Monday, July 20, 2009

Two Tests

I didn't panic as much this time as last year. After all last year was the first time that I had tested in almost 40 years. I was okay this year until the day of. Thank God I was still sewing my costume right up until the time that I left the house or I would have had time to really panic. This year I was taking two tests, pre-bronze freestyle and bronze moves in the field.

I took the week off work after skating at Lake Placid. I figured I could sleep a lot,let my knees recover, have time to practice for my test and also time to sew my outfit. I had the design in mind but hadn't started sewing yet. I had until Friday to complete the dress. The basic design I stole- ah copied- from a dress that looked good on me. My modified design consisted of two pieces, a glittery white leotard undergarment and a black overdress with white gores in the skirt. Sewing with the serger made this a breeze. "Where have you been all my life?" I loveingly asked my machine. I always did run my old machine at top speed and it could barely keep up with me. The serger goes so fast I have to run it at half speed so that I can keep up with it. Enough of this. This blog is supposed to be about figure skating rather than sewing.

I was sitting on the couch the morning of my tests, sewing on the modesty panel and the crystal rosettes. Yes, I fell for the lure of crystals but I kept it understated. I knew I wouldn't get the the hem done but I also knew that it wouldn't matter. This year I was determined to get to the rink early. Last year they were running 45 minutes ahead of schedule and I barely had time to get my boots on and get mentally prepared before I had to be on the ice. I wasn't about to let that happen again. I got to the rink and finished dressing. My coach wasn't there yet and my husband decided to run errands for half an hour since things seemed to be running on time this year. I paced, stretched and paced some more. I'm a pacer. I like to move around a lot since it helps me release some of the tension. I started to panic. Still no Joanna. My leotard was slipping so I decided that it was safety pin time or it would bug the hell out of me while I skated. Note to self; finish costume early so you can actually skate in it and then make repairs if necessary. In this case, I shall need a different leotard design if I want to wear this outfit again. So here I am in the ladies bathroom with no coach and no husband trying to insert safety pins that are too short into my bra and leotard and I can't see since I don't have my glasses on. Now I was really starting to panic. Luckily another coach came in that I knew by sight but not to talk to and I asked her if she could help me. It took her some considerable effort and several pins (one bent) to get the two garments attached to each other. Back to pacing again. It was less than half an hour until I was due on the ice and still no husband or coach. My feet were starting to go numb. This is not good. I was just about to sit down and unlace my skates when I turned around and there was Joanna. "How is your husband?" I asked. I had assumed the worst; car accidents, sick spouse, etc. "He's fine. Why?" she replied. "You're late," I didn't mean this as tersely as it came out. "No I'm not," she shot back. I was too wound up and nervous to realize that I wasn't being very nice. Instead of apologizing I sat down and unlaced my skates. I showed her the skate order and I was in the last group and the second to last skater but we couldn't figure out when I was supposed to skate the freestyle and when I was supposed to skate the MIF tests. There were over ten people lumped together in my group with all sorts of tests listed for each one. I just sat in the crowded warming room wiggling my feet around inside my unlaced boots. I had to keep doing deep breathing to calm down. Joanna and I didn't talk at all. Finally word came back that the judges were splitting the group up into two groups of five while preserving the skating order. I was still next to last. As the group before me took to the ice I laced up my boots and resumed pacing. I watched some of the skaters. It turned out that we were all at about the same level. There were two judges so they were calling two girls onto the ice at a time and having them follow each other down the rink for their moves test and then do their freestyle test right afterward. Oh crap! I am going to have to skate the tests back to back! OMG! This is going to be horrible. Particularly since I am supposed to do the freestyle after the MIF and I am useless after the moves never mind jumping! Crap. Oh crap. Oh crap. Now I am really wound up. Suddenly I have to get to the other side of the rink. The other group had finished early and had left the ice already and I wasn't even in the hockey box yet. The other kids in my group were already on the ice warming up and I hadn't even gotten my skate guards off yet. I finally get out onto the ice and don't even make it one lap around and the judges call my name out summoning me to the boards. Since there were five people in my group and my test was different they asked if I could switch and be last. No problem I said. I took the opportunity to ask if I could do my freestyle test first which wasn't a problem and I got up the nerve to ask for a breather between laps of my MIF test. "I'm not as young as I used to be," I said, which elicited chuckles from the balding grey haired judges. He said that wasn't a problem and I could take my time. I told him that I would let the coaches and other skater know about the switch. I skated back to the other booth and let the other skater know. Fortunately she was standing right there. Unfortunately this was cutting into my warm up time. I heard the "one minute left" announcement and I hadn't done a thing yet. I skated off and did some spins. "Warm up is over. Please clear the ice." Nuts! I managed a couple of spins and a couple of waltz jumps and that was it. No moves warm up. Crap oh crap. Now I was last and had to wait. At least this year I had warm clothes with me. I couldn't sit still and kept wiggling my feet and legs. I kept using deep breathing to calm myself down. My right leg was starting to go numb. Damn, this is my landing leg. Not good. I stood up and shifted weight back and forth. There wasn't time to unlace my boots. I sat down. Wiggled and stood up again. Damn. Damn. The girl before me was still skating her freeskate test. I looked over at the judges and he signaled for me to come over. It was time.

I took off my guards and skated over to the judge. He said that we could do our freestyle tests together and then I could do my moves test on my own, which was fine by me. I think I had this judge last year but wasn't sure. He was very nice. He let me know that I could do the freestyle test in any order (no music since this was the pre-bronze test) and he would check it off that I did the element. I started with my spins. The two foot first and then the single foot spin. I had a mild panic attack going into the single foot spin but I forced myself to relax. I knew that if I relaxed and looked straight ahead then the spin would more than likely center itself. My skirt flying around me caught my eye. I could just see it at the edge of my vision and I had to fight the urge to look down and watch it (another reason I need to practice in the outfit first). During the spin exit I snuck a quick look down to see my tracing and it was centered!! Yeah me! Now for my jumps. First the half flip. I landed it a little clunky but it was technically correct. On to the waltz jump; not great height but I landed it fine if a tiny bit wobbly. Nothing that an on looker would notice. I looked around for the other girl since the next element was a huge circle of forwardcrossovers. She was further down the ice so I launched into the forward crossovers. She whizzed by me. Apparently she was setting up for a jump in the corner and now I was in her way. We did't quite crash but her sudden appearance surprised me and I lost my concentration. Luckily I was only doing crossovers so it was no big deal. I flipped around and started the back crossovers. She skated over to the boards. Yeah, she was done. I didn't have to worry about where she was and I could concentrate on what I was doing. I finished the crossovers and flipped around again and stepped right into a nice spiral. My leg doesn't get as high as the kids but at least it is above my butt. I wish I could see myself in a mirror. Oh well. I skated over to the judge. Panting of course. He asked if I needed a break and I told him that I was fine. He asked me if I knew the skate order for the moves which I did. I have skated this so much I literally skate it in my sleep. Last year I had to write the order down on my wrist; this year I didn't need a crib sheet.

Off I went to the other end of the ice. It didn't bode well that I was out of breath before I even started my MIF. "You can do this. You did this in Lake Placid. You can take little breaks. You know this stuff cold." I skated the test well. I went a little slower than usual but I wanted to skate well rather than risk making an error. As it was, I caught a little rake during the backward power crossovers. All in all everything went well. By the third lap I was skating over to Joanna and taking a very short breather, taking slugs of water to hide the fact that I was really trying to catch my breath. She looked at me and said "You can do this. You'll be fine. Just skate." I was 3/4 of the way around the rink on my last pattern when I started "You're almost done. Three more lobes. Shut up and pay attention to your feet. You're almost done. Shut up! 1, 2, 3, 4, 5! 1, 2, 3, 4, 5! You're done! Flip around. Don't trip! Present it to the judge. I'm done!!!!!! Yeah me!!!!!" He just looked at me and said "all set." "Thank you!" I breathlessly replied and I left the ice. That was a good sign. I didn't have to reskate anything! Always a good sign. We walked quietly around to the warming room. All you could hear in the rink was my breathing. "If that didn't pass, I'm a bad coach," Joanna said. I smiled. I was done. I was still panting and couldn't talk. The entire place was empty. Everyone was gone. It wasn't like last year where I had ten pairs of eyes watching me skate. There was no one left except the officials, me, Joanna and my husband. I couldn't get my boots off fast enough. I changed my clothes. I caught my breath. Finally the results came. I had passed both tests! The only comment on my freestyle test was "well centered spin." The MIF test was my first ever scored test. It takes 2.5 to pass and each of the five moves had 2.5 written down. The comments included "good edges" and "nice flow". Joanna told me that he is a hard judge. He doesn't mark high but he is fair. To my mind the comments weren't terribly helpful. I thought that I had skated some bits better than others but there was no indication of that on the test. Typical, I would see a "B+" on my test and wonder why I didn't get an "A". I passed and I passed with a hard judge. I looked up my old test and indeed he was a judge of mine last year as well. He hadn't written anything on that test at all. I guess I should take "well centered spin" as a high compliment considering the judge.

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