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Haydenettes world synchros athlete diary

Girls are having a grand time in Zagreb

Erika Hoffman (left) poses backstage with two Haydenettes teammates.
Erika Hoffman (left) poses backstage with two Haydenettes teammates. (courtesy of Erika Hoffman)

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By Erika Hoffman and Jenna Longo, special to icenetwork.com
(04/03/2009) - Erika Hoffman and Jenna Longo of the Haydenettes keep icenetwork.com up-to-date on what's happening at the 2009 World Synchronized Skating Championships in Zagreb, Croatia.

Sunday, April 5
At 4:00 a.m. we headed to the lobby to load the shuttle bus to the airport. We checked-in for our flights and said our last goodbyes to Miami -- our team leaders and doctor as they were flying home on different flights. We flew to Paris and had a four hour layover before finally boarding our Air France flight home to Boston.

Many of us slept and did homework on the long flight home. It will be strange not seeing everyone when we wake up tomorrow, but we're all very excited to be home after a long week of competition and travelling.

Thanks for letting us share our worlds experience with you! Congrats again to everyone. Go USA!
Love, The Haydenettes

Saturday, April 4
It was another sunny morning in Zagreb. We got to sleep in this morning because we drew to skate in the last group for the competition. We got up and headed to breakfast around 9:30 a.m.. The team meal room was very crowded! There was a strong energy and excitement in the room. After breakfast, we walked outside to get some fresh air and pass the time before preparing for free skate official practice.

It was so nice out that we got to warm-up outside on the courtyard. Our free skate practice was very good. We did the program in large sections both times our music was played. The sections had a lot of power, and it was good for us to get the feel of the ice one last time. Heading back to the hotel, we went straight to lunch before it closed because it was already almost 3:00 p.m. After lunch we went upstairs for video review.

We had some downtime, so it was time for another walk to get out and clear our heads before our skate. We walked in hopes of finding some shopping, but we were unaware that stores close early here on Saturday afternoons. We settled for a quick walk and then sat outside and enjoyed the nice weather by the fountain. We watched fans begin to file into the arena to watch the start of the event.

As it was almost time for us to start sewing our hair and doing our make-up again, we all got together for another "lucky tattoo," this time, they were Kung Fu Pandas. With the power of the panda, we all got ready as usual and before we knew it, it was time to leave. After a long year of practicing, preparing, competing, waiting and dreaming; our last skate was here. We walked outside to warm-up on the courtyard. It felt like a summer night, it was the perfect temperature and the sun was just starting to go down. After our usual warm-up we headed to the locker room. Again, we got last minute words of advice and encouragement before walking to wait ice side.

Taking the ice to compete the long was emotional and exhilarating. The rink was even more crowded than last night. We spotted the USA section with both Haydenettes and Miami fans waving flags and cheering. The cheering around the whole arena was so loud. We glanced around at each other, gave last minute hugs and then it was time. We skated our program with grace, speed and power. It was four minutes and 50 seconds that we will never forget. We scored 130.30 for our freeskate and 207.40 overall, ending up in fourth place overall.

Skating at a world championship event is an amazing experience and honor. To be able to take the ice and compete with "the best of the best" from around the world is priceless. We had an amazing week filled with many great memories to take home with us. We would like to thank everyone for their support this week here in Zagreb, especially Karin Sherr -- our team leader, Dr. Burke, and Kelly Hodge. And we'd like to congratulate all the teams on a great week of competition!

Now it's time for us to enjoy the skater's party, see our families and friends, and of course pack to go home to Boston tomorrow morning.
Erika and Jenna

Friday April 3
We woke up to a sunny Zagreb this morning excited that it was finally competition day. We headed to breakfast with our maroon t-shirts decorated with gold writing to match our short program dresses. After eating a quick breakfast, it was time to get ready for our short program official practice.

We drew second in our group, so we took the ice to practice after Team Russia. Our practice was very good. We completed one run-through and then repeated a few sections while they played our music a second time. Every time we practice here, our skates get a little stronger and more consistent. Our fellow team USA teammates Miami University were in the stands cheering for us. It was a great feeling to go out and skate so strong.

After practice we saw our parents before walking back to watch the practice video and have lunch. Everyone was feeling confident and ready for the event. It started late and we were in the middle group, so we had a lot of time after lunch before we had to get ready. We walked around the city to get some fresh air and enjoy the sights.

Finally, it was time to start getting ready. Before we started hair and make-up we all got our temporary tattoos (the kind you can get from cereal boxes etc). The tattoos were roses to represent our Tango short program. It's something fun that our spirit committee planned for us as a good luck charm. We had fun as a team putting them on each other and even got our managers and coaches to get them too. We did our hair and make-up and were ready to go. After a short team meeting and some team traditions, it was off to the rink.

The rink was packed with people. We left our bags in the 'skater's village' area and headed upstairs to warm-up alongside other teams in our group. After our usual program run-through and warm-up routine, we went to the locker room. It was finally time to compete. The mood was focused and upbeat. After skating strong practices all week and working so hard all season, we all knew what we needed to do. Before we knew it, it was time to leave the locker room. Saga (Krantz) and our coaches gave us a few last words of advice and reassurance before we walked to wait ice side. Team Russia's scores were posted as we took the ice -- it was our time.

We skated our 'Tango' short program with a lot of expression and confidence. We were all very focused through the program. We skated with speed and power and at the end; we knew we had skated well. We waited anxiously for our score to come up. It was 77.10, a seasons best for our short. We were thrilled. We quickly ran back to the hotel to drop off our skates and eat dinner before the last group of teams skated. We cheered loudly for Miami as they took the ice. They skated a beautiful short program to a Beatles Medley. They scored 71.62. At the end of the night we were in fifth place and Miami was in seventh.

Outside the rink, our family and friends were waiting for us. It was great to see them and it was great to know that we skated a clean program. We found out that we will skate first in last group tomorrow in the free skate competition.

Back at the hotel, each of our rooms debuted our "room theme" for the trip. It's a fun team tradition that we do when we travel. It was fun to see what everyone had come up with and take some pictures before heading to bed.

Good night from Zagreb! Erika and Jenna

Thursday, April 2
Today was another early morning for us. We woke up to have breakfast and get ready for our practices. Our first practice was at the official arena. We warmed up on the concourse, doing our usual warm-up routines and then running through long program sections. We took the ice after Team Belgium. We did lots of sections from our long program. It was another strong practice for us. Miami University took the ice after our skate for their 20-minute practice session.

Our parents and friends were waiting outside in the rain to say "hello" as we left the arena. Jenna was surprised by her brother who flew from Italy to watch her! Almost all of our friends and family are here now, so it's very exciting to have so much support for Team USA!

After a quick hello, we walked back to the hotel to watch our practice video and have lunch. After lunch and a quick wardrobe change, it was time to practice again -- this time at the unofficial rink.

We rode the shuttle with our new Canadian friends again today. Practice went very well. We skated after Miami University. Our focus was on the short program and our tango expression. We headed back to the hotel for more video review and free time before the draw.

Ready to leave for the draw, we headed to the lobby. All of the teams looked very nice in their dress outfits. Team USA wore black suits with our Team USA jackets over them to walk outside in the rain. It was a short shuttle bus ride to the auditorium where the draw ceremonies would be held.

The draw was a really fun event! We sat by country and watched all the participating countries' flags and team representatives process in at the beginning. There were many good speeches given by members of the local organizing committee in Zagreb and ISU representatives. Then for a surprise before the draw ceremony, there was live entertainment. The singer and his band had all of the skaters and most of the other observers in the auditorium on their feet dancing and clapping -- it was great!

Finally, it was time for the draw! The top 12 placements from the 2008 World Championships drew first for starting orders 12-23, and then Croatia drew to see which country would start the draw for starting orders 1 through 11. Miami University drew number 21, and we drew 13. After the draw, we headed back to the hotel for a quick dinner before heading to our rooms.

Tomorrow is the short program competition. We are wishing all of the teams good luck!

Good Night from Zagreb.
Erika and Jenna

Wednesday, April 1
Dobro Jutro! (Good Morning)

We woke up around 7:30 a.m. to a foggy Zagreb. We headed to the team meal room to have breakfast before starting hair and make-up for our practices. Our first practice was at the unofficial rink, about a 20-minute drive from our hotel. We loaded onto the shuttle with Team Canada's "Black Ice." It was a tight squeeze with 40 skate bags, 40 skaters, coaches, team leaders, etc.!

When we arrived, we dropped our bags in the locker room and warmed up in the ballet room. We would skate before our Team USA teammates, Miami University. We worked on our long program, completing an energetic run-through and many clean sections.

After practice, we were happy to see our parents before heading back to the hotel to watch video from our practice and have lunch. We had some time to rest and change before walking to the official rink for our second practice. There was a larger crowd than last night, including more USA fans, some other teams and some officials. We worked on our short program, doing many sections to focus on expression and power. We were happy with our skate.

We walked back to the hotel for dinner and then downtime before going to sleep.
Erika and Jenna

Monday, March 30 and Tuesday, March 31
We arrived at Logan Airport around 2:30 p.m. to catch our Air France flight to Paris. Our flight was on time and a very smooth ride. We arrived in Paris without any problems. We had a short layover before boarding our second flight to Zagreb.

Arriving in Zagreb, we were delighted to find that we had all of our luggage, and everyone was healthy -- a good trip so far! We were met by one of the competition shuttles, loaded our bags and left for the hotel. We arrived at the hotel around 1:00 p.m. to find several other teams in the lobby, some checking in and others already heading to practice.

We checked in to our rooms and had some time to unpack, rest, and have a snack before getting ready for our first practice. We are staying at the official hotel, which is across the courtyard from the competition arena, so it's a quick walk for us.

Around 5:00 p.m., we headed to the rink. It was great to get used to the ice and the size of the competition arena. Our practice was very strong, even though we had been traveling all day. After practice, we were all very excited to have dinner and go to sleep. It was a very long two days!

Good night from Zagreb!
Erika and Jenna