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Friday, June 30, 2006

Falling Leaf - when is it a split??

I have been trying to put in certain "interesting" moves in my students' programs...
Of course, one of them is a falling leaf, which is actually not too hard to do as a little hop over.

In the ISI system, the "split falling leaf" is a required element in Freestyle 6 test. Which means it cannot be performed in freestyle events at lower levels. But well, the regular "falling leaf" without the split should be ok, right??


Rather, it totally depends on the judges. A student of mine went in for competition with a little falling leaf - at least I told her to make it little. I was away for my own competitions during that time, and I was later told that this girl was marked down (waay down) for doing a "split falling leaf".

Curious, I asked her to do a falling leaf the next lesson. Nowhere was it close to a split!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Russian Open Announcement

Recently, I received the announcement for the first adult competition in Russia was released. It is also available on the Russian Open website.

The competition will be held in Nizhny Novgorod, which is about 200mi from Moscow. I did a quick search and found a website, Visit Nizhny, which has interesting and useful information about the place, and even getting there and around. More importantly, it is in a language I can understand!! :-)

How exciting! I would love to go - if I can plan my vacation leave and expenses... oh, and that new program!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Pictures from Oberstdorf

I finally got around to putting up some pictures, and also a clip of my program from the ISU International Adult Figure Skating Competition held at Oberstdorf on 1-3 June.
I have also written something about my experiences there.

Link to page

Monday, June 26, 2006

Toe loop - now you see it, now you don't!

The double toe is driving me insane. Yes, really!

I first landed a clean one the second day of Chinese New Year last year. That was before my previous freestyle coach, CC, left. In fact, I landed two in lesson that day.

Then a dry spell. Actually I hurt my back soon after, pulling out of the Nationals here, and just barely deciding to go to Mountain Cup last year. And of course, I would have to sprain my ankle while sightseeing in Prague - at least it was such a beautiful, interesting place the sightseeing was worth it!

This year, I was back on the ice for lesson on the second day of Chinese New Year. No double toe in sight.

My new boots arrived in March. By the time I got the blades mounted, it was the day before I flew off to New Jersey. My new skates came with me, and I skated at Ice House for a week. It must have been either the larger rink, or the ice, or my new boots... I gained new confidence in my double Sal - but the double toe was still elusive as ever.

After a week in New Jersey, MM and I went to San Francisco another week. I skated at the Yerba Buerna rink, and it was there that the double toe started making its comeback.

Back in Singapore, uh, its all gone again! Another trip to Europe didn't quite bring it back either, but in lesson last week, I actually managed to land a few more.

So, what is this week going to bring? I better get it consistent - this roller coaster ride is making me sick!

Sunday, June 25, 2006

A Walk through Brietachklamm

On Wednesday (Jun 28 2006), we went to Brietachklamm. It is really amazing how German words are formed from the combination of words. Presumably klamm means gorge, and Brietach is the name of the river or the area or something...

The trail through the gorge cost us 3 Euro each - and the brochure was in German! How much help is that?

Nevertheless, the trail was extremely enjoyable, and the gorge is beautiful. I have uploaded pictures of Brietachklamm.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

A Morning in Munich (2006) - Photos

We spent a morning in Munich. Here are some photos...

The cathedral... You can tell it was raining, as my camera lens got droplets on it!

Inside the cathedral.

The Residenz Museum

Courtyard of the Residenz

Lions guarding the doors of the Residenz

The Garden

We strolled farther, to a park...

Swan in the river

Ducks in the river

Mother Duck and Ducklings!

As we walked towards the road, we noticed that the river was dammed near the road and the water was allowed to gush through, creating waves - and there were surfers in the waves!

A surfer in the river!

That was our morning in Munich. We had a quick lunch, and caught the train to Oberstdorf...

LAN Gaming at the rink??!!

Tomorrow, the one and only rink in Singapore will be closed. It is booked from 10am to 10pm by VR Zone for... guess what?


They are having an Eskimo Party, and from what I heard, the computers will be on the ice.

Good grief! What will they think of next?

PS: From what I heard too, the rink is closed only tomorrow. Not sure what the gamers will do the rest of the weekend.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Vana Tallinn Trophy 2006

The Vana Tallinn Trophy was the most fun competition this year. Being smaller than Mountain Cup, it had the warm, homely friendship between skaters. Not that Mountain Cup lacked friendship, but I can imagine a new-comer being lost in the masses!

It was good to see that more Estonians were taking part (compared to the previous years). I would have loved to have interacted with more of them, but language certainly was a barrier, and we all sunk into our comfort zone with our group of friends that spoke a similar language. There were, however, a few who made the effort to chat with us, shared our locker room, and shared chocolates with us. It was lovely!

The 6.0 judging system was still in use, and it was sort of comforting to be using a system I had understood. I attempted the double loop, which was as usual not landed. I must have under-rotated my double toe too, and then messed up my double Sal. I got through the program all the same, and when I got off, somebody congratulated me on a good program. I was feeling, at that time, that I had just skated a crappy program - I didn't feel it was good, but I suppose from a spectator point of view, it all flowed well, albeit the lost doubled. I'd really like to get my hands on a video of that program at Tallinn... wonder if anyone took it.

Dance was later in the day. I had talked about this in another entry Last-minute partner for Dance.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Visiting Estonia (2006)

Tallinn is the capital of Estonia. Its Old Town became a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site in 1997. The Old Town has a medieval feel to it, complete with its cobblestone roads and courtyards tucked away behind the passageways. Walking through thte old town feels like walking into a movie set!

This year, we stayed at Villa Hortensia. It is right inside the Old Town and is a refurbished suite of rooms around the "Master's Courtyard". It is a charming little place, and Jan did a wonderful job of renovating the rooms, fully utilising the space inside the buildings.

On the ground floor around the courtyard are artisan shops selling various crafts - woodwork, jewellery, fabrics, pottery... And of course, the fabulous Chocolate Café. One drink we absolutely had to try was the hot chocolate with Gorgonzola cheese. I was initially sceptical about how good it would taste, but yumm... it is very rich, and fortunately I do like moldy cheese.

When I arrived in Tallinn, it was pouring. The taxi driver had no idea where Villa Hortensia was, and I didn't think to tell him about the Master's Courtyard or the Chocolate Café. Besides, he said, we cannot drive into the Old Town anyway. So, I got off at Viru Gate (where the flower shops are) and waited for the rain to stop before setting off to find the place. I must have been really lucky, for I stumbled upon the sign for the Chocolate Café soon after!

We spent Wednesday and Thursday skating, chatting and drinking lots of hot chocolate and fruit tea while the men had beer. We skated on public session, which was not too crowded. Peeter and I managed to get an hour of practise together on Wednesday (see blog entry Last-minute partner for Dance

Friday was practise ice. I skated the 10am session, and was supposed to meet Peeter at noon to work on dance again. However, we found that there was no more public ice and the other pad was taken by hockey (argh!). We had to re-schedule for 3pm, which was the afternoon session of practise ice.

Meanwhile, Raye and I decided to go back to the Old Town for lunch, before coming back for the afternoon sessions. We were being adventurous, and took a trolley back to the rink. Yes, there are buses, there are trams, and there are trolleys. It was fun, but we didn't know how to pay for the ride! eeks!

Saturday was competition. I spent the whole day at the rink, but did not get as nervous as at Villard. I write about the compeition in my next blog entry, Vana Tallinn 2006.

Mountain Cup 2006

This was the first time the new ISU judging system was used at the Mountain Cup... and definitely the first time I am skating under it. A "kiss and cry" area had been set up on one side of the rink, and we were all supposed to go there after we finished skating, and the results of the group would be announced at the end. On Friday, when I saw the first event done this way, I got nervous. It was so official, it was scary!

In fact, only the free skate, pairs and higher level couple dance events were judging with the ISU judging system. The solo dance events still used the 6.0 system, which made me less nervous. The first dance was the Kilian, and I thought I skated it ok. However, when it came to warming up for the Rocker Foxtrot I somehow got a shin splint... I was the first to skate for this dance, and I could feel that it was exteremely weak (I even jumped the first rocker -eews)! Oh well, there was nothing much I could do about it. I came in 3rd.

Freestyle was later in the afternoon. The wait was long, but by the time I went on to warm up, I felt a new wave of energy. Under this new system that I was confident that everything I did in my program would count in its own right. It felt good knowing that, as I could shake off minor mistakes and focus on the rest of the elements.

I started with the Axel-loop-toe loop combination, and to my disgust, two-footed the Axel. I knew my double loop was not fully rotated, something I still need to work on. I remember almost falling on the double toe, and thinking, immediately after that, that it was ok, I just have to nail the rest of the program. Indeed, after that I landed my double Sal cleanly - something I hadn't done in program since the previous Mountain Cup!

I didn't know how I would place. I just felt awful that I had two-footed my Axel and messed up the double toe and double loop. There was one more to skate, and as I watched her, I didn't want to think too much about how I did. The ladies from Czech Republic had thrown me a can of beer, which I shared with Piret while waiting in the "kiss and cry".

It seemed like forever before they announced the scores. I waited nervously as the started from 4th... then 3rd... then 2nd... ohmigod! I felt like I was in a trance. It was so unreal. Yes, I won!

Hiking in Villard - La Buffe

On Thursday, I changed all my practise ice times to the morning, as a group of us wanted to go hiking - despite the warning of a "chance of rain". Our plan was to start from near Tunnel du Mortier, and hike up to La Buffe. As we drove up towards the ski slopes of La Sure, it started to pour!

We must have been extremely fortunate, as when we arrived at Le Tunnel du Mortier, the rain stopped, and the sun came out. Here's a picture of the tunnel, taken by Allen. And no, you can't tell that it just rained!

The hike up to La Buffe was tough! We took a steep (very direct!) path up the mountains, before hiking along the edge of the cliff. The entire way up, I began to realise how much all those Axels and double Sals I did in practise ice have tired out my muscles!

Surprisingly enough, the weather held up... until we got to the top. Dark mist came rolling in, and we were engulfed in what probably was a rain cloud! Luckily for us, the cloud stayed just 15 minutes. When cleared up again, we went down the mountain by another route - a gentler, curvier way.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The process of getting a new program

It is time to change my freestyle program again. *sigh* I really like this program, and the entire process of getting myself a new program is always rather draining.

First would be the search for music. I would take eons to find music - I want to something I like, something I can skate to... and I am very picky!

Then would be choreography. For the last 4 years, I choreographed all my programs myself. Thus, when I told DX I wanted to change my program, I was infinitely surprised that he offered to choreograph it for me. However, I realise I do like to choreograph my programs, but just wish that I wouldn't agonize so much over it.

Somehow I do not have a problem doing my students' programs. I don't know why! Now that I think of it, maybe that's why skaters have their coaches/choreographers work out their programs instead.

After that, when the actual skating starts, I would continue to tweak the program and worry about how to fit it in a larger rink! The entire process takes months - and even longer to skate the program well.

In any case, I'm only on the "music hunt" stage now.

My stay at Villard-de-Lans (2006)

I arrived at Villard-de-Lans on Wednesday. It was a beautiful day - the sun was out, and the rink was to warm! It was a pity I didn't have much time to enjoy it, as I went immediately to the rink for practise ice!

What? What about jet lag? Haha, that's ok, there was something else to tire me out - the altitude! It was quite an exhausting session, but I somehow managed to get through my program - mostly. Someone was in my way so I had the perfect excuse to abort my final jump!

The clouds rolled in the next day. Here's a picture of the reflection of the view out of the balcony door of our apartment (it really isn't meant to be all that confusing):

Nevertheless, we decided to go hiking in the afternoon. See blog entry Hiking in Villard - La Buffe.

Friday, Saturday and Sunday were competition days. Both my events were on Saturday, so I spent Friday cheering on my friends at the rink, while at the same time getting terribly nervous. More about the competition in blog entry Mountain Cup 2006.

I was supposed to leave for Tallin on Monday morning. The flight from Lyon was at an ungodly hour of 6:30am, which meant that I had leave for Lyon on Sunday and stay the night there. However, I found that there was interest in hiking on Sunday afternoon, and Century was organising a party on Sunday evening... I decided to change my flight to Tuesday!

Sunday was a blast as the pressure of competition was behind us. The hike was long, but beautiful! The party was fun. Overall, I enjoyed myself more than I thought I would!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Skating Jet-Lagged

Having just returned from Europe, with a 6-hour time difference, I find myself unable to get to sleep at night, and just as unable to get up in the morning.

Hence, having to skate at 8am is... ugh! horrible! First off, I can't get up. When I eventually do drag myself out of bed, my head felt heavy and my eyes can't seem to stay open. Then, when I manage to get to the rink and on the ice, spins made me dizzy and jumps made my head feel heavy (I must have been looking down the entire time!)

Of course I become more awake after lesson, but I decided to work on a footwork sequence and spiral sequence for a new program. Yeah, I'm working those out before even looking for music! Haha!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Back to a small rink

The past 3 weeks skating in a full-size rink was awesome. Now I'm back at Fuji, and all seems to be less exciting.

Most obvious of all is the size. I definitely like skating in a larger rink. It makes me skate faster, push harder, extend more..

Also, the ice is different. At Tallinn, the ice was lovely and soft. In Villard and O'dorf it was harder, but it was fast and not brittle. And somehow it made me feel like I can actually jump. Back at Fuji yesterday morning, the ice was *very hard* and I couldn't help feeling like I was going to skid off my edges!

However, training at Fuji must have done something for me... Everything just seems easier when migrated to a larger rink. Don't know why - go figure!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Last-minute partner for Dance

Recall previous posts where I was on the verge of withdrawing from solo dance at Mountain Cup. However, I had already registered, so I decided to do it anyway... BUT I did not register for solo dance at Vana Tallinn Trophy.

During Mountain Cup, I heard that Peeter, the Estonian gentleman I had skated against in solo dance at VTT last year, was the only entrant in Silver solo dance, and had asked what happened to me. I jumped to the opportunity to present my argument that there's no point for me to skate solo dance - especially not against a gentleman, when we should be partnering instead!

So, it didn't take long for the organiser to arrange for us to partner for Silver dance - just the two compulsory dances required for solo dance. Now, we are talking the Tango and Blues here... which I found are not exactly a breeze to partner!

The first practise was... uh... almost a fiasco. I would cut into his path, we would be discussing how to start (and end) the dance, *and* we ended up having a dispute over whether the 4-count edge on the end-pattern of the Tango required a swing or not! I had learned it with a swing and apparently he had never done a swing there. Of course it didn't help that he spoke little English and I spoke no Estonian. We eventually consulted the book, which said nothing as to whether a swing was required or prohibited. I agreed to do "no swing" because it simply wasn't stated in the book, and it felt much easier for me anyways.

Our second practise was much better, though I still had that problem of forgetting to push on the man's shoulder when in Waltz/Tango position. However, that got better, and by the day of competition, it actually felt good doing the dances! The Tango was better, getting us scores of 4.0 for technical and 4.2 for presentation across the board. (This was scored on the 6.0 system) Later, other skaters asked us how we managed to do it at such short notice... well, knowing the dances certainly does help!

That was quite an experience, and I enjoyed the dances very much. It has renewed the inspiration to dance, and I think I will have to find a way...

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Competitions - The "European Triathlon"

Finally back from a hectic & tiring 3 weeks in Europe, competing in THREE back-to-back competitions. It was a real treat to see all the friends that I have come to know over the years. Skating under the new ISU judging system was also a very educational and eye-opening experience!

So, how did I do in the 3 competitions?

Mountain Cup (France)
19-21 May 2006
Gold Ladies II Free Skate - First (out of 4)
pre-Gold Solo Dance - Third (out of 4)
[Results available at ]

Vana Tallinn Trophy (Estonia)
27-28 May 2006
Gold Ladies' Free Skate - Second (out of 5)
Silver Dance - First (out of 1) **see entry Last-minute partner for dance

ISU International Adult Figure Skating Competition (Germany)
1-3 June 2006
Gold Ladies I Free Skate - Fourth (out of 10)
[Results available at]