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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...

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??

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!