Ice Network

Carreira blogs from mountaintops of Saint Gervais

U.S. ice dancer shares experiences from first Junior Grand Prix of season
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Christina Carreira and Anthony Ponomarenko hang out with Largo, their hotel's guard dog, in Saint Gervais. -courtesy of Christina Carreira

Christina Carreira is competing at the Junior Grand Prix in Saint Gervais, France, this week with ice dance partner Anthony Ponomarenko. She is keeping a blog for icenetwork.

Sunday, Aug. 28

We are very happy with how we performed our free dance and where we placed (second overall). There is still room for improvement, and we are headed home to work hard and prepare for our next JGP.

We had a blast getting ready for the exhibition with friends from different countries -- especially with our training mates, Angélique [Abachkina] and Louis [Thauron]. Not all JGP events have exhibitions. In fact, France is the only one with an exhibition this year. Although we didn't have a lot of time to get ready for it, it was fun and different.

Once everything was over, we headed back to our hotel, where Team USA gathered in the lobby. We took some pictures and gave a thank-you gift to our amazing team leader, Lindsay Weber, and our team doctor, Christina Cervieri. Those ladies worked really hard all week to make everything easy for us and to make this JGP a memorable one.

After that, it was time for skaters to relax and have fun. We all went into Megève village. There was a band playing; we danced and ate crêpes. Lindsay, Greg [Zuerlein], Dmitry [Ilin] and Rohene [Ward] came to join us. It was awesome! I'm happy and sad this JGP is over. I only have great memories. I had a lot of fun with Eliana [Gropman], Alexia [Paganini], Ian [Somerville], Alexei [Kiliakov] and, of course, Anthony!

Most of the team members headed back home today. My mom and I took an extra day together and went to Chamonix. We went over the glacier and crossed over to Italy. It was spectacular! We were at an altitude of 12,000 feet! Climbing the stairs was difficult.

This beautiful trip is almost over; pack our luggage and get ready for the return trip to Michigan.

I will miss you a lot, beautiful Megève. I hope to be back one day!

Saturday, Aug. 27

I could start this account of our fifth day here in Saint Gervais the exact same way I started the one yesterday. We are on the same schedule: get up at 4:30 a.m., get ready, take the bus at 6 a.m. and practice at 7:25 a.m.!

It felt really great yesterday to present our short dance. I guess the wait was long. Having been here since Tuesday and being accustumed to training for an average of four to five hours in Novi, Michigan, it felt awkward practicing in just 30-minute sessions over the past two days; it wasn't enough. Our short dance still needs some improvement, but this was a good debut!

After the short dance competition and the draw, we were rushed back to Megève. Since there was a race in the village, the streets of Saint Gervais were closed. I would have loved to have watched the ladies and cheer on Alexia Paganini.

The bus rides here are, might I say, entertaining -- similar to an amusement park: You go up and down, and then you squeeze to the right and to the left. It's like that for a good 20 minutes.

On our way back after practice this morning, three huge air balloons were flying in the Megève sky, just over our hotel. It's so beautiful here, the landscape and the mountains.

Got to go now, talk to you soon! Time for a power nap!

Friday, Aug. 26

The day started really early for all of us. We were up at the crack of dawn, way before the rooster even got a chance to wake us up! Practice went well, and we are ready for the short dance competition.

Transportation seems to be an issue between the hotels, which are all located in little villages approximately 20 minutes from Saint Gervais. Bus schedules are changing often, and today the Saint Gervais streets will be closed for a race from 4 p.m. until late at night. So I'm writing now because even though we aren't leaving for competition until 3 p.m., we really don't know what time we'll be back at the hotel....and we have early practice again tomorrow.

Best of luck to Alexia Paganini, who will be skating her long program tonight. Go Team USA!

Now, it's time for a power nap. Au revoir!

Thursday, Aug. 25

Mornings are beautiful here. I got up and looked outside to see a magnificent hot air balloon flying! The view is quite different from Michigan. And there's a rooster that crows at the crack of dawn. We don't need to set an alarm on our phone or push the snooze button -- the rooster takes care of that!

Today we were in the last practice session, and we did a free dance run-through. Everything went well until the team before us had some trouble with their music -- they must have started and stopped at least four times! We had to wait a while for it to be our turn. After practice, we went to explore the town where our hotel is located.

Megève is a beautiful village located in the Alps, sitting at an average altitude of 3,000-8,000 feet! It's one of the most famous and fanciest ski resorts in the world, and in the summertime, biking and hiking are among the many activities you can do. The town center is full of nice restaurants, designer boutiques and also..."Maison Ladurée," a bakery famous for its macarons. So, yes, we had to go taste those amazing delights! We spent all afternoon in Megève with our coach, Greg [Zuerlein], and our training mates from France, Louis Thauron and Angélique Abachkina.

We came back to the hotel and looked at Alexia Paganini's results. She finished sixth in the short at her first JGP!

Now it's time for bed...we have an early start tomorrow.


Wednesday, Aug. 24

Today we had the draw, our first practice and, of course, Fabian [Bourzat], who took us for a workout to begin our day at 10 a.m.!

Our hotel is guarded by a beautiful German Shepherd named Largo. As we were leaving, he came to wish us good luck.

Our coach, Greg Zuerlein, arrived today. He had trouble finding the LOC person at the airport, too, but he made it just in time for the draw.

The draw went well; as usual, Anthony did a great job! When it was his turn to choose, Nos. 3, 9 and 13 were left. He was aiming for 9 but got 13. So, we will be first in the last warmup. Our teammates, Eliana [Gropman] and Ian [Somerville], drew third. I can't handle the pressure of drawing!

After the draw, we sat down to watch the other teams' practices and warmed up for ours. Fun fact: On the second practice session, three teams had the same short dance music!

Practice went well for us. It took a little while for our legs to get into the action, but overall, we felt good.

After stretching and talking with Greg and Fab, we all headed to a nice French restaurant with Savoyard cuisine (what the local cuisine in the Alps is called), where we spent a very nice evening.

Bonne nuit de Megeve!

Tuesday, Aug. 23

Un beau bonjour de Saint Gervais!

Hi, everyone! I'm very excited and happy to be blogging for icenetwork from the first Junior Grand Prix of the season.

We arrived Tuesday after a long day traveling from Detroit to Amsterdam, and then to Geneva.

The city of Geneva is surrounded by mountains, so the view as we were landing was breathtaking. After having some traumatizing experiences earlier this season with my luggage getting lost, I have to say that the time we spend waiting at the carousel is always a bit stressful...but today, my bags showed up no problem.

Finding the LOC person responsible for taking us to Saint Gervais was kind of like looking for a needle in haystack! After running around the airport for a good 30 minutes, we finally found her and were so excited to leave for our destination.

I'm usually very good at staying awake so I can adjust to a new time zone, but this time I was falling asleep I missed all the beautiful landscape surrounding us as we drove through the French Alps.

After an hour-and-a-half drive, we made it to our first stop, the Saint Gervais rink. That's where we needed to go for registration. The rink is literally in the mountain! The altitude is 2,600 feet. After registering, we had to wait in the sun, suffering from sleep deprivation and hunger, which for me is a very bad combination.

A nice French man took us to our hotel -- "Hotel Rent" in Megève -- which was a 10-minute ride. When we got there, we had only three things in mind: food, shower and bed, in that specific order. Our team leader, Lindsey Weber, brought us back to reality: The place where all athletes and officials have their meals is actually...the rink! That means we had to unpack, shower, get dressed, NOT go to bed and take another 10-minute drive back to the rink. All of Team USA ate dinner together, and our day ended shortly thereafter.

Bonne nuit!