by Tessa Hedges
It is hard to believe that the 2015-2016 season has already come to a close. It has been a remarkable season for the sport as a whole, where teams really stretched their limits technically and choreographically.
Our final journey of the season led us to Budapest, Hungary for the World Championships. After a month of practices following the Shanghai Trophy, we felt that we had tightened up our elements and focused on the nuances of the music and movements. We were doing a lot of clean, accurate run-throughs, and we were excited to compete against the World’s best.
The day before our departure, we had the privilege of exhibiting our free program at the Exhibition of Champions for the World Figure Skating Championships. Many of us had attended segments of the competition throughout the week, and we were thrilled to be included amongst the World medalists of all disciplines. We performed our free program at the TD Garden for an audience of almost 15,000 (many of whom had not seen synchro live), which added an extra layer of confidence and hype before our departure.
We left for Budapest on Monday evening, naturally during one of Boston’s April snowstorms. Upon arriving in Budapest, we quickly took off our layers to adapt to the 70-degree sunshine. Our rooms lacked air conditioning, but we left our windows open and basked in the beautiful weather.
On our first day, we had a 50-minute practice to get our legs and minds acclimated to the time zone. The practice schedule for the two days preceding competition is consistent at each World Championships. Each team receives two 20-minute practices each day, one practice is on the main rink and the other at a practice rink. Thus, we spent Wednesday and Thursday doing a lot of warm-up, refueling, and cooling down from condensed practices. At these practices we focused on consistency in each element and familiarizing ourselves with the slightly wider arena. We practiced in tandem with Miami both days, and we were excited to support one another with U.S.A. cheers!
Thursday evening was the short program draw, which featured many talented skaters, ballerinas, and a local band called “The Biebers.” We sang along to The Biebers’ cover of “Uptown Funk” and watched every country wave their flags with pride as we entered the competition state of mind. We drew 19th in the short program, skating in the second to last group right before Team USA 2.
We went into our short program ready to put out a dynamic, unified, and assertive performance. Especially at the end of the skate, we could really feel the audience involvement, and we felt we had delivered a lot of passion throughout. We missed a couple of calls, but we were very happy with a 4th place finish as it moved us into the last group for the free skate. This had been one of our goals for the season, and we were eager to celebrate while still focusing on the importance of the following day.
We skated 22nd in the free skate, and we took the ice with poise and dignity, humbled to be representing our country. Our goal for the free skate was to show each element as clean and tight as we had practiced it, focusing on maintaining a feeling of comfort and familiarity as we performed together. We very much accomplished this goal, and left the ice feeling almost untouchable as a group. The energy from the crowd brought our emotions closer together as we shared our last team celebration in the middle of the ice. We received a season’s best score, which included all of the technical calls planned in the program.
There were four teams left to skate, so we spent the remainder of the event in our locker room nervously awaiting our placement, all the while incredibly proud of what we had just accomplished. Although it was a relatively short amount of time, the wait seemed quite extensive. We did a lot of singing, dancing, and refreshing twitter feeds, as we couldn’t hear scores very well in the locker room. When the event concluded and we found out that we had received two medals, we fell to the floor in excitement and disbelief.
Although we left the event with a small gold medal and an overall bronze, these were only pieces to our season long puzzle, filled with many other troughs and triumphs. More important than the medals was the feeling after we finished two clean performances, the feeling of pride and humility that can only come from competing with the most respected athletes and friends in your life.