The Chase is on! Belmontes blogs from JGP FranceU.S. junior pewter medalist enjoys sights, sounds, tastes of Courchevel
Chase Belmontes is the 2014 U.S. junior pewter medalist. He kept a blog from the season-opening Junior Grand Prix event in Courchevel, France.
Bonjour, everyone! This is Chase Belmontes blogging for the very first time, from my very first JGP. I hope you all enjoy as I talk about my totally fabulous trip.
Saturday, Aug. 23
Today is the men's free skate and the free dance. It is also the last day here in France. I can't believe it! This was such a wonderful opportunity, and I'm gaining so much experience and knowledge.
The long program
My warm-up was fantastic. I got prepared and felt great. After my warm-up, I proudly put on my Game of Thrones outfit. This outfit begs for attention. I love it. There are rhinestones and gold appliqué covering it. My outfits this year definitely build my confidence and make me feel great.
My long program was nothing near what I'm capable of. I made some silly errors, but I did a triple-triple! I was happy about that since I wasn't able to complete one in the short program. The small errors added up, though. I stayed in ninth place overall. Even though I had some mistakes, I still had so much fun. I love skating so much, I could fall all day and still enjoy it!
Right after, I immediately wrote down all the things I could have improved on. I also made a list of things to work especially hard on when I get back to training. I learned so much and absorbed every ounce of the experience. This trip has been absolutely wonderful and incredibly productive!
My teammate, Paolo Borromeo, skated amazing! He pulled up from 11th place to seventh. Wow!
I watched the rest of my group, which was filled with so much talent. When one of my lovely French competitors was skating, I caught a glimpse of the coach. She was so into the performance, and quite hyper. When he made a mistake, she started screaming frantically, which sounded like a high-strung poodle barking. It was hysterical! She got everyone's attention.
Then it was the ice dancers' turn to take center stage. Emily Day and Kevin Leahy were graceful and fierce, as always. Chloe Lewis and Logan Bye moved up in the long and looked stunning. It was a great day for Team USA!
Since I no longer had to watch what I ate to get through my long program, I could eat like a seal. I went to the magnificent pastry shop in the rink and got a vanilla eclair and a massive chocolate macaroon that was bigger than my fist. They were inhaled in a matter of seconds. It was a magical experience.
Then came my real splurge. When word came that there were Nutella crepes, I had to see for myself. They exist! I had one of those and a buttery caramel crepe. I never want to leave France!
Amber Glenn was one of the skaters in the exhibition, and she asked me to braid her hair for it. Braiding is one of my hobbies besides skating -- I love it! Her hair turned out gorgeous. It's no secret that the key to success is good hair.
The exhibition was so captivating! Amber landed all her triples (thanks to the braid) and looked amazing.
It was interesting seeing all the skaters in the show relaxed and having fun. They all showed different sides to them that I hadn't seen before.
The closing act was a woman doing a series of psychotic and difficult circus tricks on a suspended hula hoop. It was by far the best performance of the show.
After the exhibition, we got asked to sign autographs and get pictures with people -- it made us feel glamorous! Skating fans are so dedicated and supportive.
The official banquet was after the show. All the competitors, coaches, parents and officials were there. I loved catching up with everyone. Unfortunately, Team USA had to leave early because we had to take a 12:30 a.m. bus to the airport. We said our goodbyes, including goodbye to our flawless team leader, Lindsey Weber. She was so helpful, fun and organized!
Because of the early departure, we weren't able to have the dessert at the banquet. My heart broke a little.
It was definitely sad to leave new friends, the wonderful hotel and the gorgeous city. Team Canada was in the same bus as us as we drove down the breathtaking mountains.
The flight was quick and easy. I watched Dance Moms and ate European chocolate!
I said goodbye to my super awesome roommate, Kevin, and his angelic partner, Emily.
Just like that, I was back at my home in Colorado Springs. Now, it's time to get back to training, and to celebrate my birthday on Aug. 31!
This has been one of my favorite weeks of my life. It was so much fun. I can't wait to apply what I learned from this and work like crazy, so I can create more unforgettable memories and make my dreams come true.
Thanks everyone for reading my blog and supporting me. It means so much to me. Au revoir!
Friday, Aug. 22
Today is a practice day for me and a competition day for the ice dancers and ladies. Yay, USA!
I worked so hard during practice. I wore my good luck pizza underwear and socks, which is my secret to skating well. I also tried a triple Axel just for experience, and I managed to rotate one cleanly! I fell, but it was an accomplishment. I'm happy about it.
My coach, Becky Calvin, and I decided to take a gondola to the top of the mountain today. Every single place we went, we managed to go the opposite direction of where we needed to go. I could see locals looking at us and judging us.
The view from the top of the mountain was absolutely stunning! The only thing that would have made it any better was if my four cats were with me. There was even a restaurant with chocolate and crepes at the top!
We saw some people take their bikes up with them and ride them down the mountain. Some toddlers were speeding down like professionals. It was crazy!
After exploring, I checked out a sports shop. They had underwear with crepes on them! Maybe my new good luck underwear? They were forty Euros, and worth every penny.
Finding love in France
Becky and I stopped by a creperie right next to the rink. I could already tell this place is where hopes and dreams come true. I looked at the menu and got the most expensive crepe. It had butter, sugar, strawberries, vanilla ice cream, whipped cream and an elegant strawberry sauce carefully poured over it. Everyone told me that France is the country of love, but I did not know I would actually find it here. I finished the entire thing in a matter of seconds. Just like that, my love was gone. It's a classic love story.
I drenched myself in USA accessories and cheered on the ice dancers! Emily Day and Kevin Leahy were hot. They skated to Shakira's "Hips Don't Lie," which I definitely approved of. Part of me wanted to jump out there and dance. They got a personal best and were elated with how they skated. I was so proud of them!
Chloe Lewis and Logan Bye skated fantastic, too. I'm not too familiar with ice dance, but apparently there were a couple of small errors -- but I thought they looked fantastic!
I was not able to see Amber Glenn skate, but I heard she got the bronze medal. I'm so thrilled for her! It was fab.
I had a lovely interview on the web stream where I talked about what I thought of my coaches, my favorite moments, food (of course) and the characters I portray in my Game of Thrones long program. It was so cool to do an interview, and I really enjoyed it!
Saturday is my long program day. I am so determined and confident. I'm incredibly excited! Send good vibes!
Thursday, Aug. 21
Last night, I was twitching like a freak in my sleep because I was dreaming about skating. Each time I would twitch, I woke myself up. Today I woke up feeling great. It is an extra beautiful day today! I decided that this place is more beautiful than any cinnamon roll I have ever eaten.
Practice was incredible! I was so much better than yesterday. Team leader Lindsey Weber told me that I was Beyoncé on ice. Hooray!
A lovely French competitor got a nosebleed on the ice while running his program. The altitude must have really gotten to him. The ice looked like a scene from a horror movie.
Banned from a restaurant
Oh dear. So far, every night after practice, I have gone with other skaters to a small restaurant close by to use their Wi-Fi. Last night, this one sassy woman who worked there asked us to leave and told us she shut off the Wi-Fi. Oh no!
Today I was going to explore to see if any other places had Wi-Fi, and I ran into Amber Glenn outside the same restaurant! I walked in to eat with her because I figured it would be fine if I ate. The woman recognized me and eventually said I was banned from the facility, and then she left for a lunch break. I couldn't tell if she was joking or not. It was quite terrifying! A dog was running around inside the place, too. It was such a weird experience!
I was pretty much drowning in Team USA gear when Amber was skating. She nailed her triple flip-triple toe combo and her double Axel. She only fell on her triple Lutz, but she was exciting and hot! She is in third after the short. Yay, Amber!
My six-minute warm-up was perfect. Not one mistake!
I skated last in the warm-up, so that made me quite bored. I always listen to music when I wait. I have a wide variety of music that I like. If my phone were put on shuffle, it could jump from Taylor Swift, to gangsta rap, to classical, to Hannah Montana, to Beyoncé. Today was a Taylor Swift day!
My short program was decent. I nailed the double Axel and triple Lutz. My triple flip-triple toe had some issues, but I managed to stay on my feet. A spin was sketchy; I was rotating as slow as a reheating plate of food in a microwave. I sold the rest of the program, and I'm proud of my recovery after the mistakes. I also had the most rhinestones on my costume, which is incredibly important!
I'm in ninth place, but the scores are close; I'm definitely going to skate better in the long. I'm confident because I train at a higher altitude. I believe I can!
Friday is a practice day for me. Our fabulous ice dance teams -- Emily Day and Kevin Leahy, Chloe Lewis and Logan Bye -- are competing their short dances, and Amber is competing her long. Go USA!
Wednesday, Aug. 20
Today is my first whole day here in Courchevel. I'm so thrilled! It's a practice day for everyone. Paolo Borromeo arrived late Tuesday night, so now all of Team USA is here. I learned how to say "I want a donut" in French -- it's "Je veux un beignet." That's the only important phrase I need to know to survive in France.
My room is different than normal hotel rooms. All the power turns off if one of the lights is turned off, so we have to keep it on to charge our phones. The shower is quite odd, too. It's a bathtub with the shower part on a handle connected to it, so I have to lift it over myself. It's challenging and terrifying. I pretty much flooded the entire bathroom with it.
Breakfast was wonderful! I ate French croissants (which is thrilling to me), chocolate Danishes, meat, bread and yogurt. It was so tasty! There was also a big basket filled with packages of Nutella. My coach, Becky Calvin, was talking to me about shuttle information, but I have to admit I was more focused on the Nutella.
While I was eating, the glamorous Amber Glenn came in! We talked about smuggling the Nutella basket and sneaking it to our rooms. Although we didn't, I managed to get six packs in my pockets.
Oh. My. Goodness. There is a massive pastry shop inside the rink. It makes life that much more beautiful.
There's also a bowling alley, a rock-climbing wall, places to shop, workout rooms and ballet rooms. The place is incredible!
Selfies and practice
Before I skated, we had the draw to determine the short program starting order. I drew 11th out of 17. I love being toward the end! I drew the same spot as Emily Day and Kevin Leahy. It's destiny!
While all the junior men were sitting for the draw, I sat in the front corner -- the perfect opportunity for a selfie. I asked everyone to smile for the picture. They all secretly judged me harshly but smiled beautifully.
Amber and I decided to talk to every foreign stranger, and make friends with everyone. It was a blast!
Practice was horrendous. If I was watching myself in the stands, I probably would have thrown rotten fruit at myself. I got all my kinks out, though, and made it productive. I was the only junior man to do a full run-through of my long today. This altitude is the same as my rink in Colorado Springs!
Kevin, Emily, Amber and I went exploring around our hotel. We created our sassy and official Team USA pose.
Amber got a chocolate bar for her roommate, Chloe Rose Lewis. While walking back, we saw Chloe on her second-floor balcony. Amber decided to throw the chocolate up to Chloe. She succeeded on the second attempt. It probably confused the strangers who saw an American girl throwing chocolate at a building.
The end of a totally fab day
All of Team USA went to dinner at this lovely place called La Chabichou. It had unlimited food, so naturally I ate the equivalent of a hippo. I was the last of my group to finish eating. I'm sure the competitors from other countries were horrified. Today was heavenly!
Amber, Paolo and I will compete our short programs. I can't wait! I'm so excited! Cheer us on!
Tuesday, Aug. 19
On our way to the airport, our car ran out of gas. Luckily, we were close to a gas station, and a nice stranger helped us.
My favorite thing on the plane was the movie selection. There were about 15 movies per genre to choose from. I chose to watch The Devil Wears Prada, of course.
The first meal was great -- it had a gorgeous brownie in it! I asked for four more, but the flight attendant said no. That was unfortunate.
To keep my legs from swelling, I decided to do ballet in the aisle. So pretty much, I put on a show for everyone in the airplane. My flight was great!
When we landed in Frankfurt, I met two of my teammates, ice dancers Kevin Leahy and Emily Day. It turns out they love food, too; we are definitely going to get along.
The stunning country
The high altitude and mountainous terrain combine to make Courchevel literally breathtaking. This is by far the most beautiful place I have ever been!
Lost and confused
My phone died, and when we arrived, there was no way for me to communicate with the rest of Team USA. Our half of the team ate a fantastic dinner at a buffet. (French buffets are INCREDIBLE!)
Several people did not know which hotels they were staying at, and the shuttle drivers did not know where Team USA's hotel was either. I started working on learning how to survive in the mountains. The shuttle driver yelled in French, and we were all wrapping our minds around living in the wilderness. What a circus! At least if we end up without shelter, there's a crepe bakery nearby. That completely makes up for it. To add to everything else, some officials are locked out of their hotel -- crazy!
Safe and alive
We finally made it to our hotel, and to our elegant team leader, Lindsey Weber! We didn't have to survive in the mountains after all. Now, it's time to sleep. Although, there is a single bed and a double bed for me and Kevin...it's quite random. Maybe it's their way of telling me I eat too much?
Preview of tomorrow
I get to actually see the rest of Team USA: Amber Glenn, Chloe Lewis and Logan Bye. We all get to practice for the first time. I'm so excited! I feel confident and fierce!