Sunday, April 11, 2010

Worcester Open Post Mortem

My spouse is a sound engineer. In his business production companies often hold post mortem meetings to figure out what when wrong, what went right and what can be done differently (theoretically better) next time.

Last night I skated in the Worcester Open. I learn lots of things, most of them only partially related to actually skating. I did get a silver medal but there were only two of us in the flight. As my husband said last night "if you fell on your face, wiped out the cones (I was skating on a half sheet of ice so they set up cones along the middle), got up and yelled f*&% at the top of your voice, I would have no less respect for you and you would still get a medal." While everything he said is true, I didn't wipe out or even fall on my face. I did land my jumps despite the jello that suddenly replaced all of the muscle mass in both legs. I didn't skate as clean and as in control as I like. There were a few bobbles and toe picks where there shouldn't have been. I didn't get my normal height on my waltz jump. Despite all of this one of the judges put me in first place. I missed gold by one judge. Not bad for what could have been a potential disaster.

I originally signed up for this competition to keep my friend company at the event. She was supposed to skate in the silver freestyle. After we both signed up and paid our entrance fees she was notified that there were NO other silver competitors so her event was dropped. Suddenly I was on my own in a competition I didn't really intend to enter in the first place with a shaky Salchow jump. WTF? I managed to talk my husband into driving me out there. He knows Worcester better than I do. Whenever I drive out there I get lost in the rat maze of one way streets. So we leave at 6pm and he estimated that it takes one hour to get there. My event was at 8pm so that should leave me lots of extra time.

I decided to forgo the practice ice since it was so early in the day I would have been stuck waiting around the rink for over 2 hours with nothing to do. Instead I skated at Stoneham in the morning and did wonderfully including a clean run through with absolutely no warm up. I landed 5 out of the 6 Salchows perfectly. I was ready.

Now hubby and I were loaded up in the car driving 85mph heading to Worcester. I got to the check in desk at 7:20. Plenty of time to get dressed, do my jump rope and stretching and get mentally prepared. The lady looks at me and says "I'm glad you made it. We are running about 25 minutes early. You are on next." Crap! Oh crap! Sheer and utter panic! I just dumped everything on my husband except my costume and ran to the dressing room. I never got changed so fast. The snaps on my leotard kept coming undone. Fine time to have a costume malfunction! I ran back out to the rink and grabbed my skates. I laced them up as fast as I could all the time thinking that I had to get them perfect the first time. A lady with a clip board came over and told me not to panic but keep lacing. I finished with one skater to go. I started pacing. I was dressed and had my boots on and I was pacing. This was good right?? So why was I still in panic mode? Suddenly time went in slow motion. They took forever to put the cones across the center line of the ice. I just wanted to get out there and start. The announcer took forever to get around to letting us on the ice for warm up. And then it started; my blade hit the ice. I was skating in a place I had never been and I was by myself. "Crap, this is a small rink." The ice was slow and a bit cut up since it hadn't been resurfaced for a while. This was good. I didn't have to worry about gaining too much speed. I did forward and backward crossovers, a spin, a waltz jump. Time for the run through. I did the Salchow ok but bobbled my waltz landing. Crap. Oh crap. The "one minute remaining" announcement came. Since I was skating first, I had to stop warming up so that I could catch my breath. Instead I went hunting for the sequin I saw lying on the ice waiting to trip me up. I managed to find it and took it to the boards and gave it to one of the ladies running the event. My husband told me to breath. I was panicking. I was fine until I started the jump entrances then my legs turned to jello. It didn't matter if it was the Salchow or the Waltz absolute rubber legs. No power. Breath breath breath breath. Crap. Practice ice was over and I had to step off the ice.

"Please take your starting position." Back onto the ice I went. Now I stood facing the girl at the other end of the rink. "Ladies you may begin." Away I went. Slow. Take my time. Step, step, arabesque, lunge, forward crossovers, stop. Now for the Salchow run; mohawk, three turn, back swing roll, jump. I did it! It was tiny but I jumped and landed it! Crossover, crossover, chasse, mowhawk, back crossover, back crossover, prep for Waltz jump "Oh crap my skates are dull. I'm going to botch this and slide on my ass.", mini jump. WTF? Why did I say that? I landed a huge one this morning despite the dull blades. Lousy power three turn, cross, cross, spin, edge, arabesque, finish. Done. Breath, breath, breath.

Not my best skate. Not as fluid as I normally do it. I couldn't believe the rubber legs during the jumps. And what was with that brain fart during the waltz jump take off? I wasn't on hard fast ice. My blades weren't sliding anywhere. Can I do it again please? I'll do better this time I promise! Just let me get my crap together first. Take a breather and get my head in the game first. None of this rushing about stuff.

I left there with a list of "what ifs":
  • What if I had gotten there earlier so that I could have done my warm up routine and mental prep?
  • What if I had managed to get my blades sharpened?
  • What if I had skated on the practice ice even though it would mean sitting around for a couple of hours?
  • What if I hadn't twisted my ankle so I would have had two extra weeks of Salchow practice?
  • What if I had skated cleaner and faster?

Would any of these have made a difference? Scott Hamilton says that to win a competition you have to get rid of all of the would haves, should haves, could haves. Now I really understand this. If I were to do this competition over I would have skated on the practice ice and put up with sitting around for a couple of hours before the competition. I would have also made a better effort at getting my blades sharpened several weeks prior to the competition. Then I would have taken care of everything that was within my power to do anything about. At that point it would have been up to the skating gods to shine down upon me or crush me as they saw fit but at least I would have done everything I possibly could to do well. I'll know better next time. I know that I HAVE to do the practice session. I HAVE to give myself time to warm up. I HAVE to be there hours early. I HAVE to have sharp blades. Then the rest will be up to the gods.

Originally I came away from the competition with mixed feelings. I had just won a silver medal. Something I should be proud of but there were only two of us in the competition. I wanted to be proud of it but was unsure. I didn't skate my best and that is what I was hoping for. A much cleaner skate; more like the one I did at Colonial. However, I went there. I skated. I jumped and landed both jumps cleanly. I did all of the elements I was required to and a few extras that looked pretty good. I had one judge think I came in first. I'm 47 years old and managed to do all of this by myself during what amounted to as a panic attack. I think I'll let myself be proud. Despite the weird series of events I skated fine and I came home with a medal that was 2/3rds silver and 1/3 gold!! Just wait until the next competition. I'll give the skating gods a run for their money!

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