Christmas decorating has begun in my house today, and while I’m sure you want to hear more about my house after last week’s entry, there is much time left to discuss all aspects of the holidays, especially the disgusting amount of food consumption to ensue.
I thought, now that I feel sufficiently removed and enough time has passed, that I could retrospectively analyze the Grand Prix season. So here I go:
I should start with a retrogression (a recurring theme, you’ll soon see). Piper and I were in the states when we got the news about our Grand Prix assignments. Neither of us were aware that the ‘comeback’ rules had changed from the previous year, and we at the time were not sure if we would get a grand prix right off the bat (let alone two), or if we would have to play the waiting game. That being said, since late May/early June, I was looking forward to the Grand Prix season with eager anticipation. Having to sit out last year really taught me how much I should appreciate being able to participate in these competitions; I was just so grateful to be back. I can only vaguely imagine how Piper must have felt, heading into her first international season in 2.5 years.
And suddenly there we were. It was now October, and we were about to step into (surprise!) another new chapter. Skating was going well, and everything seemed saturated with this sense of anticipation. This was to be my 3rd Skate Canada International; interestingly, this also marked the first time Tessa and Scott would skate the event with me. As much as Piper and I had a chance to compete against them last January at Canadians, I cannot stress what great competitors and role models they are. The roster also included 3 other teams from the top 10 at last year’s World Championships, so we knew that we had to meet the event with minds of steel, ready for any challenge and distraction.
Most people wouldn’t hesitate to classify me as a Type A personality, and while this has its benefits, it also is responsible for a behaviour Carol has conveniently coined ‘overskating.’ Now you may be curious as to what overskating is, but the term is quite self-explanatory: it is very easy in a competition setting to tell oneself “This is an important skate so I’m going to try my absolute hardest and make EVERYTHING faster and stronger and deeper than usual.” Not only is this quite inconveniencing to a partner, who has no idea what you’re going to do, but it also directly competes with your muscle memory, who is essentially (and conveniently) trying to do the job for you.
My goal for this Grand Prix season was essentially not to participate in any overskating activities, to trust my training and allow my body to do its job (which it does much better without my intervention). I was so lucky to begin my mission at home, in Canada, with a backstage filled with familiar volunteers and a crowd filled with family and friends (and the BEST fans). Piper and I also had the pleasure of sharing this experience with our teammates Kharis and Asher (since 2007, when they started on the junior international circuit, this is the first (junior) grand prix I do with them. What a joy!). In all, we had a great setup for comfortable skates. And they were! Piper and I skated both programs well, and we felt that 4th was a very strong finish for our first outing.
The Grand Prix season is always tricky in that there isn’t much time between your two events to make any serious changes to the programs. The two weeks between skate Canada and TEB were marked by recovery, a Yankee Polka keypoint-blitz (another Carol coinage), and then an immersion back into runthroughs. We were very suddenly on the road again, this time to Paris.
It was my first time in Paris since my first year senior in 2008, and I was immediately reminded of why it’s such a lovely place: the architecture, the bread, the 30 second walk to the rink… This was topped with a visit from Carol’s sister Sally, her husband Eric; my parents also tagged along, using my competition as an excuse for their own getaway.
What marked me especially was how well we were received by the fans in Paris; they were so supportive and complimentary of our performances, and I couldn’t help but be proud of the work we had done. We are athletes, but we are also performers. Knowing that your work was able to touch someone on a personal level to me is one of the biggest honours as an artist.
The week ended with another big surprise for us. Shortly before the beginning of the gala, we were asked to speak to the organizing committee about a problem… Due to illness, one of the teams was forced to withdraw from gala, but the slot still needed to be filled to keep the TV schedule consistent. We were asked to fill it, based on the reception our programs received. As I mentioned in the last paragraph, Piper and I were so pleased by all the positive feedback, and so honoured by the OC’s request.
So we’d like to thank them! And all the volunteers who made both events possible. And everyone who came out to support us and watch. And even those who watched from home. Thank you to those who believed in us. And thanks to those who didn’t, and who motivate us to be even better the next time.
I can say without any doubt that this Grand Prix season was a success. Sure, we had a mistake in the freedance in Paris, but the Short Dance there was definitely stronger. We can also look back now and see that our keypoint-blitz was apparently counter-effective. This is all part of the learning curve… We’ve come home now, equipped with a lot of feedback that we now have time to implement, and a renewed sense of motivation to be even better at Canadians. We WILL be better.
And so this is where I leave you. I don’t have time to tell you about our great teammates, the exquisite sightseeing, the casino, the incredible people we met, or all the great skating we watched, but that all happened too. And they’re experiences we’re going to take with us, memories we’ll keep over the years, and perhaps look back at fondly every now and then. They’re but some of the great things skating has offered to us. How lucky we are!
Sayonara for now… As the blade turns,
PS: I don’t care how many times Word underlines them in green, I will continue to use passive sentences.