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!

Panic! At the Figure Skating Competition

December 27, 2012 § 2 Comments

There’s a decorum that comes with watching an ice skating competition in person for the first time that is completely different from how you would act at a baseball game. Page Dr. Loggins because you’re about to enter the… wait.


Duh and/or hello... but then again, it's not that obvious.

Duh and/or hello… but then again, it’s not that obvious.

No one is born with an innate understanding of how to behave at an ice skating competition, not even Michelle Kwan. Competition decorum is not obvious if you’ve never been to a figure skating competition before, let alone recognize a triple axel you’ve always been asking about.

At a baseball game in AT&T Park, you can yell as loud as you can about how mean Justin Verlander is, how Barry surprisingly good Zito can be, how the Gordon Biersch garlic fries are damn good, how the damn good garlic fries make the $9.50 cup of Bud Light taste so much better, etc. But that is not the case when you’re at your first figure skating competition in Oakland Ice operated by Sharks Ice, (EPIC) Edora Pool and Ice Center, Joy Burns Arena, Honnen Ice Arena or any ice rink in general.


What Could Possibly Be Different From A Public?

Public session skating and competitive skating are a wee bit different. In public sessions, you get a family environment, public displays of affection and axels, hockey skate races and an overall vibe of fun as the speakers blast the top 40 of yesteryear (more Katy Perry, more Jay Sean, less E40 telling you when to go). You can do (almost) anything you want.

Don’t be embarrassed if you have to hold the wall to assist your skating since everyone starts somewhere. Follow your dreams and attempt that triple axel you’ve been waiting to try. Don’t stick your hand under any blades though. *shudders*

In Competitions Though…

With competitive skating, you get skaters pacing back and forth off the ice in glitter and rhinestone, hair worn in buns and/or drowned in hair product, skaters warming up, getting into their zones and taking the occasional photograph that will be Instagram’d later. It’s a high-stress, all-day affair.

Look for earphones/Beats, a coach nearby or lots of off-ice running/stretching to spot a skater canceling out the noise and trying to get ready for their event. The skaters have prepared for the entire season/year/lives to be freaking out over a nerve-wracking two to four minutes of their lives, with only one chance to execute every required element and plead their case for first place.

Avoid telling skaters to “have fun out there” because being on the ice trying to land everything and fighting for first place is not fun; it’s very scary. Really, don’t say, “Good luck landing this [jump].” Skaters just interpret it as “Gosh, I hope you fall on that [jump]” and shoot lasers out of their eyes.

Full Pence

Just like that.

Speaking from firsthand experience, be out of the way when the skaters are being put on the ice and just wish them luck before the competition warm-ups (you’ll know when the announcer calls out the names of people appearing in the warm-up, the one-minute warning and end of warm-ups). That is the safest way to go about.

Your Job From the Stands

Bring a jacket, a blanket and maybe a pair of gloves because you’ll be sitting in the stands all day or all of thirty minutes and it gets cold. Is that the Clair de Lune you’ve heard for the fifth time during competition weekend? That is the Clair de Lune you’ve heard for the fifth time during competition weekend; it happens due to the rules on music.


Cheer for your team, the people who land those triple axels, and/or your favorite(s) but pick the spots to do so. They landed a jump? Awesome, golf clap it up on the successful landing, not during the takeoff. Didn’t land the jump? Golf clap it up anyway and cheer the skaters on to keep going and not leaving the ice while the music is still playing (wouldn’t wish that on the worst of my enemies). If they’re spinning, even if they’re traveling and not keeping the spin in one spot a few revolutions in, golf clap it up. If they aren’t jumping or spinning, golf clap it up during the footwork sequences (they’re not jumping or spinning).

When the skaters finish and the music fades, clap wildly and go nuts at that point. Let the skaters catch their breath and a drink of water, a small conversation with their coach or teammate to lament what could’ve been better, all before you swarm them with congratulations, stick around for a little longer and bounce for the day.


Does all this work mean you should surrender and stop being fan of figure skating? Not really. Just gotta know what to say and when to clap with grace, just in case you want to look a little less out of place at a figure skating competition. Yeah, buddy.


Being Grateful For Things One Day Out of 365

November 23, 2012 § Leave a comment

I have no doubt that we are grateful for friends, family and other things year-round. We do, however have a natural tendency to tell it to the whole wide world on Thanksgiving, one day out of the whole year. It’s either something really special that we say once every year or we really are just grateful for things one day out of the entire year. Anyway, I might as announce what I’m grateful for as well.

Friends and Family

Be it the friends and family who are still in Northern California, the ones who moved back to Southern California, the ones who moved out of state or are temporarily out of the country, I am grateful that my friends and family are healthy and doing well across the Golden State, Texas, Illinois, Pennsylvania, British Columbia, Wisconsin, New Jersey, New York and the nation’s capital. May the rest of this year and the next be full of health and prosperity.

Will the rest of this year and next year be great? Matt Cain bobbles, “Yes.”

House is still standing

Grateful that I have a warm place to sleep at night. If you take a look at the corner of Ulloa and West Portal, you may be in for a shock.

Oh, crap. Mixed things up there but… THE RICKTATORSHIP RAGES ON.

A fire broke out at the wine shop close to West Portal Station. The four-alrm fire subsequently consumed Squat & Gobble (kinda like Crepevine) and damaged the building next to Squat & Gobble. The wine shop and Squat & Gobble have since been demolished, leaving an empty plot of land, similar to what you might pass by around what used to be Gabrielle’s Pizza, Raleigh’s and Cafe Intermezzo (which currently shares the building with Pappy’s if you’re looking for a salad to eat). The Chronicle and SF Examiner give details on the October fire, the damaged building, the temporary shutdown of West Portal Station, etc.

My figure skates haven’t been stolen

My Jackson Freestyles with stock Jackson Ultima Mirage beginner blades cost about $270, before any sharpening, maintenance or any accessory purchases. The boots have enough padding to provide the ankle support needed to get a skater to fully learn basic single jumps, spins and footwork. As you get better, you need to buy better skates with better blades (larger toepick, big rockers, other features that make it possible to do all the triple axels).

But imagine custom skates with ridiculously good blades and the time and money it costs to fit, wait and finally acquire the skates. Imagine being able to do double axels, double-double combos (not the burger, two two-revolution jumps in a row), flying change-of-foot spins and fancy footwork. Now, imagine these custom skates with ridiculously good blades costing you $1800.



Kayla Harrison of Royal Glenora Figure Skating Club finished 5th at last year’s Alberta-NWT/Nunavut Sectionals. She recently got her car broken into and lost three bags, one of which carried her $1800 skates that she’s had for a week. With some help, she was able to recover her skating bag and her music. Unfortunately, she was only able to get back one skate. Harrison had to downgrade a few elements in her short program and free skate, relying on an old pair of skates to get her through this entire ordeal. Harrison gamely skated through this year’s sectionals in Edmonton and finished 10th overall of 14 skaters [ISJ protocols for SP (9th) and FS (11th)]. It goes to show how valuable skates with broken-in leather (no pun intended and skates that no longer cause blisters) are. Keep an eye on your skates at all times and make sure if you do have to leave it with someone that you trust them.

The San Francisco Giants

I am grateful to see not one but two World Series champion teams in my lifetime. Whether you need to insult how everyone who followed the team after 1954, when the Giants moved to San Francisco are bandwagon fans, how the Castro makes up all 49 square miles of San Francisco or how bandwagon fans are worse than bandwagon fans everywhere else, you have to admit that that Atlanta, Cincinnati, St. Louis and Detroit picked the darndest, weirdest times to stop hitting. Justin Verlander, Mat Latos, Kyle Lohse, Lance Lynn picked the worst times to stop pitching well. But really, it might not have mattered. It might not have mattered when Reverend Hunter Pence is delivering speeches, or when his teammates get the imitation dead-on.

Hold on, I need to get into character.

I love you guys.

Gosh darn it, Barry Zito. Focus.

Matt Cain has it going on.

Because that speech brought the best out of the team, the championship title and a really cool parade that ended at City Hall. Thank you also to McCovey Chronicles, where the community shares my love and cynicism for the Giants, Brandon Belt, BABIP and pie.


Looking forward to getting past the December LSAT and the end of the year. Gosh, can’t wait for the Giants to report for spring training.


BREAKING: SFGiants Win World Series

November 2, 2012 § 2 Comments

Ridiculously late post on the Giants winning the World Series. The post comes on the heels of contact highs and public transportation lows during the second championship parade in three years. Haters cannot wait to fill up Giants fans’ goblets with haterade.

Doesn’t matter, had Dave Flemming and Jon Miller.

By now, all the tropes have been discussed.

San Francisco is a weird baseball town. MUNI buses have been destroyed. Mijita serves good drinks. San Francisco serves more than hot dogs and old car tires, which is apparently bad. San Francisco doesn’t hit home runs. If Kate Upton doesn’t have a chance, surely the San Francisco Giants do not have a chance vs. Justin Verlander. Justin “100 mph fastball” Verlander. Justin “property of Pablo Sandoval” Verlander. Really misguided predictions. Giants are lucky. Giants aren’t lucky, Giants hit smart (from a guy who dissed San Jose State while discussing Penn State). Barry Zito. Tim Lincecum, out of the bullpen. MUNI buses and new open doors.

You know the story though, or at least I think you do. Pablo Sandoval, Justin Verlander. Man vs. Bear. I’ll take Bear. Defense from native son, Brandon Crawford. Hunter “Ridiculous” Pence. Greg White and LF defense. Barry Zito, staff ace. Buster Posey, NLDS MVP. Who has it better than the San Francisco Giants? Not Melky. Ryan Vogelsong. Matthew Thomas Cain. Sergio Romo.

Wait, where’s Romo?

But perhaps the funniest thing I’ve read about the World Series that I’m afraid no one else has read? Grant Brisbee’s World Series prediction. The man who runs the Giants blog on MLB SBNation runs out a prediction contrary to everyone else’s (link works now).


No Game 5, no Aretha Franklin singing in Game 5, no Game 6, no Game 7, no Jose Valverde (LOL), no second Justin Verlander start. No sense of normalcy that would determine that the San Francisco Giants are unfit to be world champions. After a four game sweep of the Detroit Tigers, a shutdown of Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder (a combined 4-for-27 with 8 K’s, 2 GIDP) and ample amount of Joe Buck and Tim McCarver, people still disagree that the Giants are the best team in the league.

But you know what? That’s alright. Their words won’t change the fact that Hunter Pence is a really crazy dude. Won’t change the fact that Tony Bennett can sing a mean song about San Francisco. Won’t change the fact that Barry Zito cooks a mean avocado omelet. Won’t change the fact that Mike Murphy makes one hell of a clubhouse manager. Won’t change the fact that Jaymee Sire has a really great job. Won’t change the fact that Marco Scutaro slaps. so. hard. Finally, won’t change the fact that their team, Detroit et al. did not win the championship. The San Francisco Giants did.

Best use of sunflower seeds. Ed Lee, might want to sweep that up.


Quick Hits

October 21, 2012 § Leave a comment

2013 Central Pacific Regionals

In the tab “senior ladies,” your Cal Golden Bear Laney Diggs completed her short program and is getting ready heading into tomorrow’s free skate. Best of luck to her at 4265 feet above sea level in Murray, UT.

Breathing up there sucks. Double axels travel farther though.

December LSATs

When you’re uncertain about two logical reasoning sections and the reading comprehension section, but you know for sure you messed up on two games in the logic games section, I think there’s valid concern over how high your score will be. You only have up to six days after the test to declare your intentions to LSAC to cancel the score. In the event you cancel your score though, you never find out how high or low you score. So I have come to terms that the score from the October LSAT I recently took. It won’t be enough to overcome a low GPA. At this point, the October LSAT will serve as a learning experience. I have over one month left to study for the December 1st LSAT.

I have taken a month off of skating in order to study for the LSATs. I’m getting back on the ice soon. It’s going to be weird.

San Francisco Giants

Barry Zito, staff ace.

For the second straight postseason series, the Giants must win the last three games of the series to advance.

Barry Zito took care of business in Game 5 though, keeping the Cardinals’ offense off-balance for 7 2/3 innings and providing some offense of his own, laying down a push bunt with David Freese playing way back off the 3rd base bag and beating out the throw. However, the bunt RBI single doesn’t happen if Gregor Blanco is correctly called out on a pick-off throw. The bunt RBI single doesn’t happen if Lance Lynn throws a Hunter Pence comebacker to 2B Daniel Descalso, not second base itself. Finally, the bunt single doesn’t happen if Brandon Crawford doesn’t come through in the clutch with an RBI single of his own.

How about all those defensive plays?

Missing a catch earlier in the game that would allow a Cardinal to get a leadoff double, Hunter Pence does not let another fly ball get past him this time.

Dat catch.

Dat concentration.

Those eyes.

A closer look at those eyes.

A lot of things clicked in Game 5 in order to bring back the series to San Francisco. Let’s kick ass in NLCS Game 6. Starter Ryan Vogelsong will take the mound.


Moves Other Than Axels: Landing That First Jump

August 16, 2012 § Leave a comment

In a really disorganized series, if you have not seen the first post about other moves besides axels (salchows), you need to go here: There’s going to be those of you who hate the shameless plugging of links from other posts of my blogs. Oh well. Then there’s the other group of rebels who do not like being told what to do. Instead, they choose to read (or skim) and look at the upcoming funny pictures of a waltz jump and our friend, Louis Litt, an avid fan of ballet and I will presume figure skating as well. For those who rebel… I think we will get along very well. Cheerio.

Waltz Jump

thefigureskatinglawyer feels like an idiot for starting off this series with an intermediate level jump that people do not have an easy time pronouncing (“Is it Sow cow? Sal cow? Does it chow like chow mein?”) So he would like to apologize to those who are wondering whether beginner skaters actually start off with an intermediate jump.

Crude illustration. There’s no need to do the extra revolution in the axel just yet.

The illustration does not list the waltz jump in the list of jumps because the highest levels of figure skaters do not use a beginner’s jump. It limits how high they can score in their program. However, everyone started off learning the waltz jump. Hopefully, you are getting support from people around the rink, your coach, your parents, everyone except for those expecting axels right when you start. They are just asking to get Litt up. There are a lot of Harolds out there who think figure skating is just about twirling through life, skimming the surface, gliding where turf is smooth.

Gotta have this confidence off and on the ice to land this jump.

Louis, I’m going to say this only a few times. You’re the man.

A note about the axels. An axel, a jump that requires 1.5 revolutions is slang for “It usually takes me four years to muster the need to watch figure skating, but when I do, I only ask about axels.” As a beginner skater, I still have a hard time recognizing what an axel is sometimes. I think those who usually do not skate or vicariously live through little Michelle and Michael Kwan Juniors recognize what an axel looks like either. Oh well.

Back to the actual jump itself. It is the only jump other than an axel where you throw yourself forward instead of backwards. The waltz jump requires a half revolution after you take off on your left foot, requiring you to land on your right foot and check out (nope, not what you do at the end of your online shopping spree, the finishing pose).

Laff out loud, Microsoft Paint.

Though you time your arm positions and the leg scoop to come forward at the same time, it’s a little less exaggerated like the girl in the middle, farthest to the left. She is getting ready for an axel, whereas the girl on the top left is over her left leg, ready to throw her arms and legs through together and float in the air before you land.

Where Things Can Go Wrong:

lol, it’s been almost a year since I got back to skating and only now, after an ankle injury (a blessing in disguise and a subsequent trip back to the basics with edges and pre-preliminary testing) do I have a passable, not so graceful waltz jump. Things can go wrong just about anywhere:

  • Shoulders are not square
  • One shoulder is dipping
  • You are not quite over your skating leg
  • Instead of a forward outside edge, you are trying to jump on a flat
  • You find something interested on the ice even though you should not be looking at the ice
  • You are not actually jumping
  • You land on two feet
  • Your arms do not coordinate with the leg scoop and they are flying everywhere
  • You do not check out of the jump, leaving you to spin out of control and unable to check out
  • You do not believe you can land this jump, thinking you will die

It takes some time to learn the waltz jump and believe that you can do it. It is some scary stuff, right after learning how to skate around the ice without recklessly destroying five-year olds who do not know how to turn left or right. Really, this jump will feel much easier after you land it. You will tell yourself, “Holy, it wasn’t that bad. Why was I freaking out about it?” It may be tough trying to perfect all the little things, like the check outs and trusting your edges.

When you land it though and you get that thumbs-up approval from your coach whether you are a six year old or a twenty-something year old like me, shoot, that feels good.  Celebrate a little. Dougie in your snuggie.

Get that first jump acknowledged by your peers.

Yeah, buddy.

Heck, get a hug from a friend or your coach.

Hit a 3-run homer? Get a hug. Landed your first jump? Get a hug.

Above All Else

Celebrate it with yourself. You landed it. This jump just got Litt up. THIS JUMP JUST GOT LITT UP, like someone will on this season’s second to last episode. Oh my.

You are awesome. What’s that? Couldn’t hear you. You are awesome.


Brandon Belt on Hitting Behind Hunter Pence

August 13, 2012 § Leave a comment



Embrace the awkward. Embrace the misfits. The hunter and the animals are getting along in the San Francisco Zoo.


Curse of the Broken Panda breathing hard in Colorado

August 3, 2012 § Leave a comment

… because Jonathan Sanchez loses for the ninth time this season and the Giants beat the Rockies, 16-4. Hunter Pence likes it.

hunter likes it

First base hit and second RBI since becoming a Giant.


Curse of the Broken Panda

August 2, 2012 § Leave a comment

… may be overcome if we split the four game series with the Mets. Just kidding. Giants lost 9-1 and Melky Cabrera was a home run short towards hitting for the cycle.

Oozing strange vibes of awesome… so call him, maybe?

Hunter Pence is feeling it.


P.S.: Parting thoughts on Bruce Bochy by Nate “The Great” Schierholtz. Let’s truly hope that this doesn’t continue to describe what’s going on with Brandon Belt these next few years… Hope you hit ridiculous amounts of home runs and throw out ridiculous amounts of people, Nate. D’:

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