Lichtman & Copely's world juniors blog
Competition week in Gangeung City
|Charlotte Lichtman and Dean Copely give the inside scoop from world juniors this week. (Michelle Harvath)|
First off, let me apologize for the lack of blogging in the second half of the week. Other than competing, I was also in a marathon: of world history. I had an online class that ended the day after the free dance, and I had far too much of it to complete throughout the week. However, I did complete it and was able to fully enjoy myself after that.
Anyways, the last time I wrote was about the day before the short dance, and a lot happened after that. Wednesday was the day of the short dance, of course, and also the pairs short program. We had a morning practice and competed later in the afternoon. In this period of time nothing too interesting happened, as we were just resting and preparing to compete. We all competed our Viennese Waltzes for the last time this season, and I think most competitors would agree that we'd be okay not hearing "cross roll" anytime soon. Pairs were too late at night to watch, so we headed back to the hotel for some dinner.
Later in the week, after Dean had paid for about $80 worth of meals at the restaurant, he learned an interesting fact. The athletes could use their meal tickets to pay for up to $30 of food ordered off of the menu. His ordered meals had all been under this amount, so he wasn't thrilled that he had thrown away money, but this was good to know. Ironically, neither of us got the chance to order off of the menu after his discovery, but the pizza that I paid for was worth it at the time.
The next day, the dancers had just one practice and the day off from competition. I utilized this time, working as much as I could on my history. The comfort and quality of the rooms did not make this situation too bad, considering I do my homework on my bed at home anyways. The men's competition kicked off on Thursday, so after our practice, we ran upstairs to watch the last group of men. The practice rink is in the basement of the building, so we ran up those stairs to get to rink level, then ran up the stairs outside of the building (the only way to get to the stands).
We knew Jason Brown had skated a beautiful short, and we had viewed Max Aaron's dynamic short program while we warmed up earlier. The last American man, Keegan Messing, was in that last warm up, and his short was one of my favorite moments of the competition. His triple Axel was incredible, and the whole program kept building upon itself. When everyone was back at the hotel, many of us Team USA members ended up eating dinner together. After a lot of laughs, we all headed to bed for another day of competition.
The ladies finally started competition on this day, and all three American ladies skated very well into top-ten finishes in the short program. The dancers had about nine hours between our practice and competition that night, a healthy amount of time to eat, sleep, relax, and get ready all over again. Oh, and sit in your hotel room, getting really nervous, right? Well, not for me, as history once again called my name. Perhaps I should put myself in this situation at every competition, as it gives me no time to get worked up.
After what seemed like a long time and no time at all, we were back on the bus with Anastasia Cannuscio and Colin McManus. We all had the realization that this really was the last free dance of a long and enjoyable season, and that was an exciting thought. Apparently it was not exciting enough to keep us awake, as I'm pretty sure we were all out cold 15 minutes into the drive. I certainly woke up by the time I was rink side, and Dean and I had a great time performing that night. For both of us, our feet tend to hurt when we finish competing, so I quickly took my skates off in the locker room. Just a few minutes later, the team leader informed me I would need to put them back on, and I hurried to do so. Just then, one of my worst fears came true-my skate lace broke! Almost in panic mode, I realized I was done competing, which I somehow momentarily forgot.
I would also like to say how proud I was to be a part of the U.S. dance contingent. Everyone skated great, and we were able to earn three spots for the dancers next year. In fact, all disciplines achieved three spots for the U.S. team next year, and I think we should all be very satisfied about that. I almost forgot to mention that our pairs skated great on Thursday in their free skates. Ashley Cain and Joshua Reagan pulled up to fourth with a clean free skate, and Ashley Cain and Joshua Reagan also pulled up two spots to a strong ninth place finish (both teams were competing at their first World Junior Championships, as well as all three ice dance teams).
On Saturday, the ladies and men wrapped up the competition, with the men earlier in the day. Members of the team cheered on Jason Brown's elegant and clean free skate, which gave him an exciting sixth in the free skate. Max Aaron's strong program included two big triple Axels, and Keegan Messing showcased his incredible energy and knee bend as always. In between mens and ladies, Anastasia, Colin, Dean, Ashley, and I went to the Old Market. This was only a ten minute cab ride from the rink, and it was quite the experience. Much of the market is compromised of food products, including A LOT of dried seaweed and even some live fish that a woman grabs out of a bowl and places into a plastic bag to carry home. We all tried some street food, a sort of fried pancake with some sort of sweet syrup stuck in the middle. I resisted at first, seeing the germs literally resting on the pancake, but when everyone bragged about their deliciousness, I caved and bought one. That fried pancake was probably the best thing I ate all week, and I'm glad I risked my health for it. We also did a little shopping in some of their stores and made some fun clothing purchases. There was even a little glass breaking incident when one of us tried to pick up a purse from a shelf (I won't name names).
After this fun adventure, we went back to the rink once again and watched a good amount of the ladies competition. Ashley Cain and Joshua Reagan attacked her program with great speed and high jumps, pulling up to an impressive sixth place in her first international competition. My roommate Christina Gao recovered from a tough fall on the warm up to perform her long with her typical grace and speed. Agnes Zawadzki was the last skater of this junior worlds, and she closed the competition with a clean and exciting program to earn the bronze medal.
Many of us had been at the rink a good amount in the past few days, and we were thrilled to get back to the hotel for dinner. A group of us went to the late night dinner at the other official hotel, but apparently everyone else watching or competing in ladies did as well, because not one seat was left. Plates in hand, we were prepared to sit on the floor when one of us (I cannot recall if it was Travis Mager or Ashley Cain or someone else entirely) discovered that the private dining rooms opened upon pushing a button. Apparently, I delivered the quote of the night when I exclaimed that, "We went from drab to fab in five minutes!" We all had a great time in our exclusive little room, daring each other to try new foods, and enjoying one of our last nights there.
After a whole day of recovery from competition on Saturday, I was ready to get back on the ice for our exhibition practice. The Americans in the exhibition were Ashley and Josh, Agnes, Keegan, Max, Christina and Charlotte and I. Top five ladies, men, pairs and dance were in the exhibition, except for the fourth place dance team. The French team of Tiffany Zahorski and Alex Miart were unable to change their flight and had to leave Sunday morning, missing the exhibition and allowing the sixth-place dance team to step in for them. We had a finale group number which was choreographed by a local choreographer. Her English was quite good, but not everybody in the group spoke English. The sixth-place dance team of Evgenia Kosigna and Nikoli Moroshkin spoke the least English out of the entire event and were only slightly hindered in their abilities to learn the group number. A series of hand gestures, demonstrations and a little mime-on-ice mixed with a "da" here and a "niet" there got them up to speed. Our group number was a hip-hop dance to a Korean hip-hop song. Let's just say not every figure skater looks great dancing this style.
Once our programs were warmed up and group number somewhat floating around in my head, not quite solidified in memory, we had a few hours to kill until we actually got on the ice. I made attempts to find a place to eat within walking distance but I finally resorted to a cab ride to the McDonalds we had seen in the Old Market the previous day. The cab filled with lean, mean, skating machines ready to undo their season with a Big Mac and lots of fries. We got a few looks from the Russians while we ate back at the skater's lounge, but team Japan wanted in on this American feast and asked where the McDonalds was.
When it finally became time for us to skate our last programs of the season, it really sunk in that our season was over. All of the year's hard work had been building for this competition as well as so many competitions along the way. I can imagine the same feeling from working on a sculpture for a year and finally taking a step back to admire what it has become. Each and every skater at this World Junior Championship can take a step back, look at their whole season and be proud of what they have created.
Wednesday, March 2
Our second day in South Korea was composed of two practices and a lot of time spent at the rink. The dancers had a draw at 10:45 a.m. in the morning, so we took the 9:30 a.m. bus to make sure we wouldn't miss it (it takes minimally 40 minutes to get there). All three American dance teams drew to skate in the last group, exciting because we are all together and because we got to sleep in as late as possible this morning. After the draw, there was time to catch some of the ladies qualifying round, which was quite large and diverse.
Dean: Saturday's flight went smoothly with virtually zero turbulence and sunny skies the whole way. I was relieved to see TV screens on each headrest. Going to and from Beijing for the Junior Grand Prix Final, we just had projectors every 10 rows playing whatever movie they wanted you to see. Having the freedom to choose my own movie made the trip truly enjoyable. Not to mention they had a movie library exceeding 100 movies ranging from classics such as Gentlemen Prefer Blondes to apocalyptic action thrillers like 2012 and nearly everything in between. My first movie choice was Cabaret. Since I had been hearing Madison Chock and Greg Zuerlein skate to it all season, I wanted to give it some context. Up next was a pair of Will Ferrell movies; The Other Guys (a cop comedy co-starring Mark Wahlberg) and Stranger Than Fiction (a comedy where Will is the main character in a book a woman is writing but when he starts hearing her narration in his day to day life, comedy ensues). Finally, returning to the skating-music theme, I watched Doctor Zhivago. A bit long, even for a fourteen-hour flight, but compelling none the less.
A three-and-a-half-hour bus ride got us from the airport to the hotel through snow covered roads. An empty back row and four seats I could lay across got me through those three hours. Once checked in, I cautiously entered my room knowing my room mate, Joshua Reagan was already sleeping. I slipped the key into the slot by the door so I could maybe turn a light on and get into bed. Inserting the key brought the whole room to life. Every light in the room turned on, power was returned to Josh's phone charger making a rather loud beeping sound, our LG TV turned on, first playing a little song out of beeps and then going to some random show. I start frantically turning off the TV and hitting light switches. All of the switches just turned on more lights and Josh finally woke up from his deep sleep. We were unsuccessful in finding switches for the main lights so I pulled my key out and I used a flashlight from the room to illuminate my new home for the next week.
Charlotte: As Dean said, the trip was nice and smooth, but I was ready to settle into my room by the time we arrived at the hotel. The rooms are very nice at the Alpensia Resort -- they even provide complimentary pillows if you so desire. My roommate, Christina [Gao], and I got a bit too excited about this and requested two microfiber pillows, along with two large "candy" pillows. While on the bus ride last night, we did not get the chance to view any of the scenery here in Gangeung City. This was due to our attempts to sleep, which I think Dean was more successful at, and the foggy windows from the snow/rain. However, upon looking out my window this morning, I was able to appreciate the beauty of the resort. Dean and I immediately thought of Pacific Coast Sectionals last year, held in Jackson Hole, Wyo. This seaside resort has the feel of a ski lodge in the winter, complete with snow covered mountains. Some of us scoped out the market near the hotel, and Dean was relieved to find the necessities were all there, rubber band guns included. The dancers did not have practice until 8 p.m., so we all had time to relax and fight for free Wifi in the lobby.
The remainder of the Team USA should be arriving tonight, and I think we are all excited to finally be here. Currently on the bus post practice, hoping to catch some dinner before they close. More updates coming soon!