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Congratulations to International Adult Figure Skating’s Adult Ice Skater of the Month : Diane!
I first met Diane via the internet…. not Facebook or any of the usual social media sites, she had purchased my on-line book, “Figure Skating?? At Your Age??? But due to internet gremlins, she had not yet received her copy. We ended it up emailing back and forth trying to resolve the problem and in doing this realized that we both lived in the same part of the country and were planning on competing in the same local adult ice skating competitions.
In actual fact we ended up competing against each other in adult interpretive skating event at the beginning of November. Given that there were only two of us in the event we both ended up on the podium. I placed first and Diane second. As fate would have it, they had run out of silver medals so we were both awarded a gold medal. Read on for more about Diane’s skating story and why she deserved the gold that day.
Diane told me that while she skated for two years as a child she returned to the ice two and a half years ago after an absence of 40 years! She remained active in the intervening years and participated in a variety of different sports such as rock-climbing, caving and competitive tae kwon do.
She also developed a love of choreography during the ten years she managed her children’s gymnastics show, she continues to nurture this passion by creating her own interpretive ice skating programs.
Diane loves competing and hopes to represent her club at as many local adult ice skating competitions as possible this year.
In Diane’s own words:
“Definitely I will try to skate as long as possible … I am 65 and I hope it lasts!
I had surgery in 2010 for a hip replacement; my doctor tore his hair when I told him I was doing figure skating! That is why I am still more fearful to try new things,
Thank you and if it can give the idea to other moms to return to skating, it would be cool.!”
Thank you Diane! So all you Moms out there who have been thinking about skating: If Diane can do it, so can you!
If you are already and adult figure skater, why not forward this post to a non-skating friend!
Last month I shared how I had changed my training regimen with the addition of an on-ice skills and endurance class. Another important component has been the addition of a “floor barre” class once a week. I’ve always loved dance, ballet in particular but unfortunately I hadn’t been able to take class for over ten years due to lack of time and a nagging hip injury. In the spring of this year I had a chance to take a floor-barre class.
What on earth is floor-barre you might ask?
It is a series of exercises based on ballet steps and done to music which are performed lying or sitting on the floor. It’s an ideal way to improve strength and flexibility by enabling you to work on isolated parts of the body without tensing, as you might when standing. It is a great way of returning to exercise after an injury or time off and is especially beneficial for beginners.
We usually start in a sitting position with about 15 minutes of gentle movement to warm up all the joints in the body. Then we do all the typical ballet barre exercises: pliés, battement tendus, ronde de jambs, etc., while lying on our backs or on our stomachs. The worst one has to be ronde de jambe to the back…I swear my legs weigh 500 lbs!
Since you are lying down, your pelvis and low back are immobilized so you can’t cheat and use these larger muscles to work your legs. As a figure skater these muscles are in constant use, it’s great to be able to give them a rest and strengthen weaker muscles.
The last 15 minutes or so consists or gentle flexibility exercises.
I’m sure Yoga or Pilates classes would be equally as effective but I love to move to music and I really do hope to improve enough to return to vertical ballet classes one day. I do find a significant decrease in my hip flexor pain and stiffness after the class and it is a nice way to end my training week. I suspect that if I had continued with ballet that the injury to my hip may have been avoided.
Do you take ballet classes or do other activities to counteract over-use syndromes that occur in ice skating? Do you combine them with other activities such as massage? (Lucky you!!) Please share and comment!
In the spring of 2014 I reviewed my training program after my season ended prematurely. Lesson learned: don’t be in a hurry when you are booking airfares online. However in the true spirit of the glass being half full I was able to use the extra time to focus on intensive athletic therapy to coax a torn left psoas muscle back to health and review my on and off ice training.
Based on input from my athletic trainer and my ice skating coach I added twice weekly on ice group sessions dedicated to improving my edges, turns and over all endurance as well as weekly floor–barre ballet classes.
The goals of the on-ice sessions are to build strength and endurance as well as mastering edges and turns. Many of the exercises are similar to Canadian Skating Skills and American Moves in the Field exercises. Generally content, focus and difficulty of each session can change according to a number of factors such as whether we require continued practice on elements done in a previous session, what our coach feels needs to be improved. Some days we just get really nitpicky about making sure the turns are deep and clean, speed isn’t important.
In some sessions we focus on endurance but that doesn’t mean we can get away with sloppy technique, scraped and cheated turns or toe pushing. Generally there is some endurance component to each session but depending on such factors on how whiny we are getting and whether or not someone though to bring coffee for coach, the length of time of this component can be increased or reduced accordingly.
Some examples of combinations we do:
- All edges, forward and backwards
- Continuous Choctaws
- Continuous rockers and counters on one foot
- Twizzles with multiple rotations and in both directions (with speed!)
- Swizzles, or as we call them in Canada: bubbles, with jumps as we bring our feet together
- Double three turns from inside and outside edges.
- Russian Stroking in both clockwise and counter clockwise directions.
- Nice, deep juicy cross-cuts foreword and backwards in both directions.
These sessions have done wonders to build up not only my endurance but also my confidence and skill in turns and edges. It is entirely possible to do these exercises on your own but I find having a coach supervise makes me work much harder and ensures correct execution of each element. The group setting also keeps the cost down as well.
All the exercises can be adapted to the skill of the skaters so they are a great way for adult figure skaters to improve. How do you improve your endurance and basic skating skills? Which off-ice activities help the most? Share your hints and experiences with us!
Here’s a blast from the past from the days before video and internet, a documentary on Canadian figure skater, Donald Jackson. His ice skating resume includes winning the Canadian Senior Men’s title four times, the 1962 world figure skating title and a 1960 Winter Olympic bronze medal.
He was also the first competitive figure skater to complete a triple lutz.
After he retired from amateur competition he toured with the Ice Follies, for the very young amongst us, this was Disney on Ice before there was Disney on Ice. From there he continued on as a coach in Ottawa, Canada and co-founded the Jackson Ice Skate Company.
He is also a huge supporter of adult figure skaters and has accompanied the Canadian Adult Figure Skating Team to the ISU International Adult Figure Skating Competition that is held every year in Oberstdorf, Germany.
How many differences can you spot between the technique of over fifty years ago and today’s jumping and skating techniques? For example, he does not cross his feet when rotating jumps, and of course the spins and connecting footwork are much simpler. Costume-wise this was in the “pre-bling” era and the men pretty much wore identical outfits.
Did you catch that huge, glorious back outside edge going into the triple lutz…no chance of a flutz ever happening here! The upright change foot spin and the delayed single axels are never seen in competition at any level now and you have to love the judges seated out on the ice.
Who’s your favorite figure skater from times gone by?
This past weekend, I participated in my first adult ice skating competition since last January; some readers may recall that my plans to attend the Canadian Adult Figure Skating National Competition in March were scuttled by booking the wrong departure date for my air transportation. That was the bad news.
The good news is that thanks to a combination of rethinking my whole training regimen and continued healing of a nagging hip injury; I’ve since gained a lot of confidence in my skating. One of the biggest changes was the addition of twice weekly group ice skating skills/endurance sessions more about this in the upcoming weeks. Another big epiphany came with the realization that I needed to do many, many, many run-throughs of my programs to build endurance and the confidence that I would be able to perform well no matter what my emotional state was at the time.
This last one was tough. When I was completely honest with myself I had to admit that I was, in a strange kind of way and for want of a better word, “intimidated” by my skating programs. Based on discussions I’ve had with elite figure skaters, I’m not the only one. One young lady confided that she dreaded doing her program, especially when it was new and she did not yet have the confidence that repetition gives. Olympic Champion Patrick Chan in a recent article said that one thing he was looking forward to on his sabbatical year was just enjoying his practices and having a break from the stress of daily program run-throughs.
Although I was the only one on my category (adult masters) I had access to a full panel of figure skating judges, and technical specialists. As you can see on my results sheet, I had one of my best skates ever! 16.95 is a personal best mark and this is the first time I have ever had all my elements actually count! All the deductions were minor and I have plenty of time to correct them. Another sweet bonus was landing my first axel attempt on the warm up as well as getting both of them in the program!
The biggest challenge of the night however was skating my new interpretive skating program less than half an hour after the free style program. In fact my warm-up for the interpretive was just 20 minutes after my free style!
Considering that the choreography of my new program was only completed 3 weeks ago and I’ve only completely skated the program 5 times, I managed to get through it without forgetting anything and without passing out. The only thing I didn’t do was change clothes between events, thought it might have been a better use of my limited time to, oh I don’t know, perhaps try to remember the steps to my interpretive program??!!
Considering how awful I felt I’m pleased to say I got a pretty good result so I can’t complain, pretty good for an old lady of 53 I think!
As always, it was a pleasure catching up on the news from other adult skaters as well as chatting with the teenagers and their parents.
What competitions are you planning on doing this season? Do you feel ready to compete? Are you a newbie or a veteran competitor, be sure and share your stories with us!
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
I was tidying up my ice skating music files when I came across this timely article, direct from the Washington Post:
“Gracie Gold is the new face of American figure skating, winning her first national championships in January and placing fourth in her first Olympics. When it came time to come up with her new programs, her coach made one request.
Absolutely no “Carmen.” Ever.
Selections from Bizet’s opera is to skating what “Mack the Knife” had been to the crooners – practically everyone has a version. Once seen as theatrical, “Carmen” now feels like a standby in a sport that’s run out of ideas. But a new rule for this year’s figure skating season, which started in earnest last weekend, has come up with new idea.”
(****note: you have to scroll down quite a bit to get to the actual article)
Full disclosure here: I have never, ever skated to Carmen, ever! I did skate to Swan Lake when I was 10 but that is the closest I have ever got to anything on the “Oh Not That Again!” list.
In fact I’m rather proud of the fact that I have always skated to non-traditional but interesting music. I’ve used tango music… but no Piazolla, Celtic music, film music…but not Romeo and Juliet, 20th century American music as well as Canadian jazz, folk and classical musicians.
Next week is the competitive debut of my new interpretive skating program, it’s based loosely on Pirates of the Caribbean. Love the music, hopefully I’ll be able to get through the program without sustaining cardiac arrest. I’ll post a video later in the season when I’m happy with my skate.
What do you think…is there music that tends to be over used by adult ice skaters? What are you currently skating to?