By now we've already been in Lyon for 2 months, and still the time feels much shorter. At the moment, we're busy training, attending a French class, and Daniel has also finally managed to unpack and arrange everything in the right room.
One of the reasons why we decided in favor of Lyon was the language. We notice more and more often how important it is to have a command of different languages if you're away internationally. In addition, it certainly isn't bad if you're able to list 3 languages and several stays abroad in your CV. It's very difficult to study full time alongside the sport, and soldiers of the German Armed Forces are only allowed distance learning. Since there isn't any city in Germany anyway where both of us could combine the sport with our desired degree program, Lyon offers the best alternative: here we can finally learn a third language. The German Armed Forces have an office for career advancement which supports the soldiers financially and organizationally in advancing their career perspectives for the time when they're no longer soldiers. Therefore we were really lucky to get a language course financed by them. It is only after you've finished school that you realize how precious and expensive the chance is to get further education. Skating is definitely our great passion that we're devoted to 100% at the moment, but this won't work forever, and eventually you reach the point when another career perspective is worth more than any twizzle.
The language school now means an additional 3 hours of lessons for us every day. Most of the time, we get up between 5 and 6 a.m. and don't get home until 6 p.m., but in order to finally understand at least a few things, this is worth the stress. Four weeks ago, we were completely lost when the cashier said an amount that wasn't displayed anywhere on a screen, or when we wanted to ask the price in a shop.
Everybody who has some knowledge of French knows that the French are sometimes a bit peculiar with their language. The grammar is pretty complicated in parts and full of exceptions that have to be memorized one by one, but we're happy to rise to this challenge. We often still fail when it comes to the pronunciation. In the first week, Daniel pronounced "Vous allez bien?" (How are you?) like "Vous êtes lesbienne" (You are lesbian), which added to the gaiety of nations. We're only 8 students in our class, and therefore we can work out the contents rather fast. Unfortunately you're tempted time and again to switch to English since that's still a lot easier at the moment. We recently asked our coaches to only speak French with us, so hopefully we'll soon have a better feel for the language.
The fact that we can already speak two languages and have additional knowledge of Latin helps a lot. Many words can be derived from at least one language, and the grammar shows certain similarities, too.
Having started language school now has another advantage, though: we were distracted from the Olympic Games to some extent. It somehow did hurt to see the other teams depart from Lyon, or just looking at the entries lists for the figure skating events. There are pictures everywhere, and it doesn't really help the longing if you know Vancouver and even Whistler pretty well already. The only thing that somehow comforts us is the fact that we might be able to compete in Sochi 2014 and even the Winter Olympics in 2018 as far as our age is concerned. Those might even take place in Munich. The other applicant cities are Pyeongchang (South Korea) and Annecy (France). We had also previously heard that the 2009 Winter Universiade in Harbin was considered a test run for a possible application for 2018. The decision will only be made in July 2011, our favorite is of course clear.
The time difference of 9 hours to this year's Olympic Games didn't bother us all too much and was almost convenient for us because the last warm-up group usually skated around the time when we had to get up anyway. We could thus watch the medal of our German pair and the other decisions during our breakfast. The other sports were interesting for us as well since we also know several of those athletes. For instance, we had gotten to know short tracker Robert Seifert during the Olympic Youth Camp 2006 in Torino and other athletes in the sports support program.
Such a youth camp took place this year as well, and young athletes could enjoy being infected with the Olympic Spirit and witnessing the excitement of the Olympic Games live. Back then, we took part together with Clemens Brummer and Philipp Tischendorf during the 2006 Games. As an official team, you thus get the chance to not only watch various competitions and to get to know the sports, but you can also walk into the Olympic Village or meet the President of Germany in the German House among other things. Rosi Mittermaier was the patron of the project at the time when we were there, and she was even so kind to offer our group to go skiing together. The impressions we gathered back then were amazing, and I still remember the enthusiasm with which we returned. At the time, we didn't even imagine that we'd barely miss participating now. There were figure skaters in the youth camp again this year, who hopefully got as excited as we did at the time.
We're very happy that we can now prepare for the upcoming World Championships in Torino and, furthermore, that we can now skate in the same arena where we "only" sat in the stands in 2006. We will do our best.
Carolina and Daniel