August 9, 2015 § Leave a comment
Maybe, just maybe. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
What would Brian Boitano do?
Wait, did I really just Uncle Ben myself?
April 4, 2015 § Leave a comment
National championship. Little less of this.
Little less of that.
Something more like this.
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.
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.
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.
As far back as a year ago, I had a crisis with figure skating.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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).
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.
“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 Lotustriple 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.
- 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.
Superb Old Predictions
- 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.
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
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.
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.
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…
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
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!
November 10, 2012 § Leave a comment
Cal loses to Oregon. The Warriors lose in 2OT to rebounding man-child Kenneth Faried (18 points, 17 rebounds) and the Denver Nuggets. Whomp whomp.
Walking In On Someone Changing
Just to elaborate upon “The Sanctity of Figure Skating Pt. 4,” surely you’ve walked in on someone whose in the midst of changing their clothes or rocking out with their reproductive organs hanging out at your local 24 Hour Fitness. Or if you don’t use your gym membership much, maybe a couple waited a long time to take a vacation somewhere and you disrupted their photo.
The gym locker room inhabitants either let everything slide or freaks out. The figure skating locker room? It’s likely people will still freak out from such an invasion of privacy though. Along with Sterling Archer’s house rules, a “knock before you walk in on something” rule would probably keep the intercollegiate figure skating peace.
Your California Golden Bears and junior skaters Matej Silecky and Jay Yostanto performed their short programs earlier today. They culminate their Eastern Sectionals experience with their long programs tomorrow in Hyannis Port, Barnstable, MA. Good luck to these freshmen at 23 feet above sea level. Top four finishers advance to Junior Nationals.
Meanwhile, senior skater Laney Diggs goes up against 12 other skaters as she vies for a spot in the 2013 US Figure Skating Championships. She’ll skate her short program second after Sophia Adams of All-Year FSC in the senior ladies group at Pacific Coast Sectionals. Good luck to her Monday afternoon at 4551 feet above sea level in nearby Provo, UT.
Other notable skaters partaking in Pacific Coast Sectionals are UCLA junior skaters Evan Bender and Joey Millet, as well as juvenile skater Dinh Tran of Skating Club San Francisco. Yeah buddy.
Update: In Hyannis Port, MA, Jay Yostanto finished first overall in the junior men’s event, earning him a spot to 2013 Junior Nationals, while Matej Silecky withdrew from the competition after the short program. In Provo, UT, Laney Diggs finished 5th overall of 13 skaters in the senior ladies event at Pacific Coast Sectionals.
Dinh Tran of Skating Club of San Francisco finished 3rd overall of 12 skaters in the Juvenile boys event at Pacific Coast Sectionals.
December 1st is getting awfully close. Crap.
August 17, 2012 § Leave a comment
Nope, not the Intercollegiate Nationals thefigureskatinglawyer competed in. This competition highlights the best junior and senior level full-time enrolled skaters in the nation, whether they are on a star-studded team back on campus or they are a great one person team. Top 2 finishers in men’s and ladies seniors will be selected by the USFSA Development Committee to represent the US in an upcoming international competition. Start time is 2:45 PM Pacific. Some great skating, double axels and even triple axels are about to go down this evening in South Dennis, MA.