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!