Every odd year, the top six figure skating nations come together to compete in the World Team Trophy. This event resembles the new Olympic team event that debuted in Sochi last year. The event is popular among the skaters because we get the unique opportunity to compete as one unit with our fates intertwined. Last week in Tokyo was the fourth World Team Trophy event, and U.S. Figure Skating won its third title.
The atmosphere at the team event closely resembles a college football game — or at least it’s as close as we get in figure skating. Just as the alumni will get decked out in their school colors, we, too, wear as much gaudy red, white and blue garb as we can physically adorn. We sing and cheer (often obnoxiously loud) and hope that our skaters come through in the final event of the season — and come through they did.
The Americans were not favored on paper, but with exceptionally strong performances in the short program from Gracie Gold and in the long program from the pairs team of Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim, the U.S. pulled an upset over the favored Russians. Jason Brown’s consistency was also a huge factor in the victory. He finished second in both the short and long.
The best moment of the week was sharing the podium with my teammates. Figure skating is usually such an individual sport and we don’t often have the opportunity to share the podium with anyone other than our immediate partners. Sharing it with seven of my friends, teammates and athletes whom I admire was the best. We sang an out-of-tune rendition of the national anthem, but we sang together and we sang proudly.
Two days later, Jason Brown — our designated team mascot for his loud cheering ability — took all the stuffed animals thrown for Team USA to the Ronald McDonald House in Tokyo and donated them. We were all happy to participate in this kind gesture, but it was really Jason’s idea. It’s something he does after his competitions and it represents the kind spirit that he is.
With the long season behind us, Madi and I flew to Hawaii to visit her family living on the island. Needless to say, it is utter paradise. We are trying to get the island youth interested in figure skating so we are doing a performance at the local rink followed by a public skating session with the kids. We look forward to the opportunity to connect with the local kids and also cool off inside the rink after a few hot days in the sun.
When we fly back to Michigan on Saturday it will be in time to celebrate the marriage of Team USA’s Tanith Belbin and Charlie White. I love weddings because everyone is always happy. I will undoubtedly dance like a fool and sing more out-of-tune karaoke, all while predictably sunburned. So much to look forward to!
Go Team USA,