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From A to Zagreb: Choate's JGP Croatia blog

Skater spending week in capital city of southeastern European country

A view of Zagreb, including the Dom Sportova, the competition arena at JGP Croatia, from Team USA's hotel.
A view of Zagreb, including the Dom Sportova, the competition arena at JGP Croatia, from Team USA's hotel. (courtesy of Harrison Choate)

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By Harrison Choate, special to icenetwork.com
(10/03/2012) - Harrison Choate, the 2012 U.S. junior pewter medalist, was born and raised in Boston, the city in which he trains. He is blogging this week from Junior Grand Prix Croatia.

Friday, Oct. 5

Bok! We think that means hello in Croatian, but we have no idea. Though we've been here for a week, we know zero Croatian. Bok is from Google Translate.

The past two days here have been pretty eventful for Team USA. The short programs all went solidly, as did the free skates. The pairs were the first to finish up today in Zagreb. This event marked the first international experience for Christina [Zaitsev] and Ernie [Utah Stevens], and they rocked it. She may just be 13, but Christina is a diva and runs the show. Watch out for her, folks.

The men's free skate was earlier tonight. I was really excited to get my first (and last) Junior Grand Prix medal for the U.S., despite not skating my best. We were all beyond bummed, as was the rest of the skating world -- I'm sure -- that Nathan [Chen] had to withdraw. He's been the definition of a fighter this whole week, trying to work through the pain. I'm sure once he rests and heals at home, he'll be back to DomiNathan in no time at all.

To celebrate being done, Max [Settlage], Ernie and I tried every dessert in the dining hall for the skaters at the hotel. We enjoyed none of them. Oh well; hopefully, we'll find something good when we get to fully explore the old city tomorrow!

The dancers and the ladies finish up tomorrow, with all of the U.S. team members in prime positions to bring home some more hardware. The pairs, Nathan and I will be cheering as loud as humanly possible, waving our American flags obnoxiously. Zbogam! (that means 'goodbye!'...probably)

Wednesday, Oct. 3

Today got off to a much better start. All of us woke up feeling rested (at least compared to Tuesday) and ready to get going with the practices. Both the main rink and the practice rink are beautiful. Plus, the music on the practices has been awesome. I was expecting headache-inducing techno but was pleased to hear more familiar Rihanna and Jason Mraz songs.

After practices, we all had our draws. Nathan Chen and I were particularly psyched to both draw the last group, given that the first group practices at 6:45 Thursday morning.

Today was also Michael Parsons' birthday. Our team leader told him there was a team meeting at 8:00 in the lobby, and when he got there, we surprised him with tiramisu and by singing "Happy Birthday."

Men, ladies and pairs all kick things off with the short programs tomorrow, so please send good vibes to everyone competing. USA ALL THE WAY!

Tuesday, Oct. 2

After a long day of travel, all of Team USA arrived in Zagreb by Tuesday night, barely functioning. We were basically zombies all through our team dinner and just tried not to pass out in our traditional Croatian food.

After eating quickly, we walked back to the hotel to go to bed, marveling on our way at how late people stay out in Zagreb. We then realized it wasn't even 9:00 p.m. yet. That pretty much sums up day one at the Croatia Cup.

Oh, and my roommate, Zack Sidhu, is a technological genius/god. He made a network called "Team USA," so we now all get Wi-Fi in our rooms.