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Like a Ross: Gudis checks in from JGP Poland

U.S. ice dancer recaps Team USA's journey in Gdansk
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Ross Gudis competing with partner Elliana Pogrebinsky at the 2013 U.S. Championships -Jay Adeff

With ice dance partner Elliana Pogrebinsky, Ross Gudis finished fifth in juniors at the 2013 U.S. Championships and won the novice dance pewter medal in 2011. He is blogging for icenetwork from the fourth Junior Grand Prix event of the season, in Gdansk, Poland.

Saturday, Sept. 21

Today marked the end of JGP Poland, as Team USA went out with a bang. Jordan Moeller shredded some ice in his free, leapfrogging himself to a sixth-place finish! His American counterpart, Brian Krentz, had a solid skate, moving up a spot.

Ellie [Pogrebinsky] and I had a strong free dance, winding up sixth overall with a personal best. It felt so rewarding to have two solid skates that I can be proud of. Fellow Americans [Kaitlin] Hawayek and [Jean-Luc] Baker had an impressive free dance, earning them first place and the top score of the JGP circuit thus far!

It was such a relief to finally get to sit down and not have to worry about where I had to be next. I, along with some other members of Team USA, watched the exhibition, which Jean-Luc, Kaitlin and Angela [Wang] participated in, and they were all fantastic! I always enjoy watching exhibitions because everyone has a genuinely good time skating, there's no stress and the programs are always unique and fun to watch.

After everyone returned from the rink, we had a late dinner in the hotel, followed by a few tough hours struggling to stay awake for our 3:45 a.m. bus (ugggh). 

It has been a great week, filled with stellar skating and strong team bonding. I really enjoyed our team and look forward to traveling with them all again at some point.

Friday, Sept. 20

Today I entered adulthood, and did so in style! We had a personal best in the short dance and are in sixth place headed into the free dance. Fellow Americans Hawayek and Baker rocked their short as well, putting them in first place! I felt so comfortable competing and had a genuinely great time performing. 

The ladies wrapped up their competition today, with Angela Wang finishing second. Her American counterpart, Mariah Bell, had a strong free skate, moving her a spot ahead to earn a seventh-place finish. Congrats on a great competition, ladies.

Tomorrow is the last day of the Baltic Cup (JGP Poland), beginning with the men's free, followed by the free dance. Hopefully, we will be able to make Team USA as proud as the ladies did!

To celebrate my birthday, our team leader, Ben Miller, bought me a very nice Gdansk mug and chocolate cake. For dinner, Ellie, me and our parents went out to a local Italian restaurant, Tesoro, which was delicious. I had pizza scampi followed by the best tiramisu I have ever had in entire my life!

Tomorrow night, I have arranged to head to McDonald's with the other men on Team USA (it's apparently too fattening for the ladies) for a post-competition pig-out. I cannot wait until tomorrow to show off our improvement in our free dance since JGP Latvia. I am sure that everyone will have great skates.

Fun fact about Gdansk No. 4: Between World War I and II, Gdansk was neither part of Germany nor Poland, but a separate city state.

Thursday, Sept. 19

Today was the first day of competition for ladies and men. Angela had a great skate and is in second place! Mariah had a solid performance as well, and is in eighth with room to move up. I had the opportunity to watch my roommate, Jordan Moeller, live, whose short program earned him 51.06 points. 

We had two practices today to make up for the lost practice yesterday due to the power outage. Both practices felt much better than yesterday, as I think that I have finally gotten rid of my jet lag (thank god). Dancers have early practices tomorrow, beginning at 7:30 a.m., followed by the short dance competition at 1:30 p.m.

In other news, tomorrow is not just the short dance competition but also my 18th birthday! Hopefully, I will have a strong performance to help celebrate.

Fun fact about Gdansk No. 3: Gdansk is the largest port city on the Baltic.

Wednesday, Sept. 18

After taking the shuttle, warming up and putting costumes and skates on, it happened. Just as I left the dressing room to get on the ice for practice, all of the lights shut off, the music stopped and all power was lost! We skated for about 20 minutes without power (the only light coming from the windows), at which point our session was postponed. I could barely take my skates off because the locker rooms had gone pitch black. After waiting three hours, power finally returned, and we went on to redo the practice, with our second scheduled practice being cancelled.

In the dead time, Ellie and I kept ourselves busy in the gym, which let light in through the large windows on either side. Many competitors were napping and stretching and eating lunch, waiting for the power to turn on. After some time, we, along with skaters from Germany and South Africa, played basketball, which made the time fly by. Every room of the facility was lit with candles. The hallways were pitch black, and by the time we got back on the ice, the air was moist and the ice slushy. Despite these setbacks, we still had a strong practice and look forward to competing on Friday.

In other news, I finally got to walk over to the Baltic Sea today. It was a beautiful day to walk on the beach, as the sun decided to show its face after yesterday's cloudy, moist weather. The water was surprisingly warm for the Baltic, and the white sand felt so soft between my toes. Hopefully, when we finish competing, I will get a chance to go in the water and take a swim!

Fun fact about Gdansk No. 2: Gdansk is known and has been known as Danzig, Gdania, Gyddanyzc, Kdanzk, Gdanzc, Danceke, Danzc, Danczk, Danczik, and Danczig.

Tuesday, Sept. 17

Team USA arrived in Gdansk, Poland, today, the fourth stop on the Junior Grand Prix circuit. After the red-eye trip over the Atlantic, we have finally reached this beautiful city! Luckily for us, our eight-hour flight was half empty, so I had more than enough space to stretch out and get some sleep. Even though it felt like it was 3 a.m. when we arrived, my partner, Ellie, and I still managed to stay awake and explore the hotel. The rooms are surprisingly spacious, and the beds are nearly twice as big as I was expecting. 

After settling in, we went downstairs for dinner with some of the other members of Team USA. It was great to catch up with skaters that I only get to see once or twice a year. Fortunately, it appears that everyone's skates and costumes arrived unscathed. For dinner, I had wiener schnitzel, an international favorite of mine, along with some pasta and pound cake for dessert. Before I leave Poland, I have promised myself that I will try the sausages, which I hear Poland is famous for.

I look forward to exploring the city and culture more tomorrow, as both Ellie and I were too exhausted to go out and site-see today. I have heard that there is even a McDonald's and KFC, so I won't be missing any of the comforts of home!

I can't wait to start official practices tomorrow, as I look forward to showing everyone all of the improvements we have made since JGP Latvia. Competition begins on Thursday with the ladies, followed by the men (dance does not begin its competition until Friday). I know that everyone will make Team USA proud, and I will be sure to cheer everyone on.

Fun fact about Gdansk No. 1: Gdansk was founded over 1,000 years ago, in the year 997.

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