Sunday, 23 December 2012

Goodbye 2012

This is my last post for the year, my first full year of skating. I won't do a 2012-look-back here, since I just did in November on my skating anniversary. But come 2013 and I'll write about my skating resolutions for the new year.

I skated for the last time on the day when the world was supposed to end (again). The ice was sooooooo nice it was like silk, I felt bad skating on it even. I really like practicing those power stroking and power 3-turn moves. I tried out the 5-step mohawk as well even though coach J hasn't taught them to me yet (hope I'm not developing bad habits by myself!)

Waltz jumps felt wonderful. I was really pushing through the ankle and I could feel that extra push right through to the last pick of the toe pick. I wish I could have videoed myself so I can see if it was really as high as I felt, but there were quite a few skaters and I felt too self-conscious. Loop jumps however, felt a little off. I ended up falling more on loop jump tries than actually landing them. My gloves got really wet and freezing cold, and now I have a slight bruise on my trochanter, despite wearing hip pads. I really don't understand how higher level skaters who fall from huge doubles or even triples don't get seriously injured.

Got another unexpected bruise on my left foot toe from working on toe loops. They're less of toe-waltzes now, but I guess the continued picking kept banging the toe on the top of the boot and it bruised. I think I've seen gel pads for toes before and wondered what they're for. Well now I know, and I'm contemplating getting one myself. I hate getting bruises so easily, it makes me feel like I'm fragile, but I want to be strong!

I'll be off-ice for almost two weeks, I hope I don't forget any skills, or lose any muscles!

Happy holidays to everyone, and a happy new year : )

Saturday, 22 December 2012

I'm a real figure skater

That feeling of finally being a real figure skater has occurred so many times as I progress that it's kind of funny. My standard for feeling like a real figure skater keeps going up and up.

I remember the first time I felt like I was really skating was when I figured out how to do a two foot turn by myself, and then also doing crossovers.
After that, the times when I felt "now I'm really a figure skater!" were:

Doing my first jump ever - a waltz jump
My first full rotation jump - toe loop jump
My first pair of real white leather skates!
My first real full rotation jump - loop jump. There's too much room for pre-rotating on toe loop and salchows that I felt the loop jump was the first big girl jump. Yes I do realize that if I'm pre-rotating on those two then that's my problem and I should be fixing it. But the loop just feels like there's much more rotation going on in the air.
First time on freestyle session
Having my own private coach
First time I had the full sheet of ice to myself one day (for three glorious minutes before closing)
First time out in full skater regalia - leotard, skirt, tights and a bun
Passing my first tests

I know the next time I'm going to feel like a real skater is when I perform my own program in a skating dress. Then the next time after that is probably far off - when I can do an axel!

I wonder at what point will I be satisfied that I'm really a figure skater?

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

2012.12.19 Practice video

I got up super early today to drop a friend off at the airport, and then have time to go to the ice rink for a one-hour freestyle as well.

Rink was nice and empty : ) A total of six people on the ice. Spent quite some time going through the forward and backward power perimeter stroking and the power three turns, they're fun. I want to have a lesson so I can know if I'm doing them correctly.

Spent the next bit of time working on making toe loops less like toe waltzes, but didn't get much headway. Then worked on salchows to not have them so swingy. I tend to over-rotate if I don't seriously check the FO3 before the jump, but then if I do check and hold the BI edge, I scratch with the toepick as I try to jump. It's easy to do these jumps, but it's hard to do them nicely.

Worked on sit spins a lot and decided to video myself. I already cut out many, many failed attempts. I know precisely what I'm doing wrong yet it's so difficult to not do it! I lean too much forward and so go on the toepick and catch myself on the ice. Also I really need to turn out that free leg. Coach J has mentioned this before, telling me to think of slicing through the air with the heel as I bring the free leg in, and I thought I was somewhat doing this. Until I look at the video. Nope. Need to work on that turnout flexibility (or rather, flexibility in general).

Loop jumps felt really good, they're my favourite jump. I thought I was doing everything I'd been told to do, but looking at the video, there's still more! For one, I don't know why my skating leg is bent as I go into the jump preparation, I meant for it to be straight and bend only as I jump. And then I think my upper body is still pre-rotating a little bit. Also need to keep left arm and shoulder more forward for checking the jump.

All in all, it was a pretty good practice. I wish I could have skated longer, I didn't get round to practicing flips or back spins. I need to be a lot more worried about sit spins and back spins if I'm planning on taking the bronze FS any time soon!


Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Laziness

Why do I like to sleep so much : (

I had everything packed and ready to go to go skating at freestyle before going to lab today, but then I just could not get up! I absolutely hate getting up in the mornings. Usually the only day I manage to go for morning freestyle is the day I have my private lesson, so I have to go. But even then, I'm always just there barely on time (I was late the last time...). When I don't have a lesson, I just can't make myself get up.

I'm sure if I went to bed earlier it would be easier, but for some reason, I always go to bed late. It's not like I'm busy or anything.

New year's resolution - Go to bed earlier and wake up earlier so I can get some skating practice!

Monday, 17 December 2012

Winter holidays

Yes it's that time of the year again - Christmas holidays!

But more to the point - because I now think of everything in terms of skating - it's that time of the year when I complain profusely about public sessions. Friday night public session. It. Was. Awful.

I wanted to skate so much that I braved it despite the amount of cars already parked outside when I arrived. But it was just impossible. For the rest of the year, even when the rink is kind of full, people at least still generally skate around the center, leaving me to practice somewhat in the center. But during the winter holidays, there's just so many people that they go everywhere.

What bugged me even more was the fact that there were actual skaters doing this too! (Definition of actual skater: anyone not wearing rental skates.) I would have thought that skaters would be more considerate of other skaters because they skate themselves and understand. Apparently not. There was a point that really scared me. I was doing (trying) a scratch spin when this teenage skater decides to rush around me literally within 1.5 feet of me. I know I don't have a sign up saying stay away at a 5 feet radius when I'm in a spin, but I thought it would be common sense to not get that close!

I gave up after an hour of mostly just stroking or standing around and waiting, but I think my blades aged five hours in that time since the ice was so rough from too many people. I also pulled my right back muscle probably from continually aborting jumps in mid-air to avoid collisions, but that's much better now.

Well at least my rink is thriving. A holiday outdoor rink was set up five minutes drive away, and I think the rink was a bit worried about the competition to business, but judging from what I saw on Friday, they're fine.

Must get myself out of bed to go to morning freestyle so I can actually skate!

Friday, 14 December 2012

After pre-bronze

Now that I've passed both my pre-bronze MITF and FS, it's finally time to do things other than test elements in private lesson. My first (and only until next year) lesson with coach J after the test, she said she wanted to teach me some stroking patterns, which are commonly used even by higher level skaters to warm up. It was a combination of stroking and crossovers which seemed oddly familiar. So did the power 3-turns that she taught me next. I came home and checked the bronze MITF elements and lo and behold - there they were! I had just learnt the forward and backward perimeter power crossover stroking and the forward power 3-turns, three of the five bronze MITF elements.

I don't know if it's just because they are new, but they are so much more interesting than the pre-bronze elements. But then, I never found consecutive edges and waltz-eights to be interesting, so maybe my liking for the bronze moves is genuine lol. I'm looking forward to practicing them, but it's hard to practice on public session since you have to go around the perimeter but not in a straight line.

I haven't thought of when I'm going to test bronze, I might take it a little slower this time. I sort of rushed into it for the pre-bronze, and all I did in the last month or two in private lessons was working on these. I got quite sick of it honestly. Good thing I take group classes too, so there was still the balance of working on "fun" stuff of jumps and spins. Hopefully, I can get both bronze MITF and FS done by the first half of the new year.

It will be fun to be able to focus on other things too. I think I'll be doing the rink recital at the beginning of March, so I'm super looking forward to having my first program! Coach J assigned me holiday "homework" to find some music for my program. If only all homework was this fun! I already have quite a few songs I'd love to skate to.

Private coach J is away and then it will be Christmas, also I'll be missing next week's group class, so no lessons/classes for me for a while! I'll still be skating, but it'll be a little break after the test. Look forward to when I get back to lessons/classes next year!

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Adult Sectionals - to go or not to go

Adult sectionals this season is pretty much as close as it's ever going to be to me. There's only one other rink that is closer (besides my home rink which I don't think is quite fit for such a big event unless they redo the ice properly). So it seemed a great opportunity to give it a try - except that I have absolutely no experience at a performance at all, and sectionals is at the beginning of March.

After my test, I finally summoned up the courage to ask my coach's opinion on this. She thinks that it would be better if I get some experience first before going to something that big. Especially since I tend to get really nervous, it might be just a bad experience for me, which is probably right. So no adult sectionals for me this time around. I don't think I'll be testing bronze that soon, so my first program should be for the rink recital. Not sure if it will be the March one or the one after that though. We'll see.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Pre-bronze FS passed!

Yipeee! One more test down!

After running out of time on the test session where I did my pre-bronze MITF, one of the judges was nice enough to come especially for me to take the test. So almost two weeks later, we meet again, but this time, my test is on public session!

It was a Friday afternoon public session. Oh. My. Gosh. There were so many kids. Most of them were below my chest height so I couldn't see them half the time. I was literally shaking in my boots as I did the test, not because of having to do the test elements, but because I was in constant fear of running someone over. I had to go around the center three times before I could finish doing backward crossovers, and my toe loop jump ended up squashed in a corner and I almost lost it. But in the end, everything was fine and I passed with all her comments basically being "Good". I didn't get a video this time, so I don't actually get to see for myself how (not) good I really was : p

I passed, I passed, I passed. YAY!
No more two-foot spins!

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Pre-bronze MITF judges comments

I didn't get the judges comments for my MITF test until much later, so here they are as a record:

(For those who're coming over from skatingforums, yes, this is the exact same thing)

Forward perimeter stroking
1. Good flow and smooth crossovers. Could use more extension on long edges.
2. Good flow, could use more extension - nice glide on strokes. Crossovers tentative
3. Good beginning knee bend on crossovers - push through with all strokes. Good flow - keep working towards extension.

Basic consecutive edges
Forward outside edges
1. Good steady curves
2. Good
3. Nice lobe size. Steady edges
Forward inside edges
1. Good control on edges
2. Nicely done
3. Steady edges. Good posture.
Backward outside edges
1. Edges ok, lobes round with T.D.
(This T.D. - touchdown? - comment could actually belong to the BI)
2. Smooth
3. Good lobe size
Backward inside edges
1. Shaky, got better by last one. Reskate - Better
2. Nice reskate - a bit wobbly but good for this level
3. Keep working to stay off toes. Work on free leg placement for this.

Crossovers
1. Forward - Left ok, right stepping too high. Backward - Ok, smooth flow
2. Good flow, a bit tentative
3. Nice and quiet forwards. Also back. Good flow at this level. Good start with knee bend - keep working.

Waltz eight
1. Come back to center. Circles ok, but could be traced better
2. Mostly good edges. Wobbly/wild at times
3. Work on control after three turns and mohawks for higher tests.

Spirals
1. Right - Barely high enough - free leg bent. Left - Better, free leg extension ok.
2. Right - weak. Left - very good.
3. Keep working on extension for higher testing. Edge was adequate. (But I was skating in a straight line on flats...?)

Result
1. Pass
2. Pass
3. Pass


Yay!!! :)

Friday, 30 November 2012

Recital audience

I watched my first recital tonight. Sadly, it was between 5 - 7:30 pm and there was no way I could get to the rink that early. So I got there around 6:40 pm, paid my $7 entrance fee and they were actually running early! So I only got to watch about 7 skaters. Oh well, having never seen a recital before, this was better than nothing.

Note to self: Next time, wear more if I'm going to sit in the rink for a long time. Brrr.

It was pretty cool to see everyone nicely dressed and doing their performance, and to have little stuffed animals thrown out at the end. Out of the few skaters I saw, there was only one who's an adult skater. I wonder how many others there are?

One thing I picked up: Your emotions really show on the ice. The adult skater wasn't the best skater out there, but she had a huge smile the entire performance, and it just made me (the audience) happy watching her. On the contrary, there was this other older girl (I'm not sure if she'd count as an adult skater, she might be college-age) who totally looked like she just wanted to have the thing over and done with, and to be honest, it made me feel the same way. I don't think it was nerves, I see her around the rink a lot and she kind of always looks like that.

So when eventually I do my own performance (and yes, I really want to!), I have to try to remember to smile!

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Pre-bronze MITF passed!

Yay! I passed!

I was sooooo nervous. I had a lesson the morning of the test, and I was already nervous then. By the end of the lesson, my limbs felt weak. My stomach was in knots the whole day. So the time finally came and I was the very first person to test. It was nerve racking enough to have three judges staring at you (but they were extremely nice and friendly), but there were also all the family and friends of the other skaters watching. The rink was so quiet and I really wished that they could just all chat amongst themselves and not watch me.

I got through the perimeter stroking, and the forward edges and the back outside edges fine. Then somehow, I pushed off badly on the back inside edge and couldn't hold it together. I put my foot down briefly. Oh crap! was what went through my head but I managed to finish it and hoped against hope that the judges might have missed that.

Crossovers were fine, but while I felt like I was going at tremendous speeds, on video I speed like a turtle. I thought I had really good knee bend, but apparently, not so much. Then came the dreaded waltz eight. I felt absolutely awful going into this, since I knew I had already used up my reskate chance with the stupid back edges. But it ended up okay, and I must say, it looks better on video than I thought it was! Last of all was the straight line spiral. I didn't push off very well and lost my balance, it was all I could do to even keep the leg up on the first spiral, but it still looks really bad. I'm just glad the judges still passed it.

Not surprisingly, I was asked to reskate the back inside edges. Hey, better than doing the waltz eight again! I successfully did it on the reskate, and I passed! Wheeee : D

Here's the video of me doing my test. My boyfriend thought I was finished before the waltz eight since I stood there so long waiting for the judges, so there's a little bit cut off before he realized I was still going.


I was supposed to do my pre-bronze freeskate at the same test session, but we ran over time and the hockey guys could not wait for the ice. So we had to stop and my test will be rescheduled. I had hoped to happily say I passed both my pre-bronze tests now, but at least the worst is over. Hopefully soon, I can say I passed the FS too.

I'm so glad I can stop practicing waltz eights!

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Dress rehearsal

My sharpened-again blades are fine now, or at least my coach thinks so, but I'm just paranoid. Quoting coach J, it's like when a spider lands on you, you keep on feeling it all over long afterwards. Freestyle was less quiet than yesterday's so it's hard to really hear, but I don't think I was scraping on stroking and straight line spirals anymore.

Today is exactly one week before my pre-bronze MITF and freeskate test, so we did a dress rehearsal and mock MITF test. This was my first time in full skater regalia - leotard, skirt, tights (and thank goodness coach said I can wear my skating jacket for a test). I really felt different, a real skater, albeit a very cold skater. It was weird not to be able to pull my skating pants over my boots when I put them on (I dislike OTB tights).

It took a long time to get ready though. Everything had to go on in a certain order, I actually had to think it through before putting things on (good thing I remembered to think first otherwise I'd be freezing half-naked). Because I was wearing a leotard and not just a top, I had to get the tights on first. But then before that, I had to put the silipos gel sleeve on first. Then I had to put on two pairs of tights (and yes, I was still cold), then the leotard, then the skirt, and finally my skating jacket. And then I had to put my hair in a bun. Looking like a skater takes too much effort!

My mock test went well besides having to dodge every other skater as I did my perimeter stroking. I even remembered to smile and present. It went well all the way... until the dreaded waltz-8 (okay I admit the back edges were a little iffy).

I don't like the waltz-8. And it didn't help to have a really bad start. Really bad. As in I pushed off, then a split second later, I tripped over my toepick and went straight down on my knees. Of all the days, this happens on the day that I'm not wearing my knee pads. Ouch to both my knees and my confidence. So I start over again and to make matters worse, there's now another skater in my way! I wobble through while dodging her and even though I manage to finish the pattern, it was awful. I'm okay with the three-turn and the backward edge, it's the step forward that I just cannot get. I either keep turning and turning or I lose my momentum.

I'm skating three more times before the test - one practice and two lessons (one of which is on the morning of the test). I really want to pass this test!!


Monday, 19 November 2012

Bad sharpening

I've always wondered what people meant when they say that they got a bad sharpening.

Unfortunately, I learned the hard way - one week right before my very first test : (

Being an A type overly cautious type of person, I got my skates sharpened 2.5 weeks beforehand so I can get used to the newly sharpened blades. After the sharpening, I skated once on public, and had a lesson on freestyle last week. During my lesson, I didn't really notice anything since coach and I are talking most of the time or there is program music running and I can't hear noises from my blade. However, once she left, I kept hearing myself scraping a lot, but I didn't have much time left and coach was gone anyway, so there wasn't much I could do about it. I skated two more times on public after that, but on public, I can barely even hear myself talk let alone my blades.

Today, I went to practice at a very empty freestyle (5 skaters total) and it couldn't be clearer. I was scraping. Even on the simplest perimeter stroking the blades were making noises. It scraped on my straight line spiral too. I skated on what I think is a flat and the lines from the two edges look uneven. I don't know if it was just the idea that the blades were messed up getting into my head or that they really are that messed up, I couldn't change edges very well. So I scratched through the session hoping and hoping my coach had a lesson and would show up, I was really freaking out at this point. Thank goodness right before I left I caught her and very pitifully told her that I think there was something wrong with my blades.

She looked as worried as I was but couldn't see anything wrong herself. She took my skates over to our rink manager (who I never knew before actually knows about blades, but apparently he does) to ask him to take a look, and after a while, he said that it does look like a bad sharpening. For one, there was a tiny bump along the length of the blade, which both he and coach J could feel (I can't tell, but I trust them). Also, he says it feels like the blades don't have much of a hollow, as if they were figure blades.

Great, just great.

Because I've had a few people tell me to not go to our rink's sharpener but to go to this other sharpener instead, that's what I did, even though my coach has no problem with the rink sharpener. Our rink sharpener is a grumpy old guy (imagine the grandpa in the movie Up!), so I was petrified at having to now go to him and ask him to fix a bad sharpening and perhaps get asked why I didn't go to him in the first place. Coach was nice and told him beforehand about the problem and told him not to yell at me lol. When I went he just looked displeased, but then he always does so I don't know really how annoyed he was. Hopefully the blades are now okay, I'll find out tomorrow morning.

So much for driving out further to go to a reputable sharpener! I guess I should have just listened to my coach and stuck with our rink sharpener. As grumpy as he may seem, if my coach has bought skates and sharpened them with him since she was four, he must be good right? But then what's with the skaters who tell me otherwise? : (

Friday, 9 November 2012

Attempted murder on ice

And I'm the culprit.

I tried out that two-person spinning thing with coffee club coach G. It's that thing where two skaters face each other, hold each others hand (right hand to right hand, left to left, so they're crossed), feet in an inside spread eagle, and then start going round in circles very fast. I have no idea if that has a name. Anyway, I've never tried it before until now. Coach G did all of the acceleration so basically all I was supposed to do was to hold tight, lean back and stay on two feet. But I couldn't! After a few revolutions going faster and faster and getting freaked out, I lost my foot hold and started going down... except that we were still going around really fast! Good thing coach G is a strong guy and at this point, the only thing that kept us from going down together in a tangle of blades was him basically holding my whole weight up by the arms, while simultaneously trying to slow down.

"Are you trying to kill me?" he said with mock indignation.
"No, I really enjoy coffee club, I still need you alive!"

After calmly reflecting back on the incident, I think I've figured out the problem. I think I have very closed hips, so I don't have good turnout. I can barely do the turnout required on a sit spin so your heel of the blade doesn't get stuck in the ice. In fact, I think the only reason why my pathetic turnout hasn't gotten me stuck yet is only because I don't sit low in the spin at all. Anyway, inside spread eagles obviously require that turnout on both feet, not as much as outside spread eagles would, but it already was an effort for me to keep them both on the curve of the circle opposite ways. When I got scared from the speed, I could no longer concentrate on holding the spread eagle, and so I lost it. It was scary.

I really do enjoy coffee club though! A pity that I can only very occasionally go.
Yesterday I officially learnt a ballet jump (we've played with it in group class before, but I didn't exactly know what to do, like where the arms are supposed to go and such).

And I wish coffee club wasn't on the same day as group class. When I go, I end up having skated for four hours that day, so tired! I don't know how competitive skaters do that, plus the off-ice training they do too!

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Breathe

A while ago on skatingforums, there was a discussion on needing to remember to breathe while doing elements. I was like huh? how can you forget to breathe?

Well... now I do it too.

Today's lesson was the first time coach J wanted to see my moves/elements as if I was being tested. She stood to one side and watched with a critical eye as opposed to following me around like we were just practicing. This made so much of a difference for my nerves. After the first simple perimeter stroking, I skated over to her and let out a big gasp. She laughed and asked "Did you not breathe at all?". Only then did I realize that I really was holding my breath!

I doubt this is a habit I'll be able to get rid of right now, at least not for my first test, because I'm just nervous! It's so silly though, and not helpful at all as I really need all the oxygen I can get to not be out of breath.

Coach J put together my pre-bronze freeskate "program" (without music) today.
Two-foot spin --> crossovers --> waltz jump --> spiral --> toe loop jump --> one-foot spin
I drew a little diagram of the order and whereabouts I'm supposed to do each element. I hope I remember! And I hope I won't get too disoriented coming out of the spin.

I'm feeling better on the pre-bronze test now. Perimeter stroking, crossovers, the forward edges and spirals are solidly good to go. Back edges and waltz-8s are doable, but they need to be more stable and polished. I should be able to do that in 3 weeks, 4 more lessons (fingers crossed).

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Freestyle frenzy

I've always gone to the weekday morning freestyles. Even when it was summer and the kids were out of school, it was never packed-to-craziness. This past week my coach had jury duty, so my lesson got moved to the freestyle session this Sunday noon. Oh my. I felt like a girl from the countryside stuck in the middle of a busy NY intersection with no traffic lights. Apparently, it was even more crowded than usual because sectionals are coming up.

My lesson was scheduled for the second half of the one-hour session, and I think I spent half of the 30 minutes before my lesson waiting for people to pass so I can practice something. Then I spent another half of that aborting whatever I had started to practice because someone was charging over. There must have been some sort of order within all this madness because all the other twenty skaters managed to do their thing at top speed. But being a lowly adult skater, I could not comprehend the order. Most of them were teenage girls who were skating so fast I felt like a red target in front of a charging bull. Another few of them were little girls who were still fast but off my radar because they are below my line of vision until they come close enough. Too close.

Scariest of all was a pairs team. They took up three times the size of a single skater, so instead of a charging bull, they more resembled a derailed train to me. It was really interesting though, because I've never seen a pairs team in person. They were two teenage kids who would immediately let go of each other when they were done and coaches were talking, and they barely looked at each other. I wonder how they handle the teenage awkwardness of having to touch each other! And I really wonder who manages to get teens into doing pairs or ice dancing in the first place. The teens themselves certainly don't look like they want to be in such close proximity with the opposite gender. In fact, I just watched an interview on Youtube a few days ago of how Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir (2010 Olympic ice dance gold medalists who've danced together for 15 years since Tessa was 7 years old) did not speak to each other for the first year of skating together. So I'm guessing it's not the teens' own idea that they want to do pairs/ice dancing. So do their coaches decide that for them?

Finally it was time for my lesson, and even with coach J's promises of "I got you covered", I was still constantly in fear of my surroundings. She was quite exasperated. But hey! I managed to do nice crossover patterns and spins. I failed miserably on my multiple tries of toe loop jumps though. I don't know what got into me, these are my most stable jumps and I hardly ever not land them. Most likely it was because coach was watching me, because for the few seconds that she turned her head to talk to someone and I thought she wasn't watching, I did a perfect toe loop. (She did see it though.) Well, good to know that I can do a toe loop. Now all I need for the test is to ask the judges to kindly look the other way when I do it.

My conclusion for the day was that a packed freestyle session is worse than a packed public session. On public, at least I can stake out a small area in the centre (the more packed it is, the tinier this area becomes), every one skates in a CCW direction, and people are relatively slow. On a packed freestyle, it's all whichever-way at whatever-speed at whoever-knows-when. I could barely even survive in the corner, because that's probably the lutz corner...

I am so looking forward to my usual calmness of weekday morning freestyle!

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Skating anniversary

Going on to my second year of being an adult figure skater!

I don't remember precisely the day I started my first group lessons, but it was some time beginning of November, 2011. So now it's my skating one-year-anniversary!

I am so glad I started figure skating, I love it so much! And I'm really lucky to have two great coaches for my group class and another great coach as my private coach : )


To summarize this year, I've learnt:
LFO, LFI, RFO, RFI, LBO, RBO 3-turns
Forward & backward inside mohawks
RFI, LFI brackets (kind of)
Forward & backward, CW & CCW crossovers
Forward cross-strokes
Forward shoot-the-duck
Lunges
T-stop
Two-foot spin
One-foot upright spin
Scratch spin (when I'm brave)
Sit spin (occasionally)
LF, RF spirals
Waltz jump
Toe loop jump
Salchow jump
Loop jump
Flip jump
Lutz jump (but it disappeared)

Wishlist: (not quite the same as goals, since I'm nowhere near working on some of these)
Twizzles
Ina Bauer/spread eagle (better yet, layback Ina Bauer)
Attitude spin (better yet, layback spin)
Back spin
Lutz
Axel !?

When-you-wish-upon-a-star wishlist:
Double loop! (I don't know why, I just like double loops better than the easier toe loop and salchow)
Unless Father Christmas is coming down the chimney with a double loop for me, I doubt this will be happening anytime in the foreseeable future. But a girl can dream =D


The downside of skating though, is the ridiculous amount of money I've spent. I've refrained from buying not-entirely-necessary things such as a Transpack (I really want one!) or Chloe Noel pants. Yet within one year, I've spent almost $2500 in total...
$ 325 on clothing (including guards and soakers) and protection (gel pads big part of the $325)
$ 580 on skates & blades
$ 635 on group lessons
$ 540 on private lessons (this will soon far overtake the group lessons)
$ 248 on freestyle sessions
$ 33 on sharpening
$ 75 on club fee
$ 36 on a rink locker
I keep records of all I've spent to keep myself under control, but looking at these numbers is just depressing!


So all the more reason to work harder!!
For now, the immediate goal is to pass that pre-bronze MITF and freeskate!

Another year of happy skating, start : )

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Pre-bronze practice woes

Practicing those pre-bronze MITFs is slowly crumbling my confidence I'd gained from being good at learning jumps. I'm so slow at doing the basic things! That "plan" my private coach J had set at the beginning, had me good to go for the test by September, yet here is the end of October and I'm still working on it. I now have less than one month when I'm actually going to be doing the test on 11/27!

Worked hard on edges and waltz-8 this morning, the two things that still need work (a lot of work). FO and FI should be okay, but BO and BI have much to be desired. I can sometimes do a good set, but it's not stable at all. Waltz-8 is just a nightmare... I think I'm fine with the 3-turn and the BO edge, it's the step forward to FO edge that I have a problem with. I wish I could just step forward and go on a tangent instead of curving the circle back to the centre. I either a) go off on a tangent or b) curve and as I bring the free foot forward keep curving and curving and curving too much. I know that my arms and legs should be in a certain position but they just keep moving over! I can't control them!

At least all the other elements are good to go (including FS), and I am improving slightly, just oh-so-slow. Definitely need to practice more but it's so hard to get up in the morning.

I had a freak fall when doing crossovers today. It wasn't a hard fall, it was just completely unexpected and unexplainable. A fellow skater said she saw me skating perfectly fine and upright then suddenly the next moment, I went down! It must have looked pretty bad since a few people came and inquired if I was okay, but it actually didn't hurt much as I went down at an angle (and slid across the ice on my back for a few feet) instead of wham! straight down.It was weird, I didn't hit anything, it just felt like my edge gave up grabbing the ice and slid out from under me! I doubt it's that the blades need sharpening, since they only have 20 hours on them, and I haven't been skidding on anything else. Better not happen again!

Practicing basic skills is actually very tiring, because to do them well, you need to be in control of every muscle in your body. I'm all weak now from getting up too early and tensing all my muscles for almost an hour. Hope I won't be sore tomorrow!

Friday, 26 October 2012

Flips are back too

Yeah! Now I have my flip jump back again! And it actually feels better than before, since I used to do a LFO-3 entry, but had trouble doing it on a straight line, and now I'm doing a mohawk entry so it's much smoother.

Not as many tips and bad habits to overcome on this compared to that loop jump. Pre-rotation is a problem as always. And the other thing was to remember not to wait to long between getting on the LBI edge and picking the right foot. Practicing a lot of picking and jumping straight up without the rotation helped with the pre-rotation problem. It also helped with jumping off both the picking right foot and the left foot. I used to only jump off the pick, the left foot was really lazy.

Still a long way to go before it looks big and pretty, but it's happening again : )

Neither loop nor flip jumps are very stable yet (darn pre-rotation!), so I did a lot of falling in class yesterday. I repeatedly fell on the same place - my right butt, and it really hurts now. After a particular hard fall, I decided I didn't want to jump again and fall on the same place again, so I started spinning. Managed to make progress on my camel spin: 1.5 revolutions! But after a few more tries, I fell hard on my left side. Then both sides of my butt hurt and I gave up. It's really time to buy those crash pads...

Friday, 19 October 2012

Loops are BACK

I hope saying this out loud won't jinx it, but... my loop jumps are BACK!!! Tonight's loops had a success rate of about 80% once they started happening again.

It took a combination of three coaches (two class coaches and my private coach) trying to correct my bad habits to finally get it back.

1. Do not pre-rotate upper body
This was the hardest thing to fix, and I still sometimes slip back into the old bad habit. All three coaches said the same thing to me, made me try it again and again, and still I would pre-rotate my upper body. I knew it but I just couldn't control it! Right now, I try to not do this by telling myself to pull in my arms as I jump so that my hands are clasped on my right side (just below the collar bone), instead of just dead centre. Because when I think to pull it to the middle, what I'm actually doing is pre-rotating and pulling in to the left side. So far, this has helped, let's hope it will continue to be fixed.

2. Curve the take-off edge more
That whole thing about how all jumps actually take off forward. I do my loops from backward crossovers, and the take-off edge should be a sudden back outside edge curve into the circle, that basically looks like a hook. I started to be afraid of the loop because I'd sometimes feel like I was skidding/slipping sideways on my take-off. With my old skates, I blamed it on the need-to-be-sharpened blades. With my nice new blades, the problem persisted, and coach J pointed out my tracings on the ice and said if I curve more, I shouldn't be skidding. It works. I just need to figure out how to consistently curve more.

3. Don't drop either shoulder on take-off and landing
I drop my left shoulder on take-off (so I pre-rotate), and I drop my right shoulder on landing, so I can't hold up the landing. Not much to say here - need to keep shoulders square.

4. Don't bend knee until right before jump
Since I go into the loop from backward crossovers, the entry is a RBO edge gliding backwards with left foot in front of right foot (as close together as possible, was another thing I had to fix). During this gliding, I used to have my right knee bent the entire glide. Coach J told me to only bend just as I'm about to jump. When a person does a normal jump upwards motion, they don't start in the bent position and jump; they start upright, suddenly dip down, then immediately jump up. Exactly the same here. So I tried keeping my right leg straight on the backwards glide (left foot still close in front!), and voila! There was my loop. This last change actually killed two birds with one stone: 1) it gave me the power for the jump and 2) as I bend that right knee, the motion actually created that deep curve that I'm supposed to do!

So many bad habits, and I'm sure I have more. But at least these have improved and now I can happily say I can do loop jumps again. Hope I will soon be able to say that I can do flip jumps again!

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Four minutes in heaven

Saturday night, I was deliriously happy for four minutes. I had the ENTIRE rink to myself! It was at the end of a light public session, and everybody had left the ice. Four short, precious minutes before the Zamboni came on. I loved it.

I have never, ever skated on a full sheet of ice all to myself before. The best was maybe four people on the ice. I know in some skating-is-less-than-popular places, and at strange hours of the day, it might be quite common. But for me, this was a first.

It's really hard to describe the feeling I had. A mixture of elation and freedom and joy at being able to do whatever I want, wherever I want. I did all the elements I could do (which unfortunately does not include loop jumps and flip jumps any more), without stopping in between like I would normally do when just practicing. It was as if I was running through a program. I only wish I knew more transition things like footwork, instead, all I could do were stroking, crossovers, three-turns, mohawks, spirals and that was about it. I did have fun trying out backward spirals for the first time (I've been afraid to try in fear of killing someone).

Four minutes was so short... but to be honest, I was exhausted (albeit very fulfilled) after skating continuously like that. I can't imagine doing a long program!

The session overall was pretty light, even though it was Saturday night. Met two of my skating friends and chatted way too much. Fooled around with some different things and even tried a hydroblade for the first time. I've never understood the attraction that a few teenage girls at our rink had for this, but it was really fun! Don't know how much of the fun factor was because I'd always end up collapsed on the floor and giggling from the fall though. 

All in all, a great skate day. Oh, and I had a few itsy bitsy loops come back for a visit too! Hope they will stay and grow bigger!

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Blisters

Ouch! I got my first (hopefully last?) blister from skating.

I had no knee/ankle bending problems with the new boots, so I assumed they were not too stiff. So when I felt the back of the left boot digging into the back of my leg, I convinced myself that I would just need to get used to it.

That is, until I became obsessed with practicing sit spins, a position that has the top back of the left boot digging in even more. So there I was, happily (trying) spinning away in my "squat" position, when the back of my leg started hurting more and more. Eventually I couldn't stand it any longer, went to take off my skate, peel off my sock, and lo and behold, there was a blister! It was actually already popped, so I'm not too sure if it even was a blister or if it was just rubbed raw. Anyway, it hurt quite a bit.

The very next day I went to the pro shop and got myself those silipose gel sleeves.

Tried them on Tuesday morning, they felt really comfortable! Definitely recommend them to any one with boot-digging-into-leg problems!

And now I can go back to practicing sit spins! It's becoming my favourite spin (which is not hard considering that I just don't like spins in general). Hopefully when my muscles are stronger I will be able to hold myself up and stop falling out of it every time. I like camel spins too except that I'm afraid that I'm going to a) topple forward and face plant; or b) kill someone with my blade stuck out swinging around in uneven circles. Nevertheless, I still have fun trying them out : )

Friday, 5 October 2012

Too close to the ice

I've spent an inordinate amount of time on the ice recently. By that, I don't just mean my feet and skates are on the ice, I mean that I fall down way too much.

Ever since I got back from my 3-week break, I've lost my jumps. The simplest ones, the waltz and toe loop are still okay, but the Salchow is iffy, and the loop is luck, but even when I do manage to jump, I don't land properly. I've been blaming it on the inadequate support and need-to-be-sharpened blades of the old skates, but now that I have new boots and fresh new blades, I've lost my excuse. Yet last night, I still could not jump. Now for someone who's first love in figure skating is jumping, that's devastating.

So I went for help the second we started jumping in class. Assis. coach A, as always, was tremendously helpful and after many disgruntling tries, she fixed my loop take off, and it felt like I was jumping again. So I went off to practice but found that even though I could jump now, I could not land, so I fell again and again and again. And again. I tried Salchows and flips and still fell, toe loop was the only safe one. Coach C came along to find out why I was spending so much time on the floor and what I kept falling on. I told her, everything. After watching me try again and fall yet again, she discovered the problem. I wasn't using my muscles, my core strength, to hold myself up. She said I was landing fine on one foot and even though I was leaning like the Tower of Pisa to the right, I could have totally held it up and not fall.

Well that explains everything. I have no core strength anymore, is the problem. For the past ten months that I've been skating for, my muscles have been building up to always match the level I'm jumping at. But not exercising for 3 weeks has killed them all, they are now almost non-existent. Coach C said that muscles deactivate (?) if you don't use them in as quickly as 72 hours. I didn't use them for 3 weeks. It's no surprise I can no longer hold up a landing if there's the slightest incorrect posture (ie. leaning), nor can I hold myself up in a sit spin and not just crash to the ice instead of lifting elegantly out of it.

Well, lesson learnt. Now it's time to do crunches and sit-ups and planks.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Scraaaaaaaatch

My first time on the new Ultima Legacy blades, I felt my spins improved a lot. Today in private lesson during freestyle session, I was back to square one of spinning. Can't spin. Not even a simple upright one-foot spin. Reason being - I scratched with the toe pick so much that I was completely put off and could not spin any more because I kept trying to not scratch.

Last time I skated was on a public session, so I couldn't hear myself over the crowd and the music. On the very quiet morning freestyle though (all the kids are gone, yay!), I'm sure the entire rink heard me trying to spin.

This is definitely a good thing as it's going to help me spin the correct way, ie. on the sweet spot, as opposed to having the toe pick drag on the ice the whole time as I used to. I scratch as I wind up, and I scraaaaaatch in the spin (I don't scratch crossovers though!). The larger and sharper toe picks on the new blades amplify this bad habit like ten times louder, so I can ignore it no longer.

It was awful. I was trying so hard to balance on the rocker that I could not balance myself to spin. Good thing I didn't know about this beforehand, so the very first spin I showed coach was very nice and centered, albeit loud, so coach knows that I do know how to spin. I was mortified with the deafening scratch and subsequently failed every attempt after that. I know it's necessary to do things correctly, but not being able to spin again after making some progress is so frustrating!

Friday, 28 September 2012

GAM Select's first outing


So I skated in them today and I luuuuuuurve the Ultima Legacy blades! The edges grabbed the ice so well I just felt really solid on the ice. It seemed to do the turns for me almost. The bigger toe picks still scare me a bit, so I'm a little timid of jumping, but they definitely help, I could feel it when doing my toe loop.
The GAM Select boots are still under observation, I don't have much thought on them except being happy that I don't have to lace so tight anymore.

The first time with the new boots on, I laced out of habit really tight like I used to on the breaking-down old skates. I went out to skate and the arches of both my feet hurt, and almost got cramps. After ten to fifteen minutes I couldn't stand it anymore and had to go sit down and take them off. I was about to cry at this point because I thought the boots were not wide enough, even though they are the exact same size/width/brand. After resting and retying more loosely, it was still a little sore but not to the point where it hurt, thankfully. So I guess it was just me lacing too tightly around the arch area! Phew!

Asides from this little problem, I had no trouble "breaking in" the boots. In fact, I don't think I was breaking them in at all. Asides from adjusting to the new blade, the boot didn't really feel much different, just a little stiffer and more supportive. I laced all the way to the top after fifteen minutes, and could bend my knees and ankles just fine, on jumps and even sit spins!

I hope this doesn't mean that I'll break them down in less than a year...



So equipment stuff aside, I have a bit of skating news.

I did a camel spin today!!! Only one revolution but definitely a camel spin!
And my sit spin has progressed to 3 revolutions, and it was actually right on the sweet spot too!!
The Ultima Legacy blade does wonders!

Goodbye GAM Horizon, Hello GAM Select

I skated for the very last time in my first real figure skates - GAM Horizon.

GAM Horizon: 2012 Jan - 2012 Sep

They lasted for nine months, which I was not expecting. All of a sudden I had to get new skates. They aren't really all that bad, they're hardly even dirty yet. It's that big crease at the ankle on the right foot (my jump landing foot), and the fact that they are only stiffness rating 25 that's the problem. I was starting to wobble occasionally on landing and had to always tighten the laces really tight, otherwise I wouldn't be able to do things like loop jumps. So it was time for new skates.

Had a very bad time deciding whether to get Jackson Freestyle or Jackson Premiere. Got lots of advice from the nice people at skatingforums, some for and some against. There were a few people who seemed to be around the same level as me who were in Premieres, so it seemed alright at the beginning to get something so stiff. Also the pro shop guy thinks at the rate I'm skating at, I'll break down the Freestyles in another nine months, so at first, I was really leaning towards the Premieres. But in the end I still went with the Freestyle level, reasons being:
1. I asked coach J what she would recommend had I not said I'd like my new skates to last for a while. She said considering my abilities now and where she thinks I'll be in a year, the Freestyles.
2. Even though apparently, coach J thinks I jump pretty high (yay!), she thinks that the skates should be able to last at least  a year. Hopefully she's right and the pro shop guy is proved wrong!
3. I'm getting new blades too, going from a Mark IV to an Ultima Legacy with scary toe picks. I feel like there's going to be enough to adjust to with blades, I should take it easy with the boots.
4. Even though a few others have Premieres, I think I'm the only one who's jumping from something so low level as the GAM Horizon up to Premiere. That's what worries me, is that the change will be too much. (Stiffness rating from 25 all the way to 65!)
5. I'll get to keep the Ultima Legacy blades whenever the new boots die (when I will probably get the Premiere), so overall, I'll have spent an extra $220, but for a lot more comfort and hopefully more progress for a year. That's not too bad.

So anyway, Premieres are postponed to the future boot. Right now, I got the GAM Select, which is the GAM equivalent of a Jackson Freestyle. The pro shop did not have Freestyle in my size in stock, and I had GAMs to start with which fit me very well, so why not stick with it.

I deliberated between Ultima Legacy blades and Ultima Matrix Legacy blades for a bit too, but in the end decided that the extra $80 was not worth it. Also saves me the dilemma of deciding whether or not I want pink blades! Plus the pro shop had Legacy blades in stock but not the Matrix Legacy blades and I didn't want to wait any longer. First time I've seen cross-cut toe picks up close, they're really cool!

So here it is - my brand new skates. Second pair as a figure skater.

GAM Select with Ultima Legacy blades: 2012 Oct - ?

I'll be skating in them starting tonight. Can't wait!

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Back on the ice

I was off the ice for three whole weeks since I went home. Not skating and not even exercising at all for three weeks wasn't the best idea. I felt like noodles when I first got on the ice. Plus the fact that I had a headache for a week and jet lag, I felt more like overcooked noodles.

Last Thursday, public session + adult group class
I stepped on the ice for the first time and was like whoa, this feels weird. I had no strength, no edges and couldn't stop (not much of a problem really since I couldn't go fast in the first place!). Good thing most of it came back after a few laps around the rink. Crossovers and three turns were still okay, so I tried a waltz jump. Good, still there. Toe loops have always been the most stable and so were still good. Can't say the same for Salchow and loops though, they were iffy and I only landed half of them. I landed one flip and didn't even dare try a Lutz. I'd finally gotten more used to spinning and not getting so dizzy but that's all gone now! Sooooo dizzy when I tried the simplest one foot spin. And I got so tired so easily, it's like all the muscle and strength I've built up over months had disappeared in three weeks! I also had a massive fall on my butt and could not sit down without feeling pain for two days after.

Sunday, public session
Was a little bit better than the first time. Jumps were more stable, but I still didn't want to try flip or Lutz. Still got tired easily so I decided to just skate for an hour. The ice was getting resurfaced and because I could not resist the perfectly smooth ice, I hung around to skate for ten more minutes when it was done. Bad idea. I had not done a spiral since basically a month ago, and felt that smooth ice was the perfect time to try them out again. I guess I was over-excited about gliding over the ice and over I went as I tripped over my toe pick. Wham! Full body slam flat on the ice. (This is actually the second time I've done this...) Both my knees and one side of my hip bone really hurt (as was my dignity on making such a spectacular splat on a crowded session). The bruise on my right knee is now dark black/purple and even after four days, still hurt when I just  completely bend it.

Tuesday, private lesson
Was not planning on jumping since it would hurt when I land with that bruised right knee. I couldn't even walk up and down stairs without pain. Spent the session going over pre-bronze MITFs and coach deemed me fit to take the test at the end of November. Perimeter stroking and the two forward edges were already passable, and the rest she felt I will be able to polish up within two months. Finally learned the last element of the MITF, the Waltz-eight. Having learned the consecutive edges properly now has helped with this so much. I'd tried it myself ages ago (before starting my private lessons), and they were a joke! Hopefully it will all come together soon!

Monday, 27 August 2012

Freestyle heaven

I think almost all the kids have gone back to school. Freestyle this morning was so empty it was just a heaven for skating. There were five or six people on the ice. Or maybe that's just how it is on Mondays, this was the first time I've gone on a Monday. We'll see tomorrow.

The only downside for having so few people is that the same three people keep running their program music. One lady in particular I see whenever I go to freestyle during the weekdays, and she plays her music very often, so I'm pretty sick of her music already.

Because the rink was so empty, I got to try my pre-bronze consecutive edges on the middle hockey lines for the very first time! It was bliss! The ice was so smooth and flat in the middle, as opposed to all the hills and ridges and bumps where I normally have to practice over at the end. I had to wait around a lot to make sure no program skater was going to come hurtling at me, but it was totally worth it. Back outside edges are finally coming along, and back inside edges are finally happening! I also got to practice crossovers a lot due to the emptiness. These are so much better than before. I hope all these will still be good when I have my private lesson tomorrow!

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Backspin v.2

Backspins have progressed from only 0.5 revolutions (how can I even count that as spinning?) to 2 revolutions!!

Assist. coach A had first shown me the backspin from a back pivot, and saying that the left foot has to be crossed for a backspin. I could not do that at all. I love coach A and she's helped me heaps during group lessons, but the backspin education was not helping. Good thing coach C came and helped me this time in group lesson, realized I had major trouble doing any form of backspin, and told me to just start from a two-foot spin, shift weight to the right side, and pick up my left foot. Voila! There was my backspin v.2! Something that actually can be called a backspin, and my highest record after many, many tries was two revolutions. Good enough for now.

Working on sit spins too, but I always seem to have my body centered too much on the right, and not over the blade. So I end up very deep on the inside edge and keep drawing large-pizza-sized (probably even larger) circles on the ice instead of biscuit sized circles aka real spinning. Also, a few of the "better" ones (= lower) always seem to end up with me sitting on the ice lol. Trying to do camel spins as well, but right now they just look like I'm trying to do really bad spirals in a circle. I have a looooong way to go with these still.

I've completely lost the Lutz. So much for all that jubilation two weeks ago : ( I can do something that resembles a Lutz, I'm sure anyone watching will be able to tell that I'm trying to do a Lutz, but I just can't get the timing or the rotation in the air right any more. What's worse is that I'm just scared to do it! I'm so annoyed with myself. What's there to be scared of really?

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Bad day

Bad day at skating today. Half hour private lesson and half hour practice on freestyle, nothing felt right. I really should try getting up and getting to the rink earlier so I can warm up before my lesson. It didn't help that my legs were sore from playing too much volleyball on Sunday.

Started with perimeter stroking, need to really cross my feet on the end crossovers. Three crossovers minimum!
Crossovers - Remember the transitions!! I did the wrong one on the first attempt, felt like such a fool and felt guilty that I hadn't practiced enough to at least remember this. All four circles need at least four crossovers. More power.
Spirals - Right leg needs to be higher when skating on left leg.
Back inside edges - Dismal. I wish coach J had asked to see back outside edges instead. There is at least some improvement in those. Hold outside arm steady, swing inside arm away from the line then back towards the line. In dire need of practice but I really dislike this move.
Waltz jump - Swing leg all the way through. Gets more distance in jump but it's a little scary.
Salchow jump - Really check the 3-turn before jumping, don't just swing around.
Loop jump - Curve more right before take off. Don't try to spin the jump by rotating the upper body, this causes me to lean over to the right and therefore skidding on take off.
Flip jump - More speed. Push into the LFO3 with right toe pick. I tried this so many times and was really uncoordinated. Good thing I discovered before the end that I need to have left arm forwards first, then switch to right arm forward as I actually start the LFO3.

Coach J wanted to see my Lutz since I was so ecstatic last week that I'd told her already. I seriously doubted I could do it especially since everything else wasn't going so well. Thank goodness we ran out of time. I hope coach J doesn't think that I haven't been practicing at all : (


After the lesson, I worked on those consecutive edges. They really reminded me of back when I was learning piano, I always hated practicing my scales and arpeggios and Czerny. The edges feel exactly like that. Boring, repetitive but still oh so hard! But unfortunately they are a necessary evil.

I also tried the Lutz again but was just so scared of it that I couldn't even jump off, let alone try to land it. Practicing crossovers didn't go so well either. I had initially intended to skate for two hours (which I usually do not have time to do), but I was so disgruntled in the end that I left after an hour. Will be going again tomorrow (unless I refuse to get up in the morning...). Hopefully, everything will be better!

Friday, 17 August 2012

Lutz success!

Oh my gosh oh my gosh oh my gosh!

I LANDED MY FIRST LUTZ!!!

Happened in group lesson yesterday when assistant coach A made me try it again and again and again, trying to prevent me from going extremely slowly merely spinning on the toe pick. I was so shocked the first time I landed it that I forgot to fully extend my arms for the check position. Didn't really matter as I come to a full stop anyway since I don't enter fast enough, so a strong check wasn't necessary to land stably. Just goes to show how surprised I was lol.

Managed a total of four Lutzes before we moved onto other things in class. I have assis. coach A and a fellow adult skater classmate as my witnesses, so it wasn't a dream!

Next skating will be on Tuesday, quite a few days away. Hope I can still do it then!

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Back to school

Yipee! It's back to school time!

Not for me of course. As a grad student, I don't really have much of a summer in the first place, so there's no difference whether or not it's back to school time for me. What's making me happy is that the kids have gone back to school!

I arrived at my 8:30 am freestyle/private lesson yesterday to find the rink oh so empty. Coach J said it's because a lot of the kids started school yesterday. Some of them are still on summer vacation, but within a few weeks, they'd all be gone. Then the only people left on the ice will be the adults, and including me, that's basically only three people!! So happy : )


So we've finally moved on to trying the consecutive back inside edges (not that the back outside edges are anywhere near good enough yet). They're so difficult! I want to say that the back edges are the hardest part of the pre-bronze MITF, but I haven't even started the waltz-8 yet, so that might be worse. I can't wait till the rink gets really empty and I can practice the consecutive edges on the middle hockey lines. I've been working at the end lines, but it's hilly region over there, and I have to push uphill at one side of the line, and slide down hill on the other side. Coach J says I'll find it easy when I get somewhere flat. Hopefully.

I'm already falling behind on the "schedule" that coach J had proposed when I said I want to do tests and eventually competitions. The goal then was to have the pre-bronze stuff good before September, and then take the test whenever we get a test session next. Doesn't look like that's going to be happening! The edges are harder than I expected. That's what you get for not having your basics good in the first place. Good news is the next session that I can make is probably going to be end of November, so that should be plenty of time (fingers crossed).


Videoed myself practicing jumps (along with slow motion)

Waltz jumps - working on getting them higher and prettier. The timing for swinging both arms back still seem a tad too slow (because of the volleyball jump confusion).
Salchow - working on starting from backwards crossovers, into a LFO 3-turn entry, into the jump. Where is my left arm during the 3-turn?!
Loop - higher! Checkout needs to be faster and stronger.
All - keep left arm more in front in checkout position. Body swings open right now.

Toe loop jumps used to be my best and is still the only one that I can do at speed. However, when watched in slow motion, it looks bad, like a toe-waltz. Coach J say it's totally fine for a single jump. I dunno, it doesn't look very good to me, to the extent that I don't want to put it up. Wonder what will become of that jump.


Spins - trying to do a scratch spin but not really. Managed to get a few revolutions (+centered!) before falling out.

And here's my sad attempt at a sit spin.

So much to practice!

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Scratch spins and back spins

This was the week of progress for spinning!

I managed my first complete scratch spin down to the exit on Thursday. No falling out of it like usual. I think I got four revolutions out of it too! Happened two more times on Friday as well! I also rotated a lot faster than I've ever spun before. Even though the success rate is still pretty low, I think I can now feel where the sweet spot is. I can't stay there yet, but I can notice it as I wobble back and forth searching.

I think crossing my legs is part of the problem with my scratch spins, I'm too scared! I want my leg to be out there to put down when I'm going to fall. I'd just go splat on the floor if the free leg is crossed and I topple. Not having the arms out to balance/break the fall doesn't help either.

This crossing the leg business came up again as I was taught the back spin for the first time. I was hoping for a right-legged version of the one-foot upright spin, but according to assistant coach, you have to start with crossing your legs on the backspin. It's haaaaard! So scary. This is probably going to take a long long time to learn.

But I'm finally making some sort of visible progress on spins so I'm really happy : )

Monday, 30 July 2012

List of things to practice


  • Perimeter stroking (pre-bronze MIF)
  • Backwards stroking
  • Consecutive edges - FO, FI, BO, BI (pre-bronze MIF)
  • Crossovers - forward CCW, backward CCW, forward CW, backward CW
                                - on figure eights if possible (pre-bronze MIF & freeskate)
  • Forwards three-turns - LFO3, RFO3, LFI3, RFI3
  • Backwards three-turns - LBO3, RBO3, LBI3, RBI3
  • Open mohawks - left/right fowards/backwards
  • Brackets
  • Waltz eights (pre-bronze MIF)
  • Spirals - left and right, forward on a straight line (pre-bronze MIF & freeskate)
  • Power pulls - left and right leg
  • Crossrolls
  • Two-foot spins (pre-bronze freeskate)
  • One-foot upright spins (pre-bronze freeskate)
  • Scratch spins
  • Sit spins
  • Waltz jumps
  • Toe loops (pre-bronze freeskate)
  • Salchows (pre-bronze freeskate)
  • Loops
  • Flips
  • Lutz

The list is getting too long!

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Bullet train speed vs. plodding steadily along

My figure skating education is going along two tracks at very different speeds. On the one hand are the group lessons, where coach C seems to see potential in me and tries to push me along at breakneck speed. On the other hand are my private lessons with coach J, where we are working towards pre-bronze tests right now, so need to get those basic skills thoroughly good, therefore spending a lot of time slowly going through things in detail.

I'm starting to think if the bullet train ride is not very good for me. Coach C's logic is, I might not have years and years ahead of me to get everything perfect before moving on. One day I'll start working and have less time, or even worse, I might move to somewhere without even an ice rink (please no!). It's not like I'm eight years old anymore. So since she believes I can one day achieve axels and even double jumps, well then we better get on to it. It's all very fun learning new jumps and elements every other week, but I feel like I can't do any of them well.

Today in group lessons, we did a step sequence involving backwards 3-turns and another with brackets. Naturally, I had to be taken aside and taught the brackets first. I can't even do the backwards 3-turns yet! Shouldn't I be very solid with all the normal 3-turns before doing the backwards ones and brackets? Well I'm not yet! I just looked at USFSA requirements and brackets are on the gold MIF test! Really? I'm still preparing for the pre-bronze! I admit that it was pretty interesting and fun, and I did manage a few ugly ones, I just don't know if I should be getting ahead of myself like this.

Moving on to jumps. Coach C taught me the Lutz last week with an entrance of backwards gliding, stepping left foot over right foot on the outside edge, then picking and jumping. I can sometimes do an extremely uncoordinated one with much spinning on the toe-pick. Coach C felt that was good enough and started teaching me the backwards crossover entry. Man it's hard. Then she said that she's giving it three weeks then she's teaching me the axel. Oh wow, I should be excited but I'm more apprehensive. Better work on getting that waltz jump good in three weeks!

So now I have the new elements of backwards 3-turns, brackets and Lutz jumps to practice, on top of all the other "old" elements and in particular the pre-bronze MIFs. If only ice time wasn't so expensive! Then I'd probably just spend all of my free time there. As it is now, I basically only go to a one-hour freestyle session where a half-hour is my private lesson, a two-hour public session where 45 min is the group lesson, and another 2.5 hour public session. Some weeks I throw in another freestyle session. I could really do with a lot more!

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Back to basics

Day 2 of private lessons with coach J. I must say that I'm a little down right now, but the problem is mine and I still love having private lessons.

I started officially learning figure skating with joining the adult novice/intermediate group lessons, without doing the beginners class, because I already could skate forwards, backwards, swizzles, two foot turns, sort-of spiral, sort-of crossover by myself already. The upside of this decision was that I went straight into learning fun things like waltz jumps, whereas the first lesson of the beginners class they were still trying to do forward stroking. The downside though, is that my basics aren't solid. And I'm paying for that now...

I've decided to take USFSA tests, so we started working on my pre-bronze MIF. That's when I discovered how woefully lacking in those basic skills I am. My edges aren't the best, but after last week's lesson, I can now do consecutive forward outside and inside edges pretty well (I think). However, the backward ones are dismal. Good thing coach J thought to ask, but it turns out part of the problem is that I don't know how to correctly do backward stroking! Wow, for someone who's onto learning Lutz jumps, I can't backward stroke??!! I guess my backwards skating has been a home-made combination of wiggles and half swizzles, not the correct way where you do half swizzles, completing the half circle pushing all the way, and lift that leg up forward. This is now on my homework list before we can try the consecutive back edges again.

The one-foot upright spin has improved the teensiest bit. Coach J was nice enough to say that they look much better than last week. One-foot spins are still homework, and will remain there for quite a while I predict.

We spent the entire half-hour lesson today going over these basic elements. I'm not complaining about coach J. I definitely understand that I need to do this, I need to get my basics solid and she's really helping tons. But oh I feel so useless and immensely stupid. I hope coach J isn't disappointed, coach C apparently said some good stuff about me to her. And I was really itching to jump. Good thing I had another half hour on the session after my lesson, so I did do a few waltz jumps, toe loops, Salchows and loops. I tried filming myself with my iPhone too, but am having a bit of technical difficulty (as in half of the screen consisted of the edge of the board the phone was sitting on...). Jumps are infinitely more fun than MIFs and spins (sigh).

So now I'm back to the basics, trying to keep myself grounded and patient. I guess it's a good thing that I have the MIF test to work towards, otherwise it'll be hard to motivate myself to work on basic steps, even though they're very important. Working hard.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Lutz klutz

So during group lesson last night, coach C decided it was time for me to learn the Lutz. I did somewhat manage on a few tries, but there was definitely a lot of spinning on the toe pick instead of in the air, and I don't know if I was even on a left outside edge still as I picked the ice. The Lutz has got to be the most awkward jump out there. I really felt like a klutz and felt that my legs were going to tangle up and I will end up sprawled on the ground (which I did do too a few times). Mr. Lutz, whatever were you thinking when you invented this jump?


On the good side, I've now managed another combination jump, the loop-loop. They're ugly, but they're doable (even repeatable!). My loops are getting pretty consistent now, I think I'm landing them about 85% of the time. But doing combination loops really take the strength out of me. After doing a few in a row during practice today, by the time I got to the second loop, I could only manage half a revolution. My leg simply said no, it ain't happening. On top of that, I think my right knee is starting to dislike me. I better look up some knee warmups and take better care of it.


Salchow-loops however, are a mystery to me. My free leg just isn't in the correct wrapped position to keep going on to another loop, I don't know what to do with it. It'll be on the list of things to ask either coach C or coach J. Spins are also a mystery and currently feel like they will be for all eternity. I did manage my third ever scratch spin today though, so that's something. Oh and apparently, my half-hearted sit spins are actually half-hearted broken-leg sit spins, because I hold my free leg to the side and not in front. So I can't do the official sit spin yet, only sort of can do the easier version of it, for maybe two revolutions. I really worked hard on spins in practice today, but they're just so discouraging!


Again, can't wait till Tuesday for my private lesson with coach J!

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Tests and recitals and competitions! Oh, my!

After mulling over it for quite a while, I decided to bring up the matter of testing and eventual competing to my new private coach J. She seemed pretty excited and happy that I have a goal in mind to work hard towards. She suggested a timeline which seems really good but oh so sudden as I never actually thought about when to do any of this.

1. Work hard on my pre-bronze elements before my vacation in September when I won't be skating for two weeks. Have them to passing quality before I leave.
2. Choose music.
3. Take (and hopefully pass) my pre-bronze tests whenever our club offers a testing session next after I come back.
4. Start putting together a program when I come back.
5. Skate my program at our rink's Winter Recital on Nov 30 & Dec 2!!!
6. Maybe some competition Feb/March 2013.

It all seems so real now that I have an actual timeline to work to. I hope I can achieve this!! Really excited now!!!

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I had quite a scare for a day. On Saturday, I dropped my very heavy piano stool on my right big toe. It turned purple. But I thought, oh well it's just a bruise I can live with it, and still went skating on Tuesday morning for my lesson. I did avoid doing things like sticking my right toe into the ice for the flip jump, but still skated a whole hour. However, last night, my toe experienced a pain somewhere between a sharp pain and prickly pain when I held it at certain angles, no pressure exerted. I started to worry if I'd fractured my toe bone. I know I was being paranoid, but judging from my past history of fracturing my finger bone just from playing volleyball, I think I'm allowed a bit of paranoia. I went to the doctor and got an x-ray, and thank goodness, the bone is perfectly fine. I guess the doctor must have thought to herself what a waste of time for me to get an x-ray when all I did was bruise my toe. But I will admit that I'm paranoid, and I'd rather put my mind at ease and know I can keep skating, rather than skate and aggravate an unknown fracture and be out of skating for two months. I'm so glad that it's nothing but a very purple bruise, I can deal with the little pain from that. So, skating as usual tomorrow! : )

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

First private lesson

I loved it. I really like my new coach, coach J. She's really analytical like coach C told me and points out all of those tiny details that I could be improving on. I never knew how many little things I was doing wrong! The slightest wrong angle or wrong height or unused muscle or bent back can mess everything up.

We started with doing outside edges (the kind that's on the pre-bronze MIF test), something I haven't been able to steadily do. Turns out my arms were completely on the wrong side (I had them like you would when you start outside 3-turns), plus I swing my arms and legs around when I change directions. After not doing this, the edges felt so much better, but definitely could do with a lot more practice.

Then we moved on to waltz jumps. Partly because I hadn't had time to warm them up and partly because of the aforementioned volleyball jump confusion, this totally sucked. I was lucky I didn't fall. No wait... I did! But at least not on the first go when I was showing coach J what I could do. Holding the RBO edge from a backward crossover entry was the big thing here, and I'm kind of having trouble with this now.

Thankfully we moved away from waltz jumps soon to Salchows and toe loops. Hold the left arm steady and scoop up only the right arm as I jump up. Extend the left leg to the back and side and don't swing left arm open in the check position. Have a deeper LFO edge and hold it steady right before jumping Salchow. Actually do a real RFI 3-turn on a curve as opposed to turning on a straight line for toe loop. There's actually a lot more on that list of to-do's, how on earth did I do them all at once? Well I couldn't. Coach J said it's just going to take practice and practice until they become muscle memory so I don't have to think about every little thing at the same time.


Four minutes left of the lesson and time for the dreaded spins. Having trouble with backward crossover entry now for some reason, I just did the one-foot spin from a pivot. Keep spinning leg straight. Bend and hold free leg higher, with foot next to spinning leg, not behind. This actually made a huge difference, for that one time that I managed to do all this. For the first time ever, I actually felt my spin centered and was steady for many more revolutions. It was such a happy feeling, I really want it again!


Well this has become a big long list of things to do, but there's just so much to remember! I hope I still remember them when I next skate. I'm so glad coach C recommended coach J to me, she's great! Nice and funny and really helpful all at the same time. I only wish I had more money to take lessons often. For now just to catch things up a bit, it will be once a week, but afterwards I'll probably have to cut them down to once every two weeks : ( Have to make use of every bit of it. Practice!

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Half-hearted sit spin

I wish I could say yay I have a sit spin, but it is definitely not low enough to be a sit spin yet. However, seeing as this was my first attempt at them, I'm pretty pleased with what I could do, especially since I totally suck at spins. I still can't do a scratch spin, and somehow, I can't even do a normal one-foot upright spin from a backward crossover entry anymore, I just lose the edge as I go into it. Thought I'd just give sit spin a try but it actually worked better! One reason being that I always go too forward on my toepicks when I spin, because I'm afraid of falling backwards, but on a sit spin, I'm low to the ground so I dare to not lean so much forward which makes it better! I can do a non-wobbly shoot the duck now, so maybe I can get the sit spin as low as a proper sit spin should.

The jumps definitely did not feel as good as it did yesterday, guess it was just a really good day. Loops only succeeded occasionally, and flip-loops only happened once. I tried working on edges a bit more and to get my steps and turns more solid.

The rink was pretty empty for a Friday night public session, and after the Zamboni was done the ice was soooooo smooth and I was so happy : ) It really felt like I was flying as I glided over the smooth ice. Almost felt bad when I jumped or spun and scratched the ice.

Oh I really can't wait for next Tuesday, I'll be having my first private lesson!!!