Friday, May 2, 2014

Skating Fridays

S.T.A.R.S. Program

Olympic Silver medalist (and my hero), Paul Wylie

While at Adult Nationals, I participated in the S.T.A.R.S. Program, which stands for Standardized Testing of Athleticism to Recognize Skaters. It's similar to the Presidential Fitness Challenge that I did in middle school (and possibly high school) that tested your balance, coordination, power, strength and flexibility.

Sixty-two skaters signed up for the combine, including some youth skaters. We were tested on various skills, and our individual results will be added to a database to evaluate what a "typical" adult skater should be able to do. I'm imagining that they will also group us by skating level and be able to see that a Bronze skater should be able to do X, while a Masters skater should be able to do Y.

The program itself lasted about an hour, and Paul Wylie gave a talk afterwards. Paul talked about how important it was to warm up and warm down after a skating practice, and not to expect immediate results after learning a new element. He told us to focus on what our future goals were, and to celebrate what we had accomplished that day. Adults tend to be hard on themselves, so we need to learn to be happy with the baby steps we've made along the way.

Paul told us to focus on our "line" and understand that our sport is two-fold: there is the athletic portion with jumps and spins, and the aesthetic portion that shows off the beauty and grace of figure skating. Ballet helps, but we shouldn't go to extremes and become ballerinas. We should stand in front of the mirror and work on pointing our toes or perfecting our facial expressions and our body lines.

Of the 15 different testing elements for S.T.A.R.S., I did fairly well in all of them except one. There was something called the Hand Press, where individuals sit on the ground with legs in a V. Then you put your hands on the ground and try to lift your body off the ground. I have lost all my arm strength since my gymnastics days, so I wasn't able to do this. I felt bad about this until Paul told us that he couldn't do it either!

I compared my scores to a chart that listed the range, mean and median for younger skaters and am proud to say that my scores were pretty in line with most higher-level athletes. I scored lowest on the front and side splits (I've lost my flexibility, obviously). My push-ups and V-ups (similar to sit ups) were off the charts, so I'm happy to know that I am still somewhat strong in those elements.

I'll be curious to see how I stacked up against other adult skaters who participated and where else I need to focus my training. The S.T.A.R.S. testing team will send out overall results after this year's combines have concluded so we can see how we stack up across the country. I'll be sharing my results with my coach so she can see the areas that I need to improve upon and how that affects my skating.

For more information on the S.T.A.R.S. program, you can visit the USFSA website.


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