(December 10, 2002)
By Jeff Partrick - Coach Administration and Development Director and Team Manager
The final event of the Grand Prix series took place in Kyoto and Canada sent one entry per discipline. Almost all of the Canadian Team that attended the NHK Trophy had competed in Japan before. Canada's entry in the Ladies category, Marianne Dubuc, was visiting Japan for the first time while Aaron Lowe had been in Kyoto as recently as this past June when he attended the ISU Congress.
The flight from Vancouver over to Osaka was quite long (12 hours) but Megan and Aaron had a slightly shorter flight as they were travelling directly from the Cup of Russia in Moscow where they competed the week before. The Kansai Airport is quite an amazing feat of engineering as it is a man-made island constructed in the middle of the water because of a lack of available land in Osaka. The airport is apparently sinking slowly so they are slowly raising the height of the structure by jacking up the columns in the basement on which the building rests.
Kyoto is a beautiful city of 1.5 million people that has a rich and long history. Originally the capital of Japan and home to many of the rulers during the time of the Shogun, Kyoto has approximately 1600 Buddhist temples and 400 Shinto shrines. The Nishi Hongan-ji Temple was very close to our hotel and several members of the team did have a chance to visit it while in Kyoto. Visitors had to remove their shoes to enter certain parts of the temple.
The Granvia Hotel, which housed the team for the week, was very modern and was part of Kyoto Station, a massive 16-story structure with shops and restaurants. The topic of conversation for the team was the heated toilet seats in all the hotel bathrooms! The centre of Kyoto Station was actually an open-air atrium with stairs and escalators that would take you from the bottom to the top where a roof top garden overlooking the city awaited you. A sushi (raw fish) restaurant with a revolving conveyer from which you selected your food was located on the ground floor next to the hotel. The team ate at this restaurant a couple of times but there were many options available nearby. The 131 metre Kyoto Tower, said to represent a "forever burning candle" was directly across from the hotel and station.
The practices and competition took place in the Kyoto Aquarena that had only been open for six months and was designed to serve as a pool for 7 months of the year. There were even diving platforms at one end of the ice surface behind the stands! There was a massive video screen at the other end of the arena and a closed circuit video of the athletes sitting in the Kiss N' Cry was broadcast to the audience as the marks were displayed. The arena was not large but the events were always packed with spectators. The Japanese fans were very supportive and many even came with banners cheering their favorite athletes from other countries. Given the number of flowers he received, Jeff Buttle, appeared to have a huge fan club in Japan!
When the team had the opportunity they visited some of the historic temples and did some shopping for souvenirs and gifts. Some visited the Imperial Palace that was built in 794 AD as the living quarters for the Emperor of Japan. Our team doctor, who is a black belt in Karate, even managed to find a local club one free evening where she participated in their class.
As the competition wrapped up, the team got ready to attend the closing banquet in the Granvia Hotel. During the banquet the audience was treated to live theatre presentations as well as a dance by two Geishas dressed in kimonos. The finale of the banquet was the Bingo game where all the guests where given Bingo playing cards and the top prizes included digital cameras.
It was a very successful week in Kyoto and the entire team enjoyed their trip to this beautiful city. I think the team's only regret was that they did not have the opportunity to do karaoke!
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|Aaron Lowe, Megan Wing, Jeff Buttle, Marianne Dubuc, Anabelle Langlois, Patrice Archetto ||Aaron Lowe, Megan Wing, Patrice Archetto, Anabelle Langlois, Marianne Dubuc, Jeff Buttle |
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|Geishas performed traditional dance at the closing banquet ||Team huddle in the kiss 'n cry |