By Katherine Ruch
The 2013 ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Series continues this weekend with the NHK Trophy in Tokyo. Watch tonight (Friday, Nov. 8) on Universal Sports Network at 6 PM ET with the pairs, men’s and ladies short programs.
Leading a team of 13 Americans are five-time reigning U.S. Champions and 2013 World Champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White who will compete for their 14th consecutive Grand Prix win in the ice dance following their gold medal at Skate America in October. Siblings Maia and Alex Shibutani look for their seventh Grand Prix medal after taking home the bronze at Skate America.
For the U.S. ladies, 2013 U.S Silver Medalist Gracie Gold looks for her second medal of the season after winning bronze at Skate Canada two weeks ago while 2010 Olympian Mirai Nagasu will compete in her first Grand Prix of the season. In the men’s competition, Adam Rippon and Max Aaron, who finished second and third, respectively, at Skate America, and Jeremy Abbott, who finished sixth the following weekend at Skate Canada, look to sweep the podium.
Representing the U.S. in the pairs competition are U.S. Champions Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir and reigning World Junior Champions Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier.
Universal Sports Network is now available on Time Warner Cable, Cox and Verizon FiOS in HD, satellite providers DIRECTV and DISH and numerous regional cable and IPTV operators in markets across the country. If you don’t have Universal Sports, call your cable provider today!
by Katherine Ruch
This past week, I headed to Louisville to watch some of the Eastern Great Lakes Regional Competition. The morning came early since the rink is about an hour and a half from my house. Don’t get me wrong, I was glad it’s only an hour and a half away seeing as it could have been held in Michigan or someplace that is too hard for me to get to in a simple day trip! The problem is that I’m not a morning person but seeing as it is figure skating in an Olympic year, I was able to rise to the occasion. Honestly I wouldn’t have minded making a trip twice or more during the week to watch more events but skating and coaching kept getting in the way. I did manage to make it to watch the Junior and Senior Ladies events.
The second that I walked into the rink I remembered why figure skating needs a good scandal. I’m not sure if there were hardly any spectators in attendance because of the schedule, seeing as it was early in the afternoon on a Tuesday, or if people just didn’t know about it. But it was such a great chance to watch some really wonderful skating. Perhaps people outside of the figure skating world don’t realize that events like these are one of the qualifiers for the U.S. Nationals and, ultimately, the Olympics.
Following the Tonya vs. Nancy events of 1994, there was a dramatic upswing in figure skating interest as can be shown through television viewing. After the problems with judging at the Olympics in 2002, the 6.0 system died and was replaced with IJS. While I know IJS has its merits, I’m sure I’m not alone in missing the excitement of Michelle Kwan getting nothing but 6.0 marks. Plus, I hear from people outside the world of figure skating that they find the IJS confusing. I hate to admit it but I find it confusing too and I’m a figure skating coach!
The following skaters from Eastern Great Lakes will be competing in the Senior Ladies Division at Sectionals: Alissa Czisny, Amber Walczyk, Chelsea Christopher and Alicia Hsu, respectively, after placing in that order at Regionals. Alissa, who didn’t have a bye to Nationals after being plagued by injuries over the last couple of years, seems to have recovered well. I was amazed at everything the people in the Senior Division are able to do but Alissa did seem to breeze right pass them, scoring almost 20 points higher than Amber, who finished 2nd in terms of total score.
We will have to see how the Regionals all over the country pan out over the next couple of weeks. It should be an exciting year. Next week is Skate America, one of the events that is part of the Grand Prix Series, which is oddly enough being held in Detroit, home of 94′s “whack heard ’round the world.” Hopefully nothing quite like that will make the world of figure skating more interesting as we head into the Winter Olympics this time around. However, from the absence of spectators at Regionals, we might need some type of scandal to capture the public’s imagination. What are your thoughts?
In the past we asked some professional ice skating instructors their advice on helping skaters work on and land their axels. Here is what they shared with the Ice Skating World community concerning this all-important jump.
Submitted by: T.G
“In response to the axel gaining height…. I would have the skater do back-to-back axels. See how many they can do in a row type of game. This will force the skater to develop power when she is entering the jump. By the third or forth axel they will really have to work on the take off . Afterwards, remind them of the muscles they were using and to try to apply that on an axel when being done by itself. This exercise usually takes a few weeks to work, but with patience, power will develop and it will result in more height.”
Submitted by: Valerie
“My advice is to work back spin and walking over to the backspin. The student can work on the jump at home by jumping up and turning back on stair step. Pay close attention to the free leg and have them practice swinging free leg in and up. Good for those with inverted hip lines. Happy axels!”
Submitted by: Katie
“Although I am not a coach, I am a figure skater who figured out how to do a proper axle about a year ago with the help of my coach. Her tips were ‘kick up,’ ‘don’t stop with top pick before takeoff,’ ‘stand straight,’ ‘transfer weight in the air,’ and ‘keep your right arm and whole right side up.’ All these tips can be used for my doubles too. I just thought I’d share the tips I’ve learned. Good luck and happy skating!”
Submitted by: Sylvie Kademian
Rink: Kettering Ice Arena
“Have your student try the jump from a stand still. That way he/she has no forward momentum to help complete the rotation. From a stand still, the only way the student will get the rotation is to jump ‘up’ instead of ‘out.’ Once the student can confidently do it from a stand still, move to an entrance from a forward outside edge. Then do an entrance from crossovers. HOPE THIS HELPS.”
Submitted by: Angela
“[Response to Patti Brown] Hi Patti, I have a student that tends to get more ice coverage on this jump than height. Unfortunately, this jump is so intimidating. I would work on making sure that when the skater is making the transition from the gliding foot to the take off foot they do not fall to an inside edge (outside edge to outside edge), they keep their chest and chin up the whole time (if they look down, that’s where they will stay!), and the free leg and arms work together. And as their weight transfers in the air, an example I use is: it’s like a fireman sliding down the pole. Anyway, I hope this helps.”
Submitted by: Chris Mattern,
Rink: Starcenter, Dallas
“[Response to Patti Brown]. I had a student with the same problem I found I needed to put a little skid in her take off. That makes her go up instead of out it also initiates the rotation. Not a big skid just about 2-3 inches right at the end of her take off. Also on the back edge have her lean into the circle and make sure she’s not lunging forward when she steps in. I hope this helps and good luck!”
Submitted by: Marta Nilsen, Lexington Ice & Recreation
PSA Ratings: MM, CFS,CG,CCS,CD
“I like to start my students working on waltz jumps into backspins a month or two before I plan to start on the axel. This way they are practicing the actions and gaining muscle memory before we really start working on it. I think this adds to their confidence when they actually attempt the axel for the first few times.”
Submitted by: Patti Brown, Centennial Ice Arena Highland Park
“I am glad that this topic is here because I am having a devil of a time with a student and her axel. My biggest problem with her is that she has no lift in the jump but great ice coverage and she does not get the concept of attacking the jump. We have done waltz-loop, waltz back scratch, double bunny hops. I have had her jump towards the boards so she has to lift in the jump otherwise she hits the boards.”
I am currently more aware of the impact that injuries can have on skating than I ever cared to be. I slipped on some hardwood floor stairs while wearing socks at the end of last December, and not only was I not able to put any weight on that foot for 16 weeks, but I had to stay off the ice for almost 6 months. For any skater or coach, this can seem like a death sentence.
I’ve known for a long time that I was never going to the Olympics as a skater (I would love to go as a spectator, coach or a broadcaster), because I didn’t start skating till I was 17 years old. I admit, I became interested in skating during the Nancy Kerrigan era, but with Horseback Riding, I never had the time to do it until high school. When I was in that first Learn to Skate Class, I never dreamed I’d ever figure out how to skate backwards much less coach in this often interesting sport of Figure Skating.
After mastering the art of those Backward Swizzles, somewhere along the way I hoped to be able to do an Axel or maybe a double. Considering how hard it is to do a Waltz Jump at this current juncture, it starts to seem a little unfeasible. I’m hoping to make a full recovery but in the meantime it seems like I have no choice but to learn the art of patience. It will take a whole year for my foot to get back to 70% from what all those scary Internet articles are telling me. I’m competing in an Adult Competition next month and doing nothing but Artistic Programs. Why those you might ask? I don’t have to jump in order to be competitive.
For a couple of 2010 Olympic Champions hoping to return and claim the Olympic Gold once more (Russia 2014), it seems that they have become injured at the most inopportune time. The 2010 Olympic Mens Figure Skating Champion Evan Lysacek recently pulled out of the U.S. International Skating Classic which occurred earlier this month. The cause was a torn abdominal muscle. Lysacek is also expected to compete at Skate America and U.S. Nationals. Only time will tell whether he is able to recover from this latest injury in time for the Olympics in Sochi.
I read an article just this morning with news that the 2010 Ladies Olympic Champion in Figure Skating, Yuna Kim has dropped out of the Grand Prix. Kim has dropped out of both Skate Canada in October as well as Trophee Bombard in November citing an injury to the metatarsal in her right foot. It sounds like she will need at least six weeks to recover and a Korean Skating Union official stated that “she may need further rehab after treatment.”
I’m not sure that these injuries could occur at worse times for these two Olympic Champions. I guess only time will tell as to whether they are ready to compete for the Gold once more in Sochi. I wish both of them the best of luck in terms of a speedy recovery. It might seem that in the meantime, the door has been left wide open in terms of who the future Olympic Champions will be in these events!
IceSkatingWorld.com, a leading figure skating website since 1999, has released their first ever skating app for every type of mobile device. ‘Skating Shop’ is available at no charge through both the iTunes store and Google Play under their ‘Apps’ section.
“Clearly, fans and participants of our sport are gravitating towards all things mobile,” stated Marta Nilsen, a master-rated PSA coach and President of IceSkatingWorld LLC. “We believe it was time to invest in a mobile app that offers not only access to our figure skating pro shop but also to news feeds from around the world on figure skating.”
With the 2014 Winter Olympics right around the corner, now is a great time for figure skating fans to download an app that will keep them abreast of competitions, results, and breaking news from around the world. The new ‘Skating Shop’ app integrates the social networking feeds from IceSkatingWorld, which have proven to be very popular on both Facebook and Twitter.
“We could not find any other mobile app that offers daily news stories on our great sport, so that feature alone fills a great void.” explained Nilsen.
The figure skating app also integrates all of the items from the official online pro shop of IceSkatingWorld, IceSkatingProShop.com. With just a couple of clicks, skating fans from anywhere in the world can purchase skating equipment, accessories, off-ice training devices, instructional DVDs and more.
IceSkatingWorld invites all skating fans to download this free app and leave a review upon trying it out on their phone, PC, eReader, or tablet.
Ice skating is an admittedly dangerous sport, and accidents resulting in injuries are fairly commonplace. While sustaining an injury while ice skating isn’t too difficult, getting back on the ice after a serious injury can be. If you are currently struggling with your fear but know that deep down that you want to keep skating, the following 5 tips may help you to head back to the rink with confidence.
- Watch Footage of Pro Skaters – Even professional skaters fall all the time, most of the time without injuring themselves. Seeing people you look up to fall and maybe even get hurt once in awhile but get back up anyway can help to rebuild your determination to get back up onto the ice yourself.
- Check Your Equipment – Knowing that your skating equipment is as prepared for the ice as it can be can make you feel more prepared by extension. As you prepare your skates, imagine you are preparing yourself, and the more prepared they are, the more prepared you are.
- Don’t Push Yourself – If you are getting over an injury, skating may be a little harder than usual and you may be slightly more prone to making mistakes that will lead to injuries. Giving yourself as much time as you need to heal thoroughly is a good idea, but if you force yourself to return to the rink while you are still healing, be sure and take things slowly and be gentle with yourself to prevent further injuries that could make your fears even worse.
- Practice Skating In Your Mind – Focus on imagining everything going exactly as you want it to and having a great time, performing a trick just right or perhaps winning a medal. You can even put on your skates as you do this. The point is to rebuild and strengthen positive associations with skating so that they become more important than the negative association created by your injury. It’s a silly sounding anxiety treatment technique, but it’s a valuable one.
- Alter Your Memory of the Injury – Replay the moment when your injury occurred in your mind. Make it as vivid as possible, recalling all the sounds, smells, colors and textures associated with it, as well as all the sensations and emotions you felt. Once you have a picture of this in your mind, imagine the picture shrinking and fading, and the smaller it gets and the more black and white it becomes, the quieter the sounds get and the more far away the emotions feel. Anytime the event comes back to you when you don’t want it to, do this again. After a while, the memory won’t return as vividly, and your fear will decrease.
- Exercise – This is probably an obvious tip, but exercising off the ice while you are working to overcome your fear can help you build confidence in the strength and resilience of your body and help you to feel prepared for anything that might happen. On the other hand, letting your muscles weaken while you feel unable to skate will only make it more difficult when you do return to the rink.
Don’t let fear come between you and the activity you love. By following the above tips you will soon find yourself slicing through that ice with a vengeance and making it think twice about causing you any more trouble.
About the Author: Ryan Rivera has seen the way that injuries can affect athletes and their anxiety. He writes about other tools to cope with anxiety at www.calmclinic.com.
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