This is it! This is what I’ve spent the month of February training for; my Bronze competition debut. February was a rough month coming back to skating after taking December and January off after passing my Bronze tests, changing to a Paleo diet, taking a bad fall and bruising my pectoral muscles (not ruling out a possible upper rib hairline fracture) and barely being able to skate for 2 weeks, and learning a brand new program and having only 2 weeks to practice it. Whew! I survived :)
The Paleo diet served me extremely well. After the initial transition week I felt tremendously better and I was able to skate every day as well as ride my bike 8 miles a day without any of the former joint pain that had been plaguing me. It does take some forethought and will power though, but it seems to have reduced, if not eliminated, the inflammation in my body. If I hadn’t of changed my diet I’m not sure I would have been able to train as effectively.
The fall was stupid. I fall all the time, its part of pushing yourself and usually its not a big deal. I have pads I wear to prevent serious injury. This fall was because I tried a new spin entry and my feet got tangled up and I lost my balance and I fell forward, catching myself with my hands, however the ice was fresh and slick and my hands splayed out and I fell with all of my weight on my chest…my head did not hit but my eyelashes brushed the ice. It was a difficult recovery because you don’t realize how much you use your pecs in daily life: breathing, coughing, sneezing, laughing, arms up, lifting, supporting a bike, tying laces, jumps, spins… ouch! Add the emotional fear of possibly falling again and not being able to brace yourself, let’s just say it was a long 2 weeks before the pain was manageable enough to carry on. My coach was fabulous and was able to choreograph a program with just me skate/walking through it, not actually doing any elements.
I spent the week before the competition less than 2 miles from the rink in Ellenton biking back and forth to train. The people at Ellenton were so welcoming and took me into the fold. Turns out I practiced with some former Olympians (and I didn’t even know it) and got to watch some extremely talented Pairs skaters practice, including the reigning British Nationals. One guy was practicing quads (that’s 4 revolutions in the air!!) that were so high that his feet were above the boards at the top of his jump. WOW.
Needless to say I felt pretty comfortable at Ellenton going into the competition. One thing that was very different was the ice quality. At Oldsmar we are used to very soft ice, so even dull blade will cut a decent edge, at Ellenton the ice was very hard, cold and quite brittle and needs a very sharp blade to get a good edge. I had my skates sharpened on February 4th, much too long ago for hard ice. But its not a good idea to have them sharpened less than a week from a competition.
Oops, just another thing to deal with.
This is a special competition in two ways: first, its only for adults; second, its open to the entire east coast-Maine to Florida. This greatly widens your competitor circle. For me its the first time competing Bronze level. It is three days long. I registered for 2 events: Bronze Compulsories (4 elements skated in any order without music on half ice) and Bronze Free Skate II (you select the elements you want to do from what’s allowed, choreograph them to music not to exceed 1 min 50 sec, my age group was combined with the I age group so it included skaters that were 21 to 40). Since this was my first time out, and I knew many of the competitors in my group were skating Bronze when I had just tested Pre-Bronze I didn’t expect to medal in either event. In my head it was an exhibition.
Compulsories were on Saturday and there were 7 in our group. I believe a few of them were actually Pre-Bronze but at USFS competitions, except for Nationals, you are allowed to skate up one level. Everyone skated beautifully so I’d imagine its a tough call for the judges. I was surprised and delighted to find out that I placed 2nd! I even had one judge place me 1st, but its majority rule so with 1st/2nd/2nd, I place second. I got to bring home one of the fabulous blinged out medals!
The Free Skate event was Sunday and again, a lot of talented, seasoned competition. One minor annoyance about Sunday was that it was the end of daylight savings which meant my 6:40am official practice ice was really at 5:40am and my event was at 8:20am a.k.a. 7:20am. Add into the mix that I woke up at 1am with a sore throat and couldn’t get back to sleep and all three kids are sick with a fever and a cold…made for a really challenging morning. All my whining aside, I felt I skated well even if some of my elements weren’t all they could’ve been. I came in 5th of 5 skaters so I didn’t medal. (I actually got 5th/4th/4th/5th/5th.)
Being already at the bottom, the only way I can go is up, right?
Its funny that so much hard work and training goes into something that culminates with a total of 2 min and 50 seconds on the ice. But I love it and that’s what makes it worth it. Even if I came in last in both events I still would’ve cherished my weekend with a great group of skaters, ones that I’ve met at other competitions, ones that I’ve trained with and ones I just met for the first time. It was a lot of fun.
UPDATE: I finally got my programs uploaded to YouTube: