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Evan Bates' blog from Finlandia Trophy

Ice dancer uses his quirky sense of humor to report on all the happenings in Vantaa

Evan Bates, pictured with partner Madison Chock, is blogging from the Finlandia Trophy.
Evan Bates, pictured with partner Madison Chock, is blogging from the Finlandia Trophy. (U.S. Figure Skating)

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By Evan Bates, special to icenetwork.com
(10/05/2011) - U.S. ice dancer Evan Bates uses his quirky sense of humor to report on all the happenings in Vantaa.

Day One

It has been a while since I've written a blog for you all, but I am thrilled to be providing delayed reports this week from the 16th annual Finlandia Trophy here in Vantaa, Finland. This is my first time in Finland, so I've done a little research. Please let me educate you by copying and pasting this Wikipedia entry about Vantaa ...

Vantaa (Finnish pronunciation: [ˈʋɑntɑː]; Swedish: Vanda) is a city and municipality in Finland. Helsinki, Vantaa, Espoo and Kauniainen make up the Helsinki metropolitan area.

Vantaa, with its population of 200,410, is the fourth-most populated city of Finland. The biggest airport in Finland, the Helsinki-Vantaa Airport, is located there. It also hosts a science centre, Heureka.

Apart from completely plagiarizing today, I embarked on other, more respectable adventures with my partner, Madison Chock, and our teammates and training mates, Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani. We arrived in Vantaa this morning around 9 ... I think. That may be entirely wrong. When running on futile amounts of sleep and without facts from Wikipedia to plagiarize, I am almost completely unreliable. In actuality, I can say that I used my observational skills to record one reliable fact that I am considering adding to the Wikipedia entry. The average height of Finnish people has to be at least 6'6". I mean, I thought I was a tall person, until I came to Finland. Whether it's the gene pool or the pickled herring is still a mystery to us all. We guess the latter.

The four of us took the 40-minute bus ride from Vantaa to downtown Helsinki accompanied by our parents and assistant team leader, Sharon Rogers. The local organizing committee and city workers have been incredibly helpful and patient. My mom paid for the $4 bus fare with a $50 bill, and the bus driver did not even gripe over making the change. What a country!

Window gazing on the bus quickly turned into Fruit Ninja battles on the iPad. Slice combo champion and fruit samurai extraordinaire Maia Shibutani brought her camera and snapped photos of us at the annual Herring Fair. The Herring Fair occurs in Helsinki during the first week of October. Fishermen port at the popular tourist attraction, Market Square, to sell fish and other archipelago products directly from their boats. The effect is incredibly cool. Dozens of fishing boats all adjacently anchored selling seafood delicacies straight off the backs of their boats. Pickled herring for everybody! I actually just bought a magnet for my refrigerator from a nearby vendor. Still, our fortune for witnessing unique Finnish tradition was not lost on me.

We returned to the hotel to join our remaining teammate, Douglas Razzano, for dinner. The original plan was to have team dinner in downtown Helsinki, but no one had the energy to endure another long bus ride. We settled for the restaurant in the hotel lobby. Wonderful food and, again, patient service left everyone happy and somehow sleepier than before. Now we're getting ready to sleep and fight this jet lag monster. Alex said it best: "I'm gonna sleep like a baby tonight, and by 'sleep like a baby' I mean wake up crying every three hours."

Until tomorrow,

Evan