April 4, 2015 § Leave a comment
National championship. Little less of this.
Little less of that.
Something more like this.
We’re ten days away from the 2015 USFS Adult National Championships in Salt Lake City, UT. If you told me six months ago this is where my coach and I would be, with two more chances to bring home championship gold, I would call you crazy. But things changed for the better, skates, skating skills, outlooks and mentalities. Here’s why I feel good about doing what Brian Boitano would do and becoming a figure skating champion.
It’s been three plus years since I got back into figure skating. It’s a love-hate relationship sprinkled with early morning practices, double runthroughs and her generally shaking her head throughout the practice. She’s put up with me skating to Monday Night Football, for God’s sake.
But coach Robin White’s confidence in me to do what she asks (jumps, jump combos, spins, edges, you know what I’m saying?) has rubbed off on me physically and mentally. Physically, in being able to do the moves. Mentally, in being sure of myself that I can do the moves. We joke a lot about this but I look like a figure skater. When I quit the sport, it won’t be because of her. The teamwork made the dream work.
Pacific Coast Sectionals. National semifinals. It got weird in North Las Vegas.
I skated. I fell. Yeah. I brought home two medals. Uh huh.
Most importantly though, at my first big adult competition, I felt like I belonged. A lot of folks from San Francisco came out, either because they were skating or were cheering on fellow San Francisco skaters. It felt good to show up and have good skates in front of my friends and second family. Ran into coach/skater/skating parent Natalie Shaby, who cheers on every Cal skater. Ran into people who worked the Union Square Holiday Ice Rink. Surreal but fun experience.
I got down to Pacific Rim and Phil Collins. Looking forward to doing it again.
As far back as a year ago, I had a crisis with figure skating.
Sure, I practiced a lot. Sure, I was jumping and spinning. I just didn’t really know why I was doing it. Ended up having a heart to heart conversation with coach Suzy Jackson, who molds figure skaters into Olympians.
Ended up being an hour long conversation talking about life, skating, then life again before the Suz came up with the magical solution: talk to your coach, your coach knows you best.
So I talked to my coach, and it took us awhile but we came up with some concrete goals to work towards. It seemed silly then to suggest that I’d be in a position to skate for championship gold but for the past year, I’ve been skating with a purpose. It doesn’t make waking up at 5 or 6 in the morning less stupid but I know the work I’m putting in is leading up to good things.
Whether that means gold medals or making lifelong friends before this season’s over, well, we’ll see. But… ¿por qué no los dos?
December 11, 2014 § Leave a comment
The United States Figure Skating Association’s Intercollegiate regular season is one-third of the way done for Pacific Division teams. Schools from California and Colorado made their way through I-70 to Edora Pool and Ice Center (EPIC) in Fort Collins to see if they could make their Intercollegiate Nationals dreams come true. It’s University of Denver, Colorado State, and University of California, San Diego who are the closest to booking their flights to the San Francisco Bay Area for some postseason glory. Lurking within striking distance are the University of California, Berkeley and University of Colorado, Boulder. Where art thou, UCLA and DO WE START FREAKING OUT RIGHT NOW?
Season Standings: Tied for 6th place with Colorado College and University of Northern Colorado, with 0 points
The real figure skaters of Westwood come back home from Denver empty-handed, edged out by pioneers, bears, rams, buffaloes and sea deities. They do get credit for sending skaters to EPIC so they don’t get a stern talking to from Katherine Specht and the USFS Collegiate Committee.
The Bruins are stoked not only to come back to final examinations and $1.75 Diddy Riese ice cream sandwiches, but also to the low altitude of Southern California, where it reportedly makes a difference to breathe and skate at 500 feet above sea level, instead of 5000 feet.
These may not be your older brother’s Bruins though, as the Core 4 of Joey Millet, Maddison Bullock, Mericien Venzon, and Emily Chan, plus junior college transfer Amanda Sunyoto and team mom Coral Chou sort out their post-undergraduate lives. Best of luck to their skating, their modeling and singing, their graduate school, their life endeavors. Let’s take a look at the new Core 4 or Core … 10.
- Tyler Vollmer, ice dance
- Adrian Siew, free skate
- Evan Bender, free skate
- Ai Ohno, free skate
- Sarah Palaich, ice dance and free skate
- Jillian Campbell, free skate
- Evy Karin, free skate
- Therese Vesagas, free skate
- Julia Feng, free skate
- Patricia McNeil, free skate
- Marisa Goff, ice dance
- More members to follow once the competitions in San Diego and Denver roll around
Sunyoto Sibling Rivalry No More
Raise your beverage in remembrance of Amanda and her younger sibling, Cal’s Sean Sunyoto. This will be the first time since Amanda transferred from Cerritos College that the Sunyotos won’t be ice dancing against each other. Rather than arguments or fights though, you instead saw one trying to teach the other how to do certain ice dances five minutes before they were scheduled to compete, you saw them supporting each other on and off the ice, and you saw them symbolizing the connection made between Berkeley and LA’s figure skating teams. As Sean finishes his last year of undergraduate eligibility, the siblings will turn their sights toward starting dental school, telling people to floss, and beyond.
There’s Tyler Vollmer, who can ice dance pretty darn well and take advantage of the bonus points that come with competing at the international dance events. It could be Sarah Palaich, whose versatility in the novice free skate and her ice dancing can earn the team much needed points.
I’m still leaning towards sophomore Ai Ohno as the one who wills the team to the postseason. Skating up from novice to junior this year, the team will rely on her clean skates to keep up with everyone else.
Deadline for Pacific Division teams to sign up for the January 24th Ride the Tide Competition, hosted by University of California, San Diego is December 17th. It’s a three hour drive or a half-hour flight from LA to San Diego, so the Bruins will be skating not too far from home, which is nice. If UCLA can place in the top 3 in January’s competition, they won’t have to worry about not making Nationals.
May 2, 2014 § Leave a comment
Hardcore and casual figure skating fans know much more figure skating knowledge than they realize. They know there’s a whole bunch of jumps, many ways to spin (upright, sitting, leaning back), and that the magical footwork sequences that Charlie and Meryl, et al pull out of thin air shouldn’t be recreated at home. That said, it’s time to deconstruct and explain one of the most mystical technical elements that a figure skater can do: a triple axel.
As well-known as the Iron Lotus and Chazz Michael Michaels’ interpretive dancing, the triple axel is in everyone’s figure skating lexicon (much easier to say; most don’t want their bae to catch them slipping while dropping “salchow”, “camel”, “twizzles” in normal conversation). However, would we be able to identify a triple axel?
Bro, Do You Even Single Axel Tho?
Considered a single jump, the single axel contains 1.5 revolutions, requiring a skater to go around all 540 degrees. If landed correctly in competition using ISJ scoring, the jump is worth 1.1 points. At the lower levels, this jump alone ends up separating those who skate all the way through high school from those who quit much earlier. This jump ends up being the gateway towards achieving doubles and eventually triples.
Here’s a cool video on what a single axel looks like.
You’ll recognize when most skaters are attempting an axel jump when they first prepare for the jump, starting at 0:10 of the video until 0:20. Her weight is over her right leg, her trajectory going counter-clockwise because she’s on her back outside edge (her weight is specifically over her right leg, over the right side of her right foot).
The Takeoff (Gliding, 0:24-0:29)
The skater then plants her left skate onto the ice, also bringing her arms back. She’ll pass the right leg through along with the arms and launch herself up facing forward without any excess swinging motion.
The Jump and the Landing (Pivot and Landing, 0:33-0:47)
After launching herself forward and doing the prerequisite 180 degree turn, she still needs to finish off one more revolution before her jump is considered an axel by the judges. The skater finishes off her jump by coordinating her arms and feet simultaneously. Her arms are passing forward and gather while the left leg crosses over the right leg, all to conserve angular momentum and quickly rotate before landing the jump.
No excess movements, an equal balance of weight. Any slight tilt in her air position would send her off-balance, making it harder to land the jump and earn a lot of points.
What about Triple Axels?
A triple axel landed correctly is worth 8.5 points and contains 3.5 revolutions. It no longer is the highest scoring jump in competition but it’s still required by all male skaters at the international level. Because it isn’t required of them to include triple axels in theirs, only one female skater routinely puts it in her competition programs. What does a triple axel look like?
Same gliding into the take-off and a badass landing to finish, just 720 more degrees to get around to count it as a triple. As for the revolutions, the skater completes one revolution on their way up, one revolution at the apex of the flight, and one final revolution on the way down before the landing.
Here’s Mao Asada of Japan, taking care of business with this triple axel.
That’s the triple axel, figure skating lexicon that you won’t be embarrassed to say because you know what’s behind it now. It’s no quad jump but it’s still the bees knees amongst figure skating fans, casual and veteran fans alike. Now you too can understand more about what
Scott Hamilton and Sandra Bezic (nobodylikesSandraBezic) Johnny Weir, Tara Lipinski and Terry Gannon are saying.
April 20, 2014 § 1 Comment
Happy Easter, whether you hunted some eggs, imbibed some tasty draaaaaaaaanks, or potatoed your way through a fair-weather Sunday.
On another note, it’s weird to use the moniker “thefigureskatinglawyer” when I don’t even English well, let alone have the requisite qualifications to be a lawyer. What’s up with that? About a year and a half of self-reflection, I have decided to forgo the law school route for now and get my paralegal certificate at San Francisco State University.
Weird Undergraduate-Graduate School Limbo
Woah, as a full-time student at SF State, I could theoretically check in with Katie Specht and the USFSA Collegiate Committee and set up a team here.
Looking for other figure skating, aspiring paralegals and optional objectives aside, SFSU Paralegal Studies Program is the only American Bar Association-certified program in San Francisco and one of the few certified programs in the Bay Area. It’s a program available to undergrad students looking for additional skills, working professionals looking at a possible career change, and individuals who want a cheaper method of previewing the first year of law school.
At about $825 for a three-unit course, the tuition, books, LexisNexis student subscriptions run a prospective student about 9000 to 10000 dollars to finish the 10 classes (5 required, 5 elective). It’s the student’s option to run roughshod through this program in 12 to 18 months, take the 4-year scenic route through things, or something in between. All that to gain the relevant skills of a paralegal, have the option to do internships through the school, and decide if the law school route seems attractive at that point. That seems like a solid way to save $30,000-$40,000 in law school tuition/room & board (a conservative guess on a first year’s cost) to figure out whether law school is the next time and financial investment to make.
The curriculum allows aspiring legal professionals to gain skills that they would learn and hone in their first year of law school. Performing legal research and Shepardizing cases? Drafting legal memoranda? Ethical conduct? Assisting in the prep of cases for trial? Learn about different types of software used in law firms? That’s pretty relevant to aspiring legal professionals, I suppose.
Who Can Take Their Classes
- Create an SFSU ID (linky link here) if you’ve never enrolled at SFSU before.
- Read up here to figure out how to get your password.
- Fill out this form, have a check for $50 written out to SFSU-CEL and submit it along with a college transcript
You’ve done all that? Cool, you get to do early registration and swoop on classes before they fill up on a first-come, first serve basis.
What if you’re not a part of the paralegal program and you kinda want to keep the $50 in your pocket? You can still sign up to take the classes? No way!
Fall and spring semesters have additional sections of the required classes, allowing students to fit their classes around their other class schedule or their work schedule. Maybe your day allows for you to go to class from 2:00 pm to 4:45 pm. If not, maybe you can go to class from 6:00 pm to 9:45 pm. Summer classes don’t have that luxury of having extra sections but they do have interesting electives. Summer classes do have a shorter 10 week (and one Saturday!) schedule to go over 17 weeks of material so … meh. However, yay to getting ahead in the program!
At the very least, having a paralegal certificate from an ABA-certified program gives you an advantage over college graduates looking for the same job. After meeting with program director Pat Medina and going through a few interviews with prospective internship supervisors, you can gain valuable experience that would’ve been tough to get otherwise.
Through professional relationships Pat Medina has cultivated at these public and private organizations, the students have a chance to end the no job because of experience/no experience because no job Catch-22 we’ve all grown to love. The organizations get to teach some of these students how to paralegal and maybe convince them that they can get a job there. Yay!
My classmates from college are going on to do some big, money-making things. Some are investment bankers. Some are figuring out this whole top-14 law school thing and passing bars, state, patent, etc. Some are going to be the finest dentists and doctors in the San Francisco Bay Area (In looks or skills? We’ll let Yelp, Tumblr, BuzzFeed decide on that one). Some are going to be champion figure skaters who coach other champion figure skaters on the side. Some are going to be wonderful parents. Some will have a really hard time figuring out what to do with a lot of money.
Instead of being in a rush to beat others to [random accomplishment], I’m beginning to understand that my peers and I will reach our career and life destinations at different points of our lives. That said, whether or not it takes me 12 months or 4 years, I’m going to finish this rad program and become a certified, bona fide paralegal. I still have no idea which field of law I’m interested in or whether I’ll even stay in law. I haven’t completely shut the door on going to law school either. I still feel like I’ve taken a step in the right direction.
Would it be more appropriate to call myself “thefigureskatinglegalprofessional” as opposed to “thefigureskatinglawyer?” Maybe, but that seems like a cumbersome mouthful. Also, TWSS.
April 13, 2014 § Leave a comment
The championship standings came down to the wire but it’s the University of Delaware Blue Hens winning their second consecutive Intercollegiate National Championships. Your standings after this two-day soirée in Adrian, MI:
- University of Delaware (132 points)
- Boston University (115.5)
- Dartmouth (114.5)
- Adrian College (73)
- UCLA (45)
- UC Berkeley (38)
- University of Denver (29.5)
- University of Michigan (25.5)
- University of Miami (Ohio) (24)
Just goes to show you how the depth of the Eastern Conference teams really helps them use up their allotted 35 entries (whether they actually have 35 skaters or skaters who can skate multiple disciplines) and outlast the smaller teams on their way to the top.
Congratulations, University of Delaware and in realizing what it would be like in a post-Laney Diggs era, good showing, UC Berkeley.
April 11, 2014 § 1 Comment
It’s the 2014 US Figure Skating Intercollegiate Nationals and every team has arrived in Adrian, MI, getting all Blades of Glory for University of Delaware’s crown.
While eight teams decompress at the local Holiday Inn Express and enjoy the typical fare of a Michigander, it is Adrian College who get to enjoy the comforts of their own beds, home cooking, and possibly home-ice advantage. That plays a role in the reason why the Adrian Bulldogs have the best shot from the Midwestern Conference to finish in the top 3.
One doesn’t simply walk onto the podium… right?
It’s a disclaimer I drop on any team not named Dartmouth, Delaware or Boston University but we are talking about one of the best Midwest teams of all-time, ALL-TIME. Led by team captain Tricia DeFelice and last year’s US intercollegiate intermediate ladies champion Demi Russo, these skaters are on fire.
- 1st in Bronco Challenge Cup
- 1st in Maize and Blue Matchup
- 1st in Skate on Wisconsin
Adrian College has been taking care of business in the Midwest, manhandling any challenges to their regional throne. Dating back to the 2012-2013 season, the team has won the last 5 Midwestern regional competitions, clinching back-to-back Midwestern championships for the first time in school history.
Coached by Ashley Carlson, these student-athletes will represent the Bulldogs in the team’s second consecutive time on the National stage:
- Co-captain and senior ice dancer Tricia DeFelice
- Junior ladies India Johnson
- Novice ladies Meghan Barnes
- Intermediate ladies Demi Russo
- Juvenile ladies Raynise Mancha
- Pre-juvenile ladies Barbara Hipp
- Preliminary ladies Maddie Sena
The additional two points for top-5 finishes in Johnson’s junior championship freeskate and DeFelice’s international ice dance events will certainly help Adrian in the standings.
WITH OUR POWERS COMBINED
The team has enough personnel to field a group for Low Team Maneuvers and another for Intermediate Team Maneuvers. Those two groups will get all Power Rangers-y and present their case on why their jumps, spins and footwork sequences bring all the figure skating judges to the yard.
GIVE YOUR HEART A BREAK
Just kidding, Demi Russo’s not sending any mixed messages here, nor does she plan on letting anybody else get first place in the intermediate ladies events. Intermediate ladies from other teams, prepare to get your hopes dashed and hearts broken. Also, decide in a reasonable fashion who gets 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th.
HOME SWEET HOME
Adrian College has no flights to make, classes to miss, hotel stays to book, home-cooked dining commons meals to miss.
By virtue of hosting this major event, the Bulldogs have the aforementioned luxuries, as well as not having to get used to another time zone. Adrian, MI also sits 787 feet above sea level, so no complaints of lacking oxygen there.
Skaters from all teams have scheduled practice times Friday night and Saturday morning to get in their final runthroughs and tweaks. They will then have to put their game faces on and skate their best.
Television Coverage: IceNetwork, MLB Advanced Media and NBC will car- oh, there’s no way to watch this thing live outside of Arrington Ice Arena.
Social Media Coverage: You might get the occasional tweet about the standings from @USFigureSkating on twitter. Instead, you might get more in-depth coverage from each team’s Facebook pages and twitter accounts.
Start Time: 6:45am Central Standard Time
End Time: Award ceremonies around 3:00pm CST
To UC Berkeley, UCLA, University of Denver, Dartmouth, Boston University, Delaware, Michigan, Miami (OH), and Adrian College, the Lannis- whoops, thefigureskatinglawyer sends his regards.
April 8, 2014 § Leave a comment
Sorry, totally failed on imparting any figure skating wisdom before and during the Olympics. Let’s do a quick rundown for two of the colleges representing the West Coast (best coast) at this year’s US Figure Skating Intercollegiate Nationals in Adrian, Michigan.
UC Los Angeles
- 3rd place at Tiger Challenge
- 3rd place at Golden Bear Skate
- 3rd place at Pioneer Open
UCLA, 2nd runner-up in the Pacific Region makes its second straight appearance at Intercollegiate Nationals, this year at the expense of a small but scrappy UC San Diego Skating club team. Too many Universities of California, far too few spots. Next time, UC San Diego. *patpat*
Who Leads The Team
thefigureskatinglawyer wishes Godspeed to Mericien Venzon and Emily Marie Chan, both big reasons why UCLA Figure Skating exists at Westwood and why UCLA has made its presence known on the national stage. That said, it’s up to Colorado native Maddison Bullock and Spokane, WA skater Joey Millet to lead the team to success.
Supporting those core leaders in the freeskate and dance events are senior Amanda Sunyoto, junior skater and SF Bay Area kid Evan Bender, and newcomer Ai Ohno. Good luck as well to Adrian Siew, Jillian Campbell, Therese Vesagas and Sarah Palaich and shoutout to team mom, Coral Chou.
Hey, speaking of Amanda Sunyoto, this is probably the last intercollegiate competition of her career before she graduates. It’s also the last chance to establish superiority over her kid brother, Sean Sunyoto, who may end his undergraduate skating career early to focus on his pre-dental studies. Who’s winning in the lifelong sibling rivalry? Well, that’s a tough one. Moving on before I get in trouble.
It’s pretty well-known that Joey Millet and Evan Bender will get UCLA their points in the junior men’s events, as well as play big parts in the high team maneuvers. Maddison Bullock will go ahead and give it her best at the senior freeskate but also on her dance events. Not sure where you’ll find Amanda Sunyoto during the competition? Look for her competing in the senior championship and senior dance events.
The X-factor you should keep your eye out for is freshman and novice skater Ai Ohno. She faces stiff competition from the East Region teams, including Dartmouth freshman and novice skater Maddy Thornton, but if her regional performances are indication of anything, it’s that Ohno’s clean skates (no falls, all top-2 finishes) will put tremendous pressure on the rest of field.
UCLA flies out of LAX and get into DTW Friday night. The Bruins have all weekend to drop the powder blue smackdown on its competition.
- 5th place at Tiger Challenge
- 1st place at Golden Bear Skate
- 2nd place at Pioneer Open
Cal, first runner-up in the Pacific Region makes their annual trip to Intercollegiate Nationals. Yay, Golden Bears.
Who Leads The Team
The Golden Bears had to scramble after Laney Diggs and Teressa Vellrath retired from intercollegiate skating. The team is also without ice dancers Kelsey Chan (not enough competitions) and Samira Damavandi (studying abroad in the UK). thefigureskatinglawyer sends his regards to Song King, Annaleigh Yahata, Jay Yostanto, Gina DeNatale and Katrina Phan. Seriously though, the team will be without Diggs and Vellrath, who earned a significant amount of points for Cal last year at Nationals.
Team captain Janelle Unger and team president Michelle Hong take on the task of replacing Laney Diggs and Teressa Vellrath. Sara Billman, Sravani Kondapavulur, Amy Nguyen, Kirsten Flores, Audrey Tan, Audrey Phone-Chen, Matej Silecky, Aditya Nandy and Sean Sunyoto will assist Janelle and Michelle in figuring out how to improve on last year’s 4th place finish. Bless the hosts for providing Matej, Aditya and Sean their own locker room. God forbid they ruin the sanctity of figure skating should anybody see them changing.
UC Berkeley loses Katrina Phan, Michelle Hong, Sravani Kondapavulur, Janelle Unger and Sean Sunyoto to graduation next year. The team still has two cornerstone pieces to build around and keep Cal relevant for the rest of this decade. That said, US junior champion Matej Silecky and senior ladies Sara Billman will take on the bulk of the leadership during the rest of their time at Cal. Their broad network of skating friends and their strong presence at team competitions and events will make Cal known to Sara and Matej’s respective hometowns of Palo Alto/Silicon Valley and Verona, NJ. Yay, baby Golden Bears!
New Head Coach
Head coach Dani Schraner is taking care of business in San Antonio, TX so the team added alumna Marissa Minovitz to the coaching staff.
Cal Figure Skating leaves the Bay Area from SFO/OAK Friday morning and arrives in DTW Friday afternoon. Have fun, everybody.