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MIT student blogger Kevin S. '19

Psetting in Connecticut by Kevin S. '19

Tales of my trip to a figure skating competition

A brief intro…

Last Wednesday, I left MIT to compete at the 2016 Eastern Sectional Figure Skating Championships in Simsbury, Connecticut, the final qualifying segment for the 2016 U.S. National Championships in mid-January.


I’m done with my last class at 3pm, and return back to my dorm to take a nap. 1.5 hours later, I wake up and start frantically packing. I call an Uber to get to the bus station, and get stuck in traffic. Rush hour in Boston is awful. I should have just taken the T. I might even miss the bus at this point. It takes 35 minutes to get to South Station, a 3.5 mile drive from campus. I sprint to get on the bus 3 minutes before the departure time, 6pm. I make it on.


It’s a smooth and comfortable ride to Hartford. I start looking through the 18.02 pset that is due at 12:45pm the following day, and realize I left my pencil case in my suitcase. Oops. I end up just looking through my notes and thinking through potential ways to solve the problems. I take a nap, and I’m in Hartford in 2 hours.


I call an Uber to get to my hotel in Simsbury, a 20 minute drive. I arrive at the hotel, and am initially told I can’t check in since I’m under 21. Welp. Everyone else I know is staying at the official hotel a 20 minute drive away. So I talk to the manager and am allowed to check in as long as I promise not to go to the restaurant and bar downstairs. Sounds like a plan.


My room is beautiful!

But then I realize I haven’t had dinner and need carbs to power through the night. My only option left is to call room service. So I order chicken alfredo, and watch some cooking contest on TV while I eat.


Now it’s time to pset. It’s 10pm, and I have 75% of the pset left to do. I chug along and get through most of the problems. The last few take a few more hours to get done. I keep chugging along until I get some form of an answer, and call it a day. I definitely should have started this earlier.


3:30am. I can’t think anymore. Time for bed.



9:45am. My alarm wakes me up, and I snooze until I realize that breakfast ends at 10am. So I quickly get dressed, brush my teeth, and run downstairs. It’s just like a normal school day. I make it to the restaurant, grab some food from what’s left of the breakfast bar, and gobble up. At 11:30 I have a Skype call with a casting agency for an ad campaign I might take part in. I take a nap, and wake up in time and take an Uber to the rink for my 20-minute on-ice warmup at 3pm. After that, I my coach drives me to a nearby cafe and I pick up a sandwich, eat, and rest before the first segment of the competition, the Short Program.


From my friends back home, I find out that I made it onto the homepage with a highly unattractive picture of the opening of my Short Program…

6pm. It’s showtime. I’m first to skate. “Representing the Skating Club of Boston in Boston, Massachusetts, here is Kevin Shum…” I step onto the ice, and take my position in the center of the ice. My music begins, and I skate towards my first jump. I go up into the air, and suddenly open up. I miss the opening jump, and will get no points for it. Uh oh. My mind goes into panic mode, but I force myself to focus—focus, focus, focus. I manage to skate cleanly after that, and end up in second place.


Hanging out with other skaters after my event. But after the event, the scores change, something that rarely ever happens, and move up to first. I have no reception at the ice rink, and there’s no wifi either. I can’t call an Uber. I can’t get back to my hotel. A skating mom offers to drive me back to my hotel, and then I’m introduced to Curran O. ’13, now a grad student at Yale. He’s competing at the Senior level, and hoping to qualify for Nationals as well. As it turns out, he’s staying near my hotel, and offers to drive me back after his practice. Yay!

We grab dinner at one of the few restaurants in the area, and I’m back to the hotel.


I have a 8.01 prepset/skills challenge due at 8:30am the next morning, so it’s time to get to work. I’ve missed the day’s lecture and relevant material that’s covered in the prepset, so I ask my friend for notes.

After that’s done, it’s 2am. Time for bed.




I wake up, and it’s 11:30. I’ve missed breakfast completely, and do some warming up in the hotel gym before the restaurant opens for lunch.


I order some steak tips, and Curran picks me up from the hotel, and we head to the rink. It’s again time for my 20-minute on-ice warmup. Afterwards, I take a nap in the rink’s cafe, and it’s time to compete. For the most part, I skate well, but I make two mistakes near the end of my program. I end up second in the Free Skating portion of the event, but first overall—and qualify for Nationals!



I’m glad it’s over. With skating, psets, classes, and extracurriculars, I’ve had stressful, pressure-cooked week. I’m ready to head back to home. I acquire the password for a secret wifi network through a mutual friend, call an Uber, and am on my way to the bus station. The only food place that’s open is Subway, and I get a 6-inch sketchy meatball marinara. Food is food.


I get on the bus, and it’s full. I manage to find an empty row near the back of the bus.



Halfway through the ride, four people around me start bickering at each other, and it escalates quickly. They start shouting and threatening to fight. One of the four calls the police, and another bystander intervenes. The cops pull over the bus, and we all sit on the bus waiting for them to figure it out. The cops, in the end, arrest 2 of the 4, and we’re back on our way to Boston. We make it, an hour plus after the schedule arrival time. I take a final Uber back to Burton Conner, and I’m back home. Time for bed. :)