First, I’d like to take the time to thank everyone for their support over the past few weeks. Eric and I accomplished all our goals and more in Boston at the World Championships two weeks ago. We set out to focus on ourselves, skate two personal best performances and leave the ice happy and proud. It all seems so simple to sit back and say now, but when you are in the moment of one of the biggest competitions of your life, trying to defend a World title for the first time, it’s really not that easy! But we kept our heads down in Boston, focused on our job, and it all paid off more then we could have imagined! Our long program was a magical moment that we will never, ever forget. Thank you to everyone that was in Boston for giving us so much energy during our performances and thank you to everyone on social media that has been supporting us not only in Boston, but all season long.
When we left Boston, we came directly to Japan to begin rehearsals and then tour with Stars on Ice before going back to America to compete in the Team Challenge competition. Life on the road gets hard, living out of suitcases, being away from my husband and pets, and going from one hotel to the next, but getting the chance to preform for enthusiastic audiences always makes it easier 🙂
I wanted to give a behind the scenes look at what a typical tour day looks like. I realize that this is something that fans don’t know too much about and in North America you always hear about these amazing Japanese skating fans. However, not many people get a first hand look at what it’s like doing shows here in this amazing country!
We wake up every morning with a schedule for the day under our door. During this show, it was a very long day because we had an afternoon performance and an evening performance, so our call time was very early in the morning. The Canadian cast of this years Stars on Ice tour is here in Japan, and we are joined by a lot of Japan’s own figure skating talent. The cast is all very high caliber and the show features one great skater after another.
We get catered meals and I’m lucky that the organizers here have arranged special vegan food for me during every meal. I am presented with a menu like this and they bring my food that was cooked separately, especially for me!
Once we arrive at the rink, our change room is already prepared for us. Our costumes are steam cleaned and organized on a hanging rack by name. For tours such as Stars on Ice, we often reuse old costumes, as they are expensive and time consuming to make. Most of them are way too nice to just put them back in a closet and never look at them again. Your name is sown inside the dress, on top of all the other skaters that have used the outfit. I am always so excited to see who else wore my dresses, and on this tour I seemed to have gotten one of the most famous dresses! I am honoured to share this dress with so many of skating’s greats.
During the practice sessions here in Japan, Eric and I are trying to make sure we are still training, because we have the Team Challenge competition coming soon. We train all our long program elements during this (short) practice time and during the show we do a “show version” of our Hometown Glory long program. It is keeping us in shape, and from the enthusiastic crowd response, they are happy to see our long program again in the show.
We also have practice time for the group numbers as well. Since these numbers are still new, we always need work on patterns, formations, and musical timing. Jeff Buttle choreographed the show, and because we have all worked together as a big team in the past with skating shows, the numbers are coming along really well here. As you can see in this photo, Javier and I have such great unison, that I am basically invisible in front of him!
Between practice and the show, we are catered lunch and snacks at the rink and the organizers are always taking care of every detail for us. The athletic therapist, the amazing Mr. Kato, is there to help every single skater with whatever needs attention. He does sports massage, sports therapy, and tapes up injured ankles, and he does it all with such attention to detail and precision. We are all so lucky to have him on tour with us.
It’s opening night, so everyone is a bit nervous about the group numbers and the new choreography, plus we didn’t get a dress rehearsal, so it feels like we are just jumping into cold water! Luckily, everything worked out well and the group numbers were a success! Since there are so many local Japanese skaters in the show, everyone only needs to preform one solo, when typically, it is two solos. That makes the show seem a lot easier for all of us!
Between shows, we were given gifts from IMG, the producers of the show. We got nice programs and bookmarks and pictures of the tour. We are also given notes from Jeff Buttle and his assistant, Tyler Myles, who was watching the show from the seats in the rink. Simple corrections, like keeping our formations tighter, _____ did the wrong arm movement, _____ was off the music, etc. etc. Everyone wants to make the show the best it can be, so critiques are welcome! Some of the skaters visit Mr. Kato again or others (like me), enjoy a nice cup of coffee to give me a second wind for show number two! The paper coffee cups are even so thoughtful, with a label spread across stating “This is going to be a lot of fun. I can hardly wait”!
SHOWTIME once again! And the second show went really well again. We did our new show program to “Piano Man” during both shows today, but for the next two shows it will be our long program that we do. Piano Man is a fun number that the crowd can get into, because it’s such a popular and well known song. We use a chair as a prop and the program always makes us feel relaxed and happy!
Preforming for the skating fans in Japan is always such a special experience! They are so knowledgeable and kind. They support everyone, no matter what country you are from and they always encourage us to “give our best effort” and “to smile”! We love to read the handwritten letters that they send to us, it always means a lot when someone writes a personal letter with such wonderful penmanship.
One more week left on tour here in Japan and I am already looking forward to coming back here for another tour or competition in the future! Thank you to the Japanese organization and skating fans for allowing us these opportunities!