Laney digs up the info from the JGP Belarus

10 members of Team USA in Minsk this week

This is the first appearance in the JGP Series for Laney Diggs.
This is the first appearance in the JGP Series for Laney Diggs. (courtesy U.S. Figure Skating)


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By Laney Diggs, special to
(09/26/2009) - California native Laney Diggs blogs for this week from the Junior Grand Prix Series event in Minsk, Belarus.

Saturday, Sept. 26
I am here with my roommate and friend Anastasia [Cannuscio]. Today, I am sad to say, was the last day of the competition. All the ladies were finally able to watch the free dance, pairs long program and menʼs long program. Rachel [Tibbetts] and Collin [Brubaker] skated well enough to pull into second place. Anastasia and Colin [McManus] were really entertaining and had the best interpretation.

In the pairs long, Brynn [Carman] and AJ [Reiss] did really well and could have placed three places higher had one of their lifts been counted (they didnʼt get credit for one of them because of one rotation to many). The menʼs event was really awesome and the U.S. men both skated cleanly. Eliot Halverson pulled up to fifth place and brought the house down with his emotion. Alex [Zahradnicek] skated cleanly and was able to stay in seventh place. Team USA was the loudest at the events screaming for our teammates. We had American flags, clappers and used our voices to the fullest. I think that our voices will be lost tomorrow. We even got some of the members of other countries involved in the cheering.

With competition now over, we are now packing our bags and getting ready for the banquet. The party is disco-themed, and we are going to enjoy ourselves. Tomorrow everyone is leaving and will be saying goodbye to a fun experience and a nice country. Everything about this event was great, and the U.S. team was well taken care of by our team leader and doctor. So with a heavy heart we say goodbye to Belarus at the end of a memorable experience.

Friday, Sept. 25
Hello everyone! I am here with Kristiene [Gong] and here is today's blog tomorrow (ha ha it is 12:50 a.m.).

Today was the ladies long program, men's short program and the original dance. Unfortunately, I didn't get to see the events today but Kristiene was able to watch the OD and Eliot Halverson and Alex Zahradnicek. Anastasia [Cannuscio] and Colin [McManus] placed sixth while Rachel [Tibbetts] and Collin [Brubaker] are currently in third going into the free dance tomorrow. Alex and Eliot are seventh and eighth, respectively, going into the long program but are within seven points of earning a medeal. I was screaming my head off from the stands for Kristiene.

In the down time of the day, Eliot and I had a scary experience at the hotel. While coming down from breakfast, Eliot and I got into the elevator only to find out that it was stuck going in between different floors. We decided to get off on the next level -- no matter where it was -- only the elevator doors wouldn't open. Once they finally did, we were both in shock and frightened (well, more me than Eliot).

Tomorrow is the free dance, men's long program and pairs long program. Kristiene and I will be watching all the events screaming for the U.S. competitors and relaxing. So far, the U.S. has had a pretty good event with Kristiene's placement and the ice dancers doing so well. But now we are both tired so we will blog again tomorrow! Good night!

Thursday, Sept. 24
Hello everyone!

I am joined again by various members of Team USA. Today was the start of the competition, and Team USA did very well for the most part. We were all supporting each other going crazy from the stands. We are well prepared with noise makers and U.S. flags.

Eliot [Halverson] and Alex [Zahradnicek] were the only ones who were able to watch all the ladies and ice dancing. We are having fun performing and the competition is stiff. The pairs short is going on right now and we will cheer for A.J. [Reiss] and Brynn [Carman] later.

Starting with the ice dance, Anastasia [Cannuscio] and Colin [McManus] skated a great CD, and earned sixth place. Rachael [Tibbetts] and Collin [Brubaker] skated last, and finished the event in fourth place. Kristiene Gong skated a superb short program today and the whole U.S. team went wild after she finished. We were all so proud of her and know tomorrow will be even better.

Now onto the bloopers of the day: We are proud to announce that no harm was done to world ranked coach Frank Carroll after his incident yesterday! Of course we can't say the same about A.J. and Alex's bathroom wall. Ha Ha. Everyone is delirious tonight, laughing at just about everything. Especially when someone, who shall be nameless, ran into the door while talking to Kristiene.

Eliot and Alex are ready for the competition tomorrow and we all wish them best of luck. I am so proud of our team so far and there is more great skating coming tomorrow!

HURRAY for Team USA!

Team USA says "Good Night and peace!"

Wednesday, Sept. 23

Our team is practicing our chants, spirit, and of course our figure skating. Today was the first official practice ice of the event. The arena, which is walking distance from the hotel, is one of the nicest rinks. It is surrounded by a beautiful scenery of a lake, trees, and fields.

The main rink is decorated with participating national flags. With the event officially starting, team USA is still finding many ways to relax; by laughing, shopping, and enjoying the sights.

As I write, the rest of the USA team joined me and offered some thoughts of the day: Kristiene [Gong] reported that she accidentally knocked off a part of the bathroom wall of Alex and A.J.'s room while slamming the door. With an unrelated story, Eliot [Halverson] DOES NOT have a shower curtain (watch for his video blog).

As if that weren't enough an unidentified member of Team USA opened the ladies locker room door too fast and smashed fellow American, Frank Carroll, in the face. We'll keep you updated on the condition of his nose.

Poor Frank!

The events start tomorrow for everyone except the men. Best of luck to all the competitors!


Tuesday, Sept. 22
Hello everyone from Minsk, Belarus!

Today has been a very long travel day. Almost all of the U.S. team members were on the same connecting flight, including Kristiene Gong, A.J. Reiss, Eliot Halverson, and Brynn Carman.

Even though there was a lot of time spent waiting, everyone had a great time. A.J. spent the whole bus ride from the airport to the hotel obsessed over a huge fly. It was pretty hysterical whenever he would attempt to swat it because he would come close to hitting someone else.

Today at 7:30 p.m. was our first team dinner. We feasted on beef, chicken, and noodles. Everyone is having an awesome time and the citizens of Belarus are taking care of us. Our team leader, Rick Perez and our team Doctor, Dr. Shybutt are both really supportive and helpful.

Everyone is looking forward to an awesome competition full of fun and great performances. Tomorrow is the first day of practice and everyone is excited to go to the rink for the first time.

Until tomorrow then!