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Thread: I'm looking for some input for a story I'm trying to write.

  1. #1
    Rinkside
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    Question I'm looking for some input for a story I'm trying to write.

    Before I start peppering you all with questions, I'd like to make sure I'm posting this in the correct place and generally explain what I'm looking for. This forum seemed to be the general discussion forum, so that's why I posted this here.

    Now for a general idea of what I'm looking for: I'm trying to start a story in which one of the main characters will be a figure skater. My limit of the sport is more or less limited to knowing the names of some of the jumps from watching Olympic competitions, and although there won't be any in depth descriptions of any competitions, I'd like to be able to accurately describe it in discussions that may arise in the story.

    That said, if you all give me the okay to go ahead, I'll start asking questions!

  2. #2
    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    Here's the place for it. Fire away!

  3. #3
    Rinkside
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    Thanks for setting me to the right location!

    I've been doing a bit of research about figure skating on the net, but I'm still in need of some more specific guidance.

    First, I want to ask if some information that I've found is accurate. One thing I read is that while skating lessons may begin at about age 3 or 4, that it's unlikely that any technique will begin to develop until age 5 or 6. I also did some reading about the difficulty levels of various jumps, and found the following listing from least to most difficult: Toe Loop, Salchow, Loop, Flip, Lutz, Axel. Do those things seem fairly accurate? If not, how would you correct them?

    Second, I want to develop some idea of what the abilities of the character might be. She's 12 years old, and she's been skating for about as long as she's been walking. If the idea that technique begins to develop at about age 5 or 6 is correct, that's when she started training. If not, insert the appropriate age there. I don't really picture her as being a future Olympian or anything like that, but I do see her as being noticeably above average with regard to her talent level.

    Also, if it makes any difference as to how the training would be done, she lives in Canada.

    I hope I'm not being too vague. If I am, ask whatever you need to or give whatever guidance is needed to get me going in the right direction. I'm open to any help/suggestions I can get!

    At least I know her twin brother's sport well: hockey! Lol

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    Sounds like a promising setup!

    I'll leave it to the more experienced skaters/skate moms and dads/viewers to answer your specifics. One think I can say is that with a girl, the age of twelve is getting close to an age at which she could anticipate more widespread recognition. There are a few prodigies who were ready or almost ready to compete as seniors at that age in North America (notably Michelle Kwan and Tara Lipinski), but for most girls I think she'd probably be just under that level. (We'll leave out Russia, where Sotnikova was the national champion at that age, I think.) If I say anything else, I'll goof it up, so I yield the floor to someone with greater skating smarts than I have.

  5. #5
    Rinkside
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    Thanks for the input! I'm still pretty early in the development of the characters, but I've had a few more thoughts about it. One is that while as I said, I don't see her as a future Olympian (or probably as a member of the national team either), I think I do see her as being considered to be among the top couple of dozen skaters in the province (they story is going to be set in Saskatchewan).

    I also want to develop a bit about the younger sister of the main characters as a skater, too. She's 9, and while she's a fairly good skater, she's not considered to be at the level of her sister. I think that would be a good reason for some tension that I've already planned between her and the main characters. The main characters are considered to be quite good at their sports (figure skating and hockey) and she feels kind of "left out."

    That said, let me add to my original questions by asking what an average 9 year old girl figure skater might be able to do given the same background as the 12 year old.

    Btw, I hope I'm not boring you all with all these details. I just want to give a bit of background in case it might be useful to any input.

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    I don't consider myself an expert, but I'll try and help.

    If I'm correct, the levels in Canada are Juvenile, Pre-novice, Novice, Junior, and Senior. So the 12 year old girl is a somewhat exceptional skater, maybe top 10 in her region? Not sure what level you want them at exactly, but I would think "average" at age 12 is Novice or below. I think at her age, pre-novice would be realistic for a non-future Olympian. For a 9 year old, maybe pre-juvenile? If she's not progressing at the rate her sister is then maybe she struggles with mastering certain jumps and ranks lower than her sister did on average or only competes in local competitions. I mention the levels because I think pulling up the protocols from sectionals competitions would actually help in seeing what jumps the girls in those levels are doing and what makes up their short and free programs. If that doesn't sound too silly.

    I did some googling since you mentioned Saskatchewan and found this: http://www.skatecanadasaskatchewan.com/competitions/ The protocols are listed for numerous competitions in that region. Most of the pre-novice girls seem capable of doing all double jumps and a single axel. So maybe your skater is noticeably above average by being the only girl at her rink who can do that. And maybe her younger sister is having trouble getting her double lutz and double flip.

    On a side note, it's a bit strange to see what's average among skaters because it's such a contrast to all the young Russian prodigies we've been seeing throwing out all of these triples. Now you can really tell how exceptional they are.

    I definitely think there are others on here who would be of a lot more help than me, but I do hope my little bit of input is of some assistance. If you need any clarification, then let me know!

  7. #7
    Rinkside
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    I think I'm beginning to get a clearer picture of what I'm looking at, but I have a few more specific questions now.

    As far as the 12-year-old is concerned, if I understood correctly, are you saying that if she's above average, that she might be the only skater at her rink who can land a double axel? If so, what might she be working on? Would it be a triple toe loop, a triple salchow, or would something else come first? I looked at the pre-novice women's competition info and saw that only about 3 skaters had triples in their programs, and those two jumps are the ones they attempted, so that's why I asked about those in particular.

    Secondly, you mentioned that the 9-year-old might struggle with her double lutz and double flip. Do figure skaters typically work on more than one jump at a time, or focus on one until it's mastered? For example, would she currently be practicing both of those jumps, or would she be actively working on one or the other? Also, since I have read that the axel is significantly more difficult than other jumps, would she still have the single axel in her repertoire?

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    Yes, the 12 year old could be the only one at her rink with the double axel, which would put her above the rest of the girls. Like maybe she is not the best in the region, but the best at her rink. Then maybe she might be working on either a triple salchow or triple toe loop. Those are the "easiest" triple jumps. I put quotes around easiest because some do find it easier to land other kinds, but those are generally the first type of jumps that skaters land, the first that they learn. The triple salchow is worth slightly more. I do know that some skaters land the triple salchow before the triple toe loop. Either one would be fine. Note: A skater can work on a jump without planning to utilize it in competition until the next few years. They can also be focusing on spins and other aspects of skating.

    Generally, I think they work on one jump at a time. At least that may be more recommended. Although I think some of the adventurous ones will work on two. lol. It would probably be better if she worked on one. Any coach would agree that is important to master the jump and be able to land it in competition. So one at a time would be less complicated. If a skater is struggling with one jump, then they should focus on it, rather than doing two at a time. Certain jumps may be worth more, but how hard each one is depends on the skater. For example, the 9 year old could simply be struggling to land the double lutz. Or she could have a perfect double lutz, but be having issues with the double flip. Like maybe she has a double lip, which is what they call an incorrect flip. The axel is said to be more difficult because the extra half rotation. She could have issues with her double jumps, but have a good single axel. That is possible. But if you'd like, she can be good at her double jumps, but have issues with the single axel, like maybe not landing it in competition consistently due to poor technique. If she has a great double toe loop, double salchow, double loop, and single axel, and is now working on her double flip, then she may be exceptional for a 9 year old at her rink and perhaps in competition, but maybe not as good as her older sister was at her age. At her level, she would probably not need both the double flip and double lutz to do well in competition.

    Just in case, here are the order of the jumps from the greatest to least in value: Axel, lutz, flip, loop, salchow, and toe loop.

  9. #9
    Rinkside
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    I get the impression that you think the 9-year-old would more likely than not have a good single axel. I've read about the "lip" and "flutz" online. How common are those problems for a skater that i having trouble with the flip or lutz? This is more to satisfy my personal curiosity, but what exactly is the problem in a "lip" or "flutz?" Is it the spin, the takeoff, or what?

    For the 12-year-old working on her first triple jump, would under-rotation or failure to land the jump be a bigger problem? Btw, I put a line in the small amount of the story that I've already written where she tells her twin brother that she's having trouble with her triple toe loop. I put that in as a placeholder, but it may end up staying now.

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    I personally think having a single axel would make the 9 year old more solid.

    Flutzing and lipping problems are all too common, unfortunately. It involves a change of edge, so that taking off on the wrong edge means that a flutz is not a lutz and a lip is not a flip. They still get credit for doing it, but it gets marked as a wrong edge jump and they don't get as much credit as they would have if it were done properly.

    I know there's some issue with how jumps are penalized. I would find under-rotation to be the bigger issue, as it's the more common problem I've seen and it's a costly one. I know some skaters can perfectly rotate a jump, but fall due to nerves in competition. An under-rotated jump is heavily scrutinized. I've seen skaters marked down for what I've thought was a fully rotated jump. :(

  11. #11
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    What is a change of edge?

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    When they change how they take off. Like a lutz is supposed to take off from a back outside edge, while the flip is supposed to take off from a back inside edge.

    With a flutz, the skater takes off from the inside edge, and with a lip, the skater takes off from the outside edge. They change the edge and take off opposite of how they're supposed to.

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    If the 9-year-old feels like she's in her sister's shadow and feels added pressure during competitions as a result, how might that exhibit itself?

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    Size 7 Knife Boots Sam-Skwantch's Avatar
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    I suggest taking qualities of certain posters here and applying that mentality to some of characters. A lot of us here skate and are at the rinks daily and it shows in our crazy whims I'm not one to name names but if you 'fly' around these threads you might find some interesting characters that could make good antagonists and or dear friends of your main characters.

    I too am working on a book. It's long and tedious work that could all end up at square one ...again . Fortunately I have a really good illustrator who continues to inspire my imagination. Sometimes I wonder who is actually writing it. Mine is honestly a bucket list thing and I'm going to pay to publish it and share it with friends and family primarily. Might send a few copies out but that is of little importance to me.

    Good luck!!

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    Size 7 Knife Boots Sam-Skwantch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ScottM84 View Post
    If the 9-year-old feels like she's in her sister's shadow and feels added pressure during competitions as a result, how might that exhibit itself?
    She could struggle with not doing certain moves or refusing to do them simply because her sister does them so well and slowly is forced to realize she is harming her scores as such. It could lead up to an "aha" moment that helps her not only in figure skating but in life. In the end she could do the move better than her sister ever did freeing her from the shadow.

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