Monday, July 27, 2009

What's in Your Figure Skating Binder?

Thanks to Anonymous for suggesting this post.

It was a golden day when Ice Coach gave Ice Girl her first figure skating binder. Ice Coach had printed out a cover for the binder that had current high-level figure skaters’ photos on it and, of course, Ice Girl’s name.

What should go in the binder? Here’s a list, thanks mostly to Ice Coach.
  • The calendar with contracted ice times

  • The full club ice schedule (for walk-ons)

  • Notes from lessons

  • Moves patterns (USFS)

  • Moves common errors (USFS)

  • Moves test standards (what the judges look for, USFS)

  • Goals

  • What to practice for warm upthings to work on during ice time- jumps, spins, moves, programs

  • Off ice exercises & stretching

  • Competition entry forms & requirements (I.G. needs to put this in her binder)

  • Extra paper

  • Pen

  • Large sharpie for ice-draw moves, jumps or spin patterns to work on

  • Extra hair tie

  • Sharpening schedule-keep track of how often you sharpen you skates

  • Handy phone numbers (parents, coach, local rinks for open skate times)

  • Critique photos. (This isn’t in I.G.'s binder. I saw another coach take digital photos of a skater’s program, print them out, and point out good and bad positions.)
What’s in your binder? Share the contents in the comments!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Public School or Home School for Figure Skaters?

Ice Dad and I have kicked around home schooling for Ice Girl, but not for figure skating reasons. As a former teacher, I'd like to give Ice Girl the individual help she needs, but well, that's something for another day. Anyway, I have this whole job thing I do, so home schooling isn't really an option.

For other figure skating families, home school is an option and a choice they're considering.

World- and national-level figure skater Jennifer Kirk posted about the choice between home schooling and traditional schooling. You can read her post here.

Kirk comes down on the side of traditional schooling, and I think her logic's pretty sound.

It's always been my thought that parents need lives outside of the rink and so do kids. We also need lives and activities separate from the kids, too.

Update: Interesting NYT artilce about the home/online schooling phenomenon in tennis.

What do you think? Ultimately, we all want what's best for our kids. So. Does that mean traditional or home school? Let the battle begin!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Sewing review: Jalie Empire Waist Figure Skate Dress #2674

The purple painted dress I had made was Jalie pattern #2674, Empire Waist Figure Skating Dress, view B (the white one). I thought that the skirt with an empire waist would look pretty when Ice Girl was spinning.

Actually, it’s not as pretty as Kwik Sew #2796, which flares prettily when a skater spins. This one is too narrow for that pretty flare. Ice Girl has Kwik Sew #2796, but she won’t wear it for reasons that are a mystery to adults (like me and Ice Coach), but make perfect sense to a 13-year-old. For whatever reason, she won’t wear it anymore. Will this fickleness end at some point?

So. I made Jalie #2674, view B for the spins program. I’m pretty happy with the results, but I learned a few things that would be useful to know if you’re making it for the first time:
  • Painting it? Paint the panties, too. Otherwise, look away and giggle nervously when the skater spins and you can see what looks like tidy whities. Yeah. I did this. (Insert head smack here.)

  • Mistake on instructions. I think that Bodice – view B has a mistake when it tells sewers to pin the wrong side of front lining to right side of front pieces. That seriously can’t be right. It should be “Pin right side of front lining to wrong side of front pieces.” That’s what I did anyway, and I’m pretty sure it’s right.

  • Straps. Don’t let your kid convince you that the straps have to be super tight. If you do, you’ll get a pucker where the bodice halves meet. I covered up that pucker with some sequin trim, but still. It irritates me.

  • Keep track of the skirt pieces. There are seven panels to this six-gore skirt, so if you don’t keep good track of them, you might end up sewing back sides together, instead of center backs. Yeah. I ripped out that seam.

  • Sequin trim. I really like the stretchy sequin trim that I put on the bodice and Ice Girl has gotten compliments on it. If I were to do it again, I’d pop for the sequin trim again. The trim’s pretty easy to put on, especially if you do it after you’ve had the skater try on the dress and measure the straps. Just run that trim down the strap and zig-zag the embellished strap to the back bodice. I use a 90-gague needle for the sequin trim, not my puny stretch needles (70- 80-gague) and I usually break one needle when I’m applying the stretch trim with a wide zig zag on both sides of the trim. Better than hand sewing, though.
Bottom line: I’d sew this dress again, but not for a spins program. Oh, and I’m going to let the Jalie folks know about the error in the instructions. Otherwise, it’s a pretty dress, fits well, and goes together without too much drama. Well, not too much sewing drama, anyway.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

What to Bring to a Figure Skating Competition

Update: Thanks to my friend K.R., I have a printable checklist for parents to download. You have to be a member of my Google Group to do it, but it's painless and free. Click here to download the checklist in Word.

I’m making a list for Ice Girl. For the next figure skating competition, and all those thereafter, she’s limited to bringing just the things on her list in her Zuca, in the van, and to the rink.

My van was spotless before last weekend’s figure skating competition. I had that puppy emptied out, washed, waxed, and steam cleaned. The van even had an artificial lemon scent. Despite my cleaning efforts, I spent the 15 minutes before Ice Girl’s freeskate event searching through newly accumulated debris for some ankle braces, which should have been in Ice Girl’s Zuca. Instead, I found old figure skating reference books, a SkateStrong manual, a GameBoy, a pair of p.j.’s, and some random junk. How many ankle braces? Just one. Ice Girl has, um, two ankles.

We also needed extra skate laces, which should have been in the bag, but are probably under Ice Girl’s bed. Wait. She cleaned under there. Those laces probably made a run for it and are halfway toward some tropical location by now, because they sure weren’t in that stupid bag. (Thanks, Renee, for the lace rescue.)

So. Ice Girl gets this list for the next figure skating competition. She will not bring anything extra, because we don’t have time to sift through the flotsam and jetsam to find corn pads or bobby pins. Next competition, this stuff will be in its assigned pocket or Ice Mom is going to be pretty crabby, I can tell you. I bet Ice Mom will start chucking junk out of the van like monkeys throw poo at the zoo. Duck and run, kids: Ice Mom’s been pushed over the edge.

I’ve listed each item, some with reasons. Those with links have a previous post associated with them.

Skate bag contents

Hair bag contents

Emergency kit contents

  • Band-aids
  • Extra laces
  • Extra socks
  • Extra tights
  • Safety pins
  • Screw driver for blades
  • Stain remover

Parents’ list of stuff to haul

  • Blanket
  • Camera
  • Cash for coffee and unhealthy snacks
  • Checkbook – the figure skating world runs on checks
  • Coach’s phone number programmed in cell phone
  • Coins for the meter or tolls
  • Cooler with drinks, healthy snacks
  • Event schedule
  • Maps of the area – one local attraction, one local restaurant
  • Muffins, scones, or other morning food
  • Something to read
  • Warm jacket

Bottom line: Love you, Ice Girl, but I can’t take the stress of having a broken lace with no replacement five minutes before your warm-up ice. You managed to wipe your blades, wipe your mind, and start fresh before your event, but let’s face it: we’d all do better without the stress of missing stuff. And Ice Mom’s getting tired of eating bananas and listening to monkey jokes.

Did I forget something? Add to the list in the comments, please. Ice Girl competes again in two weeks, so we need the essentials, but nothing more. If you have a story to share, feel free to do so, as well! Monkey jokes? Well, if you must.

Monday, July 13, 2009

How-to: Remove Hotfix and E6000 Crystals from Figure Skating Dresses

If you set crystals, this post is going to rock your world.

I heard a rumor a few months ago that a gal was removing crystals from dresses with no damage to the dress. No way, I thought. No way.


I talked to the gal who removes the crystals and she just shrugged and told me she uses Goo Gone. It takes them right off and doesn’t leave a stain.

I tried it on that Harry Potter pillow case – the one that has both hotfix and E6000 crystals on it. It took off the crystals and left no stain. It also removed the sequins from that troublesome fabric in an earlier post with no stain, either.

How to remove crystals with Goo Gone:
  • Use a tissue. I tried cotton rounds, but cotton left fibers behind.
  • Saturate the tissue. You’ll use lots of Goo Gone for this.
  • Dab the front and back. Dab at the crystal area from both the front of the fabric and the back of the fabric to loosen the crystal.
  • Don’t tug. The crystal will loosen eventually. Don’t tug on it the rest of the way or you’ll remove some of the silver paint on the back of the crystal. Be patient and keep dabbing at the bugger until it releases on its own. Then you can re-use the crystal (with E6000 as a glue; you can’t hotfix it again).
  • Hotfix comes off easily. Hotfix crystals came off the pillowcase the easiest, but the E600 wasn’t too bad. The crystals came off, but left a little lump of glue on the lycra. I just peeled off the little lumps.
  • Do a practice run. Glue some crystals to a scrap of lycra before using the Goo Gone on a dress. You can take my word that it doesn’t stain, but I’d rather you didn’t. Give it a shot for yourself and see if it works for you.
Update: lighter fluid, the kind you put in a lighter and is sold alongside tobacco, not charcoal, is terrific at removing crystals, both hotfix and E6000. As always, test first!

Share your results! Did you try this at home? How did it go? We’re all curious, so let us know!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Basic Skills Competition Figure Skating Levels

I was poking around in the Ice Mom Blog site statistics and found that someone typed in this question in a search engine:

Can a figure skating coach have a student who is skating Freestyle 2 compete in Basic 6?

Good question.

First a disclaimer: Ice Girl was one of these kids. It wasn’t because we were trying to wipe out the competition, though: that kid just wouldn’t get off the ice. I put her on every open skate in Dane County for six months partly because she was begging me to do so and partly because I had a demanding job and could work on projects from the various rinks. She jumped from a Basic 3 in November 2007 to a Freestyle 3 in May 2008. That’s six levels in six months. (Me, I jumped from a miserable, demanding job to one I really love.) The problem we had was that we’d sign Ice Girl up for a Basic Skills competition after she’d finished, say Basic 6, but she was way ahead of that level by the time the competition day arrived. I swear: we were not trying to cheat the system.

A coach I know offered some possibilities about why kids might be higher or lower levels for Basic Skills competitions.

  1. The skater signs up at her current level, but by the time the competition has arrived, the skater is way above that level (see disclaimer above).
  2. Some Learn to Skate programs are very picky about passing kids up from one level to the next; others pass kids when they demonstrate skills, but the skills are still shaky. Here’s an example: a Basic 4 kid can do crossovers, but she’s unreliable with them. The instructor passes her into Basic 5, but the skill isn’t good enough to go into a program.
  3. A coach keeps a kid at a certain level for a while to build the kid’s self-esteem and smear the competition.
Now, I’m not saying that’s right or anything, I’m just offering an explanation about how it can occur.

I learned something about Basic Skills the other week: losing is just as important as winning.

Sure, we all want our kids to win, especially when they put in hard work and we feel they deserve it. Ice Girl won second place two weeks ago at a little Basic Skills competition. Her jumps and spins were more difficult than those of the first-place skater. And the first place skater was a brat (see my poor sport post).

My mom and I were not good skating parents. We grumbled quietly to ourselves and asked Ice Coach how this sort of thing could happen. Ice Coach said a few words, but it was clear she wasn’t taking it well, either. It was like she was keeping her mouth shut for fear of what might come out of it.

You know who took the second place ribbon well? Ice Girl. She smiled and acted like a champion. She was proud of the second place and beamed in the photos. I feel ashamed of my petty behavior.

That’s what Basic Skills is all about. Sure the skating is important and we all want fairness. But that’s not the point.

Character. That’s the point. Trying hard and accepting the judges’ decision with pride and class. Congratulating fellow skaters. Being happy no matter what the outcome. Skating for the love of it, not the hardware.

Ice Girl has learned this important lesson. I’m sure I’ll learn it someday, too.

Monday, July 6, 2009

How-to: Spray Paint a Figure Skating Dress

Remember how I ruined a figure skating dress for Ice Girl last fall? Well, I did it right over the weekend.

If you’ve read the previous post, you know that constructing the figure skating dress before spraying with Simply Spray fabric paint is a disaster. There’s no way to prevent the dye from spotting through to the panties and back – I don’t care how well you cut out tag board shields.

Here’s how I spray-dyed the figure skating dress:
  1. Cut out all of the pieces from white lycra.
  2. Cover an old folding table with an even older sheet. Ice Dad, a wizard with an iron, ironed the sheet flat using steam and spray.
  3. Let the sheet dry for 30 minutes (the steam and spray need to evaporate).
  4. Set out the pieces, matching notches and hems.
  5. Spread out the pieces just a bit so they’re not touching, but so the seamlines and hems match up. Make sure they're flat, flat flat. No wrinkles.
  6. Spray with Simply Spray fabric paint in an arc starting off the fabric and ending off the fabric.
  7. Allow to dry for a good 24 hours (the package says 1 hour, but I had trouble with this last fall).
  8. Sew as usual.

The fabric is stiffer than unpainted lycra, but it looks really pretty. I used 1 ½ cans on this dress.

  • Shake the can away from the fabric or you’ll have spots.
  • Don’t use all of the paint in the can – it spots as you finish the can.
  • Start and end off the fabric or you’ll have spots.
  • Dry well or you’ll have weird shadow images from whatever is behind slightly damp fabric.
  • Paint and dry on a perfectly flat surface.
  • Be careful to wear an apron or old clothes and spray in an area that you don’t mind covering with fabric dye spots.
  • Don’t spray in the wind or where leaves, twigs, and bugs will fall on your fabric while it’s drying.
Update: Oh, you're going to just love this. You might notice something missing in the photos above. Yep. The panties. I thought I'd outwit the system and allow the dress pieces to dry while I sewed the bodice and the panties. The bodice and panties were both white. I watched Ice Girl skate yesterday at a competition and noticed the white panties peeking out from under the dress. Er. They looked like...well...underpants. Geez. I'm such a dork. I should have sprayed the panties along with the dress. After a fit of guilty giggles and lots of head smacks, I debated for a minute or two about asking Ice Girl to change dresses between the spins event and the jumps event. However, there was little time between the two events, so I decided not to tell her. Yeah. Not my best parenting moment, I'm sure. However, Ice Girl didn't seem to mind when my friend told on me. Ice Girl just shrugged it off and told me she liked the dress anyway.

Bottom line: Again, allow me to be your horrible warning. Um. Paint the panties while you're spraying the rest of the dress. Duh, Ice Mom.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Figure Skating Sportsmanship

Last weekend Ice Girl competed in a small Basic Skills figure skating competition. A skater who has competed against Ice Girl a bunch of times this year entered the locker room with her mother and sister. Mom belittled, berated, and complained the whole time. She ranted and cussed, then finally went to sit in the stands.

Ice Coach and I exchanged looks. So that’s where the kid gets her bad attitude.

Indeed, according to a report by a team of researchers from the Universities of Missouri – St. Louis, Minnesota – Twin cities, and Notre Dame, researchers found that kids model their sportsmanship habits from their perceptions of their coach’s and parents’ behavior. And it doesn’t get better with age, either. Older kids are poorer sports than younger kids.

Later in the day, Ice Girl was skating her freeskate. The kid has an amazing straight-leg sit spin (she calls it spin-the-duck). It’s pretty cool.

After the event, Ice Coach told me that bad-attitude skater said while Ice Girl was spinning, “I hope she falls.”

It took my breath away.

I thought it might be a teachable moment for Ice Girl, you know, about sportsmanship. It turns out she was way ahead of me.

“Mom. No big deal. I’m fine.”

Well, I’m not. I’m on a tear and Ice Girl is completely uninterested in my preaching and ranting about bad-attitude skater.

So, I’ve been reading up on how not to create a monster. Here are some suggestions I’ve found:

  • Develop the person first, the athlete second. That’s NCAA basketball coach John Wooden’s philosophy. “Coaching for character” is the primary responsibility of the coach. Coaching should emphasize successful character skills that have carry-over both on the ice and in life, Wooden said. Emphasize optimism, courage, patience, perseverance, effort, honesty, and responsibility.

  • Don’t put pressure on your kid to be the best. Encourage your kid to love the sport and work hard.

  • Be the person you’d like your kid to be. I’m not always good at this, but I try. I try not to be a sore loser when every man, woman, child, and dog beats me at any card or board game invented. I try not to be a poor winner, either. Of course, that so rarely happens that I’m too stunned to do a victory dance.

  • Encourage hard work. This is from a cognitive scientist, but I think there’s carry over to sports. Daniel Willingham wrote, “Students who believe that intelligence can be improved with hard work get higher grades than students who believe that intelligence is an immutable trait.” When Ice Girl doesn’t do as well as she would like, I always tell her, “Just work harder.” Of course, she turns into a figure skating maniac before competitions and begs anyone who can drive to take her to walk-on ice. But, there are worse things than hard work.

  • The best revenge is living well. Fine. I didn’t find this from any expert. This is my own naughty-ness, but I think it’s good advice. Concentrate on yourself and your own success. Don’t let the trolls and their tolls bring you down. Living well will shut them up, anyway.

Do you have a good tip about sportsmanship? Do you have experience with figure skating trolls? Feel free to share in the comments.


“Raising a good sport.” Scholastic Parent & Child. Feb/Mar 2007, Vol. 14, Issue 5.

Wellman, Chris. “Positive Coaching: A Guide to the Productive Teaching of Athletics.” Coach & Athletic Director. January 2007, vol. 76, Issue 6, p 97-08.

Willingham, Daniel T. Why Don’t Students Like School? Jossey-Bass. 2009, p. 140.

“Youth Sports.” Education Week. 12/12/2007, Vol. 27 Issue 15, p5.