Come for the children, stay for the sparkles and the top-notch twizzles: The Junior Grand Prix made its second stop in Lake Placid, New York, this past August. Gabb and I were fortunate enough to travel down there and get a first-row seat to all of the action that took place that weekend.
The decision to attend this competition was definitely one of our more impromptu, spur-of-the-moment ones; however, it still turned out to be one of the most rewarding competitions that we have attended. We both went into it having favourites that we were itching to watch -- Gabb was highly looking forward to seeing Utana and Shingo skate in person, and I was very dedicated to get a chance to watch Avonley and Vadym.
What both of us didn’t know at the time was that we would both walk out of the competition having collected many more favourites. If you would like to take a peak at what some of the performances that touched and moved us were, do take a look at this YouTube playlist. A moment from the competition that pleasantly surprised us both was the Korean ladies’ performances in the Free Program. They skated beautifully and Yeonjeong’s reaction at getting a silver medal was one of the purest expressions of unadulterated joy, making it one of the highlights for me. As well, we really enjoyed watching Seoyeon's tribute to Yuna with her Danse Macabre SP. It was touching to see Yuna's legacy being carried on through these young skaters.
Gabb wanted to make sure I mention that her highlight moment was when Utana and Shingo took her handmade plushies that were made to match their costumes and waved with them in the Kiss and Cry.
The ice dance field itself at this event was stellar. A pair that caught our eyes that we have not paid attention to before was Miku and Tyler. They had really fun programs and seamlessly pulled them off with the utmost expressions they could muster. They were so smiley! This and the fact they had fun costumes allowed them to photograph very well.
We at ITL have joked before about how we should start picking competitions according to the scenery nearby. If we were to one day make a list of the most scenic locations for competitions to take place, Lake Placid would definitely be on it. Even just the drive down to the rink was very picturesque - I was genuinely sad that I couldn’t simultaneously drive and take pictures.
If you ever do make it to Lake Placid for a competition, do try and make time to go outside and enjoy the area around. Within a 5 min walk is Mirror Lake, which has gorgeous views if you’re willing to haul yourself up there at 6 am in the morning. I will say that watching the early sunbathe the fog on top of the reflective lake was one of the most soothing moments of the competition, and definitely very much needed after spending 10 hours in a cold, big arena the previous day.
Also, if you’re a big Marvel fan like myself, you’ll be able to find the Iron Man rock right by the lake.
Not a far drive from the arena (and I say “drive” because otherwise it would be a 2 hour walk) is Whiteface Mountain. The area around Lake Placid is called the Adirondacks, and it is home to 46 high peaks (dotingly called the 46ers).
Whiteface is one of the highlights, sitting at 4867 feet. If you’re up for the challenge, the trail up takes around 3 hours to complete, and the one downwards takes around 2-2.5 hours. The peak is accessible to all, however: there is also the option of driving up the side of the mountain and then taking an elevator the last 300 feet to the peak. Either way, you will be rewarded by fantastic views of the many mountains around. Gabb and I had a plan of making it there, but our plans changed wildly the last day so were not able to pay it a visit; however it is close in distance to both of us so we will find our way back eventually!
Yet another recommendation that is a bit further away (but still feasible if you’re in the possession of a car) is Ausable Chasm. It is about an hour northeast, and if you’re driving back up to Canada, it is right along the route that takes you back. If you happen to make it during summer / early fall, you could actually tube down the chasm. One thing to note, however, is the hour long lines and that they take cash only. The ride down the chasm took 45 minutes, however, so it is worth it for what you’re paying to get in.
If you do get the chance to go to Ausable, another picturesque spot close by is Port Kent. It’s only an 8 min drive from the chasm, and has breathtaking views of the 46ers peaks from afar.
Tips for surviving Lake Placid
The number one tip I’d personally give is to bring a car (or hitch a ride with someone that has a car). There is free street parking on some streets, but parking at Crown Plaza was only $5 a day so that’s what we opted for. The venue itself has many food vendors and restaurants nearby, within a 5 min walk, which is great; but for actually getting in and out of the town, a car is pretty much a necessity. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself having to walk 20 min to take a 2 hour bus to take another bus to take you to a train station (this is what happened to one of our friends that we met at the competition). This is the main reason why the arena seats were so void - the location is not great for transportation and difficult to get to if you don’t live nearby like Gabb and I do. Another tip is to opt for cheap housing like hostels that usually have beds available for $30 USD. There are plenty of hotels closer to the arena, but they charge in the hundreds, which is not a feasible amount for many. The last tip is to try and meet as many people as you can! Everyone at the competition was very friendly and just as excited to watch the talented children as we were.
I hope this gave you a little bit of insight into how attending a Junior Grand Prix competition felt like. Until next time! This has been your favourite Canadians, Maryam and Gabb. (And, as always, thank you Ted).