Spectating and Waiting: ISU Vancouver

by Mary on September 9, 2016

When you can’t skate, there’s always watching skating, like this meditative artistic piece about a broken-winged bird skated by Adam Rippon.

I spectated for a day at the ISU Adult Figure Skating Competition in Vancouver, inspired to see the adults announced as representing the United States or Mexico, Spain, Japan, or Korea. While the US and Canada were by far the most well-represented, a surprising number came from around the world to participate.

Some of my friends were very stressed by the competitive aspect and waiting to get out on the ice, others seemed unruffled. I admire the ability to take the competitive element in stride although I get wrapped up in it myself. While I’m not happy to be sidelined, not having to skate does make it pretty relaxing to be at a competition. I’m glad I could take my chance to enjoy an adult competition in that way.

From my new position confined to the stands I could also appreciate the privilege of being able to skate at all, and to enjoy your individual moment on the ice regardless of ranked outcome. If and when I can be out there again, I hope I can keep a grain or more of that knowledge within me.

As always I enjoyed seeing friends and launching my tossies. We weren’t allowed to actually throw our tossies onto the ice at this competition and had to put them into a basket instead. Luckily the volunteer responsible for collecting our gifts was game for a little tossing into her basket. There’s a lot of satisfaction in the actual throw!

This was the first time for a lot of the skaters there to compete under the unforgiving International Judging System (IJS) rules and many were nailed with multiple deductions they hadn’t expected. When I first walked in a coach from my rink was intently researching on her phone why her skater had been severely marked down. It turned out that jump combinations weren’t allowed in his event.

I heard other stories of disqualified elements and imperfect ones that counted for zero points under IJS. I was sorry for skaters who were devastated by this. I would likely be, too, right after being judged in such a public, broadcasted way, with my skate up on YouTube whether I wanted it there or not.

But I hope that after some time they will appreciate what they were able to do. IJS is just one ranking system, it’s not the be-all and end-all judgement of a skate. Watch Adam Rippon’s beautiful skating above. The program is made to move us, not to win IJS points, and I prefer to any number of competitive programs.

I had to take a train to the competition because I couldn’t drive that far with my back injury. And I’d planned to spectate a second day, but stayed in my hotel room because I couldn’t withstand another day of sitting in the stands. That motivated me to call my sports medicine doctor to set up the epidural steroid injection he’d suggested.

I’d wanted to avoid that. But after a month and a half of slow improvement, the intense calf pain returned, putting me back onto painkillers and now onto a cane at times. It’s time for the next step.

I’ll get that injection tomorrow and check back with my doctors in a couple of weeks. If the pain and muscle weakness have improved, I’ll be very happy. But if not, it may be time for a surgical consult.

Whether or not I get to skate this fall, I do have spectating at Skate America to look forward to. I’ll be visiting Chicago in October to watch and would love to meet up with any readers who may be there. In time I’ll hope to share that event, too, with all of you.

The Bronze Ladies III competition

Melissa Parker on her way to a bronze medal in Bronze Ladies III

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Eva September 9, 2016 at 11:51 am

I hope you continue to heal quickly, Mary. I am super jealous that you were able to spectate at the Vancouver adult competition. And yes, IJS can be brutal. I can’t tell you how many “dashes of doom” I have received for elements that didn’t earn any points under this judging system!


Mary September 10, 2016 at 2:04 am

Thanks, Eva, for the healing wishes! I didn’t realize that you would be jealous, I guess that was a really good opportunity. I just wanted to still be there in some capacity and see what it was like. And besides the folks I know from Sectionals and Nationals so many locals from our Northwest skating clubs were competing that I wanted to cheer them on, too.


Jo September 11, 2016 at 5:16 pm

Thanks for posting the videos, Mary. I really enjoyed Adam’s beautiful program, which has a lot of meaning for any skater who’s ever been injured. I’m glad you got to see the competition and hoping you’ll be pain-free (or at least nearly so) by Skate America. Hang in there and keep us all posted on your progress.
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Mary September 12, 2016 at 12:07 am

Thank you, Jo, I appreciate your perceptiveness, of course Adam’s program resonated for me right now. I’m glad you too enjoyed it.


Melissa September 12, 2016 at 4:06 pm

Mary, it was fun spectating with you! Thank you for the beautiful Adam Rippon video. I have at least 7 skater friends on my injured bird prayer list right now. I hope you and all my injured friends will heal soon. Hoping your injection does the trick and that surgery won’t be necessary. Have fun at Skate America.


Mary September 16, 2016 at 1:23 am

Thanks Melissa! You are so sweet to keep thinking of your injured skater friends. Sometimes it seems like we just drop out of the skating world and its friendships when we stop skating, which is why I was really glad I could go to Vancouver and still feel a part of it.


Chris Bernstein September 18, 2016 at 10:09 am

Wishing you speedy healing and recovery…


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