Debi Thomas: The Comeback | Golden Skate

Debi Thomas: The Comeback

TSLDave

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Nov 2, 2015
Debi Thomas: The Comeback (A TSL Interview with Debi Thomas and Shepard Clark, Compulsory Figures)

Debi Thomas is a trailblazer in figure skating. Debi is the 1986 World champion, the 1988 Olympic bronze medalist, and a two-time U.S. national champion. She is also a physician and a member of the 'Battle of the Carmens'. Debi faced struggles after her skating career ended. She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder by April 2012 and was featured in a 2015 episode of the television series, Iyanla: Fix My Life, on the Oprah Winfrey Network.Shepard Clark has helped Debi rediscover her love of figure skating by encouraging her to train to compete at the 2023 World Figure and Fancy Skating Championships. In this interview, we discuss compulsory figures, Shepard's Rolls Royce named Sonia Henie, finding purpose on the ice, the glamorous Carlo Fassi skaters, Katarina Witt, Dick Button, phone calls from Dorothy Hamill, the wonders of JoJo Starbuck, why Trixi Schuba is the human scribe, and whether Kira Ivanova really deserved to win the figures at the Calgary Games.
 

Diana Delafield

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Debi Thomas: The Comeback (A TSL Interview with Debi Thomas and Shepard Clark, Compulsory Figures)

Debi Thomas is a trailblazer in figure skating. Debi is the 1986 World champion, the 1988 Olympic bronze medalist, and a two-time U.S. national champion. She is also a physician and a member of the 'Battle of the Carmens'. Debi faced struggles after her skating career ended. She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder by April 2012 and was featured in a 2015 episode of the television series, Iyanla: Fix My Life, on the Oprah Winfrey Network.Shepard Clark has helped Debi rediscover her love of figure skating by encouraging her to train to compete at the 2023 World Figure and Fancy Skating Championships. In this interview, we discuss compulsory figures, Shepard's Rolls Royce named Sonia Henie, finding purpose on the ice, the glamorous Carlo Fassi skaters, Katarina Witt, Dick Button, phone calls from Dorothy Hamill, the wonders of JoJo Starbuck, why Trixi Schuba is the human scribe, and whether Kira Ivanova really deserved to win the figures at the Calgary Games.
:thank:Didn't have time to watch all of this, but will have to get back to it just for the encouragement, to know that I'm certainly not 22 anymore, but I can still skate and still look good on the ice. Not as good as these people because I never was, but not looking as if I should bring two supporting attendants onto the ice with me to hold me up. I always had trouble with power in figures, making it all the way around a circle on one push, so I did tiny ones. Nowadays I don't try to do complete figures in my three or four sessions a week at the rink. I do what was being shown when I had to cut off the video, spend the first half hour on the ice going back and forth on one of the blue lines doing half circles with turns and loops while my equally elderly partner does laps with a weight jacket on. So happy to watch this (but I still don't see how Debi practises figures in a pool?) :scratch2:
 

moonvine

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:thank:Didn't have time to watch all of this, but will have to get back to it just for the encouragement, to know that I'm certainly not 22 anymore, but I can still skate and still look good on the ice. Not as good as these people because I never was, but not looking as if I should bring two supporting attendants onto the ice with me to hold me up. I always had trouble with power in figures, making it all the way around a circle on one push, so I did tiny ones. Nowadays I don't try to do complete figures in my three or four sessions a week at the rink. I do what was being shown when I had to cut off the video, spend the first half hour on the ice going back and forth on one of the blue lines doing half circles with turns and loops while my equally elderly partner does laps with a weight jacket on. So happy to watch this (but I still don't see how Debi practises figures in a pool?) :scratch2:
I have a pool if it can be figured out (well, the pool is at my gym. It's not my pool).
 

Arriba627

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Wow, those school figures were tough! They kept pointing out that you have to have "nerves of steel" Pretty amazing. You're nervous, judges are standing so close, you don't get a "do over". Wonder how today's skaters would measure up in this part of the competition.

Adding: Love Debi's Paganini "Variations".
 
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Diana Delafield

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I have a pool if it can be figured out (well, the pool is at my gym. It's not my pool).
What I can't grasp is whether her feet are touching the pool floor, or is she vertically treading water, or....? I don't see how her feet can glide anyway, so the best guess I can come up with is that she's standing in warm water (she says it's a therapy pool) up to her age-stiffened shoulders, and is working on loosening up and strengthening her spine and back muscles in the rotation and release motion of turns. My apartment building's pool is outdoors and closes for the season tomorrow, and in any case I've never learned how to swim and don't even own a bathing suit, so experimentation is out. My excuse is that I'm allergic to chlorine, but in fact I took learn-to-swim lessons several summers as a little kid at one or other of the Vancouver beaches and the struggling instructors couldn't even get me to float. They kindly told my mother I just didn't have enough body fat to be buoyant, and to keep a close eye on me if the family were ever on a dock or taking a ferry somewhere as one does here.
 

moonvine

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What I can't grasp is whether her feet are touching the pool floor, or is she vertically treading water, or....? I don't see how her feet can glide anyway, so the best guess I can come up with is that she's standing in warm water (she says it's a therapy pool) up to her age-stiffened shoulders, and is working on loosening up and strengthening her spine and back muscles in the rotation and release motion of turns. My apartment building's pool is outdoors and closes for the season tomorrow, and in any case I've never learned how to swim and don't even own a bathing suit, so experimentation is out. My excuse is that I'm allergic to chlorine, but in fact I took learn-to-swim lessons several summers as a little kid at one or other of the Vancouver beaches and the struggling instructors couldn't even get me to float. They kindly told my mother I just didn't have enough body fat to be buoyant, and to keep a close eye on me if the family were ever on a dock or taking a ferry somewhere as one does here.
LOL I have plenty of body fat! I swim in the Senior Olympics. Very slowly!
 

moonvine

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Seriously? Were you in Pittsburgh for Nationals? I took the gold in singles and bronze in doubles shuffleboard, lol.
Yes, seriously I swim in Senior Olympics. No, I have not been to Nationals...I swum in St Louis Senior Olympics, and Franklin County Silver Games (upcoming this weekend), but I want to swim in some different states - I love swimming in different pools. The times to qualify for Nationals are very fast. One can enter one event (I think) without qualifying times, but if you are too slow they'll pull you out of the pool.
 

moonvine

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moonvine

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She's talking about figures I've never heard of (not that I am any kind of figures expert) Maltese Cross and Quad Cupcake?
 

gkelly

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Jul 26, 2003
Basically, school figures or compulsory figures were the 41 standard patterns that were used as the compulsory part of ISU singles competition from 1897 to 1990. Also in domestic competitions and tests in various ISU member federations.

They all had two or three circles in a 8 or ooo pattern.

These figures all consisted of simple edges or one three turn or bracket or loop at the top of the circle, or two three turns at the 1/3 and 2/3 points of the circle.

There could also be a change of edge at a change of circle in figures where the skater made 1 1/2 or 2 full circles on one foot.

Counters and rockers were performed on three-circle figures with a counter or rocker turn at the change of circle, but no other turns.

There was never more than one kind of turn in the same figure.

The changes of edge could be combined with threes, brackets, double threes, and loops to make more advanced figures called, e.g., "change double three" (half circle, change of edge, full circle with two three turns) or "paragraph bracket" (two full circles on one foot with a bracket at the halfway point on each circle) .




Creative figures (or fancy figures or special figures) are more elaborate patterns that combine any or all of the above skills into a single pattern and might add additional skills on the pattern as well.

These were never part of standard ISU competitions, but they were popular in the late 19th/early 20th centuries and they were included in the 1908 Olympics. Here are drawings of the patterns performed at that event: https://web.archive.org/web/2008082...p_3d/s04_london/s04_figure/s04_figure_msp.htm

The World Figure Sport organization that was created about 10 years ago to revive the art of tracing on ice also offers events for skaters to perform historical and newer elaborate patterns and to make up their own.


If you're interested, I can make a longer post in a separate thread with more detailed explanations or links to videos and diagrams, etc.
 
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Diana Delafield

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PS. If anyone is curious (as I was) about the actual Maltese cross, this was the symbol of the Knights of St. John who were a group of priests that maintained a hospital in Jerusalem during the First Crusade. After the Crusaders were driven out in 1187, this group, now militarized, retreated to the island of Malta to carry on.

And still used today as the symbol of the St John Ambulance Assocation (first aid attendants and instructors).
 
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