On the National Championship

April 4, 2015 § Leave a comment

National championship. Little less of this.

Little less of that.

BAH GAWD A TRIPLE AXEL. HE’S DONE IT. GIVE THAT MAN A BISCUIT.

Something more like this.

Figure skate so hard, Tonya Harding wants to fine me. But first she’ll have to find me.

We’re ten days away from the 2015 USFS Adult National Championships in Salt Lake City, UT. If you told me six months ago this is where my coach and I would be, with two more chances to bring home championship gold, I would call you crazy. But things changed for the better, skates, skating skills, outlooks and mentalities. Here’s why I feel good about doing what Brian Boitano would do and becoming a figure skating champion.

The Coach

It’s been three plus years since I got back into figure skating. It’s a love-hate relationship sprinkled with early morning practices, double runthroughs and her generally shaking her head throughout the practice. She’s put up with me skating to Monday Night Football, for God’s sake.

But coach Robin White’s confidence in me to do what she asks (jumps, jump combos, spins, edges, you know what I’m saying?) has rubbed off on me physically and mentally. Physically, in being able to do the moves. Mentally, in being sure of myself that I can do the moves. We joke a lot about this but I look like a figure skater. When I quit the sport, it won’t be because of her. The teamwork made the dream work.

The Sectionals

Pacific Coast Sectionals. National semifinals. It got weird in North Las Vegas.

I skated. I fell. Yeah. I brought home two medals. Uh huh.

Most importantly though, at my first big adult competition, I felt like I belonged. A lot of folks from San Francisco came out, either because they were skating or were cheering on fellow San Francisco skaters. It felt good to show up and have good skates in front of my friends and second family. Ran into coach/skater/skating parent Natalie Shaby, who cheers on every Cal skater. Ran into people who worked the Union Square Holiday Ice Rink. Surreal but fun experience.

I got down to Pacific Rim and Phil Collins. Looking forward to doing it again.

The Goals

As far back as a year ago, I had a crisis with figure skating.

unhappykid

Sure, I practiced a lot. Sure, I was jumping and spinning. I just didn’t really know why I was doing it. Ended up having a heart to heart conversation with coach Suzy Jackson, who molds figure skaters into Olympians.

beatahandracharlessinek

Ended up being an hour long conversation talking about life, skating, then life again before the Suz came up with the magical solution: talk to your coach, your coach knows you best.

So I talked to my coach,  and it took us awhile but we came up with some concrete goals to work towards. It seemed silly then to suggest that I’d be in a position to skate for championship gold but for the past year, I’ve been skating with a purpose. It doesn’t make waking up at 5 or 6 in the morning less stupid but I know the work I’m putting in is leading up to good things.

Whether that means gold medals or making lifelong friends before this season’s over, well, we’ll see. But… ¿por qué no los dos?

thefigureskatinglawyer

On the Triple Axel

May 2, 2014 § Leave a comment

Hardcore and casual figure skating fans know much more figure skating knowledge than they realize. They know there’s a whole bunch of jumps, many ways to spin (upright, sitting, leaning back), and that the magical footwork sequences that Charlie and Meryl, et al pull out of thin air shouldn’t be recreated at home. That said, it’s time to deconstruct and explain one of the most mystical technical elements that a figure skater can do: a triple axel.

As well-known as the Iron Lotus and Chazz Michael Michaels’ interpretive dancing, the triple axel is in everyone’s figure skating lexicon (much easier to say; most don’t want their bae to catch them slipping while dropping “salchow”, “camel”, “twizzles” in normal conversation). However, would we be able to identify a triple axel?

Bro, Do You Even Single Axel Tho?

Considered a single jump, the single axel contains 1.5 revolutions, requiring a skater to go around all 540 degrees. If landed correctly in competition using ISJ scoring, the jump is worth 1.1 points. At the lower levels, this jump alone ends up separating those who skate all the way through high school from those who quit much earlier. This jump ends up being the gateway towards achieving doubles and eventually triples.

Here’s a cool video on what a single axel looks like.

"I just want to see triple axels, not read what it's about."

“I just want to see triple axels, not read what it’s about!!1!!” Might want to skip ahead to “What about triple axels?”

You’ll recognize when most skaters are attempting an axel jump when they first prepare for the jump, starting at 0:10 of the video until 0:20. Her weight is over her right leg, her trajectory going counter-clockwise because she’s on her back outside edge (her weight is specifically over her right leg, over the right side of her right foot).

The Takeoff (Gliding, 0:24-0:29)

The skater then plants her left skate onto the ice, also bringing her arms back. She’ll pass the right leg through along with the arms and launch herself up facing forward without any excess swinging motion.

The Jump and the Landing (Pivot and Landing, 0:33-0:47)

After launching herself forward and doing the prerequisite 180 degree turn, she still needs to finish off one more revolution before her jump is considered an axel by the judges. The skater finishes off her jump by coordinating her arms and feet simultaneously. Her arms are passing forward and gather while the left leg crosses over the right leg, all to conserve angular momentum and quickly rotate before landing the jump.

Thanks, Channing.

No excess movements, an equal balance of weight. Any slight tilt in her air position would send her off-balance, making it harder to land the jump and earn a lot of points.

What about Triple Axels?

A triple axel landed correctly is worth 8.5 points and contains 3.5 revolutions. It no longer is the highest scoring jump in competition but it’s still required by all male skaters at the international level. Because it isn’t required of them to include triple axels in theirs, only one female skater routinely puts it in her competition programs. What does a triple axel look like?

 trplaxel1

Same gliding into the take-off and a badass landing to finish, just 720 more degrees to get around to count it as a triple. As for the revolutions, the skater completes one revolution on their way up, one revolution at the apex of the flight, and one final revolution on the way down before the landing.

Here’s Mao Asada of Japan, taking care of business with this triple axel.

Mao Asada, cool as the other side of the pillow.

Mao Asada, cool as the other side of the pillow.

***

That’s the triple axel, figure skating lexicon that you won’t be embarrassed to say because you know what’s behind it now. It’s no quad jump but it’s still the bees knees amongst figure skating fans, casual and veteran fans alike. Now you too can understand more about what Scott Hamilton and Sandra Bezic (nobodylikesSandraBezic) Johnny Weir, Tara Lipinski and Terry Gannon are saying.

thefigureskatinglawyer

On Paralegal Certificate Candidacy

April 20, 2014 § 1 Comment

Happy Easter, whether you hunted some eggs, imbibed some tasty draaaaaaaaanks, or potatoed your way through a fair-weather Sunday.

On another note, it’s weird to use the moniker “thefigureskatinglawyer” when I don’t even English well, let alone have the requisite qualifications to be a lawyer. What’s up with that? About a year and a half of self-reflection, I have decided to forgo the law school route for now and get my paralegal certificate at San Francisco State University.

Wuttttttttttttttttttttt

[INTENSE “WUTTTTTT” INTENSIFIES]

Weird Undergraduate-Graduate School Limbo

Woah, as a full-time student at SF State, I could theoretically check in with Katie Specht and the USFSA Collegiate Committee and set up a team here.

Looking for other figure skating, aspiring paralegals and optional objectives aside, SFSU Paralegal Studies Program is the only American Bar Association-certified program in San Francisco and one of the few certified programs in the Bay Area. It’s a program available to undergrad students looking for additional skills, working professionals looking at a possible career change, and individuals who want a cheaper method of previewing the first year of law school.

At about $825 for a three-unit course, the tuition, books, LexisNexis student subscriptions run a prospective student about 9000 to 10000 dollars to finish the 10 classes (5 required, 5 elective). It’s the student’s option to run roughshod through this program in 12 to 18 months, take the 4-year scenic route through things, or something in between. All that to gain the relevant skills of a paralegal, have the option to do internships through the school, and decide if the law school route seems attractive at that point. That seems like a solid way to save $30,000-$40,000 in law school tuition/room & board (a conservative guess on a first year’s cost) to figure out whether law school is the next time and financial investment to make.

The curriculum allows aspiring legal professionals to gain skills that they would learn and hone in their first year of law school. Performing legal research and Shepardizing cases? Drafting legal memoranda? Ethical conduct? Assisting in the prep of cases for trial? Learn about different types of software used in law firms? That’s pretty relevant to aspiring legal professionals, I suppose.

Who Can Take Their Classes

  • Create an SFSU ID (linky link here) if you’ve never enrolled at SFSU before.
  • Read up here to figure out how to get your password.
  • Fill out this form, have a check for $50 written out to SFSU-CEL and submit it along with a college transcript

You’ve done all that? Cool, you get to do early registration and swoop on classes before they fill up on a first-come, first serve basis.

What if you’re not a part of the paralegal program and you kinda want to keep the $50 in your pocket? You can still sign up to take the classes? No way!

Fall and spring semesters have additional sections of the required classes, allowing students to fit their classes around their other class schedule or their work schedule. Maybe your day allows for you to go to class from 2:00 pm to 4:45 pm. If not, maybe you can go to class from 6:00 pm to 9:45 pm. Summer classes don’t have that luxury of having extra sections but they do have interesting electives. Summer classes do have a shorter 10 week (and one Saturday!) schedule to go over 17 weeks of material so … meh. However, yay to getting ahead in the program!

[INTENSE INTRIGUE INTENSIFIES]

[INTENSE INTRIGUE INTENSIFIES]

Internships

At the very least, having a paralegal certificate from an ABA-certified program gives you an advantage over college graduates looking for the same job. After meeting with program director Pat Medina and going through a few interviews with prospective internship supervisors, you can gain valuable experience that would’ve been tough to get otherwise.

Through professional relationships Pat Medina has cultivated at these public and private organizations, the students have a chance to end the no job because of experience/no experience because no job Catch-22 we’ve all grown to love. The organizations get to teach some of these students how to paralegal and maybe convince them that they can get a job there. Yay!

***

My classmates from college are going on to do some big, money-making things. Some are investment bankers. Some are figuring out this whole top-14 law school thing and passing bars, state, patent, etc. Some are going to be the finest dentists and doctors in the San Francisco Bay Area (In looks or skills? We’ll let Yelp, Tumblr, BuzzFeed decide on that one). Some are going to be champion figure skaters who coach other champion figure skaters on the side. Some are going to be wonderful parents. Some will have a really hard time figuring out what to do with a lot of money.

Instead of being in a rush to beat others to [random accomplishment], I’m beginning to understand that my peers and I will reach our career and life destinations at different points of our lives. That said, whether or not it takes me 12 months or 4 years, I’m going to finish this rad program and become a certified, bona fide paralegal. I still have no idea which field of law I’m interested in or whether I’ll even stay in law. I haven’t completely shut the door on going to law school either. I still feel like I’ve taken a step in the right direction.

[INTENSE RIGHT DIRECTION INTENSIFIES]

[INTENSE RIGHT DIRECTION INTENSIFIES]

Would it be more appropriate to call myself “thefigureskatinglegalprofessional” as opposed to “thefigureskatinglawyer?” Maybe, but that seems like a cumbersome mouthful. Also, TWSS.

thefigureskatinglawyerlegalprofessionallawyer

On Adrian Bulldogs Figure Skating

April 11, 2014 § 1 Comment

It’s the 2014 US Figure Skating Intercollegiate Nationals and every team has arrived in Adrian, MI, getting all Blades of Glory for University of Delaware’s crown.

King Blue Hens

House Flacco, loving their seat on the porcelain throne.

While eight teams decompress at the local Holiday Inn Express and enjoy the typical fare of a Michigander, it is Adrian College who get to enjoy the comforts of their own beds, home cooking, and possibly home-ice advantage. That plays a role in the reason why the Adrian Bulldogs have the best shot from the Midwestern Conference to finish in the top 3.

Adrian Bulldogs

One doesn’t simply walk onto the podium… right?

It’s a disclaimer I drop on any team not named Dartmouth, Delaware or Boston University but we are talking about one of the best Midwest teams of all-time, ALL-TIME. Led by team captain Tricia DeFelice and last year’s US intercollegiate intermediate ladies champion Demi Russo, these skaters are on fire.

  • 1st in Bronco Challenge Cup
  • 1st in Maize and Blue Matchup
  • 1st in Skate on Wisconsin

Adrian College has been taking care of business in the Midwest, manhandling any challenges to their regional throne. Dating back to the 2012-2013 season, the team has won the last 5 Midwestern regional competitions, clinching back-to-back Midwestern championships for the first time in school history.

I WAS LIKE, "GOOD GRACIOUS, TEAM SO BODACIOUS!"

I WAS LIKE, “GOOD GRACIOUS, TEAM SO BODACIOUS!”

Coached by Ashley Carlson, these student-athletes will represent the Bulldogs in the team’s second consecutive time on the National stage:

  • Co-captain and senior ice dancer Tricia DeFelice
  • Junior ladies India Johnson
  • Novice ladies Meghan Barnes
  • Intermediate ladies Demi Russo
  • Juvenile ladies Raynise Mancha
  • Pre-juvenile ladies Barbara Hipp
  • Preliminary ladies Maddie Sena

The additional two points for top-5 finishes in Johnson’s junior championship freeskate and DeFelice’s international ice dance events will certainly help Adrian in the standings.

WITH OUR POWERS COMBINED

The team has enough personnel to field a group for Low Team Maneuvers and another for Intermediate Team Maneuvers. Those two groups will get all Power Rangers-y and present their case on why their jumps, spins and footwork sequences bring all the figure skating judges to the yard.

GIVE YOUR HEART A BREAK

Just kidding, Demi Russo’s not sending any mixed messages here, nor does she plan on letting anybody else get first place in the intermediate ladies events. Intermediate ladies from other teams, prepare to get your hopes dashed and hearts broken. Also, decide in a reasonable fashion who gets 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th.

HOME SWEET HOME

Adrian College has no flights to make, classes to miss, hotel stays to book, home-cooked dining commons meals to miss.

By virtue of hosting this major event, the Bulldogs have the aforementioned luxuries, as well as not having to get used to another time zone. Adrian, MI also sits 787 feet above sea level, so no complaints of lacking oxygen there.

tumblr_claydavis

I agree with Senator Davis here.

***

Skaters from all teams have scheduled practice times Friday night and Saturday morning to get in their final runthroughs and tweaks. They will then have to put their game faces on and skate their best.

Television Coverage: IceNetwork, MLB Advanced Media and NBC will car- oh, there’s no way to watch this thing live outside of Arrington Ice Arena.

Social Media Coverage: You might get the occasional tweet about the standings from @USFigureSkating on twitter. Instead, you might get more in-depth coverage from each team’s Facebook pages and twitter accounts.

Start Time: 6:45am Central Standard Time

End Time: Award ceremonies around 3:00pm CST

To UC Berkeley, UCLA, University of Denver, Dartmouth, Boston University, Delaware, Michigan, Miami (OH), and Adrian College, the Lannis- whoops, thefigureskatinglawyer sends his regards.

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 Tiger Challenge: Postmortem

October 26, 2013 § Leave a comment

If the 2013 Tiger Challenge is running on time, there’s about 15 minutes left of events in the first Pacific regional competition. Da Bears brought four to Colorado Springs while the rest of the team takes care of midterms, Sectionals training, and… not wanting to fly to the high altitude of Colorado just yet. You four ladies are good girls and you know it.

Team Captain Janelle Unger with new additions Kristen Flores, Sara Billman and Audrey Tan. Hey, Coach Minovitz!

The four ladies fulfill half of their 2 required regionals quota, while also helping the team show up to the first of 3 competitions. Not showing up to one of the competitions is a big no-no in college competitions, so good on the ladies for not leaving it up to college competition chairs Kristin Zinsmeister and Cal FS alumnus Katie Specht to determine the team’s postseason fate.

From the looks of the schedule, the figure skating gods were nice to Janelle Unger this year, making sure she skated at a reasonable time of 10:45 AM. It beats skating at 7:30 in the morning, you know? Also, Sara Billman skates in her first intercollegiate competition, taking on integral roles in the senior short and championship freeskates. Audrey and Kristen are going to skate their events and get the team some points in their individual and maybe the Intermediate Team Event. Maybe Coach Minovitz can convince everybody she still skates for the team…

Da Standings

University of Denver, despite not hosting the competition will still have home-field advantage as they send 20+ girls to Honnen Ice Arena. Colorado College hosts the competition but they’re bringing a small team. The Powder Blue Men Group led by Joey Millet and Evan Bender won’t bring everyone but have enough firepower to place in the top-3. Colorado State will bring a decent amount of ladies from Fort Collins down I-70 towards a strong showing in the standings, but not if New Mexico finishes their six-hour drive from Albuquerque and have a say about that.

Here’s an educated guess of where everybody ranks after the first competition.

1. Denver Pioneers

2. UCLA Bruins

3. Colorado State

4. New Mexico

5. Da Bears

6. Colorado College

Da Outlook

Welp, your California Golden Bears start on the bottom and don’t plan on staying there. They look to dominate the competition they’ll host in Oakland, as well as the competition in Denver. There are at least 10 skaters who need to skate in the last two competitions just so they can skate at Championships. The team itself will be alright if they can win both competitions.

Maybe. Ladies, just be safe on I-70 and hold on, you’re going home.

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

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