Gold blogs from World Team Trophy in Japan
U.S. junior champ gives readers a behind-the-scenes look at Team USA's doings at team competition
|Gracie Gold got a crash course in Japanese culture at the World Team Trophy. (Renee Felton)|
Tuesday, April 24
I arrived back home after the World Team Trophy last night. I had such a wonderful time! Team USA skated strongly, and we earned the silver medal. I was so proud to be a part of it.
I skated my free skate Saturday evening for a full arena. Ashley [Wagner] skated a "lights-out" performance and had the whole crowd electrified. I wasn't really nervous to skate, just super excited. My long program wasn't my best, but it was respectable. The crowd and my teammates were very supportive. Following an emotional closing ceremony (so cool for Akiko [Suzuki] and Daisuke [Takahashi] to win gold in their home country!), we returned to the hotel for a closing banquet. It was magnificent! So many beautiful and delicious dishes to choose from ... heaven!
Following the awards presentation, there was a lovely speech from Carolina Kostner and then live entertainment. The act had two men performing as mimes but definitely not in the traditional manner. They combined bizarre slapstick comedy with silly props to create a totally unique and hilarious show. Everyone enjoyed it tremendously.
Sunday was the exhibition. There were wonderful solo performances from the top finishers and invited Japanese skaters, combined with group numbers choreographed by Japanese choreographers. Team USA opened the second half with a splendid performance using large purple chiffon scarves as props!
The Japanese people are fantastic! Everyone was friendly, helpful and so gracious. The fans are amazing, and they love figure skating. They were lavish with applause, praise and special gifts. I am thrilled to have been a part of it, and I will remember it for the rest of my life!
Friday, April 20
Konnichiwa! It's Friday morning in Tokyo!
Yesterday was fantastic! The day started with practices and an opening ceremony officially started the competition -- which began with the short dance and men's and ladies short programs. The energy in the Yoyogi Arena was incredible. The Japanese are the best fans; the arena was packed and buzzed with excitement.
Team USA skated strongly, and we tied for first place. I loved being part of the team. All of the team members not competing dressed up with their country's colors and waved flags, pom-poms and used noisemakers and horns. After each skater, we were able to crowd into the "kiss and cry" together and cheer them on as they received their scores.
I skated first in the ladies event and felt like I put out a solid performance. I was very happy with my opening jump combination triple flip-triple toe. Skating out there was so much fun, and I loved every second of it! Riding back on the bus after the events was amazing. I kept wanting to pinch myself to make sure I was awake. There I was with the top skaters in the world. Wow!
Pairs will skate their short program this afternoon and the ice dancers and men will skate their free programs later tonight. Ashley and I will be there in our patriotic apparel to cheer them on!
Wednesday, April 18
Hello, it's Gracie checking in from Tokyo at the World Team Trophy!
We left Chicago around noon on Sunday. Aside from some scary turbulence leaving the States, the trip was the smoothest I have ever been on. The local organizing committee and the Japanese people are so organized and gracious.
We arrived Monday in the late afternoon and had a long bus ride to get to our hotel. The hotel is awesome! There are 17 restaurants just in this hotel. The view of Tokyo from our floor is terrific. There are so many cool gadgets in the room!
I was so tired when we arrived, but I managed to walk downtown. The energy of the city amazed me and kept me energized enough to poke around some shops and get dinner. Tokyo is lit up with neon, and people are moving everywhere! It's a bustling, high-energy type of place.
On Tuesday we started with a traditional Japanese breakfast. It was an interesting spread of food. The omelettes were little squares of egg, and they even had roasted ovary!
After eating, my mom and I took the subway from Shinjuku station to Harajuku. The inside of the station was like a beehive -- people streaming toward their destinations. There are plenty of signs in English, and there were friendly Japanese people to point us in the right direction.
Harajuku was fantastic. There were so many colorful shops and places to eat. Just watching the other shoppers was an adventure in itself. There were so many styles and types of people -- a true mixing pot. I hated to cut it short and definitely want to return.
Tuesday night was my first practice. We arrived early so I could scope things out. The arena is incredible, and there were hundreds of people working on the set-up. Cameras and interviewers were everywhere. The kiss-and-cry box is lit up with pink and blue lighting, with cheer boxes for each country right above. Each "condo" has its own flag displayed. The teams will sit together during the event, and watch and cheer! After each skater has skated, the whole team walks down to the kiss and cry together.
Team spirit is key. Last time the WTT had a prize for the most enthusiastic team. The USA won it last time, and we hope to win it again!
My first practice went well. The ice was soft and thin, and the arena was warm. I have two practices today and the opening banquet tonight. I'm excited to be a part of it all. The whole team is super friendly and SO funny.
I'm off to a more American breakfast and then the rink.