by Tessa Hedges
The Haydenettes had a whirlwind of a trip to the Shanghai Trophy last week! As very few of us had ever been to Asia, we spent a good amount of time figuring out what to pack. We left equipped with TONS of food, air masks, and plenty of plane activities for the 15-hour flight. Since we left straight from nationals in Michigan, this made our planning a little more difficult. After an incredible weekend winning our 24th national title, we took Sunday to do some last minute preparations for China, including laundry, time with family, and one last practice at Western Michigan University. We were determined to apply our feedback from nationals as quickly as possible.
We arrived in Shanghai a little jet lagged but very excited to see the rink and get to work. The next two days we did some sight seeing in the morning followed by hour-long practices in the afternoon. Our major challenge at the arena was adapting to the speed skating padding on the boards, which took a little bit of ice around the perimeter. Our first day included a trip to the Jing’an temple, the World Expo, and a walk through the financial district of Shanghai. We learned that Shanghai is the melting pot of China, and is considered one of the most welcoming places to live and travel. We felt that open environment throughout the week, as natives warmly welcomed us to their city. We even had parents handing off their children to take pictures with us! We also learned that because of the city’s dense population (close to 24 million), very few people have cars. Only 7,000 license plates are released a month, so most people ride bikes. Driving was a little crazy, even to Bostonians.
We were lucky enough to catch the city lit up at night. Walking the Bund at night highlighted the new and old portions of Shanghai, which are divided by a river. Our second day of sightseeing included a shopping trip, where we practiced our bargaining skills (aided by our Chinese tour guide, Lisa.) We got great deals because we all wanted similar things, and buying in bulk brought down the prices. After a couple days of sightseeing, we were ready to relax and prepare to compete.
Our short program skate had minor technical errors, but overall we felt like we attacked and brought out an emotional depth that we had not shown before. After missing a few calls, we saw a lot of room for improvement in the free program performance. However, we were extremely excited to be sitting in second place and were determined to amp up our technical mark the next day.
Our long program performance was focused, calm, and strong. Our goal was to maintain sharp focus while still engaging the audience and drawing them into our sphere. We achieved a season’s personal best score, and placed second in the free program behind Team Surprise from Sweden. Even still, we missed some important calls, and we were eager to hear how we can improve on our marks for Worlds. We ended in second place overall, behind Team Paradise of Russia. We were ecstatic to be ranked among some of the world’s best teams and humbled to be representing the United States at such a prestigious event.
The Shanghai Trophy concluded with a day of exhibitions. Each team performed a show program and then a finale where teams skated together. After the teams skated their show programs, we all went out on the ice and performed a few elements of our free programs to a Chinese pop song (this presented some timing challenges, which all teams conquered impressively.) It was an incredible experience for us to skate hand in hand with top athletes from around the world. We also made friends with the U.S. speed skating team and watched them race.
The Shanghai Trophy was a wonderful event run by organized volunteers and staff. We are in very good spirits going into the world championships, and we are now working to clean up our elements and add final bits of flair to bring out the full personas of our programs.
Thank you for your support and we look forward to reporting on our trip to Budapest in April!