Oh Boo Hoo, Cry Me a River

sad cat Click to read article.

Really?

As we say in my corner of the world,  bunch of bébé-la-las!!! (cry-babies).

Raise your hand all you ice skaters out there who have a hard time feeling sorry for these guys!!!

Hands up all you figure skaters who skate on early morning ice that is seldom  properly maintained or  resurfaced after the beer-league game that ended after midnight the previous night!

Hands up all you ice skaters who have been asked to find another rink to practice at because the holes from are jumps upset and frighten the hockey players.   (True story…happened in my neck of the woods  a few years ago).

Hands up all figure skaters who have ever caught their edge in a rut or hole going into a jump or spin.    Bet you managed to complete your element and bet you it wasn’t half bad either.

Guess when you are paid a ba-jillion dollars a year it’s OK to be an ice diva…

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How to Think Like an Ice Skating Coach, Part Two

Peppermint PattyAs promised, here is the second part of the interview on preparing for a figure skating competition with Michelle Leigh. The same strategies are also effective for ice skating test situations.
Have a Plan and be Flexible Too

“Athletes who have a planned pre-competition routine may be more confident, because of the perceived control. But, it’s also important for them to be flexible in where and how they execute their pre-competition routine. A well prepared athlete can carry out her pre-competition routine anywhere. Even practicing doing a warm-up in a different location in her home rink can help the skater to train for this. A lack of adaptability isn’t a problem until suddenly an athlete begins to feel uncomfortable. “Sometimes we spend so much time on skill development that we forget about stress management in a new environment,” says Leigh. There’s room for this kind of training at the developmental level; you don’t have to wait until the elite stages to start thinking about it.

“Don’t Become More of Yourself

“Coaches get nervous too, and that’s normal. As the person the athlete looks to in their moments of vulnerability, a coach needs to be just as focused as the athlete. Not becoming more of yourself means that if you’re usually loud, don’t get louder; if you micromanage, keep it in check. Be conscious of the behaviours that will be magnified and manage them. “If you’re going to be the ‘rock’ you can’t be distracted and you need to look and feel like you’re in control.”

Great advice and I can honestly say that these elements are the basis for my competition warm-ups. As an adult skater, I very rarely have my coach present. So, I have to be able to enter into my competition mind-set pretty much as soon as I walk into the building. Like many things in life, having routines and rituals can be calming and comforting when you are experiencing stressful situations. The other essential element is the actual physical warm-up: both on and off the ice. Again, you need to experiment with particular exercises and routines that work for you.

I also recommend the Coaching Association of Canada’s website, as there is a wealth of information on all aspects of coaching. They have some great information that we can use as athletes, but many of us are coaches as well. If you coach your kid’s baseball team, or have an interest in participating at this level in any sport, this is the website for you!

Do you and your coach have any special pre-test or completion routines that are helpful? Share them with us!

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How to Think Like an Ice Skating Coach

LoveURcoachAs an NCCP certified figure skating coach, I receive regular emails from the Coaching Association of Canada. Here are some excerpts from a recent interview with Canadian figure skating coach Michelle Leigh on pre-competition preparation. As adult ice skaters there may be times when we are competing without our coach so it’s good to know how to think like a coach.

Less is More

“Inexperienced coaches have a tendency to share everything – every nugget of knowledge, every tried-and-tested solution. It’s way too much. Experience teaches you to make sure you keep to the key points and reveals the importance of trying to get an athlete used to being out of their comfort zone.” Great coaches share the right information at the right time. Keeping your coaching plan and feedback simple, particularly in preparation for competition, is important.

Minimize Distractions

“This is common for athletes at all levels; the distractions are just different at various stages of the game. Less experienced athletes will worry about judges and how cold the rink is, while the elite must manage extensive travel, responsibilities to sponsors and the media, and the pressure of representing their country. The key is to give them the tools to take control, stay focused, and be confident. Keywords and cues are a great tool to bring back focus: “Elvis (Stojko) taught me that and he used to look at his left hand as his cue coming into his first jump and had a key word for every component of his routine,” explains Leigh. She often has athletes share their competition plans and has a conversation with them to maintain focus. “Treat every athlete as they need to be treated – there is no one blueprint. Everyone is different and you need to tailor the approach.”

Find a Quiet Space

“The designated warm-up area isn’t always the best. Find an area you can use for the duration of the event to meet with the athlete, discuss the program, and rehearse. A safe, comfortable, and preferably familiar space will help with 1-on-1 conversations and keep the athlete’s attention on preparation. The space should be close enough to the competition area so that the athlete knows what’s going on, but removed enough to keep them focused on their preparation. A good space helps athletes open up to coaches. Difficult conversations are sometimes the most important ones over the course of an event and a good space contributes to a positive outcome.

Next week, I’ll post the remainder of the article, plus some personal reflections.

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News Clip: Canada’s Fiercest Adult Pairs Figure Skating Competitors

Canada has always been known for the depth and strength of it’s pairs ice skaters: Duhamel and Radford, Brasseur and Eisler, Underhill and Martini, but this clip introduces a little-known Canadian adult figure skating pair. Unlike the first three pairs these two have had to fight an up-hill battle to rise to the top, most noticeably lack of talent and absolutely no idea what they are doing on the ice.   You have to love their optimism and determination though :)

I can totally relate!

PS No actual figure skaters were used in the making of this clip and last I heard the Russian judge bore the team no ill will.

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Adult Ice Skating Basics: Correctly Lacing Figure Skates

Oh, the things I find on the internet in the name of website research!

Here’s a nifty little video explaining how to tie figure skates. I had plans to do a video on this topic, but never got around to making it.

You might think, “I don`t need anyone to tell me how to lace my skates; I`ve been doing that for years.” You may be surprised to hear that I`ve seen a lot of questions and comments about this. Lacing up figure skates seems so basic, but the cardinal rule is a bit like Goldilocks finding her optimal porridge temperature: the skate should be laced neither too tight nor too loose, but just right.

You also might not be aware that there are minor variations in lace-tightening technique specific to different brands of figure skate. Below are some videos for specific brands and models.

Jackson Elite
Edea
Reidel

I only have personal experience with Jackson, Edea, Risport and GAM so I can’t comment on other brands. I never had any issues with Jackson but like many people with Edeas, I do find that they tend to loosen up after about 45 minutes of skating, but not all the time. This was also more of a problem when they were new. I’ve had them almost a year now, and every now and again, I’ll have to re-tie the skate on my landing foot.

One thing that remains consistent is my need to re-lace my skates before I get on the ice. I always lace up my skates, walk around a bit and then re-lace them or they don’t feel right. If I don’t do the second re-lace, I find they are too loose after 5-10 minutes of skating. The other thing I do without fail is always put my right skate on first. There is absolutely no scientific, kinesiologic or physiologic reason for this, it`s just me being a creature of habit and having it feeling just wrong and weird if I don’t do it.

How do you lace up your skates? Do you have any figure skate lacing rituals?

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Physics for Adult Figure Skaters

Even if you are not a science geek/geekette, as an adult figure skater, you know intuitively there is nothing like sliding around on frozen H20 to teach you the basics of Newton`s first and second laws.

This short video explains the physics of ice skating from two perspectives: the need for balance and stability, and projectile motion.

The centre of gravity (mass) in the human body is in the middle of the lower abdomen. Needless to say, while figure skating, the muscles and ligaments in this area are in constant use no matter what you are doing. Everything from the simplest of turns to maintaining a solid position while spinning, both on the ice and in the air, demands stability and strength here. No wonder hip and groin injuries are so common in figure skating. Effects of repetitive movements and consequent muscle imbalances that can ensue all take their toll. Working in a cold environment doesn’t help either.

Even as adults, if you are going to train seriously, you should consider Pilates, ballet, or yoga to build strength and maintain flexibility in this area. We don’t heal like the youngsters do. And yes, even the youngsters are prone to injuries to this area.

I`ve been battling a torn psoas muscle  for over five years now and truly believe that I never would have sustained the injury if I had continued to take ballet classes. It is easy to gradually lose muscle tone in this area without noticing, until something gives out. Recently, I’ve also come to appreciate the role and necessity of upper body strength in figure skating.

Ice dance and pairs skaters will appreciate the effects of projectile motion and how it affects lifts and throws, but singles ice skaters also know that your horizontal ground speed does affect the height of your jumps.

Adult ice skaters will appreciate the nice slow-motion single flip that Evan Lysacek does at the 2:46 mark of the video.

And if all else fails, just remember to:

Keep Calm
And
Keep your centre of mass over your feet!

Posted in adult figure skater, Ballet for Figure Skaters, figure skating, Ice skating | Tagged | 2 Comments

There’s a Whole Other World Out There! (Part two)

The ISU International Adult Figure Skating Competition in Obertsdorf, Germany wrapped up last month and so for the next few weeks I am reposting my experiences from 2012.

This week, I am continuing my series of reports on my adventures at the ISU International Adult Figure Skating Competition in Oberstdorf, Germany.

Last week, I told you about two nifty things you can do when not figure skating at the Eislaufzentrum such as the cable car ride up to the Nebelhorn and eating.  This week, some things you can do to work off all that weisswurst, spargel and brew you have been enjoying.

Vertigo

Vertigo!!!

Go for a hike.

We decided on a side trip to Breitachklamm, since it was only a short city bus ride from the town.  If you have issues with height and vertigo then maybe this may  not be  for you, but it is a 3-4 hour easy walk through a magnificent gorge.  The trail eventually crosses the border into Austria,   for those of us who don’t live in the Eurozone this is akin to crossing a state or provincial border, no customs or currency exchange to worry about.  This is just one of many hiking possibilities; many trails start in town and are well marked. Continue reading

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There’s a whole other world out there!!!!

The ISU International Adult Figure Skating Competition in Obertsdorf, Germany wrapped up last month and so for the next few weeks I am reposting my experiences from 2012.

By now I think we can all agree on one thing:  if there is an adult figure skating heaven it must be in Oberstdorf!!

No it’s not LEGO land! Oberstdorf view from cable car

And as hard as it may be to leave the ice and go outside, there are lots of wonderful non-figure skating things to do.  I was fortunate that my events at the ISU International Adult Figure Skating Competition were  over by Thursday so that gave me two full days with no real reason to be on the ice (but really, who needs a reason!). Continue reading

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Being there…

Eislauffzentrum….fun factoid: you can get WiFi at the base of the flagpoles.

The ISU International Adult Figure Skating Competition in Obertsdorf, Germany wrapped up last week and so for the next few weeks I am reposting my experiences from 2012.

This week, I thought I would share a little of my experience as a first time competitor at the ISU International Adult Figure Skating Competition in Oberstdorf, Germany. Continue reading

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Planes, Trains and Cable Cars.

Note: The ISU International Adult Figure Skating Competition in Obertsdorf, Germany began earlier this week and so for the next few weeks I am reposting my experiences from 2012.

Can life go back to normal after competing at the ISU International Adult Figure Skating Competition?

Returned home last Thursday and immediately was catapulted back into reality due to the fact that I had to work Friday and Saturday.    Today I can finally start sorting through all the notes, photos and memories….not as exhilarating as actually living them but all good things must come to an end in one way or another. Continue reading

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