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Saturday, March 31, 2007

Singapore Nationals 2007 - first day

A quick one before I go to bed...

Today was the first day of the Nationals. My event is tomorrow, early morning, so I spent today just watching everyone else, and getting myself nervous.

The skaters' performances were wonderful. This year, all the participants are taking this really seriously, and have put in a lot of hard work into preparing for the competition. They all skated well - they are all winners today! It is heartening to see that there is hope for figure skating to take off.

Well, I'm probably the only one who starts to wonder what dress to wear the night before competition. I eventually decided on the same one I wore for my Artistic program. I still feel its a little odd with my music selection, but right now it is the one I like best (I don't think I want to re-use the maroon dresses I had for the last 2 programs).

So, after tomorrow, there will be two things I need to do - first, revamp my program for Tallinn & O'dorf, and second, get a dress for the program! Oh, and I almost forgot a third thing - I will have to put in my entries for the competitions too! ARGH!!!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Program run-through

After the disastrous ice time on Tuesday evening, I decided I just had to go in on Wed early morning... I managed to do a nice run-through (without running into anyone), complete with double Salchow, flying camel and all.

I went again in the evening and skated 'til 10pm. That was yesterday... This morning, I was sore and tired, but I went in anyway, since I had already paid for the morning ice time. Somehow I managed to run through my program two times!! Missed one or two elements along the way, but I was surprised I wasn't falling over on the ice after that.

I don't know how I'm going to survive the competition ice time tonight, but if it was anything like the last time, it really doesn't matter.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The most useless ice time

This evening must have been the most useless (and most expensive so far) ice time I've ever skated!

There were so many of us on the ice, and with everyone's music playing we all got to go a grand total of one time. Of course when my turn came, I really skated probably just half my program because of other skaters in the way...

If you are not the kind who likes to read painful gruesome detail accounts of what went wrong,

First off, I had decided on Plan B-2. It seemed a perfect plan, except that I haven't skated it to music yet. Meaning there were places where I still am not sure where or if it would fit in the music.

I started with an ok combi spin (the camel wasn't great, but the rest felt ok), then exited on the L, stepped forward to go clockwise and here comes a pair with a death spiral coming right into me. Actually if I hadn't seen their program before and known where exactly they were doing it, I probably wouldn't have stopped and it would have been a real death spiral.

Still, I then couldn't cut across the rink to set up for the first combi jump, which meant I can't know where to fit in the next part which had changed for Plan B-2.

Oh, nevermind, I can still continue with the footwork sequence, which incidentally, cut across the rink sort of diagonally, then I have to turn right around so I can do the flip... but of course there's someone spinning in that corner. So, no flip.

Oh nevermind, just continue with the spin (which was part of Plan B). That was fine, and I think can fit just nice with the spiral sequence starting right after - that is assuming the step sequence and flip had fit in where I thought it would...

Parts of my spiral sequence tends to get quite close to the wall - a terrible thing, since everyone hangs near the wall trying to avoid me. The last spiral in the sequence was the RBI spiral, and someone's doing a spin right there, but it ok, I see him and I will curve in a little more... then suddenly he skates out into my path AAARRRGGGHHH!!! And so I missed the Axel that was supposed to be right after that too.

My coach later chastised me for not changing course to avoid him, but... how many times can one decide to change course in a spiral???

Oh nevermind, let's continue after the Axel (and by the time I got there I was a little late in the music). The double Sal was the only jump I actually attempted in the program!! It was followed by the flying camel (quite slow by then!) and then another change made in Plan B, which I realised I was kinda behind the music. I think I'll have to fix that somehow.

Really, I should have stayed home, slept early and skate the early morning ice time tomorrow instead! I think I will still go in tomorrow morning, but *sigh* its already past midnight!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Plan B-2

After last week's back problem, I was planning on a "Plan B" -> only single jumps...

On Saturday evening, I tried to execute it, but uh... its really not such a good idea to change the program last-minute - when the music is on, I can't remember to make the changes, and of course for the parts I did remember, I realised I didn't yet plan how to enter the jump!

Yesterday morning, my coach called to say he was sick. Unfortunately, he happened to be the only coach holding the key to the rink, leaving all of us skaters (and other coaches) waiting for an hour for one of the other rink staff to come. I skated just half an hour, as I had to get to work. Still, it was a pretty good session - back is still a little tight, but manageable.

And guess what? I have decided on Plan B-2... to change my program (oh, no, no, no, not again!!!) hopefully it will work at this evening's ice time. Hopefully my back will hold out too!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Program without elements

My back is not good again... Monday's fall must have affected my back too. I went to see my physiotherapist on Wednesday, and she told me rest for 2 days, and not to skate 'til the weekend.

Still, I had lesson this morning anyway, because it felt a teeny eeny weeny bit better, and also because I would need to know whether to start making a "Plan B". I landed the first few Axels, but later just couldn't jump up for 2Sal. It wasn't that it hurt, but rather that I couldn't get the strength to jump up, nor the courage to take the impact on the landing. My coach was exasperated... "what can you do?" he asked.

So, I did a program run-through with "nothing". Umm... ok, not entirely nothing - I did do one waltz jump, the step sequence, a sit-change sit... and a single Sal because I found that once I set up for a Sal its not so easy to not jump (unlike for flip or Lutz).

The plus side was, I ran through the entire program. It was kinda fun to do a program without being stressed about the elements... and having lots of time in between. In fact, it is so fun that I'm actually seriously considering Plan B: only single jumps!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Gearing up for Nationals

It is less than 2 weeks to Nationals. Everyone's gearing up for it, and the Singaporean skaters living overseas are arriving in Singapore.

BUT, I don't seem to be in any gear right now... Indeed, this must be free-gear - everything is so sloppy!

I caught a very persistent flu bug 2 weeks ago, and have been coughing every other breath I take. Makes it impossible to skate a program! Its better now, though remnants of it still remain.

It also didn't help that on Monday morning, I wiped out on the entry to the layback - fell on my front, and with the ice always so rough, I now have grazes on my tummy! How I can possibly wipe out on a spin entry still blows my mind, though. I must have taken too deep an edge and skidded - that reminds me, blades need to be sharpened!

So the next time I skated, I was sore. Then, after a couple of double toes, my back started to hurt... *sigh*

The only consolation I have is that I know I can do at least the first 2 min of my program!! Well that's most of it already.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Inter-School Competition

I recently noticed the announcement for the 7th Inter-School Competition, organised by Fuji Ice Palace. It will be on the 2nd & 3rd of June - somehow this event invariably takes place on or around the dates for Mountain Cup!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Europe in Summer?

Several times I have been asked about my plans this summer. I am a little late in making plans this year - there has been so much going on, I haven't had the time nor energy to think about this yet!

I would like to go to Tallinn. It is such a lovely place, and there are friends I would really love to see again.

I would like to go to Oberstdorf. It is exciting to be part of an ISU competition, and if last year was any indication, it would be the largest field I would face.

I would like to go to Mountain Cup, simply because I like the place. The environment is familiar and reassuring, and, um... I like France. Plus, now I know someone in Lyon I can visit!

The entry deadline for Oberstdorf is Apr 1. I better decide quickly!!!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Spin revolutions

Yesterday morning, SISA held a simulation for the National team skaters, and one of the judges (who will not be judging at this Nationals) came in to do a critique.

I wasn't being critiqued, but I was there, and one rather shocking feedback I heard was that in a spin, a minimum of 3 revs was required in position for it to count. Ok, fine, maybe it is shocking to just me.

From ISU Communication 1319, under "spins"
The minimum number of revolutions required in each position is two (2). In case this requirement is not fulfilled, the position is not counted.
Umm... did I miss a later update, or did I overlook that SISA had decided to use three revs as the criteria for this year's Nationals?

But after all, if the rules say 2 revs, who in their right mind would go exactly for 2 revs. Indeed I do try to hold 3 for most of my spins... but with all the position changes & variations for my combination spin, some positions might end up "just under"! EEKS, better fix that!!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Rushing in program?

Funny how I've been complaining I keep rushing in my program and can't possibly have enough time to start (nor end) the step sequence in time with the music.

This week, the few times I ran through my program - and was able to actually do the first jump combination - I somehow managed to start the step sequence about where I'd intended to start it. My coach must be thinking I was making a fuss for nothing.

Blame it on the fact that before this, I never was able to really do the Axel-loop-toe loop combination... there would always someone where I'm supposed to jump, or I'd mess up the Axel! I must have virtually allocated too much time to the jump...

Anyway, I still feel rushed, but maybe its not that bad. Now I need to hold my spirals longer so I won't have to stand still for so long after the spiral sequence...

This morning, I actually managed to do the first 2 minutes of my program clean and without interruption (i.e. not avoiding people). What happened after that is not worth talking about!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Zamboni out of order

When I got to the rink last night, I found out that the Zamboni had broken down. There had not been ice resurface for the entire day, and the rink was almost a swimming pool! My coach joked that we have now become swimming coaches... (a joke I don't find so funny)

The ice was ok this morning, after sitting overnight, but I don't want to guess what it'd be like later. Hopefully they get the machine fixed quickly!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Exit of spin is take-off for jump

Two days ago I was pondering about a jump immediately after a spin.
If a skater performs a spin with an immediate following jump, the two elements are called as such. Credit will be given to the jump as a difficult take-off (GOE).
(clarifications on Pg 13 of ISU communication 1319)

I made a mental note to myself that it would have to be a toe loop or a loop immediately after the spin.

Suddenly, the realisation hit me - my combination spin ends with the "opposite spin", so I exit on the LBO edge, meaning I can (theoretically) go into a Lutz immediately! BUT it might not be possible (or it'd be ugly!)...

Then the next wave of realisation was that, if I moved my Lutz forward to be immediately after the spin, I wouldn't have to rush so much to start my step sequence on time!

On Sunday I tried a Lutz immediately after the spin. It was not impossible, but I had so little speed into the jump - it was so painfully slow! I tried it with a few more steps before the Lutz, it was better. I was set on changing my program on Monday morning...

There was one problem, however... I had not fully choreographed the changed part, and so when my coach saw it, he was not for the idea at all - let's not change the program less than 3 weeks before competition!

So my program stays - for now!

Friday, March 09, 2007

The most amazing ice show - videos

I managed to catch some videos of the performance at Sentosa. Here are some of them. The first is of Tatiana Navka & Roman Kostomarov - I was father back, and some parts got blocked by the tall plants. The second, Ilia Klimkin, I had moved to the rink-side, and got an unblocked view. The third, Victoria Volchkova, I managed to get only the first part, as my camera ran out of memory!

Navka & Kostomarov

Ilia Klimkin

Victoria Volchkova

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The most amazing ice show

It was a private event. A dinner to close the Russia-Singapore Business Forum, an ice rink on the beach at Sentosa, sponsored by Russia's biggest private investment bank, Troika Dialog.

Who were skating?

Performances by the highest-level Russian skaters like Alexei Yagudin, Alexander Abt, Ilia Klimkin, Victoria Volchkova, pair skaters Tatiana Totmianina & Maxim Marinin, and ice dancers Tatiana Navka & Roman Kostomarov... just to name a few. It was wonderful to be sitting rink-side watching their performances!

What was more, SISA was also given an opportunity to showcase our local talent. Two Singaporean skaters skated their programs: 10-year-old Ng Yi Ching and 14-year-old Alexandria Wong. They both skated clean, and maintained terrific composure both on and off the ice. Jonnansical Boo also skated in a last-minute tie-up with Russian skater Ilia Averbukh.

Why was I there?

SISA committed to have 5 coaches on-site to help out with the open skating session after the performances. We didn't have to do much though - most of them were just natural! There were also a few who had skated before and tried spirals, jumps & spins.

It was past midnight by the time we left (and I had an early morning lesson this morning, so needless to say, I am still half asleep!) but it was quite an enjoyable night. How many times do I get to skate in a rink on the beach - that looked right out onto the sea? That was fun!

Saturday, March 03, 2007

What do I want to achieve in skating?

Sometimes I wonder, what do I want to achieve in skating. Sometimes I wonder, what do I really want out of competitions.

After all, I've gotta get real - its not like I can dream of going to the Olympics or anything. BUT there is possibly some hope that adult skating will take off, and there will really be an "Adult Worlds" - in fact, some have already started to dub the ISU Adult Competition in Oberstdorf as the "Adult Worlds".

However, from a high-level, personal point of view, there is one thing that I really want, and have been pursuing for the last few years:
A perfect competition program, recorded on video

And I am still searching for it!

I came in second at the 2004 Mountain Cup. That was a pretty decent program, except that I fell on the double Sal... and of course the flying camel and double Toe were horrendous! My 2006 Mountain Cup program - which won me the cup, finally - had a terribly messed-up double toe.

At the first Mountain Cup I went to in 2000, I won the Bronze Young Ladies' event. If I don't remember wrong, it was a clean program, and must have been my closest-to-perfect program, but no, I wasnt' satisfied - I needed to move up (though I wasn't expecting to move to Gold in the next competition - I skipped a level, and paid the price for it!)

Now, that begs the question of, how can I get a "perfect" program when I'm always striving for more difficult elements? This is where I realise the challenge is two-fold - striving for higher level of difficulty and of perfection!

Hence, the ever-elusive "perfect program on video" will remain just that: ever-elusive.