was so exciting to room with her again. Also, it was her birthday the day we arrived in Kosice!

After we got settled in and got some dinner, Kathaleen planned a surprise birthday party for Barbie. She got her a beautiful cake, and we all surprised her by singing "Happy Birthday" and enjoying the cake as a team. It was fun to relax (and of course eat some cake) after a long couple days of travel.

We are headed off to our first short dance practice of the day, and after 12 hours of sleep last night, I am ready to go! After practice, we have the draw for the short dance (fingers crossed for a late start order so we don't have a 6 a.m. practice tomorrow) and then a free dance practice. We are feeling really good and can't wait to get started.

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