I took my Gold moves test this weekend, and I was the most uncertain I’ve ever felt going into a test. A few complicators popped up at the last minute, but the main one was my fault for thinking that the test date was the last weekend of the month, and then finding out on Thursday that it was actually in three days!
Apparently the club tests on the fourth Sunday of the month, not the last Sunday; the last time I tested happened to be both the fourth and the last Sunday of the month. The club tests every month so they don’t announce the test dates in advance; they just assume you know the rules, and send out the test date schedule a few days before the day. So all this time I thought I had more time, and then suddenly test day was upon me. On top of that, I’ve been moving places so I hadn’t been skating much lately; I figured I would focus on moving homes first, and then really buckle down and practice the last week leading into the test. HA. HA. Ha… Joke’s on me!
I’ve been working on Gold moves for a while so I wasn’t completely unready. But I hadn’t yet got to that place where I could skate the test clean in one full run-through with no mistakes, even though I was capable of doing each element without mistakes. So my confidence was not there, plus I had that extra bit of panic for not having as much practice time as I thought I would. I seriously thought about scratching the test, supposing that I had about a fifty-fifty chance of passing. But then I figured, well, if I skipped the test altogether, that’s throwing away a chance to pass.
I had a couple good practices on Friday and Saturday, but on Sunday when the nerves kicked in, my pre-test practice session was a mess. I was skidding and wobbling all over the place, and messing up even the easy moves. So I didn’t feel that strong going into the actual test, although I did my best to clear my mind and only take the test one element at a time. One unexpected bit of advice came from a dad who was waiting with his teenage daughter who was testing, and he said something like, “Remember what coach says, if you don’t leave the test exhausted, you didn’t put in everything.” The teenager ignored her dad, but that gave me a nice reminder to tighten my core and dig into the ice, which I think may have saved a couple moves that otherwise might have succumbed to nerves. Nothing worse than locking up, skating lighter on top of the ice, and skidding!
First things first: I passed 2 of 3 judges, so it wasn’t a complete victory. One judge passed me at passing level, one judge gave me a few bonus points, and one judge failed me hard. (So hard that I wonder if she would have still failed me had I skated at my best.)
Passing average 3.0. Passing total 18.0.
- Forward power circles. I felt pretty good about this. I had good speed but my last few steps should have been quicker—I could feel my feet not moving as quickly as the beat in my head. But I had no toe scraping and my pushes felt good.
Judge 1: 3.0. Counter & clockwise: Good. Good flow.
Judge 2. 3.0. CCW – A bit tentative, but good flow. CW – good flow & cadence.
Judge 3. 3.1. OK flow, increase “quickness”
- Backward power circles. Felt good about this too. I had good speed going out of the move, and held the exit edge for a long glide. Didn’t toe scrape.
Judge 1: 3.1. Very nice. Good flow & speed.
Judge 2. 3.1. CCW – good flow. CW – somewhat tentative, but flow OK.
Judge 3. 3.1. OK flow & strength
- Forward double three-turns. When I get nervous, my turns on my left foot sometimes skid or hop. My FO-BI turns usually are fine, but the FI-BO are weaker. I can’t remember exactly what happened with these, but I think I had trouble making it back to the axis squarely; I felt overrotated on the second turn. I did make it back to the axis, but from my posture I’m sure you could tell I was fighting the overrotation. They asked for a reskate on the FI side, and it was not a great reskate (I didn’t make outright errors, but I still struggled with the rotation). As soon as I stepped off the ice, I remembered, “D’oh, the knees! I should have bent my knees on the exit edge!”
Judge 1: 3.0. Outside – Good, edges ok. Inside – Better on reskate.
Judge 2: 3.0. FO – Some scratchiness & loss of flow. FI – good reskate, a bit wobbly
Judge 3. 2.7. B3s lack flow & edge quality. F3I weak.
- Backward double three-turns. I felt okay about these. The first set (outside to inside) tends to be faster but less controlled than the second set (inside to outside), which have better extension on the exit. From what I recall, that’s pretty much how I tested these.
Judge 1. 3.1. Very nice good edges & extension.
Judge 2. 3.0. BO – edges ok. BI – good extension & edges
Judge 3. 2.8. Edge quality, some lack of control
- Backward circle 8. This was the move I was most worried about, but it ended up being one of the better ones on the test! I remember this being the case with the forward circle 8 on Bronze, and the waltz 8 on Pre-bronze. I’ve had a devil of a time returning to center on practice sessions, but also summer is a terrible time to get clean ice! When I get freshly zammed ice this move is fine, but when it’s not (which has been almost always), I struggle, so I felt very iffy about this. But of course, test ice is fresh, and I felt fine.
Judge 1. 3.0. Good – good flow.
Judge 2. 3.1. Good flow & control, esp. on BI circles
Judge 3. 3.0. Insides – hold it to center
- Brackets in the field. Now this is where nerves killed me. I usually have no trouble with 3 of the sides, and my biggest concern was that I’d mess up on the LFO bracket, which is my hardest. But of course my knees were stiff and my movements jerky, and I skidded a little (urg) and hopped a turn (double urg!). I also put my foot down on the last bracket on the first side, the LBI. Since this was the last move and I made unexpected mistakes, I left the test thinking I’d probably failed it. I know I could do these brackets smoother and cleaner, but for testing they needed to be at a higher standard so that even with knocky knees and stiff ankles, they’d still be strong.
Judge 1. 2.8. RO – Foot down. LO – OK. LI – OK. RI – OK.
Judge 2. 3.0. Mostly good edges, FI-BO sides better than FO-BI. Some loss of control, overall OK.
Judge 3. 2.7. Wk turning on B – edge not held – you are skating through the turn. Loss of control.
Judge 1: 18.0, Pass.
Judge 2: 18.2, Pass.
Judge 3: 17.4, Retry.
I feel a little disappointed about passing the test with such low scores on a couple moves, but the two big problem areas are repeated on the intermediate test, so I’ll have a chance to get them really strong for that one. If/when I ever test it!