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


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
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)
Ina Bauer/spread eagle (better yet, layback Ina Bauer)
Attitude spin (better yet, layback spin)
Back spin
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 : )