Archive | April, 2010

What Happens at the Ice Show, Stays at the Ice Show… Unless Ryan Bradley Shows Up!

18 Apr

Flickriver: Most interesting photos tagged with patinage

The ice show ended last night and after long evenings of rehearsals and the general hectic schedule I am exhausted and happy to resume normal life. That’s not to say I didn’t have tons of fun, lots of lovely ice time and get to know alot of happy club figure skaters.

It was a great bonding experience, spending so much time with people who share your passion for a sport that reaches across all ages. Skaters at all levels (kids, collegiate, coaches, adults) seemed to bond together throughout the 2 days of the show for their love of skating.

It’s also the one time of year where all the skaters in the club gather at one time and you can meet new skaters that joined. This weekend though was special because there was only one person that EVERYONE wanted to get to know.

Every year we have a guest skater and we usually find out who it is about 2 months before the show. The guest skater skates two numbers (each night) and also does an hour seminar the afternoon before the last show. This year’s skater created quite a buzz. When we were told that Ryan Bradley was coming it produced so many wide eyed looks, sighs and overall high pitched squeals of excitement that I am surprised he made it through the front door of the ice rink un-molested. (sigh… I did squeal a little!)

Later, I heard a collegiate skater say she saw a little girl run up to him and just hug him on the legs. She said, “That little girl is so lucky, you can do anything when you are that young and it’s ok, no one says anything! I would so love to run up to Ryan and hug him.” Her friend then remarked, “Yeah, but then you would never let him go!” We all laughed but I think most of the women in the rink felt the same way every time they saw him but most of us were to afraid to do much other than say hello let alone run up and hug him! We were all a little star struck by his presence.

When he arrived at the rink he practiced for about 25 minutes on ice. He mostly jumped, triples and then he did a few backflips. He explained later when we asked about his warmup’s that maybe he is not the best example for on ice warmup’s since he goes right into jumps. He did say he has an extensive off ice warmup and that he typically does moves later on in the session. I found out later that he is a very aggressive skater (admittedly so) and will try things on his own until he succeeds at it.

After his practice session he was at the front of the rink and I had a chance to personally meet him. I thought he was one of the most approachable skaters I’ve ever met. He seemed very friendly, maybe just a little nervous and very down to earth. I asked him if he still got nervous for exhibitions and he said he did. I thought that was really cute. Ok, so I thought everything he did or said was cute, so I’m biased! Keep that in mind as you read this! I was totally one of his avid female skater stalkers at the rink and I am not ashamed to admit it, I really couldn’t hide it anyway!

Most of the time he was wearing either jeans or sweatpants and some type of interesting t-shirt. A friend of mine gave him an Ice show t-shirt from our club to remember us by. She said how she noticed he wore a different and interesting t-shirt every time he practiced at competitions so she wanted to give him another to wear. He said, yes he does like to wear t-shirts and in the past he has actually gotten in trouble from the judges for doing so in the practices! That’s crazy! I didn’t realize figure skating was still that rigid!

At any rate, I did attend the hour skating seminar yesterday and he was very talkative and relaxed, inserting his actual experiences on ice with good skating tips. We made up a group of 16 and we ran through two warm-up sequences, back and forward perimeter power crossover stroking. We then ran through most of the jumps in groups while he watched and made general instructional comments. I found it very nerve wracking to have 12 others watching me plus Ryan Bradley while I jumped. However, he was very reassuring about that too and tried to relax everyone by telling them how hard it is to just jump after standing around for some time. Such a nice guy!

So from that on-ice seminar session here are some Ryan Bradley skating tips:
(please note that this is my interpretation of what he said and while I tried to listen carefully if something seems wrong its probably my interpretation and not Ryan’s instruction)

1. Landings are very important and almost more important than the jump itself: Jumps happen very quickly (of course he is talking about triples, but I supposed this applies to any level) and you want the last thing the judges to see is a good, steady, well presented landing. No matter what the jump looked like make the landing look like it was the best jump you did. You can imagine how much we all paid particular attention to holding our landing position no matter how funky our jumps were after he said that!

2. Shoulders should be level when you jump. We were talking about the salchow when he said this. I think because our three turns get swingy we were dropping shoulders right and left. He had us do basic inside three turns and noted that we should do the sal’s more like we do our regular three turns rather than let our free leg get away from us because we think we need to swing it up to get into the jump. Also, no rushing of the three turn should happen. (Oh so guilty!) He also said he could live without doing salchows and that it is his least favorite jump, but he could do triple toes everyday and be perfectly happy. Sniff… sal’s are one of my favorite jumps so I was a little disappointed by that.

3. Basic position for most jumps is to have your legs and hips squarely under you. While he is not advocating that you are going to have two feet straight under you for the jumps, in essence you should feel that your legs and feet are in-line with your hips. You should not feel that you are off in any way before a jump. I know that seems pretty basic to say but if you think about it, how many times do we force ourselves to complete a jump even if we feel that our body alignment is so off kilter that we feel unsteady before taking off? I feel that way in every lutz and flip take off. He said kids don’t think about the jumps as much as adults. Adults tend to think of too many things, we should narrow it down to one or two things and just be aggressive with the jump.

4. We talked about Lutz’s and Flips and he said that years ago he used to do an outside edge flip. This is something that people have not been talking about as much as they do the Flutz (an inside edge lutz). He had to relearn the correct edge take off for the flip. So we talked about the inside edge take off vs the outside edge take off the lutz. I have a horrendous lutz, and I lose all my momentum when I pick in. He commented that we should feel like we are winding up and should not release our arms (my interpretation here is iffy) until we are ready to pick because if you release your arms before this all that energy will dissipate. (I do this, I think this was after my little lutz attempt which is actually like a pick/loop)

5. When it comes to any skating move, jump etc. we should always be pushing ourselves to do better. We should try and get just a little faster or stronger each time and really think about that when we are skating so that we can reach a different level. He really stressed this on the warmup as well. You should use all of your push rather than going halfway with the stroke or push.

He said a few other wise words about practicing and competing and how judges rank skaters on practice ice before the competition and then adjust that ranking according to how they skate in competition. He talked about an aggressive strength training routine for off-ice workouts and he commented on all of his injuries. It sounded extremely painful especially the knee injuries. I imagine most Senior level skaters must be in a lot of pain especially as they get older. I know I have pain and I don’t even do half as much as he does! Who would’ve guessed that adult skaters and senior level skaters have something in common! We all have a nice supply of ibuprofen with us for those aches and pains!

In the ice show his exhibition was to the song “Kung fu Fighting” (an immediate hit with the crowd) and he did an abbreviated version of his long program for the second act. I would be lying if I said I didn’t love those brown pants he wears, oh, and of course the skating in that program was amazing too 😉

His one foot flips are crazy! I breathed a sigh of relief every time he landed one – although the first night he landed one a little too close to the boards and slammed into it. He played it off so well though that most people thought it was part of his program! I heard that he taught himself how to do back flips on the ice. That’s an amazing testament to how aggressive he is on the ice! Although no quads I did see a few triple toes and triple axels.

All in all, Ryan was candid, genuine and just a really great role model on and off the ice for the skaters. We really enjoyed having him at the rink. He was gracious enough to let us take group photos with him and sign many autographs for all of us.

Sigh…I believe he officially replaced my Brian Joubert obsession from a few years ago. Till next year….

Ice Show Practice

12 Apr

I haven’t really been on the skating scene lately. I’ve been working both my full-time job and my invitation business alot lately. I’ve also been practicing for the annual ice show here which takes up alot of my free evening time especially in the last 2 weeks. While I’ve been skating in the last 2 months it’s really just been mostly to keep my skills up and to practice the ice show. I didn’t watch Worlds this year. This was the first time in years that I didn’t watch it (I can’t even remember the last time I missed it!) but it was on Universal which I do not get and on the web during the day (I work) so no worlds for me! Sometime after the craziness of the ice show I will watch the youtube vid’s that are up. I did see the highlights of Asada, Kim, and Daisuke’s skates though. I loved seeing Asada skate so well, she just floats on the ice.

At any rate, this week is rehearsal week and while I get more ice time now then I do at any other time of the year it’s really spent mostly on practicing only specific elements. Which is just fine, I need all the time I can get.

I usually only participate in one number if I even do the ice show here but since this is going to be my last year (I’m thinking about moving) I decided to volunteer for two more. It’s a little crazy but I think it’s fun and it forces me to learn new things and get’s me out of my apartment socializing at the same time.

So, since I have actually been skating quite alot I decided to have a lesson today. I haven’t had a lesson since December! I think after the holiday ice show and the holidays I went into savings mode and I wasn’t skating enough to really benefit from having lessons. I didn’t realize how much I missed taking lesson’s until I was in it today. I just needed some focus and guidance, I also need someone to tell me what I am doing wrong and fixing it!

I had specific goals in mind for this lesson and we covered most of them.

1. 8 step mohawk sequence for Silver moves

I completely forgot how this went and I needed a refresher (you can see how dedicated I’ve been to testing in the last year 😉
Some pointers for the sequence:
– It should be a clear outside mohawk and I should step into my instep.
– on my bad side (clockwise) I should practice the underpush after the 2 chasse’s (well, they are like chasse’s right?)by practicing going backwards pushing with my left foot underneath. I seriously felt like I had no strength in that foot when I pushed. What have I been doing with that side?? uh, apparently nothing.
– I should focus on counting the steps and making them equal rather than doing certain things faster than others.
– Quickness and making the steps small should be a priority
-Every step counts so I should push on every step.

2. Back Outside 3 Turns

Oh god – these are in one of the ice show programs and to be honest I’ve been cheating on them for some time now. Now, I have to face the music. I think this is what happens when you dawdle on the ice and do your own thing for months, bad habits die hard.
I have a certain sequence I need to learn and I keep on rushing the pattern.
– I have to take my time
– I should start with left arm in front right arm back while going backwards (counterclockwise)
-as I bring my free foot in front of me it should cross over the right closely. The free hip should be up.
– Bring arms close by the sides and then right arm should be in front and I should twist outside the circle with the left arms extended outside.
– knee should still be bent
– turn the three while looking behind with free hip up
– do not rise all the way up after the three

I think the most important part of this was being able to switch my arms and opening my body to the outside of the circle. It feels weird apparently I don’t open that side of my body up much..

3. Axel Prep.
I was soooo excited!
Basic Exercises are:
Waltz from a stand still into almost a traveling back spin into a loop.
The waltz should go up and then down rather than over and down.
– Shoulders should be up and I should lead with the left and picture vase or something breakable 🙂 on my right shoulder in order to keep it from tilting.
– I should try and start rotating in the air before landing in the spin(this is optimal not necessarily what I can do right now 😉

Another exercise:
Alternating Edges
– I should practice these on the line, alternating outside edges keeping my chest and back up with my right leg bent behind me as if I am preparing to jump

I should practice coming almost to a skidding stop before I feel that pressure to jump into the waltz jump (think of jumping up into a tunnel)

Backspin hop
Do a small backspin keeping the h position and then doing a small loop (or hop in the jump. This can be tiny.

I have problems with my backspins so we worked on those as well.
They should be on the inside edge and more focused on the sweet spot.

I had a really fun time with the axel prep and learning some of the take off’s. Once or twice I felt that snap when I did the exercise correctly. Maybe I’ll land that axel in this lifetime after all!

Till later…