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Grant Hochstein's blog from Bratislava

Backstage at the Ondrej Nepela Memorial Trophy

Grant Hochstein blogs from the Ondrej Nepala Memorial in Bratislava, Slovakia.
Grant Hochstein blogs from the Ondrej Nepala Memorial in Bratislava, Slovakia. (Michelle Harvath)

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By Grant Hochstein, special to icenetwork.com
(09/29/2011) - Grant Hochstein blogs from the Ondrej Nepela Memorial.

Day One
Hello everyone from Bratislava!

Today is the first official day of competition. We all had unofficial practice yesterday so we are well acquainted with the ice by now.

All of us, except Anastasia (Cannuscio) and Colin (McManus), got in on Tuesday so we had our team dinner in Old Town Bratislava which is really quite beautiful. We walked around for a while, took some goofy pictures and tried to stay awake to acclimate ourselves to the time change. I think by 8:00 p.m. we were all on the verge of passing out and then we all ended up waking up around 1:00 a.m., which was followed by severe disorientation and a feeling of "Where am I?" But by now we are all adjusted and set to go!

Yesterday, I went to Vienna with Marissa (Castelli) and Simon (Shnapir), Simon's parents, their coach and my coach Maria Moscato. Let me tell you, what an amazing place! We were only there for four hours but we saw so much. We went to the Hofburg Palace, ate some Bratwurst, saw St. Stephen's Cathedral (being a good Catholic boy I had to go in for a while), ate some ice cream, walked all over the place seeing magnificent statues of Maria Theresa, Mozart, Goethe and Franz Joseph, danced with a homeless man, drank some hot chocolate in an outdoor café, walked back to the car, passed the Opera House and got a parking ticket.

All in a day's work! It's amazing how close Bratislava is to Vienna. I think it only took us 50 minutes to drive there and was well worth the trip.

Afterward, we had the draw party which lasted for about an hour and included a wonderful modern performance of Swan Lake. I drew 11th to skate out of 22 which is first in the third warm-up. This is fine by me. A lot of people don't like skating first after warm-up, but I really don't care for short program. My practices have been great so I feel very prepared.

Now, I am off to have lunch downtown again with Maria. I just can't get enough of Europe. I will try to put another blog entry in after the event so I can keep you all updated!

Fingers crossed for some good skating from Team USA!

Grant