Ice Network

Taipei 101: Carreira explores junior worlds host city

U.S. ice dancer takes readers behind the scenes at season-ending event
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Christina Carreira and her ice dance partner, Anthony Ponomarenko, work on their lifts outside a temple in Taipei. -courtesy of Christina Carreira

Ice dancer Christina Carreira is competing at the 2017 World Junior Figure Skating Championships with partner Anthony Ponomarenko. She is keeping a blog for icenetwork.

Sunday, March 19

Yesterday was the exhibition, but since we never expected to finish in the top three, I had no dress with me. In most cases, you cannot use your competition programs, choreography or costume for the exhibition showcase. Anthony had it easy: He put on a T-shirt and black pants, and was all set. It's a totally different story for us ladies! The Australian pairs team was in the same situation as us, so, after consulting with tournament officials, permission was given for me to wear my free dance dress.

Prior to the exhibition was the small medal ceremony. There were so many fans attending, it was incredible! We all received nice gifts, and the fans had the opportunity to ask us questions on different topics, which was a lot of fun.

Then it was time for the exhibition. Taipei Arena is a huge venue, and the crowd was great, which made for an incredible experience! Once the exhibition was over, the fans were again waiting for us and asking for pictures and autographs. There were so many fans waiting that security needed to clear a path so the skaters could walk back to the hotel to get ready for the closing banquet.

It was nice to see everyone nicely dressed for our final evening in Taipei. I just can't believe the week is already over.

I want to congratulate our teammates, Rachel Parsons and Michael Parsons, on winning the gold medal in dance! As for Lorraine [McNamara] and Quinn [Carpenter], you have been amazing ambassadors for U.S. ice dance, and you have provided great inspiration for me. I wish you all the best for years to come.

Special thanks also go out to our team leader, Kathleen Cutone; our assistant team leader, Laurie Johnson; team physio, Kristen Schyten; and our doctor, Fred Workman.

Congratulations to all Team USA members! A big thank you to the LOC for putting together a great competition as well.

To Taipei, I wish I could have spent more time with you. I will miss you, and I hope to be back in the near future.

Thank you to all of you who read this blog.

From the sky between Taipei and Japan,

克里斯蒂娜 (Christina)

Friday, March 17-Saturday, March 18

Friday was a pretty relaxed day. We had our free dance practice late in the morning and just stretched out after that. We also took in the ladies competition and went to visit Taipei 101 with Igor [Shpilband]. Taipei 101 is the second-tallest skyscraper in the world, at 1,667 feet. The financial center also holds a huge shopping area where you can find items by top designers including Chanel, Cartier and Dior. The famous Din Tai Fung restaurant, mostly known for its delicious dumplings, is also located inside.

Unfortunately, we were unable to go all the way up to the observatory because it was too cloudy, so Igor took us to the old town near the tower instead. Shortly after leaving the town, we went to a dumpling restaurant near our hotel. The food was good, and it felt great to finally have time outside the hotel.

Saturday began with a 7 a.m. practice, a stretching session and then our usual nap prior to competition. We were in the second-to-last group for the free dance, so there was a bit of time before we needed to take the ice again.

We love our free dance this year, and I was sad to perform it for the final time Saturday. As you're reading this blog, you all most likely know the outcome of the free dance event. We knew we had a good free program this year, and the objective for junior worlds was to present two solid programs and to finish in the top five.

After our free dance marks were announced, we knew we might have a slight chance to move up depending on what the other teams did. We both sat down in the skaters lounge to watch the remainder of the competition, and I mentioned to Anthony that I thought we'd finish fourth by 0.20 points.

When the scores for the final team were announced, however, we were more than pleased to learn that we'd finished in third place! Everyone was extremely happy. Our team leader, physiotherapist and the team doctor all came to see us. I need to give a special thank you to Dr. Fred Workman because when I was sick before and during this event, he helped me get back on me feet and ready for competition.

Once the awards ceremony concluded, we had the press conference and a drug testing. We were chosen once again for the screening, and because of all the medication I was taking, it took a while to fill out all the paperwork. Once that was over, we took multiple pictures with fans and signed autographs. I felt like a star! Igor was still dressed in a way that matched my dress, and I can't remember seeing him this happy.

To cap the day, Igor, Fabian [Bourzat], my mother, Anthony and I all went out to celebrate. It was a nice evening, but I think even then none of us realized that Igor changed and was wearing a polo with the symbolic No. 3 on it.

Wednesday, March 15-Thursday, March 16

The past two days have been quite busy for Team USA.

The men had their short program Wednesday night. The competition was so strong, with the top 12 guys all skating clean programs and the top four all scoring over 80 points!

The ice dancers had only one practice Wednesday. The announcer here is extremely challenged every time a skater steps on the ice. At the beginning of our Wednesday practice, he completely botched my name, killed Anthony's last name, turned "Quinn" into "Kin"...only Rachel [Parsons] and Micheal [Parsons'] names were spared. It was so funny!

On Thursday, it was our turn to take the ice...FINALLY! 

Our warm-up practice went well. Once it was done, Anthony and I stretched and headed back to the hotel. 

The LOC here is so organized, it's almost scary. Everything is timed perfectly and works like a clock. The man who is in charge of opening the curtain so we can approach the rink is timing the skater's program and, believe you me, you won't be able to move ahead until he lets you! 

As we marched to the rink for the warm-up, our coach, Igor Shpilband, turned to me and said, "Notice my tie." I said, "Yes, it matches my dress," to which he replied, "This is not a coincidence." Igor is just the best!

As we took our starting position for our short dance, something amazing happened -- my nose finally unclogged! I've been congested and unable to breathe since we left Detroit. I was happy and relieved just thinking to myself that I would be able do this program and actually breathe!

The short dance competition was a bit tough for Team USA. We had a little mistake on the twizzles, which caused us to lose a lot of points, and we are in sixth place. Lorraine [McNamara] and Quinn [Carpenter] had difficulties with their step sequence, and it cost them a lot, too. They're in seventh. Rachel and Micheal did a clean program and are in second place.

The men's event followed our competition. Alex Krasnozhon finished eighth. Vincent Zhou landed a quad lutz and two quad salchows, and with a total score of 258.11, he easily walked away with the title. Way to go, Vincent!

Time now for a nice Jamba Juice with my partner and then some relaxation for the rest of the day.

Talk to you soon!

克里斯蒂娜 (Christina)

Tuesday, March 14

Good morning from Taipei!

Tuesday was a practice day for all the skaters here. Everyone had two practices. We had one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Both rinks are in the same building, which is nice. The main rink is huge and so beautiful! I'm amazed at how everything is kept so clean here.

A lot of things are different here in Taipei from what I've experienced on the Junior Grand Prix circuit. Usually, athletes, coaches and judges need to take a bus to get to the rink. Here, the official hotel is just across the street from the rink. So, no buses...everyone is walking. It's really cool and different! We walk with all the locals, who are probably heading to work or school. The streets are crowded with cars, buses and bikes...lots of bikes! The people here are so organized even in the way they drive, it almost seems choreographed.

Today I got the chance to see someone really special to me, Yvan Desjardins. He was my first coach when I started skating. Nicolas Nadeau, one of the men's competitors here, was one of my training mates back then (Nic and I are from the same hometown). So amazing that we are both here at junior worlds...who would have thought back then!

Tomorrow marks the beginning of the competition for the men and pairs. Go Team USA...sk8 great and have fun! 

As for us, we will hit the ice for our 11:40 a.m. practice while you'll be sleeping in the comfort of your bed! 

Talk to you soon.

克里斯蒂娜 (Christina)

Monday, March 13

Nǐ hǎo!

We made it to Taipei after a lot of traveling.

We left Detroit at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday and flew for 12 hours all the way to Japan. After a "short" four-hour flight, we arrived in Taipei at 8:45 p.m. on Sunday night. Crossing all those time zones, we miss almost a full day...it's kind of like time travel. 

People from the organizing committee were waiting for us at the airport. Everything went fast, and by the time we knew it, we were on the bus heading to the hotel. All the people from the LOC are very helpful: A lot of them speak English and, as I expected, they are very organized. After getting our credentials, we all went to our rooms to get some sleep.

Our first day in Taipei was meant for us to relax after the long trip and get familiar with our surroundings. We did a light workout and spent the rest of the day walking around and visiting with Angélique [Abachkina], Louis [Thauron] and Zachary [Lagha].

We went to visit the Martyrs' Shrine and Longshan Temple. Since there was plenty of room there, we decided it would be a great place to warm up some lifts...the crowd was very pleased with our work. People started to applaud and scream. The security guard, on the other hand, didn't seem to appreciate it. A temple is a place where you're supposed to be silent, so even though we don't understand Chinese, the guard made it extremely clear that we needed to stop disturbing the peace! That was a very nice day, and I just love that picture (see above).

After our visit, we headed back to the hotel, ate dinner and retired to our rooms.

Wishing you good night...see you tomorrow!

克里斯蒂娜 (Christina)