On to Day 2!
After my dramatic program on Friday, I stuck around to watch the other events for most of the mid-morning (bronze and silver dramatic programs), then headed home and crashed super-early that evening. I was wiped out from the sheer effort of getting up so early, plus the nerves of competing, and then the aftermath of the adrenaline crash. On the upside, it helped me get a decent night of sleep, which I hadn’t gotten the night before.
I was grateful not to have to wake up as early on Saturday, so I had a bit more time to get ready, then headed to a rink nearby the competition for a freestyle session. That rink was an utter zoo, with the regulars out in full force and the many Sectionals adult skaters on top of that. It was the kind of freestyle where it takes a lot of circling and waiting to find an opening to jump, where you’re constantly thinking someone might run into you, and where you feel like trying too hard will get you injured. So I just stayed long enough to get warmed up and feel the ice, then cut things short.
I got to the Sectionals rink with plenty of time to change into my dress and stretch, jog around, and visualize my program. To be honest I was dreading my free skate a little, because there were multiple elements giving me trouble (my flip combo, my lutz, my camel spin) and more opportunities to mess up. Plus, I had already seen from the day before that the bronze level ladies were very good skaters, some quite a bit better than me. I wasn’t putting pressure on myself to win, and I think most adults will agree that it’s more about doing the best you can do, but even so, it’ll never NOT feel intimidating to know you’re competing with really good skaters. Seeing the field keeps things in perspective, both for better and for worse.
This time, I was set to skate later in my group so my coach had me waiting in the locker room, and I missed seeing a lot of the programs. That was disappointing since I like to watch events, but while I didn’t actually feel like it psyched me out to watch the others, maybe there’s an unconscious effect and it’s better to stay in your own bubble? Who knows.
My warm-up went pretty well. There was a rough patch when I wasn’t getting my flip combo despite repeat attempts and it was starting to get to that place where you just dig yourself in deeper into a hole by trying too hard and missing it even more. My coach saw I was overdoing it and called me over to ease off, and also said I was rushing. She reminded me to take my time and wait longer between the jumps, and that turned out to be really important advice, because I think it saved me during the actual program when I went into the flip-loop-toe loop. This combo been my big bugaboo in recent days, and the element I was most worried about, but this time I managed to pull it off and went directly into my sit spin, which is when I recall thinking, “This is going well.” I did mess up my lutz (didn’t get all the way around and two-footed the landing) but I stayed in control through my footwork sequence and pulled off a decent flip. Last was the camel-sit-backspin, and although I had to fight to keep the sit spin going, I held on and had a nice ending.
There were definite bobbles and small mistakes, but even with the lutz error, I skated off feeling really great about the performance, and my coach was super happy with it too. I had no idea where I would place and I wasn’t really concerned with the scores… but when I saw the sheet I literally blurted “Oh my god” in shock to find myself in 2nd out of 7. The first place skater had unanimous 1’s all across so she was clearly better than the rest, but I had received almost unanimous scores with 2, 3, 2, 2, and 2.
Because I missed most of my group I couldn’t tell how well everyone else skated, but I’d seen half of them skate the day before and hadn’t expected to place well. So I was happy to get my medal — although really, the most exhilarating thing was to do my program well and be satisfied with my performance!
Okay, the medal’s not bad either.