It feels like Christmas came early this year, because my trip to Paris was that awesome. I won gold in the Trophée Eric Bompard, which means I get to go to Sochi, Russia, for the Grand Prix finals next week. And the best part (worst part?) was that I went into the program feeling sick -- really achy and out of it with a head cold. So just knowing that I could go in, not feeling 100 percent, and do as well as I did gives me a huge confidence boost. It was also so exciting to score well on the international scene. Sometimes in the States you have a bit of a hometown advantage and you feel like the scores are boosted, but skating in front of an international judging panel made my scores feel more legit.
And to top it all off, I absolutely love Paris. It’s one of my favorite cities in the world, so I made sure to take some time to see the sights and enjoy the lifestyle, which I don’t usually get to do at competitions. Every day, I walked across the street from my hotel to get a yummy sandwich—ham and cheese (and I’m pretty sure they sneak some butter in there) on a baguette. My first-ever trip to Paris was for my first Grand Prix competition, so it was also cool to think back to how far I’d come since then.
After Paris I flew to New York and got to perform live on the “Today” show. When I was little, I always thought being on that show was the epitome of “making it,” so let's just say it was pretty nerve-wracking. Natalie Morales interviewed me, and then I got to skate in front of a crowd at Rockefeller Center. Skating in that iconic rink -- where I could look up and see all the skyscrapers -- was definitely the best part of the whole experience. I do love to skate, after all! Afterward, it was really funny, because all of these high school friends came out of the woodwork, messaging me: “Hey I saw you on TV!”
While I was in New York, I also got to go to Staten Island to visit one of the schools I work with for my Classroom Champions charity. It was really cute. All the kids asked me the questions you’d expect -- How long have you been skating? Do you get dizzy doing spins? -- and then one kid in the back asks, “Do you play video games?” I told him I play Mario Kart. This is no lie: I can play a mean game of Mario Kart.
Since I’d just been on the East Coast, and the Sochi finals are right around the corner, I didn’t get to go home to Delaware for Thanksgiving. Some local friends in California invited me for dinner, though, so I definitely didn’t go hungry. I’ve been learning how to cook and bake, so I made my very own pumpkin pie for the festivities. Thankfully I’m blessed with a fast metabolism, so as long as I am skating and working out I don’t have to worry too much about eating holiday goodies. Pumpkin pie and hot chocolate are my guilty pleasures, and I couldn't live without them.
And now it’s all about preparing for the Grand Prix finals. The competition starts next Thursday, and it will be a great opportunity to see what the rink is like in Sochi and get comfortable before the madness of the Olympics sets in. I'm so excited to see the venue where the 2014 Games are going to happen. I can’t wait to just soak it all in, imagining what it would be like to compete there again in a little over a year.