2.457 athletes from 52 Nations travelled to East Anatolia to participate in eleven different sports at the World University Games. It was the first Universiade for some of the 21 German athletes, for me and a few others it was the second. No matter how often one has been there it is always guaranteed to be an experience. For me it was a competition filled with lots of obstacles, bad look and still nonetheless good humour. It all started with the journey there. All my flights were delayed; I was stranded in Ankara airport for eight hours before I could fly on to Erzurum to finally be in my room in the Athletes Village at 2am without my suitcases. They had not managed to arrive in Turkey from Munich.
The next day way the day of the draw and I drew number 3 from 34, which in the end turned out to be number 2 from 32: So a really good number! In the evening I watched our German men in Ski Jumping before I went to the airport to pick up my coach and my suitcases, or so I thought. At the airport only one suitcase was waiting for me and that was the one with the dresses but not the skates.
My coach and I decided to spend the next day with a tour of the city but there was only one problem, none of the many Turkish helpers knew of the tour never mind where the bus departed for it. But one of the helpers took pity on us and so we drove into town with the normal shuttle bus and our personal guide. We went into an exhibition where I painted a picture like the old traditions or should I say I dropped paint into water that then spread like oil, which after connecting them with lines later created a picture, very interesting and exceptional. Outside again we enjoyed a nice hot cup of chai (tea) and Turkish delight before we visited a big mosque (but only from the outside as women are not allowed in). From the castle ruins we went on to the “Medal Plaza”, where the team celebrate their medal winners of the day every evening. We also celebrated that evening as our snow boarder Selina Jörg won Gold. At the end of the city tour we warmed ourselves up in the Erzurum house. There, we had a photo taken with two women and a veil hat on our heads. This photo made it into the Universiade newspaper the next day.
In the meantime it was Wednesday, my competition was due to start the next day and I still had no skates. They were now searching for my suitcase worldwide. Until this day I had still not trained so we decided to train with the spare skates, which my coach had brought with her. In short: it didn’t work at all. After the training I had to have my skates sharpened as one of the edges was extremely sliding away. In the evening the Organising Committee agreed to let me go on the ice again. I was now no longer sliding all over the place but I couldn’t stop anymore either! They must have given me a hockey grind. In that half an hour I at least managed to jump a few doubles but there was no chance I was going to do an axel. In the evening my coach then tried to take some of the grind off with a grind stone.
3:15am my suitcase with the skates arrived in the village in front of my room. We had only just decided to compete with the old skates and now this, what should one do? Skate with the reserve pair, which I had on for a total of one hour or try to get used to the normal ones in the 25min of training on the competition day? My normal skates were softer and had a lot less grind on them. So I decided to go with the reserve pair. In training I somehow managed to do a triple Toe, the Sal wasn’t working at all and the Axel only with extreme concentration, hardly any speed and luck. Skate the comp or not? After all this was to be my last competition. I will skate! We took the grind stone back to hand to take more of the grind away and the difficult entry into the axel was completely removed, only a nice and slow entry remained.
In the warm up I finally managed to land a triple Sal. I then skated the last short program of my carrier with my reserve skates and a terrible feeling on the jumps. As I landed the triple Toe in the short, I was so excited and overwhelmed that I jumped the triple Sal with lots of enthusiasm. The Axel was a shaky number but apart from a little touch down with the left foot on landing, astonishingly good. I thus skated with an almost clean short in 11th place. In the evening I then started to notice that I was getting ill. It was amazing that I had lasted that long without an illness, as the whole German team was ill. Some of our athletes I saw for the first time on the closing ceremony as they we’re ill in bed before then.
On the day of the long my nose was blocked and I could hardly breathe without strong pains in my chest. During training we only did the necessary thing with a lot of breaks in between. Our team doctor spoke of the “Erzurum Bronchitis”, as the whole athlete’s villages was ill. Skate the long or not? Everyone who at least knows me a little knows that I would have never called the long off. I got this far and then I will also manage this hurdle. With nose spray, Turkish cough syrup and Paracetamol, I tried to get through the long. The result is known, (18th). Once I got on the ice, as the last skater of my group, my legs were like jelly. But to call of the long then would have been unfriendly. After the long my couch told me that this competition reflects my skating carrier, it was full of ups and downs with good and bad luck.
We women spent the last day of our journey in Turkey in a Turkish spa, the Hammam. We swam in mineral water and were served food and chai from the pool side. Afterwards the ladies of the spa scrubbed us down from head to toe. Refreshed and recovered we were now looking forward to the closing ceremony in the evening. Just like the opening ceremony, it took place in a stadium not far from the athlete’s village. Already before hand the big swap under the athletes began. Everything was swapped, from hats and gloves over t-shirts to trousers and jackets. Hardly anyone was still wearing their original track-suite, everything was mixed and matched.
Early the next day was the departure. This was interesting as everyone was leaving together and the little airport in Erzurum only had two baggage controls! Once arrived in Ankara our flight our connecting flight was delayed and the longer we waited the more delayed it was. Four hours behind schedule we were on our way to Germany. The delay in Ankara caused us to miss our connecting flights from Munich and thus we were all to stay a night in a hotel before flying on early in the morning.
All in all it was a very nice competition, despite the sometimes very questionable organisation. But once one has got used to the “Turkish five minutes” there is nothing that can shock you.
Results in Short
Kristina Gorschkova/Vitali Butikov won the Ice Dance event in front of the newly created Turkish/Ukrainian pair Alissa Agafonova/Alper Ucar and Nadezhda Frolenkova/Mikhail Kasalo (Ukraine). Nobunari Oda from Japan won the Gold medal with almost an advantage of 20 points in front of the Russian Sergei Voronov and his team mate Daisuke Murakami. In the Ladies Event won the French Candice Didier in front of Sonia Lafuente (Spain) and Shion Kokobun (Japan). In the Pairs event from Moskau Lubov Iliushechkina/Nodari Maisuradzen took expectedly the lead in front of the two Chinese teams Huibo Dong/Yiming Wu and Yue Zhang/Lei Wang.