Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Marta Karolyi and the girls - Jesolo Trophy

I really enjoyed seeing Marta Karolyi at the Jesolo gymnastics meet. She is currently the National Team Coordinator for USA Gymnastics. I remember when her husband, Bella, came to GTC (Gymnastics Training Center in Rochester, NY - where I grew up doing gymnastics for 14 years)... He came with Dominique Moceanu and I was starstruck by both of them!!

It was really cool to be so close to Marta at the Jesolo Trophy competition and watch her coach and watch her interact with the gymnasts and other coaches. I really like that this international competition includes some of the top gymnasts in the world but is held at a small venue.

Marta has a standard position seen often throughout the meet: standing with hands on hips or arms crossed and carefully observing every move.

I loved watching Marta's reaction to big skills or the end of a routine (and how it differed for a stuck landing or one with a big step at the end). A "Marta-nod" is a good thing and a big deal!

Marta, overseeing beam warm-ups for the Juniors: 

Marta, overseeing as gymnast as she competes on the vault:

Marta speaking with (and presumably congratulating) the junior gymnasts on a great competition:

Marta with her arm around Gabby Douglas at the end of the Seniors' competition:

Marta, hugging Simone Biles on Sunday as a congratulations for a GREAT floor routine, worth 1st place... finishing up her time competing in Jesolo!

Jesolo Trophy Gymnastics Competition - SENIORS

Saturday afternoon was the team competition for the senior girls. The USA team was amazing! (...and won 1st place.)

Included on the team were Olympic gymnasts from the 2012 team: Gabby Douglas, Kyla Ross, and Ali Raisman - all vying for a spot on the 2016 Olympic team. I was most excited, however, to see Simone Biles. She is the current (two-time!) World Champion and is really amazing... and consistent! She somehow does ever move better, higher, and stronger than everyone else. She even has a move named after her on floor - The Biles is a double layout half.

Team USA

Gabby Douglas warming up on the uneven bars:

Pretty cool to see so many of these girls in person... in the same room...
Above, you can see Marta Karolyi, Ali Raisman, Kyla Ross, Simone Biles, and (ready to go on beam) Gabby Douglas... plus plenty more. Yeah!

The evening ended with Team USA winning gold.
'Gold' at the Jesolo Trophy in Italy includes a golden Venetian mask as the trophy...
...and Murano glass necklaces instead of medals for individual awards... very cool.

Jesolo Trophy Gymnastics Competition - JUNIORS

I purchased tickets for the Jesolo Trophy gymnastics meet... to see the senior gymnasts compete and then the individual finals the next day. Awesome enough -- the junior gymnasts' competition was free and open to the public!

Basically - that means that I watched gymnastics from 9:30am - 8:00pm on Saturday, with a two-hour break over the lunch time. Perrrrrfect.

Below are some of my favorite photos that I snapped during the juniors' warm-up and competition:

The 6 U.S. junior girls lined up and ready to compete:

A bit blurry since she's in (fast!) motion... but can you see the pink leotard above the coach in the red t-shirt towards the middle of the photo below?? -- the flying girl is doing a release move and, believe it or not, going to re-catch the bar from there! This is during warm-ups... the rest of the girls await their turn.

Team USA lined up to present themselves to the judges for balance beam:

Team USA - junior girls... huddling after completing all four events

1st place!


I just had one of the best weekends!! The gymnastics competition in Lido di Jesolo was amazing.

I really liked that the Pala Arrex arena is small in size. I sat in the 6th row the first day and the 3rd row the second! It was pretty amazing to be SO close to these amazing gymnastics... and Marta Karolyi  : )

Two full days of gymnastics - yes, please! Growing up, this sport was a huge part of my life... for 14 years. It's fun to be back in 'that world' for a bit and watch the top gymnasts in the world... compete live and in person.

Local gymnasts from the area put on a beautiful opening act. Below are a couple pictures showing pride for Italy... they later included flags for each of the 5 countries participating. 

Countries competing included: USA, Canada, France, Australia, and the host: Italy

The loudest cheers were definitely for Italy... and Simone Biles (of the U.S.).
The crowd was very supportive of the U.S. gymnasts though. They are top in the world (and ended up winning this competition). One young fan was all about supporting the American gymnasts!...

This girl's sign was my favorite - it says: Team USA, you slay.

Fans crowding the U.S. girls as they attempt to board the bus at the end of the day:

Friday, March 27, 2015

talk about the OFF SEASON - Lido di Jesolo

Lido di Jesolo is about 30 km away from Venice. It is along a stretch of beach and is mostly built around tourism... but not this time of year!

I had a feeling that the end of March was still too early to be considered part of the 'season' here - so I've come packed with food and my own water... just in case. I'm glad I did. I was able to find a pizzeria open for dinner (a great one, actually) but, overall, this place feels deserted. I kind of like it.  : P

During the summer season (May - August) this place is packed. There are hotels all over, as well as shops, cafes, and restaurants.

Right now, everything is closed up (like... pretty much boarded up). I even saw an arcade that has all of its games pushed together in the middle of the big room and the claw machines have no toys inside... just empty.

The hotel's pool is definitely off duty...

Most hotels are all completely closed...

Shops boarded up...

Most hotels are closed in this area. -- And I think I might be the only person in the hotel I'm staying at. It's a bit weird. For what I am paying each night, it's probably not worth them being open... nor for preparing whatever the "free breakfast" is going to consist of tomorrow morning. When I got to my room, the fridge was unplugged and the place smelled of chlorine.

I'm interested to see how things are closer to the arena tomorrow when I walk down.

The pizza place is about 3 blocks from my hotel and it was listed on Wikitravel as a good place for pizza. It was delicious - but the best part was the inside of the place! The name of the pizzeria is Ristorante Mille Luce, which translates to the One thousand lights. There are lights and lamps all over the place... as well as pretty much everything else you can think of! License plates line one wall; keys are on another; old fashioned cash registers labeled with lire; buddhas... etc. etc. It was chaotic in an artsy and cozy way.

Lido di Jesolo, Italy

I arrived to the Ute Hotel and promptly went outside to scope the views from the balcony.

Little lovely view of the sea to the right...

...and mountains to the left!
(The AquaLandia slides have a great view too!)

The hotel and room is very basic. It's a great price and just 3.5 kilometers from the arena where the gymnastics meet is that I'm here for. I figure that will be a nice walk along the waterfront!

Last year I tried looking around for gymnastics in Italy. Italy usually has a good team and strong gymnasts, so I figured there must be some. I did find a competition that looked good... but I couldn't find how to purchase tickets... all of the information was in Italian and all there seemed to be was a poster for the event... and then I stopped thinking of going when I realized it's not in Venice but about 30 kilometers away.

This year I've been watching interviews and videos from the Karolyi training camps. The girls each talked about the Jesolo Trophy meet in Italy... and how that is the first big meet that they are all training to be ready for. WHAT?!? That's the meet!! Once I began hearing how big this meet is... and even just that it's real, I decided I needed to make it work this year.

I searched and collected information. The assistant in the library at school helped me purchase the tickets online (it was all in Italian and required two different websites, a phone call, two separate transactions, and the postal service). I booked a hotel, bought train tickets, and am now HERE! Stoked.

The meet has been going on the past two days but I have tickets for Saturday and Sunday - the finals. The U.S. team actually hasn't had to compete yet to qualify, since they won the meet last year - they automatically qualify.

Three of the girls from the 2012 Olympic team are here - and are hoping to make the 2016 team... also, Simone Biles is here - she's been the World Champion the past two years and is the "it" girl in gymnastics right now. I'm really excited to see them in person and have two full days of gymnastics.

Some pictures of the beachfront:

Monday, March 23, 2015

Porta Romana, Milan

I enjoyed a walk around the Porta Romana area in the city a couple weekends ago. It's a historic area where a lot of the teachers at my school live. It's a definite possibility when I move into the city... there is a lot to do and it is also near to the tram that goes toward school.

A smoke-and-reading break for the tram driver:

Sunday, March 22, 2015

one night in LONDON

I was able to meet up with two friends while I was in London for a night! Zach and Elisa were teachers at ASM with me last year but now live and work in London. We went out for a dinner - delicious Indian food! and then went on a walk through the city. It was really nice to see them  : )

A view of Tower Bridge... while standing on London Bridge!

Malmaison Hotel, London

Leaving Bournemouth, I took the train up to London. I spent the night in the city before my flight the next day. This was my first time back to London since the job fair - where I signed on for my current job in Milan! I really like London and was happy to be back.

I had booked a hotel for one night. I used hotels.com and found a great deal on a hotel that looked really nice and had a good price. (Looking at this hotel again, the price has tripled! I'm not sure why there was a deal when I was there, but very happy that that was the case.)

The Malmaison in London is gorgeous. It is in a small square very close to the Barbican metro station and within walking distance to the river and many sights.

I've splurged on nice accommodations before, especially while living in Southeast Asia and gorgeous places were so affordable. The Malmaison was gooooorgeous. The room was eloquent and comfortable AND had an espresso machine!