Saturday, July 23, 2011

I am a Skater...and I need your help!

Okay. There's been something on my mind for a while now, and I need to share it with you.

Since starting my blog, I've been very interested in finding out what kind of questions people have about skating. Fortunately for me, I can use the 'Stats' feature on my blog to find out interesting statistics about all the people on my blog. I can find out what country my blog is most popular in (USA, closely followed by Hong Kong), which is the most popular internet browser (Safari followed by Firefox) and, most interestingly, what people type into google before they end up at my blog. This is really interesting, because I can find out what skaters want to know, but it has also brought something to my attention.

Every day, without fail, someone will search something to do with a body concern.

Am I too tall to figure skate? Can top heavy girls skate? Should male figure skaters be tall? Are short people better at figure skating? Average heights of Olympic skaters? Do figure skaters have big legs? Are long arms bad for figure skating? Do figure skating judges prefer pretty girls? Are my hips too big to land double jumps?

These are all genuine searches from people out there, worrying about whether their body is inhibiting their skating. Honestly, it upsets me that so many skaters feel that, for whatever reason, their bodies aren't good enough for skating. And to be honest, that makes me mad at the sport. I know, I know, it's not figure skating's fault that teenagers are uncertain and insecure about their bodies, but if so many people think that they're wrong for the sport, there has to be something wrong with the ideas people are getting about it.

So I want to change that. Not only that, but I want YOU to change that. Maybe we can't do much, but we can do something. If you want to get involved, then I would love for your help. I want to be able to prove to everybody that skaters are all shapes, heights and sizes. I want people to see that people, whether they are tall, short, top heavy, bottom heavy, skinny or curvy, can always skate, and can always do something amazing on the ice, whether that is going to the Olympics, making people gasp with an amazing split jump or just making others smile with their infectious joy out there!

So, if you're a skater and you're reading this, all that I ask is that you do one of the two things below:

1. Send me a picture of you as a skater. You can be at a competition, in practice, or even off the ice and holding your skates. You can be young, old or in between! As long as it shows that you are a skater, it's perfect! You can even include a typed message beginning with the words "I am a skater..." An example would be a picture of you, and a message saying, "I am a skater, and my short legs are super powerful!" or "I am a skater, and I feel beautiful out there!"

2. Pass this post on to another skater you know. Other forums, blogs, or people at your rink!

If enough pictures come in, I hope to publish them either in a video or on my blog under the title "I am a Skater", to prove that skaters come in all shapes and sizes!

Please get involved! We can't do everything, but every little helps. :) If you want to send a picture, please feel free to upload it to a file hosting site (like and send me the link in a comment, or in a message on my Youtube channel.

Rink Culture: Being a Good Guest Skater

This morning at the rink, I was about to enter a spin when a skater said 'excuse me'. The skater wasn't running her program or in a lesson, but I wasn't too concerned and moved out of the way anyway. As it turns out, the girl was one of the few guest skaters that were using our ice for the day. It made me think about the times that I've been a guest at other rinks, and whether I made a good impression on those skaters and coaches.

When you're skating at a different rink, there are certain things that should and shouldn't be done. It's very important to be on your best behavior at another rink and show a great amount of respect for the people around you, so here are a few tips:

Call in Advance: If you're planning to visit another rink, it's usually a good idea to get in contact with the rink beforehand to make sure the session allows guest skaters. Some rinks have 'club ice', where only home club skaters can attend. I usually send a quick email to the rink, giving them my name, telling them where I skate and asking if it's okay for me to skate on their session. If nothing else, it's polite and it means you'll 'know' someone at the rink you skate at.

Follow the Crowd: Before you get on the ice, take a look at what the others do with their skating bags, water bottles, guards etc. Follow their lead.

Keep your Head Down: Now is not the time to be annoyingly loud or to get in everyones' way. Be polite, courteous, and don't cause any trouble!

Know the Rules: It's dangerous to assume that the rules are exactly the same as at your home rink. Make sure you know what they are, and don't forget the little details, like whether or not you need an armband when you do your program.

Be the person you want people to see: Feel like kicking the ice? Don't do it here. Not only will you let yourself down, but you'll let your club down.

Always remember that when you're skating at another rink, you are representing your rink and your club, so before you do anything, think carefully about what impression you want to give!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Rink Culture: The Characteristics of an 'Ideal Figure Skater'

At the rink, you’ll see dozens of different characters. It made me wonder if there was an ideal character that would get a skater far in the sport. I started to think about certain characteristics that people assume are beneficial to skating, and found that they weren’t all as important as many people think. Does the loud skater get on better than the quiet one? The fearless one better than the nervous one? Here’s what I think:

A skater must be cocky.
Occasionally, you might hear a skater explain that, in order to succeed in the sport, you have to be a little cocky. I agree with them, but only to a certain extent. When skaters talk about ‘cockiness’, I don’t think they’re talking about the undesirable kind. Rather, I think skaters are trying to explain that, while it is important to be modest and unpretentious, there are moments when you simply must believe that you are better than anybody else. Take a competition  as the best example. You can practice humbleness throughout your practices, but when you’re about to get on the ice with the rest of your warm up group, you must have a belief (be it real or pretend), that you are better than every other girl. You must then project this belief by standing taller, extending further, and presenting yourself with all the confidence in the world. That being said, regardless of how much better you feel you are, don’t say it out loud in front of your competition!

A skater must be outgoing.
There are articles around the internet arguing that figure skaters cannot be shy. Their argument for this is in a skater’s requirement to express herself in competition, and her need to present herself to the audience. The articles also argue that shy skaters will struggle with the critical, one-on-one lesson style that comes with the sport. They argue that a shy skater will struggle to spend every skating lesson essentially being ‘evaluated’ and critiqued by her coach. She will take any criticism as negative criticism and will associate performing with negative emotions. These are all good arguments, but I only partially agree. I know from experience how it feels to be a shy skater, and I feel like skating is actually one of the only times I can let down my barriers and express myself. At school I’m very quiet, but at the rink, while I may still not talk much, my skating is loud. I can confidently land a jump with my arms out strongly, I can try new spin positions even though I might fall, and I can plug my headphones in and choreograph a program without fear of being judged. My one-on-one lessons have done nothing but increase my confidence around other people, and I can easily take my coach’s criticism constructively and use it to make myself a better skater. In competition, despite my shyness, my nerves are not too unbearable. At the end of the day, shy and confident skaters have one thing in common: They love to skate, and that desperation to be back on the ice should overpower any nerves.

A skater must be fearless.
People often say that one advantage of starting skating young is that they are taught to jump before they could possibly fear falling. Adult skaters are known to be less willing to try a new jump because they understand that they could fall and hurt themselves. So, do skaters need to be fearless to succeed? I believe that, to an extent, fearlessness will serve as an advantage to skaters. However, I don’t think that it is absolutely necessary. In skating, almost everyone goes through the process of being afraid of falling, be it on crossovers or triples. That process ultimately makes the skater stronger and enables them to understand their mind, so fear is beneficial in that sense.

A skater must be obedient.
In figure skating, a lot of importance is placed on obedience. Most of the time, it will benefit skaters to be obedient. In lessons, executing elements exactly as your coach suggests will pay off more than going with your own technique. It is also important to follow the rules of your Club, State and National associations. Although I do not recommend rebelling, I will mention that it is possible to be disobedient and still get on in the figure skating world. Take Johnny Weir as an example. He was told not to wear his feminine-looking costumes because they projected the ‘wrong’ image, but he wore them anyway and was very successful. Obedience is important, but sticking to your personal morals is important too.

I’ve spoken a lot about what skaters don’t need to be, but what about what they do need to be?

I believe a skater needs to be brave, strong, and unstoppably determined. A skater needs grace and good sportsmanship, but also some sort of fire within her that enables her to fall, get up and fall again without even the slightest diminishing of passion. A skater needs a quiet, gracious confidence, not of her current abilities but of her potential to do more – A skater must always, always want to do more. A skater must simultaneously be a powerful machine and a work of art, painting emotions onto the ice without hesitance or shame. And finally, but most importantly, a skater must know herself from deep within, so that she might project that self – that passion and courage and confidence – to the audience with every step she takes on the ice.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Goodbye, for now!

Goodbye, everybody! This evening I board my flight and I will be away from home for 3 weeks. I will definitely keep you updated while I'm away, though, so keep checking for new posts!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Skating Stuff: Skating Forums I love!

As I'm sure you're all aware, I love the internet. The internet is where a lot of my skating inspiration came from, after watching hours upon hours of Sasha Cohen videos and reading about other skaters online.

What I enjoy most, though, is reading through skating 'forums'. Skating forums are where members of the skating community share their thoughts on skating-related topics, such as switching coaches, technique issues and much more. I love reading through skating forums because they allow me to connect and hear from skaters all over the world. I can learn a lot just from other skaters, and I can share things too! I thought I would share a few of my favorite skating forums with you, just in case you feel like reading them too!
The UK skating forum is primarily for UK-based skaters, however I know a couple of Aussies on there and I'm sure there are members from all over the world. I love this forum because it allows me to keep up-to-date with skating happenings back home, such as local competitions and rink redesigns. There are also many interesting topics ranging from bruises to bunny hops. The forum seems to attract a lot of adult skaters, which I enjoy because they are always willing to share useful and detailed information.
This forum rose from the ashes of Skating Forums, which recently closed down. The 'New Skating Forums' has become popular and is a great place to go for more US skaters. There are great topics on technique, off-ice, nutrition, competitions and more, along with information for parents and judges.
I am personally not a regular poster on FSU, but the topics always seem very interesting. Check out 'Moves In The Field' for posts from fellow skaters!
This is not a forum, but I couldn't go without mentioning it! From The Files of a Figure Skater is a blog on Tumblr used primarily to post witty captions that only skaters will understand, for example: "Loving the ripping sound your blades make" or "Zamboni? Isn't that a kind of pasta?" This is great for a quick study break!

I hope you enjoy reading the forums! I am personally not a very regular poster than any of them, but I'm always lurking around!

Question: What are your favorite skating forums and blogs?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Rink Culture: The rink etiquette diagram

A lot of skaters have asked me a very valid question recently: How, exactly, are you supposed to get out of the way when you have no idea where skaters are going?

Good point. On a crowded public session it's difficult to get out of the way, and that's when everyone is skating in the same direction. When you get on a freestyle session, skaters are suddenly flying in all directions! Forwards, backwards, around in circles, up in the air...the list goes on, and the sudden changes of direction can come as a complete surprise even to a knowledgeable skater. Fast skaters are especially shocking, because they can be at one end of the rink one minute, and in the blink of an eye they'll be right next to you. 

I believe that there's no sure-fire way to stay out of the way constantly, but you can be as helpful as possible to your fellow skaters by knowing where skaters usually jump, spin and do footwork and spirals. 

I drew a quick diagram of a rink, indicating where most skaters will jump. I also included straight line, circular and serpentine footwork sequences. The diagram looks pretty confusing, but I included a key to help you out! 

Obviously, not ALL skaters will jump in these spots. It changes at different rinks and some skaters just jump wherever they find the space! Even if it's not perfect, I hope it helps!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Rink Culture: The consequences of your 'rink character'

Every time you make a decision to act a certain way, be it consciously or subconsciously, you are making a decision about the consequences of your actions. There are elements of your reputation that are uncontrollable, such as peoples' preconceived ideas about you, but you are completely in control of the the way you act. 

Ice rinks are full of stereotypes. The coach with the loud voice, the snobby skater, the girl who cries, the kid who won't move out of the way for anybody...I'm sure you have heard of most of them, and a lot of you probably have versions of these stereotypes at your own rink. Fortunately for skaters everywhere, the kids probably only have these reputations because of their own actions. The coach with the loud voice probably speaks with a loud voice. The kid who won't move out of the way for anybody probably has his head down all the time. They may be perfectly nice, but their actions have resulted in a certain reputation.

When I started at my new rink in Australia, I spent quite some time watching the other skaters on my sessions before I plucked up the courage to talk to any of them. Soon, the 'regulars' became pretty familiar to me, and I begun to form ideas about them based on their actions. There was one girl who was working on doubles. She fell, a lot, and when she fell she fell HARD. Every time, she stood up with a smile. In my mind she officially became 'the tough girl'. Another girl seemed to play her music at the rink. I remembered her as 'music girl'. 

Sometimes I wonder what people might call me at the rink. From what I've gathered, most people just call me 'tall'. Fair enough! Some people probably call me 'quiet', too, and that's just as fair. People often tell me that they're surprised when I talk. Once somebody even told me they thought I was mute! If people call me quiet, it's because I don't talk as much as other people. My actions have caused that reputation, and nothing else. If I wanted that to change, I would simply change my actions. Soon enough, my actions would shine through my 'quiet' reputation and my stereotype would change (though it would be a little trickier to change my 'tall' reputation!)

I try to think of this when I go to the rink. Every time I skate I try to act the way I want people to see me. I don't want to be the kid who cries every time she falls, or the one who kicks the ice when she can't land a jump. I don't want to be the skater who scares little kids into moving, or the skater who won't move out of the way for anybody. Sure, sometimes I have off days when I struggle to contain my frustration and might accidently take it out on the ice, or days when I'm more determined to attempt a jump, even though the patch of ice is busy, but in general I try to be someone who others will respect.

I think it's important to think about your 'rink character'. Who do you want to be when you're at the rink? How do you want people to refer to you? More importantly, what sort of example do you want to set for the younger skaters there? 

Question: If you could guess, what would you say your 'rink character' was? Are you happy with that?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Skating Equipment: How to choose ice skates

Whether you're a beginner or an elite skater, a time will come where you have to choose a pair of skates. To me, the idea of choosing skates is petrifying: Dropping hundreds of dollars on a pair of boots and blades that may or may not be perfect for your skating? Scary. There are a gazillion different skate models out there, so how are you going to find the pair that match your foot size, shape, height, skating style, strength, training hours and budget? There may not be a foolproof way to make this happen, but there are certainly some things you can do to help yourself.

I have only been skating for 3-4 years, and already I have gone through an absolutely insane SIX pairs of boots. Thanks to my ever-growing feet and a few bad decisions when it came to skate purchasing, my list of skates is long:

  • Pink Roces Ice Figure Skates and...whatever blades came with them: Probably my second prettiest boots ever. I loved these things! That was, until I realized they were as floppy as a bunny's ears and couldn't support much more than a waltz jump.
  • Risport RF4 boots with Mark IV Blades: The traditional 'learning singles' boots. These boots were great for me, until I outgrew them.
  • Risport RF4 boots with Mark IV Blades: Yep, again! As my feet grew but I still loved the boots, I just took my sister's identical boots in the bigger size and used them.
  • Risport RF3 boots with Coronation Ace Blades: I got these boots when I started working on my axel, and they took me through the next few months, in which I learned all of my doubles, before they started to crease heavily. I loved these boots and the blades, but I found that my heel slipped about a lot.
  • Riedell 1500 HLS boots with Gold Queen Blades*: I used these boots while I was improving all of my doubles, and they lasted about a year. They were really supportive and the 'Heel Lock System' solved my slippery heel problem, but they were simply too heavy!
  • Edea Ice Fly boots with Gold Queen Blades: My current boots, and also my prettiest! These boots are ultra-light and incredibly comfortable, and the sparkles aren't bad either! If I happen to grow out of these boots, I will almost definitely be getting the same pair again.
*Unfortunately, these blades are so under-the-radar that I can't even find a picture of them!

So, how do you do it? It's different for skaters of different levels, but there are a number of things that all skaters must do:

  1. Recognize if you have any orthopedic issues. You want to find a skate that works with your foot and doesn't irritate the issue further. For example, due to my badly-fitting RF3s, I have issues with my heels, so now I find boots that will keep my heels still.
  2. Ask for advice. Do you have a coach or a skating friend you could go to? The more information you have, the better.
From here, the steps you take depend on your level.

Beginner Skater:

Beginners don't need boots with incredible support, fancy features or ultra-light construction. If you're not jumping yet, you can get by with a beginner pair of boots. Here's how you find them:

  1. Measure your foot or have your foot measured.
  2. Start looking around online for skates. To get an idea of some good beginner brands (e.g. Roces, some Risports), look or ask around at your rink or online.
  3. When you've found a brand you like, look online for their size charts. Work out what size boot you need to buy. **IMPORTANT** This could be different with each brand, so make sure you check each website!
  4. You now have the options to buy the skates new online, buy the skates second-hand online, buy the skates new in a store, or buy the skates second-hand from a sale. If you're looking for beginner skates online, eBay is a great way to get a great deal. If they're second-hand, make sure they are not too broken down (look for creases!). If you're getting second-hand skates online or at a sale, make sure they haven't been used for too long. Buying skates in person is always better, as you can try the skates on to ensure a perfect fit. However, beginner skaters can get away with buying online. 

Advanced Skaters

By 'advanced' skaters I mean anybody working on jumps, as this is when supportive boots and the right blades are crucial. 

  1. After you've got some information on brands from coaches or friends, start looking at their websites. This, along with a professional boot fitter, is the best place for information on the boots. Let's look at the Risport page for their new boots, Royals. From this page you can find out about the construction of the boot, its special features, the colors its available in, the sizes its available in, and most importantly, the stiffness rating. Skaters working on doubles and triples will naturally need stiffer boots than skaters working on singles, and stiffness needs also increase with the amount of skating time, and how 'heavy' you are as a skater (Note: this is not your weight). The Royal boots are incredibly high level, and so their stiffness rating is 85. My current boots have a stiffness rating of 90, because they're technically meant for skaters working on triples and quads. I'm light on my boots, but because I skate a lot, this stiffness rating is good for me. 
  2. Next, find information on your blades. The most popular brands are MK and John Wilson, although blades such as Paramounts are becoming increasingly popular. I'm not going to talk too much about blades in this post, but remember to find the correct rocker radius and depth of hollow!
  3. You have two options from here: You can find your size and buy the boots and blades online, but this is risky. The boots might not fit perfectly, and you'll have to find someone you trust to attach the blades. Your better option is to find a professional, knowledgeable skate fitter and ask to have them fitted. If you ask your coach or others at your rink, you will most likely be able to find someone trustworthy. Your skates will be fitted properly and, often, the skate fitter will attach your blades properly for you.

Choosing skates is tough, but when you get it right, it's like a match made in heaven: your skating will improve in leaps and bounds!

If anybody would like any skate recommendations, let me know in the comments. Just remember to tell me your level, and what you're working on!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Rink Culture: Freestyle Session Rules (Part 4)

Attend any freestyle session and you'll hear plenty of this: "Excuse me! Look out!" That's to be expected when there are 20+ skaters all using the same patch of ice, but what I am always shocked to hear is an 'excuse me' from a skater with absolutely no right of way. And that brings me to my 5th 'Freestyle Session Rule':

Know your right of way, and don't say 'excuse me' when you don't have it.

Most skaters know about right of way, and if they don't, they should. Right of way refers to which skaters get priority over the ice at a certain time, and it goes a little like this:

1. Running through programs with music in a lesson.
2. Running through programs with music out of a lesson.
4. In a lesson.
5. Out of a lesson. 

It does not go like this:

1. High level skaters
2. Everyone else.

Yet sometimes, a skater will shout 'excuse me' when they're practicing out of a lesson. In fact, I've even heard a skater shout 'excuse me' to another skater running through her program! It's rude, disrespectful and it teaches younger skaters that this sort of behavior is acceptable. 'Excuse me' should only be used when the skater actually has the right to say 'excuse me'.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Help me get to New York! My eBay Sales

Hello everybody!

As many of you may know, I'm trying to save up to go to New York so I can attend the Summer Figure Skating Program in Lake Placid. You might be able to help me! If you're interested in buying a figure skating dress, off-ice spinner, or some non-skating products, check out my current eBay sales - there might be something just for you. I have some great products going really cheap, including the dress I wore in my first ever competition, the dress that can be seen in many of my practice videos, a brand new Del Arbour dress with the labels still attached and a new, sparkly competition dress!

I'm also selling my iPod Touch, the video camera I've made ALL my videos with, and an almost-new Diesel bag. Keep checking my eBay account for more products!

skater-girl suggested that I posted the size details for my dresses on my blog. So, here they are!

Size Chart - Del Arbour Dresses

Size Chart - Body Wrappers Dress

Red Competition Dress

I do not have the size chart for this dress. See Ladies 8-10 measurements on the size charts above for an estimate.

I hope this helps everybody! Let me know if you would like more details about my products.


You can find all of my products here: