Ice Network

The Inside Edge: Castelli, Tran robbed in California

Moeller experiences truly humbling moment; Fendis battle through injury
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Shortly after the 2018 U.S. Championships, Marissa Castelli and Mervin Tran had their rental car broken into in San Francisco. -Getty Images

The Monday following the 2018 U.S. Figure Skating Championships -- which took place Dec. 29-Jan. 7 in San Jose, California -- various skaters spent time sightseeing before flying home. Marissa Castelli and her family braved the rainy weather, roaming San Francisco with her partner, Mervin Tran. They also stopped for dinner in Japantown, parking their rental SUV on the street.

"We had the luggage in the car," Castelli said. "My skate bag was in the back and there was another bag in front, and Mervin had some ukuleles, too. It was a busy street, there were people on it, cars going by, and we thought it would be OK. Apparently, we were wrong."

When they returned to the car, Castelli was the first to notice her bag was missing and one of the car windows was smashed.

"I knew that my skates and my dresses were gone," she said. "It's the worst nightmare for a skater. I've lost items before, I've had things stolen, but not to the extent of this. I can't get my dress back, ever. And there were a few pieces of jewelry. I was being so stupid."

Luckily, Castelli's passport was in the backpack she was carrying with her, but she still lost her prescription glasses and iPad as well.

"I put a message on the iPad to (the thief)," she said. "They took so many things that mean nothing to anyone but me."

Castelli said a new pair of boots and new blades were already being shipped as of Tuesday afternoon.

"I know it's just stuff," Castelli said with frustration. "I know there are worse things in life. I'm just really bummed about the dresses."

Once she has her new equipment, Castelli and Tran will start to map out their competition schedule for the remainder of the season. Unlike most of the other competitors at the senior level, the pair wasn't in the running for the Olympics because Tran isn't a U.S. citizen. They are, however, second alternates for the 2018 Four Continents Championships, which take place later this month in Taipei City.

"We're going to take a little time off and recover from this year," Castelli said. "Emotionally, we always knew we couldn't go to the Olympics, so we're like, 'Let's reset and figure this out.' The plan is to rest, recover and move on. We're just going to take it one step at a time -- with new skates!"

Gaining some perspective

Jordan Moeller included a quad in both the short program and free skate for the first time at the U.S. championships, but the competition did not go well for the 22-year-old skater, who ended the short in 20th with 55.35 points.

"That was the worst short program I've probably ever done," Moeller said. "This was my first time trying a quad at nationals. I must have gotten a little shaken up after that first fall and wasn't able to recover.

"I had that initial shock phase," he continued. "I was wondering what went wrong. It took me off guard to be completely honest. We tried to talk through some of it, about what to do to try and salvage something for the free skate and try to change my mentality a little, which was very challenging."

Moeller planned to watch the rest of the free skate to support his friends and rink mates, but he wasn't quite ready to face the crowded stands.

"I needed a moment away from the arena, without risk of showing it on my face that I was unhappy," he said. "I didn't want to go up and be 'that guy' in the stands."

Moeller left the SAP Center and walked through the dark until he found a small, empty park with a bench.

"I sat down and just completely let go," he said. "There was no one else there, just me and my thoughts. It was one of those cleansing experiences that did and didn't feel good."

After a few minutes, Moeller noticed a man walking toward him, pulling a suitcase.

"As he got closer, he took a look at me and said, 'Hey,' and then he looked again and said, 'Are you sure you're OK?'"

Moeller said that he was, but the stranger noticed that he was only wearing a light warm-up jacket and asked, "Do you have a jacket you can wear? Because it gets pretty cold here at night."

Moeller told him he had a coat, but before he walked away, the man told him, "I'll be down by the river if you need anything. I have blankets and jackets and everything."

"At that point, I realized he was homeless," Moeller said. "I was sitting in the park, emotionally torn apart because I didn't land my jumps at nationals, and meanwhile here's this man who didn't even have a place to stay that night. I think I just sat there for a minute after he left and thought about it, and I honestly felt a little ashamed of myself for feeling so torn up about it."

Nearly a week later, Moeller still sounds shaken as he remembers the encounter.

"It was one of those moments that really put it into perspective and let me see that my life isn't so bad," he said. "We get so focused and we have tunnel vision at nationals -- it's our be-all, end-all -- but we have the luxury of our hotel room at night. It was a very eye-opening moment for me. Honestly, it was probably just what I needed."

The moment has provided the 22-year-old skater with a different outlook as he ponders the future. He says he will most likely continue competing for another four years.

"I'm grateful to be able to do what I do every day," Moeller said. "Especially in those harder moments where we don't always love what we do, it has kind of helped to change that attitude a little. I think that's going to be huge."

The show must go on!

Falls in pairs and ice dance carry the added risk of becoming entangled with your partner's blades. In many cases, the upright partner is able to avoid the skater who has fallen, but -- as we learned last week in San Jose -- disaster can't always be avoided.

In the last group of the novice pairs free skate, Jasmine Fendi fell on a side-by-side jump. Her partner -- and twin brother -- Joshua, tripped over her hand and fell, cutting her fingers.

Jasmine got up and looked at her hand, but decided to keep skating.

"I think I was in shock," she said. "When … I saw my tendon sticking out, I got freaked out. I wasn't sure if I broke my finger. I didn't hear a whistle from the referee so I thought, 'I guess I should keep going.' It was very painful."

Astonishingly, the pair completed the rest of their elements, including a Level 4 lift and a throw double salchow, for which they received a positive Grade of Execution.

"It wasn't too bad because most of the time I was holding with my right hand," Jasmine said. "About halfway through the program, [my left hand] started feeling numb. Also, my legs stopped working a little. After the lift, I felt the pain."

As soon as the pair finished, Jasmine broke into sobs of pain and fear, and was hurried off to the medical area. She needed six stitches in her left index finger, but her mother says that, luckily, the tendon was not severed. Her middle finger was also cut, but not as severely.

The competition paused for the ice resurface, but the Fendis, who were third after the short program, dropped to seventh overall.

Skating through adversity

Crystal Chilcott, a Colorado Springs-based skating coach, won the pewter medal as a junior at the 2013 Collegiate Championships. She competed from the age of 7 until she turned 21, but her life changed at 23, when she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, formerly known as juvenile diabetes.

Chilcott thought the diagnosis would force her into a more restricted lifestyle, but with careful monitoring, she is still able to skate, coach and travel the world. To send a message of positivity to other skaters battling diabetes, Chilcott has self-published a book, Gliding on Insulin. The fictional story is told from the viewpoint of a young skater with diabetes who wears an insulin pump as she travels and competes.

"A lot of people know about Type 2 diabetes," Chilcott said. "I wanted to inspire skaters who have Type 1, or other diseases. It's just a matter of monitoring the blood sugar. When it's well managed, there aren't a lot of things you can't do."

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