Skatin' in Scandinavia: Hubbell's Finlandia blog

Ice dancer makes season debut with partner Zach Donohue in Espoo

Madison Hubbell, pictured here with partner Zach Donohue, greatly enjoyed her time at the Finlandia Trophy in Espoo.
Madison Hubbell, pictured here with partner Zach Donohue, greatly enjoyed her time at the Finlandia Trophy in Espoo. (Janis Engel)


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By Madison Hubbell, special to
(10/04/2012) - U.S. ice dancer Madison Hubbell is entering her second season skating with partner Zach Donohue, after spending the previous decade partnered with her brother, Keiffer. She is blogging this week from the Finlandia Trophy.

Monday, Oct. 8

Hello from the States! Competing at the Finlandia Trophy was a great experience, but no matter how beautiful the destination, I am always anxious to get back home. For those reading this last blog, thank you for sticking in there. It is always harder than I imagine to manage my time at a competition. After doing my hair and makeup, warm-ups and practices, competition, meals and trying support other disciplines, the blog tends to get lost in the shuffle. So again, thank you for understanding why the Saturday and Sunday blogs were better suited as a sleep agent than an insight into the magical world of figure skating! ;)

I am happy to report that we made it into Helsinki after the free dance. Both Massimo [Scali] and I have been to Finland previously, but Zachary had not, so we made it our priority to get him downtown. After the awards ceremony, we all headed back to the hotel. The boys were able to take a short rest while I chiseled my way through my rock-hard hair and used countless makeup wipes to remove my Spanish red lips and cat eyes! It seems entirely unfair that I not only have to wake up an hour early in the morning to prepare, but I also have to spend time afterward to return to the way I looked before I had started! Oh well, the price I pay to be the one getting picked up, and at minute four, I am willing to pay it. So after all of my work was done, we met downstairs to head out on our adventure.

Massimo went to the front desk to ask where would be a good place to go on a Sunday night, but it seemed as though the skating traffic through the week had worn on the patience of the desk staff. The only help they could give was a quick gesture toward a guide to Helsinki that was mostly in Finnish. Luckily, we blindly picked out a Turkish restaurant that was very good. I only had one complaint: their Turkish coffee! For anyone who has read my previous blogs, you know that I have a serious coffee problem. (Case in point: I am awake on this plane because I couldn't say no to a cappuccino before we boarded.) So last night, after a wonderful meal, our waiter asked us if we would like coffee.

"Do you have espresso?" asked the Italian. I love Massimo! Our waiter then told us that he only had Turkish coffee, but that it was very similar.

He lied! It is a similar size as espresso, and at first glance, the only noticeable difference is that the foam is dark brown. But then we tasted it, and the foam has the texture and taste of dirt. I couldn't believe that I had found coffee that I didn't enjoy, so I tasted it again. Miraculously, the coffee underneath the dirt foam was good. I enjoyed the next few sips, and started to take the last final sip without looking in the cup. Mistake! The last sip was a sludge pool of what I can only imagine were coffee grounds swept off of someone's back porch. I don't want to believe that Turkish coffee, as a whole, could be this bad, so I will keep an open mind if the opportunity comes up to try it again. I will, however, be thoroughly examining the cup before each sip.

Now that I have arrived back home, I want to sleep for the next 15 hours! Thank you for reading my blog and supporting Team USA at the 2012 Finlandia Trophy.


Sunday, Oct. 7

It was the last day of competition here in Espoo, and it was quite tiring. The day started early with practice, and after a short break at the hotel, it was time to go back to the rink for the free dance competition.

Today's program felt much more relaxed then Saturday's, partially because we were too tired to be nervous. There is something about competition that tires me out, even though we skate a fraction of what we normally skate at home. But now it is over, and everyone was pretty happy with their first competition of the season. Unfortunately, I had no time to write today ... blogging on competition days is a bit tough.

We are heading to Helsinki to eat dinner now, since all the restaurants around the hotel are closed. I will write my final blog tomorrow on the plane, and I have pictures to share as well! As for today, I would just like to thank everyone for their support during our season debut! We had a lot of fun showing our programs, and I look forward to a year of successful skating as well as blogging.

PS - If anyone has a question they would like to ask or a topic to discuss, leave a comment tonight and I will check them before my 4:30 a.m. shuttle to the airport!


Saturday, Oct. 6

Hello readers! I am afraid that today's blog will be fairly short. Partly because there wasn't much time to explore today, and partly because I am pooped! I can say that I am very happy to have started my season, even if it was a bit shaky. I usually don't get too nervous, but skating first today was a little intimidating. I was happy that the crowd was very supportive, and the energy in the rink helped me relax as I was skating.

I spoke with Kaitlyn Weaver last night on Skype, and she had a funny wake-up story of her own. Apparently on her second night in Bratislava, she woke up and looked at her iPad and was surprised to see that she had overslept by 45 minutes! She got up, started fixing her hair and caught a glimpse of the hotel clock. It was only 12:30 a.m., and her iPad was still on Michigan time! She will be bummed I put this in my blog, since one of her funny stories was in my worlds blog as well! Maybe next time before she leaves, I will remind her to switch all of her electronics to the correct time zone.

After being the butt of the joke, I have to say congratulations to Kaitlyn and Andrew [Poje] for a strong first competition. I also send congratulations to Nathalie Péchalat and Fabian Bourzat, Lorenza Alessandrini and Simone Vaturi, and Danielle O'Brien and Gregory Merriman! I miss you all!

Anyway, I am exhausted! I will be finishing up tomorrow, and we hope to be able to go into Helsinki after the event.

So ... much more to come!

Friday, Oct. 5

Technology has failed me! My iPhone had 25 percent battery when I went to sleep last night, and by the time I was supposed to wake up six hours later, it was dead! Needless to say, my alarm did not go off at 5:30 a.m. like it was supposed to.

Ring...ring...ring. I wake up and pick up the phone. "Hello?"

"Madison, are you coming down for breakfast? We only have 20 minutes left before the bus!"

I struggled to comprehend why Zach sounded so alert when I had only been awake for 30 seconds. I looked at the clock and saw 6:48. I replied to Zach's inquiry of whether I would be at breakfast with a few choice words and hung up!

Luckily, after many years of hair extensions and fake eyelashes, I was able to do my hair on the bus, and a 10-minute makeup job before my practice finished the look. I believe that with the right balance of eye makeup and concealer, a girl can hide any tired eye from people in the stands. Up close may have been a different story ... sorry, Zach!

Despite the rushed morning, our practice went well, and we were done for the day at 9:05 a.m. We stayed to watch the other dance groups practice, and it seemed as though everyone had a pretty smooth morning.

So, what to do for the rest of the day? Massimo, Zach and I had wanted to go into Helsinki and take advantage of our day off. It is rare that we get to actually see the cities that we visit. The weather, however, was not on our side. While the temperature is fairly mild, it has been gray and rainy all day! Now, instead of experiencing a different culture and exploring a new city, I sat in my hotel room and watched episodes of Rules of Engagement.

P.S. It's just as funny here in Finland! ;)

I am about to go cheer on Team USA in the men's event, so I will write more when I get back.

I also want to say good job to my friends at the 2012 Ondrej Nepela Memorial. The short dance competition was today, and I am so proud of our DSC skaters: Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje, Lorenza Alessandrini and Simone Vaturi, and Danielle O'Brien and Gregory Merriman! Kick butt tomorrow in the free!

Thursday, Oct. 4

Hey everyone!

Welcome to the 2012 Finlandia Trophy. This is the first competition of my season as well as the first blog of my season. I hope for both my sake and yours that it all comes back to me quickly.

Today was the first day of practice, and with only about half of the skaters attending, it was a pretty low-key day. I was thankful for the low-stress environment on my first practice, though, since the first competition of the season can be a little intimidating. There is a different pressure I feel during the first competition of the season, unlike any other throughout the year. After spending several months finding music, creating choreography and becoming attached to your programs, there will be people judging it for the first time. All skaters want the officials and fans to believe in their programs as much as they do themselves, and the first competition finally answers the big question. I only hope that this event will answer back to me, "YES!"

By the end of the day, all the competitors had trickled in, and by the night, we were all headed to EMMA (Espoo Museum of Modern Art) for the draw. My roommate, Mirai Nagasu, prepared for the event by watching dance videos on YouTube. We will have to take it more seriously next time, since we both drew first in our events. Oops, sorry, Zach! :)

Speaking of skating first, I have to go to bed now, since the first group practices at 8:30 a.m.

More to come tomorrow...good night!