Last weekend, I skated in my final competition of the season (the adult skating season usually concludes in mid-April after Adult Nationals). Since I was the only competitor in my event, I did not receive a placement or a medal. Instead, I was offered something even more valuable - a judges' critique.
I had no idea what that meant since I never had a critique before. It's uncommon to receive critiques in my neck of the woods so I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I didn't know if I would go talk to the judges right after my performance or how that worked.
I asked the registration desk about the process, and they explained to me that I'd skate my program as if it were a competition, and then an hour afterwards, I'd head to the judges' room and would talk to the judges one-on-one. Once I told my coach about this opportunity, she decided to come to the competition with me so she could hear the judges' comments too.
When the time came, Coach and I went into the judges' room. We sat at a small table with 2 (of my 5) judges. They introduced themselves, and one of them explained her notes to me. She broke it up into two sections: things that were good, and things that could use improvement.
Things that were good:
- Timing and exiting of spins: This judge noted that my spin exits were right on cue with the music.
- Projection: I made lots of eye contact with the judges, smiled, and really seemed to enjoy myself.
- Interpretation: The judge said that it was very obvious that I knew my music and interpreted the musical story very well.
- Arm movements: The biggest surprise of the day was that the judge noted that she liked my arm movements and said they went really well to the music. I know that I have a flappy arm problem, so I was dumbfounded for sure. Progress!
- Scratchiness of skating: The judge said that I got scratchy at times, and particularly when the music got quiet. I need to skate on clean edges and stay off the toe pick.
- Timing: This particular judge noted that while my spins were exactly on time, a lot of the choreography was not. I appeared to be ahead or behind in the music and needed to work on my timing.
- Speed and flow: I need to skate faster and with more power. The judge recommended "training to the point of exhaustion" and even suggested a few exercises. One was "suicide drills" where I would have to skate back and forth at top speed until I was ready to keel over. Another was skating (fast) laps around the rink while carrying full buckets of water. Sounds torturous but might be worth a try?
- Jump GOEs (grades of execution): The judge said that if I wanted to receive positive GOEs, then I'd need to give her a reason to reward me. Some examples were difficult entries and exits, or adding deliberate body movements going into or during the jump.
Although my overall IJS score decreased from Sectionals, I am not discouraged. I was the first IJS event of the afternoon and I knew that some judges would use my skate as a 'baseline' score for the rest of the skaters following me. My PCS scores were artificially low; had I been the 10th skater of the afternoon, my scores would have been higher (at least this is what my coach told me).
I'm proud of closing out my Kung Fu Hustle program with a decent performance. I received one very high performance mark that I am quite proud of (a 3.75 for interpretation, which is on par with the ladies that qualify for Championship Gold). This means that I am slowly improving, and that makes me very happy.
Time to get working on a new freestyle program.