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October 17, 2007

Hey Everybody!

I finally have time to sit down and write a new journal!

I have been busy flying back and forth to Europe for Junior Grand Prix’s and it's been amazing. Before my first JGP this season in Romania, I worked very hard. By the time I left for the competition I felt I was really ready to go and do a great job. Getting to the airport was quite an adventure! We got there with less than an hour to spare, but luckily we got on the plane with no problems. The plane ride to Romania was long, over ten hours. When we arrived at the airport in Bucharest the second part of the trip began. There was a five hour car ride waiting for us! Since we arrived in Romania earlier than most of the team, Nikolai wanted to take a taxi instead of waiting for the bus. He found a taxi driver willing to take us and we all crowded up in the car. With me in the front seat with a bag in between my legs and everyone else stuffed in the back seat, we were ready to go.

Before I left, I had heard many stories about there being nothing to eat and that the hotel was dirty. When we got there I looked around the hotel and was very happy to see everything was clean and they had food to eat. To make it even better, the competition rink was right behind the hotel, only a two minute walk. It was strange to see this really nice rink positioned in such a place. There were stray dogs everywhere. The people were very nice, shy but friendly.

My practices went well. On the day of the short program I was nervous and anxious to compete. I skated a clean program and at the end of the day I finished that part of the competition in first place. It was a great feeling. I knew I had a big job ahead of me for the long program. The next day was just full of practice and the day after that was the long program. I skated my long well enough to expand my lead in the short program from 9 points to 19. I made a few small mistakes and know there is room for improvement. Even though there are a lot of things that I need to work on, I was still very happy with the results.

I had just won a gold medal at a JGP! Last year I wasn't even invited to compete and this year I had won. Standing on the podium, watching the American flag go up while listening to my national anthem was just an amazing feeling. Romania was a great experience.

Finishing in the top four usually guarantees that athlete a second assignment. My first place finish in Romania led me to my second assignment on the JGP. I had a few weeks to get ready for Bulgaria. I had been training really hard because this time I knew I had to be prepared to go there without Nikolai. I wouldn't be going alone though, I would be going with one of Nikolai's assistant dance coaches, Valter Rizzo. I like Valter a lot and I thought he would be a good substitute. My short program went well, and I ended up in first by a little more than a point. I skated my long program pretty well. I had a mistake on my seventh jump element and that mistake was enough to cost me the gold medal. Even though I didn't come home with the result I wanted, I was proud to win silver. In the end I am very happy that I had skated well enough to make it to the JGP Final.

When the competition was over all of the skaters placing in the top 4 were asked to skate in the exhibition. It was nice to just skate without putting pressure on yourself. We all went out for our final bow and everyone got off the ice except a few of us. I decided that I was going to go out and do the jump I missed in the competition, double axel-half loop-triple salchow. I landed it without a problem, of course when the competition was over but that's skating. Michelle Kwan put it best when she said, "The ice is slippery." After that, we all just goofed around, took pictures, and signed autographs for the locals who came and watched the show. I had a really good time in Bulgaria. The next day we all headed back home. I got to go home and visit my brothers and sisters in Pennsylvania for a day before I came back to Hackensack and began training the next day. I have a show coming up in Germany that I'm leaving for on Halloween and my next competition is the JGP Final in early December.

I also would just like to thank everyone who has been supporting me, whether through the New England Skaters Foundation, on a Blog, or in your good thoughts. Thank you! I also have to thank the staff and my friends at the Ice House, my family, skating friends and Figure Skaters Online.

I'll be sure to write soon.

Thank you everyone for reading and for your support,

Adam Rippon

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