Friday, December 24, 2010

New Life through Ice Dancing

I just went to a Skating with the Stars taping this week with one of my followers and she told me to update the blog. I informed her that I needed inspiration in order to update and I had not had much lately. Fortunately for her and for me, I got a much needed dose of inspiration yesterday morning. I had my first private ice dancing lesson!

First off, I had ten minutes of bliss as I skated on an empty rink with my own iPod blaring through the speakers. Then my wonderful new ice dance coach arrived and we started working right away. He asked why I wanted to learn how to ice dance and I told him that I was hoping that it would help with my edges, my MIFs and lastly to do something new and fun. And fun it was!

We started with forward progressives (to figure skaters these are crossovers.) Interesting though - the look of a progressive is different from a typical crossover. Whereas the basic composition is the same, you have to "prebend" before you push off again. Hard to explain in words, but next time you watch ice dance, take a look at their crossovers!

Then we moved to swing rolls. Now, I have never been very good at swing rolls and was a bit intimidated with learning them. My coach had me do a very simple exercise (which killed my butt and thighs BTW) to work on the mechanics of the swing roll and then had me try them on my own. It was like magic! I was doing swing rolls!

The first dance I learned yesterday was the Dutch Waltz. Next week I will learn the Canasta Tango. It was so much fun to learn something new and have a fresh set of skills to work on.

So there you go Miss C - I was inspired enough to write. Happy Holidays :)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

"Adult" Synchro Team Dreams

About two years ago I was on a very fun ISI Adult Synchro team coached by one of my dear friends and coaches. I got to meet great skaters and have a blast on the ice with these folks. Unfortunately with adult skating comes adult schedules and after awhile kids, work and life just got in the way of consistency. I reluctantly backed out of the team when I realized that the ship was breaking up and I really didn't have the money to go down with it. With me not competing this season, I have been kinda ho-hum and working on MIFs and not much else. My eyes lit up when I received an email from another adult skater friend about a new adult synchro team starting up that would go to Sectionals in Feb. WOW! I have to be in Minnesota anyway for Muffet's synchro team - why not skate there too?!

My dreams came to a quick and crashing end when I attended the conference call this week with the coach and other skaters. Come to find out that this was not to be an "adult" team after all but rather a "Retired Senior MIFs and former Senior but aged out" Synchro team. POOP! Out of the 15 people interested, I was the lowest level skater with another gal who just passed Silver moves and another gentleman who is working on silver dance. Can you imagine? Me skating with former Senior level synchro skaters who can do outside spread eagles around me? Pish posh - I may be dumb but I am not crazy!

Here I am all broken hearted. But now I have launched another scheme! How about ice dancing? That helps with edges, right?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Winning and Losing

As we get deeper and deeper into serious competition season for the elite skaters, Muffet and I are in training mode. She had the axel and now is trying to get it back. Her double salchow seems as if it will be pretty easy for her to master and the Juvenile moves will not be a problem. She had a tough end of her season this year due to moving up to Pre-Pre mid-season and got her booty handed back to her big time. Therefore it is time to have the "discussion" with the Boss.

Now I knew this would happen eventually. Now that Muffet has far surpassed mom in the skating department, it is time for mommy to step aside and give her lessons to the little one. The Boss has a plan for me though - I don't get left out in the cold totally. Well, I do get left in the cold, on the ice, but not without the Boss helping me! I will get my lessons here and there, but the focus of the Boss's time will be with Muffet. Ah me, what beast have I helped make? Not only will she get more time with the Boss, but she will continue with her finesse coach, we will add a secondary jump coach, still on the Synchronized skating team, spin class and strength and conditioning class. No wonder dad and I have no money.

The winning is not for us but for a dear friend we have watched over the last five years we have been in this crazy sport. She has skated during the public. She has skated during the wee morning hours before school. She attends regular high school and is an AP/Honor student there as well. Miss Vanessa Lam won her first Junior Grand Prix event a few weeks ago in the Czech Republic and yesterday won as Pacific Coast Sectionals Seniors Ladies Champion. I am so incredibly happy for Vanessa as she has worked so hard and battled through pain and those hours on the ice. But mostly I am thrilled for Vanessa's mom and dad who sit with her in the cold day after day supporting her every move. They make and design her beautiful dresses. They sacrifice so she can reach her dreams. They give all of the little skaters "Good Luck" gifts before each major competition and always have a smile to share even if it is 5:00 in the morning.

So the losing is not that big of a deal for me because in all of this I skate because of my Muffet. I would sacrifice anything in the world for her to reach her dreams of skating on TV like Mirai or Caroline. I will lose so she can win.

Congratulations Vanessa, Dianne and Doug and the Lam family. We are so proud of your achievements and please know that you are an inspiration to many little skaters and their parents.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Can you tell I went back to work?

Obviously something has been keeping me from writing. I would love to tell you that it is my world travels on my yacht, but no dice... it is work. The good news is that I have not been kept from the ice and the hip flexor seems to be behaving lately.

Have you ever had one of those moments on the ice where you catch a glimpse of yourself doing something totally mundane (for me it is the three turns in the Silver MIFs)? I caught myself out of the corner of my eye in the reflection of the glass as I was coming out of a right inside three. Who in the heck is that? Where did the graceful Miss Hamill go? That woman looks like a 40 year old clod trying to skate - oh crap - that clod is ME!

So I started to mull all of this over and my mind drifted to competition. I think I am happy for the time being of looking like a clod to the handful of moms and skaters that inhabit my rink. I am fairly certain that my clod self will finally master those stupid three turns, power pulls and the outside mohawks on the eight step so I can finally show three other people (judges)just how graceful a clod can be. Now I know that my Boss will be mortified when she reads this because she never wants me to think this way - I love her so much for that. But I think I have come to terms FINALLY with how I look on the ice, and I am OK with that. I am just not ready to go show a bunch of strangers what I look like again. Maybe when I finally get that sit spin and lutz I will foray back into the throws of competition... maybe...

For now, I will putt around my rink. Get my butt kicked by the Boss and be the biggest cheerleader for my little Muffet I can be. Now for those MIFs... aarrgghh!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Two Wrongs Don't Make a Right

Remember the "Ouch!" post? Couple that with the "Type-A Disease" post and you will understand the title of this post. I have been working extra hard on my moves in the field and my loop jump technique for the past month or so. Being that I am a bit thick skulled, I usually don't "listen" too well to my body. In this case it is my right hip flexor saying, "Hello? Um, stupid? THIS HURTS SO KNOCK IT OFF!" Of course the hip flexor decides it has had enough in mid-air, leaving me to limp my way off of the ice. It was so bad on Tuesday night that I had to have my husband lift my right leg onto the couch so I could ice it. It hurt too bad to lift it myself.

After waiting for an hour and 15 minutes past my appointment time to see my doctor, today he told me to take 9 Advil a day, heat the hip before I skate, ice it after I skate and take it easy. I can do all of that except... you guessed it - take it easy. He asked if I was skating this weekend. I had to sheepishly admit that I was skating today, just hours after the appointment, and Friday for two hours. After shaking his head, he said for me to TAKE IT EASY and he would see me in 8 days.

I just yelled at Muffet to get ready to go to the rink, so I better get moving. I will keep you posted. As promised to the fine doctor, no loops today :(

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


My body decided to remind me that I am 40 today. On my first hour of freestyle my feet slipped out from under me and down I went - flat on my back! I think the sound of my body hitting the ice echoed into the next zip code!

Then near the end of my lesson today in mid-loop my butt seized up. What in the heck? How does my left butt cheek factor into the whole loop thing? Now, I know that it obviously does fit into the whole loop thing - duh - but really? Mid loop? I managed to land it, thank goodness. Then I hobbled off the ice saying "ouch, ouch, ouch" every time I stepped on my left foot.

Lame! Just when I am on a roll in my Moves in the Field! I guess I will be sitting on an ice pack tonight...

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Type A Disease

I have an affliction caused by obsessive Type A disease. I discovered this horrible problem last night as I listened to a fellow adult skater who was talking about all of her new "tricks" she can do. She has "one-upped" me in the jump department and I am pretty sure she has her sit spin too. My disease flared up something fierce! I need a cure, and fast!

Since last night I have looked back on my little one and her development as a skater. She started kinda slow, caught on about a year ago and is in a little lull again. I don't think that adults are too far from this dynamic either but maybe our lulls can be longer and more pronounced? I am on the ice about four hours a week with one hour of lessons if I am lucky. Now I don't know how much this other gal skates - more or less - doesn't matter. I need to step back and create my own cure.

I have to remember that I am my own person and that I can't compare my successes or failures to any other skater. I will learn and be able to progress as quickly as my body will allow me to do so. That is all I can hope for. Just like I don't like to compare my Muffet's progress to others, I should not do this to myself either.

Have I done it? Have I found a cure? Only time will tell!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

She's On To Me

I think that the Boss knows something is up with me. I am not sure if she just knows me that well or if I am being that transparent. You see, when I don't have a "goal" in front of me, like a competition or looming test session, I get kind of lazy and disaffected with my skating. My right knee has been bothering me a bit lately and my feet were hurting pretty bad after the two hours of freestyle this afternoon - but those are just excuses to me. The Boss knows...

How do I know that she knows? Well... she told me today that she wants to clean up my program (which I have not done since April) and she wants me to test my Silver MIFs in December. She basically said she is going to throw me out there whether I like it or not. POOP! I was getting so good at being lazy.

I know that she is right though - darn her. I need to get those darn Silver moves done and just sit down in my sit-spin so I can get the Bronze test over with. I need immediate goals in order to motivate me to perform and get my act in gear. I was not feeling it today however. My 15 - 20 minutes of lesson were not spectacular by any stretch of the imagination. I am doing this weird pre-rotation on my loop now for some reason. The flip was being pesky as I can't seem to get it landed on a toe. I could not spin to save my life. I came home kind of dejected and down in the mouth.

Now I am thinking more clearly and mindfully. How lucky am I to have a coach who knows me well enough to understand what will get me to work? How fortunate am I to have the time, health, and resources to do what I love almost every day of the week? Pretty darn lucky and fortunate, I would say. So, thanks Boss for knowing me better than I know myself. Now if we can just get into Muffet's psyche! ;)

Friday, July 9, 2010

It's the Little Things

I think it is hilarious that for adult skaters it is often the smallest victories that make us so happy. Today I was able to take advantage of something that just simply made my day - skating for an hour for FIVE BUCKS! AND - there were six people on the ice! Woo hoo!

I was at El Segundo again this morning so Muffet could have her last day of skate camp and her private lesson with BeBe Liang when I ran into a dear skating friend of mine. She broke her foot awhile back and this week was her first time back on the ice since the break. It was so wonderful to see her back on skates and even more wonderful to spend some time with her. Our time together usually consists of being at a competition either for us or for our girls, so we rarely get to just skate and talk. It was so fun.

To my great surprise two other dear skating friends were on the session as well. They are both getting ready to leave for Germany to participate in the World Gay Games so they were busy perfecting their programs. SG blew me away with his program to "I'm Too Sexy" - not only is it a kick in the pants, but it is fantastic with content! I am sure he will be a true crowd pleaser.

My other friend DB is strutting out in her artistic program that suits her to a "tee"! But it was not her program that I am choosing to revel in today - oh no - I have already seen that program in competition. What I am choosing to celebrate is that she finally has a solid one foot spin! She kind of laughed at herself when she told me, but I am so proud of her. It was her small victory that reminded me why I keep strapping on my skates and getting on the ice. Sometimes I think there should be a separate division for those of us who didn't skate as kids - those of us who only stepped on the ice a few years ago and have managed to stay on our feet most of the time. Not that I begrudge adult skaters who skated as kids any of their successes, but sometimes I am amazed at what true "adult" skaters have been able to accomplish in just a few short years.

So here's to you DB - kick some ice in Cologne and one-foot spin to your heart's content! I will be cheering for you!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Skating with a Star

I signed Muffet up for a week of "Summer of Excellence" skate camp in El Segundo. This is billed as "Frank Carroll's" skate camp and the Boss thought it would be a great opportunity for Muffet to be exposed to elite coaching and other high caliber skaters. She started on Monday at 6:40AM freestyle and did not finish her skating until 1:15PM - needless to say her legs were jello that night. She had her first private lesson with Olympic Silver Medalist Henrick Walentin on Monday, had group lessons with Mr. Carroll, Tiffany Chin and Bebe Liang and all in all had a blast.

I had a wonderful surprise on Monday when I picked up her skate schedule. I had requested a lesson for Muffet with Mr. Carroll and he was not on her original schedule. Her revised schedule on Monday morning left me scrambling to change her entire skate schedule to accommodate her lesson with... Mr. Carroll! She was so excited. Being the bonehead that I am at "oh-dark-thirty" in the morning, I forgot my video camera and still camera and had nothing but my eyes to document the epic event. I felt kind of bad for her in that she had already been skating since 7:40AM and her lesson was scheduled at 4:20PM. But my oh my were they cute together! He started her out by working on presentation and then moved to jump technique. By the end of the lesson she was working on her axel and getting tips from the best coach in the business. He held her hand as they moved from element to element, skated with her on the ice and spoke to her with such kindness. She was such a big girl - listening intently and working hard. I will never forget it - I hope she doesn't!

I strongly believe in surrounding children with greatness if you want them to achieve greatness. This is why I choose to have Muffet skate where she skates as she is surrounded by elite skaters on a regular basis. It was such a joy to watch her learn from the coach of the reigning Men's Olympic and World Champion and many other up-and-coming super stars. I had to pinch myself to make sure it was all really happening! What a lucky little girl.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Old Bones

Today was a fabulous day at the rink. The 7:40AM session was virtually bare with only four or five skaters. The 8:50 was not much worse so all was good...

Muffet and I skated two hours today - all during lesson! I have had hour long lessons before, but today I think the Boss has me for a good hour and a half. Muffet has new skates and didn't choose to listen to the pro-shop folks regarding punching out the fronts of the boots, so she was kaput after about 20 minutes on one session and 20 minutes on the next one. That meant that the Boss had nothing to do but chase me around the rink.

I had my usual rocky start with only a thirty minute warm-up. Three turns were shoddy. Power pulls were less than powerful. However, by the start of the second hour I was EN FUEGO! Jumps and cross-overs were stellar - so much so that I got to lutz today! Woo hoo. Now, don't get me wrong... it wasn't really a lutz, but I think I have the general concept down.

My old bones need at least 45 minutes to warm up. Is that so much to ask? Do you think that the competition committee and the referees would allow me to just skate around on the ice for that long before I compete?

Friday, June 25, 2010

My Muse

Yeah, yeah, yeah... I know. I have been AWOL for quite some time. Thankfully I have had some major changes in my work life but those changes have also been very time (and energy) consuming. I just returned from a long business trip where I spent three whirlwind days in San Francisco and four HOT days in Las Vegas. It feels good to be home and more importantly - back on the ice!

There has been quite a stir of activity around me since my friend Lexi wrote about my blog in Skating Magazine. It is kinda silly to see myself in full spiral mode in the official publication of USFSA. I had not thought a whole lot about my blogging until one of the young ladies I enjoy skating with spoke about it with me this afternoon. KH was getting ready to skate in a competition this evening and I told her that she would be my "muse" tonight as I wrote after a long absence from my blog. So here it goes...

When ever I think I have it bad in my life, I think of KH and her family. My muse has life-threatening allergies that literally could kill her if she and her family were not ever vigilant. Recently our rink did a wonderful Spring show of Alice in Wonderland on ice and KH was in the cast. Great lengths were taken to ensure that all participants knew that food could not be brought into the area in and around my friend. Unfortunately, some folks did not listen and the young lady had to be taken home in fear of her health and safety. She has been unable to do many of the things most kids take for granted - like eat anything she wants or even go to regular school. Despite all of this, she manages to smile, work hard and be such a wonderful friend to Muffet and everyone else at the rink. She makes me remember that I must be thankful for my health and the health of Muffet and my family. She inspires me to push just one more time to get that edge. She makes me smile when she says hello.

Thanks KH for being such a great kid! I will gladly NOT eat a peanut butter sandwich in your honor! PS - Hope you kicked ice at Paramount tonight! XOXO

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Excuse My Absence

I realized today that I have been rather lazy about blogging lately. Sorry about that. Actually it was a post by Ryan Jahnke this week that has inspired me to take to the keyboard tonight. Ryan asked his "friends" to comment on what figure skating means to them. There were many great responses- from the hilarious to the downright heart wrenching. Mine was kind of middle of the road (I feel beautiful, graceful and can defy gravity at least for a little while every day.) It made me realize that the very reasons I love to skate are shared with so many others out there.

On the subject of my new skates... well... I skate barefoot. I know, I know, it is totally gross and makes the skates break down faster, but I can't do it any other way. I actually thought that there was something wrong with my beautifully crafted, fully custom Harlicks that Phil designed for me because I was wearing TIGHTS! I even went as far to call Phil and tell him that I was sending him my right boot to be fixed. Lo and behold, all I had to do to fix the problem was to take off the darn socks. It seems that the socks make my feet slip around like mad and make the bottoms of my feet hurt like crazy! When I don't wear socks, I can grip the bottom of the skate with my toes and feel way more in control. And... my feet don't slip! Probably because they are sticking to the sides of the boot with sweat - EEEEWWWWW! Oh well - I am glad that I don't have to send my skate in because I would have been off the ice for at least ten working days and we can't have that now!

I have decided to briefly retire from competition for a bit. I have been working on my Silver Moves and just basic skating skills. I have even been entertaining possibly taking ice dancing - I hear that it is great for edges :) I have to talk to the Boss and the handsome young man to set that all up.

Little Muffet is still chugging along. She kicked ice at her last competition and we are very proud of her. The axel is still not totally happening. We have gone away from "rewards" and now are going to set her up with an elite jump coach for a few lessons. We are hoping that the mere "scare" factor may get her to land it on her own. Keep your fingers crossed.

Well, that is all for now. Muffet and I are gearing up for Alice in Wonderland on Ice! She is a flower and I am a Black Card. Fun, fun, fun!

Monday, April 26, 2010

New Skates = Having a Baby

Yes, I know. Strange analogy. But think about it this way. If women actually remembered the kind of pain they went through after having the first child, they would never even fathom having a second! Somehow our bodies are programmed to forget the pain so that we will stupidly think that having another child is a great idea. Important for continuing the existence of the human race, I suppose.

Well, I liken this "forgetfulness" to having new skates. They are so pretty! They smell nice, like a new car. They don't feel too bad when you are doing the heat molding in the skate shop. But as soon as the blades are on and those puppies are strapped to your feet on actual ice - whoa Nelly! THESE SUCKERS HURT!!!

I had a "lesson" today - haha. Edges was all I could manage with a few poorly executed cross overs and forward cross rolls. I felt like I was skating in brand new ski boots with impossibly tight bindings. But what will I do tomorrow?

I will pay for the public session and stroke around for an hour. I will stand in my kitchen and cook dinner in them. I will do just about anything to get these darn boots broken in sooner rather than later.

In approximately two year's time, I will forget how bad this hurts now and plunk down another $850 for another pair of beautiful custom Harlicks. I will be waiting impatiently for those beautiful boots to arrive and they will be so pretty. They will feel great in the skate shop. I will step on the ice thinking that these beautiful boots can't possibly hurt as bad as I think they do. THESE SUCKERS HURT!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

One hurdle cleared and one not cleared

I tried not writing about my upcoming competition (yesterday) in the hope that maybe the skating goddess would share some positive mojo with me as I stepped on the ice. I didn't have the typical nerves leading up to this competition that I usually do and I was practicing fairly well. One horrible development this past week was that my right boot decided that it wanted to totally break down and allow my heel to slosh around back and forth. I tried to tie it tight enough for my foot to be locked in and that just cut the circulation off to my toes - not good.

My artistic was first and usually my better event. I did not have my best outing on that one. My boot was loose and my knees were even looser. I stumbled on a simple salchow and looked like Bambi. I missed 1st place by one judge although I don't know how!

Then came the freeskate. Now this is the one I usually freak out about - the elements are more difficult and I am not as comfortable with the whole shooting match. But during the warm-up I felt pretty good. I was landing my jumps, spins were solid, footwork was not too bad. I skated second, so I didn't watch the gal ahead of me. I went out and skated what I thought was the best I have done that program in competition. I felt pretty good coming off of the ice. The major thing was I WAS NOT NERVOUS! I had nervous energy, but never once did I feel shaky or wobbly out there. I executed my program to the best of my ability at that very moment and I felt good.

The judges did not think so. Last place again. Needless to say, I was crushed and very disappointed. I kind of watched the gal that skated after me and was not impressed so... what does that say about my skating? I must look horrible!

I managed to control my nerves and that was a major hurdle for me. I have tried everything under the sun to help me manage those butterflies and I was able to do it on my own. The second hurdle is going to be harder for me to clear and that is to improve on my on-ice presence.

So, I have decided (without talking to my coach yet) that I am going to take some time off from competition - maybe only do artistic for awhile, so I can focus on becoming a more graceful and poised skater.

Lots of people say to me - "Well, at least you get out there and compete!" But that is not enough for me. I don't want to look like an idiot out there which is what I must look like. This last hurdle seems a million light years away from me right now - but just like my nerves, I will be able to clear this someday too.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Happiness is...

a landed flip, a happy coach, MIFs that are coming along.

Can you tell that I had a great practice yesterday? I worked super hard but felt so great when I was done. For the first half-hour we worked on MIFs while we chatted in between. My three turns in the field are actually starting to take shape and that is very exciting for me. I would love to test these by the end of the year. I don't think I will make it before the rule change takes effect, but who knows? Stranger things have happened.

During the second half-hour (bisected by a cute little Muffet's lesson) we worked mostly on stroking and cleaning up the connecting moves in my freeskate. We concentrated on extension on all cross-overs and making my movements between elements look more polished than rushed. It felt so good to dig into the ice with my cross overs. It made me think back to my pre-Bronze test with the figure eight pattern with the forward and backward cross overs. Boy I hated doing those at the beginning, but once I got them down I was so proud. I had not really practiced cross overs like that since I passed that test - I think two years ago now! I will be adding them back into my warm-up routine to get my body retoned.

I am feeling very good about competition coming up. I have a new state of mind regarding why I am competing and did a pretty darn good run-through.

Happiness is...

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Frustration Live and In Person

Today was a tough day on the ice for Muffet and me. She decided to read a book on the way to the rink and got kind of car sick as we had to sit in a traffic jam on the way. I was running on only 2 out of 8 cylinders this morning as I was exhausted by my previous days activities (non-skating related.) I was hoping for a nice easy freestyle... so much for pipe dreams!

Muffet is so bloody close to landing her axel that it is now frustrating the heck out of her. She wants it SO BAD and it is right there at her toe tips. She had a few good ones today but none that you could call "landed." After that she did her programs twice through and was great until another coach was in her way and she went down. She was OK - but mad, a little queasy and frustrated. She cried and asked to get a drink of water. She came back on and did a stellar run through of her Artistic - pouty lip and all.

Then it was my turn. Jumps were OK. Even though my coach said, "Let's leave it (the flip) for now." Which translates into, "Wow, that still looks like poo even though I have now told you five times what to fix." Footwork was excellent. Spins were so-so. We tried to get me to "check-out" of my back spin, but I am lucky to even find my toe pick on that darn spin anyway.

Let's get that program out there - really? I can't even lift my feet - UGH! But I was reminded that I only have two weeks before my next competition and I need to train for that. Poop. I was not too bad until my flip (flat footed landing) and another coach got in the way of my footwork.

It was after we left the ice and were picking up our things that I noticed that Miss Muffet was sobbing. She came over and sat on my lap and said, "There is nothing wrong with me" through huge crocodile tears. There was clearly something wrong with my baby girl. She is so frustrated and it finally manifested itself right there on the bench watching the Zamboni.

I was warned by parents of higher level skaters and coaches alike - there would be tears with the axel. But I thought that my Muffet would breeze right through it and not be affected. Boy was I wrong! This is it - the make it or break it jump - and Muffet knows it. I hugged her. I kissed her. I told her that it would all be alright and everything would work out. That one day, it would just happen and she would wonder what the fuss was all about. But right now, it is not just happening. Early skating skills came very easy to Muffet. Now she has to think about it and really work the brain/body connection. I know that all too well! My brain says that I am still 20 years old but my body does not listen!

It is moments like these that I am so thankful I strapped on a pair of skates four years ago and joined my baby on the ice. I understand that frustration as a skater and as her mom. My mommy hat will be much broader than my skater hat until that axel is under her belt. Oh boy - then it is on to doubles! This crazy sport!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Video is Evil

I think I have posted before that I hate watching myself skate. In my mind I glide across the ice like Dorothy Hamill and I like to keep it that way, thank you.

Today Miss Muffet had an hour long jump lesson with Dart Fish video analysis. For those of you who do not know what Dart Fish is - think slow motion video of every move you make on the ice. The coach can set sync points with great skating examples against your video to show where you are making errors on jumps from the entry into the jump to the landing. Muffet is having trouble getting the axel so we called in the big guns this morning. She was totally pooped by the end of the lesson and we had 5 minutes of time to spare.

My coach decided that it would be a good idea to Dart Fish my flip. UGH! Dart Fish was really cool when I was watching Muffet but just atrocious when looking at myself. I was all hunched over, my tapping leg was basically in a spiral position before I tapped, my tap was after my free leg went through and my free leg was way out to the side in the air totally away from my body even before I landed. That says nothing about my arms and my FACE - oh my goodness.

Needless to say, I have lots of work to do. I will have to bring out my inner Dorothy Hamill tomorrow I guess!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Figure Skating Old School Style

Sorry it has been awhile since I last wrote. I have been so busy with kids, work and have had no inspiration actually. Until yesterday...

My coach and I have been kinda dabbling with the Adult Silver MIFs for about a year and a half now. We work on them on and off (mostly off) but lately we have been working on them quite consistently. I have the forward cross rolls down pretty well and the back cross rolls are coming along. My spirals are good to go. The eight-step is horrid mostly because the outside edge on the mohawk is driving me crazy. We have not really work too much on the power pulls. I have the concept down but struggle getting the rip. Worst of all for me are the three turns in the field.

Yesterday my coach decided to break it down old school! We actually did patch for 30 minutes! Doing this pattern over and over again was difficult - don't get me wrong - but totally eye opening. I actually felt the back push into the circle - a revelation. It was like the skating goddess was shining down on me at that moment. A beautiful thing.

Now I know that the old school figures were boring for judges to watch, tedious for skaters and silly for a television audience, but USFSA had to just get rid of them? While the MIFs have some of the same type of skills embedded in them, there is something to be said for the practice of the very thing that made this sport FIGURE skating instead of just ICE skating. I remember watching Dorothy Hamill doing compulsory figures and saying to my mom, "I want to do that." Scott Hamilton writes about his experience with figures in his most recent book. How they helped shape him as a skater and as a person. Figures take patience, diligence, and a sense of calm that is lacking for most skaters today. I can't imagine my daughter standing on a square of ice, tracing the same pattern over and over again for hours until it was perfect. I wish I could - but that is not what skating is today.

So, I will do my patch as the kid almost runs me over in her double lutz and the rest of the skaters pass me by. I will do my figures with patience and hope that I can use them to make me a better skater and ultimately a better person.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


Thankfully I was able to pull myself together and skate a clean artistic program this morning. I felt good - had fun and even flirted with the judges.

After my absolute melt-down on Friday, I have decided that I need to stop being such a baby and just work harder.

My coach knows what I am capable of doing and I need to trust her judgement.

My plan is to work to pass my Bronze Free test by the end of the summer and move forward.

Not much else to say.

I will keep you posted!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Sasquatch on Ice

Step right up folks! Grab your ticket for Sasquatch on Ice - or should I say Sasquatchette on Ice. She is dressed in a pretty blue dress and has great music. Her legs turn to jello and can't push or crossover. Her shoulders are up around her ears and her back is hunched over.

I guess you can tell that I didn't have the greatest outing today. I thought that anything would be an improvement over the last competition where I forgot the last third of my program, but alas, I managed to make it worse. I didn't fall, but the program was slow and it looked like I had forgotten how to skate!

I really don't know why I compete. I hate every minute of it. I hate how my knees and legs hurt after skating a million hours a week to get ready. I hate that I have to "push" myself by putting more difficult elements in my program that make me ten thousand times more nervous. I hate the way I feel when I warm-up. I hate feeling like a fool when I skate horribly. I hate feeling that I look like a crappy skater to my friends and family. I guess I just hate it.

People always ask me if I had fun after I skated my program. The answer about 95% of the time is "no." It is agonizing and I can't wait to get off of the ice. I can't wait to go and get my skates and dress off and get the heck out of there. I love skating. I love my coach. I hate competition.

I started competing because I didn't think that I was that bad of a skater. I thought that I was pretty good, in fact. Competing has literally scrubbed that out of me. I feel like I need to go back to the drawing board and start building from the ground up. Honestly I have no idea what I need to do. Sit and reassess, I guess.

I have my artistic program on Sunday. I like that program. I have fun skating that program. Maybe I will have a more uplifting post Sunday afternoon.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Be Careful What You Wish For

My beloved coach went to go and play in the snow this past weekend. I always worry that she will end up with a giant cast on and won't be able to coach me for an extended period of time. I know, selfish - I also would never want to see her get hurt either. I wished and wished that she would get back in town in time for my lesson today. I got the Facebook message that she busted her butt to get to the airport in time and there she was, almost on cue, for my lesson today.

She asked if it was OK that she take me for the entire hour today. Really? Won't Muffet be upset? No, Muffet said, "Mom, I want to give my lesson to you today." OK - here we go...

Three full run-throughs later I am pooped out and can hardly lift my legs to put my guards on. How do people do long programs? I watched Mirai skate on Sunday and she was throwing triples after having a jump lesson in the morning and this was her third or fourth hour of skating. Yeah, yeah - I am not 16 any more - that is for sure. But jeez! My body is saying, "What in the bleepity bleep was THAT all about?"

So, the moral of the story is be careful what you wish for. I wanted to have my lesson today - and boy did I get it!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Back in the Groove

I finally feel like I am regaining some sanity both in my personal life and on the ice. It too a major knock-down-drag-out to shake me into realizing that the doldrums I was experiencing a few weeks ago was connected with other events in my life. I am happy to report that I am on the mend and the doldrums are behind me now.

Today I may have not skated a perfect program, but pieces of it are really starting to feel "right." Does that make sense? Footwork that a few weeks ago my coach threatened to make "easier" now feels like second nature. The camel spin in place of the sit feels like it belongs there. The toe loop that I used to freak out about doing as it is done from a balls-out spiral entrance seems like no big whoop now. It is such a great feeling. That the flip is the only element now that is causing me grief makes me feel on top of the world.

To top this all off, my little Muffet passed her Preliminary MIFs Thursday and is so close to landing that axel clean that it is hurting our feelings. I have never seen her work so hard on the ice and it is so beautiful. She doesn't realize it, but she is my inspiration each and every day. I cried so hard when I watched Joannie Rochette skate mostly because I would never want to miss seeing my baby reach her goals in life. I think Muffet is rather amazing.

So, here is to another great week of work towards Adult Sectionals in about two weeks. I feel way more prepared than I did for the first competition of the season. Finally I am back in the groove!

Friday, February 19, 2010

In the Doldrums

I have not been writing lately, not because I have not been skating, but because I have been feeling kinda blah. I have not been super inspired by my own skating. My little Muffet skated like a champ last weekend. The men's Olympic skating has been ok. But a friend asked me to update, so here it is.

Actually my skating has been pretty awesome lately. I am happy with my progress on jumps and footwork. My camel is actually quite nice. The sit-spin leaves much to be desired, but I am hoping that will change by the summer. I had to buy new boots last weekend. Goodbye $800! I have a love/hate relationship with new boots. I am excited because they are so pretty. I hate breaking them in! I had my blades sharpened last weekend and I feel like I am sailing now on the ice. Barely a push and I am halfway across the ice.

All in all I have nothing to complain about. I think I am just in the doldrums. I need to get out of this funk since I have sectionals in three weeks. I am not even worried about competing. I am actually excited to skate my program again. I am finally in charge on the ice - not my program and as my coach says it is starting to "gel."

Muffet and I are skating today. I am hoping to see her land her axel today. Maybe inspiration will hit me and knock me out of the rut!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

She Knows Me Too Well

Unfortunately today was another public session day - but alas... I had ice!

I have been having a bit of trouble convincing my feet, legs, and hips that they can properly execute a right back outside to inside 3-turn. I get way up on my toe and in the end it looks more like a weak attempt at a backward loop. This might not seem like such a big deal, but I have been working on these silly things for about a year and a half now. To make matters worse, my coach decided that one of these said 3-turn would be a perfect addition to my footwork sequence in my freeskate program. Not only would I get to practice them more often, but maybe eventually I could actually DO one as well - in competition!

We had a few moments today to work on footwork after Muffet's lesson and before my coach's next person. I flubbed up that part about three times until I said, "I can't do it." She said, "Fine. Here's what you can do. I am making it easier." Now to the untrained ear, that sounds great - "easier." Everybody likes "easier." But not to this Type A++++++ personality - Oh no! "Easier" means "cop-out", "wimpy girl", "baby stuff." I tried the new way twice and then went back to the old 3-turn pattern and said "I'll show HER! I can do it right." And I did.

It is bad that she knows me so well. She knew that I would not be able to stand that she made my program "easier" and that I would go back to the old way just to prove to her (and myself) that I was not a wimpy girl. When it was time for my lesson, she smiled ever so slightly when I told her that I wanted to keep it the way it was and I showed her that I could do it correctly. Darn her! But really darn me for being so easy to read. I don't do anything half-way. If I am going to do my program, it had better be the toughest program I can handle. You can move elements to more natural places or switch one spin with a more difficult spin, but no making it "easier." I won't stand for it! Even when we are just starting out I never ask, but want to make sure that I am maximizing my point values with every move in the program. I want it to be just hard enough for me to be uncomfortable.

She knows me too well - and I love her for it. She pushes me when I don't want to be pushed. She pats me on the back when I need a pat. She makes me feel capable, beautiful and graceful on the ice. How lucky I am!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Being Very Spoiled

I turned on my phone this morning finally at 11:00AM to discover a text from my coach (sent at 8:15AM, sry) that our usual freestyle sessions were cancelled. She asked if we wanted to reschedule or skate our lessons on the public. Knowing how much space this old woman needs to land her jumps (hahaha) I told her that we would reschedule. I forgot, however, that Muffet is skating at ISI Winter Classic this weekend and had a lesson scheduled with her partner at 4PM. Bummer! We packed up and headed to the rink.

I have grown to strongly despise public sessions. Usually at our rink they are not too bad if it is not a holiday for kids, aside from the stupid hockey coaches who try to run speed drills with teenage boys in full pads down the center of the smallest ice surface on earth. But alas, today was a holiday and the session was packed with toddling adults and kids hugging the walls for dear life. Mix in the two high level coaches who were attempting to conduct their regular lessons out there and it was chaos. The ice had not been cut for at least three hours. The terrible top 40s music was blaring out of the speakers. It was HORRIBLE!

The good news is that Muffet and her partner looked fantastic and my toe didn't hurt today. I was able to get some jumps in and felt solid. Nobody got hurt - as soon as Muffet was done with her lesson she said, "Let's get outta here!" Which is VERY rare indeed. I usually have to drag her off the ice.

As I was driving home, I realized just how spoiled we are. Our freestyles occur just about every hour of the day on a beautiful Olympic sized surface. Rarely are there more than 10 people on any given session and most are very kind and courteous of one another. On occasion there will be a stranger there who tries to run us over, but usually we have a clean sheet of ice to work our magic. I have heard stories of skaters in Japan who have no choice but to train on public ice as there is no such thing there as "freestyles." I remember hearing of how Oksana Baiul trained in an old warehouse with the floor covered in water then frozen as her surface. I have skating friends who travel hours just to get to the nearest rink.

So as horrible as it was, we were able to do our favorite thing in the whole world just minutes from our home. Sure we had to share the ice with about 50 other people, but who knows, maybe we inspired one of them to start up in our sport. Next time I skate a public, I will remember just how fortunate we are.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Zen of Figure Skating

So, I am a Buddhist. This comes as a major shock to most people who know me only because of my appearance. As with any practice of faith, I struggle to balance my human nature with what I know I should be doing in my daily life. Recently I have allowed outside influences to pull me away from my core beliefs and lead me toward the negative. It has been noticeable - to my family, my colleagues, and my friends. I noticed it too, but was unable to shake the human nature in me that kept focusing on all that was going wrong at that time rather than sending my energy to the positive and wonderful things around me. I have decided to make a concerted effort to get back in touch with my core beliefs and step away from the negative. That brings me to the Zen of figure skating.

In my quest for thinking of the positive and only focusing on the positive, today I ignored that my right toe hurt a bit and my knee was a touch sore. Instead I focused on the fact that I was able to run through my program three times today successfully. I worked on a spin that I love - the camel. I had my salchow/loop today. My flip was very flippy. I felt tired, happy and positive when I stepped off of the ice. The Zen is the power of positive energy. If I fall, I get back up and try again. If I don't do my program just right, I fix it and do it again. I am not going to worry that I have let my coach down or what others think of me. I am going to focus on me and my best efforts.

I have an amazing life. I have a beautiful, loving husband and two fantastic, talented kids. I have a job that I love - minus the adults. I can practice my amazing hobby any time I want. I have friends and family who support and love me. I have a beautiful home in a beautiful place. The Zen will simply allow me to focus my energy into what is positive - love, faith and figure skating!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

My Own Personal Train Wreck

I really think that I am a fairly good skater. For an adult that never skated as a kid and only started 4 years ago, I think that I am not too bad. That all changes when I have to compete. It is like I lose my mind.

My artistic went very well. I placed 3rd out of 6 and was out "costumed" by one lady and out skated by another. I felt pretty good going into the freeskate. I was calm, but energetic. My warm-up was OK. I wasn't really landing my loop or flip like I wanted and the sit spin was not in the cards. So I was first on the ice in my group.

The first few seconds were not too bad. I sort of landed my salchow/loop, did fine in the next pass, threw out the sit spin, was fine on the spiral/toe loop and then it fell apart. I didn't land my flip correctly which got me flipped around the wrong way. I then totally blanked out. I forgot where in the heck I was supposed to be and what I was supposed to be doing. I improvised the best I could, did a crappy back spin and ... well there ya go.

At least they call this competition the Mid-Winter "Warm-Up" cause boy did I need it!

Now I could simply throw in the towel and say, "The hell with this crap." But NOOOOO, I am too hard headed for that. I will be busting my butt at the rink between now and March 24 trying to get this thing licked. No silly program is going to hold me back.

Thankfully I am taking tomorrow and Monday off to rest. I really don't want to see a rink for at least 48 hours.

Friday, January 29, 2010

As Good As it Gets

Well there it was. The last practice before competition tomorrow. Of course the rink would have to screw me up by moving the start time of the freestyle up ten minutes and then cutting ten minutes off of the back end time. This totally messed me up because my friend was coming in to coach me in my coach's absence. So I frantically threw on my skates while I cursed under my breath at all of the hockey players in the world, ran to ask another friend to text my substitute coach of the new times, and got my butt on the ice.

There was no way to play music on this particular rink - perfect - I will just hum it I guess! My texting friend came to the rescue with her laptop and plugged it into the speakers. I did not know that her CD player has been broken for six months, so I popped my music in and it started to play. I had inadvertently fixed her CD player. Yea me. I got a big hug for that one.

My substitute coach ran out with just about 15 minutes to spare. Just in time for me to run through my Artistic (easy peasy) and once through the free skate (couldn't hear the music). I was fine. I will be fine. It is as good as it is going to get and I am OK with that.

Best of all are all of my great friends who have been texting me good wishes, hugging and sprinkling good thoughts on me at the rink, and leaving me inspirational messages on my wall and on my phone. Skating has given me such a wonderful, loving and open set of friends that I don't know what I would ever do without them now! They save me time and time again and I hope they know I would do the same for them over and over again.

So this one is for you AdM, "Team Balboa", SW, SS, LW, JJ, MR, JS, JB KH, PD and all of my other friends who make me smile. It is as good as it gets!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

I'll Write Anyway

Remember the work issue? Well it just keeps blowing up in my face just when I think it is gone. I am actually writing through tears right now, but I think that it will help to focus on skating for a bit.

Today was not a total loss on the ice. I was able to almost finish my program on time. I landed most of my jumps clean. My sit spin may become a scratch for this competition. But the big breakthrough for me today was that I breathed. I know what you are thinking - well of course you were breathing or else you would be dead! That is not the kind of breathing that I am talking about. I breathed deeply between each element of my program. I only skated one element at a time and tried to skate it strong and with conviction. I started my program with my chin held high and my arms strong. I pressed my shoulders down so I would not look like Frankenstein. My coach said, "You did the best you could" which could mean - "OK not too bad" or "Well... there ya go." I felt like I had moved a mountain.

I don't have high expectations for this weekend. My hope is that I don't fall and I don't place dead last. I will be putting myself on the ice, so I don't have to worry about letting my coach down in person. But most of all, I hope that I can just breathe and let the world escape from me for just a few moments. I think I deserve that.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Momma Got Her Loop Back

I was darned determined to kick the ice's butt (if ice has a butt) today. Muffet and I skated the 5PM freestyle today and it was nutty! There were kids everywhere! I was a bit apprehensive when I first started out as my right hamstring is bugging me a bit. But again, I was determined to kick butt.

The hour I skated was a bit silly, but I was able to jump some, spin some and footwork some. It was in my "Jump C" class that momma got her loop back. At the beginning of my program I have a salchow/loop that has been giving me fits all week. For some reason I either rush the loop or land it flat. With a little help from my jump class coach - voila - it came back prettier than ever before. I was so happy! Then the flip was landed fairly well and I was able to move to lutz! Yipee!

The competition saga still wages on... three days to go...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


I have no idea why I choose to compete in skating. I absolutely hate doing it. I get so freaked out that for a week before I compete I am a basket case. Why does this happen? I am not afraid to be in front of people. I danced for 20 years, have spoken in front of thousands of people and generally love to be the center of attention. But for some reason, this is different. My legs get stiff and shake, my hands go numb, and I can't breathe. It is kinda hard to skate balls out for a minute and forty seconds and look graceful when you can't spin without shaking and you can't feel your hands!

I was not able to skate yesterday due to another commitment, so my coach had me for an hour today. I may as well have stayed at home. It was pitiful! I couldn't land anything to save my life - except for a flip for some reason. My spins were off center. My heel kept sliding out of my skate. I was a hot mess.

I know all of the psychological tricks I am supposed to use on myself. Positive self-talk... visualization... only skating one element at a time... How about cursing yourself out on the ice? Does that work?

Yes - I will be fine. Even if I look like a total idiot on Saturday, I will survive to live another day. But can I just get that through my think skull before I step on the ice?

To be continued...

Friday, January 22, 2010

"Needing" Skating Today

I have had a really bad week. I made a huge mistake at work that impacted my entire team of colleagues. I got a ticket leaving work yesterday. The mistake I made earlier blew up today. The weather has been so bad that my sleep has been disrupted. All in all - a very bad week.

The only thing that has remained constant for me has been skating. Not that I have been tearing up the rink with axels and perfect programs, but I have been skating pretty well. I have made progress each and every day that I have hit the ice. I have also been inspired by my friends who are skating in the National Championships. I am in awe of their grace, power and beauty.

I have my first competition of the season in a week and I have been stressing out over it. That coupled with the work stress and weather stress have done their toll on me this week. But I am ready to put it all behind me and focus on the wonderful week to come.

Thank you to my hobby for providing me an outlet.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Almost Conquering the Toe Loop

I have already established that figure skating is a crazy sport. It relies on muscle memory, physics, psychology and "unknown factors." I think that I experienced all of these on the ice yesterday.

Muffet and I had a two hour session yesterday on the ice. While she got yelled at by her "poise" coach, I putted around and tried to get motivated to actually work. Monday was such a rush that I was having trouble getting it together to try and trump it. By the time my coach arrived I was warmed up but already tired. I have been skating so hard the last two weeks that my legs are sore and heavy. That combo = bad jumps and footwork. I did however, have a massive break-through on my wonky toe-loop. I am finally feeling the "draw" so I asked my coach if we could start with toe loop. She agreed and said that I am much closer now to what she wants to see. My smile was a mile wide! The flip was pretty awesome too. I love that jump!

Next, footwork. Well... let's just say that I think my feet were already done for the day. They were operating independently from my body and not in a good way. Unfortunately, that lasted for the rest of my lesson.

My "sit-spin" is well... I swear that my butt is on the ice, but that is not what my coach is seeing. Who is she watching? Hahaha

As I limped off of the ice, tired and sore, I held my head up high. My muscles used their memory - my blades worked their physics on the ice - my psyche didn't psych out and the "unknown elements" were kept to a minimum. I have come one step closer to almost conquering the toe-loop. All is well... until I hit the ice again.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Positive Reinforcement

I have only had experience with four one-on-one coaches in my short career as a figure skater. One was a friend who just happened to help me skate once a week; one kicked my butt for 30 minutes once a week; one is so handsome and make moves in the field actually fun to do and then there is my current coach. We fell into working together as my old rink closed and my kids coaches were moving to another rink. My friend coach moved somewhere I didn't feel comfortable and my kick-butt coach decided to retire. The handsome coach is a pleasure that I only get to enjoy once in awhile as his rink just reopened and he is so booked that it is impossible to get a lesson.

My current coach is not only my coach but also a great friend. She has the patience of a saint. I don't think I could be as calm as she is when I screw something up for the bazillionth time - but she is. She takes the time to explain every element with me. She shows me how to do things over and over again. She only yells at me to put my shoulders down or push harder during my program. But what I really love is that she won't give me positive praise until I have earned it. When I do an element and she does not like it, I will get "the look." Those of you that skate or have done an individual sport with a private coach know what I am talking about - the dreaded "look." I have been the recipient of many "looks" over the last few weeks.

Today, I only got a few "looks" and one, "Let's leave it at that for today." More importantly, I got a "Not bad! You are looking pretty good." YIPEE! I have been beating myself up for three weeks and today was a break through. My toe loop still has much to be desired, but the rest of the program is finally starting to gel. Now all I have to do is clean it up over the next 12 days. Hopefully I won't get any "looks" from the judges!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

This is a Crazy Sport

The average figure skating fan, one who does not skate, has no clue as to how incredibly crazy this sport is underneath the spandex and crystals. All they see is Evan, Mirai, Keauna, Rockne, Tanith and Ben out there skating like the experts they are. What they don't see are the early morning practices with mom having to drag the kid out of bed and into skates before the sun comes up. They don't see the bruised hips, knees, elbows - the ugly, smelly feet - or the tears if they fall or just can't seem to get that jump today. They don't see the skater stomping their blade on the ice because their coach has told them to stop skating mid-program for the eighth time. They have no idea of the cost of equipment, sharpening, costumes, ice time, competition fees, private lessons, group lessons, travel fees or gasoline. They don't know how hard it is to decide to make a coaching change, whatever the situation - that it is much like breaking up with a boyfriend or girlfriend and can be extremely emotional and heart-wrenching. They don't know that you can't simply just decide to call another coach - that there is a whole ethical code in the sport and once you violate that code you can be black balled for a very long time.

I felt fantastic this morning as I skated the freestyle and then took that Power Skating class again. I was inspired as I watched my friends skate their short program so beautifully yesterday afternoon. I felt proud that I was able to teach a young skater's mom about the coaching code of ethics so she wouldn't accidentally step into a terrible situation. After all that I know, I am still amazed that I choose to let my daughter keep on skating. I wanted my son to skate as well, but that was a short lived dream. I don't know what my daughter's dream is - all I know is that she loves to be on the ice and I will wake up to take her there, spend all of my money, and soothe all of her wounds for as long as she wants to skate.

I know that I can never go to the Olympics as a skater. However I can watch this crazy, beautiful sport knowing that there are many broke, tired and loving parents, coaches, friends and family behind those skaters and share a private smile with them as their babies reach for the stars.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Backhanded Compliment??

I often get strange looks from moms and dads at the rink. I can't tell if it is horror, confusion, envy or amusement. Today I had a very decent practice that was kinda low-key and not too stressful. I worked through the rough spots of my freeskate several times and did the program once with music. I got reprimanded by another coach for flat footing a perfectly good flip landing when I was getting off the ice, but it was constructive. All in all a great hour.

As Muffet and I were taking off our skates, we were surrounded by moms. Now, I do get asked questions by some of them about how we are doing and if we are competing any time soon. But every now and again I get the, "You are so brave to be skating" comment. As I said before, I have no idea what this means. Does it mean, "Wow, you really look like an idiot out there, you are so brave to make a public ass out of yourself each and every day"? Or does it mean, "Wow, I am impressed at what you can do out there"? Or how about, "I am way too insecure, scared or out of shape to do that"? I am not really sure which one fits, but each time I get this comment I wonder.

Once my coach talked me into buying a video of myself skating. It was my first USFSA competition and I was a train wreck. I will NEVER purchase a video of myself skating again. In my head I look like an angel when I skate - not like the oaf I saw on that video. It totally upset me, so I vowed to keep that fairy tale image of myself up there in my happy little brain. I may be brave, an idiot or over-confident. But what I will never be is a frozen observer of the fun that is going on out there on the ice. To the moms and dads who skate (or those who would if they could) - huzzah! Thanks for being my inspiration and being just as "brave" as I am. I guess I will take those compliments for all of us.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

It Will be Great!

Once I actually land it. The flip that is. I have been having jump issues lately. I changed blades back in October and have been adjusting ever since. I hated those old blades. The toe picks were like long, sharp teeth that stopped me mid-back spin every time. I won't even tell you how my back outside to inside threes sounded - ssssccccrrrraaaattttcccchhh. So I switched to a blade with a much more modest toe pick and I love them except for jumping. I didn't realize how much I had been relying on that old, monster toe pick until I no longer had it. I couldn't land a waltz-loop anymore and loops were nearly impossible. *SIGH*

Well, now I am back to my old form (good or bad) on waltz, salchow, loop and combos. My toe loop is a forever pain in my patoot, since I learned it incorrectly in the first place. It is more like a toe waltz. I have been backwards pivoting and jumping for weeks and it still looks like poo poo. But the flip -

I actually get some major air with my flip. It feels really cool and I wish my other jumps felt as good. The problem is landing that puppy. I either land it flat (OUCH) or put my other foot down at the last second. I really want to get this jump down so I can move on to lutz. Not to mention that it feels really cool. I hope it looks as cool as it feels.

Today I had a hilarious encounter with outside twizzles. My program has one left outside twizzle and every time I do it I spin instead of twizzle. So on a whim I tried it on the right side, which is supposed to be harder, and guess what? I could do it, no problem. I am lame...

I have a day off tomorrow. It is mi madre's birthday so we will be playing hooky from class and eating cake instead. So don't go expecting a post tomorrow!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Getting the Hang of It

What a difference a week makes! Today I finally hit my stride with my new program and felt like I could almost finish it. It totally kicks my butt every time I do it, but tomorrow I promised myself that I would do it full out, with music at least 5 times before my lesson.

Skating is such a mind game. I have been told to visualize myself skating my program the way I would like it to be, but for some reason my body just can't seem to see the same picture. I have been told to skate each element separately, one by one, only concentrating on each one and not thinking ahead to the next, but I can only think of the dreaded salchow loop combo coming up. I get so nervous on the ice for competition or tests that I literally shake as I spin. LAME!

However, I keep going. I am hoping that this first competition is not a total goof-ball fest with me as the main attraction. That is why I have to keep doing that program over and over again. Body memory - maybe if my body can memorize the program, my mind can shut up!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Dress Making

I am fortunate that I can follow directions very easily and am too stubborn to give up quickly. These two attributes have served me well since I decided to take on making Muffet and my figure skating dresses. If you have ever sewn with Lycra you know that it really has a mind of its own. It wiggles, shifts and moves wherever you don't want it to go. Add to that the cost of good lycra and the stress of sewing grows ever greater.

I decided to start sewing my own dresses because #1 - they are expensive to have made, #2 - I cannot wear dresses off the rack and #3 - I want creative control and #4 - I want my kid (and me) to look original on the ice. I soon discovered why a custom dress costs at minimum $99. It is incredibly tedious and difficult to get it just right.

Muffet's new dress is almost done. I am six sequined appliques away from being done. She will look unique! The greater feat is my dress. It has poofy, chiffon sleeves that are supposed to be stretch lycra. Three sets of sleeves later - they look amazing. I am hand gluing stones on the dress to look like Asian inspired clouds. My music this season is "Riders on the Storm" by the Doors but it is done by the Prague Orchestra and has an Asian sound quality. After an entire day and afternoon of gluing stones and sucking in E6000 fumes I am that much closer to being done. The dress design is #806 from Specialty Sportswear at

Oh but wait - I just got another order. So much for being done! (Pictures after I am done stoning!)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

"Power" Skating

This morning Muffet and I went back to our old rink (which has just reopened under new ownership) for an old pastime. Every Saturday morning we would skate the 7AM freestyle and then take the power stroking class. This class used to be 15 minutes of hell on ice. I loved every second of it! Even when I felt like I was going to throw up from exhaustion, I felt as if I had conquered a giant.

We have not skated this class in over a year and we did not skate the freestyle beforehand. Therefore my old bones were no where near warmed up when the music got pumping. So, off I went, trying to remember what it felt like to take this class. Back power threes, power pulls, cross strokes with a beanie baby sitting on my head. Oh, and did I mention that the class is now 25 minutes? Oh, and that it is taught by an Olympic Silver Medalist and former World Champion? Holy guacamole!

There I was "power" skating - well, kinda just trying to skate rather quickly without falling or getting run over by Muffet and her little speed demon friends. Fortunately I had three other adults stupid, I mean brave enough, to take the class too.

What is the moral of the story? Get your butt moving on the ice, slow-poke, or the little people will run your sorry excuse for a skater OVER! They won't even look back to see you fall, but may run you over again as they pass by the second or third time...

I will be going back next week and the week after that and the week after that. I will be skating the freestyle before hand to make sure that my legs don't feel like toothpicks before I "power" skate. Who knows? Maybe in a few weeks I can actually skate with the "faster" skaters again?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

How to Calm a Kid...

who just hit her head smack on the ice. Well, the first rule of thumb is to not show the utter horror on your face after hearing the kid hit the deck. I was very good. Miss Muffet was working on her new footwork sequence and was coming out of a set of brackets at full speed when she got too far back on her heel and SMACK! Down she went. The head was really all I was worried about, but her elbow turned purple immediately and her thumb hurt too.

But - there I was, the bastion of motherly/skater strength - dusted her off, asked her how old she was, looked for blood and sent her on her way to work on spins instead. Geez, we still had a good 20 minutes left of a perfectly empty freestyle and I had work to do!

Today is special for Miss Muffet because not only does she turn another year older today, but because her birthday is always the anniversary of when she first stepped on the ice. She and I took a Mommy and Me class four years ago because she wanted a pretty skating dressy and look at us now. Darn pretty skating dressies!

So to recap - first don't look scared, concerned or worried. Second - skate yourself so you know how it feels to smack the ice that hard, especially when you least expect it. Third - brush them off and send them to work on that camel-sit-back sit combo, minimum of 5 revolutions per spin please.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Public Humiliation and Not Caring

So on Wednesday nights, I take a skating class called Jump C at my rink. We work on loops, flips and lutz jumps. I have had to work through the fact that I am in full view of mommies and daddies watching their dear little ones as I attempt to do these jumps. Not to mention that the average age of my classmates is 9 years. So there I am in all of my glory - jumping away.

I didn't want to go tonight. It is a 30 minute drive for a 30 minute class and then a 30 minute "dodge the unbalanced" practice session afterwards. However my little princess had axel class and therefore we went to the rink. I was 5 minutes late which meant that I missed the warm-up. My old bones take a bit longer to get going. I was not looking for much progress tonight.

The instructor is new to my class and I was impressed with him the last time he was a sub. We worked through toe loop, then loop and to flip. He took the time to really get me to break down the jump into components and told me to fix specific parts of the jump. He then even worked with my an extra 5 minutes after the class was over on the flip. When our time was up I landed a fairly clean flip with only a slight flat foot.

It is when I am able to concentrate on the ice and myself that I can let go of the thought of humiliation. It was only the coach, the ice and me - the rest of it disappeared for a few moments. Then I remember why I do this crazy sport. It is not about what others think of me, it is about how I feel when I skate. Some may call it humiliation, I call it fun!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Being Pushed a Bit Too Hard

The reason I am starting to blog about my skating boils down to my experience over the last week or so. I skated last Tuesday, took off my boot and discovered a nasty blister on my left instep. I went home, cleaned it out and took Wednesday off. I was back on the ice Thursday for a two hour session and could not even do back cross-overs because the stupid blister hurt so bad. I had to give half of my lesson to my little one and worked on back spins for 30 minutes. This Monday promised to be better as I put moleskin on the remnants of the blister and my foot didn't hurt. However, my program would get the best of me and I left the ice feeling lame and dejected. Last night I was ready to fall asleep while working on the xword puzzle, but as soon as I laid my head down I started to skate in my head. A dose of NyQuil later, I slept but work up feeling hung over. I vowed that today I would have a better outing on the ice.

Out I go for another two hour session and am feeling pretty confident - until I get to the footwork. I am being pushed this season. But after the first run through of my new program I realized that the program was in control and I was not. I was angry, frustrated and ready to cry. The Type-A in me was not happy with the fact that I could not just simply do what my coach wanted me to do. The counter into the choctaw sequence was just not happening and I was about to lose it. Competition is very stressful for me to begin with, but to have an out-of-control program on top of it all was pushing me over the edge.

So, I offered some suggestions for changes. We worked through the footwork and changed it to a rocker into a back three from the counter/choctaw and I feel as if the world is off of my shoulders.

I am one of those people who likes to be pushed. I like to prove to myself and others that I am able to take on just about anything. When I started running my first event was a marathon simply because I wanted to prove I could run one. But I discovered today that in skating I am only willing to be pushed so far. Especially when I have to display myself in front of judges, strangers, family and friends.

So here is to the next challenge - and that is to get this program down. I have three weeks to do so.