Ice Network

Gran-t Prix: Hochstein reports from Cup of China

U.S. competitor chronicles experiences from second career Grand Prix
  • Ice Network on Facebook
  • Ice Network on Twitter
Grant Hochstein (center) takes a selfie in front of Tiananmen Square with coach Peter Oppegard and training mate Caroline Zhang. -Grant Hochstein

Team USA's Grant Hochstein competed at the 2015 Cup of China. He kept a blog of his experiences in Beijing for icenetwork.

Tuesday, Nov. 11

I know everyone has already moved on to Trophée Eric Bompard, but I wanted to complete my blog for you all. Cup of China was an amazing experience for me! Even putting the skating aside, I really had a great time. Everyone on our team was so supportive of one another, and the team officials went above and beyond what was required to make sure we all had what we needed to make our competition a success.

My favorite part of the event was my long program...well, the whole set-up to it, really. I remember getting off the warmup (I skated second) and saying to (coach) Peter [Oppegard], "Wow! It's so crazy out there! I love it!" The audience was really supportive of all the skaters, and there was such an amazing energy in the building. I was really pleased with my long program. I know some of the jumps were a little off, but I thought the program held itself together pretty well. Finishing in fourth makes me feel like I'm in exactly the right place for this point of the season. There is still room to improve, but I'm definitely moving in the right direction.

It was great to skate in the exhibition as well. Sunday was actually pretty busy, with practices and then the actual show. After the gala, there was a ceremony to honor legendary Chinese pairs coach Bin Yao. Among the distinguished skaters in the arena who gave speeches were Xue Shen and Hongbo Zhao, Qing Pang and Jian Tong, and Dan Zhang and Hao Zhang. It was such an honor for me to be on the ice with these legends whom I have always admired. It was a great ending to a great trip.

Finally, we had the closing banquet back at the hotel. All of Team USA got dressed up, took some pictures together (with Lorrie Parker's scooter [because of her broken foot]) and then sat with the other athletes for dinner and prizes. The prizes were awarded based on a draw of numbers we had chosen earlier in the week. The winners of each prize then passed on their "lucky" to the next winner. Prizes ranged from multi-purpose weight scales to Beats headphones. Not surprisingly, when Lorrie's name was called, she ran up to the podium to get her prize, forgetting all about her scooter! Fortunately, I think she is almost healed. If not, someone definitely passed on their "lucky" to her! The banquet didn't last too long, but we all had a really great time.

Now that I'm back home in LA and looking back on this event, I am truly blessed to have had this opportunity. I have NHK Trophy in two weeks and won't be blogging, but I'm looking forward to another wonderful event.

Thanks, China, and thanks to all of you for reading!

Saturday, Nov. 7

A late, late good evening from Beijing. Though, this technically may classify as morning, since it's almost 2 a.m. I'm sorry I didn't blog yesterday, but I wanted to make sure to keep my focus for today's long program.

The short program went decently well yesterday. It wasn't exactly the program I was looking for, in terms of the quad, but I think, overall, it was a pretty good skate. I was happy to find myself in fifth, especially since I skated first because I had the lowest world ranking coming in. I also achieved a new ISU personal best score!

I haven't been able to watch any of the other events this week, due to the time schedule. However, I do know that all of Team USA put out solid skates in the first portion of the competition. Actually, now that I think about it, I did get to see Courtney [Hicks] and Mao [Asada] skate their short programs. I've never seen Mao skate in person and I was so impressed. There is such a wonderful and refined quality to her skating. She takes it to such a level that you just don't see in skating anymore. My favorite part of her program was the footwork sequence. She moved across the ice so fluidly with twizzles that even ice dancers would surely kill for. I was also really impressed with Courtney. She didn't do her triple-triple, but everything was solid. I think her program is great this season.

In case anyone is keeping track of my James Bond progress, let me tell you...I'm failing. We are still only on movie six. Sorry, I've been slightly busy!

After practice, I went to lunch at the hotel. I sat with Michael Martinez, Javier Fernández, and a few of the pairs skaters. We talked about Harry Potter (including my awesome Harry Potter Halloween costume), Disneyland, and the beach, among other things. It's fun to hear other people's perspectives on life and skating, too.

The skating part was also fun! I didn't skate a perfect program tonight, but it was a pretty decent one. Definitely a step up from the Nebelhorn [Trophy], and that's the important thing! It was great to move up one spot and finish fourth. Ricky [Dornbush] also moved up one spot from the short program with a solid skate.

After skating, Caroline [Zhang] and I went out to the night market with Michael. We weren't exactly sure where we were going, but Caroline speaks fluent Mandarin so she was able to, for the most part, get us where we needed to go. Unfortunately, my knowledge of Chinese numbers wasn't as helpful on this trip as I hoped it would be -- so upsetting. Dinner was fun though. I've traveled with Michael a bit over the past few years and it was fun for us to be able to take him out to dinner for the evening. We tried teaching him Chinese and he tried teaching us Tagalog. Neither ventures were very successful, but hey -- we tried!

The exhibition is tomorrow and I'm super excited for it. Sunday was supposed to be my Great Wall of China excursion, but maybe I will get the chance to come back one day.

That's all for now. Talk to you all again tomorrow!

Thursday, Nov. 5

Hello again from Beijing!

Today was the first day of official practice! Ricky [Dornbush] made it in yesterday before unofficial practice, and he and I had our first official practice around 11 a.m.

The rink is really nice here. The facility is beautiful and the ice feels pretty good. Yesterday's unofficial ice was all about getting used to the surface, and today was about getting to work. I haven't been able to watch any of the other skaters, but I'm hoping I get time to at some point this week. I'm really looking forward to watching Mao Asada; hopefully the schedule allows me to see her skate tomorrow.

My extracurricular activities have also been keeping me busy. Don't worry, don't worry -- I'm still making sure I get my rest and relaxation time in!

Yesterday, we went to the Silk Market where I worked on my haggling skills. It didn't start out quite so spectacularly, but I think I managed to get some pretty good deals by the end. A lot of the team has been going over there to get scarves, shoes, suits -- you name it. We have all been comparing prices over breakfast each day and I think we are doing OK for the most part. Eventually, we will all be in a Target and when it comes time to checkout, we will refuse to pay until they give us a lower price. (No! I will not pay for that, I want it for !)

Today we went to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. Wow! They are both so gigantic and impressive. I guessed they would be big, but I had no idea how big. It rained and was a little bit cold, but it didn't really lessen our experience. We took a lot of pictures and walked a lot. I know that Hannah [Miller] also went there today before her practice, but we missed each other by a couple of hours.

Anyway, competition starts tomorrow, so I'm going to stretch, roll out and then get to sleep. I'm probably also going to watch a little bit of James Bond before I call it a night, too. I'm trying to watch the whole collection before I go and see Spectre. I'm only on You Only Live Twice, so I've got a long way to go!


Tuesday, Nov. 3

Zǎo shàng hǎo from Beijing!

It's our first morning in the city, but to be honest, not much has happened yet, so this might be a little boring. I just wanted to let you all know that most of us have made it here except Ricky [Dornbush], who got stuck in California yesterday. A lot of the people flying into San Francisco had trouble getting out because of fog and had to re-book flights. I'm sure he and Tammy [Gambill] will be arriving today, so don't worry; I'm just not sure what time yet.

Today's schedule includes a practice at around 7 p.m., so we have most of the day to do whatever we like. I think I'm going to work out and get breakfast, and then a group of us may head over to the Silk Market in the afternoon. Some of the team members said they might go to the Great Wall, but I think I'm saving that for Sunday after I'm done competing.

I'm very excited for this wonderful opportunity to compete here in China! I will try to update you all on the happenings here with Team USA at least once a day. Thank you for reading and cheering us all on...go Team USA!