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Matthew Blackmer's Junior Grand Prix Final blog

U.S. junior pairs skater is enjoying the accommodations in Quebec City

Matthew Blackmer (pictured with partner Britney Simpson) is having a blast in Canada.
Matthew Blackmer (pictured with partner Britney Simpson) is having a blast in Canada. (Renee Felton)

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By Matthew Blackmer, special to icenetwork.com
(12/08/2011) - Matthew Blackmer, partner of Britney Simpson and 2011 Junior Grand Prix Final qualifier, chronicles his experiences while in Quebec City.

Day 1: Travel Day

My favorite part about competition is the travel aspect. There's something exhilarating about getting on a plane and seeing new places.

Plus, I love the food.

However, it seems to be a ritual of [coach] Dalilah [Sappenfield] and Britney to pull some sort of prank on me. After I finally fell asleep on our flight from Colorado Springs to Chicago, I awoke to a shirt full of paper scraps that the two of them had been silently stuffing as I snoozed. Any ideas as to how I should get them back?

After two very short flights, we arrived in Quebec City to be instantly greeted by the Japanese media. They seemed a little disappointed when Brit and I walked through the doors because they were clearly waiting to bombard Mao Asada, who also accompanied us on our flight. It was still pretty cool to walk out to that, though.

We boarded our bus that took us through Quebec City to the most luxurious hotel I have ever stayed in. I was blown away by the castle-like structure of the hotel and its regal qualities.

Jason Brown and I checked in and unpacked. I jumped into my bed and never wanted to leave. I was tempted to just wear the bed to the rink the next day. At least I would be comfortable, right?

Day 2: Practice

As Jason left for his practice, I decided to rise and shine and prepare for my own. Britney and I were so excited about the Final because a two-hour time change is much more agreeable than a nine-hour difference!

We met for breakfast for an excellent buffet with plenty of choices for our first meal in Canada. After we ate, Dalilah rounded us up to hop on our bus to check out the arena ... only our bus never showed! As we waited, we finally decided to just warm up in the hotel. Once our bus arrived, we left for the coliseum.

A quick warmup, and we were on the ice. Man, was it warm!

After a great practice, we stretched and sat down with NBC to talk a bit about our skating and headed back to the hotel for a VERY tasty lunch. I had to go up for thirds.

After a short workout, Brit and I went and dressed up for the welcome reception. Britney was stunning in her black dress. The junior team had a short meeting, and we proceeded into a beautiful room with hors d'oeuvres. I think I ate about two tray's worth. Since we had an early practice tomorrow, Brit and I ducked out early to grab some dinner and were joined by Meryl [Davis] and Charlie [White] and the Shibutanis. We laughed as Maia hoarded the Perrier.

That's all for tonight. I'll write again after we finish competing.

Day 3: Short Program

Jason and I decided to switch places this time, and I ended up the early bird. After an incoherent breakfast, Brit and I trekked off to the rink and prepared for our short program. As I was warming up, I learned the doors are very sensitive to the touch. Of course it wouldn't be a competition if I didn't do something silly, so I accidentally sounded the alarms on the doors. Katie Bobak and Ian Beharry of Canada thought I was going to make a run for it, and we all started shouting "Arriba!" in honor of Dalilah. The fun continued on the ice as Brit and I set a new personal best.

Britney has realized her new phobia of curtains, or more-so, what lies behind them. As she always does, she attempted to make a superstar entrance into the warm-up area, only to crash into a chair. Dalilah and I were beside ourselves with laughter. We're figure skaters; we're only graceful on the ice (sometimes.)

After another excellent dinner with Narumi Takahashi, Brit and I headed to bed to prepare for our free skate the next day.

Day 4: Long Program

As my alarm for 5 a.m. sounded, I reluctantly pulled myself out of bed and started to get ready for our next set of practices. Brit and I promptly got on our 6 a.m. bus after being turned away from Starbucks. We learned that Matthew doesn't really function without his morning coffee, but we made do with what we could.

We came back to the hotel to fit in a quick nap and shower and met for breakfast. I swear, the food gets better and better as the days go on! Before I got on the bus, I made sure I got my Starbucks. No way was I about to be turned away a second time. With my cup of coffee in hand, we departed for the Coliseum. After another warm-up where Britney collided with a chair (we even tried to warn her!), we threw on our skates and took to the ice. We finished with an excellent feeling after our skate, knowing we had done our personal best again.

We stuck around to catch Alissa [Czisny]'s exquisite program to "La Vie en Rose" and Carolina [Kostner]'s dominance in her program. She is one fast skater! After that, Dalilah and I were dancing in our seats during the short dance. Kaitlyn Weaver moves exactly like the Tiger she's dressed as, and I'm pretty sure Meryl and Charlie melted the ice.

Brit and I went and got ready for the award ceremony and did our victory lap with by far the coolest medals we've ever gotten. And, the podium was a maple leaf! Britney thought I was a geek for thinking how cool it was but come on ... I thought it was awesome!

We made sure we caught the senior pairs and men's short programs and, man, was it worth it. The level of their skating just blows us away. There's a reason they're known as the best of the best. Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov's (Russia) twist is by far the best in the world, and I don't know if anyone has a higher throw than the flip of Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany! No lack of inspiration here!

I swear, no one has more intricate choreography than Jeremy Abbott this season. He had the Canadian crowd in his palm during every transition, and the dancing just never seemed to stop. Brit, Dalilah and I also have decided to implement a new rink size for the high-flying Patrick Chan. We informed Coach Christy Krall about our plans. That's all for now! There's still a lot of skating left and you can bet Brit and I will be there for every step of it. Au Revoir!