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!