Skating and Coaching Updates 2018

June 9, 2018 at 12:17 pm | Posted in coaching, competition, ice skating, synchro, tests | Leave a comment
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Apparently I now only update this blog every two years, so here is what has happened since my last post in spring 2016:


  • I passed Juvenile Moves in the Field in November 2016 and passed Adult Bronze Free Skate test in March 2017.
  • I competed with the Blades N’ Motion open adult synchro team at Best of the Midwest Synchronized Skating Championships in November 2017.
  • I competed and won second place in Adult Bronze Free Skate at the Omaha Winter Festival competition in February 2018.
  • I’ve been off the ice since mid-March because of a suspected stress fracture in my right tibia. I just received the green light to start skating again, but no jumping yet. I received physical therapy exercises to do at home and haven’t been consistent. There is concern about muscle weakness around my hip that can contribute to another injury, so I need to really commit to doing those exercises regularly so I can get back to jumping.


  • I reactivated my Registered Group rating with Professional Skaters Association in September 2016, and I passed my Certified Group rating in October 2017.
  • Professional development activities I have attended include: PSA Nationwide Seminar in August 2016, PSA Ratings Prep in July 2017, Learn to Skate USA Workshop in February 2018, and PSA Conference in May 2018 (I’ll share more about the conference in another post). Not all of this is required, but I like learning more about the sport and getting new ideas for coaching.
  • I still teach group lessons and this past winter trialed an Intro to Synchro class for basic skills skaters (I may share more another time).
  • I have not been actively recruiting private students, and only had a couple of short-term students (little ones who weren’t ready to stick with skating long-term). However, three months ago, a family asked me to give their 12-year-old daughter private lessons and it’s been great. I’m really enjoying teaching one-on-one. I will probably try to get a few more students this fall…we’ll see.


It’s been a busy two years…….until 2020… 😛


Lesson Plans, Props, and Ratings — Oh My! Setting New Coaching Goals

May 4, 2016 at 10:22 am | Posted in basic skills, coaching | 1 Comment
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coaching manuals

Great resources from USFS and PSA.

When I left my position as Assistant Skating Director of the Kids On Ice program seven years ago, I really didn’t think I would work as a professional coach again. I was changing gears and more focused on becoming a librarian. I let my Professional Skaters Association membership lapse and my ratings became inactive. I did continue to volunteer as an instructor, usually just a few times a month.

In November, I started teaching Learn to Skate on a regular basis again. I teach twice a week and I now have my own classes. I started out feeling a little rusty with class management and teaching techniques. I felt a little silly because I have taught groups as large as 30 people before, but here I was struggling to contain a rambunctious group of 10. There are also moments when I think “how did I used to teach this skill before?” I was starting to forget how I explained certain skills, or even how I learned them myself. I’ve been taking some professional development activities, watching videos, and cracking open those coaching handbooks again.

In April, I attended a PSA Foundations of Coaching Course taught by the awesome Jan Tremer. It was a great refresher and left me feeling inspired about returning to coaching. Some of my personal takeaways:

  • Keep skating FUN! – This is a no brainer and nothing new. But I needed the
    playing with ice toys

    Getting in touch with my inner child…I bought hula hoops, pool noodles, stuffed animals, rubber duckies, bubbles…

    reminder. Because I can see the boredom creeping into some of my students lately. It’s never a good thing when they are asking how many minutes are left in the lesson. Coming up with games is not my strong point, but I learned some good ideas at the workshop and will continue to build on that.

  • Ask for help when you need it. – This was a good reminder not to feel embarrassed to ask for help or ideas if I’m struggling with teaching a skill. Even though I started teaching over ten years ago, I’m still learning. And really, aren’t we all?
  • Don’t limit yourself. – I have always focused on teaching basic skills, and Jan assured us there is nothing wrong with that. Basic skills are important and set the foundation for advanced skating. But she also encouraged those of us who are interested in teaching higher skills not to feel limited by our own skating experience. You can teach higher than the tests or competitive levels that you personally accomplished. It will just take some hard work (professional development,  mentoring, shadowing, etc.) to learn how to teach those higher skills. This was encouraging to me because I have always felt limited by the skills I learned. I enjoy the basic skills but I think I would also like to expand my coaching skill set a bit more.

So with all that in mind, in addition to setting skating goals, I’m going to set some coaching goals:

  • Create weekly lesson plans that incorporate games and fun activities.
  • Regain the skill of projecting my voice — ASAP. Being soft-spoken is not an asset here. 😛
  • Reactivate my Registered Group rating by September.
  • Pass Certified Group rating by 2018 (I’m being generous with time because coaching is not my primary job and I have other life goals as well).
  • Decide if there are other ratings I would like to pursue (potentially interested in moves in the field and synchro).
  • Make a plan for what I need to do in order to pass those additional ratings (study buddies, mentors/apprenticeships, rating prep courses, etc.).


I’ll keep you posted on my progress. 😉



Consistency is the Name of the Game

April 22, 2016 at 9:13 pm | Posted in moves in the field | Leave a comment
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I tested my Juvenile Moves in the Field today, but I didn’t pass. I made several mistakes …mostly due to my nerves. I actually started out strong but started feeling more nervous and shaky as I went along. I know I am capable of passing this test. Although sometimes it can be a little hit and miss. Sometimes I skate all the elements very well (I had some good practices this week), and sometimes I’m just off in my rhythm or pattern. My test was a very off day.

Despite my disappointment, I do feel proud that I got out there and took a test — first time testing in 6 years. It can only go up from here right??? 😉

So I’m going to keep practicing and try again in a couple of months. My goal is to be more consistent, and to feel more confident.

I received some feedback that I should switch to the adult testing track (because I didn’t show sufficient power needed for juvenile level). Maybe I’m just stubborn….or a glutton for punishment, but I’m not ready to make that switch yet. I know I have the power, at least for this level. I would really like to finish all the standard moves test. I will keep going until I feel like it’s not realistic. Although if I switched to Adult, I would be finish testing moves much quicker… But I like the challenge of the standard moves. So we’ll see….

My goals for the next two months:

  • Skate at least 3 hours a week
  • Stretch at least once a day to improve flexibility (should be twice a day, but let’s be realistic to start with)
  • Add some cardio on my non-skating days to help improve stamina.
  • And of course continue my weekly belly dance class.



2016 Skating Update

March 20, 2016 at 10:39 pm | Posted in ice skating | 2 Comments
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It’s been almost 2 years since I last posted to this blog. I think I’m going to try to revive

early morning hesitation.jpg

Willing my feet to move and get on the ice at 5 something in the morning. Not a morning person…so hasn’t happened too often yet…

it…one more time. As usual, I went through a period of not skating. Then in July of last year, I moved from the East Coast to the Midwest, which kick started my return to skating. When you’re in a new place, one of the easiest ways to meet new people is through your hobbies.

At the university where I work, they feature new faculty in a newsletter. I mentioned my interest in skating, and was contacted by two colleagues who read the article and are also adult skaters. Through them, I was introduced to the Figure Skating Club of Omaha and my new coach, Liyen. So I found a new skating club and new coach, and I returned to taking private lessons in October.

About six years ago, I started working on a freestyle program to test preliminary freestyle. I never did finish that program, or take the test due to life’s interruptions. But I am using the same music — The Chairman’s Waltz, from Memoirs of a Geisha soundtrack — for my Adult Bronze free skate test. I hope to take the test this summer …or fall. My main focus right now is moves in the field. I have been working on Juvenile Moves in the Field off-and-on for way too long. I am determined to test (and pass!) in April. Wish me luck –and lots of discipline to practice regularly!

Unfortunately there are no synchro teams in this area, so if I want to compete, it will have to be individually. Right now I’m content with testing, and working on regaining some of my lost skills. But I am contemplating competing next season (maybe even Adult Nationals?).

I have also returned to coaching. I teach group lessons through my club, and will start taking private students at some point.

So that’s where I am with skating right now. I hope to post more regularly to help keep myself motivated with my skating goals.

Until next time….

Summer Update

August 27, 2014 at 4:22 pm | Posted in moves in the field, practice | 2 Comments

Well the good news is that I have made some progress.  I ended up not testing this summer. My juvenile MIF are looking better, but there is still room for improvement. Hopefully I can test sometime this fall. My coach is starting to teach me some of the Intermediate moves now too. I just learned how to do a bracket. So will add that to my practice rotation as well. I’m still not skating or exercising as regularly as I should. But I do definitely feel a big difference when I take time to stretch at home before I go to the rink.

I’ve been a little overwhelmed the last couple of weeks with wrapping up projects and reports at my job and moving to a new apartment. I’m starting a new position next week. I will have a shorter commute to and from work, so I’m hoping this will lead to more time and energy to skate in the evenings after work.

Skating Log: 5/4

May 4, 2014 at 5:22 pm | Posted in ice skating, moves in the field, tests | 1 Comment
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I wish I could say that I have stuck to my skating goals. But, alas, not quite. I have not been stretching daily, nor have I progressed past skating more than twice a week.

But that is changing starting this week (I’m serious this time!). The testing date I am aiming for is June 29th. That leaves 8 weeks to work my butt off. I still think there is hope. I haven’t signed up for the test yet, but I think I will this week as an extra motivation.

I had a lesson yesterday. There is some progress being made. But there is still room for much improvement.


  • Back power circles look good
  • Forward cross strokes look good and back cross strokes look a little better
  • I performed the two full circles of back power 3s in the correct pattern


  • I have formed bad habits in the way I do crossovers. So I have to break them and perform the crossovers correctly. I have been pushing off the back of my blade, which causes me to extend more to the side and lead the crossover with my heel. Instead I need to let my toe be the last part of my foot to leave the ice, extend backwards, and lead the crossover with a pointed toe.
  • I need to work on my quick crossovers.
  • My 8-step mohawk pattern is uneven, and not creating a proper circle. I also need to improve my extension.
  • Double 3s: I need to bend my knees more on forward 3-turns, and keep my thighs closed on back 3-turns. I also need to relax more and just let the turns happen & not try to force them.
  • There are a few other not-so-goods, but these are the major ones


I had practice #1 of this week today. I felt really tired, and it was hard to push myself. I kept taking breaks….to breath. This is partly due to general lack of stamina, but I’m also just getting over being sick for about a week. So there has been a lot of laying in bed lately.

So my goals for this week:

  • Stretch at least once a day.
  • Skate two more times this week
  • Try to fit in one or two off-ice cardio sessions

We’ll see how things go.

Making Improvements

March 23, 2014 at 5:58 pm | Posted in moves in the field, practice | Leave a comment
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The past couple of weeks, I have been consistently skating twice a week, and it is definitely making a difference. My moves are (slowly) improving. They are not too bad really. My power circles and back cross strokes need the most work. Everything else just needs finessing. My goal is to test in June. My coach thinks that is doable … I just need to “work my butt off” between now and then. He is being really nit-picky right now, fixing the little things like the height of my arms during crossovers, how I hold my free foot when I complete double threes and back power threes, and correcting how I push in my forward crossovers (I’m pushing out to the side when I should be pushing back). I appreciate his emphasis on high-quality technique and the goal of achieving maximum points from the test judges…. but OMG, it seems never ending. There is always something else to fix. lol  It’s a lot of details to remember. However, I must admit, it’s nice to see the difference the lessons are making in the quality of my skating. Eventually, I am sure it will all become muscle memory. Until then, the work continues.

So my current goals are to

  • finish out this month with skating twice a week.
  • In April I plan to try to bump it up to three times a week.
  • Stretch at home twice a day. I want my above-the-hip spiral extension back. Right now I’m lucky if I get my leg up to hip height.
  • Add some cardio on my non-skating days to increase my stamina. At the moment, I want to get through a 30-minute lesson without feeling winded (which at the moment I’m definitely doing too much huffing and puffing, especially after doing some of these moves patterns back-to-back).

Back on the Ice: Starting Over part II

March 8, 2014 at 3:31 pm | Posted in ice skating, moves in the field, synchro, tests | Leave a comment
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Me_Synchro 2013

Starting Block
Open Adult Synchro, ’13-’14

In the spring of last year, I blogged about “Starting Over” with skating, and I actually followed through and started skating more regularly….several months later. September through January, I competed with the DC EDGE Open Adult Synchronized Skating Team. The team didn’t place as well as we hoped in our division, but there’s always next year. It wasn’t my best season of skating (personally) for synchro. I felt like I could have done better. The experience made me realize that it’s time to return to private lessons.

So I started moves in the field lessons this month, and hope to test Juvenile moves this spring or summer. My goal is to continue testing (and not stop) until I pass Senior moves. I’m not putting a time limit on it, but I would like to pass two tests a year if possible. We’ll see. Right now, I’m taking a 30-minute lesson each week, and aim to skate two 45-60 minute practices between each lesson. I also want to start stretching twice a day, so I can become more flexible and regain my lovely spiral (which is really struggling right now).

I’m not taking lessons in freestyle skills right now. I haven’t decided what goals I want to accomplish with freestyle. At some point, I would like to at least test up to Adult Silver. I’m also toying around with the idea of possibly competing in adult competitions. Or, maybe I’ll just let synchro be my only competitive event. I don’t know…still thinking about it.

I will keep you posted on how things progress. 🙂

Black History in Figure Skating: Atoy Wilson

February 17, 2014 at 11:50 am | Posted in ice skating | Leave a comment
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In honor of black history month, I am highlighting the accomplishments of African-Americans in the sport of figure skating. This post features Atoy Wilson, a competitive skater from the 1960s, who went on to skate professionally in ice shows in the 1970s. To read about other history-makers of skating click here.

Atoy Wilson

AtoyWilson_Argenta Images

Atoy Wilson
Copyright Argenta Images

Atoy Wilson is a pioneer in the sport of figure skating, making history as the first African-American to compete in the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, and the first African-American to be a principal skater in a major ice show.  Atoy was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA. When he was about seven years old, he became interested in learning to ice skate after his parents took him to see an ice show. His first coach was Mabel Fairbanks, who worked tirelessly on the behalf of her skaters to break through the existing racial barriers. Thanks to Mabel’s influence, Atoy became the first African-American member of the Los Angeles Figure Skating Club.

In 1965, thirteen-year-old Atoy received national acclaim for becoming the first African-American to compete nationally in the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, where he placed second in the Novice Men’s event. In 1966, he continued to make history when he became the first African-American to win the Novice Men’s title at the U.S. Figure Skating Champions. Atoy also has the distinction of being the first African-American to complete all of the U.S. Figure Skating figures and freestyle tests.

He can skate good figures and he is a very good free skater. … He has all the jumps and a very nice style. If a Negro is going to make it. Atoy is the one. (“13-Year-Old Boy is 1st Negro to Enter Figure Skating Event”. The Leader-Herald, February 10, 1965)

Besides Miss [Peggy] Fleming, the biggest newsmaker so far in the nationals is Atoy Wilson … The 14-year-old Wilson is the only Negro ever to win a national figure skating title. (“Fleming Nearing 3rd Title; McKellen is 7th”. Reading Eagle, January 28, 1966).

Both the spectators, competitors and officials showed their excitement over the Negro youngster’s victory in a sport ofttimes accused of discrimination. (“Negro Boy, 14, Wins First U.S. Skate Title”. Jet, February 17, 1966, page 53).

After graduating from high school, Atoy stopped competing and enrolled at Loyola University of Los Angeles, where he majored in political science. In the 1970s, he was invited to tour with two ice shows, Holiday On Ice and Ice Follies, making him the first African-American to star in a major ice show. When people asked how well he fit into his new environment, Atoy responded: “I think skaters and skating fans are too interested in the sport and the skaters to care what a fellow’s color is. I found no discrimination either as an amateur or now as a pro.”

AtoyWilson2_Argenta Images

Atoy Wilson
Copyright Argenta Images

In a January 2001 New York Times interview, Atoy said that “he is forever indebted to [Mabel] Fairbanks for her tenacity and courage; quitting was never an option for her.” Mabel’s courage enabled Atoy to be a pioneer and pave the way for other African-American skaters to join figure skating clubs, compete nationally and internationally, and pursue careers as professional skaters in mainstream ice shows.

Atoy Wilson currently resides in Los Angeles, CA where he works in production accounting for the television industry.

Watch some of Atoy Wilson’s performances!

Want to learn more about Atoy Wilson?

Black History in Figure Skating: Mabel Fairbanks

February 13, 2014 at 7:04 pm | Posted in ice skating | 8 Comments
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In honor of black history month, I am highlighting the accomplishments of African-Americans in the sport of figure skating. It is only right to start with the grande dame, Mabel Fairbanks. From the moment I first learned about Mabel, she has inspired me. Not only because she first started skating as a teenager (like me!), but also because she gave back so much to the sport that initially refused her access.

Mabel Fairbanks (November 14, 1916 – September 29, 2001)

B-2 Fairbanks crop

Mabel Fairbanks is a trailblazer for African-Americans in the sport of figure skating.  She began ice skating in New York City as a teenager in the 1930s. At first, the local public indoor rink denied her access because of her race. Mabel kept returning to the public rink until the manager finally relented and allowed her in. Mabel’s first skills were self-taught. Then a famous coach, Maribel Vinson Owen, took an interest in Mabel and gave her free skating lessons. Mabel became a very talented figure skater, but was barred from joining a figure skating club or participating in any competitions.

Eventually she was hired to skate with professional shows that traveled to places like South America and Mexico. Her skillful skating caught a lot of people’s attention — including the media.

Ice skating is one of the few sports at which Negroes have not already equaled or surpassed white athletes. But this year a 19-year-old Harlem girl has turned up to skate figure eights around all but the top white performers. (“Sport: Swanee Snow Bird”. Times Magazine, Nov. 29, 1943)

Despite unanimous recognition as one of the world’s greatest professional ice skaters, Mabel Fairbanks is still meeting stiff opposition from producers who draw the color line and refuse to book her. (“Mabel Fairbanks Harassed By Jim Crow”. The Afro American, May 5, 1945)

Mabel Fairbanks–portrays all the finese [sic] of a top notch star. She is rated in New York City and throughout the country as the greatest colored skater of all time…She keeps her audiences spellbound with her numerous executions comprising of difficult spins, jumps and spirals. (“Fairbanks Flattery”. The California Eagle, May 27, 1954)

After Mabel’s professional career she became a coach in Los Angeles, CA. She provided free lessons for those who could not pay, and helped minority skaters accomplish some of things she had not been allowed to do. Among her students were famous skaters such as Atoy Wilson (first African American to win a national titile), Richard Ewell and Michelle McCladdie (first African Americans to win a national pairs title), Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner, Kristi Yamaguchi, Tiffany Chin, Rudy Galindo, and Scott Hamilton.

Negro skating star Mabel Fairbanks with Mae Edwards. Jet Magazine, May 27, 1954

Negro skating star Mabel Fairbanks with Mae Edwards. Jet Magazine, May 27, 1954.
Copyright vieilles_annonces (flickr)

Although Mabel Fairbanks was never able to participate in official competition, she said “If I had been allowed to go into the Olympics or Ice Capades like I wanted to then, I may not have helped other Blacks like I did, and coached such wonderful skaters, and I think all that has been just as important and meaningful.” Mabel became the first African-American woman inducted into the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 1997. She was posthumously inducted into the International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2001, and the Professional Skaters Association Hall of Fame in 2009.

Want to learn more about Mabel Fairbanks?

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