Okay so: group classes don't meet again for another month, and during the last couple weeks of the last session our coach showed us how to do the loop and flip jumps and told us to work on them during the break. HMMM. I am trying, but boy I'm not even confident that I'm leaving the ground! What should I be working on, on and off the ice, to make these look like actual jumps before I go back to class on 7/29?
(also lightly soliciting feedback on other jumps. my waltz jump seems...fine? everything else is kind of a mess but they passed me, so! I know my arms are everywhere...that's been my top thing to work on.)
Has anyone had surgery or orthotics or something done to alleviate a bunion? Or got a different brand of skate? Did the changes you made make skating easier? I have a lot of questions!
Mine stopped hurting when I punched my skates (Jackson, R) out a little bit but I saw a podiatrist today and she recommended orthotics for my next pair although insurance doesn't cover it so that's sad. Maybe surgery down the line but my life flashed before my eyes when she said "no skating for 3 months" during recovery.
Just basically looking for any experiences you've had as I contemplate the future of my feet.
I’m a young adult (22F) beginner. I’ve been taking group classes for about 2 months and I’m working on my Adult 5 level. I want to get started into competitive skating and the community, but I’m not sure of the steps to take. Any advice?
After a few months of following this forum, I am seeing a recurring trend where conversations start innocently enough discussing the disparity in numbers of women to men (girls vs. boys) in this sport. But, after a couple of posts the inevitable happens, and the conversation evolves into a long dialogue about how a boy’s decision to enter the sport has had social and emotional consequences at school, with friends, etc. These posts are typically posted by a mother and have an air of feminine nurture to them as they struggle with how to be encouraging while attempting the soften the social implications of participating in ‘a girl’s sport’. (Nothing against mothers here, I love you ladies. It's just what I have observed.)
I would like to discuss this from a different perspective; that of an adult male who found himself in love with a sport that was completely out of whack with his lifestyle. A lifestyle that would suggest a body chemistry consisting of an unhealthy elixir of adrenaline, testosterone, caffeine, creatine, and Taco Bell.
To put it into perspective, here is where I am coming from. I began skating after taking my God-kids to the rink around Christmas time. Why did I take them to the ice rink? Was it because I thought it would be a fun holiday activity, nope. Was it because I wanted to open their young minds to a new physical activity they might enjoy, nope. Was it because I wanted them to experience the grace and artistry that ice skating had to offer, oh hell no. It was because I had a date in three weeks at an ice rink, and I didn’t want to look like an ass if she could skate. (If you’re wondering how the date went, I’m still active over at r/datingoverthirty. You do the math…)
That is just the beginning of the story that lead me to take the online personae of ToxicMasculinityOnSkates. Prior to stepping on the ice, I developed a very successful (and fulfilling) career that includes kicking in doors with a rifle; getting in fights with pedophiles, drug traffickers, human traffickers and an assortment of other undesireables with whom the legal system has a bone to pick; and, I may have chased one or two through a subway tunnel. After all of that is done, I get to publicly argue with their attorneys. It gets better. Before I realized I had to grow up and get a big-boy career and obligations (to be honest it more or less happened to me as opposed to being a conscious decision), I played high school football, trained mixed martial arts, lifted weights, rode four-wheelers on terrain that nobody had any business messing with, and drove my muscle car in a way that would make the State Patrol salivate. I still do most of this; I’m now a little old for high school football. Not exactly the image of the feminine man figure skater.
I can already hear you saying ‘get to the point, dude.’ Ok, you probably didn’t say ‘dude’. So, here it is. I think there are a couple of approaches that will help the young men of figure skating balance their young social interactions, emotional development, and choice to engage in a sport for which, in my opinion, has not been well-managed to the benefit of its male participants.
1.) The young men of figure skating need to learn to compartmentalize.
When you are on the ice, be on the ice 100%. Leave it all out there, and be the absolute best skater you can be. When you are off the ice, leave it there. I recently read one well-meaning mother’s post about how her son after becoming engaged in the sport started preferring to engage in female play during recess. This had negative social repercussions with his male friends/classmates. This was bound to happen. It’s the result of thousands of years of social evolution. All the ranting and activism in the world is not going to change it. The entire situation could have been avoided had this young man been taught to compartmentalize his training time and his school/recreation time.
Do not confuse compartmentalization with shame. I’m sure you figured out from my previous ranting that I am a cop. While figure skating is a female-dominated sport, law enforcement is a male-dominated profession. And, WE ARE BRUTAL WITH EACH OTHER. The only people who haze each other more than cops and firefighters are members of the military. This is not a social issue, it’s what we do and we enjoy it. Keeping this in mind, I don’t bring my skating lifestyle to the department. I’m not ashamed of it, but I don’t advertise it either. If I don’t want my head photoshopped onto Michelle Kwan’s body, I take away the stimulus that would precipitate the action. Ie: an once of prevention is worth a kilo of cure. (I threw some metric in there for my non-United States readers, you’re welcome.)
We need to teach our young men to adapt their social interactions to the situation and circumstances they are in. Ice time is ice time, school time is school time, and recess/gym time is recess/gym time. I am not advocating grooming your child into someone they are not, but a little bit of parental guidance in contrast to the laissez faire approach may help avoid a lot of issues, drama, and hurt feelings that drive young men out of this sport.
2.) Figure skating is a sport and an artform. It is not a statement of sexuality, gender-identity, or lifestyle choice. Our young men need to understand this.
Before deciding to train as a figure skater, I had never seen anything as over-sexualized as this sport. To be frank, it’s absurd and our young skaters deserve better. Much better. What I haven’t divulged yet is, this isn’t be my first foray into the world of ice sports. I tried it in high school going all the through the ISI-equivalent of Learn-To-Skate. I was ready to begin figure skating training when my cheap skates broke down and I couldn’t afford ‘good’ ones. (This is an entirely different discussion for a different post.) Before this happened, I met with who I thought was going to be my coach. His chief concern was not my three turns, cross-overs, or developing a waltz jump. It was whether I would be comfortable being in the presence of gay men, because, to quote him, “a lot of the men in this sport are gay.” Twenty years later, I have met many of the men in this sport. My observation is that my never-to-be coach was full of male cattle excrement, an intentional word choice that could be easily distilled down to two syllables. But, I don’t think the moderators would appreciate it. I digress. While I regret not being able spend the previous twenty years developing into a great (or to be realistic marginally-good to slightly above average on a good day) figure skater; I feel I dodged a bullet with that guy. It makes me wonder though, what kind of message is being sent to our young male skaters if we have coaches leading their potential training relationship with issues surrounding sexuality instead of sport? And, how did we let it get to this point?
I have always thought ballroom dancing was cool. (This will be relevant, stick with me.) About ten years ago I had a conversation with an gentlemen who was an excellent ballroom dancer, and he gave me some insight into his sport/artform. He told me that as the male partner in his ‘team’ he had two (2) jobs.
1.) Make his lady look beautiful.
2.) Lead the dance so his lady, who had a more-difficult task both mentally and physically, didn’t have to think about as much while she was making them both look good.
That sentiment really rang home with me, and I apply the same logic to my skating with my pairs partner today. (To be fair she is beautiful, I am ugly. So, it kind of has to work that way.) I cannot think of much that is more masculine than selling the beauty of a woman while taking responsibility for the presentation.
I see a lot of similarities between ballroom dancing and figure skating. And, the point I am trying to make is that while the sport has taken on a feminine overtone, there is more than enough of an opportunity for a young male skater’s masculine qualities to be on display in all disciplines; singles, pairs, and dance. For every Johnny Weir and Adam Rippon (skaters with an arguably feminine presentation), there is an Elvis Stojko and Nathan Chen (skaters with a contrasting masculine presentation).
We need to make our young male skaters comfortable with their masculinity within our sport. Women outnumber men significantly in gymnastics as well, they don’t have this problem. What can we learn from them?
Figure skating media, are you listening @NBC & @USFSA?, also needs to do a better job highlighting this aspect of the sport if they want it to grow. Brining male viewership and participants to the sport will be the quickest way to expand its popularity as well as corresponding ad & merchandising revenues. If you guys want the hey-day of the 90s back, I just gave you the formula. Once again, you’re welcome.
3.) The young men of this sport need to understand that they have an important mission and obligation to the young women of this sport.
In my opinion, one of the best modern writings on what it means to be a man was published by John Eldredge in 2001. Bottom line, if you have a son, you need to read Wild at Heart. In the book, he identifies the three burning desires of a man’s heart and the key elements in life that a man needs to find purpose. In short those elements are (1) A Battle to Fight, (2) An Adventure to Live, and (3) A Beauty to Rescue. Today’s young men of figure skating have all three falling directly into their laps.
Your skating sons are fighting a battle for their sport every time they step out onto the ice. While brand mismanagement, media slant, and miserably sexualized overtones plague our sport, the men of figure skating have a fight on their hands (regardless of presentation, masculine or feminine) to refocus the sport to the incredible feats of athleticism and artistry that are required to entertain our audiences.
Acknowledgement of the athletic and artistic talents that are necessary to be successful in this sport highlights the second element. Figure skating is an adventure. The process of learning and succeeding a new element, dance, etc. is exhilarating. When I can improve just one part of something I am struggling with, it sets the tone for my entire day. And, it doesn’t come easy. I cannot think of a better example of adventure than the discomfort of struggle with the excitement of success.
All of this leads to my last conclusion. The young men of figure skating have an obligation to their skating sisters. They are our beauty to rescue. I love my practice time, but it is slightly heartbreaking to see many young lady skaters practicing solo dance because there are not enough of us men to properly partner with them. Many of these ladies desire skating partners, but there just aren’t enough of us to go around evidenced by the 20-40/1 male to female ratio present at many ice events. Imagine how we could fill this need if we made an effort to make skating socially and emotionally safer for the more-masculine of our community? Just like my elderly ballroom dancing friend from above told me, it is our responsibility to make our ladies look and feel beautiful. By not providing a mechanism to encourage more men into the sport, we are failing them. This is a shame. Because, I am convinced that figure skating ladies are some of the most-beautiful on the planet; an opportunity that too many young men are missing out on as well.
Admittedly, this is a very long rant. It is intended to stimulate conversation about the issue and hopefully come up with some viable solutions. I hope it finds some level of usefulness to the young men of skating, their parents & loved ones, and the sport in general.
Please be constructive in your criticism, suggestions, and thoughts. Also, please respect one another as we attempt to discuss ways to better things and make the sport more-attractive to young men.
Admittedly I didn’t proofread this. So, there are bound to be a couple errors. I thought about rereading it and fixing them all, but I have to be up at 5:00 am to practice, and it’s 11:30 at night.
My coach dropped on me that I am competing in about five months. Where is the best place to look for figure skating clothing for MEN (not boys or teenagers)? I am 37, 6'4" and around 250 lbs. So, skinny-guy stuff will not work for me. I am looking for past successes/experience as opposed to speculation. I appreciate the help.
I am curious if I could have a muscular body while still being flexible. Problem is I can hit my double sals and axel,but my core is just pure fat though my legs are all buffed, sometimes its hard to have a proper landing without my back giving up on me. I can't even do a proper camel without my upper body being higher than my legs, feel like my upper body is hard to balance. I might just drop 2 days of skate rather than 5 days a week and focus more on the gym to build my core. I don't feel any progress to my skating after getting this far. Any advice on what muscle groups to hit? I have no clue in this matter.