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Oltmanns and Santillan's JGP Austria blog

U.S. pairs team chronicle Team USA's adventures in Innsbruck

Olivia Oltmanns and Joshua Santillan give you the scoop this week from Innsbruck.
Olivia Oltmanns and Joshua Santillan give you the scoop this week from Innsbruck. (Stefanie Mathewson)

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By Olivia Oltmanns and Joshua Santillan, special to icenetwork.com
(09/28/2011) - U.S. pairs skaters Olivia Oltmanns and Joshua Santillan will be blogging this week from the Junior Grand Prix Series event in Innsbruck, Austria.

Day Four
Hi, everyone. Sorry our final blog is a couple of days behind. The Internet connections proved to be quite troublesome for us!

Vanessa [Lam] skated great, which made for a very exciting ladies event! We were all at the rink cheering her on, and we are so excited for her gold medal-winning performance. Go, Vanessa!

The next morning, most of the pairs and ladies went sightseeing in Old Town before the men's event around lunchtime. Josh and I had stayed up a bit too late visiting with my roommate, Katarina [Kulgeyko], and planned the remainder of our sightseeing for in between the men's and the dance event. Philip [Warren] and Tim [Dolensky] were great and represented Team USA with a huge cheering section! We went back into Old Town and although we didn't have time to make it out to the Swarovski museum, we did make it to their new museum-like store. This place was amazing! They had displays of everything from giant insects to royal crowns. The stairs were even crystal! We saw almost all of the Chinese team there; they were buying up a storm.

Back at the rink, Alexandra [Aldridge] and Daniel [Eaton] were so great ... a second medal for USA! As soon as the event was over, we all took pictures in our signed Austrian hat to pass along to the next U.S. team going out to Italy. It has become a little tradition to pass an item from one team to the next during the JGP circuit.

Then we were off to our team dinner. We ate at an all-you-can-eat sushi/Japanese bar. It sounded like it was going to be a bit weird, but it was actually delicious. As usual, we all stayed up way too late on our last night visiting with friends that we won't see again for a while. Our team leader (and our team doctor and judges) did a great job, and we hope they enjoyed us as much as we enjoyed them.

Good luck to everyone, and we hope to see everyone again at sectionals, the U.S. Championships and world juniors! Go Team USA!

Day Three
We tried to fill you in on the rest of day from Team USA last night, but the Internet is very slow and actually deleted our blog during the sending process. Oh, well! We will try and do a quick recap now.

Despite having no hot water on the first day and no buses running to rink this morning, we have an absolutely beautiful hotel. We have great food included for breakfast and dinner (lunch is at the rink). There is always a nice selection of food, and we are attempting to try new things whenever we can. Last night, we had a dessert with something called a "physalis" on the top -- it is sometimes called a golden strawberry even though it looks like a miniature orange. It was was very interesting but good.

Also during dinner last night, we had great entertainment. The weather was so beautiful that we ate outside overlooking a local track and field stadium with a gorgeous mountain view. Katarina Kulgeyko's coach, Peter Oppegard, ran 5 miles on the track and entertained us as we cheered him on.

The men's, ladies and pairs skated their short programs yesterday, and everyone skated well. The American pairs teams drew back-to-back-to-back starting orders: 10th, 11th and 12th today. We are all ready! Practices this morning were great, and Daniel (Eaton) and Alexandra (Aldridge) skated a great short dance this morning.

We are looking forward to having the rest of the weekend to cheer the rest of our teammates and see a bit more of this city. Innsbruck is awesome!

Day Two
Well, we thought we were going escape any major drama because everyone's skates and baggage arrived with them (even Brandon Frazier's -- that's a miracle), and everything seemed to be going smoothly.

That was until we ran our long program in the official rink last night. There was a bar that looked like a large towel rack that stuck out from the bottom of the stands and ran across the end of the ice.

It was very high over the ice but actually protruded over the ice surface about five feet. The first element of our free skate is a Group 5 lift in the second position, I hit the bar and we went down. Luckily for me, Josh is awesome at saving any kind of lift accidents. We are both totally fine!

The local organizing committee (LOC) was so nice to us. They got together immediately with Steffie, our team leader, and by the time we got to the rink this morning, this giant metal welded bar was gone. The LOC was so apologetic and sweet, they gave me a beautiful silver skate necklace and it's awesome! We love this place.

We are back at the hotel resting before the short program this afternoon. We will check back in after everyone competes tonight.

Bye for now!
Livi.....and Josh!

Day One
Hello to everyone from Innsbruck! We are very excited to be sharing our JGP experience with you all back home.

Josh and I took the day off Monday to pack and get ready for our noon departure from Minneapolis to Innsbruck. Since Wednesday, we have been going to bed 30-60 minutes earlier than the night before in order to change our Circadian rhythm and waking up earlier and earlier each day. So we started our week getting up 3:30 a.m. It seems crazy, but we did this before our last JGP in Latvia, and we didn't have any jet lag when we arrived!

Our flight was long, but we met up with some of our teammates in Frankfurt, which made the layover more fun. Alexandra Aldridge and Daniel Eaton, the only U.S. ice dancing team here, and Tim Dolensky were part of out Latvia team, so it was nice see familiar faces. We have never traveled with Vanessa [Lam] or Katarina either, so it was nice to run into them before we arrived.

Innsbruck is so beautiful! The weather is sunny and hot. We got here and we had to rush to find our hotel and get to our first unofficial practice. Practice was great, and we all met up for a team meeting/dinner at the hotel afterward. Our team leader, Steffie Mathewson, has everything organized and under control. We don't think she ever sleeps! Most of our team is on the same floor at the Penz West Hotel, so it makes visiting everyone really easy. Josh is rooming with Philip Warren, and I'm with Katarina.

Everyone slept well the first night and practices went well. As with every trip to a foreign country, someone always mistakes the men's restroom for the ladies. In Latvia, it was Ashley Cain; here ... well, let's just say it was a pairs skater (and not a male).

Josh and I drew 10th to skate in the short program, and our other pairs teams are in the fourth warm-up. We were second to last to draw, with a three and 10 left in the bag. I took an extra-long time to pull out the number, praying it wasn't the three. Yay!

Between our two official practices today, a group of us took a taxi to Old Town in Innsbruck. The weather was absolutely gorgeous, and all the shops and restaurants were awesome. We are all planning on going back later in the weekend. Our team doctor, Dr. Dee, brought his wife on the trip, and she has been sightseeing while he works, so we are going take her recommendations on the best places to visit on our last day. She went up the mountain to the zoo and said that is was very nice, maybe we'll try that on Saturday!

We are off to bed. Ladies skate first tomorrow, then pairs. We will bring the iPad to the rink and keep you posted throughout the competition. We have an awesome team, and we will all be cheering on all of our athletes. Go Team USA!