Presenting the Sixth Annual Skate For Babies!

We’re counting down to the Sixth Annual SKATE FOR BABIES!!
The show is in just a few days, but there is still time for you to donate! Visit:
http://www.marchforbabies.org/joyjoyb
and click the amount you wish to donate in the “Help Save Babies
Sponsor Me” box on the right. You can choose cash, check, or credit/debit card. (If you choose cash or check you will need to make arrangements for delivering your payment.)
We’re not yet halfway to our goal of $250 and we need your help!

Skaterbabs' tips for on the ice and off.

What is Skate For Babies? Skate for Babies is a gala figure skating exhibition show held each June at Richmond Ice Zone in Richmond, VA to raise money to support March of Dimes. This year’s show, the sixth annual, will be held on Saturday, June 7, 2014.

Each skater in the show sells advertising space in the show program, which pays expenses incurred to present the show. They also use an online portal to collect donations on the March of Dimes’ “Walk for Babies” web page as well as accepting cash donations that are turned in the day of the show.

2014 with be the fifth year our family has supported Skate for Babies. March of Dimes, and their work with preemies, is extremely close to our hearts as many of our friends and family have been preemies or given birth to preemies. Three friends have preemies still currently in…

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Presenting the Sixth Annual Skate For Babies!

What is Skate For Babies? Skate for Babies is a gala figure skating exhibition show held each June at Richmond Ice Zone in Richmond, VA to raise money to support March of Dimes. This year’s show, the sixth annual, will be held on Saturday, June 7, 2014.

Each skater in the show sells advertising space in the show program, which pays expenses incurred to present the show. They also use an online portal to collect donations on the March of Dimes’ “Walk for Babies” web page as well as accepting cash donations that are turned in the day of the show.

2014 with be the fifth year our family has supported Skate for Babies. March of Dimes, and their work with preemies, is extremely close to our hearts as many of our friends and family have been preemies or given birth to preemies. Three friends have preemies still currently in the Pediatric Intensive Care Units at hospitals around the country, and as we prepare for the year’s show, these precious children are especially in our hearts and minds, along with those families whose babies didn’t make it.

So how can you help? Visit http://www.walkforbabies.org/joyjoyb to donate, and come out to the show on June 7!

 

 

Compulsory… Technical… Showcase … HUH?!

With competition season well underway, most skaters already have chosen their programs for the year, but new skaters can sometimes be confused by the different types of programs that can be performed. Some categories are similar enough that there can be overlap and a program may occasionally fit into more than one. At the same time a USFS program will be very different than an ISI program for the same skater because of differences in the rules and how the levels are calculated.

Compulsory
Compulsories have a list of elements to be performed, are sometimes skated on only half the ice surface, and often have two skaters sharing the ice at the same time. In many ways this event is similar to taking a moves in the field test, and my daughter’s coach sometimes has her students compete in the compulsory event to prepare them for testing. The major difference between compulsories and tests is that in compulsories, as long as you completes the elements it doesn’t matter the order. Tests require the elements be skated in a specific order. The required elements for a compulsory event are usually published in the announcement for the competition, so USFS vs ISI isn’t really an issue.

Well Balanced Program
The Well Balanced Program (WBP) is your freeskate. It’s your main competition program in which you have required elements you must complete for each level. It is vital that your coach and/ or choreographer be very familiar with the rules (which change frequently) because not only does the WBP have required elements, there are excluded elements which may NOT be performed at your skater’s level. A USFS technical program will not be appropriate for ISI, and vice versa, without being significantly rechoreographed. With minor changes (and sometimes none at all)  a WBP for one CAN be skated as an artistic or showcase in the other.

Showcase/Spotlight
A showcase (sometimes called a “spotlight”) is a program in which the theatrical elements of the program are the main focus rather than having the highest level jumps and spins. Props and theatrical costumes are encouraged, as long as the contribute to the program. Showcase/spotlight events can also be skated with two people as a “couples showcase.” Local competitions often offer a “Family Spotlight” event as well; this event may have two or more people and usually sees siblings or parent/children groups. My daughter once skated a Family Spotlight with one of her cousins to “Parent Trap.”
The showcase/spotlight event has three main subcategories: light entertainment (meant to be fun or comedic), character (in which you portray a recognizable character, for example: Pink Panther, Phantom of the Opera, or Annie), or dramatic (typically a more serious piece.) Dramatic spotlights do happen and absolutely are allowed, but since they don’t really lend themselves to props, it’s not a common sight. As of July 2014 you may see more Dramatic spotlights as the Artistic event in USFS competitions has been combined with the Dramatic spotlight event.
Ribbon, ball, and hoop routines fall into this category, as do group numbers. Production Team and Theatre on Ice are showcase events with 8 or more skaters. While there are significant differences between Production and TOI, both use music, sets, and costuming to entertain and tell a story. There should be costume changes and interaction between the skaters and the props. Teams with 3-7 skaters are considered “Ensembles,” but otherwise are very similar to Production Team.
Synchronized skating does NOT fall under this catagory, although sometimes you will see small synchro teams add in small props (one team I saw had a small table and plastic plates with which they skated around) and skate in the Ensemble event. This is not supposed to happen, but it does on occasion. It is up to the officials to call the coaches of the team on the violation, but rarely do they bother.

Artistic
Similar to the showcase event is the artistic event. Like the showcase, artistic is about interpreting the music and developing the character of the music. A major difference is that props are NOT permitted in artistic programs. The skater must use his or her costuming (no detachable pieces, like a hat, which are considered props), choreography, facial expressions, etc, to communicate the theme of the program. Most artistic programs are also more serious than spotlight programs, but are not required to be. Artistic programs can be performed as showcase/spotlight programs, but spotlight programs cannot be done as artistic because of the props. Many skaters who primarily skate USFS will use their technical program as an artistic in an ISI competition (or vice versa) because while the artistic does have excluded elements (typically limiting the level of the jumps performed) there are no required elements.

Interpretive
Interpretive is a totally different event altogether. Some skaters love it (it’s my daughter’s favorite) and some hate it. In an interpretive event, an entire flight of skaters all skate to exactly the same music without knowing what the music chosen by the competition organizers will be. Coaches may not assist their skaters for interpretive events at the competition (and are not permitted in the staging area), but may suggest strategies in advance.
The way it (usually) works is that each flight of skaters hears the music for the first time during their warm up. They may hear it up to two or three times before they skate to it, but they are not permitted to see what the skaters going before them are doing when it is the other skaters’ turn to skate, nor adjust their costuming (no switching dresses!) which waiting. Some organizers try hard to pick really unusual pieces, and some put little thought into the choices, so you never know what you’ll get. The goal is to see which skater interprets the music the best. This is another event that is not about having the best jumps and spins, but about artistry and quick thinking.
Skaters who enjoy choreographing usually like the event. Skaters who prefer to perfect every little movement in advance usually don’t enjoy it as much. When doing interpretive (especially for the first time) skaters need to be aware that while they may get a song they love, they’re just as likely to get a song they absolutely can’t stand, or that they’ve never heard before in their lives. It’s easy to skate to a song you like, not so much when a song is completely unfamiliar to you.

Jump & Spin
While showcase, artistic, and interpretive events are all about artistry, jump and spin events are about who has the best jumps and spins. Often Jump & Spin events are team events, with two to four skaters on each team. These can be a lot of fun as well, especially for skaters who really do not enjoy footwork and moves but love jumping and spinning.

Exhibition

Exhibition programs are not judged, although they are occasionally performed in competition. These are usually artistic or showcase type programs, but may exceed time or element limits for competition, so are reserved for shows and skating exhibitions. They can be an opportunity for a skater to show off a new jump that cannot yet be performed in competition due to level limits, or one that isn’t yet consistent enough to risk doing when being judged. Because there are no rules for exhibition programs, the skater(s) can do almost anything they can imagine, which can be a great opportunity.

Choosing What Type of Program to Perform and When…

The process of deciding which program(s) to perform each season needs to be a collaboration between the coach(es), skater, and whomever is paying the skater’s expenses. Most skaters will have a technical (WBP) program. Many will also have at least one other, usually a showcase or artistic. It is completely possible that a skater can have four or five different programs. One year my daughter had a technical program, individual showcase, couples’ spotlight, AND family spotlight. This year she is competing with her technical program, an artistic, a couples’ spotlight and Production Team, although not all at the same competition. A skater may have just one program, or six, but there is no rule that says one must skate every program at a competition. Many skaters will skate one program at competition A, but another at competition B. Discuss your choices with your coach. Make sure to understand that some competitions may not offer all of the categories. You may decide that lugging props to an out of town competition is a hassle you’d rather avoid.

Whatever your choices are, remember that your skater must learn each and every program, and must have sufficient ice time to practice them. Good luck!

Professional shot by JPhotography, Lynchburg VA

Light Entertainment Spotlight
Commonwealth Games of Virginia, 2013
Photography by JPhotography, Lynchburg, VA
Costume by Wolff Fording, Richmond, VA

Cinquanta’s Leadership – Off the Deep End: Reckless Proposals Demand Immediate Action from the ISU Membership

The beginning skater may not understand the hullabaloo, and may even think some of what is proposed may be logical (one mom suggested that skating would become less expensive for the skater if the short program were eliminated), however this blog explains why these proposals are NOT a good idea! The fox is running the hen house, people.

International Competitive Figure Skating - Issues and Events

The recent release to all ISU Committees, and Member Representatives  of his 7 major proposals for change in the sport of Figure Skating should have all  officials, coaches, skaters and fans shaking in their boots.

These seven proposals are part of President Cinquanta’s plan to turn figure skating into a total numbers sport devoid of artistry. Anyone who believes in the history and traditions of Figure Skating, its structure and purpose must pay close attention to what President Cinquanta is attempting.

Let us look at his proposals, one at a time (in his own words) and consider the havoc their adoption will bring as a result.

Proposal No. 1 – Anonymity of the Judges

So as to avoid more demanding problems, anonymity of judges shall be maintained. The ISU has already cancelled the random draw that was introduced to exclude two judges in addition to the two (the highest and…

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New year, new season, new goals!

Most cultures have some sort of tradition of using the New Year (whenever that may be for them) as a time to reflect upon the previous year and set goals (“resolutions”) for the coming year. As January comes to a close, I’ve been thinking about everything we accomplished in 2013 and all we would like to do in 2014.

When setting goals, it’s important to be realistic, but not allow reality to limit your dreams. The real trick is making sure you have concrete steps to your goal, whether that goal is the Olympics, learning a specific new skill, or even just perfecting an existing skill. Here’s a little “worksheet” to help you figure out how to reach your goal once you’ve decided what you want to do. I’ve found that using complete sentences when stating your goal really makes it more “real” to you.

 

Example Goal: I want to consistently land my Axel with correct technique by June.

Q. What must I do every day to accomplish this goal?
 I should:   a. warm up for at least 10 minutes before getting on the ice every day.
                  b. run through each 1/2 jump and whole jump at least 10 times every day before attempting the Axel.
                  c. do at least 5 nice, centered backspins every day before attempting the Axel.
                  d. do 10 minutes of Axel prep every day.
                  e. do 10 Axel attempts every day, focusing on correct technique as defined by my coach.

Q. What must I do every week/month to accomplish this goal?
I should:     a. listen closely to my coach and follow his/her instructions during every lesson.
                   b. practice a minimum of one hour for every half-hour of lesson time each week.
                   c. practice the Axel off-ice and complete the off-ice exercises given by my coach.
                   d. make healthy choices in other parts of my life (ex. eating & sleep habits, schoolwork) so my mind and body will be healthy enough to do the Axel.
Q. What should I *not* do while working toward my goal?
I should not: a. become discouraged or display an unsportsmanlike attitude.
                     b. neglect other skills (such as moves in the field.)
                     c. waste time on the ice socializing during “work” time.

Q. Why do I want to land my Axel by June?
A. I want to land my Axel by June so that I can take my Pre-Preliminary Freeskate test before renewing my USFS membership in June. This will allow me to spend the fall/winter preparing to compete at that level in 2015.

 

Whatever your goal, it’s important to decide what your long-term goals are, and what short-term steps will get you where you want to go.

Joyjoy & her coach

January 18, 2014 test session – she passed Preliminary Moves in the Field!