On (Maybe) Being a USFSA Blogger

August 9, 2015 § Leave a comment

Maybe, just maybe. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

It’s a great responsibility recollecting for US Figure Skating a figure skating-obsessed nation still waiting for Michelle Kwan. But until our Olympic gold medal savior arrives and sweeps us off our feet, we’re left with the world-class skaters we do have for the 2015-16 season. Jesus, take the wheel.

We know it takes quad jumps to win senior men’s competition, but do we have enough faith in Kori Ade/Rohene Ward to take Jason Brown to the next level without a quad? Past Jason though, that requires using our remaining faith in Pretty Ricky Dornbush (nice job at Collegiates, slugger) and Max Aaron, throwing up a prayer that they each cobble together a podium-worthy (bronze, pewter, whatever) performance. We’re just all glad that Nathan Chen looks ready to go hard in the paint and represent the US at juniors after an injury-plagued season last year.
Maybe Gracie Gold breaks through and gets a medal that matches her surname. Maybe she doesn’t and the Frank Carroll crew figures out what went wrong. In the meantime, we look to see if Mirai Nagasu (sprinkles are for Collegiates winne- oh…) can make a case that she’s still one of the best American female skaters in the world. Mirai’s a lover, not a fighter, but she’s also a fighter, so no one get any ideas about taking her competition assignments. We’ll have Polina Edmunds for the rest of the decade to let us know that Sochi wasn’t a fluke and she deserves a ticket to Pyeongchang punched yesterday. If we get tired speaking about the other senior ladies, we’ll always have Ashley Wagner to remind us she’s still here.
I understand that with great blogging powers comes great responsibility.

What would Brian Boitano do?

Scratch the triple axel. Boitano settles for the triple lutz-double salchow wearing a blindfold.

Wait, did I really just Uncle Ben myself?

On Expanding Figure Skating’s Fan Base

November 28, 2013 § Leave a comment

The sport of figure skating does a terrible job at trying to expand its fan base. Before we try to fix that, let’s see why it’s hard for the average fan to be drawn into figure skating.

Jargon – Sports Vocabulary

  • Basketball has free throws, two-point shots, and three-point shots. The sport has five positions: (1) point guard, (2) shooting guard, (3) small forward, (4) power forward, and (5) center.
  • Baseball has runs or points. They successfully get those runs by taking a walk, hitting a single, double, triple or home run. There are 9 fielding positions where the players try to stop the opposition from scoring points in the game: (1) pitcher, (2) catcher, (3) first baseman, (4) second baseman, (5) third baseman, (6) shortstop, (7) left fielder, (8) center fielder, and (9) right fielder. An additional position, the designated hitter makes only offensive contributions for their team.
  • Hockey? The bladed brethren of figure skaters score “goals”. They have six positions: center, left wing, right wing, left defenseman, right defenseman, goalkeeper.


What do figure skaters do, besides landing all 4.5 revolutions in a triple axel?

What, they do more than just triple axels?

Axels are just one of many jumps and many things skaters can and must do in competition:

Jumps like the salchow, the toe loop, the loop, the flip (no, not a somersault), the lutz, and the famed axel. Here’s a slow motion video of two skaters doing all single jumps.

Spins like the layback (where you lean back), the camel (one leg parallel to the ice, one perpendicular), and the sit spin (where you sit). Competitions at the highest level also require skaters to be able to spin in the same direction on EITHER foot, doing back spin variations of the layback, camel, and sit. Here is a video of a girl who spins counter-clockwise on her left side, changing the feet twice between the second and third variation of the spin and between the third and last variation.

As for footwork that doesn’t include any jumps or spins, it incorporates “moves in the field” instead. They incorporate things like 3 turns, bracket turns, choctaw turns, counter turns, crossovers, mohawk turns, rocker turns, and twizzles.

When everything from the jumps, spins and footwork are combined with difficult transitions, then what you have is an aesthetically-pleasing performance on par with a basketball player balletically taking it to the hoop, a baseball player patrolling the field on defense, and a hockey player controlling the puck and getting ready to score a goal.

Post-Michelle Kwan Era

When I mention some of the biggest names in sports like LeBron James, Mariano Rivera and Sidney Crosby, they elicit at the very least a “Hey! I’ve heard of that name before” response. To fans who have been following these athletes’ for the duration of their professional careers, there’s a fiery love/hate relationship with no room in between.

These elite athletes communicate through their skills, knowing whatever the opponent does, they cannot stop the elite athletes from dominating. It’s through those same skills that inspire fans around the world to see their athletes on and off their arenas. These elite athletes make it seem like anything is possible.

Who can do that as an American figure skater?

There’s been a noticeable power void that Michelle Kwan left when she finished her final international competition in 2005. The 9-time national champion, who couldn’t quite put it together at the Olympics still left a lasting impression on the imagination of every fan. With her successful triple jumps and gracefulness during her signature spiral sequence, Kwan led the way for the American ladies well into the 2000s.

All three revolutions of a triple flip.

All three revolutions of a triple flip. Boom.

The American team currently doesn’t have a female skater that can confidently dominate the rest of the field like Michelle Kwan once did but Ashley Wagner will certainly do her best. Lurking behind Wagner are Gracie Gold and Mirai Nagasu. On the men’s side, you have defending Olympic champion Evan Lysacek, though the world worries that he’ll return from injury at full strength to defend his title. If he cannot skate in the Olympics, the skaters who have looked good after this year’s international competitions are Jason Brown and Adam Rippon.

The skaters to also keep note of are Charlie White and Meryl Davis. Skating together since they were 10 years old, they are currently the top-ranked American ice dancers and 2nd ranked team in the world. If anyone is capable of setting the bar high for a discipline of figure skating, overcome their Canadian archnemeses Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, and dominate the rest of the field, it’ll be White and Davis. Keep an eye out for them in February.

Competition Schedule

For a sport where skaters train daily (sometimes fit in school between morning and afternoon workouts) and pick about 3-4 competitions to skate in, figure skating competitions happen fairly regularly. The season goes from September to March, from qualifiers to World Championships and the Olympics if it’s an Olympic year.

If you have made your country’s figure skating team, then your qualifiers will take you from Skate America in the US, Skate Canada in … Canada, and Cup of China in Beijing to the NHK Trophy in Tokyo, Trophee Eric Bompard in Paris, and Rostelecom Cup in Moscow. If you are relatively unknown in the US, then you go through regional qualifiers in the Pacific, Midwest or Eastern regionals, national semifinals, then have your breakout moment on the national stage.

Attending these competitions or watching them on TV isn’t as easy as catching Sunday Night Football on NBC or the NBA Finals on ABC. NBC covers some important figure skating competitions but if you don’t live in Europe and get the EuroSports Live channel, you must rely on an annual subscription to IceNetwork/MLB Advanced Media to keep updated with your favorite skaters.

Yeah... 50 bucks? NOPE.

Yeah… 50 bucks? NOPE.

However, if you don’t mind watching things after they happen, people post clips of skaters’ performances on YouTube so you don’t have to pay the 50 dollar fee for IceNetwork or much more to attend the competitions in person. It’s just a matter of checking to see if your favorite skater(s) participated in a competition or not.


It’s a steep learning curve for you and I in order to fully enjoy figure skating but I think we can make this work. We’ll collaborate with Kenny Loggins and navigate our way out of the danger zone. Hold my hand.

No seriously, hold my hand.

No seriously, hold my hand.


P.S.: What the hell is a triple flip?

On Olympic Figure Skating: A Preview

November 19, 2013 § 2 Comments

Repeat after me: “In 70+ days, I will understand singles figure skating.”

Both you and I wish we could be American broadcasters Dick Button and Scott Hamilton, equipped with a psychic power to know what jump, spin or footwork a skater just did and will do. If you have been involved in figure skating as an athlete, an official or a parent, then you have been immersed in the figure skating game for years.

However, if you are in the majority who skate once a year and watch skating competitions even less, then it doesn’t help at the moment to identify a triple axel and not explain why. Your figure skating hero completes a triple axel and the duo of Dick and Scott assist you in identifying that it’s a triple axel. It’s a noble, admirable gesture of the American commentators but really, you politely clap for a jump well done or you let out a sigh of frustration for a jump gone wrong.

Let me assist you in learning the important knowledge necessary to fully enjoy Olympic figure skating.

Knowing the Rules

Two events determine which of the 40+ elite skaters from around the world receive gold medals and bragging rights as Olympic champions for 4 years: the short program and long program. How long do the skaters have to fit in all the required elements, maximize the points they earn from each element, and mesmerize their fans watching around the world?

  • Senior ladies’ and men’s short program: 2 minutes and 50 seconds max
  • Senior ladies’ long program: 4 minutes (+/- 10 seconds)
  • Senior men’s long program: 4 minutes and 30 seconds (+/- 10 seconds)

Each link below details the requirements for both the senior short and long programs.

Senior short requirements

Senior long requirements

If a skater does more jumps or spins than allowed or you repeat a specific element (jump, spin, footwork) already done, the judges will not give them points for the excess effort. The skater also wastes precious time and energy that could be used to highlight other aspects of the performance. If the skater skates after their music ends and goes past the time allotment, judges will subtract points and possibly ruin a competitor’s chance at Olympic glory.

These guys know a bit about Olympic glory.

Chazz and Jimmy know a bit about Olympic glory.

Knowing the Routines And What’s Coming Next

No, no, it’s not a psychic sense or a photographic memory that allow TV broadcasters to know what comes next. For skaters who attempt to qualify for their country’s national championships and international competitions, they must submit Planned Program Content Sheets (PPCS) before the qualifying competitions occur.

Linked just above is an explanation of how to fill a PPCS out, while understanding a judge’s score sheet (example: NHK Trophy Men’s LP scores). The sheet of paper with all the planned elements allow judges to have an idea of what the performance will be like so they don’t miss a jump, spin or footwork.

Broadcasters of TV stations will also receive a copy of the PPCS, knowing when a skater improvises their routine by changing a jump combination to just an individual jump or the order of the jumps around.

Scratch the triple axel. Boitano settles for the triple lutz-double salchow wearing a blindfold.

“No triple axel. Boitano settles for the triple lutz-double salchow wearing a blindfold instead.”

As for the order of jumps, spins, footwork and transitions, choreographers will tailor the beginning and middle parts of the program to the selected music, as well as the abilities of their skaters. You may see more jumps in the second half of performances. Skaters will automatically earn a 10% point bonus for the increased difficulty of attempting jumps when tired. Most skaters will constantly end their performances with a spin, which allows them to gracefully end up in their finish position.

Prior to the 2014 Olympics, elite skaters already had opportunities at international-level competitions to showcase what they will do in Sochi, Russia. In case you missed it, here are US champion Ashley Wagner’s SP and LP from this year’s Skate America, as well as Japan’s Daisuke Takahashi’s SP and LP from this year’s NHK Trophy Grand Prix. After watching these four performances, you have an idea of what you’ll see from these two skaters in Russia.

Knowing Who To Root For (in no particular order)

The Russians:

  • Elena Radionova, her first season as a top-level skater
  • Julia Lipnitskaia, 15 year old skating phenom
  • Evgeni Plushenko, 2-time Olympic silver medalist, 2006 Olympic gold medalist

The Japanese:

  • Daisuke Takahashi, 5-time Japanese champion, 2010 World Champion, 2010 Olympic bronze medalist. It is his last season on the world stage.
  • Yuzuru Hanyu, defending men’s Japanese champion
  • Mao Asada, 6-time Japanese ladies’ champion, 2010 Olympic silver medalist
  • Akiko Suzuki, 2nd-ranked senior ladies skater in the world
  • Miki Ando, 3-time Japanese ladies’ champion, 2-time world champion, back from a 2 year retirement/maternity leave

The Spaniard:

  • Javier Fernandez, 3-time men’s Spanish champion

The Korean:

  • Yuna Kim, defending ladies’ Olympic gold medalist

The Canadians:

  • Patrick Chan, 6-time men’s Canadian champion, 3-time World champion
  • Kaetlyn Osmond, defending ladies’ Canadian champion
  • Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, defending Olympic ice dancing gold medalists

The Americans:

  • Ashley Wagner, defending ladies’ US champion
  • Gracie Gold, 18 year old skating phenom
  • Alissa Czisny, 2-time US champion, beloved by many, could’ve made the Olympics had her injured hips not lied
  • Max Aaron, defending US champion
  • Jeremy Abbott, 3-time US champion
  • Adam Rippon, another capable American senior skater
  • Evan Lysacek, defending men’s Olympic champion
  • Meryl Davis/Charlie White, 5-time US dance champions, 2010 Olympic silver medalists


Knowing When They Skate

Thurs., Feb. 06 Team: Men’s SP, Pairs SP 10:30 AM
Sat., Feb. 08 Team: Ice SP, Ladies’ SP, Pairs FP 9:30 AM
Sun., Feb. 09 Team: Men’s FP, Ladies’ FP, Ice FP 10:00 AM
Wed., Feb. 12 Pairs FP 10:45 AM
Thurs., Feb. 13 Men’s SP 10:00 AM
Fri., Feb. 14 Men’s FP 10:00 AM
Sun., Feb. 16 Ice SD 10:00 AM
Wed., Feb. 19 Ladies’ SP 10:00 AM
Thurs., Feb. 20 Ladies’ FP 10:00 AM
Sat., Feb. 22 Gala Exhibition 11:30 AM

West Coast figure skating fans, better wake up early. Everybody else, sit back, relax and enjoy the show.

More to come on what the different jumps/spins/footwork are, who is who, how judging works, and any other potential storylines leading up to the biggest event of the season.

Who are you rooting for?

Which skater will you miss or miss already?


Merry Christmas, From Me to You

December 25, 2012 § Leave a comment

Whether or not you celebrate Christmas or Boxing Day, most restaurants will probably be closed on 12/25.

Cold-blooded, man.

Cold-blooded, man.

However, I wish you the best of luck when holiday skating alone or with others. I wish you the best of luck in finding something to eat if you do eat out.  I hope you’re busy handing out holiday gifts, not busy still shopping for them. I hope you’re helping those in times of need, although I hope your generosity shows up on more days than one. Whether or not you’re counting calories on a daily basis, say hello to the grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins and just tear the holiday food up.

May come in handy when you tear up the bathroom as well.

May be handy when you also tear up the bathroom.

New Year’s resolutions? You mean the ones you end up breaking and forgetting about sometime before the year ends? Congratulations to you if you don’t break your resolutions, but set some goals and set a deadline to meet those goals. Write them out and place them somewhere that you’ll see everyday so these goals become ingrained in your mind and your routine. Maybe it will spur you to follow through on your goals with a concerted effort, or maybe not.

Enjoy a fun, safe last week of 2012. It was unexpected as hell… but it’s here.

Enjoy the last bits of 2012 and ride the San Francisco MUNI cable car for free on 12/31 after 8:00 PM if you don’t have anything to do.


Do You Even Cook, Bro?

December 19, 2012 § 2 Comments

Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies + 12 Days of Desserts.

I tried to grab some cookies straight out of the laptop screen, to no avail.

Every picture is worth a thousand words, yet Claire adds a few hundred more to ensure you get what you see in the picture. This post does everything short of mix the ingredients and bake the cookies for you. Everything is well-articulated, leaving nothing up to interpretation. Claire, a friend since college is passionate about what she does, from mathematics, cooking and baking to taste-testing that batch of cooking and baking. You can follow her adventures in cooking and baking here at http://klerebearsweets.wordpress.com/ and try out these recipes for yourself. It may be tough to go back on a diet (except maybe the see-food, eat-everything diet) after reading these posts though.


RIP Steve Sabol

October 8, 2012 § Leave a comment

To most figure skating lifers, diehard enthusiasts and people who tune in once every four years, the name “Steve Sabol” does not ring a bell. Even if you don’t know him, you may have felt the impact he has had on the National Football League. Do you like watching football right now? Have you been a lifelong fan of the 49ers, since 2011? Do you reminisce over the times the 49ers knocked the Cowboys off their perch on their way to a fistful of Super Bowl rings and titles? You owe some of that to Steve Sabol. How different would the everyday perception of figure skating be if USFSA asked Steve Sabol to film figure skating?

“F your jumps, spins, everything!” Steve Sabol would *smash* all that disrespect.

Employing the “Voice of God” before people thought it was cool to use the “Voice of God” to narrate things and using state-of-the-art camera techniques that were innovative and mind-shattering at the time, Steve Sabol is the creative force behind the transformation of American football’s image.

He may not have been the founder and head of NFL films, formerly Blair Motion Pictures. That distinction goes to his father, Ed Sabol. NFL Films however would not have taken off without the younger Sabol’s artistic guidance. Steve was responsible for the innovative techniques commonly employed in the entertainment industry these days: mic-ing up the players, having a godly voice narrate things, employing things we take for granted now like classical music, artful composition, slow-motion, replay and symbolic imagery. Steve Sabol helped turn “Oh my God, this is some violent ****” to “Mother of God, this violent game is amazing!” He was the artistic vision behind making American football the most-watched sports of the four major professional sports in the United States.

How the F*** is This Relevant to Figure Skating?

Axel. Triple axel. Blades of Glory. Men in tights. Salchows. Judges. 6.0. IJS. Songs without lyrics.

Had Steve Sabol taken on capturing figure skating as a side project, I think it would have profound consequences. What would Steve Sabol do?

1) People would know a lot of the moves

I think everyone would have a solid appreciation for what skaters do if they knew what figure skaters were doing.

That’s fine if you teach this guy nothing because you’ll get what you have now: a dude who knows nothing about skating will ask you if you can do triple axels, even though he wouldn’t recognize him if Chaz Michael Michaels did it and slapped him in the face.

What would Steve Sabol do? Steve Sabol would highlight all the big jumps. Even though he probably wouldn’t go into all of the details, he’d at least upgrade America’s stream of consciousness from “Can you do triple axels?” to “Can you do triple salchows, toe loops and loops? At least a single? Are you single?” He’d highlight the spins, from camel to sit, to the Biellmann upright “oh, I just tore my hamstrings watching that” spin. He’d highlight spirals and musical suggestions. That song from Twilight? Debussy came up with it first. Rachmaninoff and Beethoven? Yeah, buddy.

2) Raw elements of figure skating

All the people who don’t skate sees of figure skating is the figure skating performance itself, idolizing Debi Thomas, Michelle Kwan, Jennifer Kirk, Evan Lysacek and Johnny Weir for their sparkly attire and artistic routines.

The 2 minutes and 50 second short program. The 4 minute long program. You see the finished product, even if it does have a few wobbles and falls, flat-footed landings and traveling spins. You don’t see much of the before and you only see and hear a sliver of the after. You don’t hear the criticism, constructive or not given by the coach to the skater or the encouragement. You don’t see the financial tightrope that parents walk in order to fund their little princes’ and princesses’ dreams.

What would Steve Sabol do? Steve Sabol would mic up coaches and skaters and possibly judges. The person watching on TV and not freezing at the ice rink will see how crazy the commitment to the preparation of a superstar skater is. The emotional, social and financial sacrifices made to make the figure skating dream, the next Michelle Kwan dream come alive.

Would this glimpse of personal moments scare a lot of people off because it reaffirms that figure skating is a cost-prohibitive sport? Sure. But there’d be respect shown towards the amount of pressure these male and female skaters go through from a young age to the age of champions. I want to feel the nervousness a skater goes through right before they go to be judged on the ice and do what they’ve practice hundreds of times at home. I want to feel the nervous anticipation, the mutterings of “F***, F***, F***, F***, S***” under their breath right before the jump attempt. I want to feel the “I’m going to wish you good luck but I hope you fall” vibe when rivals cross paths on camera.

I want Steve Sabol to play classical music so that over time, the tension and anticipation building up in a scene of a coach encouraging their young skating pupil gets better and better to watch and understand. The glimpse of the personal nature between parents and coaches, coaches and students, and parents and kids would educate the viewers, possibly garnering their respect as well. Maybe it will even convince some into considering taking up figure skate.

said Alternate Fry.

Or maybe not. But Steve Sabol had a revolutionary impact on the game of American football and I believe it would have done the same with figure skating. He would have help usher in much needed respect and support for American figure skating and figure skating in general.

A land where there’s more appreciation for figure skating? It also has unicorns.

But darn it. On the bright side, 2014 is coming up fast. That crest in the cycle of respect for figure skaters is almost here, just being patted down by the TSA at the airport. It will be here soon.

Steve, this is a really convoluted and circuitous post. You are awesome for making football the bee’s knees. Rest in peace. 😥


August 14, 2012 § Leave a comment

Figure skating food on a budget.

Greenhorn Wisdom

When I was a little girl, my dad would share stories of the yogurt his grandmother made in a jar without modern simplicities. Yogurt is still a refrigerator staple for my father, but the cost of buying it can quickly eat away at the thrifty shopper’s wallet. Making yogurt is not only a fraction of the cost, but is one of the few old traditions that can be made simple.

What is needed?

  • Milk
  • Yogurt or freeze dried yogurt starter
  • Pot
  • Candy thermometer
  • Containers or jars
  • Whisk
  • Spoon
  • Powdered milk (optional)

Heat the Milk

Heat the milk to 185ºF (85ºC). Stir frequently to prevent the milk from scorching on the bottom of pot. As the milk cools, powdered milk may be added (optional). The addition of powdered milk will create a richer, thicker yogurt.

Let milk cool to 100ºF-120ºF (38ºC-49ºC).

Add Yogurt Starter

Add the yogurt starter to the cooled…

View original post 300 more words


August 1, 2012 § Leave a comment

What do I want to achieve in figure skating and attending law school by the time I am enrolled in a J.D. program in two years? I want to:

  • Test through juvenile moves in the field and juvenile freeskate and skate up to intermediate, the lowest USFSA level that has both a freeskate and short program. LOLflyingspins, LOLmovesinthefield, LOLaxels, LOL@me in case I get audited by the UCs again (“First, he claimed he was VP of the AP Spanish club and now, he’s claiming he figure skates… Jeez”).
  • Skate a darn good freeskate and short program that looks good in a qualifying college competition and/or Intercollegiate Nationals.
  •  ^ do that and overcome the Negative Nancies, the Debbie Downers and other naysayers. ^
  • Look! A wild Letter(s) of Recommendation appeared.
  • Achieve a high LSAT score, write darn good personal statements and get into the best law schools I can get into.
  • Educate and be educated on the finer points of figure skating and getting into law school.

What are the goals for this blog? I want to:

  • Increase the amount of information out there on figure skating and law schools in case you don’t want to wade through the admissions literature or the 2012-2013 USFSA rulebook.
  • Learn more about figure skating and law schools and dispel some myths along the way.
  • Get people interested in figure skating, whether it means skating with people on the ice or getting excited for the 2014 Winter Olympics.
  • Be really obnoxious about how much I enjoy the San Francisco Giants (is it working?).

This is probably going to keep getting updated, to the point where thefigureskatinglawyer becomes interested in too many topics. Welp, cheerio. Happy First of August and Pay Rent day!



August 1, 2012 § Leave a comment

I’m laughing at how hard it is to Boalt towards greener pastures. I might also be laughing at my inability to navigate and edit my own blog. Then again, it costs 30 dollars to make basic edits so… learn how navigate through my own blog, it is! Blah, image quality.

I’m ways away from making an actual post that imparts more wisdom than introductory hello’s and howdoyoudo’s. I don’t really know what shape this blog and my writing style will take, whether this will be a series of formal interviews with law school administration and figure skaters intertwined with complaints about the San Francisco Giants or endless rants about things you should know before figure skating arrives in Sochi, Russia in 2014. However, I think there’s potential for awesome things to happen. Yeah, buddy.

Shower this post or my facebook with feedback or wholesale skepticism about whether I was a figure skater. This blog needs it.


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