I competed at Adult Sectionals over the weekend and ended up really enjoying it, despite the nerves and the inevitable “Why am I doing this again?!” panicky feelings that swept through at the last minute. This was my first time at Sectionals and I wasn’t sure what to expect, but things turned out to be less stressful than I worried they might be, and more laid-back. (It helped that it was a semi-local event, because adding out-of-state travel to the proceedings would have contributed a whole other layer of stress on top of everything.)
My Bronze Dramatic program was scheduled on Day 1 of the competition (Friday) in the mid-morning, which would have been great except that I was assigned to a 6:30am official practice. I know a lot of adults have to skate regularly at 6am freestyles (and my hat’s off to them), but I have a flipped work schedule where I work late afternoons through the night, and usually go to bed around 2-3am.
So getting up at 4:30 was rough, especially since pre-competition adrenaline kept me up the night before. The rink was over an hour’s drive away so I had to leave early, though when I got there I was one of the only skaters who made it to my session (I think there were close to 15 or 20 scheduled, and 3 made it). The 7am practice only had 4 skaters, so I think most people decided to forgo their sessions in favor of sleep. I’d been tempted to do that too, but I was glad I took the time because the ice at the rink was pretty different from the ice surfaces I’ve skated on before, and it was definitely worthwhile to have the time to get used to it.
Practice went pretty well: I warmed up all my elements for both my programs, then did run-throughs without music. My event wasn’t for 3 more hours, so my coach and I took a coffee break at Starbucks, chatted, then got back to the rink with over an hour to spare. I got dressed and did some warm-up exercises, stretched, and watched bits of the early events until 10-15 minutes before my warm-up was called, at which point I put on my skates and waited rinkside.
I was initially slated to skate first after the warm-up, but there was a last-minute addition/change so I ended up being second, which suited me fine. My dramatic program has two jumps and two spins so I had plenty of time to stroke around the rink, go through each element, and get through part of the footwork before time was called. The warm-up was good and my coach was encouraging, and I was glad I only had one skater to wait through before my turn.
The first skater was very, very good, and I could tell right away she would probably win, which kind of took the pressure off myself. I told myself to skate calm and smoothly (or as calmly and smoothly as I could manage, with the nerves) and headed out to do my program. My first jump (loop) was tentative, and my layback was okay-but-not-great. I should mention that my dramatic incorporates a scarf (I jump and spin with it), and at one point I missed a bit of footwork because the scarf started to slip — that was a bummer, because I had to skip one of my favorite parts in the footwork, but I didn’t want to lose the prop. The last time I skated this program I also had a freak fall on a step — one of those come-out-of-nowhere mistakes where you don’t even know what went wrong — so I was nervous when I got to that part again, but managed fine and did a pretty good salchow. Then the final element was a camel, and I knew right away I didn’t get the entry I wanted, but I held on to try to squeak in a revolution or two… and of course I fell as the spin was ending! Boooooo.
I scrambled up and thankfully had enough time to hit my ending pose. I was disappointed to fall, of course, but my coach and I had to laugh it off, since we were both nervous that I’d fall in that other spot, only to fall at the end instead. One of these days I will get this program clean!
My group was a combined I/II age group of 7 skaters, and I placed 6 out of 7, which seemed fair given how I felt I skated. Proving that I will never understand 6.0 judging, my ordinals were all over the place, including first and last places: The five judges gave me placements of 4, 6, 7, 7, and 1. My coach was encouraged that I got one 1st place ordinal (which frankly shocked me), saying that the fall knocked me down but the higher scores show that the program has good potential. I was able to watch most of the skaters in my group and could see that the level of skill was pretty strong overall. Even skating at my best, I thought maybe 4th place would be as high as I could hope, so I wasn’t upset to be 6th with mistakes.
Mostly I was relieved to have done it, and happy to have more experience under my belt. Plus, I had another event scheduled the next day, so no time to dwell on what was past.
Next up: Bronze free skate!
Eva @ Eva Bakes said:
Congrats at competing in your first sectionals, Sarah! The 6.0 system is so hard to decipher and predict, so don’t worry about it. The fact that you received a 1st place ordinal is huge, and a testament to your skating. You are a champion because you got out there and skated. It takes a lot of courage to do that, so bravo!
Aw, thanks Eva, you’re always so supportive! I do feel that competing in itself is the true goal, and in that sense the placements are less important, more like icing on the cake. Nice, but not necessary in the scheme of things.
I hope you had a good sectionals too, and can’t wait to read about it!
Thanks for sharing these exciting experiences with us. Boy, that early morning practice sounds like a killer! It sounds like it was a really valuable learning experience and you are all revved up to get that program clean. Awesome!
I don’t know how people do those early mornings regularly! But yes, it was valuable and inspiring to watch everyone out there. And it gives me goals to shoot for!
6.0 judging can be kind of crazy and that goes double for the artistic programs, I’m not sure how much energy I want to put into worrying about my placement in those programs when it can seem so random. But I do enjoy skating a dramatic program, and watching them. I’m glad Sectionals seemed “less stressful than I worried they might be, and more laid-back.” That’s a good sign, since your nerves are sure to improve even more when skate Sectionals again. Oh, and kudos for taking that 6:30 a.m. practice ice! I didn’t take my 7 a.m. even with a nearby hotel.
I agree, it’s not worth overthinking the 6.0 scores, especially when they’re so random. I was glad that the events seemed relatively low-pressure — I know we skaters tend to put a lot of pressure on ourselves to do well, but I thought it was encouraging that the culture of adult competition felt open and friendly as a whole.
I’ve just found your blog and have been reading though your journey a bit and I just wanted to let you know how inspiring it is.
I always wanted to learn figure skating when I was little, but it was never really an option for us, financially. And then I grew up and it just fell off the map, because I was too old, right?
But reading about older men and women who have taken up the sport without any real experience gives me hope and makes me really want to get out there and give it a shot.
Thank you so much for putting yourself out there for people to see!