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Some additional thoughts post-Sectionals regarding my performances, competing in general, and whatever else (plus video):

Before taking the ice, when dealing with nerves it has never helped me to remember “Bend your knees” (even though it should — I just always forget it promptly) but it did help tremendously to remind myself at every step, “Take your time. Slow down. Don’t rush.”

Sadly, you can never practice for the nerves. Amazing how once second you can be fine, and the next second the nerves can hit and render you almost immobile.

On the upside, competing does get better the more I do it. Each time I’ve stepped onto the ice, I feel a little less sick to my stomach and terrified, which is promising. Not that I’ll ever NOT feel nerves, but it’s comforting to know it gets better.

Also, competing is so much more about dealing with when things don’t go according to plan than it is about doing things perfectly as planned. In practices, I’m focused on doing things exactly as they were meant to be done, but once you’re on the ice the smallest detail can throw you! In my warm-up for the dramatic program I was marking through all the elements and their placements, and I totally mixed up the ends of the rink and got confused, which I never do. I make it a point to do my programs in both directions at my home rink so that it doesn’t throw me off when I’m elsewhere, but all it takes is a split-second and you’re lost. Quick recovery is the name of the game.

I’ve heard a lot about how athletes want to trust in the body’s muscle memory to take over for the big events — to not overthink the technical and let yourself go in the moment. However… I don’t think this applies to me yet. I’m so new to competing and my skills are still so low-level that I do have to focus on the element at hand. Before my free skate, my coach told me to think about a key point for each element, like remembering to check before my flip or holding the knee bend into the camel spin entry. I do think it helped.

I always thought you wanted to be as musical as possible, but I realize it sometimes gets in the way of performing well. For example, there are key points in the music that I always try to hit to keep me on pace (say, getting the sit spin at the crescendo). But when I would fall behind, I found myself rushing to catch up or cutting out a step or two in the step sequence, and those “fixes” could sometimes be worse than simply being behind the music. When I rushed the steps, for instance, all the steps would get jerky and ragged, and possibly trip me up. So my coach told me not to worry if I got behind and to take my time because I had room at the end, and that was helpful because in my free skate, I was tempted to truncate my step sequence but forced myself to do it fully as practiced, and I was able to end on time anyway.

When watching other people skate, it’s really obvious when someone fights through a program that’s not going well and when someone gives up. You can miss every single element in a program but if you’re fighting through it, it still looks really great and people are rooting for you. If you give up, it’s saddening.

It’s also really obvious when someone’s feeling great and someone’s upset or very serious about their program. It’s always more pleasant watching somebody who’s smiling and looks happy to be there.

It can feel like I’m being very dramatic with gestures and choreography, but man, you really have to exaggerate and go full-out in order to come across on the ice. One of my big goals after watching my videos is to work on the floppy arms and put some energy into the movements (which I swear felt plenty energetic when I was doing them).

Adult skaters are really supportive! I knew this already from the regulars at my rink, but the atmosphere at adult events is extra encouraging and warm, and I found myself striking up conversations with strangers. And it’s fun to watch skaters with other skaters, because you’ll appreciate the little things that friends/family might not catch — like knowing exactly how hard that one turn was, or gasping collectively in admiration when a silver skater did a camel spin in both directions.

And here are the videos! I have to admit that I have to watch them sort of with one eye closed, because there’s always a cringey element to watching yourself skate, isn’t there? But you know, skating has taught me that you have to put it all out there and just do what you can do, and own everything proudly without embarrassment. That’s not easy for me to do and the embarrassment/awkwardness/doubt is always at war with myself, I’m working on it. It’s a process!

First, the dramatic — I’m proud to have done it, but a little disappointed with the errors and knowing I can do it better.

And the free skate, which I feel much more happy about: