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Friday, December 21, 2007

Happy Holidays, everyone!!

Happy Holidays, everyone!!



View the eCard I created for everyone!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Figure Skating Grand Prix Final 2007

I spent several hours over the weekend watching the Grand Prix Final. The ladies were really great to watch, but somewhat disappointing, as none of them had that "perfect skate".

Kim Yu-Na never ceases amazes me. Her jumps look so effortless - even those that she fell on! Her flying camel - layover is still the best. And her programs this season have awesome choreography. My only pet peeve about her is that she never seems to lift her free leg on landing of jumps or exit of spins.

Something admirable I noticed this time is also how Yu-Na continues with a captivating skate of her program, even after setbacks early on. So unlike Kimmie Meissner's long program where she looked like she's given up halfway in the program.

So, I won't let on about the results. Here are playlists of the ladies' long and short programs, thanks to various contributors on YouTube!

Ladies Long Program


Ladies Short Program

Friday, December 14, 2007

Future Stars Announcement

There will be a beginner-level competition held in conjunction with our Nationals next year! This competition is titled "Future Stars" and would serve to encourage the lower level skaters to begin competing.

For this purpose, SISA has created a scale of values for 1/2-revolution jumps, and for 2-foot spins. Since this is a low-level competition, the only full-revolution jumps allowed are the toe loop and salchow, while spins are limited to just the 2-foot spin and the regular upright spin. It is of note that though the half loop is not a listed jump, it is also not allowed as it is full-revolution!

Download the announcement for "Future Stars" (zip file)

Previous post: Fuji Ice Palace Singapore National Figure Skating Championships 2008

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Moscow Cup Open - "Russian Winter 2008" Announcement

The Moscow Cup Open - "Russian Winter 2008" will be held on 22-25 February 2008 in Moscow, Russia.

This is the second year they are holding this, and there has been lots of positive feedback from previous participants, not only about how organised the competition was, but also about the tours and other activities! I've never been to Russia, but apparently winter there is pretty.

[Update 30 Dec 2007: The competition announcement is now available!]

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

What is Our National Treasure?

Our very own figure skaters!

Figure skating in Singapore is a young sport, and has come a long way. We have athletes who have persevered even with inadequate facilities and support. We have talented young skaters who are capable of so much more - given the opportunity. Figure skating has so much potential; it just needs to be recognised!

Indeed, with the Team Singapore Sports Idol contest now in its final round, we have four female skaters up in the top 50. This is the most number of female athletes in a single sport!

Support our skaters: Alexandria Wong, Anja Chong, Sarah Paw and Sarah Rodgers. Put in your vote for them! You also stand to win fabulous prizes, including the GRAND DRAW - a travel package for 2 to the Beijing 2008 Olympics Games. The more you vote, the greater your chances to win! This round of voting will last until 21 Dec.

[This post was triggered by a question to promote the movie National Treasure 2.]

Thursday, December 06, 2007

A Resource for Ice Dancers

I recently learned about the release of Learn to Ice Dance DVD produced by Sharper Edge Productions. Here's a "trailer" for the DVD (from SharperEdgeProd on YouTube)

They have also put up short clips of some of the beginning dances on YouTube:

Order information and other products can be found on IceDancers.com

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Another Zamboni Catches Fire!

How often do you think Zambonis would catch fire?

I know of two reports already, in the last 4 months! The previous one I had written about in a previous post, and I already thought it was scary. Now, 4 months later, another Zamboni has caught fire in Aston, PA. That was on 30 Nov, after a high school hockey game! The only consolation is that all these incidents happen during ice resurface - when everyone is already off the ice ;0

Zamboni Catches Fire Inside DelCo. Rink - report from 6abc.com
Zamboni Catches Fire At Ice Arena

Video from Koco.com

I also posted about rink hazards - perhaps I should really consider adding "Zamboni going up in flames".

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Fabulous Cup 2008 Announcement

The 4th Fabulous Cup will be held from 25 to 27 April 2008, in Cologne, Germany.

This competition follows the ISI competition regulations, and the organisers plan a test session on 25 April for those participants who need it. There will be also be a gala show featuring the participants. Though I have never been to the Fabulous Cup, I have friends who say they thoroughly enjoyed it.

The official website is not yet up-to-date, but I presume it will be soon!

Download announcement for Fabulous Cup 2008

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Nutcracker: X'mas Fairytale On Ice


Yet another on-ice performance...
Nutcracker: X'mas Fairytale On Ice will be performing at the Singapore Indoor Stadium from 13 to 16 Dec, with only 7 performances!
[Update: There will only be 4 performances, from 14 to 16 Dec.]

Put up by Moscow On Ice, this show will feature top skaters such as Elena Leonova and Andrei Khvalko. Our very own local talent will also get their chance to perform - the National Team and the Youth Development Team will be putting up performances during the intermission!

Tickets are on sale at SISTIC. Ticketing hotline: +65 6348 5555.

Promoter: Citystate Arts & Events Management Pte Ltd

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Singapore in shortlist for 2010 Youth Olympic Games

Singapore is in the shortlist to host the Youth Olympic Games!
The five cities shortlisted are
  • Athens, Greece
  • Bangkok, Thailand
  • Moscow, Russia
  • Singapore
  • Turin, Italy
The Games, which will be held in 2010, are going to be an Olympic Games for competitors aged 14 to 18, and will feature 26 sports, including some unusual ones such as Beach Wrestling and BMX.

Singapore is in a great position to host the Games – we have superb sporting facilities, lots of experience at hosting major sporting events, and share similar values of excellence, friendship and respect to the Olympic Movement.

Show your support for Singapore's bid - you can voice your support, add badges to your website, get a decal for your car, share relevant photos, or even get a ringtone for your phone! Visit the Singapore 2010 website to get more information on how to Support the Bid!
[Update 9 Dec: The Singapore 2010 website has been re-designed, and the quite unfortunately, the links no longer work... You have to go to the Official Website to find the relevant pages!]

News and links:
- Official Website
- Singapore Shortlisted for the 2010 Youth Olympic Games (from singapore2010.sg)
- S'pore shortlisted to host 2010 Youth Olympics (from Straits Times)
- Bid Profile and Fact Sheet - 2010 Youth Summer Olympic Bids (from GamesBids.com)

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Mountain Cup 2008 Announcement

Next year will be the 10th year of the Mountain Cup, to be held on 5th-8th June 2008 at Villard-de-Lans, France. This was one of the first international Adult figure skating competitions to be organised, and there are special events lined up for its 10th Anniversary!

To kick it off, the Ice Theatre of New York will skate at the grand opening of the competition, after the welcome party - which will be held on the ice!

Through the years, the competition has retained school figures, solo compulsory dance and interpretive events, and even added events like couples interpretive, improvisation and synchronised skating. Next year, there will be a new event - solo free dance!

As usual there will be the 3-day training camp before the competition, and a banquet on Saturday night, where everyone gets to party! (well, not that we weren't already partying before that!)

Download the announcement "Invitation to the 10th Mountain Cup"

PS: This all sounds very exciting, I hate to have to miss it...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Skating while pregnant

Last night, I finished up my last lesson (coaching). When I got to the rink, one of the skaters' mother asked, "you are not going to skate, are you?"

Is skating dangerous when pregnant?
The greatest danger is the risk of falling. Figure skating certainly isn't something one would start to learn while pregnant, but I have had enough experience on the ice to be able to control and not present a danger to myself. In fact, I have felt entirely comfortable on the ice so far - those blades are really quite stable! ;-) However, what others do is beyond my control, and that's what everyone at the rink fears...

Will the pregnancy affect one's skating ability?
I was told that one's CG would change during pregnancy. I was told that one might feel a little off-center. I was told that one would tend to be a little less balanced... a little clumsy. Well, I am now fast approaching the 3rd trimester, and up 'til last week, have been getting on the ice regularly, about 2 to 3 times a week, to coach. I haven't felt any change to my balance - perhaps it will come later, or perhaps I'm just lucky! In any case, being on skates hasn't been difficult as I had thought.

What's the most difficult thing about skating while pregnant?
Getting my boots on! I can't really bend over forwards, and I can't see the hooks - I just hook the laces over whichever hook I can feel next, and hope its the right one!

What can I do at this stage?
Certainly all jumps are out. My upright spins and backspins are still ok. Basic turns and some footwork are fine. I was a bit tentative on a spiral, but it wasn't too bad.

Meanwhile, I suppose I will still skate on-and-off while I can. As another skater told me, "you will know when you have to stop". And so far, I do know that I won't even attempt jumps (though I still land double toes in my dreams).

Saturday, November 10, 2007

First skate at Kallang Ice World

New Kallang Ice RinkI went to Kallang Ice World on Thursday. Just wanted to check it out - I wasn't even sure if I'd feel like skating, though I did bring my skates along. When I got there, I realised that they had this whole system going, and I had to get one of the free tickets to even go in. Heck, I had taken a ticket already, I might as well skate!

The rink looked cheerful. It was brightly lit, and there was purple panelling on the walls around. The panelling is yet to be completed, though, so after these two days, the rink won't be opening until a week later.

On the first look at the ice, I saw the piping, and thought it was really thin. I later realised it was really thick enough, but just transparent! The time I got there wasn't the best time, as the ice had been pretty cut-up by previous sessions. Still, it was nice and level, but I found it sort of hard.

Compared to Fuji, the Kallang rink does feel wider, but I must say it is definitely not longer. In fact, just by doing forward stroking from one end to the other, I felt that it was shorter. Perhaps its because the ice is faster?

Me at KallangIt has been a long time since I last skated. Ok, I've been coaching, but haven't skated since June... although DH claims that as long as I put on my boots and get on the ice, I can't say I'm not skating. Anyway, so what do you do when you can't do anything?

I did some power pulls, turns, twizzles, choctaws. It was rather funny trying the Blues choctaw... after the turn, it seemed like I wasn't leaning back enough, even though I still got a nice good edge out of it. I soon saw that it must be because my baby bump was still sticking out in front of me! Oh, and I can still do backspins... and opposite spins!

[Update 16 Nov: Kallang Ice World is now open to general public!!]

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Fuji Ice Palace Singapore National Figure Skating Championships 2008

The Fuji Ice Palace Singapore National Figure Skating Championships 2008 will be held on 2-3 February 2008. The official announcement has been released and can be obtained from the Singapore Ice Skating Association website.

This year, SISA is allowing guest skaters in the competition. From the announcement:
The Championships is open to competitors from all countries. However, competitors that are Singapore citizens, permanent residents, or a resident holding an employment pass, student pass or dependent’s pass ("Singapore Competitors") must be members in good standing with the Singapore Ice Skating Association as of the close of entries on 29 December 2007.

Competitors that are not "Singapore Competitors" shall compete as guest skaters. Guest skaters will not affect the medal tally. For example, if a guest skater places second, the guest skater will receive a medal, the skater placing third will move up and share second place, etc.

The title of National Champion can be held only by a citizen or permanent resident of Singapore.

So, all of you skaters out there - get the forms, and join in the fun! :-)

** Download Announcement **

Monday, November 05, 2007

Kallang Ice World Opens!!

This week, on 8 & 9 Nov, Kallang Ice World will be opening to public for a FREE one-hour long trial skating. A maximum of 80 to 100 skaters will be allowed on the ice per hour, from 10am-11am, 11am-12noon, and the last hour at 9-10pm. There is no booking system - just show up and skate!

[Update 16 Nov: Kallang Ice World is already open to general public!!]

[Update 6 Nov: Clarification - it seems like the free trial skating is only for three hours a day, that is, 10-11am, 11-12noon and 9-10pm.]
[Update 7 Nov: Ignore previous update. The free trial skating lasts the entire day, from 10am until 10pm]

Kallang Ice World is on the 3rd floor of Leisure Park Kallang.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Change-of-edge Spirals

Lately I have been reading a discussion thread on how to change edge in spirals. I had been trying to figure it out when I was trying new spirals a few months ago. For me, the LFI-to-LFO was easiest, and I thought I'd put up what I'd figured out so far...

1. Start with a nice curved FI edge, which becomes shallower as I approach the center of the rink, in preparation for the edge change.

2. Meanwhile the free leg on the inside edge would move slightly into the circle. I think this is probably that the free hip leans in more, to maintain the curve as the edge gets shallower.

3. On the edge change, pull the free leg (or hip) back over the tracing to get a nice regular FO spiral position.

Overall, the movement should be slight, and hopefully the free leg doesn't drop. I managed to have a friend video my spiral sequence in June:

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Poll #6: How do you like this blog?

Yeah, this time I thought I'd be "thick-skinned" and ask readers how they like my blog. Again, there were only 12 responses, of which
  3 (25%) claimed it was the best they have seen
  9 (75%) thought it is a cool site
and
  1 (8%) said it is just ok.

So, what do I see readers getting out of this?
  • Personal experiences - I recount my own skating experience, as well as what works for me and what doesn't. Of course it won't be the same for every skater, but hopefully some of this will help someone!
  • Skating tips - pointers on elements, breakdown of competition requirements, etc.
  • News & information - competition information, interesting news that catches my attention, even relevant videos.
  • Local skating scene - Singapore doesn't have that large a skating scene, but whatever does happen, happens!
Hopefully these will also catch your attention and bring all of you readers back! :-)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Backspins

The backspin seems to be one of the (many?) elements that stumps many skaters. Well, for me it did take a long time to get the hang of it too!

Many years ago, a coach told me that the L shoulder should be in front -> for CCW rotation!! She did also say to look over the L shoulder. At that time, it just seemed too counter-intuitive to be true!

Later, I looked at some pictures of elite skaters, and yes, that is exactly what they do in the air - for multi-rev jumps... Then when I saw the photo of my backspin in Oberstdorf last year (left), well, it wasn't so obvious, but the L shoulder is slightly in front.

Yet another "tip" I heard from someone else was to point the belly button slightly to the right - again counter-intuitive, but the backspin is more than trying to pull the L side around. So, perhaps rather than thinking about the L shoulder, try using the R shoulder to nudge someone standing to the right, and keep rotating about the right side!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Team Singapore Sports Idol Contest

The Singapore Sports Council has set up a Team Singapore Top 20 Sports Idol Contest. In the Preliminary Round (22 Oct - 16 Nov 2007), the public may vote for their favorite athletes, and the 50 athletes with the most votes will advance to the Final Round.

Visit the Team Singapore Sports Idol Contest website to see the athletes nominated, and to cast your vote!!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Singapore bids for first Youth Olympic Games 2010

Blazing the trail, Singapore has come up with a tagline that not only sets the mood for the first Youth Olympics but also its first bid for a major international Games.

Yesterday, Channel News Asia reported Singapore's Youth Olympic Games Committee launches logo, website. The official Singapore Youth Olympic Games 2010 Bid Website allows us to voice our support, and also points readers to the Singapore 2010 Bid Video on YouTube!

Besides Singapore, other bid cities include
  • Algiers, Algeria
  • Athens, Greece
  • Bangkok, Thailand
  • Debrecen, Hungary
  • Guatemala City, Guatemala
  • Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • Moscow, Russia
  • Poznan, Poland
  • Turin, Italy

The shortlisted cities will be announced by 12 Nov 2007, and the bid evaluation will be in December. In February, the IOC members will be voting on the winner!

Read more:
  - Bid Profile and Fact Sheet - 2010 Youth Summer Olympic Bids (from GamesBids.com)
  - Singapore's Bid for 2010 Youth Olympic Games Kicks into Higher Gear (from singapore2010.sg)
  - Khoo Swee Chiow on Singapore’s bid for YOG2010: "Go for it!" (from youth.sg)
  - Youth Olympics - Three factors in Singapore's favour (from Straits Times)
  - Race for the Youth Olympics (from Straits Times Video News)

[Update 9 Dec: The singapore2010.sg website has been re-designed, and the quite unfortunately, the some of the links above no longer work... You have to go to the Official Website to find the relevant pages!]

2008 ISU Adult International Competition

The 2008 ISU Adult International Competition will be held in Oberstdorf, Germany, from May 29 to June 1 2008. The announcement is now available, and can be downloaded from the ISU page.

There will be a new event, artistic free skating, that anyone can enter in addition to the other events. This allows vocal music and costume (without props) and will be judged only on the basis of presentation components.

I had gathered some info in an earlier blog this year while planning for the trip:
ISU Adult Competition - some useful information

Some other previous posts on Oberstdorf and the ISU Adult Competition:
  - Oberstdorf (2007)
  - Back in Singapore, and more videos (2007, competition videos)
  - Pictures from Oberstdorf (2006)
  - Pics from event at Oberstdorf (2006)
  - A morning in Munich (2006) - Photos [not-so-related, this was from our visit to Munich before setting off for Oberstdorf]

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Nike+

I signed up with Nuffnang two months ago, and this week they finally gave me my first ad. It is a Nike ad, and I had originally thought it would just link to a Nike site which advertises its products, bla... bla... bla...

Interestingly enough, it actually links to the Nike+ page (check out the ad yourself), where one can log in and track one's running progress! The user can set goals like running a distance in a given number of weeks, running to burn calories or running faster. The user can also challenge friends to distance races, most miles, fastest runs, or even put in a team goal.

The site also sets up forums, clubs, global statistics, and information on gear (of course Nike gear) and music (looks like they have teamed up with iPod). The concept sounds pretty cool, though I haven't figured out how it all works to accurately record the actual distance/speed of the runs.

So, just imagine a site like this for figure skaters...

Setting Goals
  - land 10 axels in one session
  - skate a clean program in practise

Challenge
  - most number of consecutive loop jumps
  - spinning for the longest time
  - most number of revs in a sit spin

And of course with forums, clubs, tools/gear and global statistics to help you with all aspects of your skating...

Right brained or Left brained?

I admit I am quite hung up on this clockwise or counter-clockwise dancer... AND I'm glad to say I am not the only one - this has generated much discussion and analysis on the Skating Forums. It must be a trait of adult figure skaters to take every move apart in trying to understand it!

One skater posted two sequences of freeze-frames and drew in the positions of face, arms and legs to show how the dancer would look going clockwise and counter-clockwise! This all makes perfect sense, but I still cannot make her go counter-clockwise when I look at the animation!!

Another skater made a mirror image of the animation and put them side-by-side! When I first saw this, the original (left) was going clockwise, and the mirror (right) was going counter-clockwise. However, after reading other posts and coming back to it, both animation seemed to be going clockwise again... ARGH!!!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Clockwise or counter-clockwise?

The Right Brain vs Left Brain, an article in the Daily Telegraph, carries a picture of a dancer who is spinning (click on the picture below to see it spinning). The question is, do you see the dancer going clockwise or counter-clockwise?

Apparently, those whose right side of the brain dominates will see it going clockwise, and those whose left side of the brain dominates will see it going counter-clockwise. There are also some who can focus and change the direction! The article reports that "most of us would see the dancer turning anti-clockwise".

However, I most certainly see it going clockwise, and try as I might, I cannot make it go counter-clockwise!! A quick search on the internet indicated that many people saw the dancer going clockwise... then, I went to Daily Kos, and found that almost 70% of the votes were for "right brained". So much for "most of us" seeing the dancer turning anti-clockwise.

Still, it was rather surprising since I never thought of myself as "right brained"! Oh well, maybe I am after all! So, I poked around the huge WWW and found some info on brain functions:
    Left or Right - Which sSide are you on?
    Left and Right Sides of the Brain: Which is your dominant side? - by Trudell Smith
    Left vs. Right: Brain Function Tied To Hormone in the Womb - a New York Times article published over 20 years ago!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Tropical Blades Ice Skating Club

It might seem kind of strange that after almost 2 years of blogging about figure skating in Singapore, I had made no mention of my club...

Tropical Blades Ice Skating Club was start 6 years ago by a group of adult skaters who wanted to see the sport develop both recreationally and competitively. We see skating as a sport for both adults and children, and have put up various performances and skating events to cater for all. We even organised a figure skating seminar in 2003.

Every year, we try to organise a members' party so that we can all get together to skate. This year's Members' Night Party will be on 20 Oct, 7pm at Fuji Ice Palace. The club is always happy to welcome new members, so if anyone new wants to join us, check out our membership page!
PS: No skating experience is required to join!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

ABC Ice Moves

The television network, ABC, put up a series Ice Moves which brings the viewer through some of the elements of figure skating. I came across it on YouTube, and thought it would interest some of you readers!

Sports Education Programme - Learn to Ice Skate

The Singapore Sports Council (SSC) set up a Sports Education Programme (SEP) together with the Ministry of Education (MOE) to introduce various sports to school students and encourage more active participation in sports.

Ice Skating is featured in this year's SEP, and Fuji Ice Palace has a Learn to Ice Skate program in place. Recently there have been several school groups taking up this program.

This is one positive step towards cultivating awareness and growing the sport. Hopefully we will begin to see more interest and greater talent in this area!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Sale & Pelletier have a son!

Reported on the Skate Canada website, "Jamie Sale and David Pelletier welcome baby Jesse".

I had mentioned them in my earlier post "Skaters' Babies". Its awesome that they will be actually doing shows by December. I'm wondering myself if I'd even be getting back to the ice in the 3 months after having a baby!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Poll #5: Do you have a blog?

I read somewhere that most of the blog readers are bloggers themselves. I thought I'd find out for myself...

Of the 12 readers (!? that's it?) who responded,
  7 (58%) said yes, they have a blog, and
  5 (41%) said no, they do not have a blog.

Recently, I put in an interview at Blog Interviewer, and it is up now, you can read the interview and vote for my blog by clicking the button below.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Kallang Ice World to open in October

Soon enough, Singapore skaters will have a second rink to skate in! Kallang Ice World plans to open in mid-Oct, in the brand new Leisure Park Kallang. The date has been set but as far as I know it has not yet been announced yet, so I suppose I won't tell right now.
Update 16 Nov: Kallang Ice World is now open to general public!!
Relevant posts:
    Kallang Ice World Opens!!
    First Skate at Kallang Ice World


The ice surface at Kallang Ice World is slightly larger than the current Fuji Ice Palace. Really, it is not much of a sifference at all (975.5 sqm, compared to Fuji's 960 sqm), but hopefully the ice will be good! :-)

In terms of pricing, though, I realise that it is pointless to hope that Kallang Ice World would charge any less that Fuji Ice Palace does. After all, it is larger, it is newer, and it does promise more exciting amenities. We will see for ourselves soon!

Some info about the new rink:
The new entertainment hub’s ice-skating rink will offer the biggest ice-skating surface in Singapore. Spanning 10,500 square feet, it is constructed to match competition standards and will also incorporate some spectator seating in its design to cater to a wide range of ice-skating performances, events and competitions.

It is easily accessible via East Coast Parkway and the new Kallang Paya Lebar Expressway. Those who travel by public transport will be well served by a comprehensive network of buses and the MRT. The newly completed Stadium Boulevard MRT station, scheduled to open by 2010, is right in front of Leisure Park Kallang. In the meantime, the mall will operate interim shuttle buses to Leisure Park Kallang regularly during the operational hours of the mall.

    -- Quotes from CBRE press release

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Vote for a Singaporean to be an Olympic torchbearer nominee

Singaporean figure skater and current Novice National Champion, Sarah Paw, has entered "Expats for Olympic Torchbearers" in Beijing to become an torchbearer for the 2008 Olympics. Please vote for her to give her a chance of representing Singapore as an Olympic torchbearer!

Vote for Sarah Paw at:
http://pub1.chinadaily.com.cn/olympics/torch/members.shtml?mid=166

More information on the Expats for Olympic Torchbearers can be found at:
http://pub1.chinadaily.com.cn/olympics/torch/description.shtml

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

About coaches, old and new

After going for a 3-month vacation back in China, my coach has finally come back... And guess what - he's brought another coach back with him.

No, not a lady - no romance here. I had a brief conversation with him, and found out that he skated singles before switching to ice dance. Now, that would bring the count to 3 male Chinese ice dancers at the rink, none of whom will partner me!! Uh, well, now that I'm not skating, I can't really complain about that, can I?

But well, it does seem like the rink is going to great lengths to expand its coaching staff. I had a chance to chat a bit with the lady coach who came in just a few weeks ago - the same one who asked me if I had an English name. Turns out she is a speed skater, and somehow the rink management expects her to teach figure skating... or perhaps they assumed she could at least handle the beginners. She is now trying to learn the basic turns!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Poll #4: Would you rather skate in Jurong or Kallang?

With the impending opening of the second rink in this country, the new Kallang rink will be a direct competition with the one-and-only existing rink in Jurong. the question of the day is, will you go over to Kallang?

It is disappointing that there were only 8 votes for this poll,
2 (25%) would rather skate at Jurong,
0 ( 0%) would rather skate at Kallang, and
8 (75%) would skate at either rink, or has no preference.

It is rather surprising that the poll showed NOBODY choosing Kallang. Maybe it is due to the uncertainty. Maybe those who prefer Kallang would rather not say it at this time - that would explain why there were so few votes!
(or perhaps very few of my readers live & skate in Singapore!)

Latest I heard, the Kallang rink is still not ready.
Optimists say it would open in mid-October.
Realists say it would open next year.
I say, I don't care.

After all, as I reasoned in my previous post The rink, and the rink-to-be", the new rink is not going to offer me much more than longer travelling times!

Still, for all the skaters in Singapore, it would nice to have an option of where to skate!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Swan Lake on Ice Opens in Singapore

12 September 2007 - Opening night of Swan Lake On Ice in Singapore

The Imperial Ice Stars put up an impressive performance on the opening night, albeit with a couple of falls and missed elements. The choreography was well thought out and implemented. The props, effects and costumes are fabulous. The skating was good, and there was even dancers in ballet shoes! I was a little surprised at how small the cast was - just 24 skaters meant there must have been such a frenzy backstage changing costumes, and even skates/ballet shoes!

What was really cool, though, was the synchro performance by the swans - it was impressive. I was also intrigued by the "stilt skaters". Not high stilts, with blades that were an additional one foot tall. I am still wondering what it would be like to skate like that - I think I would fall over!

The level of skating was pretty good, and there were nice technical elements included - both singles and pairs. They were all very comfortable with lifts, and even with a man lifting more than one lady! It seems that all them cast can do an Axel, some even the double Axel... However, at some point in time, I started to wonder if the Axel was the only jump they could do!!

Overall, this show is a must-watch. I found it much more interesting than the shows by Disney and Holiday On Ice. Then again, this is coming from an adult who finds the Disney shows way too childish!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Annoyances of the hair

For ladies with long hair... Your know hair is too long when...
  - you have trouble hooking your bra because your hair is in the way
  - you find yourself eating your ponytail in a sit spin
  - your ponytail whips over your eyes when doing double loops
  - your hair gets in your face when doing a twizzle

I've been meaning to cut my hair since... goodness, I can't even say when! It must have been before Nationals (March) but I didn't cut it because I wanted it long enough to put in a bun. Then I didn't after Nationals because I was going to the Vana Tallinn Trophy and the ISU competition in May, and I still needed it long enough to put in a bun!

After returning from Europe, I was often tired most of the first trimester, and so was really lazy to get out there to cut my hair... but now, nearing the 4th month, I'm full of energy again. I made it a point to go get my hair cut after work today!

So, how many ladies walk in and say to the hairdresser "I want to trim 3 inches"? I suppose 3 inches isn't just a trim, but I really meant I want it the same style, just 3 inches shorter. I later had to make him cut it shorter yet!

PS: Sorry, my skating blog has been sort of taken over by life in general... but
Confession time:
I sneaked in a 30-minute skating session during lunchtime today! Well partly because sometime last week I suddenly had the urge to skate, and partly because a friend sent me a message to say it was quiet at the rink. Of course it wasn't exactly quiet by the time I got there, but I did manage to get in a bunch of cross rolls and twizzles, and also worked on the kilian choctaw sequence, and a part of the Argentine Tango. I tried spirals, which I could still do, but ouch, those butt muscles haven't been worked in a month!

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Movement Class with Kai Er

Tropical Blades Ice Skating Club is organising a Movement Class with Kai Er. Come join us for some moves and artistic ideas that will help in your skating!
Movement Class with Kai Er
Sat 15 Sep 2007
1pm - 2pm
Dance Studio, 2nd floor
HomeTeamNS-JOM @ Balestier
31 Ah Hood Road Singapore 329979
Free for TBISC members; $2 for non-members
To sign up email tropicalblades@yahoo.com

Nearest MRT station : Toa Payoh
Bus service along Ah Hood Road : SBS 139

Friday, September 07, 2007

Skating dresses on eBay

After several frustrating episodes of having skating dresses made in Singapore, I have turned to buying dresses on eBay. There is a lot more variety in styles, and of course there's the thrill of actually winning a bid!

Here are some of the sellers on ebay that I watch. If you readers have any other favorites, do share!



If you still want to get a dress made locally, the only place I would tell anyone to go to is Stage Image. Their products are reasonably priced, and fit comfortably. The only drawback is that the fabric selection is rather limited (but isn't it that way for most places in Singapore?). Also, they often get really busy, so you do have to make sure you place your order well in advance!

I'm sure there are other places, but if you're thinking of suggesting Sonata, please forget it. I have had not one but two horrible episodes with them!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Dates set for International Adult Competitions in Summer '08

The dates for Mountain Cup and the ISU competition for next year have been announced:

29 May - 1 Jun 2008
ISU Adult International Competition (Oberstdorf, Germany)

5-8 Jun 2008
Mountain Cup 2008 (Villard-de-Lans, France)

The actual competition announcements will be released later.

I have yet to hear about the Vana Tallinn Trophy, but will update if I do!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Skaters' babies

I recently read that Scott Hamilton and wife are expecting baby No.2 in People. Earlier this year, there were reports of Slutskaya returning to Russia because of pregnancy in the International Herald tribune. And also of Pelletier and Sale expecting a child on Slam!Sports.

Just like a friend said, when you're pregnant, you suddenly notice everyone around you who are also pregnant!

I heard that the feet will swell during pregnancy. My previous coach said her feet simply grew a size larger - she had to get new skates! I was browsing some websites, and came across Jo Ann Schneider Farris' article in about.com Figure Skating is Possible in Hockey Skates!, where she said that
hockey skates are so comfortable. When I was pregnant, my feet swelled up. My feet didn't fit in my figure skates, but I skated on hockey skates until the day my baby was born!

Uhh, I certainly don't see myself in hockey skates - the last time I had on hockey skates, I fell 3 times in 5 minutes! I'll be sticking to figure skates - and then dry land if and when my feet outgrow my skates...

So... no prizes for guessing why I am no longer skating now. It is a very exciting time, and while I thought I'd be in skating withdrawal, it isn't as bad as I imagined. I suppose I don't really miss not having to wake up at 6am to skate! Of course there is the occasional urge to jump/spin, and those dreams of skating, but so far its been manageable. Well, I am still coaching, though I've told the rink I will not take any more new beginners - not that they have giving me many to begin with!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Progression of the Double Toe Loop

As I had done with my Axel and double Salchow jumps, I had wanted to put together a video on the progression of my double toe loop. I also had wanted to do it after it is landed in competition. However, given that I'm not skating for the next many months, I figured I might as well do the video now...


Admittedly, the double toe has not taken as long as the Axel or double Sal. Nevertheless it is just as frustrating - starting from the very beginning when I found out that the toe loop isn't quite as easy to do "correctly"!! I had once billed the toe loop as my least favorite jump, and no, it hasn't become a fav overnight, but I have come to realise that it is actually an easy jump once the technique is mastered! :-)

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Why do people ask if I have an "English" name?

OK, I am Chinese (by ethnicity) and yes, I live in Singapore... and the strangest thing I find is that Chinese (especially those from China) would ask if I have an "English" name!

When I was studying in the US, everyone accepted - and respected - that I use my Chinese name... of course not written in Chinese but anglicised so that it is actually pronouncable! Even as I work and make friends with non-Chinese all over the world, none have ever asked if I had an alternative name!

Yet, many Chinese in Singapore (and I'm sure increasingly in China and all around the world) have chosen to take up an "English" name. This is partly because of the spread of the Christian faith, and also partly because an "english" name would be easier for friends and business associates to remember.

I'm not passing a value judgement, and I respect the many reasons for doing so. For me, I am proud of the name I was given and see no reason to shy away from the culture that I was born into.

Then, why go on this 'tirade' about Chinese names vs English names?

Well, this morning I chatted briefly with the new coach - she is from China, and started just 2 weeks ago - and as usual, the rink doesn't tell us anything like that, so I had no idea until I started asking other people who this stranger was! Anyway, when I told her my name, she asked "what about your English name?"

That reminded me also of my first coach after I came back to Singapore after graduation... He is also from China, and after one month of coaching me, suddenly asked "do you have an English name?" Well, on a side note, he also asked "do you speak Chinese" after struggling to speak to me in English for one month!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Swan Lake On Ice

Imperial Ice Stars is bringing to Singapore an ice theatre production, Swan Lake on Ice. It will be opening on 12 September 2007 at the Esplanade Theatre, and will run through 16 September 2007.

Tickets may be purchased through SISTIC.

Link to the Swan Lake On Ice story by Imperial Ice Stars.

This performance should be a good one to see, somewhat different from Disney On Ice. The previous time Imperial Ice Stars came to Singapore was in 2004 when they put up the production Sleeping Beauty on Ice. Though I did not watch that, a friend said that it was very well done!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Poll #3: Is a quintuple Axel physically possible?

I put up this question because I recalled friend telling me years ago that a quintuple Axel is not possible given human's physical limitations. This time, only 12 readers voted, with
  5 (42%) for "Yes, why not?"
  5 (42%) for "No, it is beyond human limits"
and
  2 (16%) asking "What is a quintuple Axel?!?!"

Well, I thought that in the last two weeks I could learn and understand enough about physics and bio-mechanics to calculate why it is not possible. However, I didn't manage to do come up with a rigorous proof either way, but did come across interesting articles and a train of thought:

Oh yes, first, what is a quintuple Axel?!?! I had put up an earlier post, "What is an Axel?". Well, a quintuple Axel is an Axel with 5 1/2 revolutions in the air.

So, the two important things that need to be considered are how much time we can get in the air, and how fast we can rotate in that amount of air time. All jumps are completed in a fraction of a second. Elite figure skaters can get about 0.5s air time. Even Michael Jordan has less than 1s of air time - long as he may seem to hang in the air! In fact, a quick computation will show that jumping 1.2m (~4ft) high would only give 0.97s in the air.

Next, how fast can we rotate? A skating doing a quad toe or quad sal would rotate approximately 7rev/s. Let's say one day we will have skaters being able to generate enough rotational force to make 9rev/s. Even so, with 0.5s in the air, that would only give 4.5 revolutions - enough for a quad Axel, but not the quint!

However, we have not even considered that effort put into generating rotational force may also take from the energy put into generating the vertical height...

So, even though I have not done all the theoretical calculations and thorough check of physical limitations, it does seem rather unlikely that we will see a quint Axel... or at least not one that is edited and put on YouTube!

Meanwhile, to share an interesting article I came across, here is a paper on "Biomechanical conditions for stabilizing quadruple figure skating jumps as a process of optimization" by Karin Knoll & Thomas Härtel.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

ISU Judging System Updates

In May, ISU put up the technical rules clarifications and changes for the 2007-2008 season. Last week, it put up another set of clarifications and amendments.

There have been some changes since last season. A few points of note...

Jumps
Of the changes and clarifications, the most significant is in the definition of a jump sequence. Now, jumps in a jump sequence "may be linked by non-listed jumps or hops", and "there can be no turns/steps, crossovers or stroking during the sequence".

However, in the first set of rule changes, it said:
If this definition is not fulfilled, two solo jumps will be called.

In the clarifications/amendments, there is now an "addition" that says:
From the moment the jump sequence does not fulfill the above requirements, the remainder of the jump sequence will be ignored and the element will be called “name of the first jump(s) plus sequence”.

So... is the "addition" actually meant to "replace" the previous sentence? It can make a world of difference!

Spiral Sequences
There are several changes, but most significantly, "Only the first 3 attempted positions are to be considered for Level features".

Spiral positions have been defined according to the skating leg, edge, direction, and position of the free leg. Other changes to the features that count towards a level of difficulty makes it... well, a little more difficult to get that Level 4 spiral... BUT once you figure it out, the rest of the world is probably doing the same sequence or some variant of the same thing!

Spins
The most extensive change, I think, is for spins. Definitions of the three basic spin positions are made, and there is even a new concept of an "intermediate position", which is basically anything else that does not fit the definition of a basic position!

Hence, much of the level features for spins have been revised. An additional level feature was added for spins with no change of position: "At least 8 revolutions without any changes in position/variation and edge". Some incentive to actually hold the spin for more than 3 revolutions!! BUT this is only for camel, sit, layback, or difficult variation of upright... sorry, it won't work on just a regular upright spin!

References
    ISU Communication #1445 - Technical rules clarifications and changes
    ISU Communication #1459 - Clarifications & amendments to ISU Communication #1445

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

News on Skate Asia 2007

When I last checked the Skate Asia website, neither schedule nor results are up yet. However, here are some headlines that have appeared in online news:

  "Skaters set ice on fire" - Inquirer.net

  "China goal: Break ice reign of RP" - Inquirer.net

  "RP skaters vow to soar in Skate Asia 2007" - Inquirer.net

  "Barbosa captures two golds" - The Manila Times

  "Pinoy ice skaters display skills in ‘07 Skate Asia" - Malaya Sports

  "SM Mall of Asia hosts Skate Asia 2007" - SM Investments Corporation

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Skate Asia 2007 Opens in Manila

Today is the start of Skate Asia 2007, held in Philippines for the first time! Here are some reports:

  "Mall of Asia to Host Skate Asia" - Manila Standard Today

  "Ice whiz kids strut wares in Skate Asia" - The Manila Bulletin Online

  "Pinoys defend crown in Skate Asia" - Journal Online

And of course, all the best to the team from Singapore's Fuji Ice Palace -- I hope you all come back with lots of medals!! :-)

Friday, August 10, 2007

Zamboni Catches Fire

A Zamboni caught fire in Novi, Michigan:
Zamboni Fire Ices Novi Operations (link is broken)
Zamboni fire shuts down Novi Ice Arena posted on Topix

It was during an ice resurface, so everybody was off the ice, and nobody got hurt... Still, it is kinda scary!

Rink hazards?

The Zamboni story makes me think of rink hazards... though I never thought of the Zamboni catching fire as a high-probability hazard! The rink is an enclosed space, and I sometimes wonder how good the ventilation system is. Every session, my clothes and hair will smell fumy, and though the odors are unpleasant, the more worrisome aspect is whether they are health hazards!

Zamboni fumes - the Zamboni here runs on gas, and I often wonder if there is sufficient ventilation to expel all the fumes!

Leaks - once during ice time early in the morning, the entire rink was smelling of gas... it was scary. It turned out to be a gasoline leak, not from the Zamboni, but from another smaller machine that is used to level the ice next to the boards.

Cigarette smoke - in Singapore, smoking is banned in public buildings, and there are signs put up around the rink to that effect. Still, some public skaters can be obnoxious, and smoke in the toilets. Even the staff find it difficult to stop them!

However, I suppose odors are not the only things we should be concerned about - there are other dangers. Carbon monoxide is odorless but can kill; asbestos doesn't smell but causes mesothelioma. I hope there are sufficient checks in place, and anyway, I really don't think there's any asbestos in buildings in Singapore!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Happy Birthday Singapore! (And still we want more!)

Happy Birthday, Singapore
And still we want more
Today we celebrate
Our successes to date
But back to work tomorrow
To make our nation grow!

  - by LCY, 9 August 2007

Singapore is 42 years old! In this short time, the small island nation has built itself up and accomplished a certain level of peace and prosperity. It has come a long way, and there is still a long way more to go. In the recent years, the government has been working to promote the arts and sports - areas that have, unfortunately, been neglected in the race to build up the nation's "only natural resource" - its people.

So, in sports - emphasis is placed on the sports that are already performing well. Yes, it is worth to ensure that we continue to perform well in areas that we are already good at, but then I wonder why, as part of the "other sports", I feel we are a little neglected!

Figure skating is an unusual sport in an unusual location. BUT, it is a sport with potential - if we have the resources to build up our athletes, coaches and officials. Singapore has yet to have a representation in ISU competitions, and it seems we are just "a full-size rink" away from it. It does seem a shame that we can't send our most talented young skaters to competitions just because we still haven't built a full-size rink!

Maybe that is not the real reason. Perhaps there is more that meets the eye, but obviously I don't know about it... Figure skaters form a small fraternity, and ideally we should put aside our biases, overcome our differences and eliminate elitism to work together to grow the sport.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Ice dancer in drink-driving accident

Monday's news on Sofia News Agency site:
Bulgaria's World Skating Champ Staviiski Kills 1 in Drunk-Driving Crash

This happened barely two weeks after Japan's Nobunari Oda was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. What is most ironic is that Maxim and his partner Albena are faces in the anti-drink-driving campaign "If you're drunk get off the car - I want to get there alive".

BUT apparently Staviski might not even be brought to court... another article, Bulgaria's World Skating Champ Still Not Arrested for Causing Deadly Crash mentions that "Drivers in Bulgaria only face legal prosecution for drunk driving when the two alcohol tests showed more 1.20 permilles of blood alcohol or more."
The two tests are the breath test and the blood test, and Staviski tested 1.1 permilles.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Auditions for "Cutting Edge 3"

I recently read that Cutting Edge 3 is auditioning for actors and doubles. The information is at Auditions pour Cutting Edge 3. Umm, yes, it is in French, mais t'inquiete pas, les informations officielles sont en Anglais. Oops, I mean, but don't worry, the official information is in English.

Thank goodness, as it would probably take me 10 times as long to read it if it were in French... but as I read through the brief synopsis, it just sounded so incredulous I wanted to laugh... well, not that it is impossible, but how many pair teams would look for a "replacement" partner when one gets injured? Even "temporarily"? And of course it would have to be somebody new to the sport, wouldn't it?

Along the same line, they could have made a parody on Zhang Dan's fall in the Olympics - have Zhang Hao come back on ice with another partner to complete the program!! Oh but that wouldn't fill a 90-minute movie, would it?

Ah, I have another idea: the replacement partner would injure herself during the warm-up, and miraculously, the original partner would feel well enough to step up and skate the program, and they win! Yes, that would be more interesting!!

And I thought my 2-day-before-competition partnering for a pairs program was crazy...

Monday, August 06, 2007

What is an Axel?

The Axel is a jump first performed by Axel Paulsen in 1882. This is the only type of jump with a forward take-off. In figure skating all jumps land backwards (nobody wants to fall on their faces!), and the forward take-off means that a "single" Axel is really 1-1/2 revolutions in the air, a double Axel 2-1/2 revs, a triple Axel 3-1/2 revs, etc.

Here's my single Axel as of 2005:


The additional 1/2 revolution sounds more innocent that it really is! Not just that, the forward take-off can be tricky. Skaters often take longer to learn the single Axel than most other single jumps, some even claiming double jumps before "getting" the Axel. In an earlier post, I had put together a series of videos of my "Axel Progression"!

Various other interesting facts about the Axel jump are captured in Wikipedia!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Poll #2: Skating Involvement

My second attempt at Blogger's new poll feature was to see what kind of skating background my readers have. Of a total of 137 readers who voted,
35 (25%) are figure skaters
15 (10%) play hockey
38 (27%) skate occassionally, for fun
and last, but not least,
80 (58%) love to watch figure skating

Indeed, figure skating is a very popular spectator sport. Earlier this year, Skate Canada reported that "Figure skating tops hockey in television ratings". In the UK, the show "Dancing on Ice" drew over 10 million viewers.

Figure skating, however, is a challenging sport, as I had described in a previous post Sports Skills Difficulty. Still, it is nice to see that a quarter of the voters are figure skaters... For those who aren't, it is not too late to start! :-)

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Vegetarian in Singapore

I often get a surprised look when my local skating friends first find out I'm vegetarian. The first question would be "where do you get your energy from?". The next question is, "then... where can we go to eat?".

Eating out poses some restrictions, but most of my friends are adapting and look for places where I can find something to eat. Over the years, my DH and I have set up a blog, Vegetarian Dining, about our experiences as vegetarians in Singapore and also as we travel around the wold.

Some years ago, I had a coach who disliked eating with me - not because of the restrictions on where to eat but because he didn't like the thought of me not eating meat!

So... if a person who eats vegetables is called a vegetarian, shouldn't a person who eats humans be called a humanitarian?

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Q&A on Ice Skating in Singapore

Recently, I have received several queries about learning to skate in Singapore. I had previous posts on "Start Skating", and "Learning to Ice Skate".
~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Can you really ice skate in Singapore?
Yes, there is a rink, Fuji Ice Palace, and it is located on the 3rd level of Jurong Entertainment Center.

How much does it cost?
Public skating fee is currently S$13.70 for 2 hours, and skate rental is S$3.20 per pair. Do note that there is no concession nor refunds if there happens to be an ice resurface within your 2 hours! It is clearly stated, and there is no point arguing with the cashiers about it. If you are not convinced that having nice ice is worth the 20-min wait, then you should time your visit such that there won't be a resurface within your two hours!

What about lessons?
If you are keen on learning, you can book lessons through the rink, using the schedule request forms. The lesson schedule requested must be approved before you start your lesson. Lesson fees depend on your skating level and on the coach you choose. The fees are for a set of five half-hour lessons, and includes entry to the rink and rental of skates. First-time learners may ask for a one-time "introduction lesson" before deciding on booking a set of lessons.

How do I choose a coach?
The rink puts up coaches' profiles on its website. You can also observe some of the coaches in action when you visit the rink, and even talk to them to find out more. If you are undecided, you can just let the rink assign any coach who is available at the schedule of your choice.
~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

As you are embarking on your skating journey, I wish you all the best, and sincerely hope you enjoy it... Do say 'hi' if you see me at the rink!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Competitions in Singapore

Skate Singapore or Skate Asia Winter Classic?
Every year, Fuji Ice Palace organises an ISI Competition at the end of the year. This year's dates are set for 6-9 December 2007, but from what I hear, it has not yet been decided what the competition will be called. The competition should be announced once everything is finalised.

** Update on 1 Aug 2007: The competition dates are announced on the Fuji Ice Palace events site

** Update on 13 Aug 2007: The competition dates are changed to 29 Nov - 2 Dec 2007.

** Update on 23 Aug 2007: The competition has been announced as "The Second Skate Asia Winter Classic 07".

Singapore Nationals
It seems like our Nationals next year may be held earlier - in January. This would leave skaters not much time to prepare and test...

Conflict?
The rink had expressed concern about two different competitions being held so close to each other - reason being, the local pool of skaters would often decide to attend one of the competitions, and not both. However, I see there being a possibility for some skaters to use the ISI competition as a chance to prepare themselves for the Nationals, although for others the requirements would make it difficult for them to use the same program. Of course it is eventually up to the skater whether they want to enter both!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Random Issues

The rink's mangement called a meeting with the coaches last night. This seems to be one positive step towards communication, and many issues were brought up. I note some issues here, purely from my own point of view. To be fair, managing something like this is no easy feat, and I have learned to accept many (but certainly not all) of the decisions the management have taken.

Lesson scheduling system
Well, no system is perfect, and the current one, though getting better, is rather manual, and many skaters find it "troublesome". Perhaps the grand plan of a computerised system would make it less troublesome, but I certainly hope that there won't be too many problems when it is implemented.

Keeping hours
This is a pet peeve of mine. The first time I quit coaching at this rink was because of a new "rule" implemented that required coaches to commit to and stay at the rink for fixed hours each week.

When I came back, there was no longer such a requirement, but I would certainly appreciate not having to wait 2 hours between lessons, for just one more student. If the rink doesn't want to make it its responsibility to put in new students for me in between, or pay me for the 2 hours I have to wait, I don't see why I must agree to take on that kind of schedule. Or even if I agreed to it, what is the rink to say about what I do during the time between lessons when they do not pay me?

Lost lessons & commission
Well, at least the management agreed that if a student doesn't show up and forfeits a lesson, coaches should still receive the commission since they are already there.

There is still the problem of students forgeting cards - this is a real issue of accountability, since if the card was not signed, the student can, technically, return and demand for that lesson again... and it has happened before! I pointed out that, since the coach is waiting but still can't conduct a lesson, students should be made to forfeit the lesson if they forget the card. Err, that's a little harsh, isn't it?

But that makes me wonder, if the student's card is not signed, how are such forfeits going to be enforced??

Skates?
Issues about skates came up, and I jumped at the chance to surface my growing impatience of students having to cancel lessons because they are still waiting for new skates, and have totally outgrown their current ones. The damage by now is 6 weeks, and NO, it really doesn't seem like the boots are in yet!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Poll #1: Where is Singapore

I was trying out the new poll feature in Blogger, and, just for kicks, decided to put up the poll: "Where is Singapore".

The results:
A total of 336 visitors voted, and
  177 (52%) selected "Just North of the equator"
  77 (22%) selected "In Southern China"
  51 (15%) selected "To the East of Japan"
  31 (9%) selected "In the West Indies"

Singapore is a tropical island, just north of the equator. In fact, we are just about 1 degree 22 minutes North of the equator. Of course its hot, and no, there's no such thing as natural snow or ice...

Many other facts about Singapore can be found in The World Factbook.

Thus, in a tropical climate with no "winter" season to speak of, it is not surprising that winter sports is not exactly flourishing here! The best home-grown winter sports we have are ice sports - figure skating and hockey. However, but facilities are limited - maintaining a rink is an energy- and investment- demanding venture.

As with young skaters all over the world, our young skaters dream of great achievements, including going to the Olympics. However, we are still struggling with funding and recognition issues. If you are interested in supporting figure skating, helping the sport, or even in taking up the sport, feel free to drop me an email!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Still working on the double loop

Two days ago, I found a bunch of "long-lost" video clips my DH had taken on his camera when he was at the rink. It was taken on a February night this year when I was working on the double loop:


The jump is still under-rotated, though the last one (in which I fell) was closer to those I described in a more recent post, Loop Philosophy, where I, uhh, "cheat" it. The day will come when I "cheat" it so well it would be landed!

Anyway, in case you are wondering (rather, since it has already been uploaded), this is what my single loop looks like:

Friday, July 20, 2007

Skating and Technology

When I was in college (many moons ago) I frequented the newsgroups, where there was, and still is, a group on recreational ice skating. At that time, there were lively discussions on skating skills at all levels. Skaters posted to share their progress and frustrations, ask for advise and get useful tips on certain skills. Today, there are numerous online forums that serve the same purpose.

In the more recent years, an more powerful media has emerged - video. Indeed, the nuisance with "just words" is that one cannot picture how a skater is really doing a skill. Video-hosting sites like YouTube, provides an avenue for skaters to show their online community their skating, to gain interesting and sometimes useful comments.

In the time before blogs were popular, some skaters had set up websites to write about their experiences and their progress. With the advent of easy-to-use blogging tools, more and more skaters have began to blog. Not just blogging in words, but also posting videos of their progress.

I joined the blog-o-sphere a few years ago, also to write about my experiences, but not just about plain ol' figure skating. It is about figure skating in Singapore - a country that isn't the first place one would think of for figure skating. It is also about adult skating, whose popularity has grown rapidly throughout the world in the last decade.

I never expected to be listed on Blogs of Note, but it is nice know that some of you out there appreciate my blog. Thanks to all of you who have read and/or commented on my blog, and hope you will continue to enjoy reading!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Amanda & Darryll featured on Skate Today

On Skate Today, Barry Mittan featured an article
Sibling Pair Represents Taipei


It is about Amanda and Darryll, who started skating when they were living in Singapore years ago. They are now in California, and are progressing very well. It is awesome to read about them, and I am proud of how far they have come.

But... what does that say about skating in Singapore? Do skaters have to go overseas in order to achieve their potential?? Sadly, there are currently various limitations and difficulty to building up the sport here, but I hope that will change soon!

Monday, July 16, 2007

The European Waltz

Today, I came to the conclusion that
It is impossible NOT to wide-step on the European Waltz.
For me, at least...

Initially I couldn't find any videos of me doing the European. However, I soon recalled that my DH did take a video at last December's competition:


And I'm very sure that my 3-turns at the end are *still* wide-stepped, and that the real reason is because there isn't enough space for me to do nice 3-turns. Yes, I'm very good at finding excuses, but perhaps it is not quite an excuse - when I tried today to start it farther from the wall it certainly felt easier not to step wide!

STILL, I think it is IMPOSSIBLE to make it perfect...

Sunday, July 08, 2007

IOC approved Youth Olympics

The IOC has approved the Youth Olympics Games, with the first Summer Games set for 2010 and the Winter Games in 2012.

The goal? Reportedly, it is "meant to drag kids from computer screens and onto the playing fields." (ref Yahoo!News) It is targeted at atheletes aged between 14 and 18.

How will this affect figure skating? In an article in USA Today, Christine Brennan argues that Youth Olympics would create more problems than it solves.

Problems of pressure on young athletes to be in the spotlight. Problems where, in certain sports (figure skating and gymnastics) "it would have the effect of allowing the Youth Olympics to actually feature better competition than the real Olympics".

However, in figure skating, the Junior Worlds does not seem to be taking away any level of competition from the (senior) Worlds. Skaters compete at the Junior Worlds, and then go on to the Worlds. So, why can't the Youth Olympics just be the first step before the Olympics?

The question in my mind is: would holding a Youth Olympics really be able to pull youngsters away from the screen and to sports? Are today's 14-year-olds, who have spend their lives sitting in front of the screen, able to jump up right now and achieve Olympic standard in 2 years' time? Heck, they probably don't even know what sports they want to play!

Sports is a lifestyle. For most athletes, achieving Olympic standard comes from a "lifetime" of training and commitment to sport. If the kids are not already playing the game, it is doubtful they would suddenly pick up a sport because they want to go to the Youth Olympics!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Host city for 2014 Olympic Winter Games

The host of the XXII Olympic Winter Games in 2014 was selected in an IOC meeting in Guatemala City on 4 July 2007. Sochi won with 51 votes to 47, over PyeongChang.

Get the full story from the Olympics website.

Other reports:
- Putin factor gives Sochi historic Olympic win - from Yahoo! News
- Russia Awarded 2014 Winter Olympic Games - from ABC News, ESPN sports

Jubiliation on one side: Sochi Celebrates Winning Olympic Bid - from ABC News, ESPN sports

Dejection on another: PyeongChang fails to win right to host 2014 Winter Games - from Yonhap News

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Where are the skates?

Ever heard of skaters having to cancel lessons because they are waiting to buy new skates??

Two students have outgrown their boots, and ordered new skates three months ago from the pro-shop here at the rink.
Guess what?
They are still waiting for the skates to come in!!

By now, their boots are really too small, and it is just not possible to continue skating in them. So, they have already cancelled two lessons, and will have to cancel the next two weeks as well!!

Earlier this year, another skater had wanted to buy boots from the same pro-shop. After 2 months, she gave up waiting, ordered new boots online, and received her boots in less than 3 weeks. I have a strange feeling that if she had waited, she'd still be waiting now!!

I've never ordered my own boots from this particular shop - after all, I do not wear Risports, and I have been happy with Riedell. I have always received my boots within 2 weeks of confirming the order, so I really cannot imagine how a 6-month delay can occur! And meanwhile the skaters can't skate, coaches lose students and the rink loses income...

So I recently decided, I will bring in Riedell skates for anyone who needs them!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Spirals and such


I have received my CD of photos from the ISU Adult Competition at Oberstdorf.

This is one of the best "action shots" of my "catch-foot" spiral (left).

Another spiral shot below - this is of my fan spiral during Nationals earlier this year.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The rink-to-be

The new rink in Kallang will be in the Leisure Park, a building that was demolished in 2005 and rebuilt. Plans for the rink in the new building was mentioned in the Singapore Sports Council's paper "A New Sporting Vision for Singapore".

There is also a news release on the CB Richard Ellis site, "Historic Leisure Park Kallang To Be Transformed Into An All-in-one Lifestyle Retail-entertainment Mall For Families & Youth"

The news release reports that the building "will be granted its temporary occupation permit in the early third quarter of 2007". Well, early 3rd quarter would be October, and being granted a TOP doesn't uh, necessarily equate to starting operations, does it? So much for all the rumours of the new rink opening in September...

Well, I suppose when exactly it opens probably wouldn't affect me all that much, and I will just take things as they come... but a nice rink with some spectator seating sounds pretty promising - even though the dimensions might not.

Monday, June 25, 2007

The rink, and the rink-to-be

An article in the Straits Times "Singapore to have two more rinks by 2009" reported the plans for a rink in Kallang, and another one at the integrated resort, Marina Bay Sands.

The same article also mentioned that the size of the rink being important, and that the rink in Kallang will be "bigger than Fuji" - this has stirred a flurry of excitement within the skating community.

However, it is a little misleading that emphasis is placed on the total area, rather than the dimensions!! Yes, an Olympic-size rink is 60m long by 30m wide, and yes, that means the total area would be 1800 sqm. BUT skating on a 60m-by-30m rink and skating in a 45m-by-40m rink can be very different!

The existing rink, Fuji Ice Palace is 40m long by 24m wide. In creating a competitive program, I must take into account that when I skate on a full-size rink, I will have to extend it out cover a 60m length. For such dimensions, it is the length that I have to consciously account for, not so much the width!

The article quotes the proposed Kallang rink to be 975.5 sqm, compared to the 960sqm of Fuji Ice Palace. Wonderful!!
BUT I have also heard that the Kallang rink will be wider than Fuji... So, let's say it is 1m wider (that's not a lot at all), which means, its width will be 25m, and its length must therefore be 975.5/25 = 39.02m -- shorter than Fuji!!

So, why is everyone so excited about the new rink in Kallang? It is something novel. It gives skaters a choice of rinks - especially those who live on the other end of the island! It will introduce some healthy competition into the current monopoly. It will, I hope, also give the sport a boost - an increase of facilities to accomodate the growing number of participants.

But given the situation, I will be staying at Fuji - not just because of the reasoning above, but also because Fuji is just an 8min-drive from where I live, or 10min on the bus!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Pesta Sukan

The Singapore Ice Skating Association is organising a mini-competition as part of the Sport Council's Pesta Sukan:

Pesta Sukan
5th Aug 2007
8-10am
Fuji Ice Palace

The announcement and entry form are supposed to be up on the SISA website, but since I still can't find it there yet, I have put it up on the TBISC website: link to further information.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The next generation

At the rink on Monday evening, I was warming up when I noticed a man standing on the other side of the glass panels, carrying a baby and having the baby wave to me. I initially thought, "hey what a cute baby", started waving back, and as I got closer, suddenly realised that I KNOW HIM!!

He and his wife are adult skaters whom I haven't seen for at least 4 years - and they probably have stopped skating for just as long. It was sheer coincidence that we happened to meet, as I normally do not skate on Monday evening (rink is usually closed for hockey) and they just happened to be shopping in the area that night.

The little girl is just 6 months old. I suppose in a few years' time, we will be seeing the entire family at the rink!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Axel progression

Over the weekend, I made a montage of my Axel over the years...

Ok, the sad thing is, it doesn't look very different... but is it?
Well, it is - my free leg is getting crossed in front, rather than hanging at the side - this must be coming from a better "snap", which also makes the Axel more consistent.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Loop Philosophy

After coaching today, I skated a little even though i have a crick on my R shoulder and my scrunchie wasn't tight enough to hold my hair up. Yes, I had to stop every 20 seconds to tie my hair again! How annoying!

Double loop is still waaaaaay under-rotated, but I achieved one thing - landing on the R toe and pulling out of it quickly - cheating it, in other words.

My philosophy for the loop as of today:

1. "ZEN" the jump entry. Basically, just wait on the RBO edge and relax until almost facing forward, then snap out of zen mode & into the jump. This may sound (incomprehensible/ ridiculous/ vague/ absurd/ insert your favorite word) and I most certainly won't teach it this way, but this helps me get the snap... it is something I also do for the Axel.

2. The loop is not really an edge jump! NO, don't argue, this is something I need my brain to internalise... if I think of it as an "edge" jump, I will literally fall waaaaaay onto the outside edge and never jump up.

3. Even though it takes off from the right foot (for CCW skaters) and needs to stay on the right side in backspin position, the right shoulder still needs to initiate the rotation. Impossible, you say? No, it is necessary!

4. To rotate the double, I need to pull in tighter and quicker.

5. Philosophising is one thing - actually doing it is another!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Upcoming Competitions

I have just put together a list of some upcoming Adult and Adult-friendly competitions:

Skate Asia 2007 (Manila, Philippines)
12-18 Aug 2007


2007 Silver State Open Championship (Las Vegas, NV, USA)
16-18 Aug 2007


Peach Classic (Atlanta, GA, USA)
1-2 Sep 2007


ISI 2007 Adult Championships (Las Vegas, NV, USA)
21-23 Sep 2007


Dune of Flander's Cup (Dunkerque, France)
24-25 Nov 2007
--> Contact Sally Hartwig

NOTE: This list is by no means exhaustive, if there are other Adult or Adult-friendly competitions you know of, I will be happy to hear about it!