Lichtman and Copely: Greetings from Budapest

Ice dance team talks airport scares, experiencing Hungary

Charlotte Lichtman and Dean Copely are getting their first taste of Junior Grand Prix action.
Charlotte Lichtman and Dean Copely are getting their first taste of Junior Grand Prix action. (Michelle Harvath)


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By Charlotte Lichtman and Dean Copely, special to
(08/27/2009) - Ice dance team Charlotte Lichtman and Dean Copelyshare their experiences from their first career Junior Grand Prix event from the Junior Grand Prix Hungary from Budapest.

Tuesday, Aug. 25
To start the day off, we had a full day of training since our flight wasn't until 9:30 p.m. Last-minute items were packed after skating, and I went to meet Charlotte and her parents at the airport at 6:00 p.m. because she told me she would meet me then.

Security was a breeze, but remembering a simple two-digit number seemed to be a challenge. I hauled my backpack, which was exceptionally heavy, my laptop and my costume bag holding my CD, OD and FD outfits to gate A20 -- direct flight to Denver, Colo. A quick peek at my ticket confirmed my suspicion, and after a five-minute breather, I was back on my feet and headed back in the other direction to gate A60.

I texted Charlotte to see where she was, and she let me know she got held up and was just leaving the house. Soon after the Lichtman crew showed up, Charlotte spilled all my candy on the floor, so I got Popeye's instead. Our flight had dinner and breakfast with movie choices such as The Fast & the Furious (personal favorite), Star Trek, Hannah Montana and Wolverine: Origins. Eight hours later, we were in Paris!

Holly Lichtman, Charlotte's mother, fell ill, so we went straight to the medical center. While waiting there, we heard an announcement over the intercom that they had discovered an unattended bag in terminal F and for the owner to please pick it up. After about 45 minutes, we were on our way up stairs to find the pharmacy when a friendly guard and his friend with a massive rifle told us we had to wait downstairs for a while and nobody was allowed in that part of the terminal.

Roughly ten minutes later, we watched a couple walk by the armed guard stationed at the other side of the terminal as he started shouting at them in French. The shouting grew progressively louder and more frantic, until all of a sudden... BOOM! The sound of a gun shot echoed through the cement halls and everyone ran for cover in a panic except the guards and the one terminal employee sitting on a bench.

Charlotte and her dad hid behind a vending machine, and Holly stayed against the wall on the bench with the terminal employee. I ran straight for the exit. When everything calmed down, the terminal employee explained to us in half French, half broken English with a very heavy accent that the suspicious bag which was left unattended in the baggage claim was just blown up by the police. This made no sense to any of us, because if it was a bomb, it would have detonated it and caused serious damage. We had a few hours to waste in the Paris airport anyway, so this kept us entertained to say the least. We were just a short two-and-a-half-hour flight away from Budapest!


Wednesday, Aug. 27
After our short and very smooth flight from Paris to Budapest, we arrived at the airport and immediately went to baggage claim. The only thing I was worried about was the skates arriving safely, and as the baggage started to come around, both my and Dean's skates appeared. The rest of our luggage came within a few seconds -- everything except for my mom's suitcase. She talked with the airport and after filing a missing luggage claim, we headed to the bus which would take us from the airport to the hotel along with many other skaters from different countries.

On both of our flights, I was incapable of fully falling asleep, which is probably why I couldn't keep my eyes open the moment I sat down on the bus. We arrived at the hotel, and our team leader met us in the lobby to fill us in on everything, as well as give us trading pins and a very comfortable t-shirt. Dean and I were both pretty exhausted from our long day (or days, technically) of travel, so we had a quick bite to eat in the hotel and went to sleep.

I was excited to skate this morning, even though it was just practice, because it had now been almost two days since the last time we were on the ice. We had some breakfast at the hotel and headed over to the rink with my roommate, Piper [Gilles], her partner Zach [Donohue], their coach, Piper's mom and my parents. Their coach, Patti [Gottwein], has been to Budapest before, so she was able to lead us all to the rink, which was about a 15-minute walk from the hotel.

The weather was beautiful, and it was great to get a little fresh air. I was surprised to see the boards around the rink because they are very thick, blue pads that stand higher than normal boards. The overall atmosphere in the rink is very cheerful and relaxed, which is especially nice since competitions can sometimes be stressful.

We had a practice in the morning and in the early evening, then headed to the team dinner at Cafe Bazilika, which is in a very cool part of Budapest. There is an amazing mix of both old and modern architecture, and the most beautiful church I've ever seen was right next to the restaurant. After a relaxing dinner with everyone, we all had to get going, as everyone has early practices tomorrow. Not before experiencing my first gelato though, which I must say was delicious and beautiful (they shape the gelato into roses).

Hopefully we will have another blog later today!


Thursday, Aug. 27
Nothing unusual happened in the Waltz except for the exact same score given to places three and four. Both Piper (Gilles) & Zach (Donohue) and Lorenza (Alessandrini) and Simone (Vaturi) (ITA) had earned 28.81 in the compulsory dance. The Americans won the tie breaker because their technical score was higher. Richard Dornbush got second place with 62.55 points and Grant Hochstein had the lead with 63.38. Ricky turned 18 during the short program and got a fancy plate as a present from a fan. Angela Maxwell was in fifth and Ellie Kawamura, in her first ever Junior Grand Prix assignment was in second.

Dean and Charlotte

Friday, Aug. 28
Since I was so focused on the competition, it took me a while to realize it was my birthday and I was 20. We had an early practice, enough time for a long nap and then it was time to compete. For the practice, I had shaved my beard into a goatee and mustache to try and look Georgian, since that is our OD theme.

Marina thought it would look better with just the mustache, so we went with that. Early in the program, Charlotte fell during the twizzle sequence on which we received a Level 1. The rest of the program was unaffected by our slight mishap. We were disappointed but recalled our experience at the 2009 Pacific Coast Sectionals where we were thrown off by a fall in the Original Dance, but pulled it together to perform an exceptional free dance. Confident in our ability to rebound, we looked forward to the next day.


Saturday, Aug. 29
After a thorough warm-up off the ice, we got on for our twenty-five minute practice for the free dance. Dean and I felt much more calm and in control than the day before, which helped our confidence heading into the free dance. We both were really just focusing on feeling our skating, as opposed to results or trying to do everything perfectly. After our practice, we had a lot of time to waste, so many of the dancers hung out for a bit, which also helps keep our minds off of competition and just lets us relax.

The perfect weather made the half mile hike seem like a cake walk. Once we arrived at the Budapest Ice Rink, we noticed that the whole city showed up to support the Hungarian team. Their clean skate garnered loud applause from the audience, which energized the stadium.

We were really happy with the way we skated and could not have hoped for better. Then, we were able to watch and cheer on our fellow teammates in the final warm-up group. I enjoyed watching the varying and interesting styles of each team, adding to the great learning experience my first Junior Grand Prix has already been. Part of the experience is also being on the U.S. Team, so the fact that all of the athletes from our team did so well was very exciting.

Congratulations to everyone!


See you next time!