Ice Network

Humorous Hochstein blogs from Ondrej Nepela

American shares his travel insight, follows action on the ice in Bratislava
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Grant Hochstein (left) is showcasing his blogging skills this week as he reports from the Ondrej Nepela Trophy in Bratislava. -Courtesy of Grant Hochstein

Grant Hochstein is competing this week at the Ondrej Nepela Trophy in Bratislava, Slovakia. He is keeping a blog for icenetwork.

Saturday, Sept. 23

Hi everyone!

Sorry it's taken so long for my second journal update. Caroline [Zhang] and I have been pretty busy since the competition began, so I'm going to do a quick update today and follow up with a longer entry after my free skate.

The short program went pretty well for me. It wasn't perfect, but I actually think it has been my best outing of the season. I scored just shy of 80 points, which is about a point and a half away from my personal best. Caroline didn't have the performance she was hoping for, but I had to remind her that for most of the program, she was pretty darn good. Unfortunately, it hurts to miss the first jump in your almost 12-point jump combo. As a completely non-partial and unbiased outsider, I do have to say that she was the most beautiful girl in the entire competition!

The pairs have actually finished both parts of their competition and are done. Congrats to you guys! I compete at 10:15 tonight, so I was able to watch Jess [Pfund] and Josh [Santiallan] in the short program. As always, their side-by-side jumps were spot on and their throw was huge -- almost too huge to hold on to. I know Erika [Smith] and AJ [Reiss] didn't have their best competition, but as they are both friends of mine, I know they'll only use this event as a building block to a stronger season.

The Parsons siblings opened strong in the short dance, crushing their program to place second in the standings. I wasn't able to watch their skate, but the score was a very competitive one, especially so early in the season.

That's all for this entry. I hope you're enjoying the read back home. We'll talk again soon!

Wednesday, Sept. 20

Greetings from Bratislava!

This is my one-millionth journal entry for icenetwork over the past 10 seasons or so, and I'm glad to have all of you along with me for this one, so thank you for reading!

I'm going to spare you from most of the dramatic details from the day Caroline [Zhang] and I experienced, as that could take up a few pages of text, but I will share some of the key moments from our exhausting day.

First and foremost, no matter how many times you travel, remember all of your bags before you leave for the rink on your travel day. It's also crucial to remember that your two carry-on items must equal a certain weight on Air France, and if they surpass that magical number (in this case, 12kg), you will be forced to repack in line, thus looking like a fool.

Boarding an international flight with your skates as a carry-on item is risky as well. Some security agents are okay with them and some are not. If yours isn't, you may be forced to run across the airport many times seeking help from the Air France management desk, resulting in exhaustion and a grouchy fiancée. You may even be forced to hand your skates to the pilot directly until the plane lands, which was what I had to do.

Always stop for chocolate and pastries. Always. That way you're not sprinting past various chocolate and dessert stands to make your flight in time. It just creates more running.

Lastly, make sure all of your possessions are with you once you leave the plane. After twenty combined hours of travel from Los Angeles to Paris to Vienna, we finally got our bags at 8 p.m., eventually taking a bus to Bratislava.

Phew! That was an exhausting travel day. Now, I'm not sure if the above moments serve as highlights or life lessons, but I hope our travel day was more enjoyable for you to read about than it was for us to experience.

It's now Thursday night in Bratislava, and we've all had our unofficial practice ice day. It was sort of nice because the ice wasn't split up by discipline, which allowed for a freestyle feel that any of the competitors could partake in. The first session that Caroline and I did included a lot of ice dancers. The Parsons siblings skated along with Erika [Smith] and AJ [Reiss]. I can't really share how anyone skated, because I was busy trying to stay out of the way of dance patterns, while still managing to skate diagonally across the ice into quad toes.

We all left the ice with our limbs intact, which I consider to be a bonus. The second practice session was a little more relaxed and was mostly singles skaters from the U.S., Republic of Korea, Japan and the Ukraine, along with Jessica [Pfund] and Josh [Santillan] as the lone pairs team. We were fortunate to have both practices in the main arena, which is wonderful, as that is not always the case. Sometimes, we don't get to compete on the main ice at all until competition day, so I would like to thank the LOC and everyone here in Bratislava who made that happen.

Tonight, we'll have the draw to determine starting spots for the short programs. Caroline and I had an early dinner so she could get some rest ahead of the first ladies practice, which as begins at 6 a.m. tomorrow. As supportive of her as I am, I may not be attending that practice!

So, there you are, the first entry is in the books.

I hope you've enjoyed reading this. Goodnight from Slovakia!

- Grant