By: Candice Heiden
What words come to mind when
we think of the best competitive skaters we know? Dedication,
commitment, talent, artistry, strength might describe some of
the sport’s greatest athletes.
What do you look at when evaluating a competitive skater’s overall relevancy?
For me a skater should not have a major strength and
multiple weaknesses. I appreciate the skaters who have eliminated the weak areas of their
skating by working harder to improve them. As a skater and coach myself, I know it can be
easy to want to perform the areas or items that we know we do well, and avoid those that give
us trouble, but it’s a truly good skater who commits themselves to constant improvement. I
have felt at times hindered having only focused on freestyle and pairs in my early skating
career, and as a result I begin my skaters in all three disciplines because I know now the
importance of a well rounded foundation; without one a skater is not achieving at their full
Inspirational Skater: World Champion April Dayney excelled in
multiple disciplines as a child and adult and earned herself
passage onto the world team in many events where she earned 9 medals!
I’m sure we all know someone who doesn’t practice that hard but somehow they manage to excel.
Does that make them a great skater? In my opinion, no. A great skater dedicates themselves
to the sport and to constant improvement. It might take someone years of hard work and
practice to accomplish a goal, but you will see it in their skating, in their appreciation for
the sport, the hard work follows you not just to the goal but it follows a skater through
life. A great skater is dedicated to every aspect of their skating and makes the necessary
sacrifices that many only consider.
Inspirational Skater: Ashley Clifford,13 has already claimed 12 National titles and is an up and comer to watch. Her dedication is apparent through her constant improvements year by year and her pursuit of perfection.
This is a big one for me because I’ve always admired the beauty of the sport, it’s not called
Artistic for nothing! There should be in a great skater, a sense of performance and artistic
training. If this is a weakness see Well Rounded above, and work on it. A skater with
technical skills is just a skater to me, they are not utilizing the one detail that separates
the sport from our hockey, speed and derby siblings. Artistry does not only refer to
freestyle or dance but there is a certain degree of art that should be apparent even in
figures. Artistic expression of the skater and coach/choreographer is a huge factor in
Inspirational Skater: Josh Rhoads former World team member, has been invited several times to participate in show competitions at the international level. He is an artistic icon in the sport and such an inspirational choreographer.
Practice makes perfect, right? Or is it perfect practice makes perfect? Sounds pretty hard
to do, if taken literally, but what a great skater does is practice until it is perfect and
then continues to practice it more. This is what builds a skater’s consistency. The whole
objective in our competitive sport is to compete your best and a great skater relies less on
luck, because they have performed their best hundreds of times at practice before they even
get to competition. Notice I didn’t say they try their best, they DO their best over and over
again in preparation for competition. There is nothing that can make a skater feel more
secure about a nerve-wracking situation (competitions) than knowing that they can complete
their task to their standards, more times than not. A great skater uses dedication and
Inspirational Skater: Kyle Turley has found his way onto the World team every year since 2000 and has earned 20 World medals! I don’t know anyone who can compete with this guy’s consistency level, he seems to always deliver. When asked to describe himself in one word, Kyle responded “dedicated”. Guess that’s his secret to success.
Does the best skater always win? Definitely not, the best skate wins or should at least. Its
devastating to watch the best skater in an event not even approach their potential because
they were eaten up by their nerves. Not enough skaters and coaches prepare for this sometimes
career-ending issue. Performing your skills in front of judges, competitors, coaches and
spectators is a stressful situation, and I encourage skaters to embrace those feelings of
anxiousness, nervousness, sometimes nausea, but I do not encourage them to dwell on it and
allow it to consume their thoughts and jeopardize their performance. Getting nervous is
normal, but a great skater has learned to push those feelings aside and keep their task at the
forefront of their concentration, and heck why not think about having some fun out there too!
Inspirational Skater: Nicole Leonard, 4 time World Champion, has a way of pushing aside her nerves, even nausea at times, and doing what she does best, PERFORMING! Did you know in 2008 Nikki even skated her National winning performance just minutes after a fall in warm up that knocked out her front tooth! Now that is mental power right there.
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