Journey Down the Memory Lane

Trip Start Feb 14, 2010
Trip End Feb 21, 2010

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Flag of Canada  , Ontario,
Wednesday, February 10, 2010

As promised in the first entry, I finally got around to talking in more detail about the events I'll be attending in Vancouver (I'm attending Snowboarding Half Pipe events in Cypress Mountain but that's a different story, let me focus on skating for now.) - Men's Short Program (SP) and Free Skate (FS) and how big a deal it is for me.


I already mentioned my first skating-related memories from the 1988 Winter Games in Calgary. Ever since then I've always been watching skating whenever it was on TV but didn't start following it closely and in detail until ten years later when I watched every second of the coverage of the European Championships in Milan due to being sick and in bed that week. I remember being pleasantly surprised by a Polish Pairs team of Dorota Zagorska and Mariusz Siudek who finished 4th. They really caught my interest and I couldn't wait to see more of them. From that mpment on, I started counting days toward the following major skating event, and that was the 1998 Winter Games in Nagano, then the World Championships in Minneapolis, then the next one, and the next one... Over 10 years later I still do the countdown whenever a skating event gets close. Some things just never change.


When I grew out of diapers and was allowed to travel on my own, as in: without my family, in the final year of high school, my friend from Warsaw, Monika, talked me into joining her and an international group of friends in Ostrava, Czech Republic for the 2003 ISU Junior World Championships. Since the city's located just a short train ride across the boarder from where I used to live back then, I just couldn't turn the offer down. Due to school schedule I was only able to attend the events from Thursday on and that meant the first event I'd see would be the Men's FS. On the train to Ostrava I kept telling myself not to get too excited as it was 'only' a junior competitions and it's not likely to be any good. Need I say I was terribly wrong in my expectations?


I remember walking into that huge and bright arena and thinking how lucky and happy I was finally being able to experience skating live. Just being there and looking at the empty ice surface... I felt like a little kid in a candy store. To make the things even better, the competition that night surpassed my expectations. One of the skaters who did delivered a near flawless performance, including a flawless quad, was Alexander Shubin of Russia, in second going into the FS. After he’d received the marks (5.8 – 5.9 in both scores) I was thinking to myself “I feel bad for the 'American guy', by the name of Evan Lysacek, who was warming up on the ice as Shubin's marks were being announced. I was sure he would just fall apart under such tremendous pressure. Well, as it turned out, I couldn’t have been more wrong! He just went out there and gave a great performance, landed all his jumps and managed to BEAT Shubin in the second mark. And even though it was not enough for gold, it was enough to win him a new fan for life: myself - as cheesy as it sounds. But those of you who know me, know very well that I'm not lying in the least. ;) I still remember being wowed by that performance and most of all, by Evan’s mental toughness and determination that he seems to have maintained until this day. I'm glad I discovered him early enough to see him develop as a skater and grow as a competitor.


A few months later I moved to Canad to join my parents who had already been living in Toronto for a few years at that time. And that's where my addiction to skating really took off in a big way. In October that year I attended my first senior event, the 2003 Skate Canada in Mississauga, Ontario, just a few minutes away from my home. It was an amazing experience, even more so since it was my first opportunity to watch my idols, Zagorska and Siudek, live and meet them in person. At the same time, I got addicted to traveling to skating events from that moment on. They came the 2004 Four Continents Championships in Hamilton, 2004 Skate Canada in Halifax, a whole lot of shows (better and worse), 2005 Canadian Nationals in London, ON, 2005 Junior Worlds in Kitchener, 2006 Canadian in Ottawa, ON, my first World Championships (2006 in Calgary, AB), 2007 Grand Prix Final in Torino, 2008 World Championships in Goteborg, 2008 Skate America in Everett, WA, 2008 Skate Canada in Ottawa, ON, 2009 Four Continents in Vancouver (Olympic test event), 2010 Worlds in Los Angeles (dream come true), Skate America and Skate Canada this season, 2010 US Figure Skating Championships in Spokane, WA (funny how of all US States Washington is the one I've already visited so many times! That's one of the 'you know you're a skating fan when...' moment, for sure!). If it's not for the opportunity to live in this fantastic country I don't think I'd have ever had a chance to experience all that and more.


And here I am in 2010, just a day away from the greatest adventure, the Olympic Games. I've never attended an event of this magnitude so it's hard to imagine what it's going to be like. I should find out soon enough.


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