Holiday Skating

November 6, 2013 § 5 Comments

Rather than dwell on the fact that figure skating is a really expensive sport that requires a lot out of its participants financially, physically and mentally, let’s focus on something that’s less depressing about ice skating: outdoor holiday rinks. The San Francisco Bay Area region is spoiled to have two outdoor rinks, where people can celebrate their holidays and create beautiful memories of their time figure skating.

*Insert generic complaint about figure skating here*

One rink is located in Union Square and despite being 50% smaller than an average indoor rink, the Union Square outdoor rink is located next to a cool four story tall Christmas tree, bright lights and Cheesecake Factory across the street. The other is located at Justin Herman Plaza in the Embarcadero, a little bit further down the waterfront from AT&T Park. This rink is significantly bigger than the Union Square one, giving you more room to take pictures, fall on the ice and imitate an ice skater.

You seem like a pretty responsible person so here are suggestions that may leave you with less bruises to your body and dignity:

Wearing jeans while skating

No, I’m not expecting you to come in on a brisk morning or a really cold evening in Lululemon or generic running pants. I am also not advocating for you to take off your pants just to go skate. Jeans restrict leg movements, making it harder to skate around, jump, spin, do crazy footwork. As long as you don’t over-exert yourself skating in jeans, it shouldn’t be too bad. I also pray that the pair of jeans you’re wearing doesn’t rip when you attempt a figure skating element out on the ice.

GSP learned that firsthand.

Instagram on the ice

I get it. Holiday rinks aren’t around every day of the year. Four story tall trees aren’t in the middle of Union Square every day of the year. I have nothing against people instagram-ing the lovers and third-wheeling friends, the Embarcadero waterfront or tall trees. At the same time, it may be safer to do this off the ice.

Yeah, well, that's just, like, your opinion, man.

Yeah, well, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.

The people in the photo need to be stationary and lined up with the tree. Photographers are stationary trying to get a good photo. They will take multiple shots in order to get one good shot.

That’s cool and all but you’re all standing in the middle of a busy rink, surrounded by people who don’t skate all that often and have control over where they fall or skate. You’re asking to be knocked over if you’re standing in the middle of the ice rink, in the way of everyone else. It’s a little less dangerous when you take these pictures off the ice, and the image of you dazed and confused, sprawled on the ice won’t be immortalized on Vine.

Eating bacon cheeseburgers and Cheesecake Factory cheesecakes

Plenty of spots to eat during the holidays. Maybe these are the choices you’re thinking about when you want to have a good meal with friends and skate after. Perhaps there are fancier restaurants like House of Prime Rib, Prospect, or Gary Danko in mind. Really though, right before you’re about to skate?

These dinner choices may make you feel a little sluggish, so if your dinner ends half an hour before the next skating session starts, take that time to digest a little bit. If not, the wobbling on ice skates, as well as other skaters skating around in circles may induce some nausea and barfing. Take the skating slow and just have a good time.

Other advice

  • Each session starts at every even hour of the clock and lasts for 90 minutes.
  • Check here and here in case there’s a day where some rich dude/company bought out the ice rink for a session or the whole day. Otherwise, check these sites anyway to see how much money things will cost, what time the sessions happen on weekdays and weekends, etc.
  • Union Square Ice Rink allows people to purchase tickets online to avoid lines and stuff. $2.50 in extra fees but sometimes, it’s worth it rather than finding out the session you want to go to is all sold out.
  • Union Square also won’t let you do spins and jumps once there’s four or more people on the ice so go early if that’s your thing. Otherwise, have fun skating in circles with friends.
  • Either have someone watch your stuff to avoid theft or pay money to use the lockers provided by the rinks.
  • Falling on the ice, it happens. Just enjoy the few times you skate every year.
Have fun out there.

Have fun out there.

thefigureskatinglawyer

On Not Having A Proper Game Face On

November 2, 2013 § Leave a comment

My coach and I are putting together a competition piece for the 2014 Winter Olympics, the 2018 Winter Olympics a competition in the near future. But as my loyal readers, if you come out to see me practice the freeskate, make sure my body language and facial expressions match the tone of the music. If you see me skating with this game face on,

I wouldn’t wish rental hockey skates on the worst of my enemies.

… welp, you’ll know exactly what to do.

What did the five fingers say to face?

What did the five fingers say to face?

thefigureskatinglawyer

Precision Skate Sharpening, Peninsula Edition

October 30, 2013 § Leave a comment

Whether or not you choose to wear that skimpy or potentially offensive costume, whether or not you are fine with taking candy from strangers, thefigureskatinglawyer wants to make sure you have a fun time on October 31st. Meanwhile, tonight marks the beginning of the Golden State Warriors’ basketball season. By the power of Stephen Curry’s glass ankles, I hope to see the local Bay Area basketball team succeed in Jim Barnett’s last season as Comcast Sportsnet’s color commentator.

Is that what Brian Boitano would do?

 Good costume, Brian.

*** 

My previous post regarding skate sharpening touched on one of the baddest motherf[- shut your mouth] in the North Bay in Warren Glass and the East Bay go-to sharpener, former Salt Lake Olympian ice dancer Charles Sinek. Sometimes, Novato is too far for you and other times, you don’t need to have an Olympic presence be graced upon your figure skates. What if you are a short drive away from a sharpener who has sharpened skates for 10 years and a family that has made figure skates for 60? I’m recommending Aaron Spiteri, a third-generation skate maker of the SP Teri family.

What If I Just Don’t Want To Sharpen My Skates?

Welp, no one can stop you if you don’t want to get those blades sharpened. If you are dedicated to your craft and you are preparing for a competition or qualification test, you may need to jump and do some tricky footwork. Can you do so on dull blades? Certainly. However, you risk your blades slipping during any element that requires strong edges or going from backwards to forwards/forwards to backwards in a very quick amount of time.

That’s not to say you won’t be able to compensate for crappy edges but best case scenario, you start acquiring these bad habits that may not affect any low level elements or simple step sequences. Worst case scenario? You will increase the chances that you fall and seriously injure yourself, be it a broken ankle or a torn knee ligament that requires a long recovery time.

Why SP Teri Though?

Each skate sharpening at the South San Francisco headquarters of SP Teri is 20 bucks. If you live in San Francisco, you pay no toll and less money for a Warren Glass-like quality sharpening. What else are you getting in the 20 dollars you’re paying?

In father and son combo George and Aaron Spiteri, you get professionals who know not just about blade sharpening but how to maintain the boots and blades (what if the boots smell?), how your blade should be aligned on the bottom of your boots, and how sharp to sharpen your blades. They are authorized retailers of all name-brand blades and they know which blades to offer based on your USFSA skill level and your coach’s preferences, but they will focus on the blades you already have. They’ll give you an honest assessment about the quality of steel on your blade and how much life the blades and the “rocker” (the part which you jump and spin on) is left. Those are the two main factors that determine how often you can wait until you need to spend too much money on blades.

As for the famed SP Teri boots, here’s a detailed post by Ask Mr. Edge about the benefits of the boots. As for which boots are right for you between Harlicks, SP Teri, Riedell, Edea or any other skate companies, you need to try a few of the brands out to figure out the best fit, the heaviness of the boots, the fit around the ankles, the width of the boots, the different colors of the boots, and other factors that go into your next purchase of figure skates.

Like Warren Glass, the Spiteris want you to try out your skate sharpenings to make sure everything works out. They are open to any and all feedback and will do any re-sharpenings free of charge.

MADBUMFFFF

The SP Teri store is open from 9-5 but give the store a call to see when Aaron or George are available to do skate sharpenings. They too will help you follow your sparkling, triple axel-filled figure skating dreams.

thefigureskatinglawyer

On the 2013-2014 Intercollegiate Skating Season

October 23, 2013 § Leave a comment

Kanye West and Kim Kardashian are going for one of the best engagement and wedding parties of all time, all time. Kanye, Brian Wilson will be pissed if you don’t let him be the ringbearer though. Kim, hope that 15-carat diamond ring doesn’t break your arm. According to reliable sources…

hey… your sources aren’t all that reliable…

Hey! That’s a convenient amount. It’s like it’s just enough for a contract savvy Brian Sabean handed out not too long ago.

Kruk loves the contract. "TIM LINCECUM'S BACK, BABY."

“TIM LINCECUM’S BACK, BABY.”

***

All Tim Lincecum contract jokes and elaborate proposals aside, a new figure skating season is here and you want to cheer for a team that wins, a team that doesn’t know how to lose, and a team that does triple axels. I’m going to do my best to let you know the week before the first competition what’s going on with the California Golden Burrrrrrrrs. Here’s what’s on tap:

The Schedule

According to USFSA, these are the dates when you can catch UC Berkeley’s competition performances if they’re in an area near you.

Date

Competition

Where Is It, Brah? Host School

10/26

Tiger Challenge Colorado Springs, CO Colorado College

1/25/14

Golden Bear Skate Oakland, CA UC Berkeley

2/22/14-2/23/14

Pioneer Open Denver, CO University of Denver

4/11/14-4/13/14

US Intercollegiate Championships Adrian, MI Adrian College

Sandwiched between two trips to Colorado, the Bears host their own competition again in Oakland with many returning and new skaters in tow. Last year’s championship reps UC Berkeley, UCLA, and DU look to book their return flights to the Championships, but look for New Mexico and Colorado College to bring out the tables, ladders, and steel chairs and make things interesting.

The Competition

University of Denver loses novice skater Rylee Pepich as she transfers schools but returns most, if not all of their team. UCLA loses senior skater Coral Chou but might return to full strength with the return of senior ladies’ Mericien Venzon and junior ladies’ Emily Chan. They will assist Maddison Bullock, 4th year Amanda Sunyoto and junior men’s Joey Millet on their quest to make sure you see LA and the powder blue.

New Mexico, beaten out last year by UCLA for that final spot in the Championships will field a small but formidable team in the Southwest. Colorado College expects back Midwestern Regionals competitor Janet Miao and … yeah, I’m not really sure who else they’re bringing out to compete. More on the Pacific teams, as well as the teams in the Midwest and Eastern regions after every team finishes their first regional competition.

The Golden Bear Roster

The Golden Bears return a large core of their skaters despite losing junior ladies’ Marissa Minovitz to graduation. Coming back are

  • Sectionals-bound/Senior ladies’ Laney Diggs
  • Senior ladies’ Sravani Kondapavulur
  • Senior ladies’ Katrina Phan
  • Senior ladies’ Michelle Hong
  • Junior ladies’ Gina DeNatale
  • Intermediate ladies’ Janelle Unger
  • Junior men’s Sean Sunyoto
  • Junior men’s Matej Silecky
  • Junior men’s Jay Yostanto (maybe?)
  • Juvenile ladies’ Amy Nguyen
  • Senior ice dancer Kelsey Chan
  • Senior ice dancer Teressa Vellrath
  • Senior ice dancer Samira Damavandi

New faces you may see now or later are:

  • Senior ladies’ Sara Billman
  • Junior ladies’ Kathleen Albert
  • Novice men’s Aditya Nandy

Reprising her role as the conductor of the UC Berkeley team is the baus Dani Schraner. The roster is top-heavy in both freeskating and ice dancing, but I’m pretty sure the team is open to adding a graduating senior with one semester left to make something happen in college. High team maneuvers, kind of like HORSE but with triple axels and flying change of foot spins instead of corner 3s and windmill dunks, will be covered by any combination of the returning ladies for the spins and sequences + Sara + one of the guys to do the triples.

Last year, the Golden Bears had a good shot at earning a top 3 finish at the championship in Dartmouth. This year in Michigan, with additional skaters, additional experience and grit? Ridiculously, even better.

Why Win Now

Win now for Laney Diggs. The 4th year is the engine that runs the team. Of the 59 points the team acquired during their 4th place finish in Championships last year, she earned 13 points with her 4 top-5 finishes. Now in her final year of her undergraduate career, Diggs is an important reason why the team can break the top 3 in the final standings.

DON'T GO.

DON’T GO.

The championship window and/or a spot on the podium is closing quickly. This weekend, Diggs and the rest of the team take their first step to keep that window open. Skate on, you Bears.

thefigureskatinglawyer

On Falling Down on the Ice

June 23, 2013 § 5 Comments

Nope, this post isn’t a metaphor for anything. Falling while figure skating scars casual and serious skaters alike. My ankle, my four major knee ligaments and meniscus, my hamstrings and my spine are still intact, but even though falling sucks, falling defines the sport of figure skating.

Falling on the ice? F*** that.

Falling on the ice? F*** that. But Buster, don’t go!

Casual Skaters & Skating, Never Getting Back Together

For the casual figure skater who only skates once or twice a year during the holidays, goshdarnit figure skating in the Olympics is so damn beautiful. There’s the sparkly tops and dresses. There’s the effortlessness that skaters have trained years and years for in order to make it all look easy. There are the triple axels, dear God (but you know, you may need Scott Hamilton to point out the jump). Every casual skater eats up Olympic figure skating with their collective spoon.

All it takes is one terribly embarrassing fall, ego bruised from people looking on and clothes wet from sitting on the ice. That’s all it takes to scar a casual skater for life and vow to never skate again. That’s it, never using those rental skates that lack any resemblance of edges ever again!

But you know who hates falling more than casual skaters?

Adult Figure Skaters

You know, the ones that can drive or use public transportation to the ice rink. The ones that can put on their own skates. The ones that pay for some, if not all of the expenses that come with skating. Adult figure skaters take some time to get productive in either freestyle or public sessions, when skaters of all skills and sizes skate recklessly around the rink.

Adult figure skaters who pick up figure skating late find out not only how rewarding, but also how taxing it is to participate in this sport.

  • Physically

There’s all these components to doing all your jumps right. If you set up the jump wrong, do the actual jump wrong, or land funny, chances are you’ll only have crappy fall and a gnarly bruise to show for it. If you’re scratch or sit spinning and you rock back to your heel, chances are your feet are going to slip from under you and your head violently hits the ice.

Back of my head meeting the ice? What the fu-

NOOOOOOOOPE. NO MORE SKATING.

NOOOOOOOOPE. NO MORE SKATING.

By falling though, you slowly start to figure out what is going wrong with your technique. Do you not have astronomical leg strength to get out of the sit spin position? Are you keeping your center of gravity from tilting over? Are you checking your arms so that your body isn’t spinning out of control? Are you looking out and not downward so your body doesn’t go tumbling down?

Maybe your arms and legs aren’t coordinated or you’re using way more upper body strength to force the rotations in the jumps or the spins? Whenever you have to force the technique to make cool things in figure skating happen, it’s not going to happen.

Maybe?

“Well, alright then, Mr. Suddenly An Expert on Figure Skating.”

The falls that result in weird bruises up and down your body and/or banged up joints take a toll on your entire body, but there are some positive takeaways.

After each fall, incorrect take-off, or jump where you needed to improvise mid-air to save the jump, you come upon a lot of information to improve your existing technique.When you start critiquing your technique and tailor your jumps, spins and footwork around not making the same mistakes you made earlier, you are on your way to becoming a lean, mean, triple axel-completing machine.

That is when you start overanalyzing everything and/or convince yourself you can’t do new things in figure skating.

  • Mentally

The lutz and axel jumps, jumps Brian Boitano can do while winning gold medals and wearing blindfolds, are the most difficult jumps in a skater’s arsenal.

There’s so much to mentally think about in terms of coordinating which edge of the skate you will be on, where your arms and legs are swinging through, where to put all your weight… So much going on that if you miss one of these tasks, you will have a difficult time controlling the jump, let alone get all the way around to complete the jump.

Have I mentioned how painful it is to fall on the ice? Well, that combined with not thinking about putting the jumps together allows a lot of doubt to creep in your mind.

Messing up on axels/lutzes? F**k that.

Messing up on axels/lutzes? F**k that.

It’s discouraging when things aren’t coming together for these two jumps, or figure skating in general. It then becomes pretty easy to take safety measures to not fall, even if it means not being able to complete the spin or jump. These safety measures include two-footing the landing, landing on the wrong foot, or stopping the set-up motion entirely.

All the Bad Habits Tho

Mentally freaking yourself out during hard jumps and spins in order to save yourself from perceived injury may end up hurting you in the long run.

If you don’t embrace the fact that you need to make these mistakes and fall a few times to progress in skating, you will regress. You will continue to land on the wrong foot, make the same not-helpful mistakes and allow yourself to give up. You need to trust where your arms, legs, and edges are going to go and stay committed to the jumps and spins, even if everything goes awry.

If you don’t, you’ll mentally and physically stunt your figure skating growth for a long time. Keep at figure skating and if you fall, so be it. Just don’t let the fear of falling stop you from your Olympic-level dream.

Boop.

Boop.

thefigureskatinglawyer

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.

Postmortem

  • 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.

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!

thefigureskatinglawyer

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.

Congratulations!

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.

Boom.

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.

beemowave

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.

thefigureskatinglawyer

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.

5AwR3

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.

Postmortem

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

thefigureskatinglawyer

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.

:')

:’)

thefigureskatinglawyer

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.

LOL FUCK THAT, AM I RIGHT?

LOL F**K THAT, AM I RIGHT?

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.

609px-Michelle_Kwan_Spiral

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.

Celebrate!

Boom.

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.

thefigureskatinglawyer

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

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