Ice Network

Up to the Challenge: Moeller checks in from Graz

Midwestern sectional champion chronicles Ice Challenge experiences
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Jordan Moeller hangs out by the distinctive outdoor practice rink in Graz. -courtesy of Jordan Moeller

Jordan Moeller competed at the 2015 Ice Challenge in Graz, Austria. He kept a blog from the competition for icenetwork.

Saturday, Oct. 31

Today was quite the full day. We had some sightseeing to do, some long programs to cheer for and an exhibition to skate in.

Jason [Brown] and I woke up around 7:30 to meet his dad down in the lobby for breakfast. Kori [Ade] was originally going to tag along to see the city with us, but she was able to get on a flight back home a day early to spend Halloween with her little ones. After eating our breakfast, we gathered our things and took off to see the town.

We had access to the tram system while we were here, which certainly made our lives a lot easier. We got on the tram heading toward town, and when we got off a few stops down, we were immediately in awe of our beautiful surroundings. The architecture of the buildings was incredible. I honestly felt like I was looking into a real-life storybook. The only things we really knew we had to go see were a clock tower and a castle. The rest of our adventure came from simply walking the city, which, in my opinion, is the best kind of adventure.

One of the first things we saw was a bridge on which people have placed locks and thrown away the keys. It was amazing seeing all the different kinds of locks people had used and the amount of people that have helped keep this tradition alive. Just beyond the bridge, we spotted another "island bridge" that I had seen on the Internet. Filled with curiosity, we had to go check it out, especially since we had just discovered it was on the way to the clock tower. This bridge was quite intriguing to walk through. It's kind of hard to describe, so I'll just direct you to a picture of it in my gallery.

Our next stop was the clock tower. We had been told by several people that there was a bit of walking involved with it, but that it was well worth the many steps it took to get to the top. So, we started up the stairs. After maybe an hour, which included us stopping a few times for picture taking, we finally reached the top. There was much more than just a clock tower. The area as a whole was something to behold. There were so many trees, plants and other bits of foliage that changed color with the seasons and created an absolutely beautiful sight. If we didn't need to be back for a practice session by 3:30, I'd have wanted to stay up there for hours.

Our next mission was to find the castle. We had been told about it by the ice dancers and their coach, but we weren't sure where to find it. We walked around for a couple more hours, looking at different sights in the meantime, but anyone we asked about a castle just looked at us with a confused stare. We even went into a Hertz car rental and asked the woman in the shop, but she said she'd never seen a castle in town. So, even though we did get to see the beautiful clock tower, a gorgeous church and several other great things in the city, we never did find the alleged castle. (We found out later that the castle wasn't in downtown Graz but in another part of Austria. Oh well…next time!)

After several hours of exploring, it was time to head back to the rink for our gala practice and the final group of the senior ladies free skate. We got to the rink with plenty of time to spare to watch the last two groups of ladies. Jason actually got invited to commentate the last few groups, so you might have heard him if you were watching live! Mirai [Nagasu] and Tyler [Pierce] were the last two skaters to go in the event. Both had great skates to land them in first and third, respectively. We heard a lot of "The Star-Spangled Banner" this week during the awards ceremonies. Danielle [Thomas] and Daniel [Eaton] also took home the gold in the ice dance event.

When the events were over, we were given some time on the ice to rehearse our show programs, if we needed to -- I needed to because I hadn't done mine since April! The gala was a rather large production. There were more than 25 numbers, plus a fashion show. There were also about 10 times more people in the stands than there was for the competition. Despite all of us being rather exhausted from the week's events, we all had a great time performing for the large gala crowd.

When it was over, we took our team picture and left the rink for the last time. Sometimes, we'll have team dinners before or after the competition, so we decided to go to…wait for it…McDonald's. Really, we all just wanted McFlurries.

After we got our ice cream fix, we made our way back to the hotel to pack up our things and get ready for our early flights the next morning.

Our trip has come to an end. I hope you all enjoyed reading this blog. Until next time!

Friday, Oct. 30

Today began with this crazy new idea I like to call sleeping in! After last night, what with my insane ramblings I tried to pass off as poetry and all, it felt great to sleep in a little later today.

Jason and I met Kori down in the lobby to have a nice, leisurely breakfast. We did a little experimenting with the juicer, some of which, I'll admit, I was not brave enough to try. I always feel a little spoiled by these nice breakfasts...they certainly beat my cooking abilities by far!

After breakfast, we went back up to the room to rest a little bit before it was time for practice. I dove right into my Harry Potter book, as I just started re-reading the series last week. You can't go wrong with a little bit of magic.

Then, it was time to start moving. I went for a quick jog down at the gym and then ventured out into the somewhat sunny day we were having to get down to my practice. Unfortunately, we haven't had a ton of sunshine since we arrived in Graz, so this was a nice change of pace, especially since our practice was on the outdoor rink today. Practice went really well. It got a little hot when the sun started to show itself a little more, but it was all fine.

When our practices were over, we ran back to the hotel to get a nice meal and some rest. We've been finding it kind of hard to order food here at the hotel the last few days, though. We've ordered one thing (or at least we thought) and ended up with another...still delicious, but just a surprise. After lunch, I got a little more Harry Potter read before getting ready for the long program.

Team USA had another great day. We began the morning with ice dancers Danielle [Thomas] and Daniel [Eaton] waltzing (I think the dance this year is a waltz? If not, I like puns anyway, so this is happening…) their way into first place after the short dance. In the ladies, Tyler [Pierce] and Mirai [Nagasu] had two great skates that put them in first and second, respectively. I can't wait to see what they all do tomorrow in the free programs!

Next to skate were the pairs. Alexa [Scimeca] and Chris [Knierim], and Jessica [Calalang] and Zack [Sidhu] all skated great free programs to land them in first and fourth, respectively.

Jason and I were last to skate for the night. I had a decent skate; it certainly wasn't my best, but it was a great learning experience nonetheless. I finished the event seventh overall.

Jason was next. He put together a solid run-through and finished second.

Now that the competition is finished, Jason, his dad Steve, Kori [Ade] and I are all going to head into town to see the great sights we have been hearing about this week before going to cheer on our teammates. We are also partaking in a gala tomorrow, so we get to take the ice one more time while we're here in Austria!

Until next time, or as they say in Germany (I think), gute nacht!

Thursday, Oct. 29

Today is the day that things get underway.
As I wrote that first line, I decided I'd like to rhyme.
So bear with me and you will truly see,
What Team USA experienced on day three.

Our day began at six o'clock.
When I was woken from my sleep, sound as a rock.

As I got ready for the day,
I heard Mr. [Jason] Brown say,
"I'll see you at the rink!"
"Sounds good," I replied, as I brushed my teeth at the sink.
Then off to breakfast I went,
Eager to try out the juicer that heaven sent.

After a nice, nourishing breakfast,
It was time to get to the rink fast.
This morning was our first time on the competition ice,
Which I thought was really nice.
When I arrived at the rink, it was time to get to work,
But I could not help but do it with a smirk.
The ice feels very smooth and crisp.
With ice like this, there is no risk!

After our practice was over, we had a long break.
But I had movies to watch and naps to take!
I picked Now You See Me, a movie about magic,
As I had to watch something lighthearted, not tragic!
When the movie came to a close,
It was time for me to doze.
For an hour, I got to lay in bed,
Which certainly was a nice rest for my head.

Some good things must come to an end,
In order to allow another great thing to follow the trend.
We were only a few hours away from the short program competition,
And it was time for me to start my ignition.
I gathered my things and got myself ready,
Feeling great in my body, strong and rock steady.
Here goes nothing, I'm ready to skate.
I can't do that, however, before cheering on my training mate.
It's time to go! I'll see you on the other side.
For the time being, I'm going to jump and glide.

The short program competition has come and gone,
But we're not through yet -- tomorrow, it's time for long!
Team USA had a great day three.
Our pairs teams, Alexa [Scimeca] and Chris [Knierim] and Jessica [Noelle Calalang] and Zack [Sidhu] earned first and fourth, respectively.
Jason skated a great short run-through,
And sits in first place, that's certainly true.
My short program was not all that bad.
There's still lots of work to do, but I certainly can't be sad!
I'm in seventh after tonight, but tomorrow I'm ready to deliver my art,
With a fire in my belly and a song in my heart.

I'm sorry if you found this blog hard to read,
But I had loads of fun creating it and hope you've enjoyed it, indeed. 

Wednesday, Oct. 28

Jason [Brown] and I woke up at 6:30 for our 9 a.m. practice. After getting ready, we headed down to breakfast, where we met some of our teammates. After the first night, the conversation usually starts with, "How'd you sleep last night?" I, personally, slept like a baby. Tyler [Pierce], on the other hand, informed us that she'd been awake since midnight. Gotta love some good ol' fashioned jet lag. After a fulfilling breakfast, it was time to walk to the rink.

Instead of crossing the street like we should have, we ended up walking along the industrial side of Austria for a while until we finally couldn't go any farther without ending up on the train tracks. We backtracked a small distance before finally ending up on the right (left) side of the road. On our way to the rink, we passed a large stadium that I later found out was for soccer. I've always wanted to go to a European soccer match! After walking a little further, we reached our destination.

There are two ice surfaces in Graz, the practice rink and the main rink. I had heard a little about the practice rink beforehand, and I am happy to report that it did not disappoint. The surface is outdoors! There are still boards and a roof overhead but no walls to keep that nice, cool breeze from coming in. Our first session contained all of Team USA, along with a few other competitors. It certainly made for a high-energy session.

After that, Jason, Kori [Ade] and I stayed at the rink and went through accreditation. One of the things we needed to figure out was which practice session we would be on. There was a time slotted for senior men from 13:00-15:25, but no one knew which practice groups we had been assigned to. We asked the woman at accreditation, who told us to pick which official practice session we wanted. I don't know that I've ever been given the choice before, so that was exciting.

After practice was over, we did our respective cool-down routines before heading back to the hotel to get some late lunch/early dinner. We sat in the hotel restaurant for a solid hour and a half, talking, playing Heads Up!, singing in an attempt to guess things at Heads Up!, getting some weird looks for singing in a hotel restaurant...

When we got our menus, Jason and I looked at them, and we realized they were in German. Lucky for us, Kori managed to get one in English; if she hadn't, it could have made for an interesting dinner. I ended up ordering the schnitzel. How could I not? I'm in Austria, after all.

When we were through singing and eating, Jason and I went up to the room to get a little rest before going back to the rink for the draw. The draw was in a little café above the rink. Honestly, I think I get more nervous for the draw than I actually do competing. Jason drew to determine which country got to start the draw. He chose Switzerland, which was the one right before USA. This meant there was going to be loads of options to choose from, as there are 17 men scheduled to compete. Jason and I drew eighth and 15th, respectively. Not only was I satisfied with my draw...but our numbers were chocolate bars! By far the tastiest draw in which I've ever partook.

Competition starts Thursday for the pairs and men. I can't wait to get this show on the road!

Tuesday, Oct. 27

Travel day

Hello, everyone! I'm Jordan Moeller, and I am here to give you the inside scoop of Team USA's trip to the 2015 Ice Challenge in Graz, Austria. I always have a blast writing these blogs, so I hope you have as much fun reading them as I do writing them!

My journey began Monday, Oct. 26, in Colorado Springs, Colorado. I woke up this morning around 6:15 a.m. in order to get all of my errands done before I caught my 11:20 flight to Chicago. After getting some breakfast in my system, I gathered my things and began my morning by running to pick up my program costumes (maybe or maybe not for the first time) before I headed off to Austria.

I drove up to the rink for a quick practice session, said my goodbyes and ran back down to the house to get the rest of my luggage before heading to the Colorado Springs Airport. As I was waiting to board my plane, who did I meet but my training mate, Mariah Bell, who was returning home from her Grand Prix debut at Skate America. After catching up for a couple of minutes, it was time to board the plane and make my way to Chicago.

When I arrived in Chicago, I was greeted by both of my parents, who still live in the Chicago area. I had a solid 4 1/2-hour layover, so we went and had lunch quickly before my next flight. I always like being able to fly through Chicago, as it usually gives me the chance to catch up with my family for a little while on my way out.

We went to Potbelly (sandwich shop), and I got myself a good taste of Chicago food. We made our way back to the airport, where I met up with my training mate Jason Brown and fellow Team USA members Alexa [Scimeca] and Chris [Knierim]. Shortly after that, we boarded our flight to Munich, Germany.

I lucked out with my flight to Germany. Not only did I get a window seat, but I also had an empty seat next to me. I actually made a halfway decent attempt at sleeping. Generally, I'm terrible at sleeping on planes. I've actually been told by someone that they thought I was going to hit them during the flight as, apparently, I twitch in my sleep. Who would've thought? I watched Kingsman: The Secret Service and Inside Out to help pass the time and before I knew it, we were on the ground in Germany.

We had a short layover in Munich before our flight to Graz. The final flight to Graz was a short one, and we soon arrived at our destination. We gathered our things and took a shuttle to the hotel, where we were greeted by our team leaders. Jason and I brought our things up to the room, relaxed for a while and headed down to the hotel's gym to get our legs underneath us before our team meeting and dinner. It was at dinner when we met up with the rest of the team (minus Mirai Nagasu): Tyler [Pierce], Danielle [Thomas] and Daniel [Eaton], and Jessica [Noelle Calalang] and Zack [Sidhu].

After we all caught up a bit, had our meeting and ate some food, we headed back to our rooms to get some rest for our practices in the morning, exhausted from a full day of travel.