Think it’s easy to make a good photo shot?
Skaters glide on the ice and perform different elements in a very fast succession, and they are hard to follow. Photo shoots, and I’m not talking about big international competitions, are normally taken by photographers who shoot every skater from one and the same spot in the rink. Photographers usually take 30-40 shots of every skater in each program, and skaters come and go one after another for hours. Must be pretty boring...
Of several hundred shots purchased and made by my parents over the years there are very few good ones. Some of them are posted on this page, and some are in the slide shows.
I had a good year. I did double axel and all triple jumps in competitions; raised the the complexity level of my spins and footwork; became mentally tougher and more experienced. But the year was by far not the easiest one. In addition to the academic challenges of the freshman year in high school, it was a year of untimely ills.
South Atlantic Regional Figure Skating competition in York, PA was a blur for me.
I call it Florida curse. As soon as the weather turns real nice in October, Floridians have to pay their dues. This year it was my turn. I caught a flu virus on the way to York and battled with it throughout the competition. I can barely remember this competitions as flashes of good memories of seeing my skating friends came to me after I returned home.
Apparently a lot of people were trying to help and by the end of each day I had a good collection of medicines, healthy foods and lots of advice. The chicken soup brought by my coach's friends helped a lot. Medicines didn’t do much and when asked by the coach how many people I was seeing, I knew he was the only one but I saw at least ten.
I guess years of training did pay back this time as my body switched to the auto pilot mode and I was surprised and very happy to find out that I won the Regionals.
Eastern Sectionals in Wake Forest/Raleigh, NC were even more adventurous and less fun.
Three days before our departure, my sister Katya lost at least 10 pounds struggling with her worst stomach virus ever. They said it was going around my high school. I tried to stay away as much as I could (sharing the bedroom with her) and even slept in a different room the night before going to Sectionals. Unfortunately it was too late.
At about 5 in the morning I came to my parents’ bedroom with severe stomach pain, splitting headache and cramps in my legs, shoulders and hands. My Dad took me to the hospital before 6 a.m. and after the usual wait in the ER I was examined by a doctor at about 8. We knew the diagnosis before we came to the hospital, we were desperately trying to arrest the virus. IV medication and fluids did the job and my Dad rushed me home at 10. At 10:15 we were on the way to the airport without any hope of catching the flight.
For those who have never been in Tampa, I can assure you that Tampa International airport is the best airport for our family ("Late check-in" tags are permanently on all of our luggage) and it is very skater-friendly. We miraculously made the flight.
I could not eat for two days, was exhausted and struggled with both programs but against all odds finished third and qualified for the U.S. Nationals in St. Paul.
Stress Fracture of the Second Metatarsal (i.e. in and around the growth plate of the second toe).
As if the viruses were not enough, I have been skating with this injury since the end of summer 2007 and, not surprisingly, aggravating the condition.
After the Sectionals, and in preparation for the U.S. National Figure Skating Competition, I tried to take a break for a couple of weeks but the pain in my foot actually got worse. The first doctor we saw said that I must stay in a cast for 6 weeks before I can even dare get back on ice. Obviously that was not an option for me. The second doctor said I could try to continue skating through the pain but take a break after the competition. A little more reassuring. The third was even more proactive and prescribed an anti-inflamatory cream. By that time we had tried acupuncture, ointments, food supplements and other voodoo treatments. Surprisingly, the cream worked the best and actually reduced the pain.
I started off-ice conditioning and stretching in mid-December and get back on ice on December 27 to try jumps and spins. It’s not going to be an easy come back.
The Axel is a figure skating jump with a forward take-off. It is named after the Norwegian skater Axel Paulsen, who first performed the jump in 1882.
An Axel jump has an extra ½ rotation in the air due to its forward take-off. I jump counterclockwise and takeoff from the left forward outside edge and land on the right back outside edge. I have to make 2½ rotations to complete the Double Axel.
To perform the Axel, I skate on my right back outside edge in a strongly held check position, then step onto my left forward outside edge, crouch, vault over the toe pick and pounce up with my right leg up. Then I bring the left leg through to cross in front of the right in a back spin position, to bring the center of rotation around the right side of the body, make 2½ rotations in the air, uncross the legs, land on the right back outside edge and flow out of the jump. "Flow" is the key word. That's not what I do every time but I'm trying.
Some skaters do a skid. They slightly skid the forward takeoff edge, especially on double and triple Axels, rather than vaulting directly off a clean edge. The skid helps the blade grip the ice on the takeoff.
I could never do it naturally and all attempts to learn have not worked for me. I have to start working on the triple Axel in 2008 and "learn the natural skid".
In summer 2008 I will start working on my triple axel. Here is my goal as nicely done by Miki Ando:
Delayed Axel is similar to a regular Axel, but I take a very open body position on the ascent of the jump before pulling in to complete the rotation before landing.
In an Open Axel, I have to maintain an open body position throughout the jump without delaying the rotation.
A Tuck Axel has the same take-off and landing as a regular Axel, but I simply pull my legs up into a tuck or sit spin position in the air.
A Half Axel is a jump with a regular Axel take-off but with only one rotation. This jump is sometimes called a bell jump or a once around.
A One-foot Axel is a 1½ rotation jump with a regular Axel take-off that lands on the back inside edge of the takeoff foot - my left foot. This jump is sometimes called a Colledge, after 1937 World Champion Cecilia Colledge.
An Inside Axel is a 1½ rotation jump that takes off from a forward inside edge and lands on the back outside edge of the same foot – my right foot. This jump is sometimes known as a Böckl, after its inventor Willy Böckl. Thank you Willy! I like this jump and use it all the time.