Friday, January 7, 2011

My life and figure skating: two worlds that don't exactly collide

I debated for some time over what I would write for my first blog post of the new year. I considered writing a look back over the year, or to layout a couple of my new year resolutions (yes I make them, not that they're any different from most people's), I even considered not writing at all (after all, I'd have more time to dedicate to my manuscripts if I didn't take the time to write a blog post once a week). I've kind of become attached to my blog; however, and for my three followers, and maybe half a dozen more random readers out in the vast space that is the Internet, I'm not ready to stop yet. Therefore, from the way things are looking after the near completion of my first week of 2011, it looks like figure skating is going to take a major role in my life for the next couple of months. And so I'm going to take a few (many) minutes to write about it.

If memory serves I started figure skating when I was eight. Just group lessons, nothing fancy, I probably had a pair of Canadian Tire skates and that was just fine for the time. I progressed reasonably well through the first couple of levels. Within maybe two years I was doing all the jumps except for axel. I would have loved to take private lessons or to compete, but sports weren't a priority in my household, and as noted in a previous post, I was a chubby child (i.e. I didn't exactly have a figure skater's physique). I dreamed that someone might 'discover' me and I would finally get the lessons, and do spring and summer skating school, but of course that never happened. I took a few tests here and there as my minimal coaching would allow and eventually did land an axel (something I'm struggling with now), but stopped around aged fifteen as even I had to admit I was never going to be a world champion.

Skating became a sometime (or more like rare) activity until a few years ago when I decided to look around and see if there were any adult programs, which I discovered to my delight, there were. I joined the Ice Palace F.S.C. in Edmonton, for no particular reason except that it was the first one I found. After that I started working with a really great coach who is always enthusiastic and encouraging of what I do. After getting a good quality pair of skates (the first new ones I bought were not sufficient for the level I was skating at) I started to see a noticeable improvement in my spinning, which has always been weak. I'm working towards landing axels again (actually, I've been pretty much trying to do this since I started back) and my loop jump, which used to be my least favourite jumps is now one of my best.

Okay, so there's the recap of what I've been doing, so now what? Now I'm planning to take two tests in March, the preliminary skills test (Skate Canada's replacement for compulsory figures) and my junior bronze freeskate test (both the skills and program components). I want to pass, and in order to pass I have to be able to land an axel or a wally, and do a flying spin. My flying camel is surprisingly good. I would never have suspected I could do one without falling when my coach had me first try last winter. Then there's my axel. See, here's the problem with having skated in a small club coached primarily by kids only a couple of years older than myself: bad technique for my axel has set in because no one corrected me and now it's causing me problems. I have a tendency to kick my leg out wide when I take off, which makes it hard to get the rest of my body around and complete the one and a half rotations necessary.

In order to pass my tests I need to skate more. Competitive figure skaters practice upwards of twenty-five hours a week, it's how they develop consistency and improve their skills. Obviously I'm not going to skate that much. I don't have the time, and I don't have the money to pay for that amount of ice time (and oh yeah, I'm still not going to be a world champion), so I'm going to try to squeeze in as much practice as I can from now until my test day. That means running over to the U of A arena on Tuesdays at lunch to use the figure skating club ice time, then again on Friday days during the rec skate ice time. It means skating on Wednesday nights on the Ice Palace adult time, and it means long runs on Saturday has been replaced with long skates in the afternoon on an open session at a nearby arena.

Hopefully at the end of all this I will pass my tests in March. I'd be disappointed to fail--I mean who wouldn't be? If I pass I'll be qualified to take the first level of Skate Canada coaches training. I'm not sure if I actually have time to coach little kids right now (the rest of my spare time is spent on writing, of course), but I might find I have time in the future. We'll see how things ban out over the next few weeks.




Lisa said...

Good luck! You're the hardest working person I know - I'm confident you can pass it!

S. Andrea Milne said...

Thanks! I can actually fail 2 elements on my components test, so if I can't do an axel, I'll still be okay as long as either my flying camel or my back spin are strong enough. I'll have to show you the dress my mom made me next you're over. It's really pretty :)