Last month I competed in my first US Adult Figure Skating Championships. My husband and I spent the week in Salt Lake City where the event, called Adult Nationals for short, was held. Coach Lisa came to Salt Lake to support me and other skaters from my rink and also to enjoy the area. She’d been off the ice for quite a while but recovered in time to come along and was able to be at both of my events.
I was busy not only with practice ice, competing, and watching others compete but with special events like S.T.A.R.S. fitness testing and a free Posture for Figure Skaters workshop by Silicon Valley posture guru Esther Gokhale.
The competition was held near the University of Utah at the Salt Lake City Sports Complex, a beautiful facility with two ice surfaces that was used for practice ice at the 2002 Winter Olympics. I enjoyed seeing the portrait of Apolo Ohno and a banner signed by all the 2002 US Olympians. The complex had the best viewing at an ice rink that I’ve ever seen, with comfortable bleachers in a warm area high above both rinks.
Five minutes away was the Red Butte Garden blooming with thousands of daffodils and other spring bulbs and the Natural History Museum of Utah. We had a quick look at the garden before I competed, but my legs were so tired that I spent most of my time chilling on a garden swing. We came back after I was done competing for a better look and also to see the museum.
I have to credit my wonderful husband and his massage for keeping me in one piece throughout this competition. I’d over-trained, and despite my best efforts at stretching and massage I had deep aching shin splints, sore Achilles’, and knee pain. I skated lightly on Monday, but Tuesday, the day before my first event, I took off completely despite having paid a lot for practice ice on that day. I feared that without the rest my knees might act up too much for me to skate well.
Tuesday afternoon a major snowstorm hit, temporarily knocking out power to our hotel and keeping us locked out of our room. We spent the afternoon in a coffeehouse instead. On Wednesday morning coach Lisa spent two hours white-knuckling her way along a snowy highway from where she was staying to the competition to help me and my training partner compete.
I thought my rink mate’s skate was very strong and assured. She accidentally put an extra salchow into her jump combination, making it not count, and therefore came in fourth. She was disappointed, but to the casual observer it was a beautiful skate.
My free skate went very well, coach Lisa called it a personal best. I really felt the music and let it carry me through the performance. While I’m capable of doing my spins a little better, all my other elements were on the plus side of what I can do. My lutz was much stronger than my average. I was so happy to get a good one in competition instead of one with a tapped free foot. I even was able to show off the landing which I rarely do on the lutz.
I got some very nice compliments afterward from other skaters. I truly appreciated people taking the time and effort to talk to me about my skate. I get much more feedback and reward out of that than just seeing a ranked result. The best part of Nationals is being around so many other skaters who are watching and enjoying the whole experience.
As far as results, I was second, and very close for first. Of the seven marks there was one more first place ranking for the skater who placed first, that was the only difference. And I had really liked her skate, she had an extremely solid, long camel spin into a back spin at the beginning of her program and other good elements. I was glad that a couple of judges had placed me first above her and thrilled to place second. Coach Lisa puts little stock in placement and declined to watch the medals being given out. An interesting lesson from her, as she went off to visit with skating friends she rarely gets to see.
The medal is the only one I’ve gotten that is solid and attractive. I appreciate that and I will keep it (I’ve recycled most of the others). It’s also the only event I’ve been to where the medals are actually announced and awarded by an official, along with a rose, not just handed out whenever you are ready to pick them up. I did like that. And I enjoyed meeting the winning skater and her coach, both there from Minnesota. Her coach was nice enough to congratulate me and offer a handshake.
Here’s my free skate from the other side of the arena:
To be continued!