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The Edge of Competition

Photo by Mrs. Conner

Photo by Mrs. Conner

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In honor of the competition Skate America currently taking place, let’s talk about what actually goes into the preparation for a figure skating competition. As all skaters Olympic or local, go through almost the exact same process.

There are hours upon hours of: ice time, song searching, routine choreographing, blade sharpening, dress shopping, ice baths, money and don’t forget sweat.

Now, depending on the type of skater you are that will determine your ice time. Olympic skaters on average spend about six hours a day on the ice and approximately two to three hours exercising and doing off-ice. Whereas more local skaters, such as I, spend about ten to sixteen hours a week on ice, and roughly an hour of exercising and doing off-ice each day.

On ice consists of footwork, choreographing, skill sets practice, and overall this is where most of the magic happens.

Getting enough ice time in is extremely important, especially around competition or showcase time as its what we like to call ‘crunch time’. We practice with our private coaches, with our group lesson instructors, and by ourselves in order to ensure the highest performance ability.

Thus normally within a few weeks of the event our ice hours increase in order to really solidify and master our routine. After all, every time you perform it you have a different outcome.

No matter how many times you practice, you will still always have the chance of falling or slipping while executing your routine.

And although the public only gets to see what happens in the rink, a lot of the work happens behind the scenes and in the gym as well.

Off-ice consists of  jump practices, spinning practices on a spinner, and muscle and endurance building workouts as well. Doing off-ice every day is essential to a skater’s performance not just around competition time but all year round, without it we would lack the strength to keep up with our sport at all.

The final things that go into showcase preparation are dress shopping, blade sharpening, and spending money. Dresses need to be custom made normally, hence why I mention money playing a big factor here.

If you do not have the funds to pay for a custom dress, that can be fixed as you may find a cheaper pre-made alternative. But, if you do not have the funds to keep up with your skate and blade maintenance you do not compete.

Blades are to be sharpened every few weeks depending on how many ice hours you’re clocking in, if you fail to do so your dull blades will eventually make it nearly impossible to skate on any longer.

Dullness causes uncontrollable slipping, your edges no longer exist and thus no spins or jumps can be performed due to lack of grip with the ice. Again this means finding the right person to trust with your blade care and having the funds to do so.

In the grand scheme of things, figure skating is a highly demanding, extensive sport in which competition time can be exceptionally brutal.

Between the countless hours put in at both the rink and at home, the amount of money it takes for lessons and maintenance, and just the pure stress and expectations put on us by coaches and audiences, it takes a hard toll on our bodies.

Oh, and did I mention we skate all year round? There is no off season.

So the next time you watch a two minute routine at the Olympics or at your local rink, think about everything that that skater had to go to for those two minutes of glory.

Appreciate and admire the arduous work put into every step.

 

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About the Writer
Erin Conner, Junior Editor in Chief

Grade 11

“Some of us say we’d rather have something than absolutely nothing, but the truth is, to have it halfway is harder than not having it at all.” -Grey’s Anatomy

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The Edge of Competition