On Silly Ways to Get Into Skating

June 3, 2013 § 1 Comment

The recent topics on this blog have taken a serious tone, lacking the levity to enjoy what the site usually offers. Let’s lighten it up and explore a topic I haven’t touched on yet: how I got serious about skating.

Didn't purify myself in the waters of Lake Minnetonka though.

Didn’t purify myself in the waters of Lake Minnetonka though.

I learned how to figure skate in 2003. My repertoire of skills then included skating forwards and backwards, forward and backward crossovers, and… that’s it. I never participated in a competition or passed any tests to get out of figure skating kindergarten. After about a year in, I quit until almost the very end of my undergraduate career.

Wait, What? You’re a Figure Skater?

Second semester of my senior year, I went to a Cal Figure Skating team fundraiser and skated with friends. I skated away thinking, “Hey, I totally have enough time to learn a ton of jumps and spins, skate in two competitions, and make it to Nationals…”

BREAKING NEWS: We made Nationals.

BREAKING NEWS: We made Nationals.

In Spring 2012, that’s what happened. I clumsily learned how to barrel down the ice and complete five jumps, two spins, and an elaborate pattern of maneuvers straight down the ice. I clumsily learned to like the aesthetics of a Boeing 737 and Denver International Airport, going back and forth to and from the Colorado airport three times in a semester. I clumsily skated to Monday Night Football and clumsily accepted the hardware that came with skating against no one at my level.

Competition, blouses.

Competition, blouses.

Cool, that’s how I became the collegiate figure skater that I am today, plus or minus a few pounds. The thought of getting back into skating actually occurred a year earlier than that on SF MUNI, my ride-or-die method of getting around town.

Wait, What? You Met Dana King?

The epiphany to become a figure skater could not have occurred at a more bizarre time. Bizarre as in on an underground train going 30+ mph for 1.5 minutes.

Yeah, the door isn't supposed to do that...

Yeah, the door isn’t supposed to do that… but do you?

The balance. The mental toughness. The facial and emotional expressions necessary to give a gritty, successful performance on the ice. Sure, there are safer times and places to stumble upon your destiny of axels and Olympic appearances, but if it happens when you’re in a fully-packed, moving train car, you gotta do it.

S00per smart.

S00per smart.

Rather than someone pressing the button to stop the train, the ~300 commuters in the train car enjoyed the complimentary air conditioning, the distance away from the open door, and the driver’s punctuality with the schedule. I mean, seriously, why stupidly risk your life standing by the open door of a moving car, when you can stand safely at a distance judging those standing by the open door? But seriously though, WHAT IS THIS I DON’T EVEN, WON’T SOMEBODY THINK OF THE CHILDREN? Here’s what now-retired and then-news anchor Dana King’s positive words on the scene. wait a minute, they’re not positive at all…

The consequences of having this figure skating epiphany at that time? A suspended driver for not locking that door, cameo appearances by Supervisor Scott Wiener and aspiring cameraperson Alexander Merenkov, and a delayed commute for those looking forward to getting down on Friday. Brutal.

Way to go, guys.

Way to go, guys.


  • Supervisor’s gonna supervise. Scott Wiener still represents District 8 of San Francisco.
  • Alexander Merenkov is still taking videos of Bay Area public transportation.
  • I don’t know if the driver still drives for SF MUNI.
  • Headphones d00d, hope you’re doing okay, bro.


  • As for me? Skater’s gonna skate, have his edges down, and learn how to do axels. Still searching for that full-time job though. Go Bears and happy Monday!


On Post-College Malaise

May 27, 2013 § Leave a comment

It’s taken a year since graduating college to secure part-time work and full-time jumps and spins on the ice. During the year when I was unemployed though, going on Facebook was overwhelming when friends were getting job or scholarship offers. Was I the only person in my graduating class without a job or an acceptance letter from a good law school? Was I the only person not landing a single axel, let alone triples? What would Brian Boitano do?

Courtesy of the South Park wikia

He’d probably defeat some grizzly bears to save the maidens fair.


OMG, YOU GOT THE JOB, YOU'RE AWESOME. Fuck... that mean's I'm not awesome.

OMG, YOU GOT THE JOB, YOU’RE AWESOME. That Facebook sound chamber.

Those first few months leading up to graduation and the first six months after, friends certainly should announce good news regarding the start of their work careers.

Whether that means accepting a two-year Teach for America commitment in another part of the United States, a research assistant position at a leading trauma hospital or academic institution, a scholarship offer to a top law school in New Haven, or getting a job offer somewhere in downtown San Francisco, friends have earned the right to have their hard work acknowledged.

As a person who has worked before, I could relate to friends now that they are working or on their way to higher education. It was cool being surrounded by people with nothing but upside. I went through the motions of wishing congratulations, despite the fact that it underscored my abundance of insecurities and lack of a job.

It's like you never stop stumbling.

It’s like you never stop stumbling.

I got jealous but I understood that the spotlight at the moment was for my friends, not me. On one hand, congratulations to all my friends. On the other, are they going to leave me behind?

I See Them Rolling, I’m Hating

A number of rejections from potential positions compound the frustration from not having a job. Combine that with my friends’ successes and I’m contemplating about this extended state of wtf-is-going-on I’m in.

Haven't had to throw things after being rejected yet.

Fortunately, haven’t had to throw things after being rejected yet.

Will I lose my friends because they’re accomplishing more than me? Will I be looked down upon because I cannot get on their level? Why is it that I cannot get on their level?

I also got around to questioning why I was still figure skating. I reached plateaus in what I’m learning and took lengthy breaks from the sport. Meanwhile, skaters I know pass tests with ease, make easy money through coaching, landing difficult jumps and other technical elements. Figure skating got less fun for awhile when I’m repeating figure skating first grade.

Coming to Terms With Failures, Etc.

Really though, it’s what I make of these failures that really turned it around for me. This mental change wasn’t for anyone else but myself.

While I do not have a job at the Habeas Corpus Resource Center, Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith, or McKenna Long & Aldridge, those experiences applying and talking with individuals at each office have allowed me to secure future interviews, especially the one I just completed with Berry Appleman & Leiden. I did not have instant success looking for jobs or getting the right LSAT score to stay in California, but the success is coming along now.

Look at me having my cake and trying to eat it too.

Look at me having my cake and trying to eat it too.

Rejection from jobs, relationships, and basketball (HIBBERT TURNED AWAY BY LEBRON, HAVE MERCY) sucks, and I let myself stew over it a few months too long before doing something about it. I elaborated on useful skills I have for potential jobs on my resume. I got confident talking about why I’m a great fit for potential jobs. I chose to work part-time in the meantime while looking for my start in the legal industry. I got serious about skating after jury duty and got back to the basics.

It was an extended exercise in persistence, talking out these emotions of jealousy, and eventually getting out of the post-college malaise I had been in. You know, as long as I didn’t rashly act upon that jealousy, my prospects are looking bright. That wasn’t the case going into early 2013, but I’m glad that I’m currently doing well for myself.


Pretty Rick A. digs it.

Also, why am I getting mad at teammates and skating club members who have skated for the majority of their lives? The skaters have practically come out of their mothers’ wombs and hit the ground skating. Those skaters have put in the time and hard work that the sport requires of them, and that earns my respect. I’m about to get that lutz and move on to trickier things in skating. That’s what Brian Boitano would do, right? I also enjoy covering intercollegiate skating here at Cal Berkeley.


Give Beemo a shovel because Beemo digs it as well.


Jealousy is just another emotion but don’t be mad that people around you are succeeding. Be happy for them, ask them for help when you need it, and open up so more people know when you succeed. Stay driven, work hard, and get a little lucky. Your success is written in the stars, a million miles away. Speaking of getting a little lucky, take it away, Pretty Rick A.


On Cal Figure Skating’s Future

May 11, 2013 § Leave a comment

I wish longtime junior ladies’ Marissa Minovitz congratulations on graduating from Berkeley, and best wishes on her future aspirations. I wish Skating Club of San Francisco’s Kimberly Verzano congratulations on graduating from Lowell High (four years to go bonkers in Yonkers), as well as to fellow SCSF skater Magdalena Thornton, who leaves International High for Dartmouth. I wish junior skater Song King well in her health, her studies and her Greek professional and social commitments. I also wish synchro skater Annaleigh Yahata well with her studies and her Cal Dance Team commitment. Cal Figure Skating will continue on.


Dat Magic 8 Ball

You say it’s too early to be looking ahead at the Golden Bears and their future relevance in college skating, but it’s not. I’m purposely skipping ahead to the 2014-2015 intercollegiate season because it’s the first time since 2009 that the Golden Bears will be without Laney Diggs. You might want to start the excommunication procedures.

Oh. My. God. How dare you!!!!11!

Here I am blaspheming in the Church of the Golden Bear.

Cal Figure Skating 0 A.D. (After Diggs) will be led by seniors Sean Sunyoto, Teressa Vellrath, Samira Damavandi, Sravani Kondapavulur, Janelle Unger, Katrina Phan, and Michelle Hong, as well as juniors Gina DeNatale, Jay Yostanto, Matej Silecky, Amy Nguyen, and Kelsey Chan.

The team will add synchro skater Skating Club of San Francisco’s Annalise Mahoney and 2013 Pacific Coast Sectionals competitor Sara Billman for the 2013-14 season, giving these ladies some experience heading into the 2014-2015 season. The Golden Bears will definitely recruit from their backyard, adding more diamonds in the rough from figure skating clubs such as San Francisco, St. Moritz, Peninsula (San Jose), and All Year (Carson City).

By that point, the Golden Bears will match the Denver Pioneers and the three East Coast teams in terms of depth that every championship-caliber team needs. If the Golden Bears want to stay relevant in the intercollegiate figure skating landscape, they must use up most, if not all of their 35 allotted entries in all competitions. This is necessary in order to compete with the Blue Hens and the Moose of figure skating, but even more so when the team attempts to replace a phenomenal skater in Laney Diggs.

4 years of college and graduation. Still shocking.

4 years of college and graduation. Still shocking.


“Get off me,” She Said to Tracy Porter

The Golden Bears lose undergraduate Laney Diggs to graduation, barring any acceptance to any Berkeley graduate school programs. That’s just one skater, am I right?

What a wonderful idea.

What a great idea….

In reality, you’re trying to replace a skater who has five US Championships appearances, carrying the Golden Bears team on her back though every single year she’s been at Berkeley. Whether it’s edges and three turns or nailing double axel combinations, Diggs is the clutch skater you want to ensure that you get to Intercollegiate Nationals every year. She finishes in the top 3 in every senior short program and free skate she has participated at the intercollegiate level. Her contributions at the dance events have added a layer of versatility to her game, while her gritty execution in the high team maneuver jumps never fails.

Mind = blown.

Mind = blown.

The boys have Diggs’ jumps covered in the high team maneuver, especially with other teams equipped to do triple lutz and axel combinations. But who else on the team can make up the points that Diggs earns in the senior short and championship free skate? What about the two dance events she can do?

A Laney-less Cal team seems unusual for Golden Bear skaters used to seeing Diggs put the team on her back. It’s made it simple for the team to make their minimum of two appearances at the regional competitions. It’s made it simple for the team to complain about the flight prices and hidden fees to get to the championship, instead of complaining about another year in which they didn’t make it at all. The 2014-15 season will be the time for Cal to show that it can stay relevant after Laney Diggs graduates.

If the team succeeds without Laney P., I might just have to.

If the team succeeds without Laney P., I might just have to.

The Positives

It’s not all doom and gloom for the flagship University of California’s team. After the intercollegiate championships have been held in Hanover, NH and some city in the Midwest, the Championships come rightfully home to the Western Conference. Since Colorado hosted the last the the Championships were in the West, Katherine Specht and the USFSA committee of making things happen can flip a coin to choose between New Mexico and California next. The Golden Bears have a great chance to sleep in their own beds or at the very least, stay in their own time zone, giving them another advantage in trying to make the top 3.

If Jay Yostanto no longer is obligated to do his Junior Grand Prix assignments, he will team with Matej Silecky to form a powerful 1-2 combo in the junior men’s events. Sean Sunyoto resumes at the senior level, though he will no longer have a sibling rivalry in dance when Amanda graduates in 2014. Sravani, Michelle, Katrina, Teressa will continue to make up the core of the high team maneuvers along with Sara Billman, while Annalise, Janelle, Amy, and Samira holding the fort down at intermediate team maneuvers. Kelsey Chan will keep accompanying Teressa Vellrath at the gold and international solo level dances, while Samira accompanies Sean at the senior and junior dance levels.

Oh. My. God. How dare you!!!!11!

Oh. My. God. Really!? All the triple axels!!!!11!?

The seniors and juniors listed above will have a figure skating season or three to know what it takes to get as many points as possible, whether that means skating up to the championship free skate at the junior or senior levels or passing the tests for different levels of dance. They will also successfully recruit new members of the team because as coaches and high level skaters, they are such prominent members of the skating community in Northern California. Regardless of any additions that the other championship-qualifying teams will make, I am optimistic that the team will take advantage of opportunities to make it to Nationals and finally make it to the podium.

The other thing? If Laney Diggs takes a fifth year or goes to graduate school here in Berkeley, you can turn that frown upside down and ignore everything I just said for at least another year.

What did the bearpaw say to the face? Slap.

What’d the golden bearpaw say to the face? Slap.


Bay Area Sports: May 2013

May 3, 2013 § Leave a comment

I can spot that frowny face from a mile away. You are sad that the 2012-2013 figure skating season is about to come to a close, and the Winter Olympics figure skating doesn’t happen for another eight months. You still have to turn that frown upside down. A few months after the San Francisco 49ers courteously declined to win the Super Bowl, the rest of the Bay Area professional sports teams are in their winning groove during their respective seasons.

We're relevant again? Pants off, dance off.

We’re relevant, eh? Pants off, dance off.


The San Jose Sharks are currently in the National Hockey League playoffs, nursing a one-game lead over the Vancouver Canucks in their seven-game 1st round series. The toepick-less hockey skating brethren play the second game of the series in Vancouver before the teams fly back to San Jose. Best-case scenario, my favorite violent ice dancers figure out how to navigate around playoff choking hazards and raise the Stanley Cup.

What is a toepick? It’s the “teeth” of the figure skater’s blade, allowing them to not only jump, but potentially do damage to innocent bystanders’ faces in the event that the skater falls.

Patrick Marleau, eh?

Patrick Marleau, eh?


The San Francisco Giants are 16-12, losing a few games they probably should’ve won in April (thanks, Tim Flannery, thanks, Tim Lincecum, thanks Matt Cain). Gerald Demps Buster Posey, the $167 million man followed up his 14-game .214 start with a ten-game hitting streak, which raised his batting average to .291 before going hitless on 5/1 in Arizona. Brandon Belt, he of poor body language and giraffe-like awkwardness, has become a late-inning, pinch-hitting savant and a better hitter as of late, following up his robust 6-for-43 start of the season with timely hits and clutch defense only an awkward giraffe can provide. Pablo Emilio Sandoval is in the best shape of his life.

UAL1806, the only plane strong enough to handle the weight of a championship team, left Phoenix and arrived in San Francisco International in the wee hours of May 2nd. The Giants will prepare for their nine-game homestand against the Dodgers, Phillies, and Braves.

Over in the East Bay, the Oakland Athletics are keeping pace with the Giants at 16-13. The bottom of Josh Reddick’s face occasionally sees daylight.

Pablo Sandoval is slim, eh?

Pablo Sandoval is slim, eh?


Skeptics would probably attribute Golden State’s series win over Denver to things Denver did not do, not things Golden State did. By the powers vested in Stephen Curry’s ankles though, the Golden State Warriors are headed to the second round of the NBA playoffs since 2007, when Baron Davis did dirty things to the 2nd seed Dallas Mavericks and promptly stopped against the Utah Jazz. The Warriors say goodbye to the Denver Nuggets and head to San Antonio. There, the Warriors begin their series with the Spurs at the AT&T Center, where any notion of Golden State fun goes to die.

David Lee tore his other hip flexor tendon when he administered countless rounds of high fives during the Warriors’ Game 6 win over the Nuggets. Coach Mark Jackson is mum about his status. Meanwhile, 3-point specialist Draymond Green did quite well in his first playoff series. I hope Kent Bazemore got a tad more creative with his cheerleading celebrations at the bench over yonder.

But Steph Curry's ankles, eh?

But Steph Curry’s ankles, eh?

American Football

Coach Jim Harbaugh knows that nobody could possibly have it better than us, except for maybe Trent Baalke. The general manager of the team is responsible for drafting playmakers in the 2013 draft, players that will keep the 49ers in position to contend for a championship for awhile. Giving no shot to any other NFC team to compete for a Super Bowl win? Disgustingly selfish of the San Francisco 49ers.

Marcus Lattimore, eh?

Marcus Lattimore, eh?

thefigureskatinglawyer, eh?

Violent Ice Dancing

April 22, 2013 § Leave a comment

There are now 291 290 days until the figure skating events occur during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. We are seven months away from two weeks of elite figure skating and 259 away from an event that made figure skating wildly popular. This event, along with discarding compulsive figures patterns from major international competitions, have for better or worse propelled United States figure skating to what it is today. We are approaching the 20th anniversary of Tonya Harding’s role in the attack on Nancy Kerrigan.


Oh baby!

Who Is Nancy Kerrigan?

No relation to Sarah, Nancy Ann Kerrigan was born in Woburn, Massachusetts. While her peers and rivals came out of their mothers’ birth canals and hit the ground skating, Kerrigan took up figure skating at the late age of six, private lessons at age eight, and winning at age nine. She made a splash on the national level by finishing 4th at the 1987 US Figure Skating Championships, before all active senior ladies skaters were conceived or even thought about. Between 1987-1990, Kerrigan would not crack the top 3 at Nationals because her strong jumps would be canceled by her underwhelming compulsory figures patterns, which involves making patterns on the ice with surgical precision and LeBron James-like athleticism. Figures accounted for 30% of the overall score to determine the American champion in 1987, with the rest of the score determined via the standings in the short program and free skate.

Shitty jumps but still win the competition? Rage quit.

Shitty jumps but still win the competition? Rage quit.

There were merits for proponents and opponents of figures, divided about whether knowing their basic edgework or better jumpers/spinners mattered more. Figures were ultimately taken out of international competitions because drawing figure eights on the ice did not retain TV viewers quite like triple axels. This change benefited skaters, including Kerrigan who were great at spinning and jumping but did not win competitions because someone drew better patterns.

After the 1990 season, Kerrigan experienced greater success. She finished 3rd at US Championships in 1991 and qualified for World Championships in Munich, where Kristi Yamaguchi, Tonya Harding, and Kerrigan respectively completed an American sweep of gold, silver, and bronze. she would proceed to place 2nd in the 1992 US Championships, 3rd at 1992 Winter Olympics, and 2nd at the 1993 US Championships. Kerrigan secured endorsement deals with companies such as Seiko, Reebok, Campbell’s Soup, and Evian after her breakout performance at the 1992 Olympics in Albertville.

Fell short of gold? Benjamin Franklin's here to console Nancy.

Fell short of gold? Benjamin Franklin’s here to console Nancy.

Who Is Tonya Harding?

Tonya Harding was a precocious figure skater from Portland, Oregon. She began skating at three and landing triple lutzes at twelve years of age. At 1991 Skate America, she was the first woman to land a triple axel in a short program, first woman to land two triple axels in competition, and the first skater ever to complete a triple axel-double toe loop combination.

Incorporating triple axels now? *faints*

Incorporating triple axels now? *faints*

Harding’s inability to land a triple axel following the 1991 season would hold back Harding from winning any major competitions for the rest of her career. She finished 4th at the 1992 Olympics in Albertville, 6th at 1992 Worlds, 3rd at 1992 Nationals, 4th at 1993 Skate Canada, and 4th at 1993 Nationals.

1994 Nationals

Held in Detroit, the 1994 US Championships featured strong fields and the return of Olympians Brian Boitano and Elaine Zayak. It was also during a practice session that an attacker hired by Tonya Harding’s ex-husband and Harding’s bodyguard injured Nancy Kerrigan. The attacker used an asp baton to try and break Kerrigan’s right leg but only bruised it. The injury nevertheless forced Kerrigan to withdraw from the competition and qualify for the 1994 Winter Olympics in Norway, which cleared the way for Harding to capture gold in Detroit. Nancy Kerrigan’s rivals agreed to let her take the second and final Olympic spot on the US team after US champion Harding, relegating 1994 US runner-up and some random skater named Michelle Kwan to an Olympic alternate. Meanwhile, Kwan was given the task of finishing in the top 10 at 1994 Worlds, ensuring that the Americans head into Norway with two Olympic spots. 13-year old Kwan comes up clutch, overcoming a significant error in her short program and finishing 8th overall.

After subsequent investigations, Harding would eventually admit to her role in trying to cover-up the attack on Kerrigan. US Figure Skating started motions to dismiss Harding from the Olympic team but she threatened legal action.

You can just let me know if you're not getting the core concept here. No hard feelings.

If you’re not getting the core concept, it’s okay. There won’t be any hard feelings.

1994 Winter Olympics

Harding was on the cover of Time and Newsweek magazines in January 1994. Reporters would attend her practices in her hometown of Portland. Around 400 members of the press crammed into the ice rink for Harding’s and Kerrigan’s practice ice. No one paid attention to poor Scott Hamilton.

Kerrigan took advantage of her increasing fame from the incident, securing about 10 million dollars in endorsement deals before the start of the 1994 Winter Olympics. Kerrigan’s determination to come back stronger than ever from her injury served her well, earning her silver behind Ukraine’s Oksana Baiul, while Harding fell far short of the podium and finished 8th.

Harding took a plea bargain to avoid jail time, while her ex-husband, bodyguard and the attacker were sentenced to jail sentences. After subsequent investigations of the attack, US Figure Skating decided to hand her a lifetime ban from USFSA competitions as a coach and skater. Though USFSA does not have jurisdiction over other countries’ and ISU competitions, no one would work with Harding due to her status in the United States.

Even Nancy Kerrigan did not leave Lillehammer entirely unscathed. She displayed unsportsmanlike character during the figure skating medals ceremony and did not attend the closing ceremonies in order to make it to Disneyland, in order to fulfill her endorsement contract obligation with sponsor Disney. She then was seen at the Disneyland parade commenting that the parade was stupid, requiring her to brag about her silver medal, slightly tarnishing the publicity she was receiving as the victim of the attack.

Justice handshake, justice autograph, justice hug.

Justice handshake, justice autograph, justice hug.


Tonya Harding’s lifetime ban kept her from cashing in on the fame associated from this incident and the subsequent interest in the United States in figure skating. Meanwhile, Nancy Kerrigan raked in all the endorsement money and showed off dresses in the Olympics donated by Vera Wang herself. After her skating career, she appeared in ice shows and made a cameo appearance in the 2007 movie Blades of Glory. The United States Figure Skating Hall of Fame added Nancy Kerrigan in 2004.

Nancy Kerrigan, getting lucky.

Nancy Kerrigan, getting lucky.

The main lesson from this? If you are a budding figure skater and you got rivals, look after your knees. It’d be a shame if you couldn’t skate for an extended period of time… ಠ_ಠ


2013 Intercollegiate Nationals Results

April 14, 2013 § Leave a comment

Let’s see what I got wrong and right during this weekend of intercollegiate figure skating championships at Thompson Arena in Lebanon, New Hampshire.



  • University of Delaware Blue Hens come into hostile territory in Lebanon, New Hampshire, wrest the title away from Dartmouth Figure Skating and sit on the throne as 2013 champions.
  • Dartmouth is in second place, narrowly missing out on earning their 2nd consecutive championship and 7th overall on their home ice.
  • Boston University places third, keeping UC Berkeley in 4th even without the assistance of junior nationals competitor James Morgan.
  • Andrew Korda destroyed the field of one in his preliminary men’s performance.
  • Professor Taryn Brandt made it out to Lebanon, sharing Zumba playlists and chillin’ like a villain with Cal coach Dani Schraner.
  • Adrian College, solid first season fielding a figure skating team. Congratulations to women’s hockey player Demi Russo on capturing the intermediate ladies collegiate individual championship. Meghan Barnes, 4th best novice collegiate skater in the nation. Brittan Mariage, best juvenile collegiate skater in the nation. Maddi Prange and Kate Wolstenholme finish 2-3 in the pre-juvenile event(s). I feel like they did well for themselves this weekend.
  • Though she didn’t crack top 5 in either events, Rylie Pepich had herself a great weekend of skating in her final appearance as a skater for the Pioneers. Best of luck at University of Seattle.
  • UCLA didn’t crack the podium this year. UCLA and UC Berkeley will one of these days. All the best to Coral Chou, who graduates this year.


The best Cal Figure Skating team in terms of numbers and caliber of skaters was much closer to attaining third place this year compared to 2012. Though they fell short, this team performance is nothing to hang your head in shame at.

... aaaaaaaaand Brandon Belt gets the stolen base.

… aaaaaaaaand Brandon Belt gets the stolen base.

  • Dartmouth’s Caroline Knoop is gonna Knoop and keep Cal skaters out of first in both junior short and free skates. That said, 4th year Marissa Minovitz earned some hardware to take home in her final competition of her undergraduate career. 6th in the short, she convinces the judges and everyone else that her free skate is a better Love Story than Twilight, earning third place honorz. 3 points.
  • Captain Michelle Hong earns herself 4th place in the senior ladies long program and was an integral portion of the high team maneuvers group that finished 4th. 2 points.
  • I’d say Matej Silecky enjoyed a New England do-over, getting redemption after his Eastern Sectional Championship performance in Hyannis Port, MA. He places first in both junior men’s short and championship free skate events ahead of Jon Jerothe, Joey Millet, and Evan Bender. He also placed third in preliminary dance, earning a total of 15 points for the team. Money.
  • Sean Sunyoto also had a solid first year competing for the team, placing 3rd in the senior short, 2nd to Schuyler Eldridge in the championship free skate, 4th in the senior solo dance, and 5th in junior solo dance. He skated the Tango and Killian dances just fine. 10 points.
  • Janelle Unger, clutch. Skating at 7 in the morning in the first event of the weekend and skating the long program shortly after, she places a strong 5th in both events. 2 points.
  • Surprises of the weekend occurred when Laney Diggs and Sravani Kondapavulur passed their dance tests before Intercollegiates and skated in juvenile dance. Diggs finished 3rd and Kondapavulur 6th. They participated in the grueling figure skating decathlon, doing the maximum number of events in free skate (Diggs 2nd in championship ladies), dance, and high team maneuvers all in the same day. Much props to these two.
You know this boogie is for real.

You know this boogie is for real. Flipping awesome!

  • Amy Nguyen’s gritty veteran performance in her first year of collegiate competition earns the team 4 points with her 2nd place finish in the juvenile free skate.
  • First year Kelsey Chan finishes 3rd in the senior solo dance and finishes somewhere in the standings (LOL ME) in gold solo dance, earning the team three points.
  • Teressa Vellrath placed 4th in gold solo dance and 3rd in international solo dance. 7 points.
  • Cal coach Dani Schraner places 1st in all her skaters’ hearts. No points and no awards but not everyone can be Cal’s coach.
Not everyone can be Cal's coach. Not everyone can be Dani Schraner.

Most importantly, not everyone can be Dani Schraner.

The only thing I know for sure about these standings is that Cal earned much more points than it did last year, when it received 39 points from eight skaters. The team managed to stay in the upper echelon of intercollegiate skating, keeping up with perennial title contenders Dartmouth, Delaware, and Boston University. There’s no big, shiny trophy this year for 4th place but the team will be okay.

With that, it’s been another year of intercollegiate skating, woefully lacking in coverage from governing body US Figure Skating (eight tweets total, holla). It’s been another year of East Coast dominance and everyone else playing catch-up. I do have reason to be optimistic though because I see the makings of a Bay Area dynasty that just needs a little more time to make things happen. Don’t sleep on the Golden Bears. To paraphrase Aubrey, like a sprained ankle, this team ain’t something to play with.

Great season, Cal. Go Bears.


2013 Intercollegiate Nationals Results

Your Updated Final Standings (courtesy of usfsa.org)

          1. Delaware (98 points)
          2. Dartmouth (93 points)
          3. Boston University (84 points)
          4. UC Berkeley (59 points)
          5. Adrian College (36 points)
          6. UCLA (33 points)
          7. Miami University (29 points)
          8. Denver (12 points)
          9. Michigan (9 points)
Tried not to, failed miserably.

Tried not to, failed miserably.


2013 Intercollegiate Nationals Predictions

April 10, 2013 § Leave a comment

lol, this probably isn’t the last time I discuss things about 2013 Intercollegiate Nationals. Your Cal Golden Bears continue counting down until the weekend of April 12th-14th, when they fly out of the San Francisco Bay Area region and into Mordor, New Hampshire in three days. They will try to stop Sauron and the figure skating Uruk-hai from winning their 2nd consecutive title and 7th overall.

The nine teams participating in 2013 US Intercollegiate Nationals are UC Berkeley, UCLA, University of Denver, Adrian College, University of Michigan, University of Miami Ohio, Boston University, University of Delaware, and defending champion Dartmouth College. I hope this is big enough to see (TWSS).

Sacred Heart/New Mexico, I know you're mad BUT THIS IS HOW WE GET ANTS.

Sacred Heart/New Mexico, I know you’re mad BUT THIS IS HOW WE GET ANTS.

Unless you attend the intercollegiate championships yourself or a generous historian shares pictures of the results in real-time, you and I have no way (until June/July) to find out in-depth results of how all nine participating colleges did. In the meantime, let’s discuss some final storylines going into the championship event and make up reasons to insert some pictures.

Trip to Nationals, written in the starz.

Trip to Nationals, written in the starz.

“Water is Wet” Kind of Predictions

  • Dartmouth, first place. University of Delaware Blue Hens and Cal Golden Bears may object but hey, Sauron’s gonna Sauron and plunder the competition. They’re only going to get stronger when more figure skaters flock to this championship-caliber team, including Skating Club of San Francisco’s Maddy Thornton. She will easily make it past the tryouts and earn points for her team during her undergraduate career.
  • High team maneuvers require at least a double axel for one of the required elements. The high-level male skaters that teams have recently added will up the stakes and require teams to throw down the fabled Iron Lotus triple axels. It’s probably difficult to recognize one if you’ve never seen a triple axel, even if it roundhouse kicked you in the face and introduced itself to you as a triple axel.
  • Unless you check the Midwestern Conference standings, you probably didn’t realize the Wisconsin Honey Badgers were replaced by Adrian Bulldogs.
  • If this championship event was held in Colorado, skaters entered in the maximum of five events would just lament everything. Five events with limited oxygen at 5000 feet above sea level? LOL F**K THAT. It may be a wee bit more doable when Hanover is only 150 feet above sea level but Godspeed to our friends doing long and short programs, two dance events, and one team maneuver event.
  • Andrew Korda of Boston University will skate against himself in the beginner men’s event. As an international level ice dancer, he’s going to incorporate a level 4 straight line step sequence into his program that has five single jumps (no axels) and two spins (no flying entrances). Good luck to you, Andrew Korda.
"Beginner."  ಠ_ಠ

“Beginner.” ಠ_ಠ

  • Hartford, CT is so close to New Hampshire. Looks like Professor Taryn Brandt will be bringing in some new Zumba playlists for the Western Conference locker room.
  • Dartmouth competition chair Jacki Smith will provide the males a males-only locker room because for the sanctity of figure skating, we cannot let the public see male breasts and pelvic regions. Thanks, Ms. Smith.
  • Looks like we’re traveling to the Midwest for Intercollegiates next year.
Quick, Southwest Airlines. Do a barrel roll!

Quick, Southwest Airlines. Do a barrel roll!

Superb Old Predictions

(or Terribly Wrong Predictions, amirite?)

(or Terribly Wrong Predictions, amirite?)

  • If you shift the “b” from one word to the other in “Super Bass” … oh my.
  • Breakout Skater: Rylie Pepich, University of Denver
    • 5th in novice short and 10th in novice long in last year’s Nationals has nowhere to go but further up the standings this year. The current president of the team was granted a waiver to compete at Nationals this year because she is transferring to the University of Seattle, making this her final intercollegiate skating competition in crimson and gold. Expect Rylie to be the inspirational skater that she always is, and to see her in the top 5 in both events. Good luck.
  • Breakout Team: Adrian Bulldogs, Adrian, Michigan
    • Miami (Ohio) and Michigan are most likely bringing teams to Hanover similar to the ones they brought to Colorado Springs last year. I don’t see a way for those two to crack the podium. In any event though, the team that can spoil anybody dreams of winning a big, shiny trophy, it will be the Bulldogs. Finishing in fifth place in their first ever regional competition, Adrian College proceeds to win the final two regional competitions, propelling them past perennial Intercollegiate Nationals contenders Michigan, Miami, and Wisconsin. It makes me think that Bulldogs could scare the shit out of some Blue Hens, Terriers, or maybe even some Golden Bears.
  • Laney Diggs and Sravani Kondapavulur will finish in the top 5 in their senior short and championship ladies event.
  • Sean Sunyoto will beat his sister Amanda in the final sibling match-up. He’ll also win both senior men’s events.
  • Teressa Vellrath will place in the top 2 in her international and gold solo dance events.
  • Gritty veteran figure skater Marissa Minovitz will come through in the clutch in the junior ladies events.
  • I’m willing to bet that there are at least four teams that employ skaters who can land triple axels.
  • I’m also willing to bet that we’ll hear various renditions of Claire De Lune four times this weekend. At least the narrative of skaters loving their sport is a better love story than Twilight.
  • Cal Berkeley will make it into the podium this year and let Brock award the pewter badges to another team. Sorry, Boston University.
  • UCLA will not crack the podium this year. When they get back Emily Chan, Mericien Venzon, Maddison Bullock and a few more competitors, they too will become an unstoppable force in intercollegiate skating. They aren’t Bruining Cal’s weekend though.

Cal Figure Skating is currently enjoying a time where all skaters it participates in Intercollegiate Nationals year after year, but potentially rank in the top third of the standings every single time. When their plane(s) touch down on the San Francisco International Airport tarmac Sunday evening, they’ll have a bigger, shinier trophy to show for it. Skate on, you Bears.




For Want of a Triple Axel

April 7, 2013 § Leave a comment

For want of a triple axel, inside/outside edges were lost.

For want of inside/outside edges, transitions were lost.

For want of transitions, jumps and spins were lost.

For want of jumps and spins, the motivation to continue skating was lost.

All for the want of a triple axel.

If I want a triple axel someday, I’m probably going to have to start with just 1 (one) axel first. Before I can determine that I am serious enough to get one axel down, I have to make sure I have my fundamentals down first. To do otherwise would be like teaching a baby to run 5Ks and half-marathons before it can even crawl. Seems legit… ಠ_ಠ

But I want a triple axel now, now, now!

But I want a triple axel now, now, now!

Well alright, Veruca Salt. You first need to show that you got your fundamentals down, showing qualified judges that you know how to do what every other figure skater knows how to do since figure skating first grade.

How Do I Do That?

You take figure skating tests. Assuming that you are a member of the skating club that hosts these tests, then they should be open to you to see what kind of figure skating skills you have.



Don’t worry, there’s no essays to write and the only people doing any writing are the figure skating judges. All you have to show in your “moves in the field” test is proper edges (balancing on the sides of your feet), proper posture and extension skating around the ice in both directions, showing off proper height and leg placement in your spirals, and skating what resembles a figure eight pattern. If you’re doing the “free skate” test, you just have to show that you can land some jumps, get three to four revolutions on a certain spin(s), and get your transitions down without look like a clumsy idiot.

That's all I have to do? Why didn't you tell me sooner?

That’s all I have to do? Why didn’t you tell me sooner?

Good Question, Ms. Jennifer Lawrence

All of the tests that require the basic tenets of proper edge work, posture, agility, and noiseless grace across the ice sound simple. In order to complete all the patterns required of you though, these tests require constant practice on and off the ice for months, if not years. The practice time will get you confident with when you go forwards or backwards, when you do every pattern on your strong AND weak sides, memorizing the order of the patterns and actively thinking about every component of the specific pattern you’re skating, and keeping your arm and leg positions where they need to be on every pattern, including the spiral sequences.


Thanks, Michelle. Photographer: Kevin Rushforth

You also spend a lot of the time working on increasing the strength of your arms, legs, hips, knees, quads, and hamstrings. Not only that, but you’re also working on increasing your cardio endurance. It’d be a shame…

... if you failed the test due to shitty cardio.

… if you failed any test level due to shitty cardio.     ಠ_ಠ

Day of The Test

If your home skating club posts the test schedule online, check online or check in with the test chair, the person in charge or arranging the order and the schedule of the test. If there’s a big bulletin board where you can check the schedule, it’d be best to be familiar of when your warm-up is and what time you’re performing your test. That way, you know what time to get to the rink (before the warm-up) in order have time and check in with the test chair, pay the test chair for the test if you haven’t paid yet, stretch, change into acceptable clothing for the tests, and start getting mentally in the zone.

Acceptable clothing for ladies is something they’d wear in a competition, like a sparkly or a more low-key figure skating dress. Guys have to wear trousers (no tights) and either a figure skating top or a button-down collared shirt. Warm-up and practice your patterns while managing to avoid other skaters getting in their final rehearsals. After the general warm-up, get off the ice and wait your turn until you have to perform your test.

Your judges can be anywhere from super strict to a wee bit more lenient. Depending on the level of your test, you may get one judge or three judges to scrutinize your performance. Head over to the judges to go over some procedural things first before you perform your test. After each pattern, present yourself as ready to go to the next pattern but do not skate until the judge is finished writing notes for the last pattern you finished. Other than that, stay loose, breathe, and don’t rush anything to the point where you’ll make mistakes.

After The Test(s)

Unless you’re doing multiple figure skating tests, you’ll review the results and the judges notes with your coach if your coach is present. Thank the test chair for putting on the test, as well as the judges for taking the time out of their schedule to judge your test(s). Generally, the mood is pretty pleasant when a majority of people pass their tests that they’ve been working hard on.



If you failed your test, you have to wait a month before you can take the same test again. If your coach is present, they will tell you what went right and what went wrong according to their observations and a copy of the judges’ notes. If your parents are present, they either support you or berate you for not being focused enough. Because as a parent, yelling at a kid who failed their test makes things a lot better, am I right? ಠ_ಠ

Try not to.

Try not to.

After that, wish the rest of the skaters luck. Acknowledge the hard work that went into preparing for all these tests. Then, treat yourself to a good brunch or dinner because you earned it.


P.S.: I passed my first test this past Saturday. Whooooooooooo!

Midwestern Conference, Nationals Preview

March 28, 2013 § Leave a comment

Last mention of 2013 Intercollegiate Nationals for a bit. The Honey Badgers find themselves in fourth place and their spots at the season finale swiped. Instead, the Midwestern representatives in Hanover, New Hampshire will be Michigan Wolverines, Miami (Ohio) Redbirdsand in a March Madness upset, Adrian College Bulldogs.

Catch your breath, University of Wisconsin.

Catch your breath, University of Wisconsin.

USFSA needs only one of its tiebreakers this time. After three competitions, Adrian College and Miami University finished tied for first place with 11 team points overall. Because Adrian College won the last two competitions and Miami only won the first one, USFSA awards first place to the Bulldogs and second place to the school that Ben Roethlisberger went to.

Again, I’m terrible at math and reciting things. You might just want to get some reassurance by checking the standings yourself . Let’s project some rosters (not really accurate because I don’t know any of the Adrian College skaters) and elaborate on some observations. Below are the nitty, gritty rosters of the Midwest teams the Golden Bears will be facing, but you probably just want the stray observations. If you’re lazy, click here.

Yo, Adrian College

Place at 2012 Intercollegiate Nationals: Did not qualify last year

Place after 2013 Regionals: 11 points , 1st

  • Bronco Challenge: 5th place
  • Hoosier Challenge: 1st place
  • Maize and Blue Matchup: 1st place


  • Senior ladies Well, this is awkward
  • Junior ladies/novice dance I don’t know any Adrian College figure skaters
  • Preliminary men’s Very well, then
Way to go, dude who sucks with names.

Way to go, dude who sucks with names. Jeez.

University of Miami (Ohio)

Place at 2012 Intercollegiate Nationals: 8th (14 points)

Place after 2013 Regionals: 11 points , 2nd

  • Bronco Challenge: 1st place
  • Hoosier Challenge: 3rd place
  • Maize and Blue Matchup: 3rd place


  • Senior ladies Alyx McCartney
  • Senior ladies Elena Rodrigues
  • Senior ladies Brandee Conklin
  • Junior ladies Kara Oksenen
  • Novice ladies/juvenile dance Torri Huebner
  • Novice ladies Anna Tyrik
  • Intermediate ladies Michelle Sawaya
  • Intermediate ladies/senior dance Amy Mullen
  • Intermediate ladies Emily Taylor
  • Intermediate ladies Grace Gormley
  • Intermediate ladies Gabriella Uli
  • Juvenile ladies/novice dance Alyssa Skijus
  • Juvenile ladies Kellye Sutherland
  • Juvenile ladies Danielle Wardeiner
  • Preliminary ladies Maria Song
  • Senior dance Bianca Burbank
  • Junior dance Julia Kaesberg
  • Novice dance/intermediate dance Matthew Witt
Still mad at me?

Still mad at me?

University of Michigan

Place at 2012 Intercollegiate Nationals: 7th (16 points)

Place after 2013 Regionals: 10 points, 3rd

  • Bronco Challenge: 2nd place
  • Hoosier Challenge: 4th place
  • Maize and Blue Matchup: 2nd place


  • Senior ladies/senior dance Lauren Nieman
  • Senior ladies/senior dance Erica Miller
  • Senior ladies Lara Willmarth
  • Senior ladies/preliminary dance Megan Gueli
  • Junior ladies/senior dance Connie Achtenberg
  • Novice ladies/senior dance Kelsey Traul
  • Intermediate ladies/preliminary dance Merrick Jacob
Where's Adrian College anyway?

Where’s Adrian College anyway?

Stray Observations

  • Midwest reps will do their best to get somewhere in the top 4. Last year, University of Wisconsin-Madison came the closest to earning the Midwest a big, shiny trophy, finishing in 5th place.
  • Adrian College, a private, liberal arts college is located in Adrian, Michigan. 0.1 miles southwest of the college campus is Arrington Ice Arena, presumably where the team practices unless they make the one hour drive each way to Ann Arbor.
  • At the rate Adrian College is winning their regional competitions, I think they have the best shot of taking home one of those big, shiny trophies.
  • Miami (OH) has four (4!!!) synchronized figure skating teams, all of which receive funding from Miami (OH) Athletics. At the same time, I don’t know if their sole figure skating team receives any funding to lessen the out-of-pocket costs.
  • Michigan has a small team. Maybe they can convince Wolverines Meryl Davis, Alex Shibutani and Maia Shibutani to earn them some points.
  • I’m not going to be at 2013 Intercollegiate Nationals. Looks like I’ll have to wait until the June/July issue of Skating Magazine in order to have the results.
Better luck next year, Michigan State and Indiana University.

Better luck next year, Michigan State and Indiana University.


Coach, Coach, Goose

March 25, 2013 § Leave a comment

It would be irresponsible of me to recommend a specific figure skating coach to you. Sure, I take instruction from a figure skating coach but I’m stuck in figure skating first grade, still learning how to skate under pressure and perform against my peers. My opinion is rubbish. Besides, chances are I don’t fully know your personality and how you interact with people.

Wah! I don't like my coach!

Wah! I don’t like my coach!

Do you need an enthusiastic, rah-rah coach who won’t let you get away with mistakes but will encourage you? Or do you need someone who puts you down? Do you need a coach who is roughly around your age so your coach can relate to you, or are you not going to listen to someone your age?

Maybe you need a female coach to make your figure skating dreams come true, because there’s no way that boys would ever figure skate, let alone coach figure skaters, am I right? Maybe you take a chance with a male coach and realize that he coaches well and has a mean triple axel.

I don’t know, maybe you end up pulling up a list of coaches in your local area, blindly point at a random portion of your screen, and take instruction from the coach you end up point at. You may end up asking reliable friends in the skating community and finding out about a coach through word of mouth.

Gosh, what if he's in a fraternity?

Gosh, what if he’s in a fraternity?

All joking aside, it takes some trial and error to figure out whether you or the child you’re living vicariously through have working chemistry with a figure skating coach. Maybe it works out and you spend your entire career with one coach. Some people switch coaches if the chemistry isn’t right or the skater is increasing in skill level. Most coaches don’t take it personally.


Cal Figure Skating does not skate in Berkeley because there is no rink on campus or in the city of Berkeley. They do have a coach that accompanies the team during competitions. Unlike Dartmouth, Delaware, or Boston University Figure Skating Teams however, Cal Figure Skating members don’t really learn from that one coach, or have coaches to teach them things on campus. Rather, each team member learns choreography and skating in general from their local coaches around the San Francisco Bay Area and parts of Southern California.

Eight teams around the nation are about to get Litt up.

Watch out, everyone.


Some people finish watching figure skating during US Championships or Winter Olympics. They start taking group lessons and think they’re pretty serious about figure skating, but they’ve merely adopted the ice. Others were born on the ice, moulded by the ice. They didn’t understand the notion of free time until they were adults, and by then, it was nothing to them but BLINDING! So… what if you get extremely serious about the sport of figure skating? How many coaches do you need to have in order to get on Michelle Kwan’s level?

  • Head coach: They are responsible for teaching technique and providing direction for you as a skater, from where and how to train to the music you’ll skate to
  • Choreographer: Those free skate and short programs aren’t going to design themselves. They determine jump and spin placements on certain portions of the ice, transitions between jumps and spins, how fast or slow you’re going throughout the two to four minute long skate, where your arms and legs will go, what facial expressions you will use
  • Nutritionist: Where all notions of junk food go to die. They tailor a diet around your body’s needs


  • Flexibility/Pilates coach: Can’t touch your toes? Can’t get low for your sit spin? Your body doesn’t naturally want to get into the Bielmann position? Well, time to trick your body and your mind and make it do all those things. Oh, but you hate stretching? Sucks to be you
  • Strength/Plyometrics coach: You look like someone who wants to jump higher, skate faster, and spin in five different positions in one spin. You’ll need this person to help cultivate fast-twitch muscles, strengthen muscle groups you didn’t know you have, and maintain those muscle groups so you don’t injure them
  • Dance coach: Some do ballet, Kim Yu-Na does hip-hop. You have to look a little less clumsy somehow
  • Academic tutor: At a young enough age where you still have to add single-digit integers and figure out run-on sentences, someone has to teach you some off-ice book smarts. That order of operations isn’t going operate themselves
  • Sports psychologist: Sometimes your confidence is completely shot. Other times, there are mental blocks preventing you from getting certain jumps, spins, or footwork done in practice, let alone competition. This person teaches you tricks to mentally get in your zone and not let anything or anyone faze you
Listen to your wallet, before you tell it goodbye.

Listen to your wallet, before you tell it goodbye.

For a lot of skaters, you probably just need one coach to start with. When you figure out you like skating enough to invest more time and money into the sport, then maybe you should look into one of these avenues to improve yourself as a skater and athlete.