My respective long and short costumes. 

The 2013-2014 season has finally come to an end. 

This season marked my return to the competitive scene after a year-and-a-half hiatus due to a nagging ankle injury. I returned back onto the ice in the late summer of '13, gradually readjusting to the feeling of blades on ice.  As I regained most of my strength in my right ankle, I slowly taught myself to jump again--starting with single jumps and on to doubles, and eventually, triples. 

I got new programs--"Clocks" by 2CELLO for my short and music from The Lone Ranger for the free skate--choreographed in late-July/early August, passed my Junior free skate test, and competed in a few local competitions in the fall. I received a bye to the 2014 Pacific Coast Sectional Championships in November and finished in 3rd place, which qualified me for Nationals in early January.  Concurrently, junior year was gearing up in full swing, and I was juggling a full schedule with four weighted classes along with the demands of training for Nationals. 

I placed a respectable 6th at the 2014 U.S. National Championships held in Boston with two clean performances--and triple-triples in both programs as well! I had very little expectations coming into Boston, as I was still re-familiarizing myself with the sport--training, jumping, and especially, competing--after taking such a long break. 

A few weeks later, I received news that I would be representing the USA at my first international competition, Challenge Cup, in The Hague, Netherlands. I was beyond ecstatic that I was selected onto Team USA, especially after receiving the coveted and my long-awaited Team USA jacket and other related team gear. And traveling to this competition would mark my first time setting foot on European soil--another added plus!

For the next month, I trained intensively. I was in better shape than I ever had been, both pre- and post-injury, and had increased the difficulty of both my programs with the addition of a 3Lz3T combination in both and a 3F in my free skate. However, two weeks before my departure date, my skates started breaking down. I frantically switched to a new pair of boots, which broke down in less than four days, and ultimately switched to a new brand (I'm now in Graf's). Throughout the process of having to break into new skates, I not only lost a week-and-a-half of precious training time but confidence in my jumps as well. Nonetheless, in the days leading up to my departure, I had regained most, if not all, of my confidence, and most importantly, my boots were in prime operative mode and everything seemed to be falling back into place at just the right time. 

I arrived in the Netherlands with hope and optimism that all would work out for the better. I ended up in 5th overall, after placing 3rd in the short and 6th in the long program. In the short program, I fell on the easiest jump, a 2A, near the end of my program. My free skate, in contrast, was a entirely different story. I slipped on the entrance flying sit spin early in the program and suffered a hard fall (and bruise) to my entire left side. I made several more mistakes after that, missing both 2A's, and unfortunately, I couldn't make it up point-wise to maintain a podium finish. Afterwards, despite the my strokes of bad luck leading up to this event, I was quite disappointed with not showing what I was capable of. I took this entire competition, however, as yet another learning experience that I could build off of in the future. On a brighter note, I did meet some amazing people throughout the competition, not only my teammates, but other competitors from various nations as well. 

With the end of the 2014 season marks the beginning of the upcoming 2014-2015 season. In the meantime, I'll be here at home in California continuing both my studies and training. I look forward to yet another exciting year in skating and hope to continue the momentum from the past season in the coming year. I'll keep you all updated!

- Kevin