Read about Team Braemar’s captain, Breanna Hegseth’s, experiences at the 2012 Junior World Challenge Cup in Sweden!
After our flight left from Minneapolis Monday afternoon, we landed in Amsterdam early Tuesday morning. Customs and security was a breeze, so we had a couple of hours to spare. We got a bite to eat for breakfast and even had a little time to do some airport shopping. Then we boarded our connecting flight to Gothenburg! After we collected our luggage, we loaded the bus and headed straight to the rink for our first practice. We had an hour in the official rink where we just did a couple drills and sections of each program to get the feel for the ice. Afterwards, we went to the hotel to unpack and eat dinner. Our hotel is very modern and right on a bay next to a giant bridge. Even huge cruise ship type boats pass right in front of us! My roommates and I were saying how our hotel room looked like an IKEA store. After our first dinner in Sweden, everyone went to bed very early due to the 6 hour time difference.
Breanna and TB
We woke up Wednesday morning feeling refreshed and energized after an almost 12 hour sleep. After getting ready for the day and putting our hair in buns, we headed down to the hotel restaurant where breakfast was served. The hotel has a huge selection of food to choose from which is nice since many teams from different countries are staying here. Then we went to the rink for practice. It was a gorgeous day with beautiful weather, so we warmed up and walked our programs outside. A couple of Swedish hockey players were walking outside and asked for a picture with us, so of course we didn’t refuse! We had practice in a rink right across the parking lot from the competition arena. Practice went very smoothly and we got many things accomplished during the 2 hours. Once practice was complete, we went back to the hotel for down time. Later in the afternoon, we took a small walk to a trolley station and headed into the city to do some shopping! Much of the team found cute clothes during the shopping excursion. There were lots of stores ranging from small little boutiques to larger stores like Zara. That evening, we had the team dinner with the Skyliners at the Hard Rock Café. It was really nice to meet up with them again and have dinner together! Everyone was excited to eat hamburgers and American food. After dinner, both teams took the trolley back to the hotel and headed to bed.
Breanna and TB
Thursday morning started off with a 7:30 am wakeup call. After breakfast, we went to the competition rink for our last practice. We got to ride a double-decker bus to the rink too!! The weather was cloudy and chilly so we did off-ice inside the arena. Once we were done warming up, we made a quick stop to buy the super cute competition sweatshirts. During practice we worked on sections and certain elements for both long a short and did a run through of each program. Afterwards, we ate lunch at a small restaurant upstairs in the rink. We watched a small amount of Team Fintastic’s practice, and then headed back to the hotel where we could have downtime. The team ordered in pizza for dinner before heading to the official draw! My co-captain Taylor and I ate dinner at the hotel restaurant because we had to leave before the rest of the team. After dinner, we met up with the Skyliner’s captains and headed to the draw. The draw was a midsummer feast dance! All of the captains from each team skated across the ice and sat in chairs. Then, little Swedish girls came out and danced in a circle with flower wreaths on their heads. When each team named was called, a captain went up to the circle and chose a girl then skated over to the referee. The starting number was written on the inside of the wreath. Due to last year’s placement at worlds, the top 5 teams from 2011 will be in the last group for the short program. Team Braemar placed second in the World Qualifier earlier this year, so as Team U.S.A. 2, we were last to choose for our group. Luckily, we ended up with 17 out of 18! Skyliners will skate right before us followed by Team Fintastic who will close the short program competition. After the draw, we rode the bus back to the hotel with the Australian team. It was really neat to meet skaters from another country. We even sang some Lizzie McGuire and Lady Gaga on the way back with them! Tomorrow, Team Braemar skates official practice at 12:40! Everyone is starting to get into competition mode and prepare themselves for the big 2 days ahead of us!
Go Team U.S.A.!!!
Breanna and TB
We woke up Friday morning ready and excited to skate short official practice! After eating breakfast, we came back upstairs to the indoor terrace and put on makeup and finished getting ready. Afterwards we rode the bus with the Skyliners to the arena. In the arena, our warm-up area was in a small gym upstairs above the rink. During off-ice we did our usual warm-up dance and walked the program a couple of times. Time went by quickly and before we knew it we were putting our dresses and skates on in the locker room and walking to the ice entrance! Official practice went well, with only a couple minor mistakes. Everyone knew we would save our best program for later that evening. We went back to the hotel to drop off our bags, and then walked to a restaurant next to the hotel to have lunch. After eating, we went back to the hotel for a little bit of downtime where some people took naps, watched movies or did homework. Eventually it came time to prepare ourselves for competition! We redid our makeup and applied our new glitter to our eyes. Then we were off to the rink! Just like official, we did our warm-up dance and walked the program. Right before we went down to the locker room, we blasted ‘We Are Young’ on the speakers and belted the song from the top of our lungs. In the locker room, we put on our pink Cha Cha dresses and skates and walked towards the ice. Taking the ice was an indescribable feeling. The USA pride in the stands was unbelievable! Our short program was one of the best programs we skated all season! The scores came up quickly, and afterwards we found out we were in second place after Musketeers from Finland! With only Team Fintastic left to skate, we ended up third after short!! The locker room was full of energy after our skate. Although we were in a good position for tomorrow, we knew we had to bring it all to the ice and skate our hearts out for the long. Immediately following the end of the competition, Taylor and I went to the long program draw. The top four teams after short would be in the last group for the freeskate. We drew 17, which is ironic because we skated 17th for the short program and Saturday would be March 17th, and also St. Patrick’s Day! (and clovers are Team Braemar’s good luck symbol). After returning from the rink, we got dinner at the hotel and headed to bed. With the big day ahead of us tomorrow, we all went to bed excited and ready to skate our gypsy long program!
Breanna and TB
Saturday morning rolled around and everyone awoke ready to compete! We had a similar schedule as yesterday, so the morning went by very smoothly. Eventually we were off to our last official practice of the season! In the same gym as yesterday, we did our usual warm-up dance and walked the program. Visualizing the program, we talked about the story we wanted to create for the judges and audience. Soon after, we walked downstairs and into the locker room to put on our sparkly red official dresses and skates. Official practice went very well, but we knew there was a little bit of room to improve for that evening. Right after we changed back into our USA warm-ups, Taylor and I went to the JWCC studio to get interviewed. They asked us our thoughts on our scores for short, how we liked the arena, our favorite thing about synchronized skating, and a couple of other questions. When we came outside much of the team was talking to their parents and later we went back to the hotel and ate lunch at the hotel restaurant. We started getting ready right after lunch because we decided to braid our hair! With a couple girls braiding, helping put hair in buns, and applying makeup, we were all very excited for our new look. With gold glitter on our eyes and on our braid, the team looked absolutely stunning. Putting on our Team U.S.A. warm-up for the final time this season, we went down to the lobby to load the bus. Like before, we ran through our warm-up dance and walked our program twice. We sang ‘We Are Young’ for the final time. In the locker room, everyone was very relaxed and excited. We made our circle and said our final reminders for the program, then headed out to take the ice! The red and blue Team U.S.A. thundersticks were waving proudly among the parents. Hearing U.S.A. chants from the crowd, we skated the warm-up block very calmly. Our program started off extremely strong, starting off from our amazing moves in the field element. We hit every note and phrasing in the music right on beat. There was a collision in the intersection with 2 falls, but we picked ourselves back up quickly to complete the no hold step sequence. Unfortunately, we had 2 more falls during our program. Although this was not the skate we were hoping for, we held our heads high waiting for the scores. Finally, the scores flashed on the screen and we saw we were currently in 3rd place, with Team Fintastic left to skate. Even with a 5 point deduction, we ended up 4th overall! It was a hard knowing that we skated an unusual program with falls, but remembering that much of the program was skated very well made us happy. We stayed for the awards ceremony where our parents came over and congratulated us. Afterwards, we went back to the hotel to change into our cowboy clothes for the competitor’s party! Skyliners and us were decked out in plaid shirts, jean shorts, and cowboy hats. We walked about 10 minutes to another building where there was a huge dance floor. After eating tacos, all the teams danced the night away! This party is always super fun because everyone lets loose and it’s an opportunity to meet skaters from other countries. There were a few fun games including musical chairs and limbo also. Eventually the night had to end, so we walked back to the hotel to finish packing. Sunday morning came around quickly because we left the hotel at 3:45 in the morning. We had a quick flight to Amsterdam then our final flight back to Minneapolis.
Looking back at this year, the season has been a whirlwind of ups and downs, victories and defeats, but the memories made will last forever. Remembering our first summer practices, we have really grown together as a team on and off the ice. From our first competition to becoming National Champions and placing 4th at Worlds, all the hours of hard work and sweat paid off. Knowing that your teammates will be lifelong friends is truly a gift. There are no ways to thank our coaches, Pam and Toni. Without them, our team would not have accomplished our goals and wildest dreams. Team Braemar is not just a team, we are a family.
Thanks for reading!
Breanna and TB