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Monday, December 26, 2005


Figure skating is a performance sport. Figure skating competitions focus not just on the technical aspect but also the skaters' artistry, and presentation of the program. A friend of mine once remarked that figure skaters tend to have a streak of "show-off" in them. I prefer to look at it as, figure skaters have learned to deal with the pressures of public performance.

How do skaters learn this? As the saying goes, "practise makes perfect" - here, in two ways. First, to work on the program and its elements. Second, to gain experience performing in front of an audience.

For the first, it goes without saying - all skaters spend much time and effort in preparing a program and practising the elements so as to get them consistent. A 'clean' program is more appreciated than a technically difficult one with many mistakes. Putting in elements that a skater cannot do 80% of the time not only makes the program look poorly performed, but also lowers the skater's confidence during the program - unless this is the 0.2n chance where all the n elements are successfully performed!

As for the second, there are not always sufficient opportunities for skaters to perform outside of competition. I recall the first time I had to go out on the ice alone, for a competition. It was daunting, and the fact that it was a cold February day in Boston didn't help. Though that didn't go too well, it made me resolve to overcome "stage fright". The next competition went much better!

Recently, the local rink office told me they would consider having skaters do short exhibitions on weekends. This is a wonderful idea, and I hope local skaters, especially the newer ones, would take up the chance to gain experience that will also help in other aspects of life!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Coaching and I

When I returned from the US in September 1999, I was pleased to find that there is substantial interest in figure skating. There was a group of wonderful coaches at Fuji Ice Palace (FIP) who were brought in from China. However, I soon realised that with the increasing interest, more coaches were needed for the sport to develop further.

I applied to coach at FIP, and started coaching in mid-2000. With a full-time job, I coach only on the weekends, and sometimes in the evenings. This came to head when the FIP management imposed a commitment to minimum time *or* minimum number of enrollments for part-time coaches, which I was unable to meet. I then moved to coach at Super Ice World (SIW) at Kallang instead, and was there for almost 2 years until it closed.

In May 2003, I returned to FIP as a coach. I have been there since, and have found that the management of the skating school to be tighter and more systematic than at SIW. While there is always room for improvement, I have now settled into an arrangement that I find acceptable.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Start Skating

Imagine the yourself gliding effortlessly across the ice - feel the wind in your face, feel the speed, feel the power of being in control on the ice surface.

Figure skating is a sport unlike any other. It combines athleticism and artistry, strength and flow, power and grace. It is an extremely challenging sport, no less due to the unusual medium of ice. In figure skating, there is no end to what you can achieve. Once you get air-borne, you do not look back.

It is no wonder I fell in love with it from the start!