US Adult Championships 2018

by Mary on April 21, 2018

I’m back from Boston and feeling rather meh about my Nationals experience. If I’m going to go again I need to figure out how to have a better time. Part of my “meh” is dissatisfaction with the events I competed in. I feel like I understand the competitive requirements of freestyle better than those of free dance, and wish I could compete in freestyle again.

On the light entertainment event, I knew going in that without an outrageous costume or prop I probably wouldn’t place well. But underlyingly perhaps I thought that just a fun or light program could be competitive. Taking 9th place out of 10 after being 5th out of 5 at Sectionals disabused me of that notion. I’m not interested in skating in a crazy costume, so I probably won’t compete in light entertainment again.

I thought I could skate just for the fun of enjoying the crowd reaction and putting my program out there. I was happy with how I skated. But it felt worse to me than I expected to place low, especially in solo free dance where I placed 11th out of 17. The word I used to my husband is that I felt “rebuked.” He felt that was a pretty strong reaction and I guess it was.

The other part of my “meh” was little things about the competition that made it feel half-hearted: the name tags that only said “competitor” instead of our names, the program that didn’t list the competition times or skaters for each event. Usually I use the program to follow along with who is skating and where they are from, or to plan who and what to watch.

Probably it would help to have a coach with me and more of my Pacific Coast friends. I did enjoy hanging out with my fellow skaters and giving and receiving tossies. It was nice for me that my fellow competitor from Sectionals in dance was at Nationals, too, and we helped each other get ready to go on. The effort of competing, though, cut down on the social aspect more than I’d hoped. There’s something to be said for going to an event just to spectate.

I gave zinnia seeds as part of my tossie, inspired by Elaine, who gave me a seed packet at Sectionals with the text: “The flower does not compare itself with other flowers in the garden, it just blooms.” How perfect is that for skating? Several folks assured me they were going to plant the seeds.

Some encouraging tossie notes and pre-performance reminders from my husband.

The rink at Marlborough is huge, with ten ice surfaces and two restaurants. Even with Adult Nationals in progress there was still a lot of hockey going on. I overhead one of the hockey parents say to another, “There’s an adult figure skating competition being held here. A lot of the people I’ve seen are in their sixties, and I think that’s beautiful.”

This was the first year of solo free dance competition at the adult championships. In our bronze group all ages and genders were combined, with ages ranging from 20’s to 71. Some were frustrated that the organizers hadn’t broken up our event into age groups, which would have given each of us a better chance at recognition. Supposedly that costs the organizers more money but I don’t understand how, and we too contributed toward putting on the competition with our registration and ice fees.

The full judging and technical panel assembled for the higher-level skaters.

One surprise for me was that the winner of my solo free dance event was a fellow student of my coach Sharon. I knew no one else was coming from my skating club, but this student is a member of a different club. She skates at a different time than me so I never see her, and my coach didn’t tell me she was coming. Definitely a missed opportunity for community.

She skates masters intermediate/novice in freestyle, which is a far higher skill category than mine, and won that freestyle group at Nationals. In dance we are both bronze but her higher-level skating skills make a big difference. No one else in our group was close, and she won handily.

That is how the rules are, though. In partner dance Jordan Moeller, who is a currently competitive senior man, competes in bronze with a regular adult skater, and they regularly win their event. I’m not feeling too motivated right now to compete again in solo free dance, either. I will talk to my coach about it Monday.

First Solo Free Dance Event at the U.S. Adult Championships

ADULTS SKATE TUESDAY, featuring competitors in the first ever Adult Solo Bronze Free Dance event held at the U.S. Adult Championships!Every Tuesday the Adult Skating Committee will feature someone in the skating community expressing their support of adult skating. Message us on Facebook if you have a video you'd like to share, including YOU telling us how skating has improved your life! If we use your video, we will credit you in our post! #AdultsSkateTuesday #AdultsSkateToo

Posted by U.S. Adult Skating Committee on Tuesday, May 1, 2018


The videoing at the competition was done by US Figure Skating instead of a local vendor. In theory they were going to email us with the offer to buy our videos, but a week later that hasn’t happened yet.

Next time I’ll fill you in on the potentially helpful High Performance Movement Screen I took at the competition through US Figure Skating. I’m sorry that Nationals didn’t leave me motivated and inspired as it did when I went to Utah. I’ll have to continue my thought process and find some goals I can be excited about.

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Eva at Eva Bakes April 22, 2018 at 2:33 am

I am sad that you didn’t feel a sense of community at AN this year. I wonder why that was? Even though I wasn’t able to attend this year, I still felt a lot of support from those skaters that attended. What could people have done to make you feel more appreciated, and how can you encourage that behavior? Just wondering do we can continue to make sure nobody gets left out and feeling isolated.
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Mary April 22, 2018 at 3:40 am

The lack of community I felt was specifically in regard to having another student of my same coach compete in my event and neither of us even knowing about it. I’m not sure she would have even recognized me or known that we have the same coach. I did feel some community with the other skaters, including the competitor I mentioned who helped “put me on” (as I did for him too) and a California skater who went out of her way to connect with me and do some fun, silly things together. One thing I really appreciate from other skaters, and do myself, is give positive comments about their programs. It’s so nice to know that people are watching and enjoying. The local club committee could have made me and others feel more individually valued by putting names on the name tags and in the program. I realize they do a whole lot of work and what I heard was “they don’t usually make money on the program.” One good point was that at least they allowed tossies. At Pacific Coast Sectionals this year tossies were not allowed, and that was a loss. Encouraging notes in tossies help create community too. Another thing that might have helped me personally to connect is to not compete. I’ve connected more with others at the non-competition events I’ve attended lately like 7K and the Sun Valley Adult Week. That’s partly my own issue, getting wrapped up in preparing to compete or not wanting to get my back too tight by sitting in the stands for a long time. But it’s also true that the non-competition events have more relaxed time for the skaters to spend together.


Deborah Brooks April 23, 2018 at 6:07 pm

I am sorry your event did not go as well as you hoped it would. Keep on doing what you love!
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Mary April 23, 2018 at 9:12 pm

Thanks Deborah! Loving it is the best reason to do it, for sure.


The Accidental Marathoner April 23, 2018 at 9:06 pm

I’m sorry this was not a good experience for you. I agree with the age-group division. It seems that would have made for a more even playing field for the different subgroups. I love that quote about the flowers blooming!
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Mary April 24, 2018 at 4:34 am

Thanks, yes, that’s a good quote for me to remember. I’m glad you agree with the age-group division, I imagine it’s always done in running. There aren’t that many adults competing in figure skating so we look forward to these few large events where there are enough of us to break us up by age.


Wendy April 23, 2018 at 10:17 pm

I hope that you will continue competing! I know runners who don’t do races but I think most of us like to set goals, to give us something to strive for. I give you a lot of credit for putting yourself out there. But stay true to yourself–I don’t get the outlandish costume thing!


Mary April 25, 2018 at 1:46 am

Thanks Wendy. I will still have goals, and I will probably still compete. I still want to test. I was working on my elements for my juvenile moves test yesterday and today.


Anna April 23, 2018 at 11:25 pm

Sorry that your experience wasn’t what you wanted. Keep challenging yourself.
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Mary April 25, 2018 at 1:49 am

Thanks Anna, I will keep challenging myself!


Coco April 23, 2018 at 11:36 pm

Sorry the event wasn’t as good as you expected. It sounds like a lot of things that might have been ok to deal with on their own added up. I think it’s great that you put yourself out there, but if you don’t enjoy it at all, that’s another issue.
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Mary April 25, 2018 at 1:51 am

I think you hit the nail on the head Coco that a lot of little things added up at that event. There still were aspects that I enjoyed. The main thing is that I still enjoy skating itself and the people I know through skating,


Jenn April 24, 2018 at 12:02 am

I’m so sorry you’re not feeling so positive about your experience. I think it’s incredible that you can put yourself out there and get on the ice in front of people and judges… it takes an enormous amount of courage to do that.

I hope that you find the motivation and desire to continue competing in this gorgeous (and epically difficult) sport!
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Mary April 25, 2018 at 1:53 am

Thanks Jenn, I appreciate the support and encouragement.


Michelle April 24, 2018 at 1:52 am

Sorry to hear the event wasn’t such a positive experience. I hope you find the desire to keep competing. I think it’s wonderful that you can put yourself out there in these competitions – not easy to do!
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Mary April 25, 2018 at 1:56 am

Thanks Michelle.


Jo April 24, 2018 at 2:20 am

Mary, I appreciate you sharing your experiences. It’s been four years since I’ve competed or done tests. While I sometimes miss the rush of competing, I also really get what you’re saying. I find so much more pleasure in the day to day of my own skating now that I’m not under the pressure to perform. I feel like all the energy of self-judgment now goes into trying to make each edge better, day by day. But I do miss wearing those nice dresses and the camaraderie of the other adult skaters cheering! I sometimes wonder whether clubs might simply organize a series of adult exhibitions, rather than always doing skating as a competition. Heard they didn’t even have social dance this year at AN. Bummer! Maybe we’ll have to start our own skating online club….
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Mary April 24, 2018 at 4:30 am

Absolutely. Just exhibitions would be great. I wish there were more opportunities for skating to be like dancing, where it’s just done for the beauty of it (like Ice Theatre of New York, galas at the end of competitions, and Stars on Ice). Our society is so competitive, why does everything have to be about competing? At 7k we had exhibitions and it was a really nice experience. I will say, though, that people still got really stressed out even without the judging. You got a critique and people were stressed out I think about that, and about the fact that there was no open freestyle/practice ice time in the days beforehand for people to warm up their programs. I am looking forward to the competition that my home club puts on in the summer. It includes exhibitions and a lot of skaters, child and adult, take advantage of that.


Kim G April 24, 2018 at 2:45 am

I am sorry that this was not a great experience for you 🙁

I really admire you for going out there and performing in front of people and judges. I cannot imagine how nerve-racking that must be!
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Mary April 25, 2018 at 2:24 am

Thanks Kim. It can be nerve-wracking, I tend to get a nervous stomach before I compete. Not always, though, and I cherish those times when I’m able to go out and skate without the nerves.


Kimberly Hatting April 24, 2018 at 4:12 am

That’s a bummer your recent competitions have not gone as planned. I don’t know much about the skating industry or the competitions, but it seems like mutual support should be a given. I do love the idea of tossing the flower seeds to others as encouragement, though! And, the quote about blooming without worrying about others is spot-on.


Mary April 24, 2018 at 4:34 am

Thanks. I got a lot of interesting and encouraging tossies from other folks, too. In general we do support each other, that’s one of the better parts of competitions.


Kathryn April 26, 2018 at 9:08 am

I’m sorry to hear that Nationals wasn’t the experience that you had hoped for. Keep you chin up, keep doing what you love, and hopefully your next competition will be a better experience for you.
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Mary April 29, 2018 at 7:02 pm

Thanks Kathryn, I’m moving on and working on goals old and new.


Johanna June 9, 2018 at 9:45 pm

Hi Mary,
I just found your site when I was going through tossies from ANs. I enjoyed meeting you and was psyched to see that my tossie sentiment made your blog.

This was only my second ANs. The first one was hard for me–I had trouble connecting with people and didn’t skate as well as I would have liked. This time it went better, for a few reasons.

I enjoyed reading your blog. Hope your skating is going well.


Mary June 14, 2018 at 12:14 am

Thanks Johanna! I think you are the only one, or one of a few, that I put my blog address onto the tossie. I’m glad you visited! I’m glad you liked this Nationals better than the last. As you can see I was in a bit of a funk then, but my skating has been really fun lately. I skated in a mini-ensemble adult group number at a competition a few weeks ago which was great fun. And now I’m at Sun Valley, really enjoying the skating scene here. I hope to see you again, and meanwhile, please subscribe or at least visit this little old blog, I’d love to see you here again!


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