My skate at Pacific Coast Adult Sectionals

by Mary on March 15, 2013

My skate went well! It was the biggest competition I’d skated in and my most technical program yet, with harder jumps and spins as well as my favorite pretty elements like spiral and Ina Bauer. Usually I have no one to compete with at local events or one other skater in my group: here I was in a group of eleven.

My husband and I flew down Thursday morning and drove straight to meet the coach who would ‘put me on the ice’ for the competition.  Connecting beforehand with coach Gary, who I’d met previously, and having him agree to help me out made me feel more confident about skating the event. I’m used to having a coach with me to give advice during the warmup, tell me to breathe, and share the experience.

Gary gave me a lesson. He watched my program, advised me on where the judges would likely be sitting and how to gear my performance to them, and helped me improve my sit spin and show off my jump landings.

Friday morning I skated at the rink in Pasadena where the competition would be held. Luckily I was able to skate on their regular freestyle ice so I could play my music a couple of times and get used to skating my program on that ice surface. A few other competitors at the same freestyle included a skater from my own rink and a lovely ice dance couple who appeared to be in their sixties. Their program included beautiful lifts and got looks and admiration from the other skaters. I skipped the official practice ice later in the day, figuring I’d had my skate.

On Saturday, competition day, I made it to the rink for 6:30 a.m. practice ice. It was a bit of a zoo but I was able to get my feet under me and warm up my elements, then returned to the hotel to stretch, put on makeup, and get back to the rink by nine to meet my coach.

He did visual training with me, pointing out where on the ice each of my elements would be. We discussed whether I should start my program at the opposite end of the rink than I was used to in order to show off certain elements better to the judges. I explained that I’d tried that during the freestyle session the previous day and gotten lost in the middle of my program, and we agreed that in that case, it wasn’t worth trying to change my starting point now.

I had drawn the first skate after the second warmup group. Being first after the warmup had resulted in a bad skate for me before, so we talked through how to manage it. You have to cut your warmup a bit short to avoid being too tired for the performance. Luckily the warmup was scheduled to be six minutes, relatively long, and we agreed that I’d stop skating when they announced one minute left.

We went outside where he helped me stretch and go through my program off ice. He left to help his other skater and my husband stayed with me while I stretched a little more and moved to stay warm until it was time to put on my skates.

getting ready to spin

setting up for a spin

My warmup went well except that my flip-toe-toe combination was a little rough. I skated over to my coach and asked him whether I should do it again, but just then was the one-minute warning and time for me to rest. He kept me company until I was announced.

I had been nervous all week, but now I told myself, hey, you wanted to do this, now you are here, better put yourself out there and go for it. I thought of the maintenance guy at my rink who had said, “I heard you are going to California? Kick some butt!”  I skated out on the big, clean ice as the door was pushed shut behind me, then held a long edge with a smile on my face, skating past the photographers and the five judges on my right to my starting spot and into my pose. My music started and the program flowed.

My first jump, a loop-loop combination, felt easy, as did my flip, and my first spin was centered and long. I found myself able to breathe and stretch as my coach at home had wanted, giving a little more in my spiral, attitude, and Ina Bauer. My second flip was rough and I double-footed the landing, a deduction, but still managed to tack on the two toe loops. I was skating slowly at the beginning of my footwork but eked out a wobbly double twizzle on one foot in front of the judges, then a better one on the other. I picked up speed and did well with the rest of my footwork, finishing my program with a decent back spiral, toe steps, and a (not very centered) scratch spin.

Coach Gary helped me off the ice, praising my skate. He said that I hadn’t seemed nervous like his other adults, that I’d gone out and just skated my program like one of his little kids. He told me that based on what he’d seen so far, he thought I would be in the top four skaters.

As it turned out I ended up placing 5th out of 11 skaters in the 41 to 50 age group of Bronze Ladies free skate. I was ranked 2nd by two judges, 5th by one, and 7th by two, resulting under the complicated old 6.0 system in 5th place. My coach told me that everyone who placed ahead of me had a lutz jump, which is worth a lot of points, and the winner (his other skater) had two lutzes. I can do a lutz but one of my coaches at home had taken it out of my program the previous week because it wasn’t consistent.

I was happy with my skate and my placement. My coach told me I’d had the best skating skills in the group (that encompasses things like edge quality). And I was pleased with myself for getting out there at a big competition for the first time. Almost a week later, I’m still feeling pretty mellow and pleased!

skating a back spiral

{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Shulamit March 15, 2013 at 12:23 pm

I’m impressed, Mary! Putting our physical abilities out there for judging at our age, takes true grit. You did it with grace and style.

In our twenties, my husband used to push me to go rollerblading with him. He was great. I was a klutz. But he thought I was just not having the right attitude. One day I put on my roller skates (didn’t have roller blades, I would have fallen over) and skated from our apartment to his office on campus, as he did many days. He was soo happy! When I went to leave, he watched me wobble down the hallway, and called after me to ask me a question. I stopped, and turned around. He said, “did you look like that the whole way over here?”

“Yes,” I informed him, “I did.”

He never pushed me to roller blade again, LOL.

I’m in awe of your ability to do this kind of skating at all, regardless of age. But all the more impressed that you have your husband out there supporting you, multiple coaches supporting you, and you just going out there and doing it!

Thanks for sharing this video and the blog (and thanks for having it somewhere besides FB which I don’t use).



Shulamit March 15, 2013 at 12:24 pm

Oh, and I forgot to mention, I love your costume. Beautiful!


mary March 15, 2013 at 2:42 pm

Thanks so much, Shu! And thanks for checking it out!


Heba March 17, 2013 at 11:32 pm

I. am. SO. impressed! Wow … how long have you been skating? I can’t even rollerblade, much less ice skate! I am seriously impressed 🙂 Keep it up – it’s awesome!
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mary March 18, 2013 at 6:06 am

Thanks so much, Heba! I skated when I was a kid (though not competitively) and started skating and training consistently again as an adult 7 years ago.


Em March 18, 2013 at 2:40 pm

That’s awesome!!! This post got me so excited because I used to be a competitive figure skater. Aww I miss skating. Good for you! 🙂
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mary March 18, 2013 at 3:33 pm

Hi Em, thanks for stopping by and commenting, I hope you visit again! You are the first other blogger besides me I’ve seen who loves vegetarian and vegan food and skating! If you miss skating perhaps you will skate again. I didn’t skate, besides a few times a year tops, from age 16 until my forties. What level of skater were you? The adult track in USFSA has opportunities for all levels, there were some really good skates at Sectionals by the Masters Novice ladies and Masters Junior-Senior Ladies. I didn’t test when I was younger so I am only at Adult Bronze level now.


Joanne March 19, 2013 at 3:17 pm

Excellent! I wish I could simply skate backwards! My sister and I were always taken to the ice. She was fantastic and actually competed in speed skating. Me? Not so much. Weak ankles and… all those years and I never could skate backwards. 🙂

You did fantastic. It was pleasure watching you.
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mary March 20, 2013 at 2:05 am

My sister was better than me at skating when we were young, too. She did ballet and brought that grace and coordination to figure skating, I loved to watch her!


Lori March 21, 2013 at 2:10 am

Your coach really had you well prepared and it showed. Good decision to leave the lutz out, it really would have worked in your favor if they had been using the IJS. I thought including a twizzle sequence was great too. Don’t often see people attempting that at bronze level.


mary March 22, 2013 at 6:21 am

Thanks, Lori! So nice to have a comment from another skater like you who is so well-informed about the ins and outs of the skills, levels, and judging! My dance coach has given me some really good instruction on the twizzles and they’re improving. My theory is that if I keep putting them in my programs they will keep getting better out of necessity.


Lee March 25, 2013 at 1:10 pm

I love reading posts like this it is so inspiring to see and read about people who are not scared to go out and do it and not only that keep on doing it. Are you going to put the lutz back in if you get it consistent enough sounds like if you do you could be on the top step next time.

Well done again lee


mary March 26, 2013 at 5:46 am

You are absolutely right, Lee, I do need to improve my lutz and get it back in there. Next season for sure! I will need to keep working on it over the summer. Thanks for your thoughtful comments, Lee, I appreciate your readership!


Tempie April 6, 2013 at 2:51 am

What to go, Mary! Your outfit is so pretty, and you did an awesome job on your routine!


mary April 7, 2013 at 5:58 am

Thanks so much Tempie!


Nadiya April 21, 2013 at 11:19 pm

Wow! When I go ice skating the only thought in my head is not to fall. Haha!

I absolutely love watching ice skating and really can’t imagine how difficult it is to do all of those spins and jumps. You’ve got to be so brave to even attempt them and not be afraid of falling! Keep it up 😀

Thanx for stopping by my blog 😀
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mary April 22, 2013 at 12:54 am

Ha, it’s got to be easier than running 26 miles at a time like you do! You do have to be willing to take some falls if you are going to skate. You learn to fall in a way that doesn’t hurt you (most of the time).


Allie May 5, 2013 at 11:30 am

Wow, you are amazing!!


mary May 5, 2013 at 4:32 pm

Thanks, Allie! You are quite an athlete too with your swimming and running!


Eva June 8, 2013 at 5:05 pm

I absolutely love your dress! I am so excited that you spin and jump the same way I do. It’s rare to meet another adult clockwise spinner/jumper. Gorgeous Ina Bauer and spiral too. Congrats on your 5th place finish!


mary June 8, 2013 at 6:40 pm

Go lefties! I’m a leftie for skating but I write with my right hand. I’m a leftie in some sports and for ones that use the hands I can go either way. How about you, are you right or left-handed? Thanks for visiting and commenting, Eva, it’s so nice to have another adult skater here. An adult skater friend of mine who also has a skating dress business made the dress for me. Thanks for the compliment on the Ina Bauer and spirals. I’m going to do Ina Bauer in both directions in the new program that I’m working on, it’s been a challenge getting it to go the other way but it does work, kind of.


Millie July 27, 2013 at 1:04 am

Mary, I just looked at this again. Your back spiral is beautiful.


mary July 27, 2013 at 1:32 am



Laurie March 3, 2014 at 5:03 am

Oh gosh Mary I started crying tears of joy for you. How beautiful. Loved your music and your outfit too. And how exciting to be in competition with other skaters and do so well. Thanks for sharing and congratulations.


mary March 3, 2014 at 6:38 am

Laurie that is so sweet of you! I am so glad that my skate was able to bring you some happiness too.


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