Author Topic: General questions about figure skating  (Read 467 times)

juniper_berries4

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General questions about figure skating
« on: April 29, 2019, 10:58:19 PM »
Hello! I've been planning to write a book where the protagonist learns how to figure skate as a young adult. I'm no figure skater and know little about figure skating, i've been doing research though. However, I wanted to ask some questions here since i like to stick as close to reality as i can when i'm writing a book.

1. She would have skated a couple of times but nothing professional, she just went to the rink with some friends for fun.

2. Is it a requirement to have taken ballet classes to figure skate? Would it be realistic if she had started taken some basic ballet as a young adult? Or does she not need to take ballet in order to figure skate?

3. How long would it take for her to be a good enough skater to join competitions? She has natural talent for the sport and is quite fit.

I'll probably post a couple of more questions later  ;D ANy help would be greatly appreciated!

The Sacred Voice

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Re: General questions about figure skating
« Reply #1 on: April 30, 2019, 02:17:11 AM »
Ballet is considered a complementary sport to figure skating, not essential but it's sometimes done alongside, particularly by skaters that want to go really far. Other common complementary activities include gymnastics and dance. Of course, there is the chance that skaters that do these other activities end up preferring those activities instead...

How competitive is your protagonist trying to be exactly? Like most sports, Olympic level figure skaters often started between the ages of 5-8 so all adult skaters have to be quite realistic about their long term competitive reach. That said, you could probably compete in adult learner competitions after about 12-18 months of learning the necessary basics and putting together a programme if you were quite dedicated and were happy entering at a lower skill level of competition*. Figure skating (all disciplines) is a sport of time, practice and money, so those tend to be the big barriers.

* When you apply for adult competitions then you choose a skill category that you feel you fit into and that skill level dictates the skills and requirements you are expected to be able to demonstrate in your programme. In this manner, adults of similar skill can remain grouped as those that are technically more capable can't use the more challenging elements they know, so they are encouraged to move up to the next skill grouping. This has the positive of being that you can be a relatively inexperienced skater and still participate in a competitive division that would be meaningfully challenging for you.
I'm blogging about my skating journey, please read along at dontexcelaxel.blogspot.com

Leif

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Re: General questions about figure skating
« Reply #2 on: April 30, 2019, 07:11:16 AM »
Ballet is probably uncommon among skaters, but Iím guessing. However, balance requires core strength which can be developed by workouts in the gym. Gym work is arguably as important as on ice training. I know a young skater, sheís 19, who has been skating a couple of years and she recently won an amateur competition for skating jumps at our local rink. She skates maybe 8 or more hours a weeks, and does several hours a week at the gym. She also has a coach, an ex olympian, and I think a coach is essential to get good technique. I suspect she will never get to national level, but she might become a very good skater. Iím guessing of course.To be really good, start young, as said earlier.

However, late starters can become good skaters, and more importantly, itís great fun. (Maybe the fun goes for serious training?)

transmissionoftheflame

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Re: General questions about figure skating
« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2019, 07:27:25 AM »
Agree with all comments so far except for "ballet is uncommon".  It may be uncommon among those who learn as adults, but most kids who go into it seriously will be doing some off-ice dance, plus fitness as stated.


I think someone with a good level of talent and dedication who puts in the kind of hours and training described by Leif, with a coach, can certainly get "good".  If you look at the past winners of Dancing On Ice it'll give you an idea.  They take a few months minimum but have a LOT of coaching and practice, hard to fit into a normal person's life.  Maybe a year or two.  But I doubt that any but the most exceptional could compete with the best skaters who learned as kids.  So I think it depends what you mean by "competitions".


If you look on Youtube for Oberstdorf Adult Skating Competition or look for British Adult National Figure Skating, then compare to footage of elite competitions, you should see the difference.  The celebrities on DOI may look good but what they are doing on the ice in terms of difficulty, speed, flow, depth of edge, jump and spin height and rotation is very different to those who learnt as children - the rinks round the country are full of talented kids who work hard.  Go to a rink early in the morning - ask permission to watch training ice and try to chat to coaches, parents and skaters about how often they skate, train etc.  It'll be fun and an eye-opener.
« Last Edit: April 30, 2019, 08:30:46 AM by transmissionoftheflame »

WednesdayMarch

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Re: General questions about figure skating
« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2019, 10:25:48 PM »
Ballet training isn't obligatory for figure skating success but it really, really helps. 
Returned to the ice in Sept 2017 after a major leg injury in 1999. Skating in Graf Dance boots and MK Dance blades. It's still a bit slippery...

Leif

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Re: General questions about figure skating
« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2019, 11:29:26 PM »
Very good point about going to a rink, and chatting with people.

iSk8

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Re: General questions about figure skating
« Reply #6 on: May 01, 2019, 11:55:31 PM »
Ballet training isn't obligatory for figure skating success but it really, really helps.

Some ballet training, even as an adult, becomes beneficial for any form of dance where you're looking for poise and presentation.  It's not just about the 'elements'; it's also the connecting moves in-between.

iSk8

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Re: General questions about figure skating
« Reply #7 on: May 02, 2019, 12:07:04 AM »
Hello! I've been planning to write a book where the protagonist learns how to figure skate as a young adult.

There's a difference between starting as a child and as a young adult.  As a young adult it's certainly too late to consider competing in Worlds or Olympics these days.  What's their motivation?  You're also responsible for keeping yourself and funding this, i.e. the balance between work, earning sufficient, and 'training'.  Maybe your protagonist has a substantial inheritance?  Not forgetting the social aspects as an adult.

transmissionoftheflame

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Re: General questions about figure skating
« Reply #8 on: May 02, 2019, 07:16:35 AM »
Good point about the cost - £25 per half hour of lessons, let's say £7 per skating session for ice time, £10 every 6 weeks to sharpen your blades, £400 every couple of years for skates/blades, dresses for competitions, training clothes, UK skating association membership maybe £50 a year, about £30 every time you do a test (plenty of those to do, say 2 or 3 a year mininum).  Hotel and travel expenses for you and your coach to go to competitions.  Multiply the numbers by how often you skate.  Anyone who you look at on the ice and they make you go "wow" will have spent 1,000s of hours and more £££ to get that good.

WednesdayMarch

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Re: General questions about figure skating
« Reply #9 on: May 02, 2019, 08:56:08 AM »
Some ballet training, even as an adult, becomes beneficial for any form of dance where you're looking for poise and presentation.  It's not just about the 'elements'; it's also the connecting moves in-between.

And about that mysterious thing called "line".  Imagine the human body encased in a virtual hamster ball (one of those clear plastic spheres that people put hamsters into for safer exercise outside the cage).  Every move of the body has to correspond with those virtual curves.  It's what makes people who've done ballet and mastered that principle especially beautiful to watch.

As for the financial considerations of ice skating training, they are pretty horrendous.  I had a break in skating for about 4 years and then decided to pursue it again and gain my coaching qualifications, whilst improving my skating to a level I was happy with - never going to happen!  ::) - and had to finance my own training as a young adult.  It meant having pretty much no social life outside skating, and a job where I mostly worked night shifts (8.30pm to 5 or 6am) so that I could have a couple of hours of sleep, then go to the rink when it was quiet in the day, train for about 4 hours, drive home (an hour) go to sleep for a few hours and then start all over again.  When that became too much, I had to find a job where I worked afternoons, with an additional evening job on Fridays and Saturdays and I also taught skating classes one evening and at weekends for which I received some of my training ice time.  It was exhausting.  I once worked out that I was working something like 61 hours a week, if I included the classes I taught.  No wonder that I'd frequently fall asleep with my head literally in my dinner!  My mother specified that I was to have my long hair up in a high ponytail on Saturdays, as it meant that when she spotted me about to nod off and plant my face in the gravy, she could prompt my niece to grab my hair while she moved the plate out of the firing line...

The worst part, however, and it's something I saw hinted at in the recent "Torvill & Dean" movie, is the attitude of co-workers in an office to a woman who works part-time despite having no husband or children.  It can be very, very spiteful.  I didn't experience any of that whilst working in a casino but office work - urgh. 
Returned to the ice in Sept 2017 after a major leg injury in 1999. Skating in Graf Dance boots and MK Dance blades. It's still a bit slippery...

transmissionoftheflame

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Re: General questions about figure skating
« Reply #10 on: May 02, 2019, 09:53:19 AM »
Agree about ballet.  I love figure skating and hugely admire those who do it well, but believe ballet to be a superior art form, structured and taught better.  They focus more on basics, and are more patient.  My daughters both did a lot of it and it was so beneficial.


Props to anyone who learns to skate well and juggles their lives to enable that to happen.  I have been lucky and had a lot of support.  It teaches you many things, but it is so rewarding.