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Hochstein's junior worlds athlete diary

All the highlights from The Hague

Some of the Team USA boys at the team dinner at Topkapi.
Some of the Team USA boys at the team dinner at Topkapi. (Kim Heim)

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By Grant Hochstein, special to icenetwork.com
(03/09/2010) - Grant Hochstein pens all the backstage action from the 2010 World Junior Figure Skating Championships in The Hague, Netherlands.

Friday, March 12
Greetings again from The Hague!

After having some time to look back on what I did yesterday, I would just like to say that I am very proud of myself. It is a very difficult position to be first after the short at junior worlds, especially in your first trip, and I was proud that I didn't fall apart in the long. Sure, it wasn't my best program, but I didn't give up and still landed six triples. When you try too hard instead of letting your body do what it knows how to do, things often go wrong. On a positive note, my season has been very successful, and I'm going to continue to focus only on the good things. This was my best season ever, and it will be followed by ones that will be even greater!

I'm writing this blog entry on a break between the ladies short and the free dance, so by the time this gets posted the dancers may already be done. First, I would like to say how proud I am of the ladies. They all had a few issues, but none of them gave up. Kiri stepped out of her triple flip and touched down on her double Axel, but she landed a very solid triple Sal-double toe. She also received excellent levels and GOEs.

Agnes delivered a solid program at her first international competition. The only error was a fall on the triple flip, but the program was highlighted by a wonderful triple Lutz-double toe to open. I was actually surprised Christina was so low. Her only mistake was singling the back end of her triple toe-triple toe combination. She hit everything else, including a triple flip that had great flow out of the landing. Double thumbs up to my Canadian pal Kate Charbonneau, who is in fourth. Kate skated a clean program that included a triple toe-double toe and a triple flip. I am a proud American friend.

I would like to take a moment to share some of the amazing moments of the day. This morning A.J., Brynn, Felicia and I went for a round of bowling across the street from our hotel. Let's just say none of us will be entering any tournaments in the foreseeable future. The results were as follows:

A.J. - 97
Grant - 92
Brynn - 87
Felicia - 63

Pretty pathetic, but we had a great time.

Then, when we got to the rink, Felicia, Brynn and I decided to try out the indoor ski hill. Well, Felicia and I have never skied before, so it was an interesting experience. I was actually proud because I did not fall and went down the big hill twice!! Felicia, on the other hand, fell going up the ski lift...how embarrassing is that!?! I'm pretty sure I used muscles I didn't even know that I had and that I will be feeling it tomorrow.

To cap off the fun of the day, we went go-kart racing. The first time it was only the four of us bowlers from the morning. I would just like to brag and say that I finished second since I will not mention how I fared the second time. The next race included Dalilah Sappenfield, Brynn, A.J., Felicia, Taylor, Nathan, Brittney, Keegan and myself. It was soooo much fun. You get to race for 12 minutes, and your fastest time determines the placements. Did I forget to mention that all of this is included in the Uithof complex that the rink is located in? Yeah, it's amazing!! Hopefully, when I get back to the hotel, I can upload some pictures for you all.

The dancers are now on the ice, and I have to go catch the event and root for them all. Fingers crossed that we can bring home a medal! I have faith.

Hope you enjoyed this update!

Grant

Thursday, March 11
Hello, everyone! It's really late here, so I'm only going to write a small blog entry today.

As you can probably imagine, I was very disappointed with where I ended up after the long program. To be honest, I'm not really sure what went wrong. The first three quarters of the program felt strong, and then for some reason it all sort of fell apart. It's strange because this is the most prepared I have ever felt for a competition in my life. I don't know, maybe I tried to hard. Hopefully, by the end of the week I can give you an answer. Still, I suppose being fifth in the world isn't too shabby. I still have my small gold medal from the short program, and nobody can ever take that accomplishment away from me.

I know Armin probably feels as frustrated as I do. He did, however, land a nice triple Axel and a triple flip-triple toe combination. Keegan skated the best out of the three of us. Other than a miss on his second triple Axel, it was a great performance. I hope the three of us made you all proud!

I didn't get to watch the dance event, so unfortunately I'm not going to be able to write a report on that. I will be spending the majority of my time at the rink these next few days, so I'll be having exciting things to share. I want to wish all three U.S. dance teams, the three U.S. ladies and Canada's Kate Charbonneau good look tomorrow!! I will be there to root you all on!!

Until next time,
Grant

Wednesday, March 10
Oh, my God!!

That is all I can say. Today has definitely been an awesome day for me! However, as a good team representative, I will talk about my teammates before I talk about myself.

The pairs event just ended. All three of our teams gave solid efforts. For a new team, Brynn (Carman) and AJ (Reiss) were awesome. They took some high risks in their long program and didn't hold back, which is something they should be proud of. Felicia (Zhang) and Taylor (Toth) were perfect other than a fall on the side-by-side triple toes. They landed a beautiful throw triple Salchow and throw triple loop. I thought they should have placed higher, but then again, I don't really know anything about pairs. Britney (Simpson) and Nathan (Miller) fought through their long program. It wasn't easy, especially being in the final warm-up, but they held their own and made us proud.

The dance event started yesterday, and our teams are sitting in second, seventh and 11th. I missed Rachel (Tibbetts) and Collin (Brubaker) because I was at practice, but they must have skated well. I was able to watch the other two teams, however -- Zach (Donohue) and Piper (Gilles) looked strong to me, but something must not have worked for the judges because they are in 11th. Knowing how strong they are, I'm sure they will pull up in the next two dances. Maia (Shibutani) and Alex (Shibutani)(or should I say Awwix) were incredible, like they usually are. Their posture and command of the ice are two things that I truly admire about their skating. I'm not psychic, but if I was, I would predict a world junior title in their future, and by "their future" I mean in the next two days.

Now, on to the men's event... FINALLY!!! I wasn't able to watch Keegan (Messing), since he skated two before me, but to score as high as he did, it must have been good. Armin (Mahbanoozadeh) skated right after me, so I was able to watch him. He started out with a solid triple Axel and triple Lutz-triple toe combination, but then he popped his triple flip. He has been skating really well in practice, so the flip surprised me. Knowing Armin, he will be ready to rock it tomorrow.

And now on to myself. I cannot believe I am in first. Seriously, I don't believe it!! My goal for this trip was to skate as well as I could and not worry about placement, and that is still my philosophy heading into the long. I have a very small cushion of about two-and-a-half points, which is nice, but I know I'll have to skate my butt off tomorrow. I'm ready for the challenge!!

Now I'm off to bed.

Grant

Tuesday, March 9
Hello from Den Haag!!!

Grant Hochstein here, reporting for icenetwork.com blog duty! Before I go off to practice, I'm going to do a quick update to let everyone know what Team USA has been up to.

Everybody has been skating really well, and I think I can speak for the entire team when I say that we are all really, really excited to be here. The dance and pairs events start today, and hopefully I'll be able to catch the Americans and give a report back on how everyone skated. The men start tomorrow, while the ladies don't start until Friday.

My trip has been quite eventful so far. On the way to the airport I realized I had grabbed my expired passport. NOT GOOD!!! Let's just say my mother was furious with me. We made it to the airport five minutes before check-in closed. It was insane, and I will now remember to check my passport 500 times before I leave.

We got into The Hague on Saturday afternoon, got situated and had our team dinner at a really cool Mediterranean restaurant.

Before my first practice on Sunday, my coach, my chaperones and I went to Amsterdam. The city is so beautiful. We went to the Anne Frank house, where I got in trouble for taking a picture. How was I supposed to know we weren't allowed? Oh, that's right, because there was a sign on the window. At least I still have my picture, so it was worth it. Then we took a boat tour before heading back home.

Yesterday, I had two practices, one in the main rink and the other in the practice rink. The practice rink is inside the (unfortunately) melted speed skating oval, which is outside. It's in a tent, so we say we are skating under the big top.

Now I'm at the rink and need to stop writing this and start warming up for practice so I don't get in trouble.

Talk to you all soon!
Grant