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Thread: Starting Up Again

  1. #1
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    Starting Up Again

    Sorry...this ended up longer than I thought it would...

    So, seeing as many of you are skaters, coaches, skating parents or simply know the logistics of the sport, I wanted to run a few ideas by ya’ll and hopefully get some feedback. Any feedback positive or negative is appreciated. Please be honest.

    So, this year I will be graduating high school; while it had always been my intention to go straight to college after high school, I’ve begun to look into other potential options. I have already been admitted to all the schools I applied to and all of them allow students to take a “gap year”: a year between the end of high school and the beginning of college to do some sort of project of their choosing. I was thinking about giving skating another try…

    Figure skating has always been a passion of mine. From a young age, I’ve always found the sport intriguing; there’s a combination of strength and elegance found in figure skating that can be found in no other sport. When I was about 7 years old, my parents bought me my first pair of figure skates; I took group lessons and quickly progressed on to a private coach. I continued skating up until age 9. Then…I quit. Looking back on it, at the time, quitting made sense. I was beginning to progress to a higher level in my skating, and with this higher level came a higher level of commitment to the sport. You all know how expensive skating is and the added ice time was beginning to put financial strain on my family, not to mention the time commitment and sacrifices required of everyone. So…that’s where my skating ended.

    But I’ve never given up the desire to be a skater. Logistically though, it’s just never worked out; I’ve never had the time to work enough hours to pay for ice time while balancing school. But in a gap year, I would. I’ve already gone through all the financials and ice time at local rinks and I could realistically skate up to 14-15 hours a week (depending on how much coaching time I have, the cost of the coach, cost of off ice training, and living expenses). Since I wouldn’t have school, I’d have the time to work enough hours to support myself financially and pay for skating.

    Now, I know this may sound silly to some of you, and I realize there is only so much I can accomplish in a years worth of skating, no matter how many hours a week I put in; I also realize starting later in life generally doesn’t work well. However, I’m not expecting to be Olympic champion or anything like that. I just feel like I’d be remiss to leave my youth knowing I never pursued that one longest held childhood dream. I had thought about trying to pick it up at college, but all the colleges on my list are quite rigorous and I doubt trying to start up in college would go far. But if I can give myself this gap year to really focus on it, I can maybe find a way to keep with it in college. Maybe I could use this year as a springboard.
    Plus, Johnny didn't start until he was 12 so it's not -completely- unheard of for someone starting a little later to make something of the sport

    So…does this sound crazy? Should I just accept that skating just wasn’t in the cards for me? Or just skate recreationally and realize that starting now to be a competitive skater is a lost cause? I was considering contacting a local coach that I know to talk to her about my plans and possibly have her assess my potential, but if this is a completely outlandish idea, I don’t want to waste her time. I already know all the basics, have passed my juvenile MITF test, and can still do all my singles, axel, double toe and double sal.

    I dunno…I just feel like this is my last chance to really focus on skating.
    I know that was long; thanks if you read the whole thing.
    Last edited by dannyascii; 03-08-2010 at 05:18 PM.

  2. #2
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    I think it all depends on what you expect to achieve as a skater in that one year period. If you can still do an axel, double toe and double sal, then it is perfectly realistic to take your Juvenile FS test ASAP, then take the Intermediate MIF and FS tests this summer. Unfortunately, you need to be under 18 to compete in Intermediate at Regionals, so you would need to test all the way up to Novice if you want to compete at Regionals in October. It would be pretty challenging to pass all 5 tests (Juvenile FS, Intermediate MIF & FS and Novice MIF and FS) in time for the September 1 Regionals application deadline.

    Your other options are:
    1. Take the Juvenile FS test and compete in Open Juvenile, which does not have an age limit, but is not a qualifying event (i.e., you cannot go on to Sectionals and Nationals even if you win).

    2. Pass the Intermediate MIF and FS test and then "skate up" one level to Novice in local club competitions (that is allowed in local competitions but not Regionals). Most of these local competitions are in the summer, but you can check USFSA.org for a schedule of competitions in your area.
    Last edited by vlaurend; 03-08-2010 at 07:45 PM.

  3. #3
    At the rink. Again. mskater93's Avatar
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    Your other option is to see if your college of choice has a figure skating team (it's popular on the East Coast and is catching on throughout the Midwest) and join the team. It goes all the way down to pre-preliminary and you get ice time and coaching typically. In addition, you won't get "one year" to make it happen. Once you graduate from college, you can progress in your spare time (ha ha) and compete as an adult.

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    Follow your dream!
    I took ballet as a child, quit, then went back as a teenager and also started taking jazz. This led to a successful amateur performing arts career which was immensely satisfying. My future husband was sitting in the audience. Now I skate too and belong to an ice dancing club (we perform several times a year).
    So, if you love something, pursue it! You can skate for your whole life in whatever capacity (we have 80 year old former Ice Capades people in our club).
    Do it!

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    Quote Originally Posted by mskater93 View Post
    Your other option is to see if your college of choice has a figure skating team (it's popular on the East Coast and is catching on throughout the Midwest) and join the team. It goes all the way down to pre-preliminary and you get ice time and coaching typically. In addition, you won't get "one year" to make it happen. Once you graduate from college, you can progress in your spare time (ha ha) and compete as an adult.
    First off, thank you all for your input. It is most encouraging and is giving me much to think about!
    Secondly, it's that spare time comment that makes me think that taking the year off would be worthwhile. All of my schools have accessibility to rinks though most don't have organized clubs, so I feel like skating would be relegated to a "free time" sort of thing (especially because of monetary constraints). I feel like trying to start while adjusting to college life would yield results roughly equivalent to just skating recreationally; I simply wouldn't have the time needed to really focus and progress. Before I quit, I could basically do all my doubles, save the 2A and loop and I think I could probably recover those relatively quickly; I've only been skating recreationally for about 5 weeks and have recovered a fair deal of my old technique. But my concern is, if I take the year, devote everything to skating, how much more could I achieve? I definitely think in a years span I could at least pass my intermediate tests; what about triple jumps? What about the long run? How much would taking this year accelerate my progress?
    I realize I may not be articulating this well, but a friend of mine who's a little skeptical of my gap year idea made a good analogy in saying that no matter how hard he trained he would never be able to be an olympic level runner; starting now, he'd be starting too late and simply didn't have the natural talent. I want to know that if I do take this year, will I be accomplishing significantly more than if I didn't? Will taking this year put me on a path to maybe being able to complete triples sometime down the line, or will, due to age and other factors, taking this year or not taking it will have marginal effects on how far I can actually progress? I think I'm not looking so much for this year as my "'one year' to make it happen", but more of a springboard to create a solid foundation for my skating career, but if it won't actually be springing me very far, it may be wiser to let bygones be bygones.
    No matter what, I've resolved that I will be skating in some capacity next year. Is it worth taking the more involved gap year route?

  6. #6
    At the rink. Again. mskater93's Avatar
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    Taking a year off will likely help you attain triples but it is not a guarantee. Kids who skate from the time they are very little all through high school seriously rarely attain 2A and triples, so there is that to consider. What's your goal? If it's to eventually compete, you could probably skate recreationally during college, retaining your skills working on some new things, getting comfortable with the rule changes to spins, steps, moves, etc since you last skated even semi-seriously the rules were very different. After college, you can skate semi-seriously and work to be a competitive adult skater in the Championship events (Intermediate/Novice and Junior/Senior) as the groups grow every year and even making it to Nationals through Sectionals has become increasingly difficult as more and more people skate beyond high school. A gap year is a big commitment for a huge "if" and I think this is what your friend is trying to tell you.

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    It's impossible for any of us to say what you might or might not achieve in a year of intense training. We've never seen you skate & have no idea of your ability, etc. Triples are a whole nother ball game, and it's impossible to say if you'll get them, and how quickly. We had a girl here who flew through all doubles including DA, & truly looked like she was well on her way to stardom. Then she hit the triples & just never could get them clean or consistent. There is no guarantee of anything, and only you and you coaches know what you might be capable of.

    I think it sounds fantastic to take a year to skate, but I think you should do it with the attitude that you're going to work as hard as you can, to see how far you can get......period. And though you probably already know this, if you do the serious training year, be sure to get yourself a good personal trainer at a gym to do some serious off-ice training as well.

    I'd also certainly make it a goal to test out as much as possible; if you have any interest in coaching down the road you'll need those tests.

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    You're in the US, right?

    Before I quit, I could basically do all my doubles, save the 2A and loop and I think I could probably recover those relatively quickly; I've only been skating recreationally for about 5 weeks and have recovered a fair deal of my old technique. But my concern is, if I take the year, devote everything to skating, how much more could I achieve? I definitely think in a years span I could at least pass my intermediate tests; what about triple jumps? What about the long run? How much would taking this year accelerate my progress?
    From what you describe, intermediate tests definitely sound doable within a year. Maybe even with a more recreational schedule of 5 or so hours a week.

    You'll need the double loop for the novice freestyle test. That should be doable if you already had the flip and lutz. And any double-double combination.

    But more important, you'll need the intermediate and novice Moves in the Field tests. And they're going to change as of Sept. 1, 2010 to include some skills you probably haven't worked on yet.

    You might want to make the intermediate MITF test your priority RIGHT NOW and try to test it by August.

    After September, it might be the twizzles that hold you back from testing to intermediate. Also, how are your brackets?

    Even with 15 hours a week, it might be a challenge to get past the novice MITF test, which will also include figures-style loops, much less junior and senior.

    Meanwhile, double axel and any triples could also take more than a year to master, although you could get a good start on learning them. Whether you eventually succeed would depend on several factors including coaching/technique and body type as well as time spent training. And staying uninjured.

    Are you aiming to try to compete at standard novice level or above? As others have mentioned, you could test through intermediate and then enter nonqualifying competitions "skating up" to novice. That could be a reasonable goal.

    If you can pass the novice tests by August 2011, then you could enter regionals for 2011-12 season, but by then you'd be in college full-time so you'd have less time to train and to maintain or expand on whatever skills you develop during 2010-11?

    As others have noted, if you take a longer-term approach, then adult competition at the masters intermediate/novice or junior/senior level could be a goal for a few years down the line, without needing as intensive a training schedule.

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    Thank you all for the input!
    A gap year is a big commitment for a huge "if" and I think this is what your friend is trying to tell you.
    I definitely agree. I think that's why I've been having so much trouble deciding.
    I think it sounds fantastic to take a year to skate, but I think you should do it with the attitude that you're going to work as hard as you can, to see how far you can get......period. And though you probably already know this, if you do the serious training year, be sure to get yourself a good personal trainer at a gym to do some serious off-ice training as well.
    That's definitely great advice. I think I have tried to leave my long-term goals relatively open for that reason; simply the fact that there are so many unknowns. I think if I go into it with the mentality that I'm giving myself the time to do something I love, it'll be most productive and enjoyable.

    And thank you for all of the test track suggestions; my local rink has "open freestyle" sessions that I've been trying to go to and I think I'll contact a coach that I know so maybe she can help me evaluate my current skating level. I'm still not sure if I'm going to do this, but in all honesty, I see little harm in doing it. College isn't going anywhere. Worst case scenario, the year goes poorly. At least I'd have realized that returning to skating isn't what I thought it'd be and I'd still have college to look forward to, right?

  10. #10
    Custom Title Kitt's Avatar
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    That's right! Even if your year does not meet your expectations, you will have learned something about yourself. College will then await, with lots of fun experiences. (I didn't graduate until I was 26, and I am none the worse for wear!)

  11. #11
    Wicked Yankee Girl dorispulaski's Avatar
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    Consider having a goal of being on a synchro team! Colleges have them, and there are also non-collegiate clubs. Synchro competitions are world wide.

  12. #12
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    Like people have said, it depends on your ultimate goals for skating. If you aren't really focused on qualifying competition, but are interested in part-time teaching for some spare spending cash, you could just go on the path of ISI rather than USF - you would be able to compete in non-qualifying competitions, and would gain qualifications to be an instructor for a recreational skating program.

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