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Longo and short of it: Haydenette's worlds journal

Skater shares insights from World Synchronized Championships in Boston

Jenna Longo was stoked to be able to represent Team USA at the 2013 World Synchronized Skating Championships in Boston.
Jenna Longo was stoked to be able to represent Team USA at the 2013 World Synchronized Skating Championships in Boston. (Photo by Alexandra Finn)

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By Jenna Longo, special to icenetwork.com
(04/03/2013) - Jenna Longo is a longtime member of the 21-time U.S. champion -- and three-time world bronze medalist -- Haydenettes. She kept a journal at the 2013 World Synchronized Skating Championships in Boston.

Monday, April 8

Where to begin ...

On Friday, after we woke up and ate breakfast in the hotel, many of the Haydenettes took a stroll around Boston to catch some much-needed fresh air. It felt like we had spent most of the week in the hotel and the rink -- which we had -- and we wanted to roam around the city and clear our minds.

We walked from our hotel, the Copley Marriott, all the way to Newbury Street and back. The group lingered to take tourist photos and stopped in a few shops before heading back to the hotel. We began hair and makeup, and were off to the rink for our official practice.

The arena was already filled with energy. Our coach, Saga Krantz, and team leader, Robin Greenleaf, commented on how much strength and focus we exhibited. After hearing that and watching the video back at the hotel, confidence had sunk in. Tonight was the night to make our mark on the world.

We had a quick meal before having to turn around and get ready for the competition. That meant redoing and perfecting our hair and makeup, making sure everything was "world ready," a phrase I have heard on the Haydenettes for the past seven seasons.

Once we had achieved "world readiness," we had our routine team meeting and loaded the bus early to listen to our traditional bus-ride music. On the way to the competition arena, we shared the shuttle bus with Team Sweden 1. Both teams shared good-luck wishes; a great bond was created between top-level teams.

After stepping off the shuttle bus, it was all a blur. The warm-up felt strong and calm, and what felt like seconds later, we were stepping on the ice to roars. The energy the audience had was incredible; I have never felt anything like that. Our hearts were bigger than our chests, and were beating as one.

The skate was phenomenal. To perform like that in front of a home crowd, on home ice, was such a high. We soon learned we had earned the short program silver medal, just behind Team Canada 1.

Two of our skaters attended the press conference, while the rest of the team was able to mingle with family and friends before having to turn in for the night. There was still much more to accomplish the following day.

--

The morning of the free skate, all the Haydenettes woke up with smiles on our faces. It's very important to take one day at a time, but it was so hard not to gloat about our fantastic accomplishment the night before.

We wore our new "cha cha cha" shirts to breakfast to change our moods as our personalities journeyed to La Havana, Cuba, for the day.

At official practice, during our first music, we skated a full run-through, the last run-through we would skate before competing that program for the last time. Looking back on it, it all feels so surreal. The official practice went very well; we had just a few things to review during video and keep our focus on during the night's performance.

Similar to Friday, we had a quick meal once we returned to the hotel. Then it was time to perfect our hair and makeup before heading into competition. We had our meeting, did our bus routine, and we were off.

The warm-up area was packed; teams that had already skated were returning to place their bags to watch the rest of the performances, and the final teams were warming up. We received many well wishes, for which we were so thankful. It felt like every team was supporting us at this world championships.

There are no words to describe our performance. I would do it over and over again if I could. It is a moment in time that happens so fast. Our whole team wishes there was the ability to freeze time to really be able to enjoy it. The 4-minute, 45-second program felt like seconds. The crowd was more lively then the day before, and it was absolutely a dream come true to defend our spot on the world podium and become world synchronized skating bronze medalists for the fourth year in a row -- in our hometown of Boston, no less. Still today, my heart is beating and taking up my entire chest.

I couldn't help but tear up as we took our bow in the traditional "H" before accepting our place on the podium. It is an amazing thing to watch your country's flag being raised before your eyes. It is directly correlated to hard work, sacrifice and undying passion.

The competitor's party was amazing! It took place at the Top of the Hub, at the very top of the Prudential Tower. About 50 stories up, the windows display the breathtaking view of the city.

There are so many people behind the scenes that make a season so memorable. Our coach, manager, wardrobe mom, parents, families, friends and, most important, U.S. Figure Skating have supported us throughout this entire season. We made history and, above all, memories we will never forget.

We would also like to extend congratulations to all the competitors at this year's World Synchronized Skating Championships, Team Finland 1 (Team Unique) on its first world title, and Team Canada 1 (NEXXICE) for its silver-medal performances. The caliber of skating is improving immensely from year to year. Finally, we would like to congratulate our Team USA teammates, Miami University, for their fabulous performances and for finishing eighth in a field of intense competition ... WAY TO GO, USA!

Friday, April 5

Thursday began a little earlier than the day before. We gathered in our team manager's room to eat breakfast, where we were cooked eggs of our choice by one of the team moms. With some delicious protein in our bodies, we began hair and makeup, and then boarded the shuttle bus to Agganis Arena.

We began the day in the official arena for the first 20-minute practice ice. The skate felt very strong; it again felt great to skate on the official ice before the start of the competition. We did a run-through and sections of our short program, as well as sections of our free skate.

We continued with lunch at the dining hall in between the two rinks. Many of the BU students congratulated us on our success as Team USA members. Some of the Haydenettes chatted with members of Team Italy and Team Japan, furthering friendships that had begun at past championships. We were able to rest outside on the BU fields before heading to the Walter Brown Arena for our last practice.

The last practice felt fabulous. We had the biggest crowd of the week, and we accomplished all we needed to before heading into the competition.

We rode the bus back to the hotel with Team South Africa and jammed to Whitney Houston and Jackson 5 classics.

Later in the day was the official team draw. The Haydenettes, Team USA 1, drew to skate 19th out of 20 teams, with our Team USA teammates, Miami University, set to skate sixth.

The draw is always one of the best events of the competition. All competitors are sitting together after a long season of working hard toward a common goal. We were able to welcome Team Mexico to the World Synchronized Championships for the first time.

U.S. Figure Skating requested each team create a short video to display the personality of the team. Those videos were played before each designated team member drew the skate order. The room was filled with giggles and roars as each team's video was played.

We wish all the teams the best of luck Friday in the short program!

Thursday, April 4

We were able to sleep in Wednesday morning since our first practice was not until 2:15 p.m. We woke up and started preparing for the day to come with hair and makeup. We left the hotel on the 12:30 shuttle bus and headed down the familiar streets of Boston, to the Walter Brown Arena. Walking off the bus and hearing Boston University's students yelling "Go USA!" was another realization of how amazing an experience this is. It was our first time sporting our new world team jackets as a group.

The unofficial rink warm-up space is the university's basketball arena. We had large spaces to get our bodies moving and our heads in the game. Taking the ice at the familiar arena felt completely different. Seeing all the other teams in the building and hearing "Team USA 1 may take the ice" reaffirmed the week was really beginning.

After a strong practice, we headed over to the BU dining hall for lunch. Filled with teams and students, the atmosphere was upbeat and filled with camaraderie. We had a great lunch, meeting students and hanging out with our teammates. Devin Wang, a member of the Haydenettes and student at Boston University, works with the BU men's hockey team. She introduced our Finnish coach, Saga, to a Finnish freshman on the BU hockey team who was eating alongside us. We have gained another Boston support group!

We then headed over to the official arena, where we were able to get a feel for the rink and ice. Agganis Arena has bowl seating and is very bright, turning the spotlight on the skaters. Many of us spotted our younger club team members. The Haydenettes and Team USA already have a lot of support from our families and friends, allowing us to feel confident for the competition.

Feeling relaxed and confident in Wednesday's practices, we know Thursday will be another great day. The Haydenettes will have two more practices, as well as the opening and draw ceremonies.

Wednesday, April 3

The last sprint

As nationals came to a close and most teams said goodbye to their teammates and coaches for a small break, the Haydenettes and Miami University were buckling down for the last grind, having only about a month left to prepare for one of the most memorable moments of our life, the 2013 World Synchronized Skating Championships in Boston.

The week leading up to the event is my favorite week of the whole season. It's that moment in time when the team feels invincible. The stamina is there, the elements are nearing perfection, and our minds are full of courage and confidence. The Haydenettes had great practices all week; since the championships are in our backyard, we were able to work out at our home rink. On Easter morning, we had a celebration; since many of our teammates were not able to share the holiday with family, we shared it together as a skating family.

On Monday and Tuesday, we had short one-hour practices at Boston University's Walter Brown Arena, the designated practice rink here at the championships. It was nice to get in the focus zone; as many students are walking in and out, it was great preparation for the week to come.

Many have asked if the event is going to feel weird being so close to home. The Haydenettes have spent much time pondering this and figuring out ways to make it feel as international as possible, since we are used to heading overseas to compete at worlds. Although this entire team calls Boston home, we have not taken on the city of Boston as one, until this week. The Haydenettes feel so blessed to take Boston by storm and represent our city and country.

Wednesday morning marked the start of official practices. We woke up to an article in The Boston Globe about the Haydenettes and the upcoming championships. There were many great photos, and we were all very delighted to see our faces among those of so many other greats on the Boston sports scene.