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.
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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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2016 Goals

It’s difficult to believe that 2016 is already here. Now that the holidays are over I am starting to think ahead to my goals for the upcoming year, specifically with regard to what I want to accomplish in skating. While I started skating again in September of 2014, I only started private lessons again last January so I see this as my second year of seriously skating (although much of what I do is undoubtedly unserious!). I didn’t make a specific list of goals last year as my major goal was “learn to love skating again” which was a huge success to the detriment of my wallet. So looking forward at 2016, this is what I would like to accomplish…

  1. Pass Pre-Bronze Free, Bronze MITF and Bronze Free. I am testing Pre-Bronze Free and Bronze MITF this weekend… EEK. I feel fine about pre-bronze but the bronze MITF has me freaking out. I know I can do the elements, but am worried about my nerves messing up the power behind them.
  2. Start serious work on Silver MITF and be ready to test it by the end of the year.
  3. Improve overall speed and power, I am going to start going to a Saturday power class to help with this.
  4. Get my backscratch really solid, its come leaps and bounds this year, especially when I remember how it started, but it is still not where I want or need it to be. Continue working on the back sit and get it to a point where I can get it in a program, sit-change sit is the long term goal.
  5. Get my camel really consistent, when I hit it right I can do it well but it still likes to go on vacation without me. I would like to not have to worry about it mysteriously disappearing.
  6. Improve sit spin variations, my sit and pancake are solid and low, I would like to get more forward fold with my tuck variation and get the broken leg variation program ready.
  7. Get all my jumps higher and improve my position, get my jumping leg straighter in the air. A long term goal of mine is to work on a double salchow so I need my single positions to be really solid for that to be a reasonable goal.
  8. Land Axel. The take off is finally starting to make sense, I am not close to landing it yet but am starting to get the feel of what it should be. I need to work on a faster snap. I am also starting to get over my fear of it, when I go for it I do better than when I freak out and perform a train wreck in the air… This goal is important because I don’t want to test Silver Freeskate until I have an axel as the axel is allowed in competition at Silver level and if I am going to skate at that level I want to be competitive.
  9. Get my Y spiral/135 spiral. I have less than fabulous back extension so catch foot spirals and the like will probably always be difficult for me but I do have good hip flexibility. I would like to add this to a spiral sequence as my extension otherwise isn’t great. I am making good improvement with it but need to stretch more consistently.
  10. Be less self conscious on the ice, this is a big one. Especially because I get self conscious and compare myself to other skaters even when practicing. I am getting better about it but I need to remember to focus on my own skating and not worry about anyone else. There will always be someone better than me and who cares if other people judge what I’m doing negatively. The only person I skate for is me. (This is easier said than done).

I hope all my fellow adult skaters have an excellent start to the year and make good progress toward their goals. Here’s to a great year of skating!