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!


Alexa said...

Thank you so much Ice Mom and especially Ice Girl! This is so much help!

Anonymous said...

For spirals, my daughters moves in the field coach suggested getting ankle weights and having her hold her spiral position and pulsing her leg in the spiral position (try to lift the leg higher with each pulse, do not lower the leg past the minimum spiral postion point)then rest and repeat serveral times. The goal of this exercise is to be able to hold the spiral at a higher postion after you take the ankle weights off. This exercise helps to strengthen then back and butt muscles needed to lift the leg higher in the spiral position. Hope this helps!

Jozet at Halushki said...

Stretch, stretch, stretch every day! Also, many skaters seem to have a "favorite" thing to do - jumps, spins, spirals. Remember to always work on everything as often as possible, even if in smaller increments. You want to be "well balanced" even if you don't compete.

Also, cross-train. Other sports and activities will strengthen your whole body and help improve balance and stamina. And on those rare weeks that you're feeling frustrated with skating because a new element isn't coming as quickly, you can still stay active so that when you're ready to get back on the ice and give it your all, you aren't starting from square one physically.

Finally, sometimes just sitting quietly and "watching" yourself do a new element or program perfectly in your mind is all it takes to get your body to do it on the ice.

Oh! And always compliment other skaters and make them feel good about their efforts on the ice. It's such a solitary sport at times. Any camaraderie is wonderful.

owlreader said...

Wow, this advice seriously helps a lot! I have a question about spinners, though. Which one did you get? Plastic or metal? My mom said she'll get me one for Christmas, but I'm not sure which one would be better. Which do you think would be better for someone who's been skating for around 6 months and is about to pass into freestyle 5? Thanks so much! I love your blog!

Wellah said...

These advices are very helpful to skaters.