Stacey and David

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Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Zagreb Europeans 2013

4:15 am my alarm went off this morning, it is hard to think at that time let alone move and everything just goes to autopilot. This wasn't even for training but because we're heading back to Florida to finish our season strong, just 4weeks until the World Championships and effectively the end of the skating year. This Worlds is in London Canada and is our Olympic Qualifying event for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games. A big ask and a good time to step up our game, 4 years ago we stood up in Los Angeles. It was there we took our lucrative Olympic spot and became the first British Pair team to do so in 16 years.

Just after I posted my last blog we had another nasty moment where Stacey split her chin open on the ice. We were a little fatigued from a busy week and at the end of our free programme, Stacey landed the throw but then slipped off her edge landing straight on her chin. We went to a walk in clinic thinking they could patch it up but the wound was too deep and ended up in the Emergency room getting 12 stitches. Remember this was a week before the European Championships where we had to get the score to go to Worlds as we had missed every other event this season through injury. So like a trooper Stacey is back on the ice later that day. 

Europeans went surprisingly well, I mean we were still getting back to full fitness but Stacey nailed all the throws and the only major mistake was the side by side triple toes in the free. We got a lot of good feedback, judges and spectators alike seemed to enjoy our programmes. Zagreb itself was very chilly, it was the week a load of airports in Europe shut down from snow and there were a few logistical issues with the skaters. All in all a good event for us though and finished 10th in Europe! Had a quick break after and now time to dig deep for Worlds.


Best wishes

Sunday, 3 November 2013

A New Year


My New Years resolution is to keep up with my blogging, I realise that I lead a rather unusual lifestyle and one day would like to look back and remember how it was. If you enjoy reading it too then even better! Europeans is now 2 weeks away, and we are coming back from 2 major injuries; I had a grade 2 right ankle sprain 6 weeks ago and Stacey tore her PCL in her left knee back in October. Only this last week have we been able to properly train so not expecting any miracles in Zagreb, Croatia where the Championships will be held. But we do have a firm goal set, we had to pull out of all our international competitions this year and haven't got the qualifying score required for the World Championships. This World Championships is our Olympic qualifying event so our goal of getting the required score is a very important stepping stone to our Olympic story. This season at our National Championships even with heavy injuries we managed to take our 10th British title. It's a privilege to skate for a living but it is an honour to train as British Champions.
I know its my resolution to write more blogs and have struggled in the past for free time living in Florida but will do my best to keep up. Our schedule and the intensity we train at here kind of eats up my time and in the evenings I have 2 huskies to look after. These days we start on the ice at 8:30 then finish in the gym 4pm with only 40 minute break for lunch. Its a tough schedule and the amount of concentration that goes in to training is intense but the coaching staff and athletes we train alongside really help motivate us to push through every day. When we had a bit of time in off season after Nice Worlds we crammed in some fun though and as much family and friends time as we could. Stacey's mother flew back with us and treated us to a trip to Discovery Cove, which I would recommend for anyone travelling
to Florida and is basically an all inclusive day at a beach resort where you swim with dolphins. And we visited Disney and met up with fellow team mate British ladies Champion Jenna, and her husband Kevin who is a Belgian skating legend. But then it was short lived and straight back into next seasons programmes. When the current season started it brought for us a change of coach who planned for us to start early preparations and get ahead of the field for this season. We competed in May in Fort Myers USA, where we would usually start competitions in September. For the first time ever this year we did 3 (also Liberty and Ellenton Classic) events before we'd even usually do one, its good because it took us out of our usual season routine and shook things up a bit. Hopefully that preparation and hard work will pay off in the upcoming weeks.

To round up then 2012 was an Impressive year for us, we had highs like skating at a European Championships in front of a home crowd in Sheffield, we won our 10th British title, watched some amazing live events at the London Olympics, and had family and friends come visit us in Florida. But also a few lows with our injuries, missing a big chunk of the season plus competitions and not qualifying for the free program at the World Championships last season in Nice. We can plan and work as hard as possible but sometimes things are out of our control, you just have to do the best with what you get dealt and I
think this year we had a good hand.
Thank you,

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Nice International

It’s the eve of our first 2010/11 season assignment and we’re feeling the buzz of competing once again. We have to hit the ground running as we’ve started late this season, well it was a busy year you know! We’re ready though as ever, all we ask from ourselves is what we do in training every day and a little luck wouldn’t go a miss.
With our coaches Mariusz and Dorota Siudek
Cost of us skating is a bigger problem at the moment though as this week (and the whole of the country is getting similar news) have been hit with big cuts. It’s £28k to be precise, which puts very big doubts over our future dreams for a Sochi 2014 Olympic Medal. It’s unfortunate and more annoyingly it’s distracting but we’re trying our best just to finish this season then make bigger decisions when we can look at the full picture.
Now writing this from the plane and wondering if the 5am start was just a dream or reality. We’ve ventured on all transport today bar a boat but with all the strikes in France who knows where our journey may go next?
2pm now with a 5am start and we’re not even in France yet, well you know what they say about Polish trains. I remember once going up to a Polish training camp in the mountains and the train was literally walking pace.
The flight luckily enough is direct to Nice and we’re flying over some beautiful mountain ranges that I guess are the Alps. I’ve never been to Nice before and have heard many good things about the place, mostly about the great weather, let’s hope that it lives up to the reports.
The competition itself is a prestigious event in the International Skating Union calendar as it’s one of very few events you can achieve world ranking points. For those who don’t know much about skating, when competing skaters have to skate two programs to music with the points from each skate adding up to a total amount of points.
First skate is called the short program which is 2min 50seconds long and is classed as a technical program because you have set elements to skate. Next is the free program that’s 4min 40seconds and is often called the long.
Every element is awarded points. The harder the element the more points you get, simple. Now you know the basics come competition time you’ll understand what I say when I talk about both the programs.
Right, I’ll leave it there but got some more Coupe de Nice content coming soon!
Best wishes

Polish training

Sorry it’s taken a while to get my new blog up, we’ve had visitors the last three weeks and with training it’s been a busy time.
The weather is still holding firm with autumn leaves falling and the sun keeping winter away for a little longer. When winter hits here, it hits hard and as we train in a giant fridge anyway good warm clothes are worth their weight in gold.
Taking a stroll by the river after a long days training.
I mean driving through a foot of snow to go to a place that’s even colder at 6am is hard to get your head around. But like I said at the moment there is still sun and the last two weekends I’ve spent sunbathing on the Baltic coast.
Family or sponsors as the sporting community calls them have been out and we’ve been swapping one for the next on short turn-arounds.
Skating is steadily improving with the programmes flowing better and with movement and speed picking up this last week.
Nice in France is our first event in two weeks time (13th-17th October) and we could really do with taking a medal going in to our Grand Prix events later in the month and early November. There are some tough contenders in it and you can never tell what judges will think of your programmes first time out.
But hard work and determination always pays off and you can feel in yourself what level you are at. After Nice we travel across the pond to Kingston, Canada to compete in their Grand Prix then to Portland, USA for their Grand Prix.
After that we finally hit the UK for our Nationals late November, you’re all welcome to come and watch in the fantastic Ice Sheffield arena.
All the very best and speak soon

End of funding

Getting back to full fitness after the holiday is a giant uphill struggle. Most people probably can’t comprehend the kind of pain and exhaustion an athlete feels when they reach this point in the season.
We are just starting to attempt full programme run-throughs, which mean five minutes at 100% full throttle, no holds barred. What’s amazing is that once a week seems tough but in just a couple of weeks we’ll be up to five full programmes a week on top of our normal training schedule.
However at this point in training mental strength is just as important as physical strength, the ability to set aside the distractions of pain, lack of energy and keep full commitment, not to let up, just keep on trucking. Come that first competition, we’ll be glad we did!
We’ve completed all our choreography for both programmes now, working off-ice with Artur a hip-hop instructor who won Poland’s ‘You Think You Can Dance’ competition a few years back. It’s been a complete change from the classical and Latin American we did in the past and just refreshing to challenge a new aspect of dance.
On ice the short and long programmes get smoother the more we do them. Some of the elements are a bit scrappy at the moment but that’s normal, we can’t be perfect all the time, as much as we try! That’s the fun part anyway, taking someone else’s choreography and turning it into your programme – complete with your tricks.
So it’s pretty repetitive stuff at the moment at home in Torun, Poland. It’s the ‘practice makes perfect’ rule and we keep going over and over our programmes to gain almost an auto-pilot mode so we can get past the choreography and start pushing the speed.
This week we are filming a review of our training to send to our federation. We used to come home for screenings but expense is a major problem for us this season and we have to cut down on all cost if we’re going to reach Sochi Olympics in 2014.
Our money has dwindled since we moved out to train in the best Pairs School in Europe and British Olympic funds have sadly ended. But you can always replace money; what you can’t replace is your time and place in such a competitive sport.
Well sorry there isn’t anything more exciting to report this time but we have competitions coming up real soon and this is where the fun begins!

Shauns Stag do

We had a great month in Krynica pinpointing our weaknesses from last season and really getting some great work done. It drew to a close as fast as it started and we ended our Polish squad camp in the mountains very pleased with ourselves. A busy schedule lay ahead, straight after a long days training we set off for home around 5pm only to arrive in Torun at 3am.
Needless to say I was very tired the next day, but it had to be done because our flight left Gdansk (which is another two hour drive) at 6am. All because our flight was cancelled a month before we flew, cheers!
We booked a hotel near the airport so we could get a few hours sleep. As we entered into Gdansk we were stopped in traffic, I put my hand break on, checked my mirror and oh no. I saw a white van speed round the corner and I could tell by his speed he was going to hit me. His brakes let out a loud screech, then tried to swerve but clipped my left side and just heard a mighty crash.
I pulled up to a lay-by and got out to check the damage. Not too bad. I had to pull the bumper out of my back left tyre and a few dents but overall it was ok. The other guy’s was mashed up a lot worse than mine but he cooperated fine. I thought ‘you idiot’ as he had his wife in the front and two children in the back in car-seats, you would think he would take it a little easier. Although annoying, luckily no one was hurt and my car at least was drivable, we exchanged our details and although a little dazed headed to our destination.
The hotel ended up being quite a trek away as we had to drive for about five minutes on a dirt track to find the place. It had a very lonely look to it and was quite under the weather with nobody around for miles. After seeing too many horror movies start this way we were a little on edge but made our way up to reception as we were both falling asleep already.
When we reached the front desk we were surprised to see smiling pleasant owners who upgraded our room for free and were very friendly. I felt very bad for expecting only bad things of their pride and joy but it just goes to show you can never judge a book by its cover.
A bit stressful and sleep deprived, but at least we returned safely just needing a bit more beauty sleep. Yet there was no time for catching up as I got back to Stacey’s just in time to be picked up by Shaun (Stacey’s brother) to go for my suit fitting. Before I knew it I was on a bus to Newcastle for Shaun’s stag do, but as juicy as it was you know I can’t say anything about the trip. The first law of the stag – sorry. What I can tell you is I had a great time and survived with only a few minor paintball bruises to the side, back, chest and legs.
On the Thursday of that week we managed to fit in a full days filming for a promotional advert at Ice Sheffield. A great day out and we really look forward to seeing the results from Rogue Frame Productions. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p6CBEpgWcjY&feature=youtube_gdata
Then to top it all off we had a fantastic weekend at Shaun’s wedding. Congratulations to them and I wish them many years of good fortune. It was a fantastic day and great to see all the families together. It pushed me and Stacey to get a few ideas together and think about the mammoth task of organising a wedding.
Anyway we are back in Poland now and had a week’s training back at base, just to see more great results. Let’s just hope the rest of our season can continue this way.
All the very best and speak soon.

Krynica training

We’re happy to be writing to you from the very south of Poland in a mountain town called Krynica. It’s a very picturesque place with its own natural spring water, quite famous and sold throughout Poland. If you were wondering yes we did bring our little cat Amber.

Stacey with our cat Amber in Prague.
We had a few days to get here so drove from our home town TorĂ¹n, up to Prague then on to Vienna, and finished up in Zakopane. Amazing drive and stopped over in three beautiful cities, if anything I just wish we’d had a bit more time and money to see more of the places.
The weather has been stunning with it not dropping below 30 degrees but maintaining a nice breeze, which is perfect when you are running for hours. We are here training under our Polish coaches and attending their annual Polish squad camp, which includes many various activities and is set out in a very organised manor so we can just get on and work!
After a long days training.
We’ve been running up mountains, plenty of core fitness sessions, gym workouts, aqua athletics, sports specific stuff and of course lots of ice time. It really is all the little things we appreciate though, just great to get back from training and food is prepared for you and the maids have tidied your room so you can just collapse in bed.
This is week two of the camp and the third season we’ve started on ice training in this way. We start very basic and easy, then by the end of the four week camp we build to our harder elements and full programs.
It’s always hard at the start of a season as just a few weeks out can really hit fitness and stamina hard. Our sport requires a lot of explosive power and this time of the year can put major strains on most your big muscle groups so you spend ten minutes getting down a flight of stairs for breakfast every morning.
But all is well and we are very happy with our progress so far, we are very keen to achieve major leaps in our game and can only get through hard work.
Anyway, have to get warmed up for the ice but will speak to you all soon.

Our Olympic Season!!!

The Start to our Season 08/09