Greetings from Rouen, France

Tuesday, January 29, 2013 started out like any other day, but ended with our girls on the other side of the ocean.
We all met at Anaheim ICE for a 2 hour practice.  The girls sported their red, white and blue outfits.  It was a sight to see.  Practice went well as the coaches couldn’t have asked for a better last practice before we left for our travels. Then, it was on to LAX.  Our plane was to depart at 3:50pm, so the girls had time to go home and prepare for the trip.
The girls arrived one by one at the airport checking in as they arrived.  We all gathered in a common waiting area until everyone showed up.  But wait, someone is missing.  One of our girls called and said they had ordered a taxi (van size) to take the 3 passengers and 5 large pieces of luggage (including our dresses) to the airport.  What showed up at their doorstep was a Prius.  After going round and round with the taxi service, the clock kept ticking by and no taxi van.  Check-in for this international flight was going to close at 2:50 and it was already 2:00pm and the family who lives 40 minutes from the airport hadn’t left their house yet.  We suggested they just drive to the airport themselves, but 2 of the family cars are in the shop and the only car they had left was a 2 seater with no space for luggage.  They said they would find a way to make it.  What to do?  It was now a race against the clock. Kathi and I took the remaining skaters through security while Dave, Kathi’s husband, waited for our last skater.  2:50pm click on the overhead clock and we had not heard as to whether or not our 20th skater would make the flight.  If they hadn’t checked in by now, they were going to miss the flight.  Our flight was starting to board, and no skater.  I told Kathi that I was going to go back to security and see if they are there.  My eyes were scanning as far back into the security line as I could see.  Looking for our skater…. and there she was… putting her shoes back on having just passed through security… a sigh of relief.

The flight was a quick 10-hour journey.  For those who slept on the flight, it was over in a blink of an eye.  For those who stayed up to watch movies, well, let’s just say, it wasn’t so quick for them. Earlier that day, before practice, Kathi received a text from our team leader, Dann, who indicated that our 1st practice which was supposed to be later in the evening got moved up to 4:30pm.  Having arrived at the airport around 11:30am, the girls would have to go straight to the rink.  Plenty of time, right?  Well, one of our bags didn’t make the trip with us.  Unfortunately (or should I say fortunately) it was Kathi’s and not one of the girl’s.  All skates had arrived and all dresses had arrived.  Although Kathi was a good sport and the lose of her bag didn’t seem to bother her too much, it did take us some time for the airline to try to locate the bag and then have Kathi fill out all the paperwork.  (well, they actually didn’t locate it.  They have no idea where it is) So, it is now 12:30pm and the bus is loaded and we are ready to go… but wait, Kathi reminded the girls that they needed to pull their skates out of their suitcases so that the bus could go directly to the arena for our practice.  We felt it would be better to get the skates now than to do it at the arena when we arrived.  So, we unloaded the bus, got our skates, and reloaded the bus. This particular group of girls travels well.  Although these situations may be stressful for the common traveler, our girls took it all in stride.  Soaking up each moment trying to make a memory…. or was it that they were comatose from not sleeping on the plane?

Ok, now we are off.  We told the girls that they were not allowed to sleep on the bus in order for them to be able to sleep later that night and readjust their internal clocks.  Kathi and I had to stand up for pretty much 1/2 the drive waking up skaters who were dozing off.  By the time we arrived at the rink, no one was sleeping.  The excitement of having our first practice on competition ice woke everyone up. We walked into the arena, and our team leader, Dann, greeted us.  He explained to Kathi and I that everything is running smoothly at the rink.  He filled us in on all the inside scoop about the arena such as by tomorrow, there will most likely be no more toilet paper in the arena bathrooms and that he has a personal supply in his backpack if we need any.   Ok.  Then he said, some of the toilet seats may not have seats at all and that it may be a little difficult for our girls… ok.  We felt it best to wait and tell our girls this information later tonight. So we stretched outside and warmed up next to the river Seine.  It was a beautiful day.

warm-up nice place

Hearing all the other teams talking to each other in their native tongue really started to make you feel a part of the international experience. We took the ice and did our 30-minute practice working on getting on and off the ice, our moves in the field, and a couple of no-hold run throughs.

But the most special part came at the end of practice.  Team Hayden had practiced before us and stayed to watch us do our practice.  At the end of our practice, Hayden did a ‘USA”cheer for us.  That was soo cool.  The smiles on some of our girls’ faces were beaming.  At that moment in time, to have Hayden cheer for us, really brought home the feeling that we are not the ICE’Kateer team competing against other senior teams… but rather, Hayden and the ICE’Kateers were a united team, a team cheering and rooting for each other….a team that represents Team USA!!!!  This is going to be an awesome week.
Before we left the rink, Dann, our team leader had a quick meeting with the girls.  He introduced the team doctor and assistant team leader.  He informed the girls on some safety issues such as not wearing our Team USA clothing outside of the rink and that although we cannot understand the other teams when they talk in their native tongue, they most likely can understand us so be careful what you say.

Finally, after leaving Los Angeles 17 hours ago, we arrived at our hotel.  After a short walk to a local restaurant, were the waitresses only spoke French, our day was complete.  (Lucky for us, Maryssa and Danielle took French in school and were able to communicate for us).  I am trying to get a video of them speaking in French before our trip is over.  Always learning something new about our skaters every day.
So, it is midnight now and I have to say, I am just a wee bit tired.  Too tired to even proofread this e-mail, so if there are any gramatical errors or spelling errors, I just hope you understand.

Day one down… 5 more to go.
Good night and Go ICE’Kateers – no wait..
Go TEAM USA!!!!!
John

 

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