Another competition has come and gone, and like always it was another great experience.
It was Eric and I’s first Skate America together as a team, and we wanted to come to this event because it was so close to home and because we’ve had a few great experiences competing in the USA.
Lake Placid provided a great atmosphere for it’s national and international guests. It was picturesque, with light snow fall and a friendly community. The crowd turned out to be amazing and that always helps the skaters enjoy themselves even more. I guess one can say there was one flaw to this competition, and that was the giant bugs all over the ice!! I was picking them up all week, everywhere I skated or was standing on the ice, there they were. Most of them still alive and some of them as big as my thumb. That was a first at a competition ….
As for the skating, it went decently well. We were very well prepared for this competition and back at home, we ran 9 clean long programs in a row coming into Skate America, sadly I guess 9 was the lucky number and we couldn’t hit 10, but now we’re starting that countdown over again and looking to make it last longer!!!
We were very pleased when we finished our short program. We had a few sticky moments, like the landing of the side by side lutz being on two feet and a bit of a wonky pair spin (We started the pair spin inside of the toe pick hole in the ice of one of our lutzs, so we were stuck with little speed) and a minor stuck moment in one of our footwork clusters, but overall we felt like we created a moment with each other and with the audience. One of our favourite things to do in the kiss and cry is guess what score we will get. People might hear me doing this more then Eric and our coaches, but Bruno is usually bang on with his prediction.
Small sidenote: There was nothing worse then him being right during bad performances. Like the 2012 Four Continents short program. We didn’t skate great but it wasn’t bad and we finished the program thinking we’d score about 62 and Bruno immediately told us “No way, your going down to the mid 50’s that was not a good short program and you left to many points on the table”. Sadly, our score was 57 and he was absolutely correct. Since then, we’ve always trusted his “prediction”.
Okay, back on track to Skate America. We assumed with the minus on the lutzs, and a level 3 footwork, as Bruno pointed out to us that our turn wasn’t clean enough, we would receive around 77 points. We were a bit surprised to see only 75, but as we went backstage and looked at the computer screen we learned that we lost levels on our pair spin and twist as well as the footwork. That was the 2 points from our predicted score of 77. Then of course a clean side by side triple lutz would bring our score up pushing around 79. The pair spin seemed like an odd element to receive a level 2, because we have been doing the exact same spin for years and getting a level 4 every time, but we assumed maybe we didn’t hold a position long enough and decided to focus on the positive, which was our PCS score. It was our highest ever international short program PCS score, and we know we can bring it up even higher with more hard work.
The long program was the following afternoon. We had a bit of a tight practice that morning, still got everything done but not with the same ease as we’d like but this usually happens to us the morning after the short program. Your adrenaline was riding high the night before, and you don’t sleep as comfortably and then the long program practice is generally quite early in the morning. So feeling tight on that practice is absolutely normal for us, so we didn’t think much of it.
I felt really good backstage preparing to compete that afternoon. Calm and centred but still pretty nervous. We started the long program with a great triple twist and it made me feel even more settled, having an opening that was solid. I found myself completely shocked when I fell on my triple lutz a few seconds later. It was the first time I fell on it in a long program run thru since the Autumn Classic competition! I had a moment of panic, wondering how I was going to recover, because I didn’t have the experience at home falling on it and getting up and continuing through the rest of the long program. I felt some doubt on the throw quad sal, which came directly afterwards, but then I had time to reset myself mentally and finish the program strong. I felt so proud of myself for being able to do that, especially after last season and Autumn Classic, where I literally didn’t have the ability to pull myself back together after one mistake. When we finished the program, we knew it wasn’t great but we still felt proud of the effort we gave.
Once again, the guessing game began. Bruno said we were very slow and lacking energy at the end, so he thought our PCS score would be somewhat low, but overall we assumed we’d score somewhere between 142-144. The final score from the panel was 140, and we knew right away that we lost levels again. We went backstage and once again saw a level 2 twist, a level 2 pair spin and a level 2 death spiral. The twist and pair spin offered some confusion. It was one of our better triple twists, with no touch on the catch, which means we did the split on the take off, a clean catch and Eric drops his arms for the 3rd feature, for a level 3. The pair spin remained a mystery and Bruno confirmed that we didn’t hold the death spiral long enough at all, which we felt during the performance anyways. Anyways, it once again proved that our “guessing game” was accurate, had we gotten these levels, even with the obvious mistakes, our score would have been around 143.
Our long program still ended up being sloppy overall, lacking speed, flow, ease and energy and we know we need to fix these areas if we want to contend with the top pair teams in the World. So we have a lot of areas to address this week before heading to the Grand Prix Final. We worked a lot on these areas between Skate Canada and Skate America in the long program, but sadly they didn’t come through in our performance in Lake Placid. But I believe we are doing the right work and we need to keep going in this direction.
For the past 3 seasons, Eric and I have done our second Grand Prix in Japan at NHK Trophy and it was always a struggle. Although we always won that competition, we actually scored between 127-131 for our long program over those years with PCS scores between 66-67. And we always left NHK Trophy feeling very frustrated and down on ourselves. Questioning our work and our ability to compete. So even though this long program performance at Skate America wasn’t what we wanted, and we didn’t get a gold medal- we got a bronze, we are still miles ahead of where we’ve been at the end of November for the past few years, and this gives us a lot of hope.
Overall, I consider Skate America a success. We’re continuing to work our way back up the ladder in the World of international pairs. To be honest, when we were assigned these Grand Prix assignments in June, and we saw the events that we were assigned to and how stacked those competitions were with great pairs teams, Eric and I truly believed there was a chance that maybe we couldn’t qualify for the final this time. We’ve come a long way since June. And I feel truly proud to have qualified for the Grand Prix Final once again.
I truly enjoyed Skate America for what it was, I appreciated the good and I will learn from the not-so-good. It was my first and last Skate America medal and it’s something I’ll cherish with fond memories.
This journey is a constant process of growing and refining who I am. And it’s not over. I get another chance next week to grow and evolve as both a skater and a human being, in Japan for the Grand Prix Final.