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Monday, October 30, 2006

Introducing skating to schools

In the past few weeks, there have been various school groups coming to the rink. They would descend in hordes, sometimes over 100 kids at a time.

This is part of the enrichment programs that schools organise, to fill the void after exams are over, and before holidays start. (In Singapore, the school year ends in Nov/Dec.)

It is an exciting experience for the students, many of whom are trying out ice skating for the first time.
It can be quite scary for figure skaters who are used to a relatively quiet morning at the rink.
It is also very encouraging for the sport. Having schools include skating as an enrichment activity make the sport visible, and seed the interest in potential champions.

The only question I have is whether anyone is following up on those interested to pursue this unusual sport seriously.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

To compete or not to compete

This time every year, I come upon this dilemma -
shall I compete in the local ISI competition?

This time every year, I would crack my head over
whether to compete, how many events to enter, and which ones!

This time every year, I would decide to enter anyway, and always the same events!

This year is no different!! Yeah, so much for a dilemma.
[Oh but right now I'm only at STEP #2. Have not decided yet.]

So, should I compete?

Well, why not?
It is a local competition after all. No travel required. I am already working on a freestyle program, which is of the right length and easily adapted. Other events like solo compulsories, figures and dance don't need anything new programs. Yet others like footwork have been known to be made up during the competition.

My freestyle program I have choreographed for Gold ladies' has to be changed. Previously, it was not that hard - just remember to change the step sequence, add a split falling leave, single the toe loop and do not do that flying camel. This year, I will have to re-choreograph quite a few portions of it... bother!

Ok, fine, I think I will enter!

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Korean Dream Program

For the last three years, the Singapore Ice Skating Association has been invited by Korea's Gangwon Province to participate in its Dream Program.

The Dream Program is part of PyeongChang's effort towards its bid to host the 2014 Winter Olympics. The June 2005 issue of the Korea IT Times reported an interview with Han Seung-soo, Chairman of the 2014 PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games Bid Committee, where he said,
The goal of 'Dream Program' is to allow young boys and girls from each nation in the world where winter sports are not developed, to experience winter sports and to promote cultural exchange and international friendship. The Dream Program will operate over 7 years from 2004 through 2010 as 100-200 players as well as coaches from 20-40 countries every year are trained free of charge in 6 sports such as alpine and cross country skiing, snowboarding, speed skating, short track, and figure skating. Gangwon Province has already fixed 15 international matches under the program.

More information can be found on the PyeongChang 2014 website.

For the 2007 program, I will be going as the team manager of the Singapore team, which will consist of skaters Anja Chong, Annika Nyberg and Sarah Paw. Yes, I will be going! How exciting! :-)

Thursday, October 26, 2006

U.S. Figure Skating Webcast

U.S. Figure Skating will webcast all 2006-2007 U.S. qualifying competitions from the juvenile level through adult, with the exception of the 2007 State Farm U.S. Figure Skating Championships, via a media player accessed through U.S. Figure Skating Online or directly at

Full story on the US Figure Skating website.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

"Save-the-date" for competitions in February

Some save-the-date notices for upcoming competitions:

Washington Figure Skating Club's
6th Annual New Year's Invitational Adult Competition
February 3-4, 2007
Ashburn, Virginia

The Pond Classic 2007 Adult Skating Competition
February 25-26, 2007
The Pond Ice Arena, Newark Delaware
(home training site to 3 time national champ Johnny Weir)

Star of Texas Open 2007

Iceland Figure Skating Club will be hosting

Star of Texas Open 2007
January 13 & 14, 2007
Sharpstown Ice Center, Houston TX

Competition announcement and other information can be obtained from the Iceland Figure Skating Club website

Monday, October 23, 2006

Q: What to do when there is haze in Singapore

A: Go to the skating rink!!
After all, it is indoors, is air conditioned, and provides a form of leisure and sporting activity.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Fabulous Cup 2007 Announcement

Fabulous Cup 2007 will be held on April 27th - 30th, in Cologne, Germany.

You can find everything about Fab Cup in the internet:

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Murphy, Finagle and Hanlon

The well known Murphy's Law is most commonly stated as
Anything that can go wrong, will.

There is a corollary of Murphy's law, namely Finagle's Law
Anything that can go wrong, will - at the worst possible moment!

Finally, Hanlon's Razor, a corollary of Finagle's Law, states
Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.

Needless to say, ALL these laws apply in figure skating too!
  • It is all-clear as you are setting up for the most perfect Lutz - then there will be someone in that corner when you get there!
  • It is only in front of an audience that you forget to take off your guards before stepping on the ice.
  • Whatever you are working on feels good, except in front of your coach!
  • When you are all dressed and ready to get on the ice, you realise that you desperately need to go to the bathroom.
  • Little kids on push bars are always attracted by spins - the one that draws them closest is the camel spin.
I am compiling a list of them, if you have any to contribute, do leave a comment or drop me a note!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


I went to the rink this evening, presumably for a lesson...
my student did not show up (turns out, she is ill)
she was the only one scheduled this evening
it was pretty much a wasted trip
I skated myself!

even so, skating with the crowd this evening, I had to watch out for public skaters, avoid killing anyone, stay away from holes & ruts in the ice and try not to fall in pools of water.

There were some other figure skaters in the same predicament.

One of them was my ex-student. "ex" because she could no longer make it on weekends, and preferred weekday afternoons. She's coming along quite well, though I prefer to see her less stiff.

Another was a teenage skater who had been agonising over her sit spin last month. She has awesome low position with a straight free leg, and it is looking much better now than it did last month.

The mother of a younger skater approached me to ask about lesson fees. I initially did not know she was already taking lessons. Then she asked about entering the competition. If needed, I won't mind taking her on to prepare for competition, but she really should speak to her coach first.

I now find out that my student is ill, and had called the rink office yesterday to reschedule. This is not the first time I don't get informed about cancellations! I should have known the risk when I agreed to come in for just one lesson...

When will I ever learn?

Monday, October 16, 2006

Salchow : Double Salchow as Waltz jump : ??

This morning, one of the little girls at the rink asked me,
"are the salchow and double sal the same, like this?"
She proceeded to do the 3-turn entry to the salchow.

I was caught off-guard. "Huh?" I said.

She repeated, "are the salchow and double sal the same, but double sal has one more rotation?"

"Oh yes, of course!" I replied, "If the double sal wasn't the same, it would have been called a double-something-else"

After a moment's hesitation, she asked,
"Then why isn't the Axel called the triple Waltz jump?"

"Uh, I don't know!!"
Normally I would have a clever response, this time I just wasn't on top of it. Blame it on jet lag!

Friday, October 13, 2006

New Spiral Sequence

With Lauren's help, I now have a new spiral sequence. It consists of

1. Change-spiral
RBO "reverse" spiral (on RBO edge, with L foot in front), or as Lauren calls it, "upside-down spiral", then changing into RBO spiral. All without holding the free leg. While working on this, I have realised that it is important to maintain a very strong lean into the circle throughout the change!

2. LFO spiral
For now, this is just the plain ol' spiral. I might try a lay-over, but that feels too scary right now.

3. LBO "half-bielmann" spiral
The LBO spiral, pulling the free skate with one hand so that it is higher than the head. I'm still trying to get it higher, hopefully without triggering my back problem again...

4. RBI spiral
This is just a plain ol' spiral, which right now feels constipated. Must be because I keep having to look behine to make sure I'm not chopping anyone's head off!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Fee Revisions

This month, the rink is revising its fees. Entry fees, lesson fees, rink booking fees, all of it!

I suppose anyone could have seen it coming. After all, prices have been the same for the past 11 years.

At the same time, the management has also taken the opportunity to restructure the skating school. They will implement different prices for different levels, and different coaches.

So, the new structure admits 3 tiers of coaches. In principle, I think this is an excellent idea. More experienced & more qualified coaches should be able to command a higher price. From a skater's point of view, I don't see why lessons with a junior coach, should cost the same as with a senior coach. At the end of the day, skaters will select coaches based on their level/needs and what they can afford.

In theory, this is all well and good. In practise, however, there is much resistence. Why? Because the lesson fee for the highest level coach is more than double the original fee!

Solution #1: There is no coach in the highest level.
This probably was not what the management intended or expected. However, I hear that none of the coaches wanted to put themselves in the highest level, because it would be "too expensive" for the skaters.

Already, parents and skaters are complaining about the high price. Some will reduce the number of lessons. Some will quit. Some will find other innovative means, like taking group lessons instead.

Solution #2: Will the rink back off and revise the prices down?
We still don't know. Or perhaps we will know soon. I cannot disagree that the new fees are quite high, but it is a business decision on the management's part. Still, it would not make sense to charge so much as to lose business...

I certainly hope that a middle-ground can be found. It would be a shame to lose existing skaters, even more so if potential skaters are being discouraged to even start!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Observation of skaters

On Friday, I skated my last session at Ice House. I mean, last for this trip, of course! I'll definitely go there again when I am back in NJ... but for now, no more beautiful ice and large rink.

In this one week here, I made some observations about skaters.

Adult skaters skate because we love it. We may not be the most impressive, but we are willing to try and work at it. AND we have a tendency to plan work schedules around skating! I also find that adult skating in the US has gained much respect, and more popularity.

I was also on some sessions when Kyoko Ina and John Zimmerman practised their programs. It was a pleasure watching them, but more impressive was how it looked like they were thoroughly enjoying themselves!

There are different types of little girl skaters, from those who throw tantrums, to those who argue with every instruction, to those who obey every word... Oh well, not so different from in Singapore.

I was impressed by one girl. She looks barely 12, yet I dare say she seems more sensible than most of the teens I see at home. I skated on a couple of sessions when she was having lessons. She listened and performed - difficult variations, repetitions of the same moves, improvements to the moves... everything. And she communicated well with her coach, showing an understanding of what was required. It must be wonderful to teach her. :-)

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Lessons at Ice House

Still in NJ and skating at Ice House.
Had two lessons with Vladimir Kaprov.

First lesson was yesterday. I didn't know what to expect, and I suppose he didn't either. At the start of lesson he asked if there was something specific I wanted to do. I told him I'm working on some double jumps and would like to work on that.

We started with some rotation exercises, rather similar to what we did with Michael Pasfield during the seminar. Then we went through the Axel, d Sal, d toe, d loop, and even the d flip.

It was a good lesson, and this morning, I had some decent d Sal and d toe just before lesson. We went straight to d loop and d flip. He got out his video camera, and showed me exactly what was wrong. *sigh* yes, I can see what's wrong but its not like its so easy to fix it!

Anyway, he seemed to like what I can do at least...

What did I get from this? Some things I realised I should work on or concentrate on:
  • rotational exercises, concentrate on the "right feeling".
  • combinations/sequences - loop-d loop, salchow-d loop, salchow-d flip, axel-d toe, 3 axels in a row, etc.
  • bring R hand to L shoulder for rotation.
  • jump up, rather than turning L shoulder around!

PS: Posted on 4 Oct at 10:00PM EST (that's the time in NJ now!)

Monday, October 02, 2006

Skating in New Jersey

From LA, we flew across the continent to the East Coast. In New Jersey, we are just 10min from the Ice House.

Last Friday was the first session I went to. The ice was beautiful - nice and soft, great for spinning, and yet hard enough for fast speeds and high jumps. The rink, though, is cold... I mean, it isn't too cold, but just cold enough that when I took off my sweater, my arms were freezing!

For some reason, the rink makes me feel small & insignificant, and a little lost. It is normal size - ok, it is larger than the rink in Singapore, but then I had been skating in LA last week, so that's no excuse.

After Friday's session, I decided to get my skates sharpened. I went to the pro shop, and found that I was incredibly lucky. Jim was there, and had time to do my skates while I waited. I hear that we usually have to make an appointment with him to get skates sharpened.

Jim has done a wonderful job with the blades. I went on the ice this morning, forgetting that my skates were sharp. I didn't remember it until an hour later! The blades felt good, not too sharp to affect my skating in any way!

Today's session was fun. Early in the session, a lady came up to talk to me. Turns out, she's from Singapore, and had read my blog. That's sooo cool!
(Hi Nancy, thanks for introducing yourself, maybe I'll see you again tomorrow!)

Later, I tried to lay out my new program (yes, I'm still in the midst of that! argh!). I also tried spiral sequences that Lauren had suggested to me when I was in LA. I think I can probably work something out from that!