Monday, April 27, 2009

What to Wear to a Figure Skating Competition

I was reworking Ice Girl’s sock bun at last Saturday’s Basic Skills competition and teaching another mom the basics of the process when a coach I know overheard me.

Coach was judging at the little competition and my hair demonstration seemed to put a quarter in her. She started to talk in a loud voice and wave her arms a lot.

“You should teach a class,” she said.

I had no idea what she was talking about.

“We need to have a seminar for skating moms so that they know how to dress their kids for a skating competition,” Coach said.

Well, she said a lot more and made some comments about coaches who offer no instruction about what the skater should wear or how the skater’s hair should look.

“Neat,” she said. “I just want neat. Neat hair, neat dress, no laces dangling from the skates. I don’t want to be distracted when I judge.”

This makes sense to me, and I’m sure it makes sense to most readers: skaters should dress in a manner that calls attention to the skating, not to tangled hair.

Skating attire/grooming requirements:
Courtesy mostly of Coach (M.R.)

  1. Hair should be neat. A bun is best, but a close second is the ponytail. Don’t leave hair loose and unmanaged.
  2. Figure skating dresses only. Ice dance dresses are not figure skating dresses, Coach said. The extra fabric might look terrific in a spin, but it hides the skater’s leg positions and ticks off Coach when she judges. I’m sure it ticks off other judges, too.
  3. Laces should be tucked in. Boots should be tight, not floppy. Laces shouldn’t drag on the ice. Tuck them into the tights.
  4. Tights in good repair. Over-the-boot, footless, or footed: to a judge, it just doesn’t matter as long as the tights don’t have holes.
  5. Keep the undies hidden. “I don’t want Dora the Explorer underpants peeking out at me from under a skater’s dress,” Coach said. I don’t blame her.
  6. Crystals. I couldn’t help but interrupt Coach’s rant and ask: do crystals matter? She looked at me like maybe I wasn’t the person to teach her fictional new skating mom class. “Crystals?” she said in a shrill voice. “I don’t care about crystals.”
  7. No gloves, no jackets. They’re fine for warm-up, but leave them off the rink when you perform.
  8. Conservative makeup. “It’s not a beauty pageant,” Coach said. “Why are they sending these little girls out with so much eye makeup?” Well, she said a few other things, too, but the gist of this one was: keep makeup conservative and age-appropriate.

Feel free to add your attire/grooming requirements below. If you think Coach and I are off-base, you can write that, too. I might work up the courage to let her know…someday.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

First Figure Skating Competition: Questions and Answers

A guest post, courtesy of reader Alexa and Ice Girl.

From Alexa:

Hi Ice Mom! I love your blog, and check frequently for updates. I am very soon being in my first skating competition and I have some questions I thought you might be able to answer.

From Ice Mom: Hi, Alexa. I'm not a skater, but I know one pretty well, so I passed your questions on to Ice Girl. Good luck with your first competition!
  1. What do I wear during my program, gloves, hat, etc?
    From Ice Girl: On practice ice: wear clothes that you would wear at a practice session (gloves, sweat shirt, practice skirt, obviously skates)
    On warm-up: wear your performance outfit, a light, zip-up sweatshirt with no hood (preferably black), and gloves (make sure you have your hair and make-up all done before you go on practice ice!)
    During performance: same thing as the warm-up ice, but without the jacket and gloves.

  2. Does my dress have to be a "competition dress"? I have a plain practice dress and I don't want to look weird.
    From Ice Girl: Um... most people have competition dresses, but I think it would be fine if you just wear your practice dress. In my opinion, if you feel comfortable in it and you don’t mind wearing it for your performance, go right ahead and wear it! If you have a coach, make sure he/she agrees with your decision.

  3. How do I skate on to the ice before my program and how do I bow or curtsy at the end of my program?
    From Ice Girl: Before: skate with your arms out and palms facing up (attracts the audience) with a big smile on your face. This makes you look strong, confident, and like you're ready to have fun, which is what it’s all about.
    After (bowing): after your finished, you can skate to the center if you wish, face the judges, and do a small bow with a smile and then turn around and do the same to the audience. If you have ever seen Olympians or professional performers, they do the same sorta thing.

  4. Is it strange that my coach hasn't told me any of this? I’m a newbie to this competition thing and she doesn't seem to understand that. We have not been informed on many things, which is very annoying.
    From Ice Girl: Hmm...I don’t know exactly. I always confront my coach if I’m concerned about something. I suggest you ask your coach about all the things you are asking us. The best answers about these kind of things would come from your coach.

  5. How do awards work?
    From Ice Girl: There are certain elements that a skater is required to perform in each level. You’re judged on how well you perform and how accurately you complete each element. Getting awards: smile for pictures and be very subtle if you get 1st place (at least until you are away from your competitors, then feel free to do a happy dance or squeal if you wish), but again ask your coach about these things if my answers are not answering your questions. I bet you'll do great!!!!!

    From Ice Mom: at the Basic Skills level, skaters are ranked in a group, from first to last. In the ISI judging levels, scoring is much more complicated. No way am I going to attempt an explanation here!

  6. Should I eat food before my program?
    From Ice Girl: It depends. Do you get sick easily? If you eat before going on a really fast spinney ride, do you come out of the ride almost puking? If this is the case, then don’t eat right before skating. Eat a good, healthy breakfast and drink lots of water, then give your stomach time to settle. Go to the bathroom before you go on warm-up ice.

  7. I am very nervous, what does Ice Girl do?
    From Ice Girl: I run through my program in my head while listening to my music. I take deep slow breaths (this may sound crazy, but it’s sort of like meditation) and think positive thoughts like:

    • I’m ready and I can do this

    • My family and friends are here for me right now and are here to support me

    • I know I’m a good skater

    I also look at competitions as practice where I can get suggestions from not just my coach.

    From Ice Mom: Away from the rink and well before competitions, I encourage Ice Girl to think about why she loves skating. I ask her to think about a time when she skated well. What went right? How did she feel? How did she create that situation? I call it her Happy Skate. On the drive to competitions, I ask her to visit her Happy Skate.

    Also, the only thing I ever tell Ice Girl before she competes is, “I love you.” Everything else (skate well, have fun, etc.) is too loaded and she’ll start to overthink my words.

Next, (sorry about all of this), some other generic questions.
no biggie

  1. Should I buy a spinner? What spins can you do on it; I just got into Freestyle 1.
    From Ice Girl: Yes, buy a spinner. Mine helped me center all of my spins
    almost all spins can be done on a spinner (I do camels on it) I don’t recommend laybacks or hair cutters on the spinner. Congratulations on getting into Freestyle 1!!!!!

  2. Maxiflex? My teacher has been stretching me for my spiral and it hurts very much; would the Maxiflex help?
    From Ice Girl: Yes, it helps, if you do it regularly. Don’t over do the stretching, though. Trust me, that hurts a lot!!!! I’m not that flexible but the Maxiflex is helping me a lot.

  3. Also, along with 2b, help with spiral, Ice Girl?
    From Ice Girl: Spirals...hmm...stretch often and even before practice. I’m still trying to get my spiral high enough. Just be patient; it will come. It does take a while. Realize that for a spiral to count, it has to be level, which means it has to look like a T.

Hope this helped! I bet you'll do great! Congratulations on being in advanced freestyle!

From Ice Mom: Do you have more tips for Alexa or other new skaters? Add 'em to the comments!

Friday, April 17, 2009

How-to: 11 Tips for Figure Skating Club Fundraising

Quote for inspriation:
Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.
- Thomas Edison

I recently sat down with E.C., a member of a Wis. figure skating club and a fundraising goddess. I’m serious. This woman wrangled a scooter from a local car dealership for a raffle. E.C. has mad skills.

I have no skills. When people mention fundraising, I try to change the subject. What started as an interview turned into Ice Mom’s crash course in fundraising. E.C. told me that I had just three weeks to get items for a Basic Skills Competition and I’d better hit the streets right away.

So, I did. People have a way of doing whatever E.C. tells them to do. She’s intense.

Ice Dad drafted the donations letter. You can have it, too. Just change the yellow bits.

I e-mailed the donations letter to a bunch of businesses and hand-delivered it to others. E.C. says hand delivering it is best. “Make it a point to hand-deliver the letter,” she said. “And then follow-up two or three weeks later. [Businesses] are more likely to donate if they remember your face.”

I was pretty nervous when I went to the first couple of businesses, but people were pretty nice. The way I started to look at it was: this is great promotion for their business and people are likely to visit their establishment as a result.

Here’s what I got:

  • Two $50 gift certificates from a sporting goods shop

  • A Packers signed football

  • A Longaberger basket

  • Tickets for four to a water park

  • Two six-packs of local beer, plus t-shirts and glasses (adults-only raffle item)

Not bad for a bunch of e-mails and a bit of effort. I had only three weeks and I’ve slacked off the last two. E.C. starts the fundraising months before the event. “I always say you can’t start too far out from the event,” E.C. said.

“I usually start five to six months out," she said. "For our small ice show I raised $3,200. That’s just cash donations. For our test session I get major sponsors and get their names out there.” E.C.’s club uses the donated money to pay for transporting, feeding, and housing test session judges.

E.C.’s Eleven Fundraising Tips

  1. Believe that you can get funds, raffle items, etc. You can. [Ice Mom: if I can do it, it can’t be that hard.]

  2. Offer recognition. Make sure that you include donor business cards in participant gift bags, post their names in the rink, announce their gift over the loudspeaker, and include them on event promotional materials (t-shirts, programs, radio announcements). Keep recognizing them in other events. “All year round we recognized the car dealer at every event,” E.C. said. “We announced their business and said that we wanted to thank our past supporters.”

  3. Spread it around. “You can’t just keep going to the same businesses for every event,” E.C. said. “You have to mix it up.”

  4. Think big. Don’t be afraid to ask for a big-screen T.V. from a local appliance store or a scooter from a car dealership. E.C. lives in a small town of under 20,000 residents. She’s fearless, yeah, but look at what she’s raised for the club.

  5. Go for the non-traditional donors. E.C. took a picture of smiling skaters, all of whom wore braces. She sent the photo to the orthodontist for a donation. Of course, he ponied up. “Look at who benefits from your children and approach them,” E.C. said.

  6. Ask the little guys. Sometimes a coffee shop might be able to give just a bag of roasted beans. That’s great. Bundle it in a basket with the $10 manicure gift certificate and the $5 bakery certificate. Call it a pampering day basket and raffle it off.

  7. Ask the independent sales reps. Mary Kay, Pampered Chef, Longaberger, and other at-home sales associates often like to make baskets for these events. Put their cards in the gift bags.

  8. Go through the local yellow pages. “I went through it page-by-page and started my business list that I keep as an Excel file,” she said.

  9. No money? How about a service? “The local UPS store wouldn’t give us a cash donation, but they printed our flyers for free,” E.C. said.

  10. Go in person. It’s harder to say no to a real person in front of you, she said. E.C. prints out 200 letters and takes a day off work to deliver them all. The ones she doesn’t see in person, she e-mails.

  11. Give back. Club members should give back to the community. Organize a pet toy drive for the local pet shelter. Skaters can take to the ice if they bring a chew toy or cat nip mouse. Over Winter Break, skaters can shovel sidewalks for the elderly. Call the media and make sure the community sees that money spent on skating does more than reduce ice fees.

E.C.’s goldmine for donations: state or local sports teams, water parks, hotels, bed & breakfasts, golf courses, wineries, mom-and-pop shops, independent sales reps., hospitals, and medical professionals.

I dipped my toe in the water for fundraising and it wasn’t as scary as I’d thought. Be bold and fearless and you might be as successful as E.C.

Did I mention that E.C. lives in a town with a population of 20,000? If E.C. can do it, we all can do it.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

How to: Pick Figure Skating Program Music

  1. It’s time for Ice Girl to have new music for her long program and we’re all relieved. Don’t get me wrong – Ice Girl’s current music is pretty darn cool (Laura’s Zest from Project Runway). However, it’s been a year and it’s just not as zesty as it used to be.

    So, Ice Coach e-mailed me to start the process. Every coach is different, but here’s how our music selection process goes:
    1. Ice Coach says, “We need music.”
    2. I open up Amazon and our library system’s online catalog
    3. My Amazon search terms: Boston Pops, Cincinnati Pops, movie soundtrack
    4. Poke around Amazon, click on composers, follow Amazon recommended titles
    5. Check to see if the CD is available in our library system, requesting it from different libraries
    6. Enter search terms in library: pops, movie soundtrack (limited results)
    7. Collect CDs from library
    8. Listen to CDs in van with Ice Girl, a mini-notebook, and pen. Listen to some selections, pass over others
    9. Create a mix CD to give to coach
    10. Final decision: coach
    Some skaters or skater moms download MP3s from Amazon (pricey; I know a woman who spent $40 doing this). Others create mix CDs from their own collections. Coach’s input. I know a skater who spent a lot of time making a mix CD for her coach. None of the selections was appropriate, the coach said. The skater was pretty sad about this, but the coach had something specific in mind for the skater. Ultimately, it’s the coach’s decision which selection is the best for the skater, possible choreography, and the level. However, having input and collaboration makes the skater feel better about skating over and over to the same music for the next year. And, let’s face it: we all know the music that makes us cringe at the rink. Please comment: How do you and your coach select music? I expect everyone is different and it would be nice to share your process in the comments section.
Update: I think we have a winner! It looks like Ice Girl will skate to a mix of music from the French film Amelie. You haven't seen that film? I tell you, it's awesome. Yes, it has subtitles, but it's very, very good.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

How Do You Get Your Figure Skater to Wear Butt Pads?

Honestly. I have no idea how to get Ice Girl to wear her stinkin’ butt pads. I have two sets of them: the kind in the panties (see photo) and the waxel pads that skaters shove in their tights.

I’d love to tell you that they work wonderfully and Ice Girl wears them all the time, but I can’t.

The panties with pads set me back $80 (I think I got ripped off). The individual waxel pads cost me $30 for two. All the pads are in our basement on a shelf. They don’t even ride around in the van with us.

Ice Girl complains that falls hurt. I don’t doubt it. However, when I remind her that she has pads, her bottom lip starts to quiver and her eyes get round. She tells me that she just can’t figure out how to wear them without them showing.

I tell her that the point isn’t that people will think she has a big butt. The point is to prevent that big bruise on her hip.

Last week at a test session, I called her attention to a senior-level skater who was shoving butt pads in her tights rink side.

“See?” I said. “Senior Skater wears them.”

“Mom. Mom. Moooo-oooom,” Ice Girl said. “I don’t want to talk about that right now. I’m about to test.”

Fine. But Ice Girl didn’t want to talk about it on the ride home. She didn’t want to talk about it this morning, either.

Update: From reader dazzleamore: did find those thinner GEL Ultra crash pads (about $35 -$40 each) is easier to convince my girls to wear them. Those pads are thinner so skaters don't feel self conscious (about the size of their butt) and supposedly, it supposed to protect them from the fall. Between, crash-pad-pants, waxel pads, and gel pads, my skaters used the get pads most... You can find these gel pads on many figure skating store websites that sells dresses or supplies.

So, folks, I’m looking for help here. Please comment and share what tricks, incentives, etc. you’ve used to get your kid to put in those stupid pads. Short of making them chocolate-scented and having Ice Girl wear M.C. Hammer pants, I’m stumped.