Monday, August 31, 2009

Coping with figure skating burn out

It’s corny, but true: you can’t burn out if you were never on fire.

Ice Girl is burning out a bit on figure skating. She’s still interested, but she’s cutting back, at least for the coming month.

We’ve been very careful to allow Ice Girl to decide her own level of participation, so why is she feeling burnt out? And why am I not worried?

  • The struggle for success. Progress through the lower skating levels was quick and easy for Ice Girl. Sure, she had to work at some things, but she quickly overcame obstacles. Not so with the axel. Ice Coach tells me Ice Girl is landing it inconsistently, which is good. But Ice Girl is frustrated with that jump and is tiring from the struggle.
  • Our solution? She’s working on other things in her lessons and building on those successes. She is working on a flying sit spin and just got a camel – back sit spin that wasn’t half bad.

  • Pain. Ice Girl has worked so much on her axel that her hamstring is bothering her. We’ve bought The Stick to massage the muscle and I took her to her doctor for evaluation. The hammy’s fine for normal use, but hurts when she steps up into that jump. 
  • Our solution? A physical therapist friend gave Ice Girl an exercise to try. I made an appointment with the sports medicine doctor, too. We’ll see.

  • Too much of a good thing. Ice Girl skated 13 – 15 hours a week this summer. That’s a lot. 
  • Our solution? Ice Girl cut back on her ice time for September without any prodding from me. She’s in control of that contract. I’m not pushing her.

  • Pushing herself too hard. Ice Girl is new to figure skating: she’s been on the ice for just under two years. Her peers are higher-level skaters and she pushes herself to reach their level. That kid has drive, which is good, but she’s running out of gas. 
  • Our solution? Again, it’s the ice time control. She can tone down the ice time for a bit and ramp it up once she gets her energy back.

  • Blurry vision. Why is Ice Girl doing this whole figure skating thing, anyway? She's having a hard time focusing on what she loves about figure skating because her hamstring hurts and she's overtrained. Losing sight of the vision makes it hard to stay motivated. 
  • Our solution? Talk it out. We are talking about what Ice Girl loves about figure skating and why she took to it in the first place. I'm asking her to write it down, too, but she's pretty resistant.

Kids burn out for other reasons, too. Some parents push their kids, some kids stress about the money factor, and some kids can’t take the discipline that a sport requires.

I’m honestly not worried if Ice Girl burns out (she cut back ice time from 13 to 9 hours a week). If she cuts back even more, then it’s just another lesson that she’s learned from figure skating: everything in moderation.

Update (9/1/09): I have been informed this morning that Ice Girl is not burning out. Ice Girl is amazed at my overreaction to her relief that she'll have only 9 hours of ice a week, not 13. "Mom. Mom. Mo-om. Stop being so dramatic. I'm not burning out. Geez. We're buying new boots this weekend."

Isn't that something? Me, getting a lecture about drama from Ice Girl. :)

Have you or your skater experienced burn out? How did you rekindle your passion for the sport? Share!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Sewing a figure skating undergarment from a swimsuit pattern

If you read this, I have to swear you to silence. Ice Girl won’t like the idea that people are reading about her undergarment. Swear? Good.

I had such trouble finding Ice Girl a leotard-like undergarment for underneath her figure skating dresses. She’s a modest girl and likes to be covered. I get it. But, she’s tried on every flesh-colored undergarment between here and Milwaukee with no success.

After searching patterns, I decided that the closest thing to what Ice Girl wanted was Kwik Sew 3503, view A. View A is a strapless swimsuit, but I added strap loops and clear straps to it. I offered to lower the back into a deep scoop or replace a bunch of the fabric in the back with flesh-colored athletic mesh, but she didn’t want that. Whatever. You could modify the pattern very easily to accomplish both of those suggestions.

The pattern includes a front lining with a shelf bra and it sews together in an afternoon or less (just five pattern pieces). I was worried about the gathers on the side and in the front lining, but they’re virtually unnoticeable and disappear under a figure skating dress.

Ice Girl loves her undergarment. Here’s what I did:

  1. Fabric. Flesh-colored spandex that matches her skin color.
    High-cut legs. The pattern has options for both low-cut and high cut leg openings. I used the high-cut option because I didn’t want the garment sticking out Ice Girl’s figure skating dress’s leg openings.

  2. Straps. Clear straps made from clear plastic elastic, clear swimsuit hooks on both ends, and a clear slider. I melted the two layers of elastic together instead of sewing them (I used my BeJeweler with the nailhead attachment.) You can buy clear straps, too, but Ice Girl loses them so often that I thought it would be good to have the replacement parts on hand.

  3. Strap loops. I added flesh-colored ribbon loops, spaced evenly around the top of the garment to accommodate the straps in all sorts of configurations.

  4. Fortuitous mistake. I didn’t have the 3/4” elastic for the top of the garment. I used my standard 3/8” elastic instead and zig-zagged the lining close to the elastic. This worked great, actually, because I eventually removed the lining’s top stitching to add a bra insert.

  5. Sew-in bra. Ice Girl didn’t like the minimal support from the shelf bra, so I used my mistake to my advantage. I.G. tried on the undergarment over a clean, but worn, flesh-colored bra. I used my tailor’s chalk to outline the bra on the outside of the garment, pinned it, cut off the bra’s straps and back, tore out the lining’s stitching, repinned the bra, and then basted it all in place. One more fitting before I stitched it permanently and ripped out the basting. It looks good and the bra and stitching are hidden in the lining. We had investigated the bra inserts at the fabric store, but they’re weird. Some models are gel-filled, some are push-up, and some are paper cones. I think using her own bra makes her feel more confident, too.
I was really worried about making this undergarment because Ice Girl is notoriously picky about them – she tried on dozens and didn’t find one she liked. The garment went together quickly, and fit well, so I didn’t end up wasting my Saturday afternoon at the sewing machine for nothing. When Ice Girl needs another undergarment, this is what I’m going to make – with 3/8” elastic at the top, too!

But, we've never had this conversation. You don't know anything about what Ice Girl might or might not be wearing under her figure skating dress. Silence, folks. Remember, you promised.

Is it O.K. to let the undergarment show or not? Let's discuss. How does your teen/preteen feel or how do you feel about flesh-colored garments showing through keyhole openings in figure skating dresses? You know - the kinds of dresses that show a lot in the back or front? Is it O.K. or is it tacky?

Monday, August 24, 2009

How-to: Break in New Figure Skating Boots

Oh, how I love this tip.

My favorite skate tech, Renee at Rainbo Sports, recommends that skaters break in their new figure skating boots by vacuuming the house.

This isn’t just a cheap ploy to encourage your kid to work off the cost of the new boots; it’s legit. It also has the bonus of making me smile when I have to blast the TV’s volume to drown out the Hoover. *Bliss*

Vacuuming helps break in the skates, Renee said, because the movements are similar to ice skating. The figure skater walks forward and backward while vacuuming. She bends her knees to vacuum under the sofa. These steps help to break in the new boots – and the carpet’s clean, too.

Here’s how to do it:
  1. Put hard skate guards on the blades.

  2. Lace the boots up to the third hook, not all the way up to the top or fourth hook.

  3. Set the timer for 10 – 15 minutes.

  4. Vacuum.

  5. Stop when the timer rings.

  6. Unlace the skates and take them off.

  7. Wiggle toes and feet.

  8. Lace ’em back up and drag the vacuum into the family room.

  9. Set the timer.

  10. Vacuum.

  11. Repeat until the house is clean!
The lacing/unlacing/wiggling steps are really important. These steps will help the skater break in the new boot and prevent blisters, too. Renee recommends that skaters who are breaking their boots in on the ice do lots of stroking and spinning. Hold off on jumping until the third or fourth day with the new boots. When skaters start to jump, they should focus on waltz jumps first. Again, when breaking in the boots, the lacing/unlacing/wiggling steps every 10 – 15 minutes are not a waste of ice time – they’re necessary to breaking in the boot and preventing blisters.

Renee cautions against other methods of breaking-in skates. I hesitate to list the rites and rituals skaters perform when they buy new boots because I’m worried folks will try these methods on their own boots. Let’s just say this: new figure skating boots are a huge purchase for most of us. Talk to your skate tech before you put anything in the boot besides a foot or a sock.

In other posts, I’ve also recommended Silipos Gel Sleeves to help figure skaters with the break-in process. A pair will set you back $30, but I’d rather pay the $30 than a) hear my skater whine and b) waste $500 or more on boots she’ll never use.

What works for you? Feel free to fill the comments area with ideas that figure skaters can use to break-in their boots.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Ice Mom's Guide to USFSA Test Sessions

Note to readers: this post is long and detailed. Be sure to read the comments for other parents' insights and opinions.

Watching a Moves in the Field figure skating test session is like watching grass grow – but in a tense, high-stakes sort of way. Unless you can recognize deep edges and perfect lobes, a Moves test is going to look like high-stakes grass growing in a foreign country.

I’m going to catch a lot of flack for writing that moves tests are so boring, but for parents, we just don’t speak the language. We don’t understand the subtle movements that figure skaters, coaches, and judges do. Ice Girl loves moves. Good for her. For me, they’re a snooze fest. In Greek.

Why moves? Even though they’re boring to watch, they could be much worse. Moves in the Field replaced the school figures (which gave figure skating its name). Skaters used to create figures on the ice with their controlled body movements and edges. Viewers hated them because only the judges could really see whether or not the skater had succeeded. They also counted in a skater’s overall competition score, so sometimes a lousy freeskater could win first if she had a big lead in the figures. This was a huge source of confusion to skaters and spectators.

Moves is an attempt to ensure that the good bits from the figures – the grace, carriage, and edge control – are still encouraged in a skater’s development. Some moves also incorporate ice dance steps as well.

Skaters must pass the moves test at one level to be eligible to take a USFSA freestyle test. In other words, to hop on the testing ladder, a skater must first pass the pre-preliminary moves test before taking the pre-preliminary freeskating test and so on. Don’t expect to take the preliminary freeskating test without passing the preliminary moves first. Skaters can test up in moves without affecting their competitive freeskate level. For example, Ice Girl is a pre-preliminary level skater, but she’ll be testing her juvenile moves soon.

Testing up is a pretty good thing because it teaches skaters good control and good skating habits. That doesn’t mean you need to force the moves, but 15 minutes of practice a day makes it much easier to pass the test than a big cram session two weeks before the test session. When Ice Girl says she’s having some ache or pain, I ask her to finish out the session with some moves practice.

What a USFSA Test Session Looks Like
I can’t help you stay awake, understand the complicated patterns, or teach you Greek, but I’ve been to a figure skating test session before, so I know what to expect and what to do.

  1. Night before. Polish boots, make sure tights don’t have holes, and encourage your skater to study the order that the moves patterns are listed in the rule book. At two test sessions, the judges told Ice Girl what pattern to skate before each pattern. At another, the skaters were expected to skate the patterns in order from the rule book by memory. Ice Girl wasn’t really prepared for that. Better safe than sorry.

  2. Arrive early. Like a competition, you never know if someone has scratched and the event schedule is running ahead. Arriving early also helps with the jittery feeling that the figure skater will have. I say lots of stuff like, “You’ve been practicing hard, Ice Girl. Let your muscle memory be your guide.” She does lots of eye rolling, texting, and tissue twisting.

  3. Rink’s pretty empty and quiet. Unlike the party atmosphere of a competition, skaters, coaches, and families hang out in somber groups and talk in low voices. They show up for their skater’s event and take off right away. Folks don’t often hang out to watch the moves tests, but they will stay in the stands for the freestyle tests. Bring a pack of tissues in case your skater doesn’t pass or someone you know doesn’t pass.

  4. Find the judges. Most of the time the judges sit in a predictable spot. Once, however, they were in the stands with us parents. It really threw skaters off when the judges hollered from the stands for the skater to repeat a pattern. So, locate the judges and point them out to your figure skater. Then sit far away from them. You don’t want to eavesdrop (poor manners) or have them hear you chatting softly to your neighbor about how dull the moves tests are. Worse: snorting when your neighbor tells an inappropriate joke. Very frowned upon.

  5. Warm up, put on skates. Whatever your competition routine is for this will work fine here. Remember: calm, soothing voice with lots of platitudes.

  6. Watch the grass grow. Even if it’s a freestyle test, you’ll probably not see your skater perform her most complicated jumps and spins. Moves tests are dull, as I mentioned, so behave yourself. If you can’t behave, sit by me. I’m the one falling asleep.

  7. Reskates. If a skater has only one error, judges can ask the skater to reskate a pattern or an element. Make sure your skater knows that this is not panic time. This is actually a good thing. If your skater had two errors, the judges wouldn’t ask for a reskate. Reskates mean your skater is close to passing. Before the test session, ask your skater to visualize herself once the judge asks her for a reskate. What will she do? Will she nod, take a deep breath, and skate as usual? Or will she break down in tears?

  8. Shuffle out to collect the results. Once your skater’s group has finished, you can leave the stands and join your skater in the lobby. You should not stand up and walk out while other skaters are testing. In the lobby, you’ll shift awkwardly from foot to foot and utter foreign phrases like bracket and three-turn until someone calls your skater’s name to collect her results.
  9. Accept the results with grace. The tests are pass/retry. If your skater passes, smile and pat her on the back, but don’t shout and pump your fist in the air. Lots of skaters don’t pass the first or second time and might be silently sobbing next to you. If your skater is silently sobbing, offer tissues, hugs, and smiles. These tests are tough: be gentle. Don’t compare your skater to other skaters who passed; don’t blame the coach. Many fabulous skaters have to re-take tests; there’s no shame in it. Be proud of your skater’s hard work. Not every outing on the ice will be perfect, but she has a good idea of the direction her work should take. Point out the good comments on the results sheet. Offer chocolate. You get the idea.

  10. Change and go out to eat. While your skater wipes her blades and puts on normal clothes, stand around and decide on a place for lunch. This part might be optional, but it’s what we always do.
What should your figure skater wear? For the moves test, a simple practice dress is fine. The dress should be a figure skating dress, though, and not a dance dress. In other words, the skirt shouldn’t be long and flowy. (Unless your skater is taking a dance test. Then, of course, dance dresses are expected.) The judges need to look at leg positions and you don’t want to make that job difficult for them. Ice Girl wears a simple red practice dress – no crystals. Of course, if all you have is a dress with crystals, that's fine for moves, too. For freestyle tests, your skater can wear her normal dress that she wears for competitions.

Make sure that your skater’s tights don’t have holes, that her boots are polished, and that the laces aren’t trailing. You don’t want any of those things distracting the judges.

Study up on the patterns. I don’t pretend to be a coach. However, I do look at the patterns that Ice Girl is supposed to skate so I can feel like part of the conversation. Just because it’s a foreign language doesn’t mean that I can’t learn a couple of useful phrases and fake my way through a conversation. Don’t ask me about a specific Mohawk sequence or edge pull, though. I, um, might have been sleeping during that part.

Listen for the rip sound. When you hear the ripping sound a skater makes on the ice, that’s supposed to mean good edges. That’s all I’ve got.

Pre-pre freestyle isn’t done to music. At least, Ice Girls’ pre-preliminary freestyle test wasn’t. The judge just asked her to jump, etc.

More judges, longer time as tests become more difficult. Ice Girl had just one judge for her pre-pre moves test. For her pre-juvenile moves, she had three. I honestly can’t remember those in between. I might have been napping… However, as your skater moves up in the levels, the tests are more difficult and the judges are pickier. Retrys are not uncommon. A pass is a real achievement.

PSA’s Moves in the Field DVD. Ice Coach loaned Ice Girl this DVD over the weekend so we could watch skaters who performed the moves in a near-flawless manner. Popcorn, soda, a warm room, and a comfy chair didn’t improve it much: it’s still pretty dull. That kid who skates the juvenile patterns is fast, though.

Update (8/19/09): Moves patterns to change next year.

Season, a loyal reader, always posts fabulous and helpful comments to this blog. I'm excerpting part of her comment here. (India, Season's daughter, just passed Senior Moves - congrats, India!)

"I'm not sure if your coaches have made you or other skater aware but the USFSA are changing the MIF patterns for next year and they will have more difficult patterns some of the patterns that have been added are school figure patterns. For example the Senior MIF will include loop patterns from the old school figure test. I'm so glad my daughter will not have to test the new test patterns. Her coach does want her to learn the new patterns so that if she wants to coach in the future she is aware how to perform the new patterns so that she can teach the patterns to her potential students. You can go the USFSA website and see what the new pattern changes are going to be. You do not have to go back and test the new patterns if you have passed a certain level you only need to learn the new patterns for the test levels you have not tested.

"I do want all skaters to know how important MIF are for skating, these are the fundamentals of figure skating and will help your skater have stronger jumps, spins, power, and edge quality for footwork patterns and choreography. Work hard on your MIF and listen to music while practicing your MIF it will help with curbing your bordem. Good Luck, Season and India!"

Update (8/21/09): Ways to improve edges

Again from another of Season's comments:

I also think that ice dancing helps with learning better edge control and body movement on the ice. So if you can't find a coach to teach you school figures I highly recommend finding a really good, experienced ice dancing coach.

You could also join a synchronized skating team. This helps you to improve your over all skating skills because you have to learn how to keep up with skaters that are a higher level than yourself. This helps to improve speed, balance and coordination because you have to learn to be synchronized.

Update (8/21/09): Judges try to be fair and helpful

From loyal reader (and coach) Jillybean's comment:

One thing to remember about a test session is that a different panel of judges will see things differently. A test that would be passed by one judge, might be failed by another judge. Some judges just expect a higher quality of skating than another.

If a skater doesn't pass their test, ask the judge(s) what they can do to improve for the next test, then work on what they suggest. The judges want the skaters to succeed, (judges are AWESOME!) and if they don't pass the skater, it's generally because they don't feel they are ready to move to the next level.

Share your experiences! I am not a figure skater, I’m a parent. Do you have insights into testing that parents should know about? Share your knowledge!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Figure Skating Parenting: Taming the Parenting Beast

Former world- and national-level figure skater Jennifer Kirk recently blogged about the Overzealous Skating Parent. It pretty much reads like a manual of abuse: floggings with hairbrushes, screaming at the skater in public places, silent treatment, ridiculous schedules, sideline coaching, budging other skaters and parents out of the way, and forcing skaters to train despite injuries.

Deep down, maybe way, way deep down, we parents all want what's best for our kids. So how can this simple desire go so horribly wrong?

The donkey metaphor. Let's say I have a donkey, a cart, and a carrot. I want the donkey to pull the cart down the road. Where should I put the carrot?

If I position the carrot far from the donkey, the donkey thinks the carrot is not a realistic goal and munches on weeds in the road. The cart doesn't move. If I position the carrot very close to the donkey, the donkey eats the carrot and the cart doesn't move. If I position the carrot where the donkey can see it, smell it, and where the donkey gets a taste of it once in a while, that cart moves down the road pretty fast. Using a stick instead of a carrot makes the cart tip over. Of course, you should not unhook your donkey and pull the cart instead. That's pretty pointless.

In other words, help your figure skater set up small, achievable goals. Don't punish, but encourage your skater with praise and...carrots. Or chocolate. You get the idea.

Other suggestions for keeping your sanity will parenting a figure skater:

  1. The kid has to want it more than the parent. This intrinsic motivation, by definition, has to come from the kid. Maybe that desire was there in the beginning, but, as a parent, how do you keep it kindled? Be your figure skater's biggest fan. Notice the little things that she does well and let her know about it. Be the positive voice for your child, a voice she can replay in her head when she feels low. Help her want to continue skating by encouraging her.
  2. The parent needs a vision. Get a piece of paper and a pen At the top of a piece of paper, write: my best parenting year ever. Write today's date, but put next year's year. O.K. What happened to make this the best parenting year ever? What did you do to make it happen? Realize this is about parenting, not skating. Your skater can make one for herself that's titled my best figure skating year ever. She is allowed to write about double loops and pancake spins. Your paper, though, is all about how you were a fabulous parent. When your skater cried, you...what? When your skater triumphed, you...what? When your skater was injured, you...what? When your skater had trouble with her lutz, you...what? When you had a coaching problem, you...what? Visit this vision once a week. Don't lose sight of your vision - when you do, bad parenting happens.
  3. Focus on the positive. This is a great activity for parents, figure skaters, and anyone else who needs help staying away from negative thoughts. Keep a list every day of five positive things that happened. Dedicate a page in the skater's binder or a small memo pad in your purse for this activity. Date it. Sometimes your list might have dorky stuff like - made it to the rink without any accidents, or able to write on my list. That's fine. Just have five things every day. You'll notice that you're more able to focus on the positive when you have to write them on a list. You can look back at your list and figure out if there's a pattern to your bad days or bad weeks or if maybe it's just a random thing.
  4. Mistakes happen. One of the most profound things I've read lately is that people should strive for excellence, not perfection. Your skater will mess up. So will you. Shrug it off. Say, "That's cool" and move on. Don't pick at the faults, don't magnify them with over analysis and nagging. That's cool. Move on. Focus on the positive. Learn from your mistakes. Treat your skater with dignity and respect - like you want to be treated.
  5. Encourage a life off the ice. Your skater is talented at more than one thing. Ice Girl loves to sing. She's in chorus at school and she loves to write original songs and sing them in her bedroom when she thinks no one is listening. She and her school friends love to ride bikes in the summer and they hang out at the park down the street and talk. Of course, she has this texting thing that she adores. This is all good. On-ice life will end someday and she needs to know that when it does, she still has value. You need a life off the ice, too. Make sure you have more to talk about at work than your figure skater's double flip.
I'm not a perfect parent. I blow a gasket when Ice Girl spends more time on Facebook than with her textbooks. I'm not fabulous about encouraging a life off the ice when we have so little time at home as it is.

But, I'm working on it. That's positive #1 to go on my list. I recognize that this is Ice Girl's journey and I'm just the driver. That's positive #2 to go on my list. She's having a sleepover tonight. That's positive #3...

Please share your parenting-with-sanity tips. We know what rotten figure skating parents look like - and so do movie producers. Let's write a manual of what fabulous figure skating parents look like. Please add your methods in the comments.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Sewing Review: Jalie Figure Skating Halter Dress #2571

I’m working my way through the Jalie figure skating dress line up. A few weeks ago I sewed this dress for Ice Friend. As with most Jalie patterns, this one went together pretty intuitively and without too much trouble. I learned a few things along the way, though.

Fringe. If you’re going to add the fringe, shorten the skirt. I’ve never sewn fringe before, but it wasn’t too difficult. I machine-basted 4” around the bottom of the skirt, sheared off the bottom using the basting as a guide, sewed the fringe to the right side of the hem, ironed the seam to the back, and topstitched the seam allowance flat.

View A’s ring. I sewed view A (bottom left on the photo) and the pattern instruction’s ring diagram took me a lot of think time. I remember thinking, “This can’t possibly be right.” I wish I could tell you what I did, but I remember looking at the diagrams, manipulating fabric, and going for it.

Extra straps. The straps in this pattern hold up the dress, but on a chesty skater, the straps just don’t hold in the girls. Originally, I had just used the two straps on the ring for Ice Friend. She practiced in the dress and the girls spilled out the sides. So I added two additional straps and crisscrossed all of them. Unfortunately, to hold in the girls, the straps had to be really tight – so tight that Ice Friend was trapped in the dress. I cut her loose and used small loops on the back and small swimsuit hooks at the end of each strap. This system worked pretty well – Ice Friend could even do a somersault in the dress and the straps stayed on.

Would I make it again? Yep. It’s a pretty cool dress. However, if your skater has lots of cleavage, I’d choose another pattern.

Basic Skills Competition: Focus on the Mental Game

I hear parents grumble all the time at basic skills figure skating competitions. The judges were crummy, the figure skaters weren’t evenly matched, or my kid deserved to win. Heck, I’ve done it myself.

I’ve come to a realization, though. Basic Skills competitions are about skating, sure, but the lessons are larger than that.

  • How to prepare for a competition. Basic Skills competitions help skaters understand what to expect at a competition, what to bring, and how to act.

  • How to deal with losing. Not everyone will place first all the time. Judges are different, days are different, and some skaters are just better. This is all good. How will your skater deal with disappointment? What words can you say when you think she should have received first, but received fourth instead?

  • How to deal with winning. Sometimes your skater will place first. I’ve seen first-place skaters jump up and down and shout “In your face!” Not classy. Learning how to win gracefully is just as important as learning how to lose.

  • How to deal with unfairness. Is your skater in a group of eight when groups are supposed to be limited to six competitors? Is your skater skating against a kid twice her age? Is there a skater in the group who is obviously “skating down” several levels? Well, parents, these things happen, especially at Basic Skills competitions.

    Instead of whining about how it could be more fair, I’ve decided to smile and teach Ice Girl how to deal with inequities. Let’s face it: in any sport you’ll find bad calls, teams that needlessly run up the score, and crummy refs. Skating isn’t any different.

  • Competitions are about character. Sure, your skater needs to have figure skating skills, but the jumps and spins are what practice and lessons are all about. Your skater’s not going to the competition to perfect her Salchow, but to perform it. That’s a mental game. Competitions favor kids with a strong mental game, a good attitude, and a positive outlook.