Ice Network

It's Miller's time: U.S. skater blogs from Finlandia

California transplant takes icenetwork readers behind the scenes in Espoo
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Hannah Miller didn't place as high as she wanted at Finlandia, but she enjoyed her experience in Espoo. -Jay Adeff

Team USA's Hannah Miller competed at the 2015 Finlandia Trophy this week. She is kept a blog for icenetwork.

Sunday, Oct. 11

Sadly, Kaitlin [Hawayek] and Jean-Luc [Baker] left early this morning to get back home to train. Adam [Rippon], Tim [Dolensky] and I all competed our free skates today.

My day was basically a repeat of yesterday, although I competed a little later. I started the morning with a nutritious breakfast, then went to the rink for my practice session. My practice was a lot of fun. There were already fans in the arena (for the men's free skate), and they were clapping and cheering throughout the session. Like I said yesterday, the fans are outstanding here!

After practice, I went to the hotel to rest up. First, I watched the men compete on my computer. Adam and Tim were great! Adam won the free skate, and Tim was third; they ended in second and fourth, respectively. Then I took a quick power nap.

After my nap, I did my hair and makeup and went back to the rink. After an hour of warming up, I was ready to take the ice. I was last to skate in my group, so I took my skates off in between the six-minute warmup and my program. Today I also had a working pair of guards (shiny new gold ones) to replace the ones I broke yesterday.

All in all, I was disappointed with my skate today. This whole experience, and the feedback I got here, will serve as building blocks for improvement. It has put a fire in my belly to want to return home and train even harder than before. Even minutes after my performance, I was already anxious to get back on the ice!

After my free skate, I was given a pair of blue and white mittens (like the colors of Finland's flag). I was told that before the competition a letter was sent out to Finnish fans asking them to knit mittens as a gift for the skaters, and the organizers received more than 200 pairs. I was so excited to receive one!

After my event, we returned to the hotel and had dinner. I ate with Adam, Kathaleen Cutone (team leader), Todd Bromley (assistant team leader) and Wendy Enzmann (ISU official), along with my mom, grandma and coach. It was fun to finally catch up with some of the team after a long week of competition.

Finlandia Trophy has come to an end. Shout out to Kathaleen and Todd for helping to make this competition so fun and constructive. I have a long travel day ahead of me and I have to be up early, so I'm heading to bed to try and catch at least a couple hours of sleep.

Thanks for reading my blog!  

Saturday, Oct. 10

All of Team USA competed Saturday, so it was an exciting day!

I was up early at 7:00 a.m. again today for a 9:15 practice, but I can't complain because the men had practices as early as 7:45 a.m. My practice session was in the practice rink for the first time. The practice rink was a little smaller than an NHL-sized rink, so I had to adjust my patterns accordingly. Considering the modifications, my practice was good. After practice, I went back to the hotel to rest up before the short program.

I decided to take a quick nap then tuned in to watch the men online. Both Adam [Rippon] and Tim [Dolensky] skated great and are currently in third and sixth, respectively. They each compete their free skates Sunday morning.

After doing my hair and makeup and eating lunch (a sandwich I made at breakfast this morning), I went to the rink to compete. As I took the ice for my six-minute warmup, one of my skating guards broke in half! I was third to skate, so in order to keep warm in between my warm up and my short, I hopped around on one foot and periodically switched the guard from one foot to the other. You never know what could go wrong mid-competition. Next time, I will be prepared with an extra pair of guards.

I skated my short program to "Arabesque" by Benise. The crowd was outstanding. They cheered loud and even clapped along to my music multiple times. It was so much fun to perform today and I am looking forward to tomorrow. I placed fourth in the short, so I'm feeling confident going into the free skate.

Once the short program was finished, we had our draw for the free skate. I drew sweet 16 and skate last. Adam and I must be reading each other's minds because we both drew third for the short program and last for the free skate.

We also ended up at the same Italian restaurant later on, so my mom and I joined Adam for dinner. I had Pasta with chicken. I needed some good carbs and protein for tomorrow. I then watched Kaitlin [Hawayek] and Jean-Luc [Baker] as I got ready for bed. Their free dance was beautiful; I couldn't take my eyes off the screen. They finished in fourth place.

I am off to bed for another day of competition tomorrow. Adam, Tim and I are all set to skate. 

Friday, Oct. 9

I had a restless night of sleep last night, waking up multiple times throughout the night. (When traveling overseas, I find it more difficult to sleep the second night than the first; your body is not calibrated to the time change and you aren't quite as exhausted as you were when you first arrived at your destination.) When my 6:30 alarm went off, I was, of course, fast asleep.

After crawling out of bed and grabbing breakfast, we headed to the rink for practice. Following that, I did some homework and took a much-needed nap.

Later in the day, my mom and I headed into Helsinki. After struggling to figure out the bus system yesterday, we were pros at it today. We visited Stockmann, which is a popular department store that has locations in 16 countries. The most famous of all the Stockmanns is here in Helsinki; it's huge, with seven stories of shopping bliss. They were having a sale, so my mom and I just had to buy a few things! We finally were able to walk around with a yellow Stockmann bag like all the other people in town. After exploring the city a bit, we found a buffet-style Italian restaurant called Virgin Oil. I had my pre-game meal of chicken, rice and salad. It was the perfect dinner.

The short dance was this evening, so we went to watch Kaitlin [Hawayek] and Jean-Luc [Baker]. They skated a beautiful program and are in fourth place. The free dance is tomorrow, along with the men's and ladies short programs.

Tomorrow is another early morning for me, so after the short dance, I headed straight to bed. I'm overly excited for competition to begin and can't wait to give you guys the scoop. Wish us all luck! 

Thursday, Oct. 8

After a good night's rest (9 1/2 hours to be exact), I was ready to take on day two in Espoo. We all had one official practice ice today, so our schedules were planned around that. Mine was at 2:15 p.m., so I was able to sleep in.

The hotel breakfast was outstanding. They served "normal" breakfast items such as fruit, oatmeal, cereal and eggs, but there were also a few surprises: salad, vegetables and deli meat. These are pretty standard for the places I've visited in Europe. I had eggs and oatmeal and made a sandwich for later. You never know if you are going to be able to find food before a practice, so I made sure to be prepared. (I learned this trick from Alex Shibutani.)

After breakfast, I went outside to get my body moving. It was only 40 degrees, but once I got moving, I didn't notice the cold. I spent 45 minutes running, stretching, jumping and rotating. I had a little time to spare after that, so I did some homework (online physics...not the easiest class).

Then, we headed to the rink. The venue is amazing. It is a huge facility with lobby seating, stadium-style stands and a beautiful kiss and cry area. It was great to finally get on the ice!   

My mom, grandma, coach and I headed into Helsinki after practice. We struggled to figure out the bus system, but once we did, we found ourselves downtown. It is huge and very busy, with people walking everywhere. We ate at an Italian restaurant called Vapiano. It was ultra-modern, and they cooked the food right in front of you. My shrimp scampi salad was delicious.

At 7:30 p.m., the team met in the hotel lobby to walk together to the draw. Unlike most other competitions, all disciplines had the draw together and it was treated somewhat like an opening ceremony. There was even a performance by students from a school of performing arts.

After the draw, it was off to sleep. I've got to be up at 6:30 for a 9 o'clock practice, so I'm headed to bed early.


Wednesday, Oct. 7

My trip began with a long day of travel. My first flight, from Los Angeles to Amsterdam, left at 6 p.m. I spent the almost 10-hour trip by doing homework, watching movies and attempting to sleep. I think I may have slept two hours total in the cramped airplane seat.

By the time I landed in Amsterdam, it was around noon. I met up with my coach/aunt, mom and grandma. They kindly informed me that their flight was empty so they all got a row of three seats in which to stretch out and sleep. I was more than a little jealous. I got some shut-eye on the flight from Amsterdam to Helsinki, bringing me to a grand total of 3 1/2 hours of sleep for the night.

After landing in Helsinki, we were driven to our hotel in Espoo. As we drove through downtown, I took note of the city. We drove by an opera house, the 1952 Olympic stadium, a national museum and many parks. The city is clean and filled with biking paths, yet it is very cosmopolitan. I am excited to see more of it as the week goes on.

I arrived at the hotel, checked in and met up with the team. Our team is small this trip; it consists of Kaitlin Hawayek, Jean-Luc Baker, Adam Rippon, Timothy Dolensky and me. We had our team meeting and celebrated Jean-Luc's 22nd birthday by singing to him and presenting him with a large peanut butter cup. After the team meeting, we went our separate ways to get some sleep or a bite to eat.

My family and I grabbed food at The Funky Burger, which is inside a mall across the street from the hotel. It was delicious. The mall also had some cute clothing stores, including an H&M, so I plan on returning with some cash.

After that, I returned to my room that I share with Kaitlin. We talked for a while until we felt we were about to crash. Official practice ice starts Thursday, so we are going to get a good night's rest. Hyvää yötä!