Ice Network

Tall-inn tales: Moore shares stories from Estonia

Ice dancer competes at JGP in chilly coastal city for second year in a row
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U.S. ice dancer Holly Moore makes a return trip to Tallinn for JGP Estonia. -Melanie Hoyt

Two-time Junior Grand Prix bronze medalist Holly Moore and her partner, Daniel Klaber, competed at JGP Estonia. She kept a blog for icenetwork.

Sunday, Sept. 28

We just arrived home from Estonia last night, and after a seemingly endless travel day and 10 hours of sleep in my own bed, I would say I'm both physically and mentally prepared to share with you some of my final thoughts from our whirlwind of a trip. Not to mention, after missing an entire week of classes, writing my blog will help me procrastinate even longer before I have to pick up that chemistry textbook...

It seems only appropriate that I pick up right where I left off, which, of course, is the free dance. Like I mentioned in my previous blog, we were disappointed in some of our levels after the short dance in Tallinn, and we knew that our free dance was strong enough to improve our place in the competition. We were feeling prepared and confident; however, we were a little bit shaken by our lift levels in the short dance. Because of this, we knew our lifts in the free were going to be risky, but we hoped the minor changes we made just prior to the event would allow us to receive the levels we needed to pull up in the standings.

I am extremely happy and proud of the way we skated our free dance, as we attacked every element and attempted to draw the entire arena into our performance. Despite our valiant effort, we still came up just short. We didn't receive the levels we had hoped for on both of our lifts, which really dinged our score. Nonetheless, we knew we skated our program the very best we could, despite the costly toll the lift levels took on us.

I'll admit, we were certainly disappointed at first. But I truly believe that everything happens for a reason, and that hardships are always a good reminder and motivator to buckle down and work harder so that next time you won't find yourself in the same position again. We are confident that with the months we have to prepare for nationals, we will work tirelessly with our team of coaches to put ourselves in the best position possible heading to Greensboro!

I'd also like to extend a huge congratulations to our teammates, Christina Carreira and Anthony Ponomarenko, and Amber Glenn, for both of their breathtakingly beautiful free dance and free skate performances. Team USA killed it in Tallinn, and I couldn't be more proud of my teammates! It was so exciting to be among such a fabulous group of skaters in Estonia, and I'd like to take this opportunity to let them all know how happy I am for them!

After the free dance and cheering on Amber in the ladies free skate, we were all ready to get out of the rink, hang out as a team and, of course, have some great food in Old Town. Coincidentally, our team dinner was at the same restaurant as our team dinner in Estonia last year! We had an absolute blast bonding as a team over pizza and sharing funny stories from the trip -- my favorite being the ones about roommates talking in their sleep! After a roller-coaster ride of a week, it was nice to relax and have some fun on our last night in Tallinn.

The 4 a.m. alarm came far too soon, as it was time to leave for the airport to catch our early flight. Although the week ended for us on somewhat of a disheartening note (as far as the skating goes), I know that we are still extremely lucky to experience all of this; like the saying goes: Sometimes you win, and sometimes you learn. We undoubtably learned a lot from our experience in Tallinn, both mentally and about our skating. The journey to success isn't a straight line, and we are going to chalk this one up to a learning experience. I guess it just wasn't our competition, but it certainly lit a fire in us, and we are now ready to train harder than ever to ensure these feelings won't occur again come January! 

Lastly, I'd like to thank you all so much for reading my chronicles from Tallinn. I hope you enjoyed a little insight into the competition and the city, and I feel so blessed to have been asked to share my perspective with you. And once again, congrats to Team USA!

My procrastination has come to an end as well ... time to study. Wish me luck.

Friday, Sept. 26

Much has happened since I last checked in, so I have quite a bit to share. First, I have yet to make a dent in my homework; not that it's a very interesting topic for you to hear about, but I feel I just needed to get it off my chest. That's what nine-hour plane rides home are for, right?

Yesterday was a very exciting day, as the dancers began their competition, and the pairs and men finished. An update on the ladies short program: Our teammate, Amber Glenn, continued to make Team USA proud, as she is fifth out of 30 ... way to go, Amber! 

We began our competition with the short dance, and after an early morning of endless samba music, we were ready to go. Our training mates and teammates, Christina Carriera and Anthony Ponomarenko, were up first and skated their hearts out. We're so happy for the both of them, and after their stellar performance, they are in fourth place!

When it came time for us to take the ice, frankly, we were slightly nervous. With this being our last Junior Grand Prix ever, and after not having skated our best short program at our previous event, we knew we had a lot to prove. We ended up skating very well; however, one of our lifts was risky, and we didn't end up getting the level we were hoping for on it. In addition, it wasn't exactly our day for the samba. We still went out there and showed why we love to skate, and we hope our performance sparked a couple of smiles among the audience. Sometimes things don't go quite as well as we want them to, but that's not going to stop us! We are in fifth place after the short dance, but you'd better believe we will come back fighting in the free dance ... I can't wait!

On the men's and pairs sides, Team USA continued to persevere, with all of our teammates putting out excellent free skates. The pairs were first, and both Olivia Allen and Austin Hale, and Jessica Lee and Robert Hennings, finished their JGP debuts strong, placing eighth and 11th, respectively. Team USA's men, Andrew Torgashev and Spencer Howe, also made our country very proud with their performances, finishing fifth and 10th, respectively.

Well, that's another bus ride, and another blog. We are pulling up to the hotel now after our free dance warm-up. Now it's time for some breakfast, power naps and pumping up for what's sure to be the creepiest, most entertaining free dance you've ever seen from us! #GetYourAddamsOn

So long for now, and, of course, GO TEAM USA!

Thursday, Sept. 25

I saw that my good friend and fellow blogger, Jason Brown, is also blogging this week from lovely Oberstdorf -- tough act to live up to, that's for sure. I hope my blogs will provide you all with a smile and sense of excitement, just as Jason's will! (You rock, Jason!) I'd also like to wish my training mates and other friends who are competing in Germany the best of luck ... WOO, TEAM USA! We're lucky enough to be in a time zone that's only an hour difference from Germany, so in between practices, competitions, homework and, most importantly, eating, we're able to cheer on our teammates from here in Estonia.

Today, as we were getting ready for practice, the dance event in Oberstdorf happened to be going on; however, the Wi-Fi is quite temperamental in the hotel rooms here. Fortunately, I came up with a very efficient strategy of straightening my hair during the warm-ups, running to the lobby with my iPad to watch a group, and then running back upstairs to do my ponytail, and so on. By the time the bus arrived to take us to the rink, there were only a couple of teams left to skate. Lucky for us, we got the one bus that had Wi-Fi in it, so we could watch everyone compete ... SCORE!

Today, we only had one practice, which proved to be in our favor since the time change did not help my sleep pattern last night. Let's just say that eating vegetables and dip at two in the morning while attempting to stream Big Brother on my iPad was not exactly how I envisioned my night going ... C'est la vie, I guess. But no worries, the frosty air in the practice rink woke me right up when it was time to skate.

We were ecstatic when we walked into the rink and saw one of our coaches, Barbara Fusar-Poli, there to great us with her warm smile and oh-so-vibrant energy. Barbara went back to Italy for a while, but she came to our rink in the summer to work with us all. It was absolutely fabulous that she could be here with us and our other amazing coach, Greg Zuerlein.

The men and the pairs began the competition today, and I am watching the ladies live from my hotel as I write this (early day tomorrow means cheering for Team USA from the lobby). The men started Team USA out strong, as Spencer Howe had a fabulous skate and is in 11th. Andrew Torgashev also skated amazingly and came in fourth. Both of our pairs teams -- Olivia Allan and Austin Hale, and Jessica Lee and Robert Hennings -- had impressive JGP debuts. After the short program, they are in seventh and 11th, respectively. Great start for Team USA!

Since we only had one practice today, we had some free time to walk around Old Town. Our hotel this year is on the exact opposite side of town as our one last year, so we didn't know our way around quite as well as we thought. However, once we managed to climb up a big hill, then walk down another huge hill, we were smack dab in the city center. We recognized churches, shops and restaurants right away as we began to wander the cobblestone streets. Tallinn has such a beautiful Old Town, and my favorite part is walking down all the little alleyways lined with restaurants and stores that sit seemingly secluded from the main town, yet are still lovely and vibrant.

After a day of practice and exploring, we are ready to crash. Unfortunately for us, we have quite an early wake-up call tomorrow for our warm-up ... but then again, it's short dance day, so at least we have Shakira to wake us up!

Wednesday, Sept. 24

Good morning from the beautiful city of Tallinn! As I enjoyed my half-hour bus ride to the hotel from the rink, I thought, What better time to begin my blog?

It's quite chilly here in Estonia, so it's a good thing I broke out the mittens and UGG boots before I left. I suppose I should be used to the cold, since I have been lucky enough to experience a Michigan winter, but Tallinn's certainly a bit chilly.

This is actually my second time blogging from Tallinn, which is super exciting. Since I already have experienced the city once, I know my way around town. (Well, I've been called "directionally challenged," so I guess I can't make any promises ... but I'll do my best for all of your sakes.)

This year, we are privileged enough to skate in a brand new arena. It's massive, beautiful -- and quite frigid, I must say! But we're skaters, so we certainly have no license to complain about the cold.

We arrived Tuesday night, and I have some fantastic news to share with you all: I slept on the plane! Quite the accomplishment for me. As some of you know, I am NEVER able to sleep on planes, so I'm going to go ahead and say this is a good omen for the week.

The trip was nice and easy, as we flew from Detroit to Frankfurt to Tallinn, accompanied by our fabulous training mates, Christina Carriera and Anthony Ponomarenko. (Shout-out to them for being endless sources of laughs and entertainment, as they NEVER lost energy on the trip, always bringing smiles to all of our faces. At one point, we stopped for food at the airport, and even after an eight-hour plane ride, we were entertained by sudden outbursts of singing and dancing from Anthony, supplemented by Christina's infectious laugh. Endless smiles and laughs were just what we needed!)

We certainly knew our way around the Frankfurt airport, and (more importantly) knew the best bakeries, since it seemed like only yesterday we were there traveling to Ljubljana (Slovenia). After filling our bellies with yummy sandwiches and baked goods, we were fortified to carry on to Tallinn.

When we got to Tallinn, our incredible team leader, Jennifer [Hartley], organized a team meeting during which we met all of Team USA! Since some members of the team are newcomers to the Junior Grand Prix circuit, Jennifer decided to have us all share a little bit about ourselves so that we could get to know each other better. She came up with the idea of each of us disclosing either our favorite place we have traveled to or the weirdest thing we've eaten while traveling -- and, let me just tell you, the number of people who have eaten bugs before is quite disturbing. However, it was a funny ice-breaker to get us laughing on our first night in Estonia, that's for certain!

After another 13 hours of sleep last night, I nearly missed my alarm this morning. It turns out I wasn't the only one enjoying the comfort of my bed, as my partner, Daniel [Klaber], awoke 10 minutes before we had to leave for practice! Luckily, we managed to make it on the bus and over to the rink for the short dance draw right in the nick of time -- PHEW! As usual, I let Daniel draw. Although probability-wise we have an equal chance of drawing a good number, I always manage to have terrible luck when it comes to drawing for start order. I guess I can thank Daniel for drawing number 10, which we are ecstatic about.

We just finished our first practice, and it was just what we needed to get our feet back under us after our long day of travel -- although I am still defrosting, trying to get the feeling back in my ears and toes! You know it's cold when the air literally inflicts pain upon your face. However, even though the practice arena is undeniably up there with one of the coldest rinks I've ever experienced, we tried to not let it stop us from bringing the heat with our Latin short dance!

We have another practice later today in the main arena, so we all have our frozen fingers crossed that it will be a little warmer.

Ah, what perfect timing -- the bus just pulled up to our hotel. Good to know the bus ride is perfectly engineered for my blog. I'll be sure to check in later with more stories and updates from Tallinn ... so long for now!