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Grant goes global: Hochstein blogs from Taipei City

U.S. pewter medalist takes readers behind the scenes at Four Continents
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Grant Hochstein takes a selfie inside the Taipei Arena, site of the 2016 Four Continents Championships. -Grant Hochstein

Grant Hochstein is making his debut at the Four Continents Championships for Team USA. He is keeping a blog for icenetwork.

Sunday, Feb. 21

Hi everyone! Sorry it's been a while since I've written to you, but I've been mildly sidelined with some sort of sickness. More on that later.

I just wanted to say congrats to all of my teammates! Team USA did such a great job this week, and I couldn't be more proud of our team! We pulled out four medals and had a lot of great skates. I wasn't able to see most of the skating in person, but I was able to see a little bit in person and online. I think all of these programs are building blocks for our futures and the future of U.S. Figure Skating.

My skating didn't go quite as I had planned. The short wasn't too bad -- some ups and downs, but overall, something I could manage. I was feeling a little bit off before the short, but nothing too out of the ordinary. By that night, however, things started to take a turn for the worse. I basically spent all of Saturday huddled in my room in a cold sweat.

Between Friday and Sunday, between the cold sweats and lack of appetite, I lost 4-5 pounds, and my legs basically felt like a bowl of jelly. I did my best to work through the long, and if any of you have seen me skate this season, you know that something was off. I tried to pull a Tarah Kayne, but couldn't muster enough strength. I definitely think the sickness is going around at this competition. I know Tarah has similar symptoms to me, but now they are a bit more flu-like. She wasn't able to attend the banquet because of it. Meagan Duhamel had to withdraw because of the flu, and I know of at least a handful of singles skaters who caught some sort of a cold this week.

The goal is to just to rest up and recover so I can get back to training hard for worlds. Even though this wasn't what I had hoped for, I'm going to use it as an important stepping stone for the next competition.

So, I think this is my final blog entry for Four Continents. Thank you for reading, and I hope to blog again for you soon!

Thursday, Feb. 18

I realized after I wrote yesterday's blog that I forgot to mention a few things. First, I would like to thank Tarah Kayne for her beautiful and thoughtful Valentine's Day treats that she passed out to everyone on the team during our meeting Wednesday night. Everyone got a piece of candy with a puppy or kitten sticker. I even wore mine during our team picture. Thank you, Tarah!

Second, and I'm not sure how I forgot to mention this, I got hit by a motorcycle when I was crossing the street. Don't worry -- he was going slowly and only slightly hit my backpack, not my actual body! I'm happy to report that my backpack is fine. It suffered no damage and will be able to carry my skates to competition this week with no restrictions.

The men's practice wasn't until 3:10 p.m. today, so it was kind of a lounge day for me. I got to watch some of the dancers while I warmed up in the main rink, and I'm so proud of Team USA -- three teams in the top four is amazing! Unfortunately, I'm not going to be able to watch ladies and pairs, but I will be rooting for our team from the hotel.

Hopefully I didn't forget anything, but if I did, I will write all about it tomorrow! Have a great day.

Wednesday, Feb. 17

Today marked the start of my practices here in Taipei. The first one took place in the practice rink and the second was in the main arena. Both practices went pretty well, and I'm feeling strong heading into Thursday's practice. We only have one session tomorrow, and it's in the practice rink. Fortunately, we have a practice Friday in the main rink before the short program.

Other than skating, today was pretty uneventful. I wanted to make sure I had my energy for the second practice, so we stayed close to the hotel for lunch, grabbing some food at a nearby mall. Caroline [Zhang] was able to find us barbecue pork buns in the shape of hedgehogs. It was a fun addition to our meal! And believe it or not, I have not had Starbucks once since arriving here. For those of you who know me, that is quite the accomplishment! I have, however, substituted coffee with a great deal of milk tea boba.

Since we didn't go out much today, we made pretty good progress on our Friends marathon. We are hoping to finish season 6 and get started with season 7 this week. I will keep you updated as necessary.

I'm hoping to do a bit more exploring tomorrow so I have something more interesting to share. It is a competition, though, so please forgive me if I don't!

Talk to you tomorrow!

Tuesday, Feb. 16

Hello from Taipei City! My name is Grant, and I will be your guide for the 2016 Four Continents Championships. This is my first time at this competition, and I'm really excited to be able to share this experience with all of you.

My entry today will be a short one because I am very, very tired. I took a red-eye out of Los Angeles at around 10:30 p.m. on Sunday and arrived in Chinese Taipei at 5 a.m. on Tuesday. That's right: My Monday did not exist. Our flight was 14 1/2 hours; fortunately, I slept for about half of it. However, in an attempt to regulate my body clock, I've stayed awake all day.

Today, my girlfriend Caroline [Zhang] and I went to TAIPEI 101 (one of the world's tallest skyscrapers), a bookstore to collect a Harry Potter book (the Half-Blood Prince) in Chinese and an outdoor market. After that, we came back to the hotel for a bit and then went out to one of the night markets. It sounds like a lot, but as I write this it is only 8 o'clock at night. Yes, I have dozed off about five times today!

My coach, Peter Oppegard, and I decided not to have me attend my practices today because of the jet lag, and the fact that I still have two full days of practice before I compete. That has been the plan for all of my competitions so far this year -- two days of practice and then competition -- so I feel right on track.

I've seen about a third of the U.S. team so far. Even though nationals was only a few weeks ago, it's nice to get to see my friends who live in other parts of the country.

Before I go, I want to explain my Harry Potter thing to you guys. (I'm not sure whether I explained this in a previous blog...if I did, here we go again.) Since Caroline and I both really like Harry Potter, it has been my goal to try and collect one book from each country that I go to. So far I have book 1 in Italian, book 2 in Croatian, book 3 in French, book 4 in German, book 5 in Swedish...and now book 6 in Chinese. I didn't have much luck getting my books in Beijing or Nagano, so unfortunately I had to bypass those cities. One more book, and I'll have them all! I think it's a cool way to remember all the places I've been to in a quirky little collection. Anyways, mission accomplished on day one!

Now it's time for bed. I hope I have something more exciting for you all tomorrow.

Good night!