Friday, July 17, 2009

Lake Placid Day 7: A Jam Packed Day

Saturday actually started Friday night. Mum and I were at the condo watching another old ice skating movie. This time it was the Ice Capades. I am old enough to have actually seen some Ice Capades shows live. This was before Disney took them over and turned them into merchandise tie ins. I used to go to the Boston Garden to see them and once in a while one of my parents' old show buddies (Mum and dad met while they were touring in ice shows together: gee I wonder where I got the ice skating bug from?) was on tour with the Capades and I remember going backstage and meeting the skaters. Of course I don't remember any of the names anymore. I'm sure Mum could rattle them off. Anyway, the movie we were watching was an old black and white film with lots of drop outs. It was probably a copy of a copy of a copy but I didn't care. It was a fun movie along the lines of the old "hey kids lets put on a show" genres but on ice instead of the stage. About half way through the movie the phone rang. It was Barbara Colby. She was choreographing another synchronized patch number for the ice show. Turns out she lost several members who went home early due to the lack of ice on Saturday and a stomach bug that was making the rounds. She wanted Mum to skate in the number and the rehearsal was at 9am in the USA rink. So much for our sleep in tomorrow.

We woke up early and had a good breakfast. We got to the rink in plenty of time. The ice was a bit off though. There was a lot of humidity in the rink so the ceiling was dripping down onto the ice surface making horrible discolored bumps in the ice. You had to be careful skating around. Mum got her skates on and I went up into the stands which are way high up in the USA rink. They put them above some offices but the view is really good. This is the ice surface that is used for curling so they not only have hockey lines on the ice but also three curling lane markings. I always thought that was cool. I spent the next hour reading a trashy novel (this is a requirement for a vacation) and watching the patch group rehearse. They had the ice to themselves except for one dance couple who were also rehearsing for the afternoon show. To explain a little synchronised patch is harking back to the origins of figure skating. Back in the 1800s in England skating clubs used to compete with each other drawing figures on the ice. They frequently skated as a team rather than individual members, often tracing figures holding hands in groups of two, three or four people. Barbara started the synchro patch last year and a small write up ended up in Skating magazine. She has modernized it a bit having two groups of four people doing a variety of figures and edges while a single person skates the compulsory figure eights. This is all done to music by Enya which lends itself well to the methodical movements. When Mum got off the ice and we were making our last trip up to the coffee shop we got to talking about how much we love Barbara's choreography. She has to deal with people with mixed skill levels some of whom never did patch prior to coming to adult week up to ones that has passed tests. This forces her to keep the difficulty levels simple but somehow still makes interesting patterns on the ice that are enjoyable to watch. This takes quite a bit of talent on her part.

After coffee and tea it was back to the USA rink for my lesson and my last MIF practice. I had gotten used to doing these in the 1980 rink which Mum told me Friday was indeed bigger since it is an Olympic sized hockey rink. To which I responded "Thank God!". I thought I had lost stamina over night. I looked it up later and found out the rink is actually wider rather than longer however. I must have been skating whopping huge lobes back and forth across the ice which also allowed me to fit in an extra lobe at the end. My first pass around the USA rink was really easy in comparison and I ended up adding in the extra lobe and getting stuck in the boards in the corner of the rink without enough space left to elegantly flip around and go the other way. Something I had just managed to fix before I left for LP. I made several passes before I even got slightly winded. Something that made me very very happy. Now I am glad that I had practiced these all week in an oversized rink.

Robin showed up for my spin lesson and she had me demonstrate my spin which is still not centering right away. Since we had fresh ice we could examine my tracings. She had me use a three turn entrance into the spin and it immediately centered right over the three turn entrance. Turns out that I step slightly to the left when I step into my crossover circle and this de-centers the spin. Fortunately I have figured out how to correct for this mid spin and can center it up after I make one or two rotations after the three turn. Ideally it needs to center right away so I keep spinning. We then moved onto camel spins which I was doing horribly that day. I kept going onto a hard inside edge which made me loose my balance and I would dump out of it. Robin stops me from spinning and we had huge discussion on spinning philosophy. My coach at home didn't want me to waste my time on a bad spin and wants me to stop as soon as it goes wrong and start over again. The idea being that you don't have enough time to waste on something that is going horribly wrong. Robin's idea is that you have to learn to finish even a bad spin because you never know what is going to happen out on the ice during a test or competition. You have to learn how to handle a bad spin or a bad jump and finish it elegantly as possible. This way if it goes bad when you are under pressure you have actually practiced how to recover from it and continue. Since I am an adult skater and not too worried about taking my time learning something I rather like Robin's idea better. It makes sense that you need to practice recovering from errors. I have watched kids make the exact same mistake in their program over and over again. It is almost like they have learned to skate the mistake rather than the element. My spins are still unstable enough that it is hit or miss if I get it right. I have to be able to recover from a mistake. One weird problem I seem to be having now is that I am centering my spin often enough that I am now digging huge ruts in the ice during the spin and then tripping over my own rut. I am going to have to back off my toe pick so they aren't as deep. Robin was telling me that her daughter (who is a high level competitive skater) is so consistent with her lutz jump that she will now use the exact same toe pick hole each time she jumps which becomes a problem.

Once we were done with spins Robin wanted me to skate my test, non-stop, end to end just like I was being judged. She even got off the ice. I had only the dance pair to contend with so I could concentrate really well on the steps and skating around the little brown stalactites forming on the ice surface. I skated down to the hockey goal area while Robin left the ice and stood in the hockey box along with my mother and a few other adult skaters. I felt like I had a little judging panel all of my own and I was even nervous. I stood at attention raised my arms looked down the rink and launched into the first pattern. One lap of the rink come to a nice stop, elegantly glide back to the goal area and start again. By the third pattern I was panting hard and was glad that the dance pair was in my way. I got to wait an extra 30 seconds before starting the next pattern. By the forth pattern I was beginning to feel light headed and was breathing really hard. I heard Robin yell "Breath! Breath!" at me as I whizzed past the hockey box. I was now feeling weak in the knees and praying that my legs would hold my edges and knee bends. I started chanting "1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5" in time to the steps and to help me breath. I was SO out of breath. "I can do this! I can do this! 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. I am almost at the end. Just a couple more." and I was at the end. Somehow I made it over to the box and Robin was beaming at me. "I knew you could do it. I wanted to show that you can do it. Now I want you to do that every day between now and the test. Also skate the patterns in reverse order so your weakest one isn't always last." I was bent over the boards gasping for breath. A couple of the other women looked at me in alarm. Robin said "You can collapse when you get off the ice but you have to show the judges that you can do this. You can throw up later. While you are on the ice you have to show control." This is a level of skating that I am not familiar with. I am very very glad I came here to practice. I am so happy that Robin is willing to help me. She has so much good information not just about the actual skating skills but also the psychology and how to train in a way that makes it more likely that I'll succeed. I am a lucky lucky person. Eventually I caught my breath and came back to earth. "I did it!" "I can't believe I did it!" "Now you know you can," Robin just smiled at me.

After lunch was the show at 2:30pm in the 1932 rink. My Mum got to change into her "costume" of a white shirt which we had bought at Robin's second hand shop for the patch number last year and some black pants. Since my Mum knows everyone there she got to change in the coaches room which is a converted locker room left over from when it was built for the Olympics in 1932. The showers didn't work but heck there was heat in there and a rug.

I sat up in the stands to watch Mum. Barbara sat next to me and gave me a running commentary on many of the skaters. I remember some of them from the previous year. I guess some of them have been coming for decades and the coaches know them well. Several people did their singles freestyle program (I hope to do this next year), some skated their dances. There were two group numbers, one freestyle done by Mary Elizabeth and the patch number by Barbara. Since there were a couple of people subbing in, they had only learned the pattern that morning. I could hear Barbara giving directions under her breath. When the pattern got messed up Barbara almost jumped out of her seat to yell directions. It was killing her to sit still. She is very cute. She cares so much about the women on the ice. Even though it got a bit messed up it still looked really good. I told her that Mum and I like her choreography very much. "You just made my day," she returned. She is such a nice lady.

The show came to a close and there was lots of picture taking. The show was fun and I am very bummed it is all over. In the flurry of email exchanges and photos people kept coming up to me and telling me that I will do great on my test next week. I can't believe how many people wished me luck. It was so wonderful.

To see pictures go to Lake Placid Skater's Blog where she has a slide show of it,
Her photos are much better than mine. I still haven't gotten the hang of taking photos with a digital camera in an ice rink. They come out horrible. I'll have to talk to my photographer friend and get some help.

After the show we have a reception. There were door prizes and I won a wonderful gift bag with Adirondack style stuff in it such as a picture frame, candle, chocolates and my prize possession a small black bear with an LP tee shirt on (these small stuffed animals are common in the skating world at higher levels: they get thrown on the ice when someone does a nice freeskate during a competition). The food was wonderful but I could only pick at it since most of it was wrapped in wheat. We stood around and talked about the past week and adult week next year. I gave some money for a collection to help pay for a kid to skate. Then Ludmilla came up to me, "you skate test next week?" she asked me in her broken English. "Yes," I replied. "You will do well. I watch you skate and you will pass. No problem." Here was a multiple Olympic champion, holding my hands and telling me I was good enough to pass my tests!! OMG!! I could faint to the floor right now. How wonderful! I was almost in tears. I can not get over the support from everyone. People asking me how my shoulder was doing since my bad fall. People telling me that I would do well on my tests. Coaches helping me out so much with my training. How wonderful!! Words fail me. I am proud and happy and lucky and blessed. I don't want to leave.

The reception did come to an end so Mum and I went walking down Main Street. It was finally sunny and I wanted to go to the book store. There is a wonderful store called the Pipe and Book which has old and antique books for sale. Mum was going through a cabinet of figure skating books. "They are half price," she whispered. I just hit pay dirt! I had to decide between a dozen books which ones I wanted. I picked up one unassuming book with a plain red cover "Advanced Figures" by Maribel Vinson. That is my coaches' coach! That was her maiden name. My Mum got her hands on "The Fun of Figure Skating" which was published after she was married, Marible Vinson Owen. I cracked it open and it was how to do all of the compulsory figures. Turns out this was the second book which started at the third figure test. She had published another book that covered the first three tests which the dealer didn't have. I'll have to look for it on Amazon which is where Mum got her Fun book from. I have to buy this book. I also decided on the first edition of "Single Figure Skating for Beginners and Champions" by Dr J. Dedic and published by the ISU (International Skating Union). I had this book when I was a kid. It has some math in it and is an excellent primer on skating being split evenly between figures and freestyle with lots of diagrams and photos. It is written in the order that it would be learned. I asked Mum what happened to it and it turns out that she had given it to Robin since no one was interested in skating at the time. Who knew I was going to get addicted again?

Time to go home, start packing and find out what my sister is up to. On the walk back to the car we run into one of the other skaters and told her about the book sale so she ran off to catch the store before it closed for the day. We get home to find multiple messages on the answering machine from my sister. She is in Loon Lake and wants us to come over for dinner. We head out there which is about a 20 minute drive and spend a nice evening sitting around the dinner table talking. We don't leave until after 10pm. I can't believe how fast it went. I won't see her again for months and I am sad. Mum and I collapse in bed. We plan on going to the diner for breakfast together and then I finish packing and leave for Boston. I think I'll take the ferry again since the weather is supposed to be okay tomorrow. I truly wish I could stay here and train the rest of the summer. It would be great fun.

No comments:

Post a Comment