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Kim Navarro's world championships athlete diary

Kim Navarro and Brent Bommentre are bidding adieu to competition.
Kim Navarro and Brent Bommentre are bidding adieu to competition. (Getty Images)

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By Kim Navarro, special to icenetwork.com
(03/22/2010) - Kim Navarro blogs from the 2010 World Figure Skating Championships in Torino, Italy.

Sunday, March 28
To start the post-competition celebration off right, a group of us (including Brent, my mom and aunt, and skating friends from my home club) went on a tour of Piedmont, an area known for its world-class wines. Being from the California wine country, I am very biased to Sonoma County's beauty, but I have to say that Piedmont is one of the most exquisite landscapes I have ever seen.

We were taken to a small family-run winery called Elvio Cogno winery. As the wine-maker and his wife took us through a tasting of five different wines, I couldn't help but find parallels between wine-tasting and competitive figure skating. The wine-maker, Valter, described some wines as technical and stylistic, while others were "powerful, yet elegant." It was as though he was describing different skaters.

When one of us asked which wine was his favorite of the wines we had tasted, he pointed to one of the Barolos and said "this one, but just for right now." Then his brow furrowed and he shook his head and said "but I do not like this question. It is not right to compare the wines."

In many ways, this too parallels the competitive skating world. This man spoke with so much passion for his wine and clear respect for their individuality from one another. For him, the idea of claiming one better than another broke his heart. It just seemed wrong. In some ways, in a subjective sport such as skating in which personal taste plays an undeniable role, the idea of ranking unique individuals can oftentimes seem unnatural. One might be technical and stylistic, like a Barolo, while another might be powerful yet elegant, like a Barbera. Yet both great wines.

Because this trip has marked the end of one chapter, I have been a bit reflective and at times embarrassingly philosophical (which I am sure the Italian wine has something to do with).

After writing about my feelings of being "left out of the party," someone wrote me and wanted to give a shout-out to Ashley Wagner, who is also in the same boat (and who I have thought about a lot too-big hug Ashley!) I also received messages from other people who shared similar feelings, even if the circumstances were slightly different. Not only was I reminded that I was in really good company, but possibly that I was in the majority. My experience is a pretty common human experience (and not the birthday party one).

Sorry, I told you I have been getting reflective.

Life can be tough and confusing at times. It is easy to get puzzled by the whole point of things. I will admit to owning my fair share of self-help books (why not dig yourself a deeper hole, Kim?) Although skating is very important to me, I know that it is not all life is about. And although I don't know what is, with a little reading from my collection, it seems that relationships, sense of community, and a connection with others is of great importance. In other words, being a part of the human experience.

Which is why the way my night ended last night seems so fitting.

As our group walked back from the evening, we passed a restaurant we had frequented where a waiter named Simone had treated us so well. He had told us to make sure to come in our last night, but the time had escaped us and it was already very late. Yet we saw him through the window, closing things up, and ran inside to say goodbye.

And he was so genuinely happy to see us. He made us sit down at the restaurant's big round table. He wanted to hear about my "race" (skating competition) with Brent.

Three plates of sweets, six bottles of wine, one traditional Italian Easter cake, three hours of laughter, and one new song later (see below,) we had made a new Italian friend. Not to mention a great experience and memory with each other. And isn't that what life is all about? (I will check in my books when I get home).

"When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie That's SIMON-E!"

Thursday, March 25
The stands here may not be full, but what the audience lacks in number they make up for in enthusiasm.

Because many events have been on school days, during school hours, there have been a good amount of school groups in the audience. The young children all have little Italian flags that they wave whenever they get the urge (and they seem to get the urge often). They go absolutely crazy when someone does a lift or jump, or if anyone Italian skates. It is ridiculously cute.

That's not to say that the grown ups aren't doing their fair share of cheering. When Federica Faiella and Massimo Scali -- the top Italian dance team -- skated their original dance, there were a full two and half minutes of uninterrupted clapping, to the music. And the tempo changed at least twice! These Italians can keep a beat.

And, they aren't exclusive in their support, which is pretty refreshing. When Jeremy Abbot's short program music began -- and I mean the first note was heard -- there was loud applause. I think I even heard a scream. It reminded me of being at a concert and hearing the first notes of your absolutely favorite song, the one you drove hours to see performed live. It was like the audience was thinking "Yes! I love love love this short program! I am so glad you didn't pass this one up tonight!"

Also, the Italian audience appreciates a good whistle. Let me explain: My mom has the world's loudest whistle. It is an abnormal talent or defect (depending on who you ask) that she was born with and no one in my family or circle of friends has yet to match. To some, her whistle is famous, and to others, infamous. She saves this whistle for her very favorite skaters. Often when she whistles, she gets a lot of sour looks. People around her put their hands up to their ears, either to block the noise or keep blood from running out. Whatever the case may be, most strangers do not appreciate my mother's loud whistle.

That is why my mom and I were so surprised to find that when she let out her whistle in support of Jeremy during the men's short program, everyone in front of her turned around with huge smiles on their faces. Some were nodding and some were laughing. Not one person put their hands on their ears or rolled their eyes. Everyone was in support of her support.

My mother's whistle has found a home in Italy.

Tuesday, March 23
In case you hadn't already figured it out, the 2010 World Championships are being held in the same arena as the 2006 Olympics. There are Olympic rings on the outside of the building. There are photos from those games lining the hallways inside.

This would be 100% cool if it weren't for the fact that Brent and I are still coming to terms with missing the Olympic team this year. Add on to that the fact that we were second alternates to the Torino games in 2006.

Coming to these world championships, I knew we were in for a bit of a challenge, having to see so many skaters coming off their Olympic high, having to hear so many stories of this life changing experience, and having to look at so much stylish Olympic swag. There are so many reasons for my disappointment and I truly don't want to focus on my sadness, but I do want to share a story:

When I was young, no older than ten years old, I had a birthday party at my house. Everyone was playing outside when I ran inside to use the bathroom. While inside the bathroom I took a quick glimpse out the window. I saw all my friends playing and laughing and having a really great time. I saw all my friends playing and laughing and having a really great time without me!! I thought, "I bet they wouldn't even notice if I never came back!" I felt like I was Ebenezer Scrooge being visited by the Ghost of Birthday Parties Yet to Come. I was looking into the window of my future birthday parties and seeing this great time had by all without any notice that I hadn't been there for years. It was a very dramatic moment which, in the made-for-TV movie loosely based on my life, will be accompanied by the Lesley Gore song "It's My Party (and I'll Cry if I Want To.)"

Either this was the first moment I began to grow outrageously concerned with being left out of things, or at least exemplifies how ridiculous I am about it. And that is how I sum up my feelings about not competing at the Olympics. There was this big, awesome, amazing, incredible party that I was left out of.

It seems that this week may be hard for a lot of skaters. It has been a long and stressful season. Everyone is a bit more tired than usual. Those who went to the Olympics had to return home and get right back into training, with little or no break. What these skaters are dealing with cannot go without notice. But real quick, to abuse my "blogging powers" I would like to give some love to, a shout-out, a hug, or applaud Ryan Bradley, Adam Rippon, and my partner Brent Bommentre of Team USA. They too were very close to the Olympics, yet left out of the party. I can guarantee that this isn't easy for them either, but from what I can tell, they are doing a great job of handling it now. You go guys!

And for the record, you three are invited to my birthday party. Just make sure not to have fun without me.

Monday, March 22
Do you know the first thing you do when you arrive at a competition? The very first thing you do once shuttled from the airport to the hotel? After your transatlantic journey with zero hours of sleep?

Check-in to your room? No. Brush your teeth or your hair? Never.

The very first thing you do is go to accreditation. This is where you turn in your music, receive your meal tickets and get your "gift" (usually a backpack that gets a little smaller each year. Team 2020 -- I bet you all will be getting a coin purse!)

And -- here is where I am going with this -- you get your credential. With your picture on it. A picture of you at that exact moment: tired, unkempt hair, enormous dark bags under each red eye that stretches from lower lash line to jaw line.

At this point in my competitive skating career, it is par for the course. I will put this credential in the draw with all the others and some day, when I am feeling rather secure about myself, I will get them all out and have a good laugh.

What I didn't expect though was that this incredibly ugly and embarrassing photo would be duplicated and pasted on each and every meal ticket. So, when I go to lunch or dinner, I have to A. search through twelve of my horrendous faces to find the appropriate ticket for the day and B. then give this hideous photo to a complete stranger who has done me no wrong! It is enough to make me loose my appetite.

But alas, I find myself in Italy, where having no appetite is a crime. Not to mention a total shame. I think I can push on!