Ice Network

Holly's follies: Moore checks in from Slovenia

U.S. ice dancer reports from her first JGP assignment of the season
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Not only did Holly Moore have a whale of a time at her first Junior Grand Prix assignment of the season in Ljubljana, Slovenia, but she and ice dance partner Daniel Klaber also came home with the bronze medal. -Melanie Hoyt

Holly Moore was in Ljubljana, Slovenia, along with partner Daniel Klaber, for the ice dance team's first Junior Grand Prix assignment of the season. Moore kept a blog for icenetwork.

Sunday, Aug. 31

Three words: what a trip! I was going to begin writing this blog during our layover in Frankfurt; however, I think it's best I do it after a good 13 hours of sleep rather than having you read my rambling thoughts as I attempt to stay up for the 26th hour straight. Now that my mind isn't quite so tired, I have plenty of time to reflect on our whirlwind of a trip.

Our free dance was Saturday … I think. To be honest, it feels like weeks since we competed. After our warm-up in the morning, the ladies took the ice for their free skate. Our fellow Team USA skater, Leah Keiser, skated her heart out, landing six triple jumps. With her breathtaking free skate program, Leah pulled all the way up to capture the bronze medal! After seeing her remarkable comeback, we knew that the day would undoubtedly be an extraordinary one for Team USA.

Next up: the fancy dancers. As both Team USA couples were in the final warm-up group (woo hoo!), we had plenty of time to rest, relax and prepare to fight our hardest in the free dance. My partner, Daniel, and I have an absolute BALL performing our Addams Family program, as it's unquestionably my favorite program to date! If I was asked to describe my feelings about our free dance performance in one word, it would definitely be "fun." We had a blast skating our program, and evidently it showed -- we scored a personal best! After some silly mistakes in the short dance, we knew we needed that score to prove ourselves as top condenders internationally. We were elated that our score in the free was the best in that part of the competition and contributed to our earning the bronze medal. Our teammates, Julia Biechler and Damian Dodge, also had a stellar free dance; they were fourth in the free and fifth overall. Talk about a good day for team USA!

Overall, we were very pleased not only with how we skated but with the results. We met some of our personal goals, such as receiving the first Level 4 Silver Samba pattern of the JGP season as well as the highest free dance score thus far.

However, we have plenty to work on before our next outing. Coming into this event, we knew that one of our lifts was a bit iffy as far as levels go; sometimes we receive the level and sometimes we don't. In Ljubljana, after not getting the level, we quickly realized it was too big a risk internationally, and now we know we must change it if we want to pull ahead. But hey, it happens! All and all, we are very happy with what we have accomplished, and we hope we made Team USA proud!

After the event was the medal ceremony for the dance and ladies. It was so exciting that us and Leah could both bring back bronze medals for our country! The dancers were first to receive the medals, and after countless pictures and poses, we, of course, were asked to please leave the ice and stop taking pictures so the ladies could go. This made me giggle because, of course, it was the dancers who wanted to take every possible photo from every possible angle on the ice.

After the medals ceremony, it was off to the Team USA dinner. We decided to go to the city center for this, and it was a blast catching up with all the athletes after a long but exciting week. We had such a fantastic group of skaters, and we had many laughs and made many memories together.

Shotaro Omori is reponsible for my favorite part of dinner. At the restaurant we went to, many of the dishes on the menu were written in Slovenian, so we just had to point to communicate to the waiter what we wanted. When it came time for Shotaro to order, he said, "I'm not even going to try to pronounce this, so I'll just point," to which our waiter responded, "Oh, the cheeseburger?" Of course, this made the whole table, including Shotaro, burst out in laughter since it was one of the few English dishes they had. But not to worry, Shotaro -- I would have DEFINITELY done the same thing.

Following dinner, we wanted to get a team picture outside in the city center. We found a spot exactly in the middle of the city, and we were all laughing as we made a spectacle of ourselves. It seemed that every single person in the square turned to look at the group of kids in USA jackets taking picture after picture right in the center of the city! We couldn't stop laughing thinking of what a funny sight it must have been for the locals.

Afterward, the only thing the athletes could talk about was, what else, gelato! Obviously, we had already scoped out the very best place to get it, since we have been craving it all week. There are very few things in the world more dangerous than a group of post-competition skaters around gelato.

We then decided to walk back to our hotel. Let me just tell you that if you ever happen to be out in Ljubljana at 11:30 on a Saturday night, you are guaranteed to see some pretty strange things. From people sitting in the bushes to a guy wearing green horns and pushing a shopping cart, it was surely a night I won't soon forget. However, it provided us with many laughs the entire trek home!

OH, and also another word of advice: The bicyclers DO NOT stop! (Yes, we all learned the hard way.)

Well, that about does it for our time in lovely Ljubljana. Not only can I finally spell the word without spell check, but I now have many laughs and remarkable memories to associate with the exquisite city. I hope you all enjoyed reading about my escapades and anecdotes from a truly amazing trip. I'd like to congratulate and thank every single athlete for such a wonderful experience that I will surely never forget!


Friday, Aug. 29

Yesterday was such a whirlwind of a day, I don't even know where to begin! After our super early morning practice, (yay for drawing to be in the first warm-up group, which was of course the earliest practice) we headed back to our hotel to, of course, sleep! After a quick nap, it was off to the rink to shake our stuff in our samba!

I am pleased to inform you all that the precipitation in the rink had slowed to a drizzle, so my hair was ALMOST tamable -- I know you were all concerned. #icedancerproblems

Our short dance went pretty well, and we are happy with our international debut of our samba. Despite a few minor errors, we are currently in third place. Our teammates, Julia Beichler and Damian Dodge, skated an amazing short dance, and are sitting in fifth place. What a way to begin their first international competition! It's so exciting that both U.S. teams made the final warm-up group!

After the short dance was over, the men took the ice for their freeskate. Our teammate Luke West skated an absolutely fabulous program, and pulled his way up to ninth overall! American Shotaro Omori also skated very well and brought home a fourth-place finish for Team USA! Woohoo!

Last night, when the competition was over, we went to a new part of town to find a nice restaurant and try to further explore Ljubljana. We ended up along the river in a seemingly secluded district with cafes, surrounded by town homes and cobblestone sidewalks. 

We discovered this restaurant that looked pretty good, so we decided to give it a try. It turns out that the restaurant has won various awards for being one of the best in all of Ljubljana, and after eating the four-course meal it offered, we could certainly see why! It was so exciting that we stumbled upon such a great place -- and if I ever find myself in Ljubljana again, I definitely know where to go!

We also stopped by one of the famous Ljubljana bridges, and it had hundreds and hundreds of padlocks on it. Of course, Daniel and I went to buy a lock so that we could leave our mark on the wonderful city, not to mention our hope that threw the key in the river below and made a wish, it would bring us good luck. Now, if you're ever in Ljubljana, look for a lock with our names on in with "JGP Slovenia 2014" on the back! And don't forget to make a wish of your own because I'm just positive it will come true!

We had a practice ice this morning for the free dance, and afterward we had a good seven-hour break. Of course, that can only mean one thing for skaters: food and sleep! We went to the city center for lunch and stopped by this authentic Slovenian street cart that had crowds around it, so we knew it must be good -- not to mention, it smelled WONDERFUL!

The cooks were grilling all kinds of things, from chicken to sausage to vegetables! It was so cool to see how one man would grill, then pass the food to the next guy who soaked the meat in the homemade stock, and finally it would be grilled off again and topped with onions and a paprika tomato sauce on a homemade, grilled bun. One word: YUM! I was so glad we could experience such authentic Slovenian cuisine -- what fun!

Well it's about that time again to begin the hair and makeup extravaganza for our free dance! Can't wait to take this free dance event by storm, and show off our Addams Family program! But first, I'm thinking a cappuccino is necessary, because coffee is pretty much always the answer, right?

Thursday, Aug. 28

I just woke up from a very long, very necessary nap. Ljubljana has certainly been treating us well so far, that's for sure!

We have had some great practices over the last couple of days, and we're feeling on fire and ready to go. The rink has stadium seating, and is nice and big. They also play the music very loudly, so that it resembles some strange concert featuring figure skating and samba music -- super fun!

Although the rink and the ice are excellent, the precipitation from the ceiling has proven to be an unexpected obstacle. The humidity in the rink has a mind of its own, and despite valiant efforts by the organizers to control it, it seems we will just have to cope with the fact that we will be doing our short dance through a bit of a drizzle. We knew the humidity was bad when even the ice dancers were having issues with their hair doubling in size -- and that's with each of us using at least half a bottle of hairspray. It was especially fun when my eyelash glue started to drip. I had to warn my partner, Daniel, "If you end up wearing my eyelash at the end of our run-through, don't be alarmed!"

The rink weather certainly didn't affect our men or ladies in the short programs, as all of Team USA skated great! Leah Keiser got Team USA off to a fabulous start, ending up eighth out of 30. Our men also skated absolutely amazing, as Shotaro Omori is in fourth, and Luke West skated into 11th in his JGP debut. Go Team USA!

After our practices, we were fortunate enough to have ample time to explore the city. After figuring out the bus system to get to the city center (special thanks to Becky Calvin for guiding our way), we were dropped off into a bustling, lively city with cobblestone streets, restaurants, street vendors and so much more! I quickly understood why Ljubljana was so highly praised. Being that we are so close to Italy, Austria and Croatia, we could explore different kinds of restaurants and cuisines, knowing that it would all be fabulous.

The city is located right on the edge of the river. As we ate our lunch, we saw many boats sailing on the water. Along with our training mates from France, Angelique Abachkina and Louis Thauron, we went on a boat ride along the river to see the sights from the water. With breathtaking architecture and a beautiful breeze, it was the perfect way to spend our afternoon.

The dancers are up first on Friday, followed by the men's free skate. As far as we're concerned, the only thing that will make this beautiful day even better is some Shakira and samba! Better go start layering on the hairspray ... and, of course, keeping my fingers crossed that the forecast inside the rink is clearing up.

Wednesday, Aug. 27

Good morning from Ljubljana! First of all, I'd like to thank icenetwork for giving me the privilege of blogging for you all again! I love sharing my various adventures with you all, and I hope to give you a little taste of life here in Slovenia.

Next, I'd just like to thank auto correct -- I couldn't have spelled Ljubljana without you! (Side note: I learned it's pronounced loo-bli-ana, just in case you were struggling at the intimidating sight of the "j"'s like I was. Don't worry, my dad still can't pronounce it.)

Currently, I am outside my hotel room sitting on my private little balcony, overlooking the wonderful city while enjoying a cup of tea! The weather is great -- sunny, warm with a little breeze, and occasionally a few sprinkles. In fact, when I checked my weather app on my iPad, it said "The climate and rainfall in Ljubljana is the same as your home in Ann Arbor, Michigan" -- what a funny coincidence!

We haven't had much time to explore yet, being that we arrived yesterday, but we don't have anything today until our practice tonight, so that will surely give us time to walk around the city center. When we arrived, I overheard someone who had been to Ljubljana before talking in the lobby, saying it's an absolute must to walk around downtown because it's the best city in the whole world. Sounds pretty promising to me!

The trip was actually relatively easy! We flew from Detroit to Frankfurt and then to Ljubljana. In comparison to other travels where we had three connecting flights or a six-hour layover, I'd say we got pretty lucky! Not to mention, I remembered that I shouldn't wear my pants with the sequins while traveling, much to my dismay, since it stopped me at every single security check point last year because they set off the metal detectors. But not to worry -- I still packed multiple pairs! What can I say, my sparkle just can't be tamed.
It was another sleepless journey for me, as usual. Plus, it didn't help that the in-flight movie selection was amazing, so I'm not exactly surprised at myself that I chose Tangled over sleep. I have finally started to accept the fact that I'm not one to sleep on planes, but rather, I will arrive exhausted, attempt to stay up for the day when we arrive, then crash at around 8 p.m. for a good 12 hours -- probably not the ideal way to travel, but I guess the first step in recovery is admitting you have a problem! 

I was considering writing my first blog entry yesterday after I arrived, but trust me -- an over-tired Holly writing about a 14-hour travel day would have made for quite the odd, albeit interesting, blog post. But don't worry: I'm in a much better state of mind today, so it will only be my usual amount of odd stories!
The whole team arrived by yesterday evening, and our team leader, Rick Perez, gathered us all to have a team meeting and introduce ourselves to each other. I guess it wasn't any surprise that the conversation quickly turned from Team USA business to hairless cats and merry-go-rounds in a matter of minutes, but, apparently, that's what happens when you bring a bunch of over-tired skaters together!
I'm very excited to take the ice today for our first practice of the Junior Grand Prix season! I have yet to check out the rink, but I figured between practices, competition, and cheering on other members of Team USA, I would surely spend more than enough time there!
Well, I should go get ready to explore the city on this beautifully sunny Slovenian day; after all, it's apparently "the best city in the whole world!"