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Friday, March 30, 2012

Competition Tip #12: Good luck!

Competition starts today! To all competitors,

Competition Tip #12: Good Luck and Skate Well

You have practiced hard, prepared yourself physically and mentally, and now is the time to show what you've got.

"Good luck is the residue of preparation" ~ Jack Youngblood, NFL Hall of Fame

Many people have something specific that they feel brings them good luck. You may have a good-luck charm, a teddy bear, your favorite tights you always wear at competition... go ahead and bring it along to the rink. (though you probably will not bring teddy bears onto the ice with you)

"I wear my Peggy Fleming T-shirt when I go to sleep every night before I compete, and for the past four years, it's brought me incredible good luck." ~ Sarah Hughes, 2002 Olympic Gold Medallist

Get to the rink early. Give yourself plenty of time to arrive. When at the rink, you can focus your mind on your skating. You can have time to warm up off-ice. Take some time to stretch. Visualize your program.

As you take the ice for your program, remember that you are here to skate your best. Keep focused on your program. Feel your music, and, most of all, enjoy your skate!

2012 Worlds ~ Pairs Short

The pairs short program saw Savchenko/Szolkowy in first place:

Pang/Tong placed a close second, with a beautiful program.

Two pairs, two different styles. The long program should be interesting to watch.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Competition Tip #11: Rest

As competition draws near and the atmosphere around the rink heats up. You may feel the urge to skate more... and harder... BUT remember that you need to have sufficient rest in order to perform on competition day.

[Adapted from photo by Eli Duke (Flickr) [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons]

Competition Tip #11: Rest yourself

In the days leading up to competition, skaters are trying to get in as much practice as they can. Practice ice has been scheduled. Sacrifices are made to get skaters more ice time. BUT when an element doesn't work, skaters become anxious. They try it again. And again. Yet again.

While keeping up your practice is necessary, it is now time to pace yourself and not push too much. Understand that you have trained hard and you can show your best ability if you

give yourself enough rest and take care of yourself

The most important thing for you to do now is to stay healthy, fit and injury-free. Tone down your training a notch. Have faith in your ability. Listen to your coach. Eat properly.

Skaters' schedules can be grueling, with late-night and early-morning practice ice. Be sure to plan your day so that you have a good night sleep and perhaps a little nap during the day. Also plan your mealtimes around your practice (or competition) schedule. You might not feel like eating, but that could be due to nervousness. You should still eat, even if it is a light meal.

Schedule for 2012 Singapore National Figure Skating Competition

Event schedule for the Singapore National Figure Skating Competition:

Friday 30 March 2012 7pm - 8:30pm (short programs)
  ~ 7:10pm: Novice (advanced)
  ~ 7:40pm: Junior & Senior

Saturday 31 March 2012 2:30pm - 10:30pm (free programs)
  ~ 2:50pm: Opening & National Anthem
  ~ 3:00pm: Future Stars
  ~ 4:00pm: Preliminary
  ~ 4:50pm: Elementary & Novice B (primary)
  ~ 5:40pm: Novice A (pre-primary)
  ~ 6:50pm: Novice Advanced Ladies
  ~ 7:30pm: Novice Advanced Men & Junior Ladies
  ~ 8:00pm: Senior Ladies & Adults
  ~ 8:50pm: Closing address, Prize giving & Awards

FREE SKATING at The RInk @ JCube

Announced on the JCube facebook page, there will be an "opening special" for 3rd - 5th April at 12:45pm at The Rink (Level 3).

2 hours of FREE SKATING for first 50 guests

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Competition Tip #10: Mental Preparation

As you take to the ice, you need to be focused and calm. Most skaters have their coach with them for competitions, to put them on the ice, to help calm their nerves and to prepare them mentally for competition.

Competition Tip #10: Mental Preparation

All athletes have a mental preparation routine. Whether or not you have your coach with you, you need to have a strategy to help calm yourself. This can start as early as the day before competition, so that you can

be prepared mentally

Individual athletes will have their own mental preparation routine. For some, being in a quiet environment works best. Others find music they can use to calm their thoughts. Skaters frequently listen to their program music while visualizing the routine.

Here's a clip where Michael Jordan talks about his mental routine:

A few things you can do:
~ Use visualisation. Run through your program in your mind.
~ Stay calm and focused. Let go of other issues in your life and focus on your competition.
~ Talk to positive and encouraging people.
~ Relax yourself. Laugh. Humour always lightens things up.
~ As you are waiting for your event, think of your favorite part of your program.

The Rink ~ Singapore's Olympic ice rink at JCube

In a press release dated 20 March 2012, CapitaMalls Asia announced that
a) The Rink will open on 2 April 2012, and
b) Singapore Sports Council (SSC) has awarded the rink management contract to CapitaLand Retail Management Pte Ltd (a wholly-owned subsidiary of CapitaMalls Asia)

This opening is eagerly anticipated by figure skaters, hockey players, and all other skaters who frequented skaters at the old Fuji Ice Palace previously located in the same place.

Link to press release

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Competition Tip #9: Focus on Process

While preparing for competition, focus on the process. While performing at a competition, focus on the execution.

By David W. Carmichael [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Competition Tip #9: Process

Everyone has a goal. What is your goal as a skater? What is your goal in this competition? Of course, everyone wants to win this competition. While I am sure it is admirable and, for some, realistic, it is not a well-defined goal. It is not specific. It is not within your control. I would call this the outcome of a process.

More well-defined goals might be, for example, to skate a clean program. Or to achieve your "personal best" score. Or even to land the double Axel in competition. As you enter competition, you may even have multiple small specific goals. In this way, you

focus on the process and execution

Set goals for yourself, whether in training or for competition. Even within your program, make up small goals that you can use to help you focus. Start with the opening jump combination, land it clean. Next, enter your spiral sequence, smile! After that you have a sit spin remember to get low down... Even if you fall short of one goal, get on on the next one.

As you skate, focus on the process of achieving your goals. Focus on the execution. Focus on what you need to do to get *your own* personal best. It is not the outcome that makes an athlete, it is the process, and your attitude to competition. Skate well, and you will have the satisfaction of achieving your perfect program.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Competition Tip #8: Coping with Adversity

To all skaters entering competition, good luck and skate well!

However, like it or not, not everything will go as perfectly as everyone would wish it to be. Still, it is in your power to overcome any imperfections.

[Picture adapted from photo by torophyofeb_2009, on Flickr]

Tip #8: Prepare for adversity

The most common and obvious errors in figure skating, of course, are falls. There can also be other situations that can unnerve you, causing you to lose focus, confidence or composure. You should always

be prepared for adversity

All skaters have fallen on jumps and they know to get right back up and continue skating. Some have fallen on spins, and similarly, they have to get on with your program... but actually, it is a little different, since spins take a much longer time than jumps ~ skaters who miss a spin are allowed to perform a spinning action until the correct point in the music, before continuing. And then there's also me, who totally slipped off the edge in a spiral during competition (how embarrassing!)

If you fall or make errors in your program, remember that you are still in control. You have been working hard preparing for the competition, you know your program, and you know your strengths. The best thing you can do is to focus on the rest of the program. There is a lot more to your ability than the (double) Axel. Show it off!

Apart from your performance errors, there can be technical issues beyond your control. Imagine you just took your starting position and somebody else's music is being played. Or your CD does not play. If the wrong music comes on, you need to inform the judges. Always have a spare CD ready in case the CD you submitted does not play or gets misplaced. When such technical problems occur, it is natural that you may be a bit shaken, a but more nervous. Take a few moments to calm down and refocus yourself before you resume your program. The judges can wait a few seconds, and it will help you regain your composure.

Less commonly, there may be problems with the sound system - or even a problem midway through your CD. So long as your music started and you are already skating your program, you should continue to skate, unless told to stop by the judges. You are not entitled to stop your own program halfway because you submitted the wrong cut of your CD or if your CD skipped a bar or if your CD stopped playing suddenly. Here's a video of a little girl, who completed her program even though her music went out:

What else can go wrong? What if you find a tear in your tights, or your laces snap, or your blade feel loose. Remember to have extra laces, extra tights, a sewing kit, safety pins, screwdriver... they might just come in useful. Don't forget to at least have one practice with your competition dress on ~ at least you can identify any potential problems and have it fixed before competition.

Then there are other external issues you cannot predict. Like getting caught in traffic on your way to the rink, or the MRT breaking down (again!?). You should give yourself plenty of time to get to the rink ~ better be there "too early" than late!

While you cannot imagine all of the things that can go wrong, you can at least prepare yourself for what you can think of!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Competition Tip #7: Positive Attitude

Figure skating is by no means an "easy" sport. Every skater goes through that feeling of "losing" a jump, or having a "bad spin day". When such things happen just before competition, it brings on more stress.

[Picture adapated from photo by David W. Carmichael (]

Tip #7: Be Positive

Your attitude towards what you do is very important. Athletes who adopt a positive attitude can overcome setbacks and stay strong. When you are training or preparing for competition, always

adopt a positive attitude

When you fall on a jump, how do you react? A skater who becomes angry at the fall is focusing on the wrong issue. Instead, focus on how to improve the jump. Thus, rather than being upset at "losing the Axel" during a practice session, think about how to make it more consistent so it will not be "lost" again.

As you run through your program, do you get worked up for not landing a jump, or tripping up your step sequence? Right, mistakes happen, but you cannot turn back the clock and fix it. Missing that opening double-double in your program cannot be undone, but the rest of your program lies ahead... One mistake must not ruin your entire program. Focus on making the rest of the program perfect. The same goes for practice and training. Always move forward and make the next attempt (or element) better.

As you take on a positive attitude in your training and towards the competition, you will find that you will be able to triumph over adversity, resolve problems in your skating and make yourself a better skater!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Competition Tip #6: Visualize

Visualization (or Imagery) is a mental skill used by athletes at all levels to improve the quality of skills, help with athlete's concentration and motivate the athlete.

[Picture adapted from photo by David W. Carmichael (]

Tip #6: Visualization

You can use visualization when you are on the way to the rink, warming up off-ice, or putting on your skates. It helps you prepare mentally for what you will do. To do this, you learn to

visualize your performance

At the skills level, you can think of yourself doing that perfect jump. There are three phases of the jump - take off, air position and landing. Start with the take off - think about how should it feel, what edge are you on, where are your arms, and when is the perfect timing... and "feel" it in your mind, taking off into the jump, the snap into position, keep tight, until... landing with a good check on a flowing edge...

You are probably thinking, that's easier thought than done, but if you can run through the thought process and the feeling in your mind over and over, it will help your body perform it when you are on the ice.

Of course there is also visualization at the program level, where you visualize yourself running through your program. How it feels on each step, where your arms should be, what your body is doing, where you look, etc. Visualizing all these details will make it more natural when you perform the program.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Competition Tip #5: Responsibility

You are responsible for your role as an athlete ~ and that is not "to win the competition".
So what am I talking about?

As an athlete, you are responsible for putting in your best performance at the competition. Winning is the outcome of the process, and your responsibility is not confined to competition day.

Tip #5: Responsibility as an athlete

By Kcr (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Take care of yourself mentally. Take care of yourself physically. Take care of your nutrition. In that way, you can

take on your role as an athlete

Take care of yourself mentally
When you feel prepared, you are confident. Part of being prepared is training well. If you are still feeling jittery about not having enough practise, it is time to write down your training plan leading up to competition. Plan for on ice and off-ice training. Analyse it and re-work it until you are satisfied. Then stick to your plan and trust yourself.

Take care of yourself physically
In the days leading up to the competition, you will be trying to push yourself physically. You will need to pace your training without burning yourself out. Allow for light-training days and rest days for your body recover.

As you train, you owe it to yourself to have the most optimal training session each time. As you enter the rink and warm up off-ice, allow yourself to transition into your role as an athlete. Set aside other issues in school, at work, at home... or even with your friends, skating or otherwise. You need to focus on your own training.

Take care of your nutrition
With all the physical stress you are putting on your body, you must ensure you have sufficient nutrition. After training, you need to replenish calories, so resist the urge to skip meals. Here are a few interesting articles on nutrition:

Finally, love what you do and love yourself. I choose to use this picture partly because of the advertisement in the background... it is so true ~

Love the skin you are in

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Competition Tip #4: Warm-up

On competition day, as you take the ice for your warm-up, it is cold and you are nervous...
You need to warm-up! Not just that, you need to calm your nerves.

Tip #4: Warm-up Routine

Proper warm-up helps to stretch and loosen muscles and tendons, improving your ability to perform. It also helps to mentally prepare you for competition. Before competition day, plan to

have in place a warm-up routine

In fact, as a skater, you should have two - one for off-ice and one for on-ice. As you are waiting for your event, you will be doing some light warm-up off-ice. When it is time for your event, you will have 6 minutes of warm-up on ice.

[Picture adapted from photo by Onちゃん (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons]

Your off-ice warmup should be just sufficient to get your muscles and tendons loose and stretched. When getting on the ice, skaters frequently start with some stroking, step sequence and then move on to other elements in their program. Prepare the sequence in which you want to warm up your elements. Remember that your coach will usually be by the boards to help you too, so you should discuss your plan with your coach.

Once you have your warm-up routines on and off ice, use them when you go to the rink for training!

Here are some links you can use for reference:

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Competition Tip #3: Focus

Competition stress gets to everyone. Not just the athlete, but also family and even close friends. The environment you are in does not make it any better.

[Picture adapted from photo by David W. Carmichael (]
You see your competitor land that double sal and you wonder if you will. You hear others gossip about how "simple" your footwork sequence is, or how your spin is "only level 1".

Tip #3: Focus on yourself

I originally wanted to phrase this as "avoid stressful situations" but that is not always possible. Moreover, avoidance is not the best solution. Instead, you need to

focus on your own training

This is not the time to listen to naysayers. This is not the time to worry about whether you should have put a double Sal in your program ~ just because others have it. This is not the time to second-guess what your coach has planned out for you.

 Work on what you have.
   Make your program the best you can.
    Focus on your strengths.
     Train hard ...
        ... and the results will follow.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Competition Tip #2: Familiarity breeds success

This may sound like a "duh" tip, but there is more to it than you may think...

[Picture adapted from photo by David W. Carmichael (, via Wikimedia Commons.]
Tip #2:
Familiarity with your program

All skaters perform a program to music, and you must

be intimately familiar with your program

You need to know your program well enough to perform it with ease, with expression, and under any circumstance. You need to know how every part of your program fits in with the music. You need to know the entire sequence of your program. You need to become one with the music.

The program must be so ingrained in you that you can focus on the quality of the execution. Such familiarity with your routine will build your confidence in your ability. Minor disruptions will not bother you ~ so what if you fell on that jump, just get up and continue.

So you're thinking, you have your program, you have practised it over and over, how can you not be familiar with it? Well, ask yourself this question:
If your program was interrupted (for whatever reason), would you be able to resume the program from where you left off?

This was what happened to dance team Yanovskaya/Mozgov at the 2012 Junior World Championships. The strap on Mozgov's pants came loose and the judge stopped the music to have him fix it. They had to start again from where they left off... Though such cases are not common, being familiar with your program will help tremendously in an already tense situation!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Competition Tip #1: Confidence

With 11 more days to the start of the Singapore National Figure Skating Competition, I am beginning to hear expressions of nervousness all around the rink. How prepared are you?

Over the next two weeks, I will be posting one tip a day regarding preparation for competition. Are you ready?

Tip #1: Confidence

Confidence is the knowledge that you are capable of doing something.

Be confident in your ability

You have trained hard, and continue to prepare physically for your competition. As you work on your jump, your spin, your step/spiral sequence and your program, remember that you have the ability to perform.

Yes, you can do each and every element in your program. Banish the thought of "don't fall". Instead, think "stand up" on that jump landing. Keep your attitude positive.

Remember that you are making consistent progress. Though your road to progress may be bumpy (who doesn't have a "bad spin day" or a "bad jump day"?) you must focus on the fact that you are training to improve.

Whenever you step on the ice, skate like your best!


[Picture adapted from photo by Rich Moffitt from Boston, USA (Sasha Cohen in a very high jump) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons]

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Spirit of a Competitive Athlete

"You're too old. You're too slow. You're past your prime."

Lim Heem Wei is Singapore's first gymnast to qualify for the Olympic games. Like figure skating, gymnastics is a sport where the average age of female competitors is usually in the teens. At the age of 22, Lim shows that "too old" is only in the mind.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Skating order for 2012 Singapore National Figure Skating Championship

The skating order, drawn at the SISA gathering on Sat 10 Mar 2012, is available on the SISA website, at "11th Singapore National Figure Skating Championships and Competition Skating Order"

Good luck to all skaters!

Champion Cords

How many times have we coaches say "your arm was not moving with your foot" only to have our skaters say "yes it was! I moved them together". As a coach, I have tried taking a video (thank goodness for camera phones!) to prove to the skater… Still, the problem couldn't always be solved immediately as the skater did *feel* like they were moving them together.

In the spring of 2003, in the midst of a similar coaching session, Sheila Thelen told a skater, “I’m going to tie your left hand and left foot together, so you are forced to move – as a unit.” She then proceeded to get a section of bungee cord, knotted one end around the skater’s boot, and tied another knot at the other end of the cord in a loop to create a handle. The skater went on to land 10 axels in that lesson!
Sheila says,
The skater came back each time saying very important words to her coach, such as: “Now I know where my left foot goes in midair.” “Look what this cord does for my landings – now I’m doing the landings the way YOU wanted them.” “I think I’m really getting the hang of this!” Of course, the most pertinent comment the skater made was: “This bungee cord really works great! I can FEEL in midair!”

Sheila tried the idea on several other skaters and saw improvement to their skating. Over the next many months, Sheila worked tirelessly, sourcing for material, designing the cords and also working on a patent for her new product as well as obtaining endorsement from the Professional Skaters Association (PSA). Thus, Champion Cords was born!

What does Sheila encourage coaches and skaters to use Champion Cords for?

Singles, doubles, triples, quads, spirals, moves in the field, flying camels, laybacks, split jumps, camels, stroking, crossovers, presentation, posture, alignment, position, muscle memory, awareness and technique.
It has helped skaters understand and experience alignment and stretch while skating. Sheila also notes that
Most skaters wear their Champion Cords for a half hour a day, two times per week. Champion Cords teaches seminars across the country, helping skaters learn a very difficult sport - better, stronger, and faster: Alignment, Position, Muscle Memory, Awareness & Technique.

What else can be done with Champion Cords? Here's a cool video

Over the years, Champion Cords gained recognition and are used by notable skating professionals, including Audrey Weisiger (National/World/Olympic Coach PSA & USFS Coach Of The Year), Frank Carroll (National/World/Olympic Coach PSA & USFS Coach Of The Year), and Robin Wagner (Coach of Olympic Champion, Sara Hughes, and National/World/Olympic Coach). Champion Cords are also used by over 70,000 coaches and skaters throughout the United States and throughout the world, with sales to countries like Italy, England, Germany, Mexico, South Africa, China, Japan, South America, Finland, Canada, Australia, France, Dubai, Russia, etc.

Champion Cords is now on Facebook!

In 2006, Sheila joined Grassroots To Champions (“G2C”), which is a highly skilled group of Olympic/World/National coaches, each teaching different top specialties in figure skating. Figure skating clubs of all different sizes and levels (from very small clubs with beginning skaters through large clubs with National/World/Olympic skaters) schedule seminars for their faculty/facility. To these seminars, Audrey brings in her favorites: Nick Perna, a specialist in “Pole/Safety Harness Usage,” Chris Conte, a specialist in “Dartfish” (a technical computer feedback and analysis system), Trevor Laak, a specialist in “Jumps analysis,” and Sheila Thelen, the “Champion Cord” specialist. Additional specialists include: Dr. Caroline Silby, Pasquale Camerlego, Darin Hosier, Kat Arbor, Douglas Webster, Doug Mattis, and Tommy Steenberg. These G2C seminars are taught all over the United States and around the world.


Sheila Thelen is a PSA Master-Rated Coach and Skating Director at the St. Croix Valley Recreation Center in Stillwater, Minnesota. She is also the Executive Director of Grassroots To Champions Seminars. Recently, she was nominated for the 2010 Peter Kollen - US FS/PSA Sports Science Award.

Additional projects that Sheila Thelen is involved in include, new blade designs with Nick Perna (in production),, Dartfish Training, Staff Member at Parade Ice Gardens (Downtown Minneapolis, MN), Monthly PSA Article. She was recently nominated for the 2010 Peter Kollen - US FS/PSA Sports Science Award.

You can learn more or order product from: Champion Cords: Audrey Weisiger’s Grassroots To Champions:

Saturday, March 10, 2012

SISA Gathering

On a Saturday morning, Singapore skaters gathered at the Orchid Country club, at an event hosted by the Singapore Ice Skating Association (SISA). We started with a welcome address by SISA president Sonja Chong, after which SISA vice president Kaori Zage gave an overview of the SkateStar program. She also unveiled the new SISA logo, which was selected from entries submitted during the logo contest last year. The winning logo was designed by figure skater Genevieve Har!

The draw for the upcoming Singapore National Figure Skating Competition was held next, where skaters from the various event categories came up to draw their skating order.

After the draw, Mr Kevin Cottam gave an inspirational talk on the 5 ingredients for success. Kevin is

  • Vision
  • Drive
  • Passion
  • Practice
  • Talent

During the luncheon that followed, SISA exco had a question-and-answer session with the skaters and parents. There was interest in the new Olympic ice rink in JCube, as well as in the new SkateStar program. The rink will begin operation in April and SISA is working on obtaining freestyle ice time, though schedules are not fixed yet. The skating community is looking forward to having a safe and friendly environment to train in!

Friday, March 09, 2012

RInk in Progress ~ Nice

The rink in Nice is being made for the World Figure Skating Championships later this month!

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

JCube's Olympic Ice Skating Rink

As announced on JCube's Facebook page this evening, Singapore will finally have an Olympic rink in April! Can't wait :-)

Monday, March 05, 2012

Junior Worlds 2012 - Mens

Han Yan from China, in a magnificent free skate program at the Junior World Championships. He start off with an easy triple Axel, followed by a quad toe loop, and later two triple Lutzes and two triple Lutzes.

In close second was United States' Joshua Farris, who opened with a triple Axel-double toe followed by another triple Axel.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Junior World Championships 2012 Ladies

Julia Lipnitskaia came in first in the Ladies event.

Beautiful long program


Here's her short program.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Tai Babilonia Skates on eBay!

Seen on eBay ~ "Custom Ice Skates from World Champion Tai Babilonia"

The description says

The skates are in pristine condition with little signs of use, these skates were made custom for Tai Babilonia. Tai Reina Babilonia (born September 22, 1959 in Los Angeles, California) is a retired American pair skater. With partner Randy Gardner, she was the 1979 World Champion and the 1976-1980 U.S. national champion. Tai Babilonia will personally autograph any personalized message for the winner of the auction on both the skates and the book, don't miss this one in a lifetime opportunity to own an amazing piece of memorabilia from one of the most graceful ice skaters ever to compete on the world stage.

They are auctioning for US$14,500 ... really? who would pay so much for a pair of skates? Plus she hardly used them? If you want custom SP Teri skates, you can get them made for less than one-tenth that price - and to fit your feet too!