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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
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!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Protocol from Vana Tallinn Trophy 2007

A friend asked about the protocol from Vana Tallinn Trophy 2007. I also noticed that the full judges scores were not put up, only the starting order/result details. So...
Here is the portion with just MY scores:

I have also scanned in the entire protocol for my group - there were four of us:
Gold I-II Ladies/Men Free Skating

It looks like in this competition, TWO step and spiral sequences may be included... If I'd known, I wouldn't have taken out my step sequence - and I'd have come in 2nd!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Last Lesson - for a while

This morning was the last lesson before my coach leaves on a 3-month-long vacation. I was probably more awake this morning than on Friday morning, so it wasn't quite as disastrous.

The Axel is consistent, just not "pretty", but I'm still doing really strange things on the Salchow... On the single, my right shoulder is too high, and on the double, I'm dropping my right shoulder! I did land a few double Sals eventually, but they still don't feel quite right. Oh well, like it or not, double toe is definitely easier!

In the last 5 minutes of lesson, my coach decided to look at my spins! Now, which one of you readers told on me?? Or maybe none of you did, since I am certain that if he'd known I have a blog, he would have been really curious and asked me endlessly about it.

I protested mildly, saying I wanted to work on the loop, but he said no, and that I was too tired. So what did he want to do? Flying camel! Right, if I was tired, the flying camel would be the perfect spin to work on - after all, I have put it almost at the end of my program! (in case you didn't get it, that was supposed to reek of sarcasm)

Anyway, the flying camel was pretty decent... Then, he asked to see the "combination spin". This I had to do twice before he confirmed he saw the change of edge on the back upright (I'm sure he wasn't paying attention the first time, as he wasn't expecting it!).

Just before lesson was over, I did a one-and-only-for-today layback with haircutter. It felt stable, and didn't lose speed (which I usually do when I reach for my free skate), and I was surprised myself.

Later I told my coach that I will not have any laybacks in my program - his response: "but your layback is good". Still I don't think its worth it... In IJS jargon, would I rather attempt a LSp2 that might end up being called as a LSp1, or a CSSp4 that will be called at least a CSSp2?

[Quick Reference: LSp2 carries 1.8 points, and CSSp2 carries 2.0 points.]

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The complement of jumps

Apart from two-footing all my double jumps this week, I have also been working on some other "more interesting" stuff - a.k.a. "everything else"

Spiral sequence: LFI change edge to LFO catch-foot, then RBO with free leg split at the side.
The change-edge spiral is proving to be rather fun. However, it is really difficult to practise here, as I always end up having to stop for traffic from all directions! The RBO still needs more flow, control and uh... I don't want it to curve so much...

Sit spin with change of foot: forward sit 8 revs, increase speed, broken leg, back sit change edge.
This combination is fun, but makes me terribly dizzy. Somebody suggested dropping the arms to the side to increase speed - and it does work! (as in, I get more dizzy). Somebody else cautioned that the 8revs should be done before increasing speed - argh, that means I have to hold the spin longer! That's not a problem for me, its just the time I have to factor into the program. And, I still don't know if my back sit is getting any lower, even though it feels lower.

Combination spin with change of foot: back camel, back upright change edge, forward broken leg, opposite upright.
Occassionally, I get the back camel entry right, and it would feel much faster and more steady - which is nice! The back upright change edge is happening a little more often that I'd expected. Everything else is just as it has been (I haven't changed this one too much!)

Lastly, something I admittedly haven't thought about too much, is what I'm going to do with my flying spin. I initially thought I'd learn a flying sit, and do variations on that. Then somebody suggested I just do my combination spin - but I still feel it is kind of inaesthetic to do the exact same spin twice, even though one of them is a flying entry instead of a back entry. And somebody else suggested I should work on a layover position for the back camel...

Sometimes I wonder why I'm so hung up on trying to up levels of spins and spiral sequences. I suppose it is because it is challenging, and it is always fun finding out that I can do things I never thought I could do before!

(PS: I think I should really wonder instead about the lack of involvement of my coach in all this!)

Friday, June 08, 2007

Back at lesson

This morning I had the first lesson I have since coming back from Europe. Even though I have been back a week, I must be still jet-lagged to a certain extent. Throughout the week, I have barely been able to drag myself out of bed at 8:30am, let alone try to skate at 8am!

Coach must have thought I'm very moody today. As soon as I stepped on the ice, I started with inside and outside figure 8's until my coach came on... that must have been the only thing I did well this morning! Backspins totally were not centered - which didn't bode well for double jumps! Even the Axel, which has been just perfect the last 2 weeks, was terrible.

As usual, we did no spins in lesson - coach would always say, "work on spins yourself" as if I don't... So I worked on my wannabe-level-4 spins, which felt much better than any of my jumps today! Sometimes I wish my coach would show some interest in something (anything!) other than jumps.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Sit spin with change of foot

This evening, I asked a friend to video my sit-spin-with-change-of-foot, just to see for myself how far away my CSSp4-wannabe is.

1. The back sit still needs to be lower - or maybe my butt needs to be bigger to satisfy the "buttocks below the knee" criteria! I believe this will improve with practise, though!

2. The "increasing of speed" certainly look like it happened, but I'm just not sure it this is really "clear" enough - perhaps I should slow down the first 4 revs, just to make it "clearer"!

Spins and the IJS

I was about to go to bed, but started to think more about spins after reading a short article about spins. It started by quoting examples of some prominent spinners (some of whom missed the podium because of their jumps), and went on to say:
But today things have really changed : a warning for the jumper who only wants to jump. You have to be able to spin fast, in both directions if possible, and on all edges. It's absolutely necessary to make the podium. Add to that the inevitable « stretch » to the exercise. The public has loved great « spinners » for a long time. Figure Skating is the only sport in the world that includes such levels of rotation in its performance, and today, the ISU gives it the value that it deserves as a magnificent, athletic exercise
(from International Skating Magazine)

Though the IJS does give spins a value, skaters at the higher level who can pull off triple-triple combinations are still going to get more points than good spinners. However, at my level, spins are given their worth... almost half of the base value of my technical score at the recent competitions can be attributed to spins.

Lately, I've been dreaming up a level 4 spin... However, that rests on my being able to make my backsit low enough to be called a "sit position". It also depends on what constitutes the "clear increasing of speed" to be considered a "difficult variation". I want to try it, have someone video it and actually see it for myself, before I can even decide on how to proceed!

But for now, get to bed!!!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Trying new spirals

After fantasizing about a new L4 spiral sequence, I finally got to skate today and try it out...

Indeed, I have not skated at all since after the competition at Oberstdorf last Saturday. Also, there was a local competition here (inter-school, based on ISI rules), and I was judging... yes, sitting by the rink and getting cold. I have been judging for a total of 7 hours these 2 days!

The rink was open to public after the competition today, so I decided to skate. Strange thing was, my skates felt weird - they felt too big!! No, that's not a good thing, I will probably have to get new boots soon! Oh but that's not the point... back to the spirals:

First, I tried a LFI spiral, with change of edge. I was thrilled that the edge did change and that I was also able to do a catch-foot after getting onto the LFO edge! Wonder why I never thought about doing this on the L foot before - I always used to try the RFI change and never was able to change the edge!!

Next, I tried the RBO spiral, holding the free leg up at the side - trying for a split position. I think I need a little bit more stretching for a full split... but I felt today's attempt was still pretty decent.

Putting it all together, it seems like with more practice this ought to be possible! I will have to check and confirm that this does really fulfill the criteria for L4 - that would be very exciting indeed!!

Friday, June 01, 2007

Back in Singapore, and more videos

I arrived safely back in Singapore yesterday. This trip has had ups and downs, but overall, pretty enjoyable.

I was rather jet-lagged last night, and stayed up really late. In fact, I got hungry at 2am, and made myself some instant noodles! I also started uploading the various programs I have videod at Oberstdorf, and arranged them in a playlist on YouTube. I'm still adding videos, but I suppose the playlist link should still work and be updated: