Well… Where should I start? Thanks for coming to read our blog. If you saw us skate at Nationals (or the “US Championships” as we are instructed to call it), then you know where this blog is headed. If you didn’t, then perhaps you are here to read about how we did. Either way, let’s talk about the positive things first. Also, just a heads up that this is Josh writing the blog, although Jessica still proofreads so that we can put her stamp of approval on it too 😉
The US Championships came up so quickly this year that I didn’t even feel like I was “at Nationals” while I was there. We decided to arrive after the first practice because Nationals has one more practice than every other competition and we just wanted to feel “normal” for this event. Maybe that contributed to that feeling that I spoke of, who knows? If you ever come to one of our practices, you’ll know that we don’t miss much in practice, and thus our practices were very successful. On our 20-minute warm-up preceding the Short Program on Thursday, I took a vicious elbow right to side of my mouth on a triple twist attempt. I think this contributed to a tentative catch for the rest of the week on the twist; although we have not yet mastered the clean catch of a triple twist, we can do a better job than we showed. Nonetheless, the short program was relatively clean in term of the big elements; both the side by side jump and throw jump were executed to our satisfaction; we received the highest score for a solo jump and second highest score for a throw in the whole event. However, we were missing a level on our lift (for reasons unknown) and two levels on our footwork (also for reasons unknown). We have received a level 4 on these two elements all year long and upon video review they look fine too, so we are not sure where we lost the points, but we did lose a couple of placements off of these small losses. Regardless, we scored above 60 points for the first time in a short program and we hope to continue that trend.
Friday, we had another great practice and set ourselves up well with a great 20-minute warm-up on Saturday as well. From the beginning of the free skate I felt a bit off. I started off by missing the very first part of choreography and my mind was spinning a bit. We did the twist and triple toe combination and I settled down. The first lift went well, but then I took too much of a push into the triple salchow and my pattern was taking me right into the wall. This proved to be an issue that I could not overcome as I stepped out of the jump. Still, we re-grouped and finally got value for a death spiral! We followed that with a solid pair spin and a throw loop that we can be proud of. We felt we did decently on the axel lasso and the side by side spin, despite receiving level 3s. The tech panel there is known to be a bit stricter on levels than others and that showed through. Finishing off the program, I rushed the takeoff of the throw triple salchow, which we stepped out of. Finally, the last element, the star lift, was not successful. We had set a new pattern just a month ago and unfortunately, I tried to take the corner for the carry portion of the lift too early, which caused Jessica to get in front of me and made the lift come down. We tried everything we could to save it or even salvage any value but we were unable to. This was a big loss for us, especially considering the value that the lift can be worth and that it is our big final statement at the end of our program and the end of our story that we are telling.
Although it was heartbreaking to finish a program like that which we had started out so well, not all was lost. We still broke 100 in our free skate and finished 8th and we take comfort in knowing that a perfect skate probably would have had us only 1 place higher. Still, we aren’t going to let our disappointment get us down. Zig Ziglar said, “It’s not how far you fall, but how high you bounce that counts.” I think that could not be any truer for us. Yes, we may have fallen down, but we have been down before and we have gotten up and reached higher than we did before we fell. Pairs skating (and probably dance as well) is a little odd because one partner can skate well and feel good about how they did, while the other partner makes mistakes and feels bad about letting their partner down and letting themselves down. It would be weird if I wasn’t heartbroken, considering all the time, money, and passion I put into my craft. Should I expect to be perfect every time? No, but that doesn’t change how I feel. I always want to get better and of course I want to do perfectly every time, even if it isn’t realistic. So many skating fans have come up to me in the plane, at the hotel, on the bus, and seemingly everywhere else to tell me how much they enjoyed our skate and how beautiful it was. Frankly, I’m shocked. To me it felt terrible, but I know that there were good parts of our performance anyways. Several judges have come up to me personally and told me how much I’ve grown as a skater in the past few years. That means a lot to me. People have come up to the both of us to tell us that we just keep on improving, and that also means a lot to me!
After our performance, Jessica told me, “I always believe in you, you’re the best partner ever and I couldn’t be more proud.” That was touching and telling of our great relationship with each other. For Nationals is just one competition in the scope of an entire season. On one hand I wish that I could undo my mistakes at the US Championships, but on the other hand I realize that despite our shortcomings this season was a success! We set new ISU personal bests, we have added a triple twist to our repertoire despite how it seemed to be nearly impossible our first two seasons, and even more importantly we are healthy! Nationals is one week, but training is year-round; I am lucky to have a partner and coach I can enjoy training with so much every day of the year.
Our potential has led many great former skaters and judges to lend their advice to us, because they want to be a part of our growth too. The harsh reality I mentioned earlier, that we would have only been one place higher if we had skated perfectly, needs to change. We want to be higher than 7th place. We want to skate well and know that means we are on the podium, not to count on the mistakes of others. Although we will spend this offseason re-tooling and looking to up our technical ante, we will also make sure to choose programs this season that showcase our strengths. We want to show up in the summer as clear contenders and hope that we can have a full makeover that convinces both the audience and the judging panel that we are one of the top teams and a definitive option for the next Olympics in Beijing.
Now we have a week off of skating before we get right back to it. Nothing is more motivating for me personally than seeing how amazingly everyone skates at the US Championships. I know that Jessica is just as anxious as I am to get back on the ice and make improvements. Although we are tired of our season ending at Nationals, it also gives us a head-start on the next season over our competitors that have post-Nationals assignments. Last year may have been our #GetUp story, but this year we want to do more than get up, we want to jump up. We want to fly up and soar higher than our wildest imaginations. For although we may have fallen down one ring on the ladder of success, if we are flying we can reach even higher than we could climb. Thank you so much for reading and supporting us throughout this season and we can’t wait to put out an improved version of ourselves next season.
– Joshica 😊