Oct. 15, 2010
ROTTERDAM, Netherlands -
Stanford junior Nicole Pechanec and freshman Kristina Vaculik will compete at the World Gymnastics Championships Oct. 17-24 in Rotterdam, Netherlands. This is the third World Championships for Pechanec, who competes for the Czech Republic, and the first for Vaculik, of Canada.
Pechanec is writing from Rotterdam, where she offers insights into her preparation, and the meet, which begins Oct. 17.
First of all, getting on the bus for the first day of early practice, I automatically let out a "yeah SWG!". Since then, I have had to keep myself from doing it again. I couldn't keep myself from dancing during podium training and looking strangely out of place, however.
Rewinding back to Sunday, I arrived in Amsterdam after an eight-hour flight from Newark and a six-hour flight from San Francisco a few days prior. I, along with my mom (who came as my coach, travel agent, masseuse, photographer, etc.), waited in Amsterdam for the rest of the Czech delegation to arrive that evening. After a long bus trip to Rotterdam due to a minor car/bus accident (brought back memories of 2006 Worlds where our bus took out the side of a parked Mercedes), I was unbelievably jet lagged and thought I was ready for bed. Turns out, I slept a good hour that first night but I was still excited for practice. On Monday, we arrived at our training hall to a bright-eyed Kristina, one of our freshman who is also on the Canadian team. We had a good short practice, except for my unexpected nap during the vault rotation.
Tuesday, after a 6:30 a.m. wake up, it was off to practice again. It was a tough, but successful, morning workout. That afternoon we were off to an even longer, harder practice. Two-a-days definitely bring back strong memories of the old days. Half of my body was sore by the time practice ended due to the new, hard, and completely different equipment. The bars are bouncier, the floor like a giant mattress, the landings are rock hard, usually causing the timing of our skills to change.
In college gymnastics, we compete on different equipment every weekend. Therefore, there is no point of even mentally adapting, and I have to say this acquired ability has come in handy. As we finish up training, I sit and talk to Kristina a little. In the meantime, the U.S. and Russian girls arrive for their practice. To better understand what it is like, the training halls are in a huge building located behind the main arena. Inside, short temporary walls divided the building into six gyms -- three for women, three for men -- each with two sets of equipment. With 71 countries competing, there is gymnastics all day long.
With Tuesday finally over and my internal clock maybe somewhere in Europe by now, it was time to get ready for Wednesday's podium training. This practice is the only time we have to train in the competition arena and test the equipment before the actual competition. Judges watch and "practice" their judging while we go through a few routines the way we would in the actual meet. Podium training went well and we had the rest of the day to finally explore Rotterdam a bit. The architecture is modern whereas the culture is rich, traditional Dutch.
That is all for now. I do have a few shout outs from the Canadian team to Alyssa Brown, a SWG junior. I also met Shona Morgan's Australian coach who didn't find it funny that Shona called sunglasses "sunnies" on our trip to Yosemite ... I guess he is kind of used to it.