Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Hochstein headed to Omaha with a new team at the boards

Grant Hochstein has made some big changes from last year, moving across the country and finding new coaches for the first time in his career.  His best Senior finish came in 2010 when he finished 7th and he has finished 12th the last two seasons.  He won the pewter medal at Eastern Sectionals to qualify for nationals.  He talked to me about his coaching change, triple axels and quads and his goals for nationals.

Since last season, you've switched coaches to Karen Kwan-Oppegard and Peter Oppegard and moved to California.    Why did you decide to make that change and what effects has it had on your skating?  
Switching to Karen and Peter has been a really great thing for me. It was a difficult decision for me, having been with Lindsay since the beginning, but I knew it was something I had to do. My career had kind of plateaued and I just felt like it was time to do something about it. I wasn't okay with being in the middle anymore. Lindsay was my first and only coach, and my coach for 13 years, so there was a lot to think about, but ultimately the decision was made, and I know it is the right one. I will always love and respect her. That being said, I love training in Artesia. There are so many hard working, competitive kids there, and I feel like it's exactly where I want to be at this point in my career. Karen and Peter have been great for me. We reworked a lot of my technique and made it simpler and more pure. To be honest, at first I was very intimidated by them, but they are really incredible coaches. I've also loved training with Caroline [Zhang]. I've never had a high level skater to push me, so it's awesome. We help one another on the ice and I think it is pushing both of us to be better. I've only been here for 9 months, but it feels like it's always been home.

Tell me about your programs this season.  Why did you choose those programs?
One of my goals for this season was to let go of control. I usually like to be the one making all of the decisions, but this year, since I was making a change, I was determined to let Karen and Peter have all of the control in the decision making process. We did email back and forth music ideas while I was still in Detroit and I think we had decided upon the short program before I moved out to LA. I think it was the best decision to let them pick the music and choreograph the programs around the new image they wanted to create for me.

You didn't receive any international assignments this season.  How has that affected your preparation for nationals?
This is the first year since 2008 that I haven't received an international so it was kind of hard to deal with. The positive thing, however, was that in trying to get an assignment I worked my butt off during the summer and got in the best shape of my life. All I could do was be prepared in case they decided to call on me. Not being assigned hasn't really changed my training for nationals. If anything, it has motivated me to skate extra well at nationals to earn a spot at an international next year.

The triple axel was a major goal for you last season.  How are you feeling about that element going into nationals?  Do you have anything new you've been working on for this season?
The triple axel is coming along quite nicely this season. It has been a big hurdle, but I've succeeded in landing it in every competition this season. Each and every day in practice it feels like it's getting stronger and I'm excited to land my first one at a national competition. During the fall, I was working really hard on quad toes and even landed half a dozen of them. However, when I was having blade problems from October through sectionals, I lost a lot of ground on it, so I won't be putting it in here like I had hoped to.

You received a Level 4 on your step sequence in both your short program and free skate at sectionals.  How do you go about putting together those segments to get the maximum amount of points?
Levels have always been kind of an easy thing for me. I would like to think that I'm a pretty versatile skater so I just go out and do whatever Karen or Peter tell me to do. I'm very blessed to have the two of them as choreographers and I think Karen put together a couple of awesome step sequences for me.

Is there anything in particular that you feel has been holding you back in the past and how have you been working to overcome it?
I don't know if there have been things I've been holding back on, but making the move to California really has been a great thing for me. Training with such high level skaters every day has been a blessing for me and helps me realize every day that I'm a great skater, and once you believe it, anything is possible.

What are your goals for nationals?
Nationals is always a tough competition because everyone seems to put out their best programs of the season. Ideally, I would love to be back up in the top 8 again, like I was my first season as a senior. More importantly though, I want to go out and skate two solid programs for myself. Moving to California I realized for the first time that there is much more to life than just skating. I want to be able to get off the ice and be completely happy with the effort I put forth out there. I'm skating for myself again.

Anything else you want people to know?
I guess that I just want people to see the joy I get from skating. You never know how long your skating career is going to be, so at this point in my career I am just working as hard as I can and enjoying every minute of it.

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