Shameless Self Promotion

lorirobertson2_editedSeveral weeks ago I received a request from JoAnn Schneider  Farris for a recent photo as she was planning to feature International Adult Figure Skating in an upcoming About .com figure skating column.  We played Skype tag for a few weeks but finally connected and had a nice but far too brief chat.

JoAnn is a US-based figure skating coach, author and journalist,     she has skated since childhood and was a competitive  ice dancer at the junior level.   If you are passionate about the history of United Skates figure skating you will want to read her autobiography My Skating Life: 50 Plus Years of Skating

I’ve been writing posts for nearly five years about myself and other adult ice skaters and it was fun to have someone else write about me for a change :)     I am honored that she thought my humble efforts to encourage the adult figure skating community a worthy topic.

JoAnn’s column covers all aspects figure skating from reporting on international competitions to getting your four  year old started on the ice.  Her site is an excellent resource and is worth following.

Here’s the link to JoAnn’s article

And the picture? That’s me after landing both axels in competition for the first time ever!!

Posted in adult figure skater, Adult ice skater, figure skating | Leave a comment

Synchronized Ice Skating….The Shocking Truth!

To celebrate the World Synchronized Skating Championships held this past weekend, I found this charming short film made by a University of Toronto film student.   In Time With Skates is a documentary about synchronized skaters and the people who love them.

As with all figure skating disciplines, there are numerous adult figure skaters who participate in synchro as well.

As a singles adult ice skater who likes lots of personal space around me, I marvel at how close synchro skaters are and the speed they travel at.   I tried it once and was absolutely terrified!

So if you are a sychro girl or guy all I have to say is you are flaming bonkers but in a good kind of way!

Synchro Skaters: tell us what team you skate with and what you love about synchro.

Posted in adult figure skater, Synchronized Figure Skating | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Chillin’ With Sebastien (Captain Zen) Britten

Sebastien

Me and Captain Zen, yes it’s last year’s pic but we still look the same :)

Last week I attended a one day workshop on creative movement for figure skaters with former Canadian Men’s champion Sebastien Britten.   I attended his workshop last year and was pleasantly surprised with my elderly adult ice skater body’s ability to keep up with and in one or two cases surpass the teens.

The day started with an 8:30AM session with sports psychologist Angela Malorney on building your capacity to maintain focus in a competitive situation.   Losing focus guarantees that your skating will suffer and you may  pop jumps or lose your timing,   mental focus is like a muscle and can be strengthened.   We ended the session in fine Jedi Padawan fashion by learning to move paper clips with nothing more than our eyes.   Maybe next year we’ll have advanced sufficiently and will attempt to lift spaceships out of swamps.

The next session and the rest of the day were spent with Sebastien.    Before we even stepped on the ice, he had us first do a short breathing exercise, then step on the ice with our left foot, take successive right and left steps and holding each for a count of 8.  During each step we were to focus on the feeling of gliding, what sensations you were experience through your whole body and ultimately just enjoying everything. The fun began when he then asked us to add different body positions for each step, the only requirements being:  make me believe you, connect with me, and make the movement your own.  Everyone rose to the challenge and the energy at that point completely changed!

For the next exercise we learned a fairly simple set of edges and turns and then added arm positions as well as changes of body level,   of course the senior competitors were flying across the ice but by the end of the session we were all pretty comfortable with the steps.    Sebastien comes from the figures era and makes even the simplest of turns a thing of beauty.

After lunch, he challenged us to match our style of skating to the style and character of music we were hearing.   Using the step sequence we had learned earlier the challenge was to make the steps fit the beat, character and even the lyrics of the songs.   

For the last hour, we borrowed from the dance world and did contact improvisation with a partner, each exercise became progressively more complicated and demanding, and we had to progressively increase the difficulty of the steps as well as add turns and jumps….and create a character, mood or tell a story.  It was over two hours of non-stop movement!  One last breathing exercise to bring us back down to planet Earth and we were done.

During the off-ice debrief /Q & A with Sebastien, he spoke about what drew him to figure skating when he was a young boy and what strategies he used when he encountered obstacles.   To skate well during a competition  a good ice skater is able to  breathe, let the music move them and will have developed autonomy in training i.e. be aware of their weaknesses and always push themselves to improve without constant supervision.

We all shared three reasons why we skated, some of the answers?  Jumping, self-expression, gliding, going beyond your limits, ice skating shows.

My three words? Challenge, Accomplishment and Community.

What are your three words?

Posted in Adult ice skater, Interpretive Skating | 6 Comments

Gabby and Me

GabbySocchi

Gabrielle Daleman…having a much better day.

Last week I skated in my last adult figure skating competition for the 2014-15 season. Originally I had hoped to participate in Canadian Adult Nationals but finances and urgent business on the home front conspired against me so I elected to skate in our provincial adult event instead.  As usual I participated in both free skate and the interpretive skating events.

Unlike Adult Nationals, our provincial event does not divide the categories by age so I ended up competing against another 19 year-old in the free skate.    In spite of the fact that she had a program full of doubles and her score was nearly twice mine I was very happy with my second place skate,  I got 2 out of 3 spins, both axels and apart from a slight deduction on a jump combo no –GOE on anything else.   Over all have I been very pleased with my free skate results this year, and as far as I was concerned the battle was for the silver medal that night.

I was not expecting a podium finish for the interpretive since there were 4 teenagers who were all strong skaters and had consistently beaten me all season, having said that I was pleased that my scores had not been significantly lower than theirs.  So I was absolutely floored to finish in 9th (ie last) place that night!!

In all the years I have competed interpretive, I have never finished last, even when I skate against the kids I have never come last.  I was even beaten by other adults (real, over the age of 25 adults).  Honestly I thought I skated well enough but my points were the lowest I have ever received for this program.

Really not the results I wanted or expected. Talk about disappointment!

But I was in good company, the day before I had watched our national ladies’ champion, Gabrielle Daleman self destruct in the short program at the world figure skating championships and finish 21st, talk about disappointment.   Gabby is one of those fireball skaters with loads of energy and huge jumps, she had an Olympic medal to her credit and a great season behind her.   What was impressive was the strength of character and maturity beyond her 17 years that she showed in the interview after wards.  In summary she accepted all responsibility for her performance and stated it was her job to make the necessary corrections and prepare for the free skate, no tears, no blaming and no pity party.

I’d love to tell you she had a Hollywood happy ending in the long program but that didn’t end well either.

So now we are two peas in a pod trying to figure out what went wrong…in my case I’m wondering if I should just scrap the program and start over.  Re-work the steps?  Maybe it was just that bad!  For both of us the worse thing we can do is spend time on excessive rumination, Gabby’s right: fix it and move on!

What was your biggest ice skating disappointment?  What did you learn from it and how did you move on?

Posted in adult figure skating, Adult Figure Skating Competitions, Interpretive Skating | Tagged | 2 Comments

Nerves of Steel

skatecatLast week I ended with a challenge to share how you coped with all those irrational thoughts that coursed through your brains while waiting for your moment in the sun as a competitive adult ice skater. 

 

I received some great practical advice from  Kerry:

“I prepare for skating as much as possible. I try to do run throughs of a program or test for a month before I step on the ice. I learn what is an issue, what isn’t, and try to learn as much as I can during practice.

At competition or testing, I try to remember that no one else in the entire rink is nervous about me skating. The spectators, judges, and my coach want me to give them a performance. They are rooting for me. I concentrate on the first few moves, and then focus in on the music. I don’t remember much after that.

I do have a few “superstitions” that I do. First, I jokingly ask a really good skater to skate my routine. Second, I like to skate a half circle of crossovers before going to my starting spot. That helps me feel the ice one last time. Third, I try to laugh a little right before the music. Because, you can’t be nervous if you laugh.”

Cathy was more philosophical, questioning one’s sanity apparently just goes with the territory when you are an adult figure skater;

“I completely agree with you Lori! After countless competitions in Canada the US and Europe, I will still, minutes before the warm up when all the skaters in my group are jockeying for position at the gate, ask myself why the hell I signed up for this!!”

And then there’s Betsy, who despite the possibility of surgery,  has no intention of quitting,  I think she has the makings of a d**m good pairs skater!  Those girls are fearless!

“I just started skating again after a 30+ year hiatus. I’m 42. All has been going great, until this past Saturday when I fell hard and injured my shoulder, and now I’m facing a possible ruptured rotator cuff tendon and surgery. Yikes! Skating is a dangerous (and expensive) hobby. But once I’m healed I’m not going to give it up. I’ll just take it more slowly.”

So, it seems that when you are and adult ice skating competitor, you should have the following items in your skate bag: your own personal rituals/warm-up routines, comfort with your level of insanity and a heck of a lot of grit!  

As of this date, Canadian and American adult ice skaters are preparing for their national events and many more adult skaters are preparing for the International Adult Figure Skating Competition in Oberstdorf.   Let’s celebrate the fact that we are all,  a)Looney Tunes and at the same time b)tough as nails.

And let’s all wish Betsy a speedy recovery!

Posted in adult figure skater, Adult ice skater, adult ice skating competition, competitive ice skater, ISU Intrenational Adult Figure Skating Competition, Pairs Skater | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Unnerved

frontPicture this, a lovely early Spring Saturday afternoon, it’s partly cloudy and after six weeks of continual -20 degree C weather it’s actually gone up to a tropical -5 C and roads and sidewalks are passable.

It’s a great day to: _________

……Spend the day indoors at an adult figure skating competition!

Why not? Its fun right?

Yep. So why are we stressing over a 3 minute skate? Aren’t we old enough to know better? Ya think!

It’s supposed to be fun, yet there we all are, fussing and stewing over whether we’ve warmed-up or trained properly, or whether we should have worn or bought a different costume. Or whether to attempt a less than reliable element or whether our competitors are better skaters and we are going to look ridiculous. Or whether we are really ready for this and why didn’t we just stay home today?

The number one question that goes through your head is “What on earth was I thinking when I signed up for this!!??”

If it’s any comfort this is not just an adult ice skater thing, Bianca, the teenager I was coaching was going through the exact same agony.

Probably the only figure skaters who never go through all this angst are 5 year-olds who don’t know any better.  Their relative innocence about what is transpiring will be short lived, if they go on to higher levels of competition they will most likely experience the same thoughts.

One of the perks of being an adult competitor is you legal capacity to imbibe either some celebratory joy should you skate well or alternatively, to abate your sorrows after a bad skate. In the latter case just remember that some of the ice goes in the drink and the rest goes on the bruises acquired from your less than stellar skate.

Oh and Bianca? She had a few cheated jumps but over skated very well and did herself proud; she’s going to make a great adult ice skater some day!

Do you get nervous when you compete? What crazy thoughts go through your head? What strategies do you use to cope? Share them with us!

This is the link to that awesome shirt in the photo!

Posted in adult figure skater, Adult Figure Skating Competitions, Adult ice skater, figure skaters | Tagged , | 6 Comments

Determination and Passion: Essential Traits for Any Ice Skater

dedicationFor several years now I have taught adult beginner ice skaters at a local skating school.  It all started with two courageous Moms who wanted to do more than just sit in the stands watching their kids’ lessons.  

Other Moms and Dads were inspired and this year both adult ice skating classes have been filled to capacity!    Since I have several students who have little or no skating experience, I have the luxury of working with program assistants (PAs) Marie and Justine,   older teens who are very talented competitive skaters but have limited coaching experience.    This season they have been of great help to me in providing one-on-one assistance and supervision to the absolute beginners.   I always keep them in my line of sight while I am working with my more advanced skaters and make sure to check in on them periodically.    When the skater feels ready and I feel they are safe, they are allowed to joins my more advanced group but they are still shadowed by the program assistant.  

 I was a little concerned that the PAs might find this task a little dull; after all they spend their days mastering doubles and triple jumps.  Every time I checked in with coach and skater things were going well, and within a few short weeks their newbie skater’s look of apprehension and impending doom gradually morphed into delighted smiles. 

Even more delightful is that the PA’s always are beaming with pride at their student’s progress; last week, Marie caught my attention in order to have her student demonstrate her newly acquired skill of crossing the ice without stopping and generating a little bit of glide as an added bonus!  

Justine shared with me of how impressed she was with the adults’ perseverance.  Given that figure skating is a sport best mastered at a young age, she realized there was more at stake if they fell or were injured and she was inspired by how they dealt with their fear.  She even shared that there were elements that she did that scared her and we both agreed that it’s easier to push through fear when you really love what you do and have a coach who can help you build confidence.

We also agreed that figure skating is and extremely demanding sport and developing consistency in elements can be a frustrating experience, the important thing is to keep working at improvement and move beyond those discouraging days when NOTHING is working.   Poor Justine, those double axels were not happening for her today….and my flying camel flew the coop last week!  

I guess it’s comforting to know that no matter what level skater we are, we all struggle with the same basic elements: fear, frustration, discouragement, even trying to stay warm at times!

What are you struggling most with right now in you ice skating?   Hope you have some ice skating kindred spirits’ shoulders to cry on….   Who is in your cheering section?  Have you been “adopted” by a youngster?  Isn’t it great!!!

Posted in adult figure skater, Adult ice skater, Basic Skills for Adult Beginner Figure Skaters, figure skating, Ice skating, ice skating coach | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

Ice Skating for Senior Adult Skaters: A Great Idea!

CoffeeClub SkateI’ve pretty much skated all my life and as a competitive adult figure skater I am pretty comfortable skating with advanced competitors skating at high speeds or with speed crazed public session skaters.

There are passionate ice skaters out there who love to skate but for whom a fall or injury would be a game-ender.    A Las Vegas rink has the perfect session for  senior or older beginner skaters.

“Ice skating at a public rink can be a dangerous undertaking for older adults. Fast skaters moving swiftly on the slick ice can cause beginners and older skaters to trip and fall, which can lead to bumps, bruises and broken bones.”

Read whole article

For adult ice skaters who want to improve their skills a coach is available otherwise people pretty much enjoy themselves skating comfortably in a safe environment.  I imagine it’s also a great escape from the mid-day heat too!

Are there similar sessions in your part of the world?   Tell us about them!

Posted in adult figure skater, adult skaters, Basic Skills for Adult Beginner Figure Skaters | Tagged | Leave a comment

Essentrics for Adult Ice Skaters

551138_376574729031088_100000356937291_1291842_601483656_nDevoted ice skaters need to cross-train; this is true for any level or age. Ice skaters are no different from serious athletes in any sport; we repeat the same movements over and over, often for hours at a time on a regular basis. This is hard on the body at any age. I train with teens in a Sport-Study Programme and they often complain about the same aches and pains that I do!

Unlike the teens though, we adult figure skaters  may have older injuries that can be compounded by the intensity of our figure skating training. Plus, we also need longer recovery times between intense training sessions and, unfortunately, take longer to heal from injury.

As part of the research for my upcoming book, Skating in the Arena of Life: 7 Strategies for Midlife Women to Find Solid Ground and Achieve Their Goals, (LINK) I decided to try out an “Essentrics™ Aging Backwards” class.

Essentrics™ technique was created by Miranda Esmonde-White. American readers may have seen her TV show “Classical Stretch” on the PBS network. . To quote her website:

“The ESSENTRICS™ technique is based on the concept of eccentric muscle contractions, which strengthen the muscles in the lengthened position. This type of muscle activation increases tension on the muscles as they lengthen, creating a long, lean and toned physique, helping to relieve aches and pains and to prevent injuries. The simultaneous strengthening and stretching in ESSENTRICS™ results in a strong, vibrant, youthful and pain-free body.”

As well as benefiting mere mortals, numerous elite athletes have also benefited from Essentrics™, notably figure skaters Megan Duhamel and Amelie Lacoste, as well as the Montreal Canadians Hockey team.

So what was the “Aging Backwards” class like? According to the website, it is “aimed at regaining your mobility while slowly building strength and re-awakening the power of your 620 muscles…. It is designed for those who have atrophy-related stiffness, frozen shoulder, chronic aches and pains, or who are beginning to exercise after a long sedentary period….” Chronic aches and pains? Yep, that’s me!

We started with a very gentle but thorough warm-up, followed by some very gentle stretches done first at the barre and then on the mat. As an adult figure skater, I really appreciated working barefoot and the time we spent working on the feet. One of the down sides of skating is having your feet and ankles relatively immobile for long periods of time.

I never broke a sweat, but I felt comfortable, warm and energized. In a perfect world, I would do this class right before my on-ice training! It was also good to focus on stretching and mobilizing the joints that don`t get a whole lot of use in skating (feet and upper body), as well as taking the time to mobilize all of my joints through their entire range of motion.

There are Essentrics™ trained teachers all over the world, so you have no excuses to not give it a try. Check out their website and be sure to share how you cross-train for figure skating on this website!

Posted in adult figure skater, Adult ice skater, figure skaters, figure skating injury, Ice skating | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Ice Skating for Absolute Beginners: Learn to Turn

Here’s another in the series of introductory videos I have been making for people who would like to learn to skate or become more confident ice skaters but who may not have access to a coach or lessons.

They are aimed primarily at adult skaters and the skills are based on those I teach using the  Skate Canada’s “Canskate” program.    I have learned through years of teaching adult beginner  ice skaters that I need to pace the speed at which  I teach the skills a little differently.     I also need to use a lot more teaching progressions than I do with children.    I have to make sure adults master and are confident about doing all the components before I introduce more advanced skills.

Once they master this skill, I would typically introduce a two foot turn from front to back while skating forward slowly.

Are you a brand new adult ice skater?  Would you like more helpful tips on how to get started in a fun and safe way?   Check out my on-line how-to book for great ideas!

Ice Skating for Absolute Beginners

Posted in Adult ice skater, Adult skating, Basic Skills for Adult Beginner Figure Skaters, Skate Canada | Tagged | Leave a comment