*Crunch, crunch, crunch*
The unmistakable sound of fresh packed snow underneath my boots is like music to my ears. “Aaah, winter…” I think to myself. “It’s back.” But much has changed since Andrew and I have been blanketed by November’s powder.
This year, winter found us in Moscow, Russia, our part-time training base for the 2016/2017 figure skating season. After a disappointing finish to last season, my partner and I took the time to go back to the drawing board in the Spring, shut the world out, and understand what it was that WE needed. And as the pre-Olympic season was looming, THAT was the time to make any drastic changes. And drastic changes we made. We enlisted living-choreographic-legend Nikolai Morozov to our coaching team, and relocated to New Jersey, with the knowledge that much of our training would also take place in the other Great White North: Russia. To outsiders, it seemed scary. And a piece of me was definitely scared too, to tell the truth. But with change comes growth, and with necessity, fear becomes obsolete. Andrew and I were positive that we needed to challenge ourselves with something new. “Big risk, big reward” we thought, and we’re working hard to make it so.
Relocating to Jersey from our previous long-time training location of Detroit, Michigan wasn’t too difficult. Being within a stone’s throw of New York City is nothing short of inspiring, and we feed off the energy and possibility that the area has to offer. But when it came to Russia, we weren’t sure what to expect.
Armed with warm layers, protein bars, and Google translate, we traveled to Moscow eager to embrace this new aspect of our skating. And so far, it has been a success. The training centre is beautiful, the rink attendants and other coaches treat us fairly and with kindness, and having friends in the city has made an immeasurable impact. Although I had a basic understanding of the Russian language and cyrillic, Andrew and I have learned so much together, and that helps make this city feel like a second home. We can get around, order at restaurants, and hold a polite conversation. Don’t get me wrong, there are (lots of) times that I just want to walk into a Timmy’s and order a coffee and a pack of Timbits without thinking twice, but all-in-all, we are doing well.
Soon it was time for our first competition, also to be held in Moscow: Rostelecom Cup in the beginning of November. And conveniently, the official hotel was just minutes down the road from our training centre dorms. I have to admit, I felt a little defensive when I overheard other competitors complaining about Russia’s snowy weather .. I felt, like in Canada, winter has to be understood and embraced and loved rather than loathed! But no matter, the competition was quite a success. Two great outings of our new programs— representations of a new life in the dance team of Weaver/Poje and the seedlings of a fresh energy and momentum due to find its peak at the Olympics in Pyeongchang, 2018. The Russian audience, never short of passion and enthusiasm, welcomed us with warmth and energy. We left happy, invigorated, and motivated to continue our growth in the birthplace of ice dance, and also back in our new home of New Jersey with our glowing hearts never letting go of their Canadian roots.
While we can’t wait to return home to our beloved Canada, this season is the definition of adventure and growth, and as an athlete, it’s what I live for. We are always striving to make our country proud and we hope you enjoy joining our journey.
See you on the ice!