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April 20, 2009

I think a good start to this post would be an apology. I realize I haven't written in FAR too long. This is bad. I guess the only way to remedy this situation would be to fill you in on some of my happenings from the last year.

Well it looks as though I left quite a cliff-hanger at the end of my last post about my 2008 Nationals experience. I'm sure all of you couldn't handle the suspense any longer and were forced to look up results online. Just in case, I'll give you the inside scoop.

St. Paul Nationals was such an amazing experience overall. I skated one of the best long programs of my career(a personal best score) and even got a standing ovation by the audience. It was a very overwhelming experience to say the least. I'm glad I survived my first year as a "Senior Man"!

After returning back to my little practice rink and starting the daily grind once more, I started thinking about my life and the sport of figure skating in a different way. I thought about how far I had come over the past 10 years, but thought even more about how much further I still had to go. Part of me felt burned out. Exhausted. Could I really last six more seasons of intense training and competitions? I convinced myself that I wasn't up for the challenge anymore and that I wanted a break from figure skating. This was an incredibly difficult decision to make, but I thought it was what I needed most to help me grow as a person. Four weeks later of me staying off the ice, more startling news shook my life.

Problems between my two coaches, Ann Eidson and Ted Engelking, had reached an all-time high resulting in the departure of Ted Engelking from the St. Paul Figure Skating Club. This tragedy made me rethink my decision to take a break from skating. I decided to retake the ice and pursue my athletic dreams once more. My loyalty and love for Ted forced me to follow his direction for the future. He was without a rink to teach at and was not sure what was in store for him in the near future. He suggested I travel to Ann Arbor, Michigan to work with coach, Doug
Haw, so that I would have a stable facility to train at.

A few days later I was on a plane to Michigan with my bags packed for a 2-week trial period. Those weeks passed quickly and I decided to stay. I loved everything about the rink in Ann Arbor and my skating felt completely reenergized. My skating goals seemed attainable again. Now that 10 months have passed, I have come to the conclusion that I absolutely made the right decision to stay. I am surrounded by loving and hard-working athletes (Emily Samuelson, Evan Bates, Madison and Keiffer Hubbell, Lynn Kriengkrairut, Logan Giulietti-Schmitt) and am under the
influence of an incredibly dedicated new coach, Doug Haw.

I can't tell this story without expressing my never-ending respect and adoration for my former coaches, Ted Engelking and Ann Eidson. They inspired and guided me to accomplish more than I ever thought possible. I owe everything to them and their astounding knowledge of the sport and of the world. I will never forget the impact they've had on my life.

I went on to place 8th at my Junior Grand Prix event in France, 2nd at the Eastern Great Lake Regionals, and 2nd at the Midwestern Sectionals (on a bad foot, I might add). Things were moving along nicely! My next task would be the 2009 National Championships in Cleveland, Ohio. This Nationals would be different for me. Instead of focusing on external things like placement and judge feedback, I would be focusing 100% on my love of the sport. The year had been a year of personal growth. I had overcome many huge obstacles and just wanted to prove to myself that I could go out on a National stage and compete without worry.

I completed my mission. Although my short program didn't go exactly how I would've liked, I performed the emotional program well enough to feel a sense of pride. My long program went much better with an almost clean skate. To have come so far and still be on my feet, smiling, felt so great. I placed 18th in the short program, 9th in the long program, and 13th overall. 13th two years in a row? Hmmm...must be my lucky number or something!

And now it's April 20th. My year is far underway. The puzzle is starting to come together. I am completely satisfied with my life in Ann Arbor and am SO happy for the upcoming season to start. Keep your eyes open! I recently got my two new programs choreographed by my choreographer of four seasons, Svetlana Kulikova, and am thrilled to tell everyone about them. My short program is a unique number set to Egyptian and Turkish belly dancing music. Don't worry... I won't be showing my bellybutton. Will I be emulating fellow Colombian and belly dancing master, Shakira? Guess you'll have to find out for yourselves. My long program is a very mature and masculine rendition of Libertango. Yes, I've skated to this music before (my '07-'08 short program), but this is a departure from the Bond version that I used last time. I don't want to say too much more about my two new creations, but just be prepared for a new and invigorated Eliot. Also, did I mention that I cut all my hair off to a nice 1/2 inch length? Well...I did.

Life outside of the rink? BLASPHEMY! In case you haven't already discovered my YouTube channel, I thought I would talk about it a little bit here. Last spring I started making comedy sketch videos on my laptop and posting them on the internet for the whole world to see! Crazy? I know. Acting has always been a passion of mine and this has been a perfect way for me to show my skating fans that I'm not just a one-trick pony. I try to make new videos as frequently as possible, but apparently my creative juices don't work as well if I'm not on the ice, so coming up with video ideas is quite difficult. I would LOVE hearing some of your ideas!

Random thoughts and obsessions at the moment: This is a little late for me to be talking about his, but it means so much to me that I really don't care. If you haven't already seen the Oscar winning film "Slumdog Millionaire" yet, YOU MUST. I saw it a total of six times in theaters and personally believe that I didn't waste a penny. I am a HUGE movie buff and now consider this movie to be one of the best that I have ever seen.

Also, I would highly recommend reading some of author Chuck Palahniuk's novels. After seeing the movie "Fight Club" I became highly interested in knowing more about the literary mastermind who could create such a dark and twisty story. I'm currently reading his novel "Rant" after finishing "Fight Club", "Choke", and "Invisible Monsters". Needless to say...he is an amazingly gifted wordsmith.

In case you haven't noticed, I have an extremely addictive personality. See: Figure skating, Harry Potter, KT Tunstall, the TV show "Dexter", and now Chuck Palahniuk. I guess being addicted to books isn't such a bad thing, right?

I know I have been terrible with keeping you all updated on my life, but I promise this year will be different. No more 12 month periods without a peep from this guy! Thank you all for your constant support of my dreams. This year is my year.

 

Much love,

Eliot Jon Jairo Vargas Triana Halverson
(One of the many perks of being adopted- you get tons of names!)

 

 

Eliot Halverson Online is written and produced by Eliot Halverson
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Photos are courtesy of Leah Adams and Eliot Halverson unless otherwise noted.

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