The Big Day Has Arrived - Practices

Trip Start Feb 14, 2010
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Trip End Feb 21, 2010


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Flag of Canada  , British Columbia,
Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Thursday was another day scheduled to start with Men's practice at 7 am. However, there was no chance I'd go for another 5 am wake up call and a taxi ride to the arena. Instead, I decided to sleep in (read: get up at 7 in the morning), eat breakfast and catch a bus and then train to get me to the arena for the final practice group that Evan was skating in.

For the first time, I actually enjoyed the bus ride. It was yet another beautiful day in Vancouver and I was finally alert enough to actually look through the window and enjoy the beautiful surroundings, especially the mountains and the palm trees (no, I'm not joking!). It was so strange to think that the day I had been waiting for for such a long time, February 18, finally arrived. I'd always expected myself to be freaking out from the moment I'd open my eyes in the morning, but for some reason it didn't happen. I felt totally serene and happy, unlike the 3 weeks separating the Spokane trip and Vancouver but let's not even go there...

MEN'S PRACTICE

Arrived at the Pacific Coliseum the moment the final group of men was being introduced. Perfect timing. Found Diane and Meredith and Diane in the stands and we watched it together. It was really fitting as if it's not because of one of the skaters on the ice, we'd have probably never met!

Since Evan's music was to be played first we knew we'd not see any jumps in his run through. But even without them, I just love watching that program, especially outside the competition. I remember seeing it in practice Lake Placid last November for the first time and then again in Spokane a few months later and being amazed by how free and seamless it was. Those qualities somehow didn't really translate well to competitive performances in any of Evan's competitions up until that point. Also, leading to the Olympics he hadn't skated it clean. I was hoping Thursday night would change it, in both accounts. Jump wise, Evan skated well that morning, with one flawed landing on of of the 3A attempts. Other than that, he was his usual precise self, committed to every second of the session.

It was a little bittersweet sitting there and watching what might have as well been his last official practice as a competitor. At the same time, knowing we had all somehow gotten to that point was really soothing as the last 7 years were quite an exciting journey with the destination just a few short hours away.

ICE DANCE PRACTICE

The first open ice dance practice of the Olympics was up next. Definitely something I was looking forward to a lot since it was  Isabelle Delobel and Olivier Schoenfelder's competition in over a year following Isabelle's injury at the Grand Prix Final in December 2008, later surgery to her shoulder, pregnancy and birth of her son Lois last October. Many have doubted Isabelle and Olivier would even make it to Vancouver but they stack to their plan and worked really hard to get back into competitive shape. But they did it and I was looking forward to seeing the result of the work they had done and just to having them back on the ice, first and foremost.

Since it was the Compulsory Dance/Original or Free Dance I was hoping they'd do their Can Can OD as I've heard a lot about it and reportedly it was something very special. But first the Tango Romantica CD... Delobel and Schoenfelder have always been so strong in compulsories and did really well in practice, their pattern was immense and the knee bend and edges as good as always. Unfortunately, they're not as far as they used to and unfortunately, I kept thinking it would hurt them big time in competition. But there's always hope...

The OD was indeed spectacular with every little technical and choreographic detail done perfectly to the music and in character. Technically, all the elements looked once again really strong but the speed was still lacking. That was making me worried but at the same time I was just enjoying watching them live again. We even waved my big French flag for them (the same one I had with me in Sweden in 2008 when they won their World title). I normally don't do that in practice at all but this time it was the only way of seeing welcome back, good luck, farewell and thank you that had come to my mind...

After the practice had concluded we headed to the nearby diner, that's traditionally our hangout place while attending events at the Coliseum, for a final bite before the ultimate freak out time a.k.a. the Men's Free Skate!
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