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Shanghai ice: Edmunds reports from Cup of China

U.S. silver medalist checks in from first-ever Grand Prix assignment
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U.S. silver medalist Polina Edmunds poses with her patriotic luggage upon arriving in Shanghai to compete in the Cup of China. -courtesy of Polina Edmunds

Reigning U.S. silver medalist Polina Edmunds is in Shanghai for Cup of China, her first Grand Prix assignment of the season. She is keeping a blog for icenetwork.

Saturday, Nov. 8

Today, the weather was slightly rainy and pretty cold. Usually, when it rains at home, people tell me that means it is good luck, so I was content with the rain today! 

We had the warmup practice at 9:45 a.m. and it felt great to get going and get ready. Ashley Cain, Christina Gao and I all wore white dresses to the practice, and it wasn't even planned! We were the USA Ladies in a white flight, and we felt like we were a gymnastic team all wearing the same color.

I came back to the hotel and walked outside to get lunch with my mom, and then I got ready for my event. After getting my hair and makeup ready, we left again to the arena for the free skate.

We warmed up backstage on the basketball court again. It was quite funny -- on the other blocked-off side of the court, there seemed to be an actual basketball practice going on, so we kept hearing all of the noises and shouts from the other side.

We were on the ice in no time. I was the only one to skate a clean program for the night, with the highest difficulty of elements. I'm very happy with my skate and performance, but very disappointed about my score and placement. I stayed to watch the men's event, and then I headed back to the hotel for a good night's sleep.

I am happy we have a free day tomorrow so I can see Shanghai, and I am also looking forward to the banquet tomorrow night! I'm excited to explore and do some shopping before leaving China.

Friday, Nov. 7

The weather was much better this morning, with blue skies. We had a warmup practice at 11 a.m., and by then the temperature had gotten cooler.

We got to warm up in the big basketball court again, just as we did the day before, except today we were on the other side. There were badminton nets all over the court, so it was quite the challenge to run around the nets and fit exercises around them. The practice was 30 minutes, so we got a good feel for the ice.

After returning to the hotel, I walked to the Family Mart (small convenience store) next to the hotel for some snacks. I always the love the fancy flavors of things like Mentos and Hi-Chews that I find in different countries! Then I ate lunch before getting ready for my event. I got my hair and makeup ready, and left for the arena.

Once there, I started to jog backstage. The TVs were showing the dance event, and I was thrilled to learn that our American team of Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani were in first after the short! Team USA was starting off strong. 

My short program was a bit rough, and I was disappointed, but I'm already moving on and prepared to attack my long program tomorrow.

Now I'm back at the hotel resting. I'm tired and am ready to sleep regenerate for tomorrow!

Thursday, Nov. 6

Today, my roommate, Jessica [Calalang], and I woke up around 7:15 a.m. All of Team USA ate breakfast at the hotel buffet, enjoying the various foods it had to offer. The weather was supposed to be sunny with clear skies, but when we looked outside, all we could see was thick fog -- or so we thought. We later learned it was not fog but pollution. It seemed all the pollution from Beijing had shifted over to Shanghai; even at eye level, walking around outside, it was foggy.

After getting in a short workout, I went to the lunch that Cup Of China had provided, and ate with some skaters from the various countries. It's nice to meet new people from different places at competitions like this, because you can relate to them and get to know skaters from all over the world.

At 2 p.m., we left for the rink on the shuttle. It was so interesting to see the buildings in the near distance appear fuzzy from the pollution/fog. I was fascinated by it.

The outside of the ice arena was beautiful. The building has magnificent structure to it, and we were all taking pictures from the bus windows.

We got to warm up on a big basketball court, which was fun. It's great to have a spacious area to warm up in.

The arena is huge, and it was wonderful to skate in. The ceilings are very high, and the ice is pretty big, so we all enjoyed practicing there.

After our program music finished playing, they put fun music on for us in the last 10 minutes of our practice. The first song they played was "Anaconda" by Nicki Minaj, and we were all giggling. I think it loosened us all up a bit to hear that song, and it sure was a blast to skate to!

After returning to the hotel, we went to the Yang's Dumplings restaurant again for dinner. We just love the dumplings! We ate with Ashley Cain and her parents there, and it was a sight to see us eating. I was using my chopsticks, while Ashley abandoned them completely. We were dropping them and laughing, while the people around us were taking pictures of us trying to eat! We foreigners were pretty amusing to them.

After that, I went back to the bargaining mall with Nam Nguyen from Canada to do some quick and light shopping again. At one point, we were taken down a dark hallway with a secret room where they stored wallets and watches...it was a little sketchy. As we were cautiously looking at the merchandise in that room, Russian coach Alexei Mishin walked in to look at stuff, too!

We were giggling about that. It seems all the skaters, coaches and officials have been stopping by that mall.

We came back and and went to our rooms, as we were pretty tired by that point. It had been a long but eventful day.

All the competitors are here now, and they are ready for competition to start tomorrow!

Wednesday, Nov. 5

This morning my roomate, Jessica Calalang, and I woke up thinking it was 8 or 9 a.m. Of course, it was actually 6 a.m...we weren't quite settled into the time zone change yet.

We all ate breakfast at the hotel buffet, which was very tasty. There were pastries and fruits, as well as a great selection of eggs and meat. There were also big windows that showed a beautiful little yard outside the hotel with trees and small waterfalls.

Around noon, some of the U.S. team and I went walking around outside the hotel to explore a bit before practice. We walked into the food court of a mall nearby in search of some lunch. There were very exotic-looking food options there, so some of us were iffy about eating anything. Christina Gao was explaining what everything was, since she can speak and understand Chinese very well. She was excited about the Yang dumplings, so she bought some. Our team doctor, Shana Miskovsky, and I decided to be adventurous and join Christina on the dumpling hunt. The dumplings were fried on the bottom and steamed on the top -- they were extremely juicy and very delicious!

The U.S. team had practice at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in the afternoon. I was fascinated while driving to the rink, because I noticed that all the trees in Shanghai are very green as opposed to the red and orange leaves that usually appear during autumn. It was interesting to see how much it looked like springtime.

The rink was actually in a mall, and it really reminded me of the FunCentral ice rink I competed in at JGP Mexico last year. There was a group of young girls asking all the skaters and coaches for autographs. When I asked them if they were skaters, they said they were the Cup of China flower girls (sweepers)! They were very nice, and they certainly made us feel welcome. The practice was pleasant; it was great to be able to skate all together and feed off each other's energy.

After practice, we registered for our events and then most of us went shopping. Many of us went to a bargaining mall at different times in the evening, where we got some outstanding deals! It was quite an adventure to bargain with the local vendors, and my mom and I felt so accomplished after succeeding! For instance, I bought a Beats Pill for about $10...I was very excited. Shanghai is a very cool city so far, and I am excited to continue exploring later on this week.

Tuesday, Nov. 4

Hi! I'm Polina Edmunds, and I'll be blogging from Cup of China. I'm excited to be in Shanghai this week for my first-ever Grand Prix event, and I'm pleased to share my experiences with all of you.
 
Today was the travel day for all of Team USA. I skated in San Jose, California, this morning for a couple hours and then I went straight to the airport. I arrived at the San Francisco International Airport at around 11 a.m. and checked in with my mom and my coach, David Glynn. We grabbed a quick bite to eat and then headed to our gate to board. We "waltzed" right into our seats, ready for the long trip.
 
The 13-hour flight went pretty smoothly. I watched a total of four movies -- I especially enjoyed watching Grease as I had never seen it before. I slept for a couple of hours in between watching movies, and I got up every few hours to stretch my legs and walk down the aisles. It was an easy flight.
 
We exited the plane and went through customs very quickly. After claiming our luggage, we were greeted by Cup of China representatives who took us to the hotel. I saw and met up with my Olympic teammates, Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani, and our team leader, John Millier, in the airport. We also greeted Ashley Cain and her parents afterward. We then all traveled on a shuttle bus to the hotel.
 
We all settled into our rooms and then had a brief team meeting. We were given our schedule for the next day, and we were all happy to get up to our rooms and catch some sleep. It's been a long day of travel, but it's finally time to rest!