Pacific Coast Sectionals: Second times the charm?

It’s been a long time since I’ve written here but I’m going to try and start again- skating means so much to me.

 

Since I last documented my misadventures with adult figure skating a lot has happened.

  1. I passed my Silver Freeskate test via a gift from the universe. I freaked out so much that I fell on a single loop in the warm up. After the test was over another adult skater advised me that Fireball was a good anti-anxiety supplement. I have yet to try this since I practice at 5 am and last time I checked drinking hard liquor that early in the morning is sort of frowned upon.
  2. I sprained my ankle doing an off ice axel and couldn’t skate for a month. Two years later I sprained the same ankle doing an off ice axel (Off Ice Axel: 2, Erin: 0). Thankfully the second only resulted in a week off. I think I learned my lesson.
  3. For a positive- I landed my axel. It’s still a spinny adult axel but it gets around and is fairly consistent so I am trying to be less self deprecating about it.
  4. I changed coaches. Changing coaches in figure skating is like getting a divorce. It was really difficult to do but was for the best.
  5. I took my Gold Moves and got a retry- for the record if you put your foot down on a bracket you are going to fail.
  6. I learned an illusion spin entry which has since become my favorite spin. The camel spin and I are still in counseling.
  7. I went to Pacific Coast Adult Sectionals for the first time, fell on a spin and managed to get 19th place. Out of 19. It felt about as good at the time as it sounds.
    1. Exhibit A: The best part of the entire day was when after my disaster skate one of the skaters in my group (who was on the podium) came up to me after the event. She was really nice and encouraging. Additionally, my older brother had come to the event to watch since he was in LA at the time. At the end of our brief conversation she said something along the lines of “And hey- who’s that hot guy you are with?” To which I replied “That’s my brother.” Apparently the competition was checking my brother out and wondering what he was doing at an adult figure skating competition.
    2. What makes that story so funny is that I have listened to people (friends, acquaintances, random strangers, ect.) talk about how good looking they think my brother is my entire life. I thought I was safe at a figure skating competition. The universe thought not.
    3. Even though I did not have the skate I wanted in the Championship event I had a really good time. Watching and cheering for other adult skaters was so much fun. Most of all it was fun to see other adults who love skating as much as I do.

 

 

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The spin I fell on executed well in the open 6.0 event. This was prior to the bloodbath that was my first foray into the world of IJS.

 

As harsh a critic I can be about my own skating- I have improved a lot in the past year. My goal this year at sectionals is to be happy with how I skated. I can’t control anything else- I just want to be happy with my performance and not disappointed with myself like last year. I have been trying a lot of mental strategies to help with nerves but I think more than anything is just remembering that even if I skate poorly- that doesn’t mean I am a bad skater. It doesn’t say anything about me. As a perfectionist and self deprecating person that is hard for me to remember to do. This year my coach and another adult skating friend are both going which I think will help a lot. Either way, I’m sure there will be stories to tell when I get home.

Happy Skating!

Summer Progress

So apparently I only update this blog once every blue moon…

The biggest progress this year thus far has been passing my Silver Moves in May. It was 2/3 but a pass is a pass. The only disappointing thing was that while one judge marked me at passing, and one 2 points over, another marked me 5 points under. My coach was pretty baffled by it too as clearly the other judges didn’t think I stunk it up that badly. The biggest improvement was that I did not get a single comment about needing to improve my posture (where I got a lot on the Bronze test in January).  I am going to take the Bronze free this month and then that will be it for testing for a while. I have started steady work on Gold Moves and have already made several attempts to murder myself with a bracket so I am sensing many quality (and not so quality) hours ahead.

The axel is still sort of-kind of- almost- sort of -there. My best attempts are short and I break at the waist but I generally land on one foot and the snap is getting better. I hope to get closer by the end of the year.

My sit change sit is getting pretty consistent. I generally don’t mess up the transition and am getting lower and getting more revolutions on the back sit. It’s nice to see progress!

The camel is still my nemesis. I feel like it’s no more consistent than it was a year ago which is really frustrating. I try to be positive about it but I feel like every time I think I figure it out I lose it again.

This is a Camel Spin from yesterday- the position can be improved but it is fairly solid…

Then today I did some okay ones, but they were slow and I kept falling on the inside edge.

Then I did this…

Clearly I am an example of grace and elegance. (and clearly I should not quit my day job).

I am working really hard on improving my jump positions- especially for loop, flip and lutz. I am working on really getting into the ‘H’ position, stopping my pre rotation, fixing my posture, and straightening my knee. I know it’s getting better because I can feel the spring when I use good technique (and tell when I don’t). My goal is to be a Gold level lady someday and I want to actually skate like one.

I think the most important thing in skating is to make time for the fun stuff too. Whenever I get stuck on something (aka my camel spin) I always try to end with something to remind myself why I love skating. Hydroblade away!

 

Sit change sit

One of my major spin goals this year is to get a consistent sit change sit. I want to be comfortable enough to put it in a program with minimal risk of falling over… (it’s adult figure skating, I expect at least a little risk!). I am getting better slowly but surely, if I mess up it’s usually on the transfer to the back sit. Kind of like this…

 

Both these videos (pink shirt) were taken in March, see below… a more successful example…

 

This one from yesterday is faster (but my regular sit position in this example is not very good, what’s with the leg wrap?). But I feel like I’m getting a better handle on the transfer.

 

And just so I don’t get burnt out working on this combo I’ve been working on my cannonball position. It’s really fun! But getting up is a challenge!

March Progress

Being that it’s nearly the end of March I thought I would do a quick run down of how some of my goals for the year are coming along. Sometimes I get stuck on an element and feel I’m not improving so it’s nice to step back and look at the big picture.

The elephant in the room is the axel. Off ice I can do it pretty well but it’s still a little cheated. My best on ice attempts have been 1/4 revolution short when I actually land on one foot (and I land on a flat, not on my toe, when I land on my toe I fall). My problem of late is dropping my left shoulder. I can alrady see that this is going to be a long road…

My sit change sit actually exists now… Sometimes… it didn’t exist in January at all so I’ll take it. If I screw up its when I change to the back sit. The plan is to put my sit-pancake in my new Bronze program for now and then switch in the sit change sit when I get it consistent. This is the program I want to use at sectionals next year so I think it is doable.

My camel is finalllllly getting more consistent. More importantly, when I flub it up I can usually figure out how to fix it. This saves me a lot of cursing and frustration. I am working on improving my position.

My other jumps are looking better, I have been working on my lutz especially, mostly in getting a better air position (straightening my knee in the air) and reducing flutzes. My loop and flip positions are getting better and I still hate the $&@:?#% toe loop.

The biggest improvement has been in Silver moves. The plan is to take it in May (along with my Bronze free which I was supposed to take in February but missed the sign up day, although it’s good I didn’t because it was when I was injured). I wasn’t expecting to take it that soon, I still need to get so of my back threes stronger as well as the inside spirals. I love cross roles though!

Overall I am fairly happy with where I am right now, I need to keep looking at the big picture to help when I get stuck on what I am not accomplishing.

and then I fell…

The past several weeks have been interesting, getting used to skating at different rinks and figuring out my new skating schedule has taken some getting used to. This week I finally felt like I was hitting my stride. I have been skating consistently and for the most part making good progress. While the Silver Moves test is still a long ways off it no longer feels as daunting as it did just a few weeks ago. I fell pretty hard on a back outside three turn earlier this week however that is not the fall that has me currently sitting on an ice pack eating tortilla chips and binge watching Netflix.

On Saturdays I skate at two freestyles and take a power class (correction; I make a fool of myself at a power class). I’m comfortable with freestyles and constantly check my surroundings so that I know where I am compared to everyone else. That said, I collided with another skater today and fell hard. I was doing a backwards crossover, about to step into a scratch spin when another skater’s blade caught in mine and we both went down. I fell backwards and landed hard on my tailbone. It was one of those falls where everyone else stops and skates over to make sure you’re not dead. Thankfully, the other skater (a young girl), was more upset than hurt and was okay.

I stayed for the rest of the freestyle (and my lesson) and did pretty well, I stopped to sit for a few minutes and then skated some easy laps before working on anything else. My coach and I worked on my camel and identified some of the things that cause me to fall on my inside edge and I managed several really good ones. I was only having pain when working on the back sit. There was a break for an ice cut in between the freestyle sessions and I decided then to cut my losses and go home. Which was definitely the right thing to do and I am more sore now than I was right after the fall (inflammation! yay!).

If I had to give my tailbone pain a number it would be a 2 at rest and no worse than a 4 with certain movements. I’m pretty sure its not broken (but being the physical therapist I am, I will get checked out if it gets any worse). I’ve been on the couch with my ice pack for most of the day (… all of the day) and have no plans to do much else. I’m still pretty shaken up. I’ve never collided with another skater and I’ve never hurt myself this significantly before. It’s frustrating because I wasn’t even doing anything that challenging and I have no idea how we missed each other. I guess I will have to hope for a fast recovery and take it as “accidents happen”.

I may be buying some waxel pads though…

 

Early morning freestyles

Since I started skating again over a year ago my primary rink has been a fairly infamous mall rink in the Pacific Northwest. It was small, the ice was soft from it being too warm, and publics could be prohibitively crowded but it was a mile from where I lived. Plus when you fell spectacularly you always had an audience of shoppers to share in the experience.

Unfortunatly, the mall and the rink are undergoing a major renovation. The rink is going to be downsized even further and will essentially be an oval shape too small to do any serious skating on. There was a dedicated campaign amongst the skating community here to try to convince the company in Texas that bought the property to not shrink the rink, but like many billion dollar companies, they don’t care. Apparently not everything is bigger in Texas.

The rink closed for 10 months (yeah right) of renovation on Sunday. It was pretty sad, all the adults wore black and many of the younger skaters who grew up skating there were visibly upset. To make it even more fun they turned the ice compressors off at 3:00 pm so by 4:30-5 we were all skating through what was essentially standing water. Great for splashing your friends… Not so great for skating.

The real downside of this is that there are no longer evening skating hours in my area (publics or freestyles), hours that often work best for working adults. The mall rink was the only rink in the city proper and the three others in the surrounding areas don’t have after work hours. Unfortunately, that means that if I want skate on days beside the weekend I am going to have to drag myself out of bed for some early morning skating. That first early morning was unfortunately/fortunately today.

The rink I am going to skate early mornings at has the benefit of being the one closest to where I work several days a week. It has a 5:15, 6:15, and 7:15 am freestyle and I decided the 6:15 would work the best considering this was my first attempt at being an early morning skater (and I had to be at work at 8 so 7:15 was not an option).  I made a point of doing all my prep for the day ahead the night before and packed my work clothes, skate bag, and breakfast and lunch so all I would have to do in the morning was grab my stuff and go.

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Sitting in the rink parking lot at 6am contemplating what I am doing with my life.

Waking up was not a huge problem (falling asleep early is something I will have to work on more) and I had just enough time to get ready and drink a cup of coffee before heading out. While I am not a natural morning person, I do like getting up early once I am actually up (the getting up not so much). I think it will just take time to get used to. I was worried I was going to be a total zombie on the ice but once I got through the first 10 minutes of ‘wtf am I doing awake let alone exercising at this hour’ I felt pretty good. It was nice to skate on faster ice and while the freestyle was busy it didn’t feel overly crowded. I didn’t waste time like I often do practicing in the evenings with more time. I practiced most of my elements and was mostly glad to have gotten the first episode of early morning skating out of the way. I am going to skate before work twice a week during the week to start and see how I feel from there (in addition to skating on the weekends). All in all it wasn’t as bad as I thought or feared it was going to be (although that probably has something to do with my coffee addiction).

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They will pry the coffee from my cold, dead, hands.

Testing: Pre-Bronze Free and Bronze MITF

I took my first test earlier this year (Adult Pre-Bronze MITF) and while it was positive in that I did well and passed it was not positive in that I spent the entire week freaking out and then had the stomach flu the night before the test. For my second set of tests (Pre-Bronze Free and Bronze MITF) I was determined to 1. Not freak out as much, and 2. Not get the stomach flu.

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My general though process before any sort of test…

While I was successful in not getting the stomach flu I still managed to freak out, although definitely not as much as the first test. I wasn’t worried about Pre-Bronze but was worried about the Bronze moves, especially the right side power three turns which are a lot weaker than my left side. I was also testing the Bronze moves first which was good in that I was getting it out of the way but also not so good as I didn’t want to fail it and then have another test to take.

I have been working on Bronze moves for several months and then last week my coach had me take a lesson with another coach to go over the moves in more detail. There were a couple of significant things she pointed out and helped me fix. I felt pretty good about my preparation but knew that there were areas I wasn’t as strong in.

I practiced on pretty empty ice yesterday afternoon which was helpful and I ran through the test several times, finally I had to make myself leave as I think there is a point where going over things again and again isn’t helping. I wasn’t going to get any better. I ended up going to a friends house for a girls night where we played Cards Against Humanity and thankfully all the laughing kept me from freaking out too much (it may have also been the wine…).

I woke up before my alarm this morning which wasn’t a surprise. I took my time getting ready and then drove to my rink which is very close to my house (at least until it closes for 10 months of renovations next week, RIP mall rink as I know it). When I got there they were running about 10 minutes early so I put my skates on and waited for my warm up.

I felt good about my warm up, minus my shaky legs. The test itself was pretty uneventful. I didn’t make any major errors but definitely turned on my toe several times on the right outside threes and my edges were not as strong as they should have been on the mohawk sequence. I received mostly 2.5’s, got 2.6 from one judge on the alternating back crossovers and forward circle 8, and a 2.6 on forward and backward perimeter power stroking from another (who also gave me my only 2.4 which was on the power three turns).

Overall I am happy with how I did, I know I can do better when I’m not so nervous but it was a really good mark of how far I’ve come in a year and where I want to be this time next year. One judge wrote “work on posture” for almost every move which is definitely an area I need to work on. I actually found an old ice show picture from when I was 10-11 and my posture is terrible, I showed it to my couch as was like “See! This isn’t a new thing!” I am debating taking an adult ballet class to help with posture.

The Pre-Bronze freeskate went well. I was a little scratchy on my toe loop (thank you nerves), but my salchow and scratch spin were good. I even got positive comments on my spiral which was nice as I have really been working on improving my extension. Mostly I am really happy that I passed both tests and in that I never have to do a 2 foot spin again.

I am planning on taking the Bronze freeskate next month and after that will probably not test for again for a while. I know that Silver moves are significantly harder, as in ‘the point where they stop being nice and fail you’, and I want to be really confident before I take that test. There also really isn’t that much of a rush either as I don’t want to take the Silver Free until I can at least sort of land the axel. I know it isn’t on the test but it is allowed in competition and I would rather get competitive at the Bronze level first than rush before I am ready. I suppose this is the problem with figure skating, whenever you reach one goal, you find another.

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