Another season is upon us already! It’s crazy to think that it’s already that time again; time for the skating season. The 2016 World Championships feel like they just happened yesterday, yet this season has slowly crept up on us like a breath of fresh air. Eric and I spent a peaceful summer at home. No travelling, no shows, no appearances. It felt so amazing to come home every night and get a good night sleep in my own bed after long and productive training days. We planned it this way. We turned down a great tour opportunity knowing and understanding that staying home to train would help us feel more prepared when the season started. We didn’t want to feel rushed, stressed or panicked when September came, so we quietly worked away at our little training rink in St. Leonard, mastering new choreography and a new throw, the triple axel.
It’s been a few years now that we start our season in Quebec City, at a provincial competition called Souvenir Georges-Éthier. The first competition is always stressful for us regardless of the size of the competition or who we are competing against (we’re always competing against ourselves anyways). After pouring your heart and soul into your programs throughout the summer, and working tirelessly to master the new choreography, musicality and elements, plus improving on the elements that remained the same from the previous year, you are finally putting yourself out there to be judged and critiqued on all the hard work that you’ve done. It’s a very sensitive subject as it is, and Eric and I are very sensitive people. We trust that we’ve prepared ourselves the best way possible, but you just never know how the officials, skating fans and the skating community will respond to your efforts.
After monitoring sessions at Skate Canada’s High Performance Camp in August, our feedback was excellent. We got confirmation that we were working in the right direction and we went home confident and motivated to continue pushing forward in the direction that we started. Our long program seemed to begin clicking more naturally before the short did. Which didn’t surprise us, the short is a completely new style for us and with a brand new element. With this short program, we are finding new movements within ourselves, an appreciation for a piece of music that we didn’t imagine falling in love with and, hopefully, innovating a new style of pairs skating.
Our short program this weekend was skated quite well for us, and it is exactly where we are with that short program. That’s how we’ve been training it in practice and we are aware of all the areas that we need to work on in order for the program to grow in the direction that we believe it has potential to grow in. Competing for the first time is always interesting, when I was taking a nap before the competition, I was visualizing the program, and I can imagine anything happening! Will I forget the footwork? What’s the step out of the twist? What musical note do we stop the spin on? As you may know, overthinking is one of the things that I do best, so I’m hoping to turn my brain off next week in Finland when we preform this short program so that the program can move more freely.
And then, there’s the throw triple axel! It has been a fun challenge for us! Back in March, before the World Championships, we almost jokingly said, if they won’t allow throw quads in the short program, maybe we are going to have to learn a throw triple axel. But almost immediately, we realized we weren’t joking. Why not? The base value is higher then the throw triple lutz we have been doing for years, and we are always up for the challenge of learning something new. The process to learn this throw was very interesting for us. First, we had to learn a throw waltz jump. I’m not even kidding. We didn’t even know how to hold each other. Then once we had learned the proper hold and pattern, we could do a throw single axel. Then, I remember being so scared to try the first throw double axel. Would my body know when I did two and a half rotations? What’s it like being thrown facing forward? I hadn’t really worked on my own axel jump for years. This was all so foreign to me. We spent the Stars on Ice Tour trying to learn a throw double axel without the help of a coach. This was a challenge. I fell a lot, and Eric and I tried to figure it out ourselves, playing a guessing game of “Let’s try this”, and “No, that doesn’t work. Let’s try this”. We sent videos to our coaches and gave them updates on our progress. Every night in the tour, we preformed the throw double axel and it was great practice for us. I don’t think we ever missed one.
We got home from tour and took vacation and when we came back, we knew we were dedicated to mastering this throw and putting it into the short program this season. After a few days of finally having lessons on the double axel, we felt like we had a much better direction with our technique, and we decided it was time to go for the triple. We landed the throw triple axel cleanly on the second day we ever tried it, attempt number 6 to be exact. This was back in June. After a few months of practice, and the ups and downs of completely mastering a new element, Eric and I are confident enough to do it in competition. We can land multiple ones successfully in training on a daily basis, it’s actually more consistent some days then our throw quad salchow. The next step is to bring it to the program in competition. We are up to the challenge and can’t wait to give it a try once again at Finlandia Trophy next week!
Our long program is very special. It is set to music from a French artist, Patricia Kaas, singing Edith Piaf’s song “Non, je ne regrette rien”. It’s a beautiful, powerful and inspiring piece of music and we felt a special connection with it right away. Originally, our choreographer wanted to save it for the Olympics next season, but after listening to it for the second year in a row, and considering it for the second time, we decided that we had to go for it. We love the program; the calm and introverted energy it evokes and the beautiful costumes we’ve designed to wear. It all feels so elegant and we are so proud of the performance we had this weekend as we debuted the program. We’ve been training great long programs and felt confident that we could deliver a strong performance.
This summer we were very smart in terms of our training for the long program. We slowly introduced elements into our program, so that we didn’t become overwhelmed with everything all at once. We went for about 2.5 weeks doing the long program with everything except the spins. And the first time we tried it full at home in practice, with the spins, we did a clean long program. Now, we are ready to work on all the nuances of the choreography and body movements, as well as cleaning up a few elements so we can receive higher GOE’s.
So with that, the 2016-2017 skating season has officially started. It’s going to be a long season, filled with many ups, and probably a few downs as well. We are excited for the challenges that lay ahead and we have faith that we can surpass anything we’ve done in the past. This season is about improving, pushing, focusing and enjoying ourselves.
All we can ask for is that we continue to improve with every performance, we continue to enjoy our daily training and that we inspire others with our skating performances!