This past week I travelled to Gothenburg, Sweden to compete in the Leon Lurje Trophy with my team, Starlights senior.
We left late on Tuesday night and arrived around 3 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon. The first few moments in the city were exciting. We giggled about the funny words on the airport signage, the plastic trees in the baggage claim, and furiously updated the Wi-Fi in an attempt to notify the world we had made it. Despite our obvious exhaustion, we spent the first minutes at the hotel in a team meeting discussing expectations, schedules, and logistics. After we had settled in and cleaned up we headed to our first of many team meals, brisket with root veggies. A delicious way to kick off what was sure to be a great week.
We woke up Thursday morning and shook off the jet lag we were all feeling. As the team headed down to breakfast we shared the elevators with the girls from Hockettes, and we wished them well on the first day of practices. Later, as we pulled into the Frolundaborg Arena, the reality of the week set in. We unloaded the busses and started our first off-ice warm up. We spent our first practice getting a feel for the wider rink, and practicing our pivoting line, an element we struggle with. The practice was a success and left the team as well as the coaches, Heather and Jenna, feeling confident. That night, we took a ferry to our parents’ hotel for dinner. The city is beautiful, and we enjoyed the opportunity to experience it. Dinner was great, as was spending time with our parents.
Friday followed a similar schedule to Thursday; we had breakfast, practice, lunch, and a few hours later, the competitors’ dinner. This dinner is always one of my favorite events at international competitions because of the unity you feel between countries. It provides team members the chance to mingle and meet new exciting people without the competitive nature of the competition. This year my teammates and I became particularly close with some girls on the team from Spain. We played a music game involving singing throughout the dinner. Although many of the international teams didn’t speak fluent English, I was surprised to find out that many of them knew all of the words to popular English music.
Saturday kicked off the competition and we headed to official practice at around 1pm. We did two full runs of our short program and were happy when both were strong. Our coaches have been pushing us to be more expressive and portray a character through the program, while also concentrating on the technical aspects. Our goal was to apply this correction through official practice as well as into competition later that night. We later returned to the rink to cheer on Hockettes in their short program. When they took the ice we rose to our feet and yelled the cheers we had learned only minutes prior. We all felt the pride for our country as we watched them skate a beautiful program. We kept the positivity flowing as we warmed up for competition. Per tradition, we stretched to Uptown Funk and shook off our nerves to “Shake It Off”.
Minutes later we were ready to go and waiting at the door of the locker room. The time had seemingly flown by and we were about to compete. With one final pep talk from Heather and Jenna we took the ice and skated our best program yet. The feeling of accomplishment I felt when I hit my ending pose is something I will never forget. It was a beautiful skate for us, and we even got a full call on our pivoting line!
On Sunday, we prepared all day for long program competition. We had official practice and watched practice videos at the hotel. When it came time, we started warm up at the rink and focused in on the job we had to do. We concentrated on a positive mentality and breathing through the program. We skate a difficult program and it’s important to take the program one element at a time. That was tonight’s mission. I remember feeling the nerves as Heather and Jenna gave us each a high five on our way onto the ice. The program was a successful one despite the minor mistakes. We scored a personal best of 94.36. It was an amazing weekend of skating for sure. Our skate landed us in third place behind Team Surprise and Team Boomerang, a spot we were proud to be in.
All in all, it was an experience of a lifetime. There is nothing like hearing “representing the United States of America” as you take the ice. It is an exhilarating feeling and one I am proud to have had. I, along with the rest of Starlights senior, will continue to train hard as we prepare for Midwesterns and the New England Challenge Cup. Go USA!