Gordon's Sk8er Boi Blog

My adventures as an adult male figure skater in Tucson, Arizona Portland, Oregon Chandler, Arizona.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

2011 All-Figures Competition

So this morning was the 3rd annual All-Figures Open Competition.  I got to Lloyd Center about 6:10 a.m., met up with Kelli and we got on the ice for our practice ice (6:30 - 7:15).  They had us divided into patches which is always a bit constricting for me.. there's enough space, but one does have to stay inside the lines, y'know?  Anyway we worked first on the FO8, trying to fix some of the issues I'd seen on Friday; then we went on to the BO8 and worked on those.  Kelli had me working on not bringing the free leg so far back on the last part of the LBO, but just holding it out (landing position) as I do on the RBO, and just sitting on the edge.  This did help me bring the edge around and not come in short.  Then we went back and worked on the FO8; it was a bit better.

Came off the ice for the Z-break, and they had the starting orders posted -- I was skating first for the FO8 (which was the first figure in the competition)!  Eeep.  And 3rd for the BO8.  After the Z-break I went out for my 5-minute warmup.

The warmup was TERRIBLE.  I suddenly got really, really nervous and couldn't hold the LFO for the life of me.  The warmup ice was all the way at the end of the rink and I kept going into the wall as I wasn't bringing in the edge in very well.  It was looking really grim :-(.  Still I kept working it and tried to get myself to relax.

Finally they called me forward to skate.  Chose a spot, marked my axis, and I was off!  Fortunately the R side has been better for me so I got off to a decent start.  First time on the L side was a little rough and I cut off the circle a bit (came back somewhat diagonal) but kept on going.  Kelli said I seemed to get better as I went on, and that's true.  The last one on each side were actually not that bad.  And then I finished and skated out, the judges thanked me and I left.

I had about an hour after that so I talked with Kelli and my friend Lisa who had come to watch (she's an old skating buddy from Tucson who's known me since I was a baby skater, and she has just moved to PDX).  Watched some of the figures -- Ruth A. did a paragraph 3... her precision is AMAZING to watch.  My results were posted, and I was 3rd of 3.

Then they had an ice cut, and as they were finishing up the sun came out!  Eeep!  Lloyd Center has a huge skylight, so all of a sudden there was a huge part in the middle of the rink that was in bright sunlight and it was kind of blinding.  So the referee (the inimitable Terri L.) made that section the practice ice so that the competitors wouldn't have to do their actual figures under those conditions. Phew!

Next was the creative figure, and I got to see Sam do the figure she'd created.  It was pretty neat!  It was a 3-lobe pattern filled with  brackets and a... rocker, I think.  Nifty.

Finally it was time for my BO8 warmup.  I felt so much better about this figure!  I was a little nervous, but not nearly as much.  Kelli worked with me to keep working on filling out the LBO lobe back to center, with some improvement.  I hadn't realized (until Kelli pointed it out) how inconsistent I am about free leg position in these.  Hmm.  Finally my time was up and they called me out to skate.

They were being pretty relaxed about starting positions and gave me a lot of options as to placement, which was good -- esp. since I had hoped that the judges would stand in front of me (and mark my center) and instead they were off to the side :-(.  Marked my center, and off I went!  I felt pretty good about the R side, the L side I had to stretch a little to get back to center on a couple of them.  And unfortunately I wasn't tracing all that well on the L side.  Still it went reasonably well, I skated out and was done!

Got off the ice, took some pictures, talked with some folks and watched more figures.  The results were posted and I GOT 3RD OF 4!!

Mind you, of the 7 competitions I have done (PCAS 2008, Cactus 2010, Sherwood 2010, AFOC 2010, PCAS 2011, Cactus 2011, and now AFOC 2011), this is only the 5th event I've had competition at (PCAS 2008, AFOC 2010, PCAS 2011, Cactus 2011, and now AFOC 2011) (two figures each at AFOC 2010 and 2011, and I had competition at all of them) and this is the FIRST TIME in all of those 5 events that I have NOT come in last.  YAY ME!!  I was pretty stoked.

So it was an awesome competition.  I saw some great skating, had a good experience, learned some things and had fun.  I'm really grateful to all the judges, Terri the referee, the organizers and volunteers and my fellow skaters for all their hard work, and especially grateful for Kelli's coaching and calming presence.


Friday, July 29, 2011

Final Practice

There was some "unofficial" practice ice at Lloyd Center today for the figures competition on Sunday.  The Ice Chalet management were kind enough to let us cone off about 1/3 of the rink for patch practice from 5-7 p.m. 

I got on the ice at 4:30 and warmed up a bit, then there was a Z-break, and I skated from 5-6.  Not my best skate.  My LFO was giving me a lot of problems which got a little better when I was more warmed up, but still enough to worry about.  BO8s were better, but I was still fighting a problem that I tend to turn in too sharply on the LBO and miss my center. GRRR.

There were 6 of us or so practicing, and they are all SOOOO much better than me.  And of course all of the group for the BO8 were there.  I'm not going to win that event!

I was supposed to have a lesson with Kelli this morning to work on this stuff, but FS ice was cancelled at WSC (except for the 5 a.m.) so that didn't happen.  Oh well.  I was really, really tired from traveling and work yesterday so it's probably just as well.

Competition is Sunday a.m., with practice ice at 6:30 and then I skate at 7:30 and 8:40.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Patch Practice

I skated the Chandler coffee club for my last practice here before I leave for the All-Figures competition tomorrow.  I had the ice all to myself for half an hour!  After that just two other skaters.  Add in freshly-Zam'd ice and it was really ideal conditions to work in!

I spent 20 minutes each on FO8 and BO8, the remainder of the time (besides warmup) on serpentines, waltz-8 and 3s to center.  FO8.. LFO is still a bit wonky at times, grrr.  Better though.  I don't know how I managed to compete those last year considering I don't think they are all that great NOW.  Geez.  BO8... having some issues filling out the circle on the LBO and still not always too sure when I cross the long axis again.  Grrr.

Oh well!  I have some ice time on Friday, then practice ice early Sunday and the competition.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Patch Practice

I skated the Sunday coffee club at Chandler for an hour today.  Had a good skate.  I worked 20 min. on FO8, 20 min. on BO8, and 10 min each on serpentines and 3s to center.

FO8s were a bit rough (still warming up) but eventually improved.  BO8s... not as good as I'd hoped for.  Finding my way back to center is a little tough these days.  I probably did 5 or 6 layouts from scratch for FO8 and BO8 both.

3s to center are improving a lot.  Serpentines about the same.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Cactus Classic 2011

I skated my new "Battle for the Beat" program this morning at Cactus Classic.

I had practice ice at 7:30 a.m., so I was up at 6:10, got dressed in my costume, put gel in my hair (I had it slicked back for this program), grabbed my gear and was off to the rink.  On arrival I checked in for practice ice and drew my lottery number for getting my music played (they have a lottery to determine the order that music is played -- since it's only a 30 min session, if it's full and you draw a number at the end you might well not get your music played), then went to the men's locker room to change.

Got on the ice at 7:30 and was second in line for music; they wait 5 minutes before they play any music so I got warmed up quickly.  Fortunately it wasn't anywhere as crowded as I was expecting -- only about 12 skaters.  Midway through the previous person's music I went and put on the green belt that indicates the person whose music is playing, then waited my turn.  Went out and ran my program and it went reasonably okay despite nerves and someone getting in my way.  Grrr.  Finished out the practice running through pieces of my program and working on my spins which were not so great.

After practice ice I took off my skates, went and checked in for the competition, then went next door and had some breakfast.  Hung out and watched skating for about an hour, then met up with JJ and went to put my skates on.  I also met my competition!  His name is John, he skates at the Ice Den, he's 52 and has only been skating for 2 years and this was his first competition.

Went out to wait for the warmup (combined warmup with the APB ladies); competition was running a little ahead (!) and they put us on about 7 minutes early.  Worked the warmup and was pretty nervous and my legs were a little wobbly, but I warmed up my jumps and spins and ran through some footwork.  Spins were a bit improved.  Finally we came off from the warmup and the ladies had their skate.  There were two women and us two men and I was last to skate -- ugh.

Finally time to skate; John finished his bows and I got on and talked to JJ briefly (pep talk etc.) then they called me out and I took my position..

Hard to remember all the details (it's been a long day).  I seem to recall being a little shaky at the beginning but then settling down a bit.  First half went pretty well, as I expected (it always seemed easier to me).  Spin at the end was just so-so and I had a little extra time to kill so I stepped forward.  Did my punch-punch thing but I think I looked a little wimpy (grrr) despite all JJ's boxing training :-).

Started into the second half and for some reason I got my arms reversed in the setup so my muscle memory had me do a half-flip instead of the toe loop (grrr!) Then into the footwork -- mohawk was a little wonky, but waltz-sal was more or less okay.  Second booboo, I went into the traveling 3s and for some reason I made the first one a mohawk (!?) but managed the second one, then into the final spin (which was much better than the preceding one!) and finished just a smidge after the music, so I count that as good.

Bowed to judges, bowed to audience, and got off.  Afterward I went and talked to folks until results were posted; I got all 2nd place ordinals.  Congratulated John, and we went to collect medals and get a picture taken etc.

Another competition in the books!

I'll post reactions and other events of today separately.


Friday, July 22, 2011

Last Prep

I skated Chandler coffee club for 45 minutes today, my last chance to do program prep.  Skate buddy Jose was there working on is programs too.

I had a pretty good skate... some pretty good spins!  Ran the program once with music and it went pretty well.  Good stuff!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Program Prep

My lesson with JJ on the 7:30 a.m. FS at Gilbert.  It was a bit crowded in the session before (and after) but only about 4 skaters during this session... yay!

We worked on the program (ran it twice through) and polished some specific elements; worked on spins a bit and reviewed the bow to the judges.  I had my costume on including the slicked-back hair (lol) and JJ seems to be happy with it.

I am feeling generally okay with my prep.  I don't like my execution of some of the elements right now  -- I'd like my jumps and spins to be a lot stronger -- but I think it is about the best I can do right now.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


I skated coffee club at Chandler for an hour and worked on my program.  Did one runthrough with music -- it went pretty well, I ended allllmost on time.  In general it is getting more comfy; I'm not happy with my spins or salchow right now but I think the program is coming off reasonably well.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


I got off work promptly at 5 (well, more or less) and scooted over to Chandler to skate the 5:30 FS.  I was a bit tired (long day, and lesson at lunchtime) but I had an okay skate.  Didn't run the program with music, and didn't run it all the way through at one go, but probably ran the whole thing at least 4 times.  Spins are improving, yay!

I think my big challenge on this program will be to really focus on each element in turn and not get ahead of myself.  We'll see.


My figures lesson with Lynne today on the Chandler coffee club.  This was my last lesson with Lynne before the All-Figures Open Competition at the end of the month.

Today's lesson:
  • FO8 -- we did a number of layouts - like 7 or 8.  The first one wasn't bad.  The next several were varying levels of suckage -- mostly problems with the LFO and with finding my center again.  Ugh.  I can't believe I actually competed these last year!  I wonder. Still they did improve and the last one was mostly okay.
  • BO8 -- probably 5 layouts or so.  These aren't bad, and the last one was really pretty good!  I'm probably not tracing as well as on the FO8 but in general they are more confident and I get around pretty easily.  Weird, eh?
All in all I was really happy with this lesson!  Now I'm putting my patch blades away for the rest of the week since I have Cactus on Saturday.  Then next week I am taking off from freestyle and just working figures all week.

Labels: ,

Monday, July 18, 2011


I managed to squeeze out a half-hour of skating at lunchtime today.  Ran through the program in chunks, probably a total of 4-5 runthroughs.  Didn't run the whole thing with music though.  It's actually coming together although I really grit my teeth on the salchow and toe loop.  Must fix these jumps!  The spins are almost back to where they were -- not great, but passable at least.

Sunday, July 17, 2011


I skated the Sunday coffee club today for an hour.  We had a great turnout!  Like 12 or 13 people!

I worked on my program elements.  Spins are much improved!  Whew!  Let's hope it stays that way.   I ran my program twice.  Both times I finished almost on time... despite having to work around people who were in my way (a little scary!).

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Program Prep

My lesson with JJ on the 7:30 a.m. FS at Gilbert.

Today's lesson was all about program work.  Not surprisingly the session was quite busy, 14 skaters and probably 7 coaches and *everybody* was running their programs.  Grrr.  I only ran the program once through completely, without music (there was quite a lineup).  It's going more or less okay.

I wore my new costume for the runthrough.  I was cold, but it wasn't that bad.  It looks pretty spiffy.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Wednesday Night Zoo & Program Stuff

I skated the Wednesday night public at Gilbert, just for an hour since I hadn't had any freestyle time since Sunday (eeep!).  I actually felt pretty good.  Worked on some program sequences and toe loop.

I wanted to get the time in especially because I had my blades sharpened yesterday... fortunately they seem just fine and I don't think it will be any issue at all.

In other news I picked up my costume today... it's really awesome.  Marlina at 12th Street Costumes & Dancewear is really amazing.

Competition Prep

My figures lesson with Lynne on the Chandler coffee club.  It was really busy today!

Today's lesson was all about prepping for AFOC:
  • FO8 -- we did a number of layouts, like maybe 5.  I was really having issues with my LFO today! I'm not sure why.  I put my foot down once and otherwise had issues, mostly after the rotation.  It's like I'm overrotating or something.  Yuck.
  • BO8 -- again, a number of layouts.  RBO is pretty nice, usually.  LBO was usually pretty good except that I was turning in to deeply at the very last, so I was short on my circle.  I can only imagine that I rotated out of the circle a little or something.  Still, it was nicer than the FO8, which just weirds me out.
  • Serpentines -- just a couple at the end.  Nothing exciting today.
After my lesson I had a little time to practice so I worked on waltz-8 and 3s to center.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Patch Practice

I managed to skate the Chandler coffee club for 45 minutes (well, 40 minutes) for patch practice.  Did a bunch of layouts of FO8 and BO8 and worked them.  Having some issues finding center again on BO8, but with no marker it's not surprising.  Also worked on serpentines and 3s to center briefly.

Sunday, July 10, 2011


Chandler is having Sunday coffee club (11 - 12:30) this month, so I managed to get 45 minutes worth of skating in before church.  Worked on program chunks and ran it once.  Grr.  The transition from the salchow to the traveling 3s is still sooooo difficult!  Oh well.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Competition Prep & 3s To Center

My figures lesson with Lynne at the Chandler coffee club.  Only 2 lessons left before AFOC!  Eeep.

Today's lesson:
  • FO8 -- we did several layouts of these.   I got really nervous for some reason and had some control issues at times but in general it was okay.  Lynne says I'm looking for confident... so I guess I'm faking it 'til I make it! lol.
  • BO8 -- several layouts of these as well.  Not too bad.  I had a couple of issues come up where I wasn't really prepped for the next edge; I need to do better at handling mistakes without it distracting me too much, just worry about what's next and do one thing at a time.
  • 3s to center -- just a little time on these.  I actually managed the LFO3 without putting my foot down!  One of them was even a pretty good turn!  All in all these continue to improve I just need to continue to get more practice.  
AFOC is in 3 weeks... I think it will be okay.  Fortunately it's such a low-key competition that it really helps keep me from getting too nervous.

Labels: ,

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Patch Practice

I managed to escape to Chandler's coffee club today despite a rather crazy schedule.  I spent the first half hour just doing fresh layouts of FO8 and BO8 just as I would in competition.  My first FO8 was kinda stinky but the subsequent ones were pretty good and I was much relieved.  BO8... not having a judge (or coach!) to line up with made it really hard for me to know where my center was; despite that I was usually pretty close anyway, actually.  LBO was a little weak, but not horribly so.

After that I went on and practiced waltz-8, 3s to center and serpentines.  I really like serpentines :-).

Spins, Program Prep, Salchow

My lesson with JJ on the 7:30 a.m. FS at Gilbert.

Today's lesson:
  • spins -- still trying to get these back in shape.  JJ says my biggest issue right now is that I'm dropping my R arm when I enter the spin, so the whole R side drops.  I got some improvement but they are still not where they were a couple of months ago :-(.  More work needed.
  • program prep -- ran the program again.  In general the first half of the program is "okay", and most of the 2nd half is as well.  The biggest issue right now is the very last part of the program, from the salchow into the traveling RFI3s and then into the final spin.  I'm really uncontrolled coming out of the 2nd RFI3 and it's hard to get into the spin from there.  And of course the spin didn't really happen.  Grrr.
  • salchow -- JJ spent a little time working with me on the salchow at the very end of the lesson.  I need to check the 3 and hold the leg back a little and then bring it forward.
Cactus is 2 weeks from Saturday! Eeeek.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

FO8 & BO8

My figures lesson with Lynne on the Chandler coffee club as usual.  We have two lessons this week as I'm trying to get prepped for the All-Figures competition at the end of the month.

Today's lesson:
  • FO8 - we did several fresh layouts of these.  ARRGH my LFO is so inconsistent!  I have been working on these for SO long and they still stink.  I really need to learn to lean into this edge more. and press into it.  I did manage to get around mostly but if it were a test I probably would not have passed.  Grr.
  • BO8 -- several fresh layouts of these as well.  I was kind of nervous and it showed in wimpy pushes.  Managed to get around anyway but it was dicey. Geez.   On the positive side I realized that the mark from the initial push for the RBO makes a really handy long-axis mark so I can look for that when I'm trying to see where I need to change feet.
All in all I am not happy with my FO8s right now, BO8s are actually pretty good right now.  Another lesson on Friday!

Labels: ,

Spins & Program Prep

Today's lesson with JJ on the 8:15 FS at Gilbert.  We have two lessons this week.

Today's lesson:
  • Spins -- I asked to look at these as I have not been able to spin for a week or more.  JJ's main corrections were to keep the R hand/arm high ("shower curtain") going into the spin and then to hold the free leg back longer.  Of course these are all things I've been told before :-) not sure why I can't tell them to myself! Anyway some improvement but I'm still having issues.
  • Program prep -- from there we ran the program and then worked on pieces of it.  The good news (which I tend to not think about, but it is good) is that I actually made it through, attempted all the elements, and didn't fall.  That said there is a lot of room for improvement as my spins were pretty awful and I'm really dizzy coming out of the waltz-sal so the traveling 3s are really uncontrolled.  Eeep.  We also worked on fixing a timing issue in the first part, and JJ is still trying to teach me how to box :-).  My little punching thing isn't  very convincing yet.
Tomorrow I have a costume fitting; JJ is supposed to come with me.  Awesome.

Labels: ,

Monday, July 04, 2011

Practice, Practice

I skated the 9:45 a.m. FS at Chandler.  Skate buddy Melissa was there for a lesson with Lynne so it was nice to see her; Megan was there too!  Had an okay skate but still my spins are just not happening... I did run my program, twice all the way through (second time was thanks to some judicious nagging by Megan :-)).  It's getting better.

After FS time I hung out with Melissa for a bit, then skated coffee club to work on patch.  No big breakthroughs but I did have some noteworthy improvement in my LFO3s on 3s to center, so that's encouraging.

Sunday, July 03, 2011


I skated the 11 a.m. FS at Chandler today.  I had an okay skate other than the fact that I had no good spins, not even one!  Since I hadn't skated since Wednesday (gaaah, work!) I had low expectations.

I did try running my program once through the whole way.  HA!  Didn't manage either one foot spin and I was horribly late at the end. Still, one has to start somewhere.

I have two lessons with JJ this week (Tues, Thurs), and two lessons with Lynne (Tues, Fri) to try to get ready for competitions this month (Cactus 7/23 and the All-Figures competition in Portland 7/30).