September 16, 2010


Yes it's happened: I've been grounded from the ice! :-( I'm SOOOOO SAD!!! That bad case of shin splints that I mentioned 2 weeks ago turned out to be a little more than just shin splints. About a week and a half ago (it was on a Sunday) I started having pain in my calf even when I was walking. I waited over Labor Day to see if it would go away but it only got worse. So that Tuesday I called a sports medicine orthopedist that a friend had recommended and made an appointment for the following afternoon. Tuesday morning I was still able to practice but I started noticing that I was having trouble getting into a flip from a 3 turn and I had already stopped doing Salchows and toe loops because they were quite painful. Wednesday morning I was supposed to have a lesson before my appointment that afternoon. I went out to warm up about 30 minutes before my lesson as I hate going into a lesson cold, but by the time my coach came out onto the ice I was in tears, not from the pain, but simply because I couldn't do anything without it hurting! I knew I was going to have to take some time off of the ice and that realization was heartbreaking! It only took a few pokes and prods on my shin for the doctor to suspect what the X-rays confirmed: a stress fracture. Even worse than I thought! As a nursing student, I had done my homework before going in and thought that it was a tendon problem. I figured a week at most off of the ice, a little physical therapy and I'd be good as new. Not so much. Between a soft tissue (such as ligaments and tendons), actual fracture and a stress fracture, having a stress fracture is probably the worst of the three. This is because of two main reasons: first, once you get a stress fracture, you're at risk for having future ones. Secondly, and more importantly, unlike a true fracture that heals in 6 weeks, there is no guarantee that a stress fracture will heal and if it does, there is no guarantee that it won't come back again to haunt you. Naturally, this diagnosis produced a few more tears. And I haven't even mentioned the other factors that were upsetting such as we had just finished choreographing my program 4 days before and I had a competition in 7 weeks (now 6) or the fact that, well let's face it, I'm addicted to the ice and to go from skating 6 days a week to NOTHING was impossible to imagine. So now I'm on a diet extraordinarily heavy in calcium. I eat 2-3 Tums a day, drink a minimum of 16 oz of milk, eat 1 cup of yogurt and 2 cheese sticks. I try to grab a bite or two of ice cream or some extra milk as well but it just depends on the day. It's probably my own fault now that I think about it because not only do I pound the life out of my joints and bones every day, but I started really watching what I was eating back in early July and since school has been in session for the last month, if it doesn't pack in a backpack, then I probably am not eating it. I live on peanut butter sandwiches, apples and granola bars. So yes I know that I inadvertently set myself up for this one but that doesn't make it any easier. Here's the crux of the matter, and this is hard for me to admit: what I've accomplished in the last 5 months is amazing and awesome, not to mention highly unusual. But it's the fact that I'm definitely not a typical skater that drives me forward even more to continue to surpass any and all expectations that anyone has for me, including my own. If I can't compete at the end of October, I'll be disappointed but it won't be the end of the world. What has me willing to kill to get back out there is that I'm really afraid of loosing some of what I had before. I started getting a consistent camel-sit just a couple of days before I was ordered off of the ice. My sit spin was getting much lower and tighter. My spirals were looking better, and I had a great catch foot towards the end of my program. I'm really afraid that I will have to go back and somewhat re-learn what I already have. And then there is sectionals. Okay, I guess I'll admit my secret. I know that the only thing I'm going to have to push hard for is the flying spins to skate in the silver division. The Axel won't be a problem for me. So, I was super secretly hoping that I would actually be able to do gold and not just silver. Because I'm fairly sure I could have had the double Salchow and toe loop. But now that I've lost ground I don't know if I'll be able to have even the flying spins by the end of December, which is when I'd have to test into silver if I was going to skate gold. Because you have to be tested into the level you're competing in (well you can skate one up but that's it) NOT by the time of the competition but by the time of the registration. So let me just point out that the registration for both sectionals and nationals is the first week of January. And sectionals are the last week of February, and nationals are the second week of April. Okay just so we're clear that's two and three 1/2 months respectively between registering and competing. Anyone else see the problem with this? I can accomplish.....well let me think a second here.....I think I had every single jump except Lutz and of course Axel by the 3 month mark. Just saying...So anyways, the only ice I'm seeing right now is teaching learn to skate. Hopefully by next week I can do some general stroking and moves just so that I can stay on my blades and maybe the week after I can really get back to what I do well....I think as long as I can be back on the ice at 100% by 3 weeks out from the competition, I can pull it off if I do 2 a day practices. We will see....more to come soon! I may be off the ice for a couple of weeks but I'm flooring it full force as soon as they'll let me get back on!

September 3, 2010

Three weeks later...

Ok ok I know I’m horrible….it’s been nearly three weeks since I’ve updated the skating blog. And the last two weeks I was in school so that does explain a lot as far as lack of time is concerned. I actually have had to read what my last post was so that I knew what I should talk about that has happened since then. A major factor that has come into play since my last posting is a severe case of shin splints in my left leg. I’ve had shin splints but none quite like this. Let me put it this way, it’s not uncommon for me to be woken up by shooting pain in my leg at 4 am. I think it’s mostly from the amount of spinning that I’m now doing. On my last post I had talked about how I was starting to try some sit spins and was learning how to do a camel. I now have a pretty decent looking sit spin (actually I get into a very nice position and it’s quite speedy, we’re just working on getting it lower) and a good camel when it decides to behave….it’s very inconsistent. So the pain I think can be fairly accurately attributed to my calf muscles freaking out because of all of the intense spinning that is going on right now. I’m not jumping very much at all and I’m really focusing on catching my spins up to my jumps. This was because I had been begging my coach to let me compete on the bronze level for our competition at the end of October instead of the pre-bronze level because I really wanted to be able to throw a Lutz in my program. I have the jumps, why not use them, right? And of course, her response was that if I wanted to compete in bronze, then I needed to catch my spins up to the caliber of my jumps. Logical, yes. Fun, no. Easy to do, heck no! But I am happy to report that I now have a happy and consistent backspin that I am still working on getting consistently into a combo, can do a sit scratch combo, and am within a week or so I’m guessing of having a camel sit. Oh and I can do a pancake spin and a headless scratch spin. So we started putting together my program on Tuesday. I like my music which starts out slow but then picks up and has a nice dark, mysterious accent to it which will go great with my amazing dress that I have. My coach asked me on Wednesday if I had timed my music yet. I said that I had and she just sort of gave me a look. I thought that she was trying to tell me it was a bit too long at 1:47. I said that I thought it could be + or – 10 seconds, which it can. Then she said, yes it could and then just kept looking at me. Suddenly the lightbulb went off. It was 1:47 because she was letting me skate bronze, which has a time cap of 1:50 compared to 1:40 in pre-bronze. I think I just about jumped over the boards! I was very excited, and still am! Although looking back, I should have seen it coming considering I’m throwing a camel sit in the opening 15 seconds! We choreographed the first ½ of the program Tuesday but then went back and changed all of the jumps around today, which was kind of confusing, but definitely better score wise! The one (and only) nice thing about pre-bronze is that the number of jumps as well as the number of repetitions was free. Now that we’re doing bronze, they cap everything out from now on. So we can only have 4 jumps, combos or sequences and you can only repeat a jump once, and it must be in a combo or a sequence. But I think the other catch is that you can actually repeat a jump more than once if it is in a sequence. But I could be wrong…I’ll get back to you on that one. Anyways, so we nixed what we initially were doing since we only had 4 jump opportunities and I’m pretty happy about the jumps that are going into it. Right in the middle of the program I jump around like a frog with a split jump, a combo and then a sequence all in about 30 seconds. But I do LOVE jumping….hence why there is only one solo jump in the whole program! Tomorrow we are going to finish it off so that  means step sequence, although I think I heard something about a spiral sequence instead……hmmmm…..not so excited about that one….and then the last jump and ending spin (which I’m assuming will be scratch backscratch). And then I have 9 weeks exactly to get it perfected. The likelihood that I’m actually going to be competing against anyone in October is pretty low. There is only one other adult freestyle skater at my rink and she’s definitely a pre-bronzer…I don’t think I’ve even seen her do a loop or a flip, let alone a Lutz. Ah yes, and how is that Axel you ask? Well the second time in the harness I pretty much fumbled every one of them until the end, where I proceeded to land my last two most excellently. And then shin splints happened, which have caused a major breakdown in the Axel work since pushing off my toes (AKA plantar flexion) is a KILLER right now. We tried to do them last week which resulted in me pretty much flopping around and doing ‘Tinkerbells’ as my coach called them. Not sure what that meant…maybe that I was just jumping up and not doing anything? But I know that I’ll get out of the harness quickly as soon as I can jump them again without wanting to amputate my leg….hopefully by next week. Oh and about that split jump I mentioned earlier….I should add the small note that I really don’t like it. I was trying to tell my coach that I could do a falling leaf at that particular spot in the program but she said no because we needed to land forwards, so then I suggested a stag jump. I thought how hard could it be? Then she said do a split. Of course, she likes my split jump because I get very high in the air. (Really? You don’t say? Imagine that, the jumping queen gets some hang time on a jump….) I don’t like it because I know I’m not getting a 180 degree split. It’s probably something like a 140 ish….I don’t really know. I should have her shoot it with her flip camera! And of course since she is THE COACH, what she says, goes. Although I will admit that there are 2 equal aspects of the split jump to consider as a skater: One, the spit itself, which I will be working on and stretching. But the second aspect that you don’t think about until you’re doing one is a confidence/security aspect. It’s one thing to jump into the air and rotate with your feet perpendicular to the ground. It makes for a guaranteed landing. A split jump, however requires not only height and rotation, but you have to split your legs parallel to the ice….which is absolutely opposite of every instinct in your body! So for me, I started getting a better jump immediately once I really forced myself to PULL my upper body up. Chest up and out, head back. You have to just trust that you’re feet will find their way back down to the ground. Okay, well I know I’ve more than made up for a lack of posting for three weeks now! I’ll try to get a quick update up in the next day or two regarding the full compilation of my program. Oh and of course, there’s one last little item of panic to mention….my coach could be disappearing on a shortened maternity leave any day! While she will only be gone for two weeks….hopefully….I’m already very nervous about it since I’m trying to prepare my very first program! Not that the secondary coach I work with off the ice and when my coach is gone isn’t fabulous, I just want my COACH!  

August 16, 2010

Adventures in the Harness and Camels

Another fantastic week of skating and I'm not posting until Monday! I'm not going to lie, after this weekend I pretty much feel like a skating rockstar. In my lesson Friday, we didn't get a chance to work in the harness at all like I had been looking forward to all week. As it turned out, however, my blades were so dull that I couldn't have worked on Axels anyway. So after having them sharpened that evening, I hit my coach up on Saturday morning for some harness practice. First we ran through a few Axel walk throughs which is where you do a baby Waltz jump (as in from a standstill) and then land in a backspin, or in my case, a backspin slide :-). Then we did some nice big Waltz jumps with the harness on just to get the feel of things. Think of being in the harness as sort of a brain game. I thought my coach was actually pulling me up on the Waltz jumps, which she wasn't, so I was jumping REALLY high since I thought I wouldn't fall. I didn't of course, but like I said, it's a head trick. The tricky part about leaning how to do an Axel in the harness is that you take a very straight approach when it's much easier to do a nice 1/2 circle approach. The harness cable goes straight down the long side of the rink and you have about 3 feet on either side of the cable. So that's a 6 foot width to work with. Not much at all! The first several ones were really just figuring out how and when to snap into the backspin position and then getting my arms in sync with my leg. I wasn't getting any help with the jump, it was just the landing. My coach says it's normal for a skater who is learning a new jump to get up and rotate fine but then just crumple as they hit the ground, so they usually end up pulling you up so that you don't kill yourself. Which is strange when you're trying to land the jump because you almost feel like you can't find the ground when you're coming down! After a few attempts I started rotating better and landing them and all of a sudden I threw one that I landed fairly well. My coach said, "I'm not pulling you I'm just holding the rope. That was all you." SWEEEEEEEEEETTTTTT! I threw a couple more decent ones and a couple more 'waxels' AKA wacky Axels. Don't ask me, I don't come up with the terminology. I'm hoping to squeeze in another 15 or 20 minutes on the harness this Saturday and my goals is to get them very consistent this time so that my coach will let me throw them out of the harness. We have an open house in two weeks and I'm helping demonstrate things, so my goal is to be able to demonstrate an Axel there. We shall see :-). In other news, I started doing some camel spins on Thursday in class. Oh yes, I now have an instructor from the school of figure skating, not ice dancing, so my problem is fixed. I heart my coach who took care of this. She said I actually was getting into the correct position perfectly but I was really only rotating once. Friday, my coach and I worked on it and were able to get 2 revolutions. Saturday I stretched three out of it once and Sunday, insert drumroll please, I had 5 revs two separate times! I was pretty happy! Especially since I don't consider spinning my strong point, to not have to fight a spin for once would be great. I fought that stupid scratch spin for nearly four months, my backspin still stinks, and my sit spin, although only a couple of weeks old, is not very pretty. Although, I should mention that my coach feels like it's fairly close and we're slated to work on camel-sit combos this week as she thinks I'll nail that one right down and then I'll be able to do solo sits. I think we are going to start working on putting together my program either this week or next as we are about 10 weeks away from the Halloween competition on October 30th. My coach likes to have her skaters have at least 8 weeks on a program before they compete with it. I'm wondering if she's not trying to give my spins AKA backspin, sit and camel an extra week or two to get good enough to put in there. I'm not thinking that the backspin is going to be good enough but maybe the camel will and if I'm super lucky a camel-sit. I need a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 3 spins but I think they can even be the same spin, but who would want to do that?! And I'm also hoping that I get to throw a flip-loop-toe loop combo as I FLY though the air when I do those! It's the one combination with a loop that I really get some height on but go figure since it starts with 'my jump' the flip. Well I think that's about all that's gone on this week, cross your fingers that I can get that camel consistent and nail my Axel this weekend and I'll keep you posted!

August 7, 2010

Loop de loop de loop de loop

Well it has happened.....I thought it wouldn't but lo and behold the elusive loop jump finally clicked today! First I should probably apologize for not updating the blog last week, it was a bit of a hectic week with work last week! But back to the lovely loop jump.... I was a bit frustrated with the loop jump as I have previously stated. It didn't help that I was getting differences in coaching as well. I am in a jumps and spins class on Thursdays and my coach (who ROCKS!) always takes the 'high' skaters AKA the girls throwing doubles and combo spins. Hopefully I'll be in their group by next summer. But anyway, there's a very good reason why she always works with them. Different coaches obviously have different styles of teaching. My coach is also all of the high skaters' coach and doesn't want any other coaches messing up their jumps. Not to mention that they won't jump for one of the other two coaches that teaches the class. She's very nice and means well and is a great ice dancing coach but that's about where it stops. Her background is in ice dancing, not freestyle, and it really shows with her coaching. She pushes the higher skaters to do jumps and combos that they aren't ready for and tries to completely change their jumps. Of course, the problem then is also that skating is largely dependent on muscle memory so time spent changing a jump incorrectly ends up being more time spent correcting it. Two steps forward and one step back essentially. So I have had this coach teaching me for the last few weeks. I don't want to speak badly of her as she is certainly a good person and a good coach but her training is in ice dancing. It's like a figure skating coach teaching hockey. It just doesn't work. So two weeks ago when my coach left for a week of vacation, she left me with the assignment of getting all of my toe loop and loop combos. Toe loops were no problem but I was really struggling with the loop, especially with just a single loop and even a loop combo was really only intermittently working for me on the toe loop and Salchow. Then this coach keeps pushing me to really kick forward on all of my the point of practically doing a split jump on every jump. Not only was this really messing up my jumps, but I could barely even land half of them, let alone try to get into a loop combo! Needless to say I was very happy to get my wonderful coach back this week and I informed her I wasn't jumping for this other coach anymore. I was welcomed into the ever growing folds of skaters at the rink that also feel this way. After spending most of my lesson on Friday fixing my jumps, we started talking about putting together my program for my first competition (YEA get EXCITED!) at the end of October. We decided on three jump combos: Flip-toe loop, toe loop-loop and Salchow-loop. Then a solo flip and solo loop. And maybe one other solo jump. It wasn't set in stone yet but obviously I'm already rolling my eyes because I'm not landing loops very consistently. So I just went out this morning and decided that I was going to kick the loop's butt. I was not getting off that ice without figuring it out. So I decided to revert back to what my coach had originally shown me when learning the loop, as in scrapping this straight line intro that the other coach had me doing. I went back to the forward 3 turn entrance into the backspin position to take off for the jump and after doing that a couple of times from a standstill I went back to the circle and set it up wider just like a toe loop. It worked like a dream. And suddenly, the light bulb went on! I realized that when you wanted to come down into a loop combo set up you had to 'flip' or switch your hips around in the air, mid jump. Bam! Just like that I was able to throw loop combos on all five single jumps. The only thing I had trouble with was the Waltz jump. I think I need to just throw a straight Axel because I was over rotating it to get into a loop. I was very excited. I'm not sure if we will really change my jumps around but it does open up a couple of other possibilities. I like the flip-toe loop combo though because I feel like I really fly though the air on it. Other than the loop jump I've just started working on sit spins and I can tell I'm actually fairly close to getting them, I think a week or two of squats, squats and more squats will really help that out. I'm looking forward to another great week of practice and I get to put in harness time this week.....I fully plan on winning that bet I made of having a double by the second week of September! I can't stand to loose! Oh so since I didn't write last week, I should mention that I did attempt to throw a double Salchow last week, and I got one and 1/2 revolutions out of it. I think I really need the harness just to figure out what the rotation feels like, because I kept wanting to put my foot down too early. So hopefully I'll be a rockstar and land my Axel at least speedily and of course and double of something quickly! I will keep you posted....:-)

July 25, 2010

Testing done, Scratch spin done!

YEA!!!! I passed my Adult Pre-bronze MIF and Freestyle tests this morning! I had a shaky start on my consecutive BIE's but recovered and made it across in only four, which happened to be a new feat for me....I guess I pushed extra hard since I was nervous. My waltz eight went well and the only other fumble I had on the MIF test was the back half of the "power three turn pattern thingy". I refer to it as that because it is power threes, you just have that second three turn in it. I did the first half nicely but when I came around the corner for the back half I COMPLETELY BLANKED on what foot I was supposed to start with. How embarrassing. I quickly remembered but it just kind of threw the whole back half off. But I passed so we move on. I was much more comfortable with my freestyle test because the only hitch in the elements was, of course, whether or not my one foot spin would center up and cooperate. I had two so-so ones and one really nice one in my warm up. I did my Salchow which was clean first and then set up to wow them with my flip. Now let me interject for a minute here, you have to understand that this is the only freestyle test that is not a program, it's just the required elements and it only requires 2 half or single revolution jumps. So, I could have just done a Waltz jump and a half flip if I wanted to. But I had to be a hot shot and show off my flip which is very strong and I actually end up 'hanging' in the air for a good second or two before 'deciding' to come down. Should make doubles fun and hopefully easy! But as I was saying, I set up for it and just didn't quite vault up right and therefore ended up sort of halfway two-footing the landing. I rolled my eyes, cussed silently and then moved on. One foot spin centered up nicely, I was just too nervous to really push the crossing over and down for the scratch! The rest was cake. I assumed that they would ask me to reskate my flip jump properly and honestly I wanted to because I couldn't believe I fumbled the landing, but of course, they just said thank you. My coach said that since they had seen me warm it up three minutes before and I had landed all four or five I jumped, they probably would just give it to me since I obviously had it. They did. So yea, I passed both tests. Now it's onward and upwards to putting together a program and hopefully when my coach gets back from vacation the first week in August, we get to start working on Axels and DOUBLES!!!! I'm really tempted to just try throwing a double Salchow for kicks and grins this week and I just might if I have private ice this Friday. I think it should be fairly easy for me as I have to force myself not to put too much into my single or else I over-rotate it. I wasn't allowed to work on Axels until after the testing session today so bring them on! There's also that little bet I made with the rink manager that I'd have a double in two months out of the harness. So I have until the middle of September.....surely that's feasible?! The other highlight of my day today was that I....drumroll please...STARTED SCRATCHING!!!!!! THANK YOU FINALLY!!!! I felt like it would never happen! I think I actually might have done one yesterday but I did several today! One of the girls I skate with on Saturdays was telling me yesterday that her coach always tells her to breathe in as she's spinning and it helps cross your free leg over your skating leg. As I'm sure you're thinking right now, I told her that's complete poo. But to humor her I tried it yesterday. Well, I'll be a donkey kong, it works. So if you're stuck on your scratch spin like me, try breathing in. It's harder than you think because you naturally want to breathe out as you spin. But for some reason the breathing in helps pull your free leg across your skating one. So I was quite happy about this situation's only taken nearly 3 months! For the next two weeks, my coach wants me to really focus on combinations until she gets back. Prep work for doubles. This means after warming up all six jumps, I have to first do all of them with a toe loop added on (Waltz-toe, toe-toe, Salchow-toe, loop-toe, flip-toe, and Lutz-toe) and then I have to do all of them with a loop. Toe loop is no problem, but loops are another story. Loops and I are still friends at a distance. Sometimes we get along and sometimes we don't. I can do a Salchow-loop fairly well and I really started doing toe loop-loops well today. But not so much on the other jumps, especially of all things, Waltz jumps. But I'll keep working on them. And I do need to also work on my spins. Backspin is coming along, I can usually get three revolutions and then exit. I learned camels this week in class and I need to figure out how to actually spin on those! Thanks to Shauna for the shout out this last week and I hope to connect with more college-aged skaters. Pass this site on to your skating buddies!

July 20, 2010

5 days!!!

There's only 5 days left until testing day and I'm partially excited and partially nervous. I'm not really worried that I won't pass the test, it's more that I'm worried that I'll be so nervous I'll be shaky and not hold my edges! It will be nice to get the testing out of the way as learning new things on the ice has really been stalled out for the last several weeks. I'm really looking forward to working on my Axel and maybe some double Salchows and toe loops after this weekend! I'm ready to work on some new tricks! I need to put in some more work on my backspin and I would also like to start working on my sit spin. I'm really getting centered much more now on my one foot spin and I'm so close to actually scratching it's making me crazy. It's kind of addictive really because I'll work on it for fifteen minutes or so and I'll get really close and but never actually get there. I think it's a combination of the strength it takes and the fact that I always feel like I'm going to fall over if I cross my leg over any farther. I know, though, that once I do it for the first time, I'll know exactly how to do it again. A funny little incident happened today. I finally broke down and purchased a pair of Chloe Noel pants and they sent a child's size instead of an adult size! My skating dress I had ordered a few weeks ago finally arrived this week. It is absolutely stunning! As beautiful as it is, the down side is that it is absolutely not a practice dress, it's definitely a competition dress. That is the final thing I'm looking forward to post testing session, is putting together a freestyle and artistic program. Then I'll know I'm getting close to my first competition!

July 11, 2010

Testing in Two Weeks!

I don't have much new progress to report for the last week....I'm two weeks away from testing into Adult Pre-bronze so I'm really focusing on everything that I'm testing on. I'm still feeling fairly nervous about my back inside consecutive edges as well as my waltz eight. I'm honestly not sure whether or not what happened at practice today is a good thing or a bad thing. One of the guys who usually judges skates on the same time as I do Sundays. He saw me working on my waltz eight and made some suggestions on how to fix it. Now if this was from any other coach I would have just taken it at face value. But because he was a judge and was fairly adamant about the way to execute a waltz eight it kind of made me nervous because now I'm worried that he's going to watch it even more analytically than he would if he hadn't stopped and said something. But on the other hand he knows how hard I train and perhaps he was trying to be kind and point out what they look for. But then again, my coach said it was fine and I was good to go for testing even though it's not my strongest element. So that is my debate. I'll have to chat with my coach on Tuesday about it. I'm really starting to get the hang of my backspin and I was definitely getting three or more revolutions out of every one today, however my jumps were really off. But I chalk that up to my blades needing sharpening. (I dropped them off for the pro after practice). I had to laugh when I totally fell on a waltz jump and a couple of girls who had stayed after the public skate right before my practice reacted as if I broke every bone in my body. Ironically, it was a perfect fall, as in it didn't hurt at all because I landed on my butt and because I had a lot of velocity still, I slid about 15 feet across the ice. I laughed at myself because it was a dumb jump to fall on (who falls on a waltz jump?) and those poor girls will now probably never want to skate again since I sufficiently scared the need for ice out of them. I'm hoping my skating dress arrives this week so that I can make sure it fits....I don't know what I'll do if it doesn't! Well that's about all for this week. Hopefully I'll have something that I've progressed on to report for next week, like my loop jump that is still stumping me!