Barb and I each performed our respective "Mame" routines.
Barb and I performed our Couples program ("Happy Face"); Barb performed her Freestyle 5 ("Mame"); and I performed my Spotlight 1 ("Lasagna") and Artistic 1 ("Mame") programs.
We watched a few events (and friends who competed in them), and competed in three ourselves (as individual skaters).
Barb got 2nd (out of 2) with "Beethoven's Last Night" in Adult Ladies Masters, improving on her IJS scoring at the 2007 Adult Nationals earlier this year.
I got 2nd (out of 2) with "Golden Dawn" in Adult Bronze Men, pleased to have added some modest improvements to my jump landings.
Then Barb got 1st with "Benny & Joon" and I got 2nd (out of 3) with "Lasagna" in Adult Showcase, and we especially enjoyed the supportive and exuberant audience!
Barb and I performed our "Happy Face" routine, and each did a solo program (she did her "Benny & Joon" routine, while I did my USFS "Lasagna" routine).
This two-hour show featured numerous young and adult skaters, and a well-choreographed, enjoyable Finale.
We performed "Happy Face" late in the morning (alone in our event). In the evening, Barb performed "Benny & Joon", also alone, and I got 2nd out of 2 skating to "Mame".
Barb and I performed our "Happy Face" routine, and each did a solo program (she did her "Benny & Joon" routine, while I did my USFS "Lasagna" routine).
The show was wonderful, the rink looked beautiful (sparkling-clear glass for the boards, fun decorations everywhere, even hanging from the ceiling over the ice). As with last year, the three-hour show featured 60 or so performances. And they had a professional photographer take pictures — see the rink's web site for more info.
I competed in Adult Pre-Bronze FS, barely getting 2nd out of 3, and in Adult Showcase, getting a solid 2nd out of 5. Barbara competed "solo" in Adult Masters FS.
Barb and I enjoyed watching numerous events, and camaradarie with friends and families, throughout this competition.
We enjoyed the evening performance. They sure put on a great show there!
Barb skated her "Benny & Joon" program, and I my "Lasagna" program, in the Adult Showcase event (non-IJS). Though Barb got 1st and I got 3rd (out of 5), one of the three judges gave me 2nd and Barb 3rd! We both got a big kick out of that, and enjoyed watching several of the other events that day and Friday. (Barb's freeskate event was canceled.)
Barbara got 3rd place in Masters Novice Ladies V, skating quite well. We learned a lot from the protocol sheets the new judging system ("IJS") provides! A video of her event is available online.
She also competed in Masters Ladies Interpretive V, taking 3rd out of 6 skaters. One of her competitors was featured in an article on the USFS web site.
As with last year, we had a great time overall, catching up with old friends, making new ones, volunteering (announcing and/or playing music for several practice sessions), and "partying" Saturday night.
I did my "Golden Dawn" freestyle, getting 2nd out of 2, and skated "Lasagna" the best I'd ever done, barely getting 1st out of 3. Barb did her "Benny & Joon" routine, getting 2nd out of 2.
Barb and I each performed a solo routine ("Benny & Joon" and "Lasagna", respectively) and our Couples routine ("Happy Face").
Barb and I really enjoyed this competition, as this is one of our "home" rinks/clubs, we knew many of the skaters, and there were so many participants (over 200, I believe)!
I medaled in each of the six events I entered (all held on Saturday), and Barb medaled in both of hers (one on Saturday, the other on Sunday).
The host club did a great job organizing, marketing, and running this event. We're also thrilled that US Figure Skating added a Championship Masters Pairs event this year, as, among other things, it meant we got to watch an adult pair team do a huge throw Axel!
Yet again, this was a thoroughly enjoyable event. I skated my Artistic 1 the best I'd ever done, except for a freak fall heading into a lunge that resulting in some bumps and bruises. Barb performed her "Benny & Joon" routine (Artistic 5). As we had no competitors in our events, we each got 1st place.
We had a great time watching numerous friends skate their hearts out on Friday and Saturday, including in the Exhibition Saturday night. Wish we could have stayed to watch on Sunday!
Barb and I performed our new Couples program ("Happy Face"), Barb performed her "Benny & Joon" routine, and I did a "special" version of "Lasagna" (combining the on-ice props for the ISI version with some audience interaction that I use in the USFS version).
Barb and I performed our new Couples program ("Happy Face"), adding props this time; Barb performed her Artistic 5 ("Benny & Joon"); and I performed my Spotlight ("Lasagna") and Artistic 1 ("Mame") programs.
Barb and I performed our new Couples program ("Happy Face"), Barb performed her Artistic 5 ("Benny & Joon"), and I performed my Spotlight ("Lasagna") and Artistic 1 ("Mame") programs.
Our new outfits and props weren't ready for the Couples program, so we used the same outfits we wore for our first Couples program and no props.
We attended the 2007 New England Regionals in Marlboro, MA.
We attended the Regionals Send-off Gala hosted by Colonial FSC. What a treat!
We each competed in the 2006 Providence Open.
I got 2nd place (out of 2) in Adult Bronze Men (Free Skate), similar to last year, and against the same competitor. I was very happy with how I skated this event; I felt stronger and steadier than I had at the Cranberry Open a few weeks ago.
Barb and I each competed in Adult Showcase, placing 1st and 2nd (out of 3), respectively. This was the first time we'd ever competed against each other! The audience was very supportive and enthusiastic, which is somewhat unusual for adult skaters at a non-adults-only competition; they seemed to appreciate the "showy" aspects of this particular event!
We watched numerous events (and friends who competed in them), and competed in three ourselves (as individual skaters).
Barb got 2nd (out of 2) in Adult Gold/Masters, skating her previous year's program the best she's ever done!
I got 1st (out of 2) in Adult Pre-Bronze Men Free Skate, and was particularly happy about finally "debuting" my Salchow and sit spin in this event. (I'm told they were "recognized" as such by observers, so they couldn't have been too weak, although they felt like it to me at the time.)
Then I got 2nd (out of 6) in Adult Showcase, which was a real confidence-builder due to the more-advanced skaters participating in that event.
All in all it was a very pleasant time for us, from visiting in the stands to dining out with coaches, parents, and skaters, and the atmosphere at the competition seemed fairly "festive" considering the pre-Regionals pressure so many of the competitors must have felt!
My wife Barbara and I each competed in two individual events, and also together in an event called Couples Spotlight Light Entertainment High. We got 1st place in all our events.
Local coverage included a photograph of an adult skater from our skating club.
We also performed our Couples program in the benefit show held Friday night, about two hours after we had performed it in competition. The show apparently strives to showcase a wide cross-section of skaters, in terms of ability, age, discipline, style, nation of origin, and so on. We have fond memories of the same show they put on in 2002, so it was, for us, an honor to have been asked to participate!
I attended most of Friday's events, and Barb and I attended Saturday afternoon's and evening's events, in order to watch several skaters with whom we've become acquainted. (But we were too late, and so just missed seeing one of them, Saturday night, so we had to settle for watching the replay on the father's camcorder.)
Barb and I got 1st placements in the five events we entered (between the two of us), but we had no other competitors in any of our events, so Barb's Freestyle 5 event, in particular, was "against the book", and she landed a clean-enough Axel to get 1st.
I had some difficulties due to an apparent strain of my left hip flexor, so I took it easy. Interestingly, the bunny hops were the most painful "move" I did — much worse than my waltz/toe combination or any other jumps or spins. It'll be awhile before I'll try any triple or quad bunny hops!
As with last year, Barb and I each did a solo program (she did her ISI Freestyle 5 routine, "Mame", while I did my ISI Spotlight 1 routine, aka "Lasagna", though my music didn't play properly). Near the end of the show, we reprised an improved version of our Couples program, this time under spotlights (about which neither of us had been warned ahead of time), which were generally reserved for the "featured skaters" named on the promotional flyer.
The show was a big success. Somewhere around 60 skaters participated in about that many events; the program booklet listed something like 63 events, though there were several scratches. It ran nearly three hours long!
I competed in Adult Bronze FS, taking last place against 5 Ladies. I was very happy with how I skated, coming off a month of mediocre practicing, and the judge's critique was helpful and very encouraging. They basically said what I needed was Bronze-level elements (jumps and spins), but everything else (music, choreography, speed, artistry, connecting with the music, posture) was there and in good shape for Bronze level. Positive comments about my posture were particularly unexpected and welcome, as that has taken lots of hard work (and I think needs a lot more).
Barbara competed in Adult Masters FS against one other person, and took 2nd place. She also skated very well, "saving" her flying camel (which had occasionally vexed her in the past) and doing her best in-competition Axel attempt ever. Her judge's critique was also encouraging and, in a sense, similar to mine — she needs double jumps now (her spins weren't criticized, as most are quite good), but that was about it.
We attended the afternoon performance, and got to see a lot of great skating, including fun group numbers, pairs, ice-dancers, and synchro.
Barb and I each performed a solo routine (her USFS Adult Masters FS, "Night Music", and my ISI Spotlight, "Lasagna") and reprised our Couples routine ("Never Too Late..."). We also participated in the Finale, a fun "first" for me (especially as one of the eight group leaders), and something Barb hadn't done since her college days.
Barb and I each performed a solo routine ("Need a Little Christmas" and "Lasagna", respectively) and our Couples routine ("Never Too Late...").
My wife Barbara got 3rd place in Masters Novice Ladies IV & V.
She skated fairly well, but fell stepping forward out of her final jump combination, which meant she had only enough time for the last camel, not the usual final spin. The improvements in her skating over the past two years were noticeable!
She also competed in Masters Ladies Interpretive V, taking 6th out of 8 skaters, with results rather mixed across the judging panel. This was her first "show" routine ever; and we learned that some of the other participants had been skating in shows for many years!
Though I didn't compete, I did watch the Adult Bronze Men IV event carefully, to "gauge" my potential future competition, assuming I ever take and pass the (four) relevant tests. I believe I could comfortably place in the bottom half of a group like that next year (assuming some of this year's top finishers move on to Silver), but it was pretty clear my "strengths" aren't so strong at this level, while my "weaknesses" would be very noticeable indeed, inspiring me to buckle down and address them more intently!
We had a great time overall, catching up with old friends, making new ones, volunteering (announcing several practice sessions on Saturday), and "partying" Saturday night.
Barb and I had way too much fun at this competition. Skated practice sessions (one for me, two for Barb) on Friday, ate a ton of Mexican food (at "Bandido's" in Hillsborough, which was wonderful) both Friday and Saturday, met new and visited with old friends, and enjoyed the opportunities we had to compete. All of this made the 12-hour drives down and back more than worthwhile!
I got 1st in Adult Pre-Bronze IV & Bronze V Men Free Skating and in No Test Compulsory II and IV (that No Test link doesn't work; two judges had me in 2nd, the 2nd-place finisher in 1st). Barb got 2nd in Masters Novice I & II Ladies Free Skate and 3rd in Masters III, IV & V Interpretive Free Skate - Character/Comedy.
Placements aside, I was thrilled with how I skated in my freestyle event, feeling I did about 110% of what I thought I was capable of, despite a slowish opening back pivot and unusually slow two-foot spin (skidding on the push into it). I actually felt I could turn my half flips into stag jumps, and, based on feedback (including a picture I saw later), I might have succeeded in doing so at the time — a last-minute choice to try it!
We not only learned a lot about our own skating, as we always do, we were very inspired by the other skaters there, and appreciated the solid job the club did in organizing and running the event!
Again, we had a blast. Though somewhat under the weather all week, I managed to stay upright and thus place 1st (alone in the event) in Artistic 1. Barb skated just well enough to "beat the book" in Freestyle 5 (she had trouble with her Lutz), and skated very well to take 1st (out of 2) in Artistic 5.
This year, for our first time, we stayed for the athlete's party, took part in the athlete's procession to kick off the skating show, and attended the show. We had a great time!
We had a blast, our first time at this particular competition. We placed 2nd (out of 6) in Couples Spotlight High, 1st (out of 2) in Barb's Artistic 5, my Artistic 1, and my Spotlight 1, and 1st (beating the book, no other entrants) in Barb's Freestyle 5. I was particularly pleased with the positive feedback I got on my Spotlight routine (which is very silly), from so many complete strangers!
Barb actually outlasted a few girls in the Sit Spin competition, which she entered on impulse a few hours before it took place, and before she knew it basically required doing change-foot sit spins, which she hadn't yet learned! But the winner, plus one or two other girls, lasted a whole lot longer....
Barb and I performed our Couples program, and Barb performed her Artistic 5 ("Need a Little Christmas"), in this delightful show.
Barb and I performed our Couples program, and Barb performed both her Freestyle 5 ("Mame") and Artistic 5 ("Need a Little Christmas") programs. We were the only entrants in each of our events, so our 1st placements meant we completed the required elements (or at least the judges were feeling charitable that day ;-).
We competed in an ISI competition at the Winterland club in Rockland. Barb performed her Freestyle 5 program on Saturday and her Artistic 5 routine on Sunday. Also, we performed our Couples Spotlight High routine on Sunday, its competition debut.
In each of the three events, we competed "against the book" (nobody else in our events), and got 1st place each time, meaning we completed the required elements.
Unusually, Barb fell during each of her single routines! During her Freestyle 5, she fell doing backward crossovers after finishing a beautifully-done (required) footwork sequence, and, during her Artistic 5, she fell doing some footwork. (In both cases, upon carefully reviewing the video, it appeared likely an obstruction on the ice precipitated the fall. That's most evident for the fall during her Artistic routine, but even the fall during her Freestyle routine was evidently not the usual sort, such as the "click of death".)
She recovered quite well both times, and learned some important lessons about keeping track of required elements and music, so she won't be quite so disoriented if and when that happens in the future.
During our Couples routine, we did pretty well, but I made two or three minor mistakes that I intend to correct in time for the Franklin Blades competition in December.
We attended the 2006 New England Regionals in Exeter, NH, watching the Intermediate, Novice, Junior, and Senior Ladies Freeskates (final rounds).
(They're called "2006" instead of "2005" because they are part of what US Figure Skating calls "Qualifying" events. They ultimately "qualify" skaters to participate in the 2006 US National Figure Skating Championships, so the same year number is used in the names for the qualifying events that lead up to them, which can be rather confusing!)
This was a pleasant way to get to see some of the skaters who are competing in this week's 2006 New England Regional Championships perform their routines in front of a paying audience. (The audience actually paid for the dinner, which was wonderful, as were the charming seating arrangements and rink decor.)
The next morning, we participated in The Protopopovs Adult Group Class, as we'd done last year. We loved it, and learned a lot!
We each competed in the 2005 Providence Open. I got 2nd (last) place in Adult Bronze Men (Free Skate), but, this time, I got two (out of five) judges to put me in 1st place. Again, that's reassuring, since I definitely don't have the skating skill level of my competitor (who had, as one major disadvantage, no ability to hear his own music).
Barb competed against the same person in both Adult Gold Ladies Freestyle (FS) and Intermediate (really advanced Adult, or Masters) Showcase (SC). She got 2nd in the FS and 1st in the SC, exactly the opposite of what I expected, but, again, the "margins" were razor-thin — three versus two judges — and we both enjoyed these opportunities to compete against (really, just skate with) similarly skilled, enthusiastic adults!
Barb competed in the 2005 Boston Open. At her request, the Skating Club of Boston got permission with the other competitors to allow Barb to compete with the Adult Gold Ladies, as she did at the Cranberry Open.
This time, three of the four other competitors did in fact compete. (At Cranberry, only one other competitor had signed up, but had to withdraw.)
So Barb finally got to compete against, for her, top-notch competition in a Free Skate! And, surprisingly to us, she was pretty much "in the mix". We thought they would all be substantially more advanced, but only one of them was (and got all 1st placements from the judges). Barb still got 4th out of 4, but with two 2nd's and a 3rd placements, as well as seeing the competition for ourselves, she "fit" into that category much better than, say, I fit in with Adult Bronze Men.
As with the Cranberry Open, we enjoyed our experience at the Boston Open immensely. There were lots of supportive adults (skaters, coaches, judges, other officials, etc.).
Barb and I each competed in the 2005 Cranberry Open. This was my first USFS competition, and I skated to nearly the best of my current ability, but still got only 3rd out of 3 skaters (though one judge did give me 2nd place).
The main thing for me was, I did not feel entirely out of place in this group, although the competitor who was about my age was a much stronger skater, and the other one, though significantly more advanced in years, a much better showman, besides being a more skilled skater, than I.
Barb's only competitor (an Adult Gold skater) in the freeskate had to withdraw due to injury, but Barb did a great job debuting her new program, and got rave reviews, along with helpful guidance, from the judge in her critique.
In the Adult Showcase, Barb took 1st place, although, being a difficult event to judge (or so I assume), each competitor got a 1st placement from at least one judge (Barb got two such placements). She used her "We Need a Little Christmas" program, which is the same one she uses for ISI Artistic 5.
We had a great time watching the skating, as we stayed overnight in the area Friday and Saturday nights.
Barb and I each placed 1st in our respective events, each beating "the book" (completing all required elements, including Barb landing her Axel, but neither of us having any other competitors in our particular events).
My coach, some other Franklin Blades Skating School (FBSS) coaches, and a few others, said that was the best they'd seen me skate my routine, and a skating friend (who competes at Freestyle 5) said I'd improved "exponentially" since he first saw me skating a few years ago! Though I nearly fell over backwards doing my second bunny hop, I ended up having enough time to add a second half-flip and second two-foot spin.
On Saturday, we did the announcing and music on Rink 3 from early afternoon through the end of events in the evening. Actually, I announced almost the entire time, though Barb substituted for me a bit, and our coach's husband subbed for Barb for a few hours.
On Sunday we returned to collect our 1st-place (freestyle) trophies during the on-ice awards presentation. This is the first time we got to do this together — at the 2002 Districts, Barb didn't compete, and I only got 2nd in 2004. We joined three other FBSS students receiving trophies on-ice, and many others who weren't able to attend but would be given their trophies later.
Barb and I each did a solo program, and we performed a duet to good reviews — our first time skating together!
The show was a big success. Some 40 or more skaters participated in 53 scheduled events, though I'm not sure how many events actually took place, as at least one skater didn't make it, while at least one other skater was added at the last minute.
Barb and I started working on our first-ever duet about a week ago. It "debuts" this coming Saturday evening!
Earlier this year, Barb passed her ISI Freestyle 5 test.
Barb and I enjoyed watching a number of friends compete.
Barb debuted her ISI Artistic 5 program, and tied for 1st place with an adult male skater who was also debuting his program.
Barb and I enjoyed watching some friends (of various ages) perform during this show.
Barb skated her USFS Masters Novice program as an "exhibition", and got helpful feedback during the judge's critique. This is probably the last time she'll skate that particular program.
We also watched some of the previous day's events.
Barb and I attended this event, as we know many of the skaters who participated, including the producer, Alex Wilfand, and one of the featured skaters, Shepherd Clark.
Barb exhibited her ISI Freestyle 4 program during this show. Unfortunately, due to problems with the CD player, her music stopped partway through her program! So she learned the importance of continuing to skate the program anyway, after taking a few moments to gather herself.
Barb competed in ISI Freestyle 4, against one other competitor, and got 1st place. I had to withdraw from my event, as I broke my wrist and sprained my back during a fall while practicing the day before. (I resumed skating a little over a week later, but only on very quiet, warm, safe, adults-only ice for the first few weeks.)
Barb and I competed, in ISI, not USFS, events. I was the only entrant in my event, while Barb had some competition. We each got 1st place.
Barb and I competed. We were the only entrants in each of our groups, and we each skated sufficiently well to get 1st place.
Barb passed her Adult Silver MiF test, with flying colors!
Barb and I watched friends compete in some of the events.
Barb skated her USFS Masters Novice program as an "exhibition", and got helpful feedback during the judge's critique.
I competed at Freestyle 1, and for the first time had another adult male to compete against! (He won; I took 2nd, and was grateful to not be embarrassed to have tried competing at that level. There were some people there who hadn't seen me skate in over a year; I think they were amazed to see me doing waltz jumps and half flips.)
Barb competed at Freestyle 4, in both the Freestyle and Solo Compulsory events, and took 1st place in both.
My wife got 2nd place in Masters Novice Ladies IV.
She skated very well, especially considering it was her first time competing, and she says she learned a lot and looks forward to applying what she has learned to future competitions.
Though originally she was concerned about competing at a level for which the rules said things like "no limits on the number of double and triple jumps attempted", we observed that she was in a more-appropriate category for her skill level than the category we originally thought would apply (Adult Bronze Ladies IV) but for which she was ineligible due to passing her 4th figure test as a youngster.
My wife and I watched several friends compete.
Practiced (not as an official trial judge) competition judging, to see what it felt like. Didn't sweat the details of scoring, just used seat-of-the-pants tallies for jumps, spins, artistic elements, and so on. Still came pretty close to approximating the official placements, though my actual scoring (0-6.0 range) was way off (too high).
My wife and I enjoyed this thoroughly.
My wife and I attended the Novice Ladies' (short and freestyle), Senior Mens', and some of the pairs' and dancers' events.
Of the four skaters with whom we'd previously had some acquaintance, two placed high enough to advance to the 2003 Nationals (January 2003 in Dallas, TX).
We had a great time, got some much-needed rest, etc., but the highlight of the weekend was definitely the freestyle (long) program skated by Shepherd Clark, which brought the audience to its feet in one of the most instantaneous standing ovations following a skating performance that I've seen in my short "career" as an enthusiast, mainly on the strength of the artistry, connection with the audience, and explosive ending "improvisation".
From a technical perspective, his straightline footwork in both the short and long programs drew strong applause from the audience. I don't know what more the audience could, or would, have done had he landed a couple of jumps (triple axel and another triple or two) a bit more cleanly or thrown in a few quads!
Though the audience was booing the judges' marks soon afterwards, they were high enough to move him from 5th place (following the short program the night before, in which he fell on his triple axel) to 3rd place.
Unfortunately, the 3rd place person was booted down to 5th, and that was Matthew Lind, another skating friend of ours, so unless there's a withdrawal, he won't compete at the Nationals in his first year at Senior level.
If you ever get a chance to watch the video of Shep's long program from Saturday night, don't miss it — we've ordered a video for our archives (from Productions East, 518 587-4853) — it was such an amazing thing, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to watch a "classic" figure skater (probably the only amateur still competing who did compulsory figures in competition) skate his heart out.
(And, if the tape goes long enough to include Shep skating off the ice and you hear someone yell "Encore!", that was me. ;-)
I visited at least once each day (twice Friday and Saturday), my wife Barbara joined me Thursday night, Friday night, and both times Saturday.
Alexei Yagudin and other top skaters participated in the afternoon showing Barb and I attended.
Due to an injury, I had to withdraw from the two events for which I was scheduled (#501, Stroking Alpha, and #38, Alpha).
That left me free to attend some of the events, to watch some of my friends skate. Though my injury prevented me from staying for more than a few hours at a time, I was able to attend events on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.
Congratulations to all my friends who competed!
We were able to attend some of the events in this competition.
First place in an "Alpha Stroking" event (out of three competitors), and skated alone in an "Alpha" freestyle event. In the latter, I performed to "The Lonely Bull" again, though only a single-channel version featuring just the trumpet solo, something I must fix (by making a new, "monophonic", tape) in time for the ISI Worlds!
The on-ice awards presentation at the end of the competition on Sunday was my first, and, as I was "warned", it was a lot of standing around and waiting! Kinda fun to do at least once, especially since I had the company of one adult male I know from Nashoba Valley Olympia who gave me some good advice on how to cope with the awards ceremony.
I debuted my very first program, skating to "The Lonely Bull" by Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass, during this exhibition.
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Copyright (C) 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 James Craig Burley
Last modified on 2007-12-10.