I know it's been a while, but I've been busy and writing about my recital was certainly higher priority (they were on the same weekend).
I went to watch my first ever competition at adult sectionals two weeks ago. Because of it's closeness to me this year, I had considered actually competing, but in the end decided not to, since coach and I didn't want my first performance experience to be at a big competition. I discovered one other reason why I'm glad I didn't go. I would have been in pre-bronze FS group (I) had I went, which was scheduled for 7:45 am!!! The rink is a 40-min drive from my place, so I'd probably have had to leave at 6 am! Not okay! I sincerely hope that when I compete in next year's sectionals (still somewhat in the region), I will be in bronze so it will be later in the day.
Anyway, back to the competition. I really wanted to watch the group that I would have been in, but alas, 7:45 am is much too difficult. I got there in time for pre-bronze group III I think. The range of level in pre-bronze was pretty big. There were adults who could do good jumps and spins, but there were also some who didn't even seem very stable on the ice. Bronze was more interesting to watch but the jump in level from pre-bronze to bronze is huge! As is the difference between what's required on bronze tests and what's in the competition! Almost everyone had Lutzes (some pretty high and perfect), camel spins and combination spins. There was even one lady who did a cannonball spin and a change-foot sit spin! And another who did change-of-edge spirals!
This brings me to the topic of how I (used to) detest sandbagging. But after watching them, I sort of understand where it's coming from. I'm sure most of them go into competition with some desire to place. If everyone else is doing hard elements, it kind of leaves you no choice but to do that too. How else would it be possible to win? I feel like the fault comes from the lack of tighter restrictions on what you're not allowed to do (like flying spins and axels), but then, it's hard to draw the line on what should and shouldn't be appropriate at each level. So I guess sandbagging is just going to have to be an accepted matter of life. I know that I myself, assuming I can do them by then of course, would probably put in Lutzes and combo spins too. I wouldn't stand a chance otherwise, and I admit that I would like to place and get a nice medal.
The most important thing I took away from watching the competition, was that it doesn't matter if you fall! Yes of course it will damage your chances of winning, but it's not the end of the world. Skaters were falling left and right, but you just have to get right back up. Elite skaters fall often too (okay maybe not Yuna Kim). It's probably not possible to watch a competition and see no one fall at all. One of the best parts of being a figure skater is that you have the tenacity to get up and keep going till the end. Besides, everyone was so friendly and encouraging and the audience just cheered the skaters on. This thought helped me heaps when I did my recital the next day, it made me relax and enjoy my performance more.
I knew four skaters who were competing that day, two bronze, one silver and one gold, but I only know them slightly (fellow skaters at my rink). So besides saying hi and congratulating them on a nice program, I didn't really talk to anyone and was alone. They were with their friends and family, and it would probably have been awkward had I thrown myself upon them for companionship. So after sitting in the rink on cold, hard benches since 8:30 am, by around 1 pm I couldn't stand it anymore. I was sleepy, cold, rather lonely and my arms were quite tired from trying to clap and make sound while wearing gloves. And to be honest, I was getting a little bored. There's only so much that you can do in a program at those levels. I watched halfway through the silver groups and decided to leave. Which was a pity, because the gold ladies championships (qualifying) were later that afternoon, and I had been looking forward to that (also watching the skater I know). But she was around two hours later and I didn't want to wait that long, so I left.
Still, I'm very glad I went. For the half day I was there for, it was very cool watching an official competition for the first time. Hopefully, this time next year I will actually be in it!