Thursday began with a team meeting, where we discussed the schedule. Then we had a "team outing", which was really just a trip to the Gas Lamp District of San Diego for brunch and shopping. It was cool but sunny - we were so thrilled to see the sun! I bought a cute denim jacket, because I realized that I hadn't brought any outerwear aside from my team coat. This was my first of many purchases -- I was in a serious buying mood this trip for some reason.
We didn't have a lot to do until our first practice that evening. This was a 30 minute Unofficial Practice, meaning we weren't skating on the official competition ice. Our coach worked us really hard for those 30 minutes! I think we did 4 runthroughs, and 3 half-runthroughs. On a normal 50 minute practice, we usually only do 2 or 3 runthroughs max, then work on sections. The practice went well though. Being forced to do the program so many times showed us that we were strong, and we could see what we were capable of.
Friday began with a team breakfast at IHOP. Then it was time for our Official Practice. Only 10 minutes long, but it's the only 10 minutes your skates get to touch the competition ice before you compete. Also, there are usually judges there, watching to see what the programs and tricks look like, getting a feel for the skill levels of the teams. Obviously a very important practice!
We did two runthroughs, both clean. They felt good, and we felt like we really showed everyone watching (judges plus other competitors) what we were capable of. Then we watched some of our competitors practice. They looked really good too, which made us nervous! We spent the afternoon watching some of the competition and relaxing a little bit.
One of the nice things about competing in San Diego is being able to do all of your off-ice warmups and "floor" practices outside. Probably a strange sight, to see 24 girls jumping and dancing in a parking lot, but we northerners seized every opportunity possible to spend time in the sun.
Friday night we were supposed to have one final Unofficial Practice. 15 minutes long. Since our two prior practices had gone so well, the coaches let us relax and have fun a little with this one. We did just one runthrough, and there was a fair amount of goofiness and silliness before and after.
Before it was time to skate, we somehow convinced the two coaches to do the number for us! We played the music, and they walked through the number on the floor. (R kept saying, 'it's okay, they said they'll do the number with us.' I reassured them, 'oh yeah, of course we'll be doing it with you'....but H knew. 'They're not going to do it with us, they're just going to watch and laugh.') It was hilarious: of course they choreographed the number, but they've never really skated it or practiced it, just watched and critiqued us. It was so fun seeing them try to remember everything, and doing a 20-person routine with just 2 people. We were all laughing and clapping and cheering. I think the whole evening really helped us relax before the big event.
After practice, we tried to have a Team Dinner at an Italian place where we'd made reservations. Unfortunately there was a mixup, and our room wasn't ready. We stood around in the lobby for 45 minutes, goofing off and taking pictures of one another, then finally we left in disgust.
We ordered pizza via cell phone, stopped the bus to pick it up on the way back, then we had the team dinner in the hotel conference room. Oh well, it all worked out: we were fed and we bonded, which is all that we were aiming for anyway. In fact it was cheaper, and probably a better room for mixing, so it was okay.
The other team captain and I had spent a few hours prior making "paper plate awards" for everyone on the team, so we ceremoniously handed them out after everyone had eaten. Everyone was feeling good, feeling appreciated and cheerful, so it was the perfect way to end the evening. We headed to bed early: tomorrow was the Big Day.