So much has happened in the past few months!
I guess I will start with the most recent things that have happened… my coaching change. I know it may seem that it was a sudden decision but it was one that was made with a lot of thought and had been in the air the entire summer. The summer training was hard. Nikolai took on many students and traveled a lot so my time working with him was very limited. I felt that I was being put aside. I was not getting any lesson time and I was beating myself up every day with triple Axels. I was very frustrated. I tried to stay positive and continued to work hard. Just when I was to give up all hope, late in the summer, it clicked, I started landing my triple Axel. I was so happy, relieved, and thankful. It was such a breakthrough. I was feeling much better about myself but still knew that there were many things in my skating that needed to improve.
In the meantime, I was doing many triple axels and trying to improve the consistency rate on them. I ended up doing too many and before I knew it, I was injured. I was hurting too much to do any jumps. I had to start seeing a physiotherapist. When I would land a jump I would feel a pain go down my right leg and into my lower back.
After a short time of treatment I was able to jump again, but I had to keep it to a minimum to reduce the pain. In the meantime, my programs were still unfinished. Time had flown by and I was preparing to leave for Skate America. I wasn’t feeling very confident about myself or my skating going into the competition. I skated very poorly in the short program. It was decided that the short program would be scratched because it was so unfinished and I would go back to last season’s junior short for the next competition. The next day I fought through the long program. I even landed my first triple axel in competition! No one could ever say I didn’t do it in competition any more! That was a victory in itself.
After the competition was over I returned to my training rink in Hackensack, NJ… alone. Nikolai took some of his skaters to Russia to train. I felt that I had to save my season. I wasn’t going to let myself be satisfied with the excuse “it’s my first year senior.” I really stepped it up. I stopped feeling sorry for myself and started working for myself. I worked with my physiotherapist more and continued to feel better and better. I reworked both of my programs and wrote out a plan of what I needed to do to be ready for Cup of Russia. I followed it everyday.
When I arrived in Moscow, I was a completely different skater. I was a senior skater skating in a senior grand prix. I skated two strong programs and was really proud of myself. When the competition was over I had to take a step back. So much had happened. I thought about the situation I was in. I knew that I had to surround myself in a healthier environment. I needed to find a place where I knew I would improve and I needed a coach who could be there more often. I called Nikolai and told him my decision.
So there I was, officially without a coach. It was the end of November and I had to get ready f or Nationals. I felt I really needed to get away and just clear my head. In early December, I went to North Carolina and skated with Paul Wylie for a week at his rink. It was such a great mentoring experience and I really got a lot out of it. We talked about the many challenges athletes face in their careers and I became surer of myself and my skating again. A week later I returned to New Jersey and I realized that I could not stay there any longer. At first I did not know where to turn. Some people suggested working with David Wilson. My mom called David and left a message. A few days passed with no response. I felt dejected. It was rough. I called my Mom and told her how I was feeling, right in the middle of our conversation her call waiting rang. It was David.
Two days later my Mom and I were on our way to Canada. It was a week before Christmas. I worked with David and it was great. He asked me what I was looking for in a coach. I told him, and then he simply replied,”You’re going to love Brian.” The last couple of days before I went back home for Christmas I worked with Brian Orser and it went really well. I liked working with him. I liked the environment of all the coaches working together. I loved the positive energy. It was everywhere. On our way home I told my Mom that it was the greatest Christmas present I could have asked for. I was home for Christmas and really enjoyed the time home with all my brothers and sisters. A few days later I was on my way back to Toronto, this time for good. As I stood there waiting to get on the plane with my one-way ticket, I no longer had any doubts about whether I had made the right decision to change coaches. I knew it was the right decision.
I arrived on December 28th. Brian and I didn’t really want to change my Axel technique with so little time before Nationals. So we worked with what I had and tried to build it from there. When I had talked to Brian about the dates of Nationals he told me that he had already committed himself to an event with the adult skaters at the rink to a skating trip in Ottawa. We worked it out and it was decided that I would go to Nationals with Karen Preston, a former Canadian ladies champion and one of the coaches from the Cricket Club. I did my best to just keep focused and move forward. By the time Nationals came along I felt so much better about myself and my skating. I knew that no matter what happened at this competition this year, it was a great life learning year for me.
My short program wasn’t a complete mess but by the end of that night I was in 12th. I knew that I had to pull myself together for a really good free program. I skated out and went for everything I could. I was proud of that. In the end, I finished 6th in the long and 7th overall in my first trip to Nationals as a senior man. When the competition was over I was excited to go back to Toronto and start getting ready for Junior Worlds. I got back on the ice right away and David reworked both programs again, this time to fit the rules of a junior program. I also had the opportunity to work with Brian on my jump technique.
I am now getting ready for Junior Worlds and I am feeling really comfortable in my new setting. I am excited to compete in front of my Bulgarian fans again! I am working hard, and training with Yu-Na Kim hasn’t been bad either! 😉 I am so thankful. I am in a really good place. Everything happens for a reason. I wouldn’t have been able to make it through all the changes if it hadn’t been for a lot of people from the Ice House, my Mom, my friends, everyone at the Cricket Club, and so many messages from fans from all over the world! I now know when anything gets rough I can always look in the sky at my very own star! Thank you everyone! I can’t thank you enough! I promise to write again soon!
Thank you for reading my journal and for your support,