March 4th, 2002

skater

Third

Home again, exhausted but sleepless as of yet. We took third place. Which, at a national championship, is not so bad, but it's not what we were hoping for. More details to come.
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    Tired and a little sad
butterfly

Random thoughts on the bus ride from Burlington VT to Lake Placid NY

"People are either drains or radiators."
-Helen Fielding, Cause Celeb

My interpretation: they either suck out your vitality or they expand it and radiate it to the world.

Good thing to keep in mind, as you think about where you spend your time. I need to spend more time with radiators

Adkins (?) Vermont, an empty farm community with isolated homes and beautiful mountains looming above.

Funny to be huddled underneath such enormous beauty all the time. I wonder if they ever see it. But then maybe mountains become less extraordinary when they are always there.

There is beauty near my own home, which I do not spend enough time noticing.

Nature does not need to be gigantic in order to be beautiful.

I love the "main streets" of tiny little towns out in the middle of nowhere. I love seeing what they've decided to call their stores, what they sell, what they need, what they find important.

Looking out of the plane window at some point, I don't remember which leg of the journey, I saw a huge lake, and there were lots of rivers dumping into it. I looked at one such river, and noted that it had many smaller streams which ran into it. Each of these streams had even smaller streams adjoining it, and so forth, and I was struck by how much like the branches of a two-dimensional tree it looked, from above. Nature employs the same fractal design in two such dissimilar places, trees and streams. Wood and water. And many more places too, I know, although it had never struck me so noticeably until that moment.
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    peaceful peaceful
skater

Nationals, the details

The adventure began Thursday morning, meeting at the airport at 9am. After a many-legged journey, we arrived in Lake Placid around 6pm that night. We checked in and rushed off to the arena to watch some of our club-members, who were competing that night.

I spent a lot of time over the weekend at the rink watching the skating - the competition was long, with several divisions. My club has teams in 6 different divisions. Mostly I enjoy watching skating, but I must say it gets tiring after awhile, at least for me. Too much sitting around, not doing much. I prefer moving. At one point, my team was taking the bus to the arena to watch more skating, and I decided to miss a little skating and walk quietly to the rink by myself instead. It was a good break.

Friday we slept in for awhile, did some shopping and exploring of the town, watched some more skating. We found a cute little stuffed moose wearing a USA sweater and ice skates. My 3 roommates and I each bought one. (Our team mascot is a moose.)

We had planned to go bobsledding Saturday morning, but unfortunately it turned out the place was booked all weekend. I was pretty bummed, because I'd been very much looking forward to it. We did get to see a little parade that afternoon though.

Friday night a bunch of us went to a bar and did some "unwinding", had several drinks, and played a raunchy game of Truth or Dare. It was a lot of fun, lots of silliness.

We had our first practice on Friday, and did 2.5 runthroughs in 15 minutes. We did the back-lunge passthru all 3 times (this trick is described in the 4th paragraph of this long post). The third time through, I hit the skate of the girl coming at me, and was knocked over. I got a little banged up - some bruises, and a scrape on my arm because the ice was chopped up. Nothing at all serious though. I figured it was no big deal, that it was just because we were tired. We usually do this trick just fine. Unfortunately, it was to turn into our nemesis this weekend.

We had two other ice practices, and for some reason we just weren't doing the pass correctly. The timing and spacing was off. Sometimes we did it okay, but never perfectly. I think we were just psyching ourselves out over it, over-thinking things, which always is damaging. However the last two practice runthroughs before we competed, we did it fairly well though. No falls, everybody got through. Things felt pretty good again.

We were scheduled to compete at 11:10am, on Sunday morning. Less than 12 hours after our Official Practice, which had been 11:40pm Saturday night. We were to skate 2nd out of 10 teams. Not a good placement, since it leaves lots of time for the judges to forget how well you did by the time the last team skates. Especially since our strongest competitors got a lucky draw and skated last. I'll admit that had me really worried.

Although we tried, nobody slept very well Saturday night. We got up early, and got ready. We had to do our hair and makeup in "competition style," which takes quite a bit of time. We also had to pack and checkout, because we flew home Sunday night. Some people ate breakfast - I can't eat right before competing, but had some juice and bought a banana for after.

We met at 9am, started warming up, stretching, going over the program, etc. We practiced it several times on the floor, spent some time talking about things to remember as we skated, and so forth. At nationals, unlike most competitions, you don't have a warmup skate directly before competing. The first time you step on the ice is the competition. I'd rather have a warmup, just to get a feel for the ice, do one runthrough, just to remind my muscles what they're doing. We warmed up on the floor, but of course it's just not the same.

Well, the competition skate started out okay. It felt pretty good; we were skating well, performing well. Then we got to the darn back-lunge pass. I glanced behind me beforehand, and it didn't look like there was a lot of room for me to get through. There was a hole, just a small one. I kind of shrugged internally, and went on through anyway. It was nationals, what choice did I have? I stayed on my feet, much to my relief - then I saw that the girls on either side of me had fallen. I'm not 100% sure what went wrong, only that it just wasn't lined up quite right. Three girls fell. Nobody was hurt, but it broke up the program trying to get back into the line, as five of us were out of place due to the fall.

The rest of the program was quite clean. Not perfect, but good. But that fall definitely hurt us, especially since none of the other teams messed up. I think our program was technically harder than anybody else's out there, but we had a big error on our hardest trick.

We ended up in third place. Last year, we were in second. The two years before that, we placed first. Third at nationals is not bad, I realize, but we were out there to try to take back our national title, so it's a disappointment. Especially since we didn't skate our best. I think that's the worst of it for me, I just wanted to tell everybody I saw there, "We can do that! We've done it perfectly tons of times!" It's so frustrating to have worked so hard for the whole season, get so good, and then when you're out there in front of everybody to make a mistake.

It looked like we were just trying something too hard for us - but we weren't! We've done it right lots of times! Our coach said that afterwards four different people approached her and said, "I can't believe you put a double-back-lunge pass in an Adult Open program." We wish we could send them a videotape of one of the many times we've done it successfully, so at least they'll know we're capable of it. I know mistakes happen; I just wish they didn't happen in competition, and I wish everybody had seen us do it right. Few if any of the judges had ever seen us skate our program correctly before, as they weren't from our region. I'm sure that didn't help.

Would we have won without the fall? I don't know. The final team skated very well. Our number was technically more difficult, but they had some really nice-looking, flashy tricks. Plus the advantage of the skating order. I don't know if we could have won first had we not , but I would have liked to have been able to find out.

So that part was quite a disappointment. But even so, I did have a fun weekend. I skate because I love to skate, and that hasn't changed. Lake Placid was beautiful, a nice place to wander around in. I had a great time with my teammates. I posted a few photos here for your viewing pleasure.
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    I'm a survivor