Mark's Sectionals Blog #3

Sectionals Blog 3

It's been a very busy week so far, and we haven't had much access to Internet either at the rink or at the hotel.  I think my last update was on Tuesday, so I'll start from there.

Tuesday we had an unofficial practice in the early afternoon, then our official short dance practice in the late afternoon.  We mostly needed to get our feet under us after the long trip - we were both a lot more tired than we had originally thought!  All those practices went really well and we felt really good going into Wednesday.  I also got to see our wonderful Juvenile Dance team, Gianna Buckley and Caleb Niva, and they looked wonderful on practice.  I also ran into our Senior Lady Olivia Olsen while warming up.  Not literally, though!

On Wednesday we followed the same plan, getting our feet under us on the unofficial ice then getting things set and comfortable on the twenty-minute warm-up.  I can't say how nice it is this year to actually have twenty-minute warm-ups.  Last year, we had nothing other than the one official session on the normal rink, and had to do all our other preparation at another rink nearby, meaning we were especially unsure of how the rink's ice would feel on the day of the competition.  We didn't feel our best on the unofficial or the warm-up, but we put on our game faces for the competition and we put out a pretty good performance in the Short Dance.  We ended up third in the segment because we missed a few of our levels, but the program read extremely well and I think the character of the dance really came across well.  It was especially nice to see that we got a lot of positive grades of execution, including solid +1's on the straight line lift and the midline not-touching footwork.  In fact, our footwork was the highest-valued footwork in the event!  We only got level 2 on our patterns, but there's plenty of time to grab those extra levels between now and nationals.  We're just so happy that we got that program out of the way because our free dance is more familiar and comfortable to us.

On Thursday we took an unofficial session to get our feet back under us and to get familiar again with our free dance, and we also got to watch Roxette's brother jump into second place in the Novice Men's short program.  Thursday also saw Gianna and Caleb place fourth in the Juvenile Dance event, meaning they'll be moving on to Junior Nationals in East Lansing, Michigan next month!  I'm just sad I won't be there that week to cheer them on!

Olivia also competed on Thursday, skating a nice short program that included a triple flip, triple toe loop, level 3 footwork and several strong spins on the way to a 10th place finish in the segment in a challenging field.  She competes her free skate shortly after our free dance tomorrow!

Today we decided to take as a recovery day for the most part.  Unlike most competitions, for some reason this year we have two days between our events instead of skating them back to back, which is really weird for me!  Last year was the first time I didn't skate events on consecutive days, and I'm not sure if I'm sold on the idea of a break.  Regardless, we took full advantage today, and chose to just do our official practice and get our free dance set to our satisfaction and call it a day.  Our free dance is to music from "The Addams Family" Broadway musical, and it's a lot of fun to perform because it has all sorts of different characters and Roxette and I get to really play off of each other.  We also have all sorts of fun lifts and tricks in there to keep things interesting.  After our practice we stayed to watch a few events, and we got to watch our Ann Arbor teammates win the Novice Free Dance and the silver medal in Novice Dance.  Later on I got to cheer on friends in Junior Men, and I just got home from cheering for my many friends who competed in the Senior Short Dance, including training mates, friends and former roommates!  It was a great event and I can't wait to see their free dances tomorrow.

Well, a lot has been going on, and we're having a total blast!  I'll try and get some more updates out before I leave on Sunday!




Sectionals Blog #2 - Breakfast!

Well we made it to Salt Lake City late last night in one piece, after some long and bumpy rides from Boston.  I discovered this morning that our hotel doesn't have free wi-fi, so I'll likely be blogging from my phone the rest of the week... Hopefully I'll find some at the rink I can use!
Today we're mainly just focusing on getting acclimated to the new surroundings.  I didn't sleep all too well because I'm so used to bad dorm room beds, but I still feel awake and refreshed!  We've got two sessions of practice today; one unofficial and one official for our Short Dance.  It's going to be really great to get out there and skate finally!
The first day is probably one of my favorite days of the competition because, at least for us dancers, we haven't seen most of our friends since Nationals back in January, or as the case might have been, the Lake Placid Ice Dance Championships, so that first day is one full of happy reunions and hugs.  I can't wait for breakfast when I get to see so many of them!  Last night I got to see one of our coaches from Michigan, Yasa, at the airport, and hopefully today we'll get to see our training partners!  I'm also really excited to finally see some of the new faces of Team Seattle who will be competing in Juvenile Dance, as well as our two Senior Ladies, Olivia Olsen who is competing, and Sarah Gonzales (who lives and trains here at the University of Utah - yay college!), who is first alternate.  A few other familiar faces will also be here from Team Seattle, and I can't wait to see everyone!
I'll do my best to report on all of Team Seattle this week; sometimes I'll have to take a nap here or there, but hopefully I'll be able to keep you all updated!
Now for food!

Mark's Sectionals Blog - Entry #1

Hey everyone back in Seattle!

Mark Jahnke & Roxette Howe, photo by Sarah BrannenRoxette and I have been in a whirlwind of preparation for our big trip to Salt Lake City this week!  Since there are a lot of new faces back at SSC since I trained there I figured I should probably start with an introduction.

I'm Mark and I began skating at Seattle Skating Club back in 2002 when I first moved to Seattle.  For almost every day for the seven years that followed I made the trek up to Olympicview Arena in the wee hours of the morning to skate before school.  I graduated from the Lakeside School in 2009, and moved to Boston to go to Boston University, and them transferred to Harvard University, where I'm a junior concentrating in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations.  Somehow between all of my classes and coursework I have managed to find the time to train full-time.  Luckily, I'm actually a bit ahead on work right now, plus we have not one, but two days of downtime between our events this week, so there's plenty of time for me to stay up-to-date on my schoolwork.  Oh, and practice.  I almost forgot about that part!

My partner Roxette and I have been skating together since May, and we've been working very hard this season to get things together.  We just made our performance debut last month at Harvard's annual An Evening With Champions show alongside Oksana Baiul and Kim Yu-Na among other luminaries, and we're hoping to improve even more this week at Coasts.  Roxette is from Los Angeles and has been skating since she was very young, and has been ice dancing for two years.  She, too, is a college student taking a full course load from Oakland University, where she is a freshman.  Unlike me, though, she's always on top of her work, and because of her diligence, actually has very little work to do this week.  At some point it'll hit me what a good strategy that is!

I'm writing this to try and put off the packing process.  Ironically, despite crossing two mountain ranges and time zones, this will be one of my shortest trips yet to a competition - a mere four hour flight!  That pales in comparison to some of my other trips, the longest of which lasted 36 hours one-way in a caravan of SSC skaters and family members coming home from Junior Nationals.  THAT was an adventure!

Regardless, in the morning I will find myself lugging a suitcase and garment bag to class despite the strange looks of the students around me.  And then, the adventure begins!  I'm really looking forward not just to competing, but to seeing everyone who will be coming in from all over the Section.  We'll also get to see our training partners and one of our coaches from Michigan, too, which will be especially fun!  As some of you know, we train during the school year in Boston with Barret Brown and Tom Lescinski, and during summer and school breaks we train in Ann Arbor, Michigan with Yaroslava Nechaeva and Yuri Chesnichenko.  It's a great combination, and it has allowed us to really improve every aspect of our skating.  We're really excited to show off our hard work!

Until then,

Mark and Roxette



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