I’ve had a few days now to come done from the high I experienced in Regina over the weekend at Skate Canada International, part of the ISU’s Grand Prix series.
I’ve dissected my performances and already prepared a list of things I want to better as we move forward to our second Grand Prix event in Lake Placid, USA, Skate America. It didn’t take long after our spectacular long program in Regina before I was thinking of ways to do a better long program next time. In training, we’ve been running that long with more fluidity, better quality elements and better musicality; so these things are on top of the to-do list for the next event. But, I did find it important to stop for a moment to stop and appreciate, be proud and take in what we accomplished.
This competition wasn’t about the 148 points we scored, nor was it about the win. It was about us finding “us” again. It was about going out there and delivering what we know we can do. It was about the fight. And it was a long time coming. We hadn’t delivered a performance in competition like this since the World Championships in 2016. So to say this was a long time coming is an understatement. And I think that’s why it felt so sweet, because of where we came from to get here. No one will ever truly understand the lows we experienced in the past year and a half, only Eric and I really share that. There were lows for the World to see, during our competitions, and there were lows that we experienced behind the closed doors of our training rinks, dripping into our personal lives. And just when we thought we had our heads above water, and that we had figured it all out, Autumn Classic’s long program happened and threw us right back to the ground.
The day after that disaster at Autumn Classic we were on a plane to Italy to preform in a series of shows, plus try to rearrange and figure out our long program issues. I was in panic mode in my own head as well. This was NOT how I wanted my season to go. I refused to allow myself to fall into this downward spiral once again. I had to climb out and I had to climb out ASAP. So I contacted a mental trainer that I had spoken to briefly in the past, Rebekah Dixon. Eric and I had already been working frequently with Sylvain Guimond, a great sport psychologist, but I felt like I needed something more personal and detailed. Rebekah and I started working together the next day, while I was away in Italy. It took only one session for me to snap and see the slippery path that I was down. I was accepting failure. Somewhere along the line, I had accepted that it was okay not to succeed, that it was okay to preform below my potential. And I had become scared to admit that, yes, I did want to fight to win an Olympic Gold Medal. I was embarrassed to admit to her, and to myself, that I wanted to win. I felt stupid. Eric and I were so far from the top pair teams in the World, I had accepted that our time was done, that we peaked already and we were on our way out. As soon as I admitted to myself that I still wanted that Olympic Gold Medal, things started to change. We rediscovered the old me, the determined, fighting spirit that wanted to be the best. It’s almost like I remembered who I was, and then, the game changed.
We came back home to training after Italy and ran our first clean long program in about a year. The tears started flowing and emotions were high. We had almost thought we’d never do a great long program again. Then we ran another clean long, and another; as we prepared for Skate Canada International. It all started clicking. We could really do this. It was still within us.
We arrived in Regina so ready for this long program, that I almost forgot I still had to compete a short program. Sadly, the competition didn’t start out as well as we’d hoped, when I doubled my lutz in the short program. But for probably the first time in my entire career, I wasn’t upset by making a major mistake in the short program. It didn’t really bother me, because I knew I’d do it in the long program. I even boldly announced it during the press conference after the short program. Our long was ready and that was our mission for this competition.
I wasn’t nervous as we prepared for the long program. I felt centred and confident. The French pair team went out before us and skated amazingly, scoring 141, a score we hadn’t been close to receiving for a year and a half. But I wasn’t bothered. I even had a little laugh, thinking about all the times I’ve had to skate after amazing performances and how it pushed me to preform better. Then we went out to skate. I felt a bit like a workman during those first 4 minutes. Opening choreography, smooth and flowy, check. Triple twist, check. Triple lutz, check. Throw quad sal, check. And so on. After the final difficult element, which comes very late in the program, I finally felt it all release. We had done it! It was an amazing moment to experience, and even more so because we were at home in Canada. We won’t have many more opportunities to compete at home, and to have one more special memory with the supportive audience and Canadian flags everywhere was something we took a moment to cherish.
And now on to Skate America. First and foremost, a clean short program is high on the priority list for that event. We want to push for 80 points in the short program, and we know we can if we achieve all our levels, solid PCS scores and clean execution of our side-by-side triple lutzs.
And although our long program looked really great at Skate Canada, it can be so much better as we move forward throughout the season. Our fluidity and connection can be greatly improved, and we can execute all those elements with better quality, including that throw quad sal. We were off the music a lot in the second half of the long program, so we need to fine tune that as we move forward, and we missed some levels in our lifts, which could add an extra 1-2 points to our score.
It’s a great feeling to finally believe that our best days are ahead of us, not behind us. Onwards and upwards to an exciting month ahead as we prepare for Skate America!