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Thread: Effects of teen growth spurts on skaters

  1. #16
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    I think another factor is when a young girl comes on to the stage, and they're fresh off the juniors, the expectations aren't there, so everything comes easily and naturally. She has a lot of success. Then with success, there are the expectations that naturally follow, and along with that her body inevitably changes so her timing is off and she has to adjust, and struggles as a result. People wonder "What happened?" and now it seems, they give up and move on to the next fresh skater. That has to be disheartening. What happened is she is growing and maturing, and is also learning to deal with the expectations. If she develops a more athletic type of body there's the criticism that she's too heavy, which can be very damaging and can lead to eating disorders. It's like landmine for skaters sometimes, but women especially. A skater with good technique just has to readjust slightly but can still rely on her basic skills.

  2. #17
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    It's weird to think about, but how many successful young girls this season will still be as successful in two years time? Look what happened to poor Elizaveta Tuktamisheva :( In 2011 I would have pinned her as a podium threat for Sochi. Now, she's on the verge of not making the team. Although I love all of them, I can't help but wonder what will happen to skaters like Polina Edmunds, Elena Radionova, and Julia Lipnitskaia... How many girls will still be around come 2015?

    Although, I do think that even if these skaters do grow and it changes their technique, they can still rebound, but it takes a LOT of willpower and determination. It's tough to go to the rink and constantly be falling on jumps that you could do in your sleep 9 months ago.

    Isn't this why Kimmie ultimately quit? I heard that she was training one day, fell on a number of triple flips in a session, and then called it quits. Not sure if this is entirely true, but I can imagine it would be so frustrating.

  3. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sochi_2014 View Post
    Although, I do think that even if these skaters do grow and it changes their technique, they can still rebound, but it takes a LOT of willpower and determination. It's tough to go to the rink and constantly be falling on jumps that you could do in your sleep 9 months ago.
    I think so too, Sochi. For every successful athlete, we see the medals and coronation but never the sweat and tears behind it. How many will reach the apex of their sporting prowess? How many has fallen off on the way up.
    There will be some girls who will make it. Most likely those who are powerful skaters and perhaps those who doesn't grow relatively too much in proportion to their current form.

  4. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sochi_2014 View Post
    It's weird to think about, but how many successful young girls this season will still be as successful in two years time? Look what happened to poor Elizaveta Tuktamisheva :( In 2011 I would have pinned her as a podium threat for Sochi. Now, she's on the verge of not making the team. Although I love all of them, I can't help but wonder what will happen to skaters like Polina Edmunds, Elena Radionova, and Julia Lipnitskaia... How many girls will still be around come 2015?

    Although, I do think that even if these skaters do grow and it changes their technique, they can still rebound, but it takes a LOT of willpower and determination. It's tough to go to the rink and constantly be falling on jumps that you could do in your sleep 9 months ago.

    Isn't this why Kimmie ultimately quit? I heard that she was training one day, fell on a number of triple flips in a session, and then called it quits. Not sure if this is entirely true, but I can imagine it would be so frustrating.
    This is a very good question, I would think it takes dedication and discipline to keep going after your body changes and readjust. I feel for how Liza is being written off and how people are criticizing her weight (seriously, she barely has any fat on her body!). Liza is only one example of being derailed by a growth spurt and puberty

    If you have strong skating skills, you can ge it back and improve. How many teen girls have started off strong, grew, then struggled. It's not a recent thing. Tracey Wainman was 12 and 13 when she went to Worlds, she was at her peak then and she's said if she hadn't gone then she might not have gone to Worlds. She grew, had to readjust, and never able to hit the same form plus the CFSA (now Skate Canada), weren't happy with her lack of discipline so they didn't send her to Worlds in 1986 when she won the Canadian title at age 18. Cynthia Phaneuf was 15, almost 16, when she won the Canadian Title, then she had a disastrous performance at the 2004-05 GPF, considering she was still fairly new and young, it was understandable, but sadly, the confidence she had early in the season was destroyed. She also had a growth spurt and injuries. She was able to recover her jumps and work hard to remake the world and Olympic team and World Team.

    Isn't this why Kimmie ultimately quit? I heard that she was training one day, fell on a number of triple flips in a session, and then called it quits. Not sure if this is entirely true, but I can imagine it would be so frustrating.
    I think she was injured, too in 2008-09 :(. It is frustrating. And who took her place? Rachel Flatt, Caroline Zhang. Mirai Nagasu and Ashley Wagner, all of them except for Ashley were 14-15 in 2008, and how many are still strong and on the scene? Only Ashley. Mirai is still around but hasn't been able to retain her form since 2010. Sounds like Zhang just squeaked into nationals. I haven't heard about Flatt at all this year.

    How many of the young girls will still be forces for the next four years? It's hard to say.

  5. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by coppertop1 View Post
    How many of the young girls will still be forces for the next four years? It's hard to say.
    Part of the fun in guessing. The girls you mentioned are/were good but just didn't managed to get on world podium. Sometimes luck may play a teen weeny part. To compete during the era where Michelle dominated in almost every competition, would mean many would have to fight for second or third place.

    Well, it is good to have depth in Junior because this means that the chance of at least one of them making it right to the top is higher. I see the Russian babiy/babies dominating the ladies soon.

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    Quote Originally Posted by spikydurian View Post
    Part of the fun in guessing. The girls you mentioned are/were good but just didn't managed to get on world podium. Sometimes luck may play a teen weeny part. To compete during the era where Michelle dominated in almost every competition, would mean many would have to fight for second or third place.
    Oh, for sure. I'm cautious but I also can't help but think "Wow! Imagine when these Russian teens hit their true potential and really blossom, it will be AMAZING!" They have so much potential it's scary.

    Well, it is good to have depth in Junior because this means that the chance of at least one of them making it right to the top is higher. I see the Russian babiy/babies dominating the ladies soon.
    And Russia has so many young up and comers, it's insane! Not just the ones we see but 12, 13 year olds who do triple-triples etc. Russia is back on the ladies scene in a big way! I think they will be the main force, it makes me even project ahead to 2018! I love watching the juniors, it's a glimpse into the future!

  7. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by coppertop1 View Post
    I love watching the juniors, it's a glimpse into the future!
    Me too. Fun part to check again down the track, who prevails and who does not.

  8. #23
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    Yup, you remember them as juniors and sometimes it's like "I knew they were destined for greatness" and sometimes it's like "What happened?" It's part of figure skating. And when a skater adjusts to their new height and weight, sometimes it helps them. They get more speed and power and with that comes bigger jumps, and also a more mature look. There are many reasons why a skater doesn't hit their potential, sometimes its' bad technique that's never fixed, like Caroline Zhang, sometimes a skater is their own worst enemy like with Mira Leung. Sometimes a skater doesn't hit their peak until their in their 20s, like with Costner or Rochette or Wagner. Some take time to regain their jumps, and patience is a virtue, like with Cynthia Phaneuf.

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    I read an article in a skating magazine, when talking about skaters with eating disorders, and Evy Scotvold said "As soon as a girl has a nice body like the girl across the street it's over". Evy is said to be notorious for this kind of attitude. I wonder if there is a mentality among girls, though, of fearing puberty and maybe it would help if they were taught it's not a bad thing, and they can adjust their skating and even improve.

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    Growth spurt is not the only obstacle the young skaters face, emotional changes also take place. I have seen this in my own daughters. As preteens they were confident and didn't get nervous about performing, both atheltically and musically. They were not skaters, but were active in other sports. I saw changes through puberty. It saddened me that the once fearless performer became much more self conscious. It's difficult to watch this and be somewhat powerless to build back the confidence they once had. Nerves are tricky. The successful skaters are the ones that not only go through puberty with limited adjustment to body type but also to their mental state.

  11. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by cjsk8fan View Post
    Growth spurt is not the only obstacle the young skaters face, emotional changes also take place. I have seen this in my own daughters. As preteens they were confident and didn't get nervous about performing, both atheltically and musically. They were not skaters, but were active in other sports. I saw changes through puberty. It saddened me that the once fearless performer became much more self conscious. It's difficult to watch this and be somewhat powerless to build back the confidence they once had. Nerves are tricky. The successful skaters are the ones that not only go through puberty with limited adjustment to body type but also to their mental state.
    I agree. When a skater gets self-conscious it can be very difficult when the pressure's on. Which is why I get very annoyed when people give up on a young skater who is struggling to adjust and likely, feeling self-conscious, and when people criticize their weight. These skaters have enough on their plate without the fair-weather fans proclaiming them hopeless. It's not easy being an elite-level athlete, and every athlete has their struggles.

  12. #27
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    I think physical changes are more profound in girls, and maybe so is the confidence issue because as and when girls mature, they become more conscious of their looks. If one lives in a society where society and peers place unrealistic expectations on physical looks, I assume the more dysfunctional the mental state of the person will be.

    Perhaps if there are athlete mentors who can talk to these girls and their parents on what to expect, it may help some of them to regain confidence in themselves.

  13. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by spikydurian View Post
    I think physical changes are more profound in girls, and maybe so is the confidence issue because as and when girls mature, they become more conscious of their looks. If one lives in a society where society and peers place unrealistic expectations on physical looks, I assume the more dysfunctional the mental state of the person will be.

    Perhaps if there are athlete mentors who can talk to these girls and their parents on what to expect, it may help some of them to regain confidence in themselves.
    I agree, girls grow hips and breasts, and curves, and some skaters have curves. They need to be taught that it's not a bad thing, and that they shouldn't be expected to maintain the same wispy look they had at 14. That's an impossible standard. How many women still weigh the same as an older teen/adult that they did at fourteen? No one. I mean look at the difference between Michelle Kwan from 1994-1996 and from 1996-97. Men grow taller and they grow muscle. Plus, there's not the demand that men have ideal bodies.

    I like the idea of athlete mentors, this is also where a female coach may help too. Give these teenagers the confidence that they'll survive and even be a better skater.

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    Research is revealing more all of the time that eating disorders have a physiological component that is part of the cause and cannot be triggered merely by words, images or even outside expectations. Blaming coaches, parents and fans entirely for any prevalence of eating disorders in sports is over simplifying those diseases.

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    Quote Originally Posted by louisa05 View Post
    Research is revealing more all of the time that eating disorders have a physiological component that is part of the cause and cannot be triggered merely by words, images or even outside expectations. Blaming coaches, parents and fans entirely for any prevalence of eating disorders in sports is over simplifying those diseases.
    In her interview with TSL, Mary Beth Marley emphasized that it wasn't anything with her coaches or anything anyone said that triggered the issue. She made a point of saying that the internal pressure she felt to be a certain type or to be successful was a bigger factor in the problem.

    That said, I think some people are ridiculous regarding what is "ideal" for an athlete.

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