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Hochstein's athlete blog from U.S. Collegiates

Defending champion gives his take on event

Grant Hochstein will compete at the 2011 U.S. Collegiate Championships.
Grant Hochstein will compete at the 2011 U.S. Collegiate Championships. (Michelle Harvath)

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By Grant Hochstein, special to icenetwork.com
(07/22/2011) - Defending collegiate men's champion Grant Hochstein will be blogging throughout the 2011 U.S. Collegiate Championships.

Sunday, July 24
Hello for the third and last time from the 2011 U.S. Collegiate Championships. The competition has wrapped up, and we are all getting ready to head home, so now I am going to leave you with some of the highlights from the trip here in Sun Valley.

First, the skating. It was really cool to skate on the outdoor rink even though it totally screwed up all our jump patterns. And even though whenever I skated out there it was either really, really cold or really, really hot, it is an experience I will remember forever. It was also neat to see the skating show performed outside. Let me tell you, Sun Valley sure knows how to put on a show!

My skating on this trip went decently. I was not very happy with my short program, but my long program, I thought, was very acceptable for this point in the season...and for being at altitude...and for not having a coach with me...and for being the only person in my event...and for being at altitude. Oh wait, did I already mention we skated at altitude? Not cool! I basically collapsed on the stairs after I skated my long program, and my legs were like noodles. But would I give up all the cool experiences I had here so that I wouldn't have to skate at altitude? Definitely not. I mean, don't get me wrong, I had to think about that for a second, but I had way more fun than I had altitude issues. And did I mention that both senior champions skated to "The Mission"? Yep, it's true, Alicia Hsu and I both used the music for our long programs, so apparently if you want to win, this is the music for you!

Yesterday, after we competed, Karen Zhou and I went horseback riding. Now, let me give you some background information on Karen. She is the world's most intense travel trip planner/picture taker. She found this place to go horseback riding 20 miles away from Sun Valley. Fortunately, her mom had a car, so we were in luck. But what she did not know is that it was 20 miles away, up and around a mountain with a cliff on one side, no guard rail, and we had to drive 25 miles an hour the entire time.

Again, I am complaining and in about five seconds I am going to tell you how amazing it was. Wow, was it amazing! When we got there, I, of course, got the fat horse. We saddled up (don't I sound like a real cowboy?) and went on this really cool trail up a hill with views of the mountains that people would kill for. Since I had the fatty of a horse, it stopped every two minutes to eat. Since I was so far behind Karen and our instructor, we had to trot to catch up with them. This is a very painful experience for the gentlemen riders. Either that or I just had really poor riding technique. Anyway, it was a really fun trip with awesome views of the Idaho mountains. After that, Karen's mom told us she had talked to some people back at the stables who knew of a hidden waterfall that you could walk right up to. It was another two-mile drive and a half-mile walk but was supposedly worth it. We agreed that we would take the time and go see it. So what if it was going to be dark soon, none of our cell phones had signals and we might drive off a cliff at any moment? This idea was definitely worth it!

When we got there, we couldn't get close to the waterfall and had to stay on the deck, but since no one was there to stop us, we decided to just walk right up to the waterfall. Why not? We took some really cool pictures, and it was definitely memorable feeling the cool mist and seeing the power of nature up so close.

After this, we came back, ate some buffalo burgers and hung out with a bunch of the other competitors. I love collegiate nationals, and I feel like the competition allows you to have fun and get to know a bunch of other skaters without the intense pressure of normal competitions. It is definitely something I would recommend kids going into college or already in college coming to do. 2012 U.S. Collegiate Championships, anyone?

Okay, that is all for this trip. I hope you all have enjoyed reading my little blog!

Grant

Saturday, July 23
Good afternoon, icenetwork.com visitors!

Since I've last blogged, there has been a lot going on. Yesterday, Kendall Wyckoff, Megan Raver and I rode the gondola and ski lift to the top of Dollar Mountain. Okay, I'm not scared of heights really, but the thought of that wire snapping kind of freaks me out. I was a little panicky on the gondola, but when we got into the ski lift...that's when the white-knuckle grip came out. I'm pretty sure I didn't let go of the handle bar the entire time. However, the view from over 9,000 feet was definitely worth the anxiety of the trip up. I took some amazing pictures, which I will try to get posted, but I forgot the thing to plug my camera in to upload them. I will try to take some on my phone and get those sent in somehow.

I've had a few practices so far, and I'm actually going to my 20-minute warm up once I send this in. It is very interesting skating in the outdoor rink here. Don't get me wrong, it is really cool and an experience I am enjoying very much, but the whole jump pattern thing doesn't work out so well. The rink is shorter and wider than a normal rink, so I am always afraid of smashing into the chain-link fence thing that acts as boards and ending up like that girl in Ice Castles. It is nice that we do get to compete in the indoor rink so at least when I compete I won't be dodging the ends of the rink.

I watched the first half of the senior ladies group, and I have to say that I think all the events are much stronger this year than they were last year. It makes for some exciting competition!

I have to go to practice now and compete in a few hours. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Grant

Friday, July 22
Hello from the 2011 U.S. Collegiate Championships in scenic Sun Valley, Idaho!

Of course, given my travel history, there had to be some sort of craziness in my getting here. So yesterday, I set my alarm clock for 5:30 a.m. so I could get to the airport at 7 a.m. because my flight left at 8:30 a.m.

Of course, my alarm never went off and I woke up at 6:53 a.m. Panic set in as my sister, our friend and I were running around like crazy people trying to get organized and to the airport on time. The distance to the airport is about a half hour, so there wasn't much time to get ready. I'm pretty sure my body was shaking the entire time out of fear that I was going to miss my flight! Somehow, I made it to the airport and my gate with 10 minutes to spare! Nothing like cutting it close.

The rest of the traveling went well enough, and on the plane I met Megan Raver and her mom. They are awesome people, and I ended up being able to stay in the Sun Valley Lodge with them since Megan's coach wasn't able to come. I couldn't get a room at the lodge because it was booked, so they offered me Megan's coach's room so I could be closer to the rink instead of having to stay in Ketchum down the road. It's funny, because I feel like I've known them forever, but I just met them yesterday. I guess that is the bond we have as skaters!

I also have gotten to hang out with my buddy Karen Zhou. Karen and I traveled to our first international competition together (2008 Gardena Spring Trophy) and have been good friends ever since. We are both here to defend our titles.

I did a little mini unofficial practice ice yesterday on the outdoor rink too. Okay...I skated in a Basic Skills open skate session. Somehow, I was able to jump and actually landed a pretty nice triple Lutz-triple toe. I'm excited to have an actual practice session, though, and to be able to skate on actual patterns, and not have to dodge 30 small children. My first practice is at 6 a.m. this afternoon, so I have the entire day to explore Sun Valley.

Alright, off to breakfast. Talk to you all soon!
Grant