Out and about with John and Evan in Germany

U.S. team resorts to nicknames at the Nebelhorn Trophy

John Coughlin, now known as Thang II, shows off part of his exhibition costume while filling up on food at breakfast at the hotel in Germany.
John Coughlin, now known as Thang II, shows off part of his exhibition costume while filling up on food at breakfast at the hotel in Germany. (Evan Bates)


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By Evan Bates and John Coughlin, special to
(09/26/2008) - Evan Bates and John Coughlin take us behind the scenes at the Nebelhorn Trophy this week in Oberstdorf, Germany.

Day 3

Hello again,

I have so many interesting stories to report from my first senior international here in Oberstdorf. For starters, John and I have stopped calling each other by our American names. My new German nickname is Hans von Snorebourg, and, for lack of creativity, I stole a page from Dr. Suess' book and now refer to him as Thang II after our favorite hotel staff member (see Day 2 blog).

My German is starting to show improvement from the beginning of the week when I had to ask team leader Jenny Mast which was the men's bathroom, Herren or Damen? In my defense, the first three letters of herren (men) do spell "her."

This week has been both exciting and exhausting. How do you say, "longest day of my life," in German? I think that's what yesterday was for me with a total of four skates (two practices and two competitions) starting at 8:30 a.m. and ending at 11:30 p.m. I was able to convince my mind that it was really two separate days, instead of one very long one, with the use of three showers, a nap and multiple energy bars. John can complain about my snoring, but at least I'm hygienic.

I caught the very end of the men's free skate today. Nobunari Oda may have won the skating competition, but Tomas Verner definitely won the screaming 14-year-old girls competition. I worry that my punctured ear drum will throw off my balance for skating tomorrow.

John and partner Caitlin Yankowskas, along with teammates Caydee Denney and Jeremy Barrett are currently at the rink performing their long programs. Unfortunately, I have a 6 a.m. wake-up call waiting for me so I will be with them in spirit, cheering from my bed... with my eyes closed.

The competition wraps up tomorrow with another busy day: the ladies' free, the free dance and the exhibition gala. Why do they keep making me perform twice in one day? Obviously, if we hope to secure our spot in the gala, I must get my rest, so this is where I leave you.

Now, I just need to find an exhibition outfit to wear. Looks like I might be buying some lederhosen tomorrow.

Yours truly,
Hans von Snorebourg

Day 2

Greetings from the home of jet lag, the Jetta sedan and schnitzel.

Today marks the first day of competition. Since Evan will be occupied with competing not once but twice today, I have assumed all blogging duties. I'm happy to report that we awoke much more rested this morning. This can be attributed to being better adjusted to both the time change and Evan's snoring/talking in his sleep.

I'm excited for the international debut of our ice dancers' original dances. Yesterday, I caught the dance practice with teammate Dennis Phan and was impressed with them both. I have the pleasure of training with Jane [Summersett] and Todd [Gilles], who were on point as usual. Emily [Samuelson] and Evan's program, complete with sailor hat and garter belts, is also a must see. I wish I could catch their compulsory dance, but I have this thing I have to do...

I spoke to Chrissy Hughes and Alissa Czisny, who reported that practices are going well. They will be the last event to start and finish, as they kick off Friday.

I was the first in to breakfast this morning, and the last to leave, so I shifted my operation several times and ended up eating with almost everyone on the team.

I was invited to sit with Scott Smith and his coach and discovered the joys of mint tea. We have been very well taken care of by our hotel, with a special shout out being necessary for our waiter who goes by the name of Thang. He has helped me communicate my need for toast to the kitchen every morning.

Caydee, Jeremy, Caitlin and I will be competing this evening. We were two of the few teams to attend the draw and came up with the theory that if you chose not to attend the draw ceremonies, you must skate first by default. Unfortunately, when we attempted to submit this as ISU Rule Clarification 1562.8835A, it was rejected. You win some; you lose some.

That's all I have for now. As always, we strive to provide up-to-the-minute news with a focus on the facts woven into a story that keeps nations on the edge of their seats.

Team USA through and through,

Day 1

Guten morgen from Germany!

Here I am, writing my first blog at 6:30 a.m. local time due to the joys that jet lag brings. With an hour to kill before breakfast opens and my roommate John Coughlin already at practice, I figured what better way to kill time than by documenting my first twelve hours in Oberstdorf?

John and I had an eventful night sleeping cozily in our adjoined, twin-size beds. He used his cell phone to voice record my alleged "snoring" in the middle of the night (still in denial), and I think I retaliated with a few sleepy elbows. Luckily for us, we have some great history together in Oberstdorf, since we were teammates in 2007 when the world junior championships were held here.

The town looks like it is straight out of a Bavarian fairy tale with men in lederhosen tending to their grazing cows at the foot of the Alps. To fit in, John and I bought authentic German hats, complete with a feather. Now, the only question is where do we find our own lederhosen?

The trip to Oberstdorf was a long one. Seven hours in the air to Amsterdam followed by a quick, hour-and-a-half flight to Munich and an enjoyable three-hour bus ride (during which I think I did some more snoring), and we were finally delivered to our destination. Only two things made the trip worse: my English paper rough draft that was due last night and my realization an hour into the trip that I had left my exhibition outfit at home. I have still not found the perfect moment to break the news to my coach, Yasa. I better tell her in person today before she finds out in the worst and most informal way, by reading this blog. Mom, if you are reading this, please FedEx my outfit to:

Hotel Mohren
Marktplatz 6
Oberstdorf, Germany

That's all for now. Breakfast is open, and a day of practices awaits!

Auf wiedersehen,