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Obtain a new professional position with help from PSA Coaches Manual

by Shirley Carlson Hughes (New Age Professional Skater (NAPS) Chairman – 1996)

Updating the PSA Coaches Manual has proven to be a formidable, sometimes seemingly impossible task! However, it will be available soon and I believe it will be useful to coaches at all levels. It will have many new features including oft-ice conditioning approaches and tests to evaluate progress. It will have an easy to use description of USFSA required free style tests and moves in the field with diagrams, required elements and teaching tips on one page. Elite professionals have agreed to provide “Masters Tips” in various sections. What follows is an excerpt from the manual which deals with the challenge of finding a new professional position.

JOB SEARCH

Establishing Personal Goals

It is imperative to begin the process of finding the right job by developing a clear understanding of what you want from the job. No two people have exactly the same objectives for the professional aspect of their lives and defining and prioritizing your own goals is a critical first step in a successful job search. There are many ways to approach this process but consider writing down your goals and discussing them with close friends or associates whose opinion you respect. Examples of questions which you may wish to consider while establishing these goals include the following:

What aspect of teaching interests you? Recreational/group lessons or competitive skaters? How much time are you prepared to spend? Do you want a full or pant-time job? Will you work early mornings? Evenings? Weekends? Will you relocate? Do you have long term goals include running a skating program or skating rink? Do you wish to advance to elite coaching? Are you prepared to attend seminars, clinics and explore other career enhancing opportunities? Would you be prepared to team teach?

Once established and prioritized, these personal goals will be an important tool in shaping your résumé, focusing your search for opportunities and in preparing for interviews.

Writing a Resume

The French word résumé means summary and refers to a fact sheet that identifies, describes and lists the qualifications of a person in terms of experience and education. While you will never obtain a position solely on a resume, it may well be the key to obtaining an interview and eventually the job. Your résumé should be well-organized, concise, clearly formatted and comprehensive. There are books available to help you develop a resume, either at most bookstores or in a library. Many computer programs enable you to format a resume. After preparing a résumé, consider asking friends or associates to review and comment on it. There are also résumé services available if you would feel comfortable with professional assistance. Résumés are not normally returned so ensure you keep the original. Take the time to have high quality copies made – remember, first impressions are important.

Arrange your résumé so that your most impressive qualifications appear first. Never overstate your experience or qualifications. List job experience and education in reverse chronological order. You may wish to include a list of references or reference letters with the résumé or, at a minimum, offer references if requested. Your résumé would normally include the following types of information:

  • Name, address, telephone number
  • Ratings (as applicable)
  • Highest tests passed (USFSA, ISI, ISU, other)
  • Competitive experience with highest title first (list only the most important)
  • Amateur training, clinics (including when, where, with whom)
  • Amateur or professional shows and exhibitions
  • Coaching experience (highest level skater you have coached)
  • Coaching education (seminars, coaches clinics, classroom, student-teacher)
  • Other education (college, high school, music, dance)
  • Outside interests
  • Personal (married, children)

When your résumé is prepared you must decide where to send it. Seek the help of friends and associates. Be sure that it reaches the hands of someone who is in a position to offer a job. Some of the sources that you should consider in determining where to

send the résumé include local ice rinks, lists of clubs in the USFSA Rulebook, lists of rinks in ISI Directory, advertisements in Skating, The Professional Skater and other publications. There is also a Job Placement Directory in the PSA Office.

Use a brief cover letter with each résumé. This is your chance to personalize and focus your communication regarding a specific opportunity. Note your most relevant qualifications, and explain your interest in the position.

Remember, the résumé will always be an important tool in furthering your career. Even after you have the job, keep your résumé up to date. Consider revising it every six months. It helps you be prepared for the next opportunity and also gives you a benchmark to ask what you have done to increase your experience and nurture your professional growth.

Interviewing Effectively 

Once you have been contacted and invited to an interview begin by reviewing your résumé and list all the questions which you might be asked. Find out as much as you can about the position and the person(s) who may be interviewing you. Look your best, be on time, be concise, emphasize your best points, relax! Some of the questions which you might expect to be asked include: How many years have you been skating? Why do you want to teach? What are your schedule restrictions? What level of teaching experience do you have?
Why did you leave your previous job? Will you bring your own students?
What levels will you teach (adults, tots, etc.)? Are you prepared to make a commitment to stay for a specified period? Do you intend to continue your professional education?
Will you participate in community events, advertising, etc.?

It is important that you interact with your interviewer in a proactive manner. Use the interview as an opportunity to learn more about the job being offered. You should prepare a list of questions which you want to ask during the interview. The following list may provide some examples.

  • Will you be an employee or an independent contractor?
  • If employee: What would be the base salary? How often would you be paid? Would taxes be withheld?
  • If contractor: What would be your commission and how would you be paid?
  • Who will be your direct supervisor (rink manager, skating director, club)?
  • What are the payment policies for private lessons, group lessons?
  • What are commissions? How much is paid? How often are they paid? When are they due? On which lessons?
  • Is liability insurance required? Provided? How is it obtained? What kind? What level? What is the cost? (Liability insurance is available through the PSA).
  • Are you required to join the PSA, ISI or both?
  • Will you be expected to be rated by the PSA?
  • What are the policies with regard to setting fees for private lessons?
  • What is the policy with regard to teaching at other rinks? Are there any limitations or restrictions?
  • Are there rink/club policies regarding private lessons? Can you teach anyone who asks?
  • Are there set policies/formats for group lessons? Are there tests at the end of each set? USFSA, ISI or other?
  • Will you be asked to provide administrative support? How much? Are you paid?
  • Will you be expected to cover certain sessions as the pro on duty?
  • Will you be expected to give tests, judge basic skills competitions, ISI competitions?
  • Will you be expected to volunteer time for stroking clinics, or club/rink shows?
  • Is there a pro room? Is there a dress code?

You may be hired at the interview but more likely that you will be told that you will be called. Do not hesitate to call back and reemphasize your interest in the position if you have not had any follow up within a week or so. On the other hand, inform your potential employer in a timely manner if you decide you do not want the job or have accepted another opportunity.

First Impressions

After you get the job you need to make special preparations for the first few days. It really is true that first impressions last a long time and there are things that you can do to ensure that the first impressions you make are good ones:

  • Be on time and look professional. Many people at the rink will see you before they meet you. Present a good image to everyone.
  • Work hard at meeting the many groups at a typical ice rink including the other pros, management, ice maintenance staff, office staff, and skate shop staff. Remember names, write them down if that helps.
  • Familiarize yourself with the entire rink schedule, take a brochure home and study it. Know the sessions and the prices, even for those areas which you do not teach.
  • Learn the rules of the rink; what is permitted on public sessions, who you can instruct and at what level. Determine all the details of group lessons, including levels, prices, group sizes, etc.
  • Identify the clubs at your rink and when their sessions meet. Do you need special permission to teach on these sessions? Who can authorize you?
  • Find out when and if tests are given, and the name and phone number of the test chairman.

You are not expected to know everything when you first arrive. It’s the best time to ask questions and learn everything you can about your situation. Make it an exciting, challenging experience – not a threatening one.

Reprinted with premission from :

The Professional Skater Magazine
February / March 1996 - pp. 27 – 28.
©1996 by Professional Skaters Association

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How Old should my Child be to Start Ice Skating?

by Michelle Wilkin

Age four is best to start. There are some children who are ready at 3 years old. Consider the following criteria:

Children figure skatingAttention Span - most group classes will last 30 minutes.

Separation from parent - Separation anxiety is still developmentally appropriate until approximately age four. If your child can be comfortable accepting instructions from another adult, then you should be fine.

Balance - both in skates and in regular shoes.

My recommendation is to start with your child walking in skates on the floor only. If this goes well, then your child is physically ready. Check with your local ice rink for age requirements. Many rinks will not accept children for group classes who are under 4 years of age. If your child is eager and can meet the basic criteria before he is 4 years old, you may consider private lessons. They are more flexible with the length of lesson and can adapt to the age of the child. To ensure quality instruction, make sure to ask for a Professional Skater’s Association rated instructor.

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Following My Own Instructions: A Plan for this Skating Season.

By Katherine Ruch

Fall is in the air. I make this statement for a whole variety of reasons. The kids are back in school, the school supplies have been bought, Labor Day has come and gone and, most importantly, the ice rink has already been open this season for a few weeks!! While it was closed, it sure seems like I did my fair share of driving to other rinks, complaining about how I missed skating as well as plotting my return.

Looking back on it, is seems that summer flew by faster than ever this year. As the skating year gets off to a fresh start, I must begin to consider where I’m trying to go with skating this year. How in the world do I expect to get anywhere if I don’t put some thought into where it is that I’m trying to go? It would be somewhat like taking a trip without knowing where you were going or having directions.

What is your plan for this skating season?

I’m finding it slightly comical that I told my students they had to make a list of goals they would like to accomplish this year, while I am having trouble making myself do the same thing. I know the rules – you want to make goals that are short and long term and for all areas of your skating.

In terms of this year, I’m having trouble because what I have come up with so far has either been too vague or too pie in the sky. Goals that are too vague include: improving my jumps and spins. What does that really look like? In terms of pie in the sky: landing that elusive Axel seems to come to mind. It really doesn’t get more pie in the sky than wanting to land an Axel before the Mayan calendar runs out in 2012 if I haven’t even started seriously working on it!

So, down to brass tacks! Here are some legit goals for the year and the future:

  1. Find a few competitions to go to this year for myself, and pick a couple to take my students to. I think it may be best to coach at a couple and compete at a couple. I get nervous enough for myself and my students, that combining the two doesn’t seem like a great plan.
  2. Work on the Gold Moves so that I can hopefully at least test them at the end of this skating year. The keyword here is “test” not complete. Although, it would be delightful to pass them the first time!
  3. Finish the Bronze Dances this year- Hickory Hoedown down, the Willow and the Ten Fox still to go.
  4. Improve jump height on all singles and eventually land that darn Axel.
  5. Improve spin positions on sit spin and camel, learn layback and flying camel. Place the emphasis on eventually for that flying camel
  6. Move towards my goal of only teaching Moves in the Field. I’ve discovered this has to be my niche. I love the technical side of skating!!

Now the question goes to you! What would you like to accomplish during this skating year?

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Sports Ethics

by Susan L. Ward

Ethics is a complex philosophical subject because it involves the study of morality and human values. Defining values in terms of sports participation is a difficult task which all coaches must address. What is good? How do we judge what is good? In order to answer these essential questions, we utilize our standards, principles and belief systems. We may not all subscribe to the same values but we can simplify our ethical concerns when we examine issues in terms of minimizing harm and maximizing benefit. When we look at the paradigm of risk management, we can easily understand what “harm” means. Teachers do not cause harm nor do they risk harm to their students. On the positive side of the scale, teachers prevent harm and promote their students’ well being. In his book The Inner Athlete, Dan Millman says, “Second only to parents, teachers of movement can have a profound influence on a student’s self-concept and outlook on life.”

Many coaches teach the way parents learn to be parents: one generation repeating the best and worst of the last generation. It is not enough to know the subject matter and the methodology. It is necessary to have a philosophy, a code. Ask yourself: Why skate? Not everyone can win and we have all seen the importance of winning lead to cheating, soliciting, taking “cheap shots” and other unethical behavior on the part of athletes and coaches. But if winning is not the only thing, what other positive goals you can instill in skaters? If your teaching methods focus on concepts such as character development, sportsmanship, the cultivation of discipline, teamwork, fair play and self-motivation, you know the positive side of the scale: maximizing benefit. Skating is a sport that children cannot pursue without the support of their parents. Parents are legally, financially and morally responsible for their children. They are consumers and they do have rights. Most parents are primarily motivated by what they perceive is best for their child. Parents arrive knowing little if anything about skating but they can certainly be ambitious and competitive for their children. It is unwise to place the parents of your skater in an adversarial role. When a teacher or coach competes with a parent for control of a child, it is a Lose/Lose proposition. Besides, control is never a healthy or realistic goal.

Instead, a coach’s honest ability to communicate with both skater and parent is paramount. Consider the parent as your ally in the development of a well-balanced skater. An educated parent is the best advocate for a young athlete. The principles ‘to keep in mind are not new ones: teach with dignity, equality, privacy, loyalty, commitment, honesty and reliability. Your reputation will grow and the parents of your skaters will respect the work you are doing with their children.

Consider one parent’s perspective on reasonable expectations which parents place on coaches. Ann Masten, an associate professor of Child Psychology at the University of Minnesota and mother of two skaters, wrote the following list, previously published in Focus for parents, the newsletter of the USFSA’s Parents Committee:

What I Expect of My Child’s Coach*

  • - To teach my child this sport to the best of your ability.
  • - To promote the development of my child as a whole person, as well as an athlete.
  • - To respect my child and act in my child’s best interests.
  • - To be aware that you are one of the most important people in my child’s life, and to act accordingly.
  • - To honor the confidences of my child, except when it would endanger my child to do so.
  • - To inform me as soon as possible of any serious problems or concerns about my child or about my parenting as regards my child’s skating.
  • - To clearly communicate your expectations of me in this enterprise.
  • - To keep me informed on a regular basis (such as monthly) of my child’s general progress and to promptly address the questions or concerns that I might raise.
  • - To bill me accurately and with timeliness.

Reprinted with permission of U5F5A’s Focus for parents.

Coaches who deal with parents fairly enhance their own reputation in the arena. On the other hand, dissatisfied customers are all too prone to discuss their problems in the rink. Bad news is often embellished and all rink gossip is damaging. Minimize harm, encourage positive public relations by your own example. Keep the parent-coach-athlete dialogue in confidence.

The primary step in establishing healthy community relations starts with solid credentials. Most people are familiar with state education requirements in their schools. They know what certification signifies. In order to teach one must have learned the subject (skating technique) and how to present knowledge (methodology). Today coaches study physiology and psychology. Be prepared, continue your education and accept your ability as a teacher. Are you a good “kindergarten” teacher? Are you qualified and confident to teach the next grade? Do you realize that at the “end” of the year your child will be promoted? Do you hold back or let go? Are you willing to send the student on the next leg of the journey with your blessing even if you can’t go along?

Most importantly, the best coaches stop to consider their own motivations for coaching and are great motivators of their students. They are consistent in their approach and expectations of their students. They give all skaters a chance to become their personal best and avoid forming snap judgments or permanent opinions of skaters. They know that skaters will mature. No one can truly predict who has the most promise. Coach-motivators know that all people are different and have different styles and rates of learning. The best coaches are never too busy to listen. They keep confidences and promises.

The greatest coaches know that the best motivator is love; love of the sport itself, love of the process and love of teaching. All students benefit from the principles which these coach-motivators impart as part of the process. Everyone who walks into the arena recognizes them, not from their personal accolades, or skating achievements but by the accomplishments and attitudes of their students and the trust which parents place in them. They are real masters who teach with a commitment to excellence.

Reprinted with premission from :

The Professional Skater Magazine
January / February 1997 – pp. 16, 29.
©1997 by Professional Skaters Association

For more articles for skating parents, visit http://www.iceskatingworld.com/parents/letters_articles/index.html

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Change in the Life of a Figure Skater

By Katherine Ruch

No matter how you slice it, switching coaches is really hard. Don’t get me wrong, I know that change is part of life. I’m almost positive that everyone’s parents have always preached that motto since the beginning of time. I’m pretty positive that people were talking about the fact that change is a part of life before ice skating was ever invented.

Over the course of the eight-plus years that I have been skating, I have taken lessons from a slew of coaches. I am actually struggling to count the number in my head as we speak. I believe the number is approaching ten at this point which I know sounds like a lot. The reason I have had so many coaches you may ask? Before you jump to any conclusions, I promise I’m not THAT hard to work with. The real answer in a single word is CHANGE. During the time that I have been skating, I have graduated high school, moved to a different state for college, started coaching students myself, graduated college, moved back to my home state, etc. The list goes on because a lot can happen in eight years! Coaches I have worked with have also moved, gotten married, as well as both moved after getting married.

I know that changing coaches can be a great decision but that doesn’t mean it isn’t hard. It is a decision that can get a skater out of whatever rut they may be in, help them to learn more challenging skills like that ever elusive Axel or simply propel their skating to new heights in all kinds of ways. For me, I’ve never really had to make the decision to make a change. Change it seems has often forced my hand.

As someone who started skating during High School, I have sometimes been fairly close in age to the people I have taken lessons from which has certainly made for an interesting dynamic. In the past I have had a coach who ended up becoming a friend, another was a friend who I ended up taking lessons from later and yet another who was my coach but ultimately became both a friend and a mentor over the course of time. Recently that coach has moved to a different state and I find myself back at the drawing board once more. She was someone who I knew would help me be a better skater, a better coach and ultimately a better person. How do you fill the void of someone who helped to guide you for over five years? I almost feel as if my left arm is missing.

While I wait for the rink to reopen, it’s down to thirteen days but clearly I’m not counting, I have some decisions to make. What is it that I’m looking for in a coach and are my expectations absurdly unrealistic? Have I been looking for the nonexistent “perfect” coach when I should have just been looking for the person who I feel like I can learn the most from? I have often heard the quote “When one door closes, another opens.” It would be futile to remain in the past and spend time focusing on what I have lost when I can instead spend time focusing on the opportunities that are coming. Confucius did say that “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

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Figure Skaters Need to Eat Right

by Marta Nilsen, Master-rated PSA coach

Fuel your body with what it takes to get its work done. Many young athletes underestimate the amount and type of food needed to fuel their hard working bodies. A good rule of thumb is: most of your food should be grain/pasta /legumes; then vegetables, fruits, meats, and dair; then foods which are high in fat and sugar being the least amount.

Try to include foods in each of these groups throughout the day by eating 4 or 5 small meals instead of 3 large ones. Youths should be sure to get enough calcium and protein. Females should be careful to eat iron-rich foods. It is important to include nutrient-dense foods in your choices to make sure that you have adequate energy and nutrition. Below are listed some nutrient-dense foods in each of the food groups.

Grains: Whole wheat breads and pasta, multi-grain cereal, oatmeal, rice, etc.

Vegetables: Dark green leafy vegetables, broccoli, carrots, peas, beans, squash, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, and dried beans.

Fruits: Apples, oranges, bananas, apricots, melons, strawberries, blueberries, kiwi, raisins, and pears.

Meats: Chicken, fish, lean meats, also include egg whites, peanut butter, and nuts.

Dairy: Milk, yogurt, cheese, soy milk,

Fats/ Sweets: Butter, margarine, oils, mayonnaise, candy, soft drinks, syrup, sugar.

You can also find the Food Guide Pyramid in any basic nutrition book at your library or via a Google search. Following it will help ensure that you fuel your body for top performance.

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New Page! Jobs in Figure Skating

IceSkatingWorld LLC has partnered with Simply Hired to provide an employment section to help people get started in the great sport of figure skating or find their dream job in the industry.

Looking for a full, seasonal or a part time position at an ice rink? Click here for the IceSkatingWorld.com’s Jobs Board. If you are seeking an ice skating career, this is your site.

Ice Rink Managers: Reach thousands of interested and qualified skating enthusiasts by posting your job listing on our Jobs Boards. It’s only $12 for a 90-day listing!

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Ice Skating Tips For Figure Skaters

by Francis Murphy

While some novice ice skaters decided to learn ice skating all by themselves which are possible, it is actually recommended to get some professional skating lessons if possible. There are many advantages of taking these lessons and it is not hard to find a skating rink which is near to your home.

Here are what we can share on Ice skating tips:

a. How to fall: Falling is unavoidable especially for new learners in ice skating but falling can be risky at the same time. Thus it is valuable to learn how to minimize the risk of injury when falling. Some good tips would be to wear ice skating protective gear set such as helmet, wrist, elbow, knee and hips pads to minimize the impact of the injury.

b. Getting professional guidance on ice skating if you are a beginner is the most important tips of all. This is the only way where the beginner can learn how to fall without injuring himself, how to stand still and how to skate properly.

c. If you are skating outside the ring, making sure that the ice is thick enough to support your weight is some basic pre-skating checking to safe-guard your safety.

d. Learning how to make an abrupt stop swiftly is one of the key tips for every ice skater – this is called the Hockey Stop. Then there are T-Stop, Snowplow Stop, and also backward T-Stop and other kinds of stopping tips which one gets to learn to be a good ice skater.

e. Wear warm, comfortable clothing and appropriate socks made of microfiber or synthetic are the best for ice skating. Keep in mind that the rink’s temperature is 50-60 degrees, therefore a light jacket, sweater, windbreaker is advisable. Get some gloves or mitten made of wool or acrylic type is best.

f. It is important to make sure you tie your ice skates the correct way. It is best to tie your skates fairly loose at the bottom part. In the middle part of the skate, where the ankle is, it is good to pull the laces tight. This will give the support that your ankles need to hold you up while you are skating. And at the very top part of the skates, it should be the loosest part so that it will be easier for you to bend your knees which is very important in ice skating.

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The Most Commonly Performed Jumps in Figure Skating

If you are a figure skating fan you have no doubt heard these terms used throughout the many competitions you’ve watched. In some cases you may even recognize them, but in most cases it is up to the narrator or announcer, or whatever they are called, to tell us what moves the skaters are making on the ice. Something I noticed during the 2010 Olympics was that the announcer wasn’t necessarily naming every move the skater made. There were, for example, a number of jumps that occurred that were not even mentioned. It was almost like I was “expected” to know what the move was.

With that in mind, I did some research on the top basic figure skating jumps that every figure skater must know. When skaters learn them, they learn them from simplest to most difficult, so that is how I will list them. Also keep in mind that higher point values are applied to the more difficult jumps and that all of these jumps can be performed as a double or triple jump, raising the level of difficulty, except for the waltz jump.

  • Waltz Jump-the waltz jump is performed by the skater leaving the ice from the forward foot outside edge of the skate. Making a half revolution in the air, the skater lands on the back outside skate edge of the opposite foot.
  • Salchow, pronounced “sal-kow” is named after Ulrich Salchow, who first originated this jump in 1909. This jump is performed from the back inside edge of one skate to the back outside edge of the other with a half revolution in the air and is usually done from a ‘forward outside three turn’ or from a ‘forward inside mohawk’ move. After the preceding move, the skater stops for a split second with a leg extended behind and then swings that leg forward and around in a wide sweeping arc, leaping into the air simultaneously and landing backwards on the foot that was used for the sweeping motion.
  • Toe Loop-the toe loop is usually entered from a ‘forward inside three turn’ and is accomplished with a toe assist in the form of a ‘pick’. After the turn while the skater is moving backwards on an outside skate edge, the skater ‘picks the ice’ with one foot, does a half revolution in the air, and then lands on the foot that did not ‘pick’ the ice. The skater should land in the same position in which they started. This jump was first performed by Bruce Mapes in the 1920s, an American professional show skater. This same jump is performed in artistic roller skating and is called a Mapes Jump.
  • Loop-the loop jump is one of the most easily recognized, most often being done as the second jump in a ‘combination’ jump. With no toe assist, the skater simply takes off from a back outside edge, does a full revolution in the air, and then lands backward on the same edge that was used to launch the jump.
  • Flip-brings to mind somersaults, but is actually much simpler. Gliding backwards on an inside edge, the skater ‘picks’ the ice with the toe of the opposite skate, performs a full revolution in the air, and then lands on the back outside edge of the same skate with which he or she ‘picked’ the ice. The toe assist somewhat resembles a pole vault and the jump is usually entered from an ‘outside three turn’ done in a straight line or from a ‘forward inside mohawk’.
  • Lutz-this jump was first performed by Austrian Alois Lutz during a competition in 1913. Performed similar to a flip, the takeoff is from a back outside edge as opposed to a back inside edge. Staying on that back outside edge while taking off is extremely difficult and points are deducted for rolling to the back inside edge, in which case it becomes a common flip jump. When this error is made, it is commonly referred to as a “flutz”.
  • Axel-First performed in 1882 by Axel Paulsen, the axel jump is launched from a forward outside edge. Making a full one and one-half revolution while airborne, the skater then lands on the opposite foot from the takeoff, on a back outside edge. This jump, when performed as a double (3 full revolutions) or a triple (4.5 turns) is truly amazing.

 I hope this helps you to identify the jumps as they occur on the ice. Personally, I think it is amazing what these skaters do and find it amazing that their whole life has been dedicated to perfecting their performance in arguably the most beautifully performed sporting event in the world.

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You CAN Learn to Ice Skate

by Jassen Bowman

Having been raised in the era of figure skating superstars like Nancy Kerrigan, Michelle Kwan, and Todd Eldridge, I have been fascinated by this beautiful display of athletic prowess for nearly two decades. But, like many things in life, there comes a point where the fascination slips into a desire to do something more than just sit on the couch and watch these happenings on the moving picture box.

Being 30 years old and 50 pounds overweight, part of my brain was telling myself I was absolutely, positively nuts to even be thinking about doing this. Even that first time I stepped onto the ice, I was still telling myself that I was about to be involved in a major medical emergency involving multiple broken bones. Three months later, I am not only injury free, but actually making substantial progress.

So, how does one go about learning how to skate? Like anything else, you have to do your homework. It all begins with identifying a facility in your area that even has a sheet of ice. Most major metropolitan areas of the United States, Canada, and Europe have ice facilities of one form or another. Some ice rinks consist only of frozen lakes, while others offer multiple ice rinks within one large building, complete with locker rooms, concession stands, skate rental, and more. Finding a facility near you begins with a simple Google search or a trip through the phone book.

After identifying an appropriate facility, you must then actually contact the ice rink and inquire as to the availability of group classes or private instruction. Most ice rinks offer public skate sessions during which you can obtain one-on-one instruction from a member of the site staff. Many facilities in America also participate in either the U.S. Figure Skating Association or the Ice Skating Institute basic skating skills programs, which provide a structured course of instruction in either a group format or on an individual basis.

Most people will start with group lessons. The advantage of joining a class is that there is an organized curriculum to the entire process of learning how to ice skate, along with being with a group of people of your own skill level. The cost for group lessons is also significantly less than private instruction. It is common for classes to meet twice per week for about four to six weeks. These types of classes vary in cost depending on where you’re geographically located, but in the United States expect to pay between $60 and $100 for such a class. In addition, you will also likely have to rent skates from the facility you are taking lessons at. However, skate rental is generally very inexpensive, at only a few dollars per session.

If you’re looking to test the waters before jumping into a class, or simply desire the undivided attention of an instructor, then private lessons are a worthwhile option to consider. Meeting once or twice with a private instructor is a great way to get started, especially to help you determine whether or not ice skating is something that you will really enjoy and want to stick with as a hobby. Following private instruction with group classes can give you a head start on learning how to ice skate, especially if you take a private lesson on occasion during the course of being in a class. Private instruction is definitely more costly, but pays for itself in terms of the progress that you can make in your skating skills compared to a group environment. Expect to pay anywhere from $45 to $100 per hour for private instruction, with most lessons lasting about 30 to 45 minutes, depending on your goals and pace.

Personally, my intention was to meet twice, and only twice, with a private instructor, and then maybe take a class, with the thought that doing that much would get the desire to skate out of my system. My primary interest in learning to skate was to have a wee bit of a clue about what it’s like to be on the ice, since I had already made the decision that the only way I could ever actively participate in the sport of figure skating was to be a judge. However, after those two private lessons, I was hooked on skating itself, and now my weekly lessons are a line item in my personal budget.

Ice skating is an addictive form of recreation. Learning to ice skate will provide you with a great sense of personal satisfaction and accomplishment. Whether your interest is purely recreational in nature, or you have an interest in any of the related disciplines such as hockey, ice dancing, or figure skating, ice skating will provide you with a sense of pure elation, and will always provide you with additional challenges should you wish to explore them.

In my next article, I will offer insight into selecting an instructor for private coaching. This relationship is such an important one that it deserves careful consideration. I consider myself extremely fortunate that the “next available instructor” to whom I was assigned is such a talented coach and a good personality fit. However, one should not rely on blind luck or good fortune alone when picking an instructor, so be looking for that article coming soon.

Jassen Bowman is a tax consultant by profession, helping taxpayers obtain the tax relief to which they are legally entitled. Outside of work, his lifelong interest in the sport of figure skating has recently blossomed into an intense drive to learn to ice skate He can be found practicing three or four times per week at his local ice centre.

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