Sharon Neff from the Dearborn Crystallettes shares her experience competing at the Neuchatel Trophy in Neuchatel, Switzerland representing Team USA.
Hello from Switzerland! The Crystallettes arrived in Neuchatel, Switzerland safely and happily after a long, solid day of traveling.
We started the day at the Detroit Metro Airport at 1:30 in the afternoon. There, we were delighted to see one of our toughest teammates, Casey Josz. She had surgery yesterday morning after injuring her ankle in an unfortunate counter, but she still managed to see us off to Switzerland. With a smile on her face and a hug for everyone, she wished the whole team good luck. After saying our goodbyes, we walked through check-in and security and boarded the plane. The eight-hour plane ride went by quickly because of the good company and excitement of Switzerland. When we arrived in Amsterdam we had an hour to spare. We headed to the gate and boarded the plane to Zurich. The excitement was building as we approached our destination.
After another hour we landed in Zurich and collected our luggage. We were thrilled to have finally arrived. Soon after baggage retrieval we met our tour guide. She was so nice and was eager to help us venture the places of Switzerland. It was so cold outside, but we didn’t mind. We loaded the bus and went on our way to explore Lucerne, Switzerland. Lucerne was absolutely beautiful! With the mountainous backgrounds, the lake, the buildings, and the people, Lucerne was definitely a great opener to the trip. Our tour guide walked us around a bit and then led us to a place to eat lunch. Our first eating experience in Switzerland was at a mall located in the town. It was delicious. Pastas, pizza, bread and cheese, and desserts were just a few of the great selections. After lunch we had time to walk around and shop…everyone’s favorite thing to do. About an hour later we loaded the bus to Neuchatel. The majority of us slept the rest of the way, but when we reached our hotel, we were in awe.
Hotel Beaulac was right on Lake Geneva. It was gorgeous. As we checked in, our coaches, Holly Teets, Kevin O’ Keefe, and Ann Barr explained that we had a few hours to rest and unravel before practice at seven to start preparing and refocusing. We were exhausted, but we knew the hard work would pay off. Six o’clock soon arrived and we were on our way to the rink with our team leaders, Dann and Jeannette. We warmed up and stepped on the ice for the first time. We had a good, smooth first practice. We were happy. After, we wrapped up and went back to the hotel.
We were all starving and craving any kind of food. We went to a pizzeria right in town. We ordered a bunch of food and devoured the last bite. The desserts were a big hit. We got to see our parents for the last time for a few days. As we finished, we wished them well and went on our way back to the hotel for a good night’s sleep, excited to start a fresh day in Switzerland.
GO TEAM USA!
Sharon and the Crystallettes
Greetings from Hotel Beaulac! We are pleased to report that Crystallettes grabbed an awesome win after the short program. We hope to keep up the focus and hard work for the long program tomorrow.
The day started around 9 in the morning with a delicious breakfast. Proudly wearing our Team USA’s, we ate together excited to begin the day. We met downstairs for our warm-up and a little bit of off ice. Keeping our focus, our coaches relayed all of the changes and counts to us and gave us the first (of many) pep talks. As our off ice came to a close, we walked to the rink for our official practice.
Pumped and ready to show off our new short program, we put our skates on and completed the final primping. With ten minutes left in the locker room, our coach Holly told us to put everything away and prepare to visualize. The song Mercy by Duffy played and we all visualized performing a perfect program. As the song came to a close we cheered and clapped for our great performance. We called our other coach, Shannon Peterson, who was unable to come to the competition. Shannon gave us her pep talk and told us to take it one moment at a time. She expressed her pride in us and told us that we could do anything we wanted if we stayed together as one and focused. After the phone call, we entered the arena and stepped onto the ice. It felt amazing.
After official ended, we went to the mall across the street to eat lunch. There were pastry shops, creperies, and small sandwich boutiques. After an hour we went back to the hotel to rest. We were all exhausted and with three extremely sick teammates, sleep was an absolute necessity.
Two hours later it was time to get up to do our hair and makeup. We crowded into our captain’s room and lined up for our makeup. It was quite the assembly line. Some did hair, some did makeup, and others did final touches of glitter and hairspray. It was great team bonding. Black, open-backed, stoned dresses raided the halls of the hotel as our managers handed out our new, beautiful dresses. We sparkled and glimmered. We felt honored to receive compliments on our dresses. Prep time soon ended and the time for skating came closer and closer.
In the middle of the lobby we formed a pile of skate bags, purses, jackets, and scarves. Once again we had a little off ice before we left for the rink and warm up area. We played our music a few times to refocus ourselves and then we were off to the warm up building. When we arrived Dann and Jeannette greeted us with warm wishes and hugs. They were so supportive. Soon warm up was over and the time had come. We walked to our locker room and primped. We then visualized and called Shannon again. It was time. Dann and Jeannette came to our locker room and told us we were next. We lined up and stepped on the ice. Lexettes and Chicago Jazz were in the stands cheering us on. We couldn’t have been any happier to be representing the United States. We skated our hearts out and ended a solid, clean short program. We stepped off the ice and made our way to the kiss and cry. We congratulated each other and held hands. We were so happy with our skate and hoped the judges and the audience had as much fun as we did. We waited for our score of 58.86. We were ecstatic, but had to wait for the final two teams to skate. We finished the night in the lead. We were so thrilled and excited, but we knew it wasn’t over. We still had to deliver a solid long.
We finished the day with dinner at the hotel restaurant. Many hotel employees, parents, and teams shared their congratulations. We couldn’t have felt any prouder. As dinner ended, it was time for bed. We knew that another long day was ahead of us and we needed to keep our focus. We hope you have a good night!
GO TEAM USA!
Sharon and the Crystallettes
Bon jour from Lake Geneva!
Well, this is it, our last night here in Neuchatel, Switzerland. We look forward to seeing everyone at home.
Our schedule today was pretty much the same as yesterday but filled with eagerness and confidence. We knew we had to stay calm and focused to be able to perform just as well as we did last night.
As we convened in the lobby, we went through our off ice and competition warm up. Our coaches showed their greatest support and told us how proud they were. After hearing them talk, we knew today would be extraordinary. After off ice, we walked the ten or fifteen minute scenic walk to the rink past the beautiful lake and marvelous buildings. As we approached the rink for official practice, we walked to our locker room and got ready. Going through our traditional locker room routines and jamming to our normal songs, we were exhilarated and ready to show off our alluring J-Lo medley. As our time in the room ended, we called Shannon, our coach back home. Then, Dann and Jeannette came to line us up. It was our turn.
Seeing our parents and all the other teams cheering us on was an incredible feeling. We started off solid, however, as our second element continued, one of the girls hands got sliced open on the exit of a choctaw. Luckily, the girl who got cut was one of the toughest girls I have ever met. She didn’t even flinch and kept skating like a champ. Unfortunately, there was a lot of blood and she eventually stepped out to get her hand looked at. There wasn’t enough time to give her stitches because we had to continue with the official practice, so our team doctor put a big glove on her hand and wrapped it. One of our alternates stepped in like a brave soldier. She was awesome. However, our next run through our teammate was able to step back in and help us finish the official practice with a strong ending. Ultimately, we were satisfied, and after the practice, our teammate got two layers of stitches.
We went back to the hotel where our managers prepared meats, breads, cheeses, fruits, and an assortment of snacks for lunch. It was a great lunch and we were ready to catch up on some rest after. After our two-hour nap, it was time to get pumped and ready. Like yesterday, we had a neat assembly line for hair and make up. It was the most convenient and quick way for everyone to get ready. An hour and a half passed by and we were ready with our gorgeous beaded, red dresses and flowers. It was time for off ice. We met with our coaches and walked through our program a few times. We went around the room and went over our timing and facials. We felt better then ever. We knew that if we could get through our official, we could do anything. After off ice, we headed to the warm up area. We walked with confidence and determination and couldn’t wait to skate.
Our warm up went well and we went on our way to the locker room. We were exhausted, but we knew it would all be over within a few minutes and that we just needed to keep in the game a little while longer. We completed all of our locker room rituals and called our coach. She was so happy for us and we couldn’t wait to call her after our skate. Five minutes later, Dann and Jeannette came and got us again. They announced that we were on in three minutes. We stepped on the ice and did a smooth warm up block. We were ready to give it all we had. The program started out very strong. After the block, however, we had an unfortunate fall, but it was only during a transition so we knew we could still have a great performance. The program continued with good fluidity, sharpness, and grace. We were almost done. At the end of our intersection, we had two more falls, but the skaters recovered quickly and with poise. The program ended and even with the falls, we knew we did our very best and finished with a strong no hold. As we walked to the kiss and cry booth, we supported each other. We were so proud of each other no matter the outcome. As the announcer said our scores, we discovered we received a 98.08 with a deduction for excessive ice coverage. Disappointed, we kept our heads high and cheered for the Haydenettes, fellow Team USA members, and headed back to our locker room. Our coaches told us that no matter what, they were proud of what we had accomplished and couldn’t have been any happier with the way we worked as a team.
About fifteen minutes later, our coach back home called us and told us we had won! We were so happy and relieved. A few seconds after we found out, our managers and Chicago Jazz, the winners of the junior division, came running into our locker room. It was a USA celebration. We were ecstatic and could not believe what had just happened. It was so surreal. The awards ceremony was so cool. Everyone was awarded with a decorated cowbell and given a bag and a bouquet of flowers. After, we all gathered for some team pictures and we were able to see our parents. We went back to the locker room and got changed. Then, we met our number one fan from Team Dancers. He attended the competitors party with us. The competitors party was on a boat. The food was different from American food, but good, and the dessert was amazing. We ended the night with a little bit of dancing with our other competitors and then we walked back to the hotel. It had been a really long day and we still needed to pack. Currently, it is 1:30 in the morning and we meet downstairs at 4:45 to leave to go back to the lovely USA. We couldn’t be any happier or prouder to represent USA and wish everyone the best of luck for the rest of the season. Next stop, NATIONALS!
GO TEAM USA!
Sharon and the Crystallettes