This blog is a collection of my thoughts and experiences from ten years as a skate dad. For those of you sitting with your jackets in the bleachers, first I salute you, but second I want to give you an honest sense of what you are in for and what to expect. Ice skating is both a trying and a glorious sport, but it doesn't happen without the special group of folks who cheer, support, and console the participants. This is dedicated to you.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

- non-elite

Although I link to a few "fan blogs" on this site, I certainly recognize how irrelevant they are to what you actually face day in and day out. Only the tiniest most miniscule percentage of skaters have the financial resources, body type, dedicated time, and fortune of being in a locale that provides the type of training support to become national-level competitors. Hence watching the elites can be disheartening if you view them from a point of view of jealousy. Like a twenty foot pole vault crossbar, the elites do set the highest level goal of the maximum expectations that you might wish to achieve. What you can absorb from them most readily though is performance demeanor.

How do they address the audience? What are their entrance, exit, and off-ice routines? How do they spin the audience love? Most of their presentation dynamics have been honed by hundreds of competitions, so it makes sense to closely observe their pre-ice routines. What you find, still somewhat typically, is that they are no better nor worse than your local competitors at managing their nerves and their "game face." This is a bit of a relief: it validates that your stage-fright trepidations are entirely normal, even at the highest levels.

Although you won't learn how to jump a triple by watching the elites, you will however pick up many stylistic clues by viewing the international competitions. Jumps are jumps but spins and arm movements throughout the program (along with certain signature moves) vary substantially in style across the continents. I wouldn't suggest you try to directly "copy" a move you have seen at Worlds, but it's perfectly fine to incorporate ideas that you've seen into your own original manifestations of them.

I know that some skaters avoid watching the elites entirely as it makes them feel too frustrated to realize that many things are unattainable. Mainly though, it's better to be comfortable in your self and view those with better circumstances as sources and inspiration for your own creative ideas.

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