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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Sunshine Quickstep

Just found out today that there is a new compulsory dance, the Sunshine Quickstep! The dance will be officially presented at the 2007 Junior Worlds, but it was performed at the European Championships last week. A video has been put up on YouTube.


This was also reported on Golden skate as part of the 2007 European Championships Ice Dance Highlight as follows:
In addition to determining the best ice dance teams in Europe, Warsaw was afforded a glimpse into the future as Germany's Kati Winkler and Rene Lohse presented a new Compulsory Dance (CD) called the "Sunshine Quickstep". The dance was designed by Finland's Susanna Rahkamo and Petri Kokko, along with their former coach Martin Skotnicky, and was based on their 1995 Original Dance to Borsalino.

The official presentation of the CD will take place at the World Junior Championships later this year. Alexander Gorshkov, the head of Ice Dance Technical Committee, expressed hopes that it would make it's appearance on the list of CDs in a couple of seasons.

"When you think of this dance," explained Kokko, "I'd like you to think of sparkling champagne and crystal clarity. The steps themselves aren't very difficult, but the timing is crucial and I hope that the judges will take proper notice of it."

He went on to explain that the character of the dance is very light. "But it's hard to do it properly. For example, the footwork is fast and precise, but all the movement is coming from the knees while the upper body remains stiff. The holds have to be strictly maintained throughout the entire dance. There should be no swinging from side to side. In essence, it's a very 'ballroom.'"

Friday, January 26, 2007

Solo dance - Tango

In a quick scan of the newsgroups last night, I noticed a request for the video for the Tango - as in, the ice dance Tango, also known as Harris Tango or Silver Tango. I looked through my set of videos again, and found this from my solo dance event at Mountain Cup 2005. It is a solo dance, not sure if it would be helpful to the requestor, but I'm putting it up all the same...

PS: I had sprained my right ankle pretty badly just the week before this competition!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Announcement for Vana Tallinn Trophy 2007

Vana Tallinn Trophy 2007 will be held on 18-19 May at Tallinn, Estonia.

The announcement and information have just been made available... VTT Announcement (zipped).

As with tradition, the competition dinner will be a medieval feast the Olde Hansa, with a good and plentiful spread of dishes. We always have loads of fun guessing what is in each of the dishes passed around in the candlelight!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Everything at the rink is back to normal - and better!

Today, I decided to take a slightly longer lunch break to go skating at lunchtime. On the way to the rink, I mentally allocated 5 minutes to get into skating outfit, 5 minutes warm-up, 5 minutes to get skates on, skate for 45 minutes, and resurfacing will be at 1pm.

I got to the rink at noon. Of course changing and getting skates on don't really take 5 minutes each, so I was on the ice about ten past noon. The ice looks absolutely normal today, and felt softer than two days ago, which is nice.


I was tentative initially. I'd tried Axels on the ground while warming up and the take-off just felt like it lacked energy! So guess what I started with? Double Sal!

I remember the days when the Axel seemed distant and beyond reach, we were awed by our coach's two daughters, who would step on the ice and start with the double Sal as their "warm-up jump" - and landing them!

Well, so much for being awed those many years ago, and not having skated for the last two weeks... I landed the first double Sal, not clean, as I was really so low my landing foot couldn't take it, and I stepped out. Worked on it a bit, landed a couple more, and moved on to the double toe. Landed a couple of those (and a split jump - double toe) and then moved on to the double loop. The double loop is grossly under-rotated. A friend told me I was still 1/4 rev short. ARGH!!! Then again, I suppose I can't expect an under-rotated jump to become fully rotated after 2 weeks of not working on it!

I finally decided to move on to the Axel. I still don't know why the forward take-off scares me. This is definitely the most consistent of the more-than-one-revolution jumps I have. I landed the first two, then proceeded to work on the Axel-loop-toe loop. YIKES! Later I decided to try Axel out of steps - RBI double 3 into BO-BI choctaws into the step for the Axel. It threw me off at the beginning, and I later managed to land a couple from this! Might just put it in my program ;-)

I'm definitely glad I went in today. I was starting to get paranoid about "losing" everything!! Haha!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The next skating phenom?

Last year, a friend of mine pointed me to a video of Caroline Zhang's practise program at the Mexico Junior Grand Prix. She has some natural artistry and pretty solid jumps, but it is her incredible flexibility that caught my attention.

On Ice Skating International, there is a photo of her layback spin, where she pulls her blade from behind and touches it to her shoulder, with her face against her calf!!

At the 2006 JGP Bulgaria exhibition finale, she did a layback combination with at least four different positions!

There is a story about her on the Orange Counter Register, "An edge on the rest".

In an interview after the 2007 Nationals Junior short program, she spoke about how she had not fallen on a jump in competition (before that program), and was just surprised at the fall on the double Axel - "oh wow!" was her reaction! And also about going to Disneyland with her skates on!!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Lesson again, after two weeks

The ice was much better this morning (compared to Saturday), though I was told it is still not thick enough. My coach preferred to play it safe and not work on jumps, as we wouldn't want to break the piping beneath.

So, for the first time, we actually spent more than a cursory 5 minutes on spins. Ok, fine we used to spend time on the backspin, but that was in preparation for the 2loop. Besides that, I generally get to do barely 2 or 3 spins in each lesson. We did also work on the flying camel for a bit, and he complained that I failed to use the pick on landing... no danger of digging into the pipes, I suppose!

Also, for the first time he saw the step sequence I did for my new program - his only comment was, "do you have enough 3-turns?" ARGH!!! But really, I don't quite care because this step sequence is going to be removed once the Nationals is over - the new rules for Mountain Cup and O'dorf allows max one of step or spiral sequence.

As I was leaving for work, one of the other coaches started to do Axels, I didn't stay long enough to see if there was any problem! ;-)

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Rink Opens after Renovation

The rink opened again today.

When I got there at 8:50am, HALF the ice was coned off, with one half of the ice still being worked on, and lessons were only in the other half. I asked my student to go warm up, and was then told by another parent that they were letting skaters get on the ice only for their lesson!

Hmm... the rink didn't tell me that!

I put on my skates and came out of the coaches' room. As I walked (in guards, of course) along the new mat they had put on the floor, I almost slipped! These were like plastic-rubber, and very smooth, didn't go so well with my skate guards!

In fact, I did slip later in the morning, when someone called me from behind as I was walking back to the coaches' room and I tried to change direction too quickly. Turns out I changed position pretty quickly - from standing to sitting.

When I stepped on the ice, the first thing I thought was, this is so hard! It didn't bother me too much, though, until I decided to show my student a backspin...

For some reason, I felt like I was in a dream - everything seemed just too organised, too orderly, too peaceful to be true. Each skater & coach had their space, and we weren't running into one another as we usually would in the small lesson area. I couldn't put my finger on it, and could only attribute it to the fact that the only people on the ice are those having lesson, and we have a whole half rink... I was starting to wish every day could be like this - ONLY skaters in lesson can be on the ice!

I was jolted back to reality when I asked my student to do a Waltz jump... another coach called me over and said, they aren't allowing jumps today - the ice is too thin!

Hmm... the rink didn't tell me that!

At 10am, the rink was officially open to public. The other half was open, and the skaters who had lesson earlier and still hanging around were allowed to get on the ice again. There were occasional announcements to remind skaters that "no jumps are allowed for these two days".

Well, give them a few more days to make the ice thicker. The ice itself does feel better, just that the thin-ness of it is scary!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

6th Asian Winter Games

The 6th Winter Asian Games will be held in Changchun, China, from 28 Jan to 4 Feb 2007.
Link to official website
Info on Olympic Council of Asia website

There will be 45 participating nations, and it will be the first time Malaysia is sending a team! Brothers Tan Da Wei and Tan Zhe Wei will be competing in the Figure Skating event. There is a story in The Star about them.

So, what is Singapore waiting for?

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Update on Rink Renovation

The re-opening of the rink has been postponed until Saturday, 20 Jan, due to some machine trouble. The announcement was put up today on the Fuji Ice Palace website.

In these "almost 2 weeks" that I have not skated, I have noticed two things.

1. my life is structured around skating
I would use before-skating time to do many things around the house, and after-skating/coaching time to get groceries, go to the bank, pay my bills, etc. Now, nothing gets done, and yet I still have as little time as ever. Wonder why!

2. skating really isn't all that essential
oh well, I suppose it is, since my life is structured around it, but I don't seem to miss it as much as I thought I would. I can almost understand why someone can decide to quit and never come back!

Anyway, I better start practising hard soon, 'cos my so-called "partner" is getting consistent Axels and d Sals while I'm not...

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Dresses to sell

In my last stock-take of dresses I have, I realised that I had gone on shopping sprees and have many dresses I have never worn. I decided to put some of them up on Ebay Singapore.

I'm starting with just three of them:


Friday, January 12, 2007

Double toe video

I did mention I was dredging up old videos, right? *grin* Here's the double toe, during practise ice at Oberstdorf (this was practise at the other rink, not the competition rink).

Gosh, why does Google Video use the most unflattering posture in the videos as the image? Is there a way I can change that!!??

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Progression of the Double Salchow

Since the rink is closed and I can't go skating, I pulled out some old videos - and was shocked at how terribly used to skate! (Wonder if I'd say the same of my current videos 5 years down the road!)

Then I got an idea: it'd be interesting to trace the progression of my double Sal over the years... So, I picked a few videos, ranging from year 2000 to 2004, stuck in some titles and made a mini movie out of it. It is so amateur, its embarrassing, but here it is anyway...

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Sport Skills Difficulty

Last year, ESPN put up a report on Sport Skills Difficulty.

Ten categories, or skills, were identified, and used to rank 60 sports. Overall, figure skating ranked 19th. Here is how figure skating ranked in the individual categories (and my response to them):

Endurance: 18th
Skaters have to maintain the energy and keep up the performance throughout their program. It is, however, not a very long-duration endurance. Funny how the last time I went jogging, I noticed that I lasted barely two minutes and forty seconds - about the length of my program!!

Strength: 26th
Everything in figure skating looks so easy - it must be hard to tell that any strength is needed for the multi-rev jumps, or the pairs lifts, or the death spiral...

Power: 20th
I wonder if high jump does require more power than figure skating... After all, figure skaters jump too - among many other things we do.

Speed: 29th
Oh c'mon, I'm absolutely certain figure skaters move with greater speed than tennis players... unless they're talking about the ball!

Agility: 8th
Umm... Must be the need for the fast-twitching muscle motion?

Flexibility: 3rd
Really, you don't have to be all that flexible to skate. It is only when you want those beautiful spirals or incredible layback positions... Then again, few other sports require much flexibility either.

Nerve: 24th
This was defined as "the ability to overcome fear". I find it hard to believe that cycling ranked higher than figure skating in this! I suppose being on one wheel would be scarier than on two blades!

Durability: 39th
From the definition of "the ability to withstand physical punishment over a long period of time", I wouldn't expect figure skating to rank anywhere higher.

Hand-Eye Coordination: 45th
This must be the most undeserved ranking figure skating gets! So much coordination goes into skating, so much feedback control to keep a skater balanced, to keep the spin centered, to save a slightly flawed jump...

Analytic aptitude: 30th
The ability to evaluate and react appropriately to strategic situations - this is not brought out in pre-choreographed programs!

Back Injuries

This past week, my back started to hurt again. Yesterday, I decided to visit my physiotherapist before it got worse. I brought along the x-rays this time. She didn't say anything about the scoliosis, but commented that the old fracture is likely the cause of this recurring back pain.

Today, I read recent news about Kim Yu-Na injuring her back again... Some links:

"Kim Yu-Na Re-Injures Back", from The Korea Times

"Skate Phenom Diagnosed with Hernia", from The Dong-a Ilbo

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year!

Today is the first day of the new year... but really, is is just another day. I had my regular 8am lesson as usual, complete with slip-ups, falls and all!

Still, this is a convenient juncture to make some "New Year's Resolutions". Jo Ann Schneider Farris has a list of Top 10 New Year's Resolutions for Figure Skaters on Here's my own:

10. Be on time for lesson.
(being early would be preferable)

9. DO NOT look down.
(statistically, chances of finding money on the ice is close to zero)

8. Keep the back strong.
(yikes, it has been hurting like crazy this past week)

7. Land the double loop.
(just once, that's not asking for too much, is it?)

6. Get my DH to skate.
(though that is statistically less likely than finding money on the ice!)

5. Push my students harder.
(not that I'm not already, but I think they're capable of more! or maybe i'm just a perfectionist...)

4. Remember to bring my music back from the rink.
(and all my belongings, for that matter! Today is the second time in 5 days that I left my music behind. This year, I have already lost my iPod, my mobile phone, nearly lost my keys, and goodness knows what else!)

3. Improve speed, control & extension.
(one can never have too much of these!)

2. Get enough sleep.
(8 hours a night... umm... ok fine, minimum 6 hours every night - I believe I can do that, at least!)

1. Build up stamina.
(definitely necessary for this crazy program I have now!)