Ice Network

Madi's meditations: Hubbell blogs from NHK Trophy

U.S. ice dancer chronicles adventures during first-ever trip to Japan
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Madison Hubbell and her partner, Zach Donohue, are looking for their second gold medal of this year's Grand Prix Series in Nagano this week. -Getty Images

U.S. ice dancer Madison Hubbell is visiting Japan for the first time, as a competitor at the 2015 NHK Trophy. She is a keeping a blog for icenetwork.

Jet lag, Japanese turkey and giant apples

This is my first-ever trip to Japan! For most people, that shouldn't be too surprising. We, however, are living a wonderfully lucky life where that statement seems impossible. On that note, I would like to wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving! I have so much to be thankful for, particularly my family and the support it gives me. This is the first time I've spent this holiday away from home, and it's been tough, but our team leader, Doug Williams, made up for it by organizing a thanksgiving dinner here in Nagano!

Most of you may not know that at every Grand Prix we have a banquet room in the hotel that is converted into a dining room. All the athletes and officials eat together, at a buffet provided by the local organizing committee (LOC). In Nagano, Team USA requested some tables be put together for a Thanksgiving meal in the dining room. We were just hoping to have a moment together, when we could express our thanks for each other and this experience we get to have. The surprise came when the LOC served our table with special roasted chickens dressed as turkeys and mashed potatoes. It was so sweet for them to try to make us feel more at home, and I am sure we will all remember that gesture for years to come.

Overall, the first day of practice was smooth sailing. I think that's all we could ask for after traveling to the other side of the world. I am waiting for someone to create a teleportation machine, with no risk of becoming a human fly. I fear that this particular scientific breakthrough will arrive after my retirement from skating. But if anyone knows who is working on that project, I would like to be put in contact with them...just to text them some daily inspiration quotes from my Pinterest page.

We did everything we could to stay awake. We were like sharks: always moving, for fear of collapse. Zach [Donohue] and I went to the market and bought some sushi and a Nagano apple. I know that in America eating pre-made sushi is basically signing up for the ultimate "master cleanse," but in Japan, it is not only safe but delicious! If you love exotic foods, especially seafood, this place is paradise.

From the 10-minute Google search I did back home, I knew that Nagano had good apples. I come from Michigan, though, where there are orchards every 20 miles, so I was skeptical. But, man, was I wrong. The apples here are huge and super juicy. I had to eat mine in two sittings. So, all in all, our first day was a success.

Tomorrow, everyone but the ice dancers will compete their short program. So, we will cheer on our friends and enjoy the show before it's our turn. We will also go shopping, since Christmas is right around the corner. And what is more special than a present brought back from halfway across the world?