Thursday, April 3, 2008

Book review: Figure Skating for Dummies

I bought Figure Skating for Dummies used from I paid $11 for it in New condition. Amazon's not offering these books in-house, only from individual sellers. The book was published in 1997, so the press run's finished, I think.

From a parent's perspective, this book is great because Kristi Yamaguchi gives great advice parents can use.
  • Equpiment. Yamaguchi explains how boots should fit feet. She wears her custom-made boots one size too small.
Coaches. There's good advice about how to select one and what the coach's responsibilities are. I was interested to find out that Yamaguchi's coach, Christy Ness, has been her coach from her early days on the ice up to the Olympics.

How-to sections. Yeah, I'm not a skater, but I was hoping to read these sections and be able to identify a flip from a lutz. It's tough to write about movements, tough to show them in diagrams, and hard to understand from a few photos. These sections helped me very little. However, the bits about why something like the triple salchow is hard were good.

Music and programs. What I learned from this is to listen to music, find instrumental music that is interesting but not too avant garde, and let your coach guide the skater the rest of the way.

Amateurs v. pros. Very interesting section on how the USFS looks at eligibility, money, and competition. If you don't buy the book, it's worth checking out at the library just for this interesting bit. Not hugely helpful for a skating parent, though.

Competitions. I was hoping to learn more about the basic levels of competition, but I think that competitions have changed a bit on the basic level. Interesting, but not hugely helpful for a skating parent.

Judging and scoring. Interesting stuff, but let's face it: scoring's kinda dull. Yamaguchi spices it up a bit with anecdotes, but, yeah. There's no glitter or sequins in these chapters. The scoring's out of date - it's the old 6.0 system, not the new IJS.

Ten things every parent should know. Yamaguchi's mom wrote this and it's fabulous. Do you want to know what this woman did for her kid? She drove her kid to the rink to practice from 5 a.m. until 10 a.m. every morning, bless her heart. The family went into debt to finance the kid's skating. Great stuff, good reality check.

Overall rating: 3 out of 4 stars. For a skating parent, the beginning and end sandwich an unhelpful and kind of boring middle. That said, it's worth the price of a used book on Amazon (they're selling for under $7 right now).

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