Thursday, April 23, 2015

Your Typical Ice Show Rehearsal

What the skating kids think they look like

What the Coaches are doing

Moms in the stands

Dads in the stands

Kids on the boards waiting to go

The Kids who just can't get the choreography

The Costumer upon seeing more feathers and Glitter Tulle.  

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Ice Show Update!

"Go by the glass, audiences love it when you go by the glass..." Coach Fab points down by the hockey glass as I'm hurtling backwards with my blade in my left hand. I Vogue with my right hand in my best Catherine Zeta Jones Bad Girl face. "Yes, that's great, I love that," Coach Fab says from somewhere.

I pitch into the waltz jump-toe loop, then step forward for some cross strokes. God I love program skating. More vogue-ing, spin with arms up, tap toe out and then vogue the hell out of it before I do my new favorite move, a high kick with big arms and jump again. I have a tendency to over-rotate this one, which gets my hopes up that maybe an Axel isn't an impossibility for me but that's not today. I touch down this one like a feather.

From there I beeline it back to my Tango Partner before we hit the kickline for the ending sequence. The Kickline is a moving thing now, and when we break it I have to slow down a lot to avoid hitting the glass or my fellow skaters before we reassemble into a Lunge Line towards center. As if this wasn't fun enough, I learned last night there will be a Grand Piano in my jumping pattern.


I also got invited to skate the Finale for the show, and now I'm the unoffical line captain for the Stage Left side of FS4 &5 kids. I guess the coaches figure since I'm older I must have some idea of what I'm doing. Which might be true somewhere but right now my directives are, "GO!" and "KEEP GOING!" When we make our circle to rotate clockwise, I didn't realize the higher level kids would be circling counterclockwise outside of us. When we put everyone together, I glanced up and realized I was in some kind of horrific whirling carousel of blades and kids and shouting.

I did the only thing I could do. I laughed.

Yes, it's chaotic. Yes, this rehearsal process has been rushed and cramped and not what we're used to. No, I wasn't happy about putting more yardage of glitter tulle and fake fur through my freshly cleaned sewing machine. Yes, I'm tired, and we've still got to make it through the weekend.

But I have to say, when our finale group is tearing back to meetup with the other skaters to make our circle, and I see two girls with big smiles and laughs reaching for me, I don't even care about the chaos anymore. Just go, it's okay. And when we're back in the costume shop exchanging gossip and dirty jokes while we sneeze feathers and shake glitter out of the hair of the new baby who is being passed around, everything that was terrible ten minutes ago falls away.

I've put together a few outfits for girls where we didn't have anything to suit their numbers in the shop. The moms asked me what they owed me, and my reply for ice show work is "A Snickers bar and a Diet Coke and we're even." The way I see it, it's sewing experience which makes me better, and we're in this big ShowBoat together anyway.

The show is this weekend, and I've got my fair share of jitters going on, but for the most part I'm excited. And the fun thing about skating is that once you get done with This Big Thing, you're immediately onto The Next Big Thing. Testing, anyone??


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

If you can't do it off the ice...

Working on my show program this morning. Trying to add a little Sexy into the Skating. Because it's a sexy number and I'll be wearing fishnets. Because hell yes fishnets. Coach Fab has told me to wait until we get the entire number down and then we will add the Spice, but I'm impatient. And it never hurts to try, right?


 Yes this is Sexy Kitchen Tiem.
And I realized that the image I have in my head is something I've never done on dry land, much less while in skates. The addition of Ice did not suddenly make me perfectly choreographed. Pretending to be Beyonce while cooking dinner is one thing, but actually putting it all together in show choreography is something totally different.

I'm cookin' fishes people...
Did you know that when you throw your hips it throws your balance? Let's see those three turns now, with one arm up and the other on your hip... and when you bunny hop, throw your arms up because Awkward needs redefining. Actually whipping your hair back and forth? Harder than it looks.

Fortunately the morning hour isn't too populated.

I finished up, stepped out to the lobby, and realized I'd have to dedicate some time this holiday weekend to doing the program on the ground. Once my body figures out the drill, it might be easier on skates. I hope...


Friday, March 27, 2015

My Landing Knee

My legs have had their fair share of issues since I started skating. When I started off, I had a left hamstring problem that got so bad I couldn't sit down for more than ten minutes without stabbing pain. It also made my back crossovers choppy and everything from spirals, lunges and bunny hops on my left side were out of the question. I then found Dr. Magic and that issue, while a process of ongoing care, has resolved and I am no longer in pain. Not only that, but I have strong spirals on both sides, and hops and lunges on the left are weaker than my right, but coming along nicely. (Dr. Magic does say that my left leg will likely never be as flexible as my right.)

Then my landing knee began hurting. It hurt on the cutback on a left over right back crossover, on jump landings, and anything involving picking in on the right leg. At first I just braced it and stretched it a bit more, but it got worse. I stood up from a backwards shoot the duck on my right leg and almost went down from pain. So I went to go see Dr. Magic.

Once again, he determined it was a glute problem. My right butt is weak, so the hamstring and quad try to take over, ultimately pulling the kneecap out of alignment. He gave me a series of exercises to do in order to strengthen my ass, but in the meantime we had a right leg full of tight muscle.


The Clamshell exercise. This is easy.


  1:03 to 2:10 I do with my lifting leg pressed against a wall and foot flexed out. Starting to hurt...

Then this. This is death.

Three weeks of acupuncture (during which I fall asleep), trigger point (ouch) and electrical stimulation (which is one of the weirdest things I have ever done) and my knee is better. I'm no longer bracing it, and it doesn't hurt on landings or cutbacks anymore. But I'm still on my foam roller after every skate, and still doing glute exercises. Much like my left hamstring, my right knee will likely be an ongoing care project for as long as I skate. Especially as I start doing more jumping and progress on backspins.

But surprisingly, during one of our sessions, Dr. Magic went for my right foot. "The fascia is really tight," he dug in and I thought my foot was going to come off. "Are you taking care of your feet?"

"What? No. Ouch. Please stop."

He did not stop.

My feet have their fair share of skater's corns and such, but I don't pay much attention to them unless they truly hurt. Dr. Magic insists I need to do some foot care in addition to leg care. Everything, from boot to butt, has got to fire correctly or I risk more cumulative injury. Now when I get home from skating I work my butt, roll out on the foam roller, get some coffee and catch up on the internets while rolling a tennis ball under my feet.

It's really weird to see the kids just jump on and off the ice and skate, when as an Adult Skater, there's very much a physical process going on that makes this happen. But it's worth it. Maybe someday I'll get that Stag Jump, and I'll have all these butt workouts to thank for it.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Rolling Stone Asks Why We're Losing

The Thirteen Votes are in, and I'm disappointed in the 67 of you that didn't vote, but that's okay. We had a lot of votes for "Experience" and "All of the Above." So, Experience seems key for a lot of people. And of course the comments brought up the all-important "How well they work together" factor.

But here's an article from Rolling Stone that is relevant to our discussion:
"Why is American Figure Skating Losing the Cold War?"

From the article:

"They don't teach individually in Russia from the beginning. They don't have private lessons for six year olds, seven year olds, eight year olds. They have basically group lessons," Vlassov says. "Working in a small group, they start to compete against each other. And kids like to compete.

In other words, competition is completely entrenched in a Russian skater's training. Not only that, Russian skaters must attain a particular rank in competition to advance to the higher levels. This is wildly different than the USFSA testing system, in which skaters show that they can complete the elements in a noncompetitive setting and are even permitted a certain number of re-skates for failed elements. It's all very nice to get second chances, but there are no second chances in real competition. The FFKKR, Russia's figure skating federation, knows this. It's one reason that they schedule their skaters to compete within the country far more often than is customary in the U.S.; they want their skaters to practice competing. They don't want to bestow gold stars. They want fierce competitors.

The American A-for-effort ethos isn't just a problem in terms of testing either; it's a problem with coaching too. At the Basics Skills levels, some coaches have few qualifications, and even at higher levels, coaches in the U.S. need only pass four online courses, buy liability insurance, join the USFSA and complete a background check. "I can call it babysitting, very expensive babysitting," Vlassov says, explaining that when foundational skills aren't taught adequately, it can mean a lot of retraining later in a skating career."

I've just spent a lot of time retraining mohawks and 3 turns, and I'm still retraining back and forward crossovers so they not only look good, but so they don't cause me injury. (Seriously. My landing knee was taking a pounding due to bad crossover form.) It's really easy to gloss over foundational skills when it seems the flashier stuff is more fun, but you do it at your own peril.

 The "Just Group Lessons for Kids" idea nixes the "How well do they click" factor for the younger set. And I think it may push an Individualistic Strength that may carry a skater through a completely insufferable yet incredibly talented Coach. After all, we can't always work with people we get along with. It's not all sunshine and rainbows.

Just my thoughts, but feel free to add your own. All I know for certain is that if Elizaveta wins Worlds I will die of happiness. She is so beautiful, and you can tell she works hard. I love it when a skater gets what she's earned, and all too often it seems USFSA gives a skater what they think she deserves.