I don’t write about skating all that much, but I’ve mentioned it occasionally. In middle school and high school I was a competitive figure skater. I was browsing some skating blogs on the internet today and came across this post about the traffic on a freestyle sessions. Reading it really brought back memories…largely of some of the most frustrating parts of the day-to-day training!
Every skater copes with traffic differently. Some barrel ahead as if wearing blinders: the hapless individuals in their paths must either move or get flattened. Some skaters can’t contain their aggravation, frequently displaying rink rage. Other skaters constantly stop for everyone else, in the process never fitting in any of their own elements and therefore accomplishing little. Others are well-meaning but clueless, seeming to lack depth perception, often misjudging how close they are to gliding directly into someone else’s camel spin. Some just haven’t yet gotten the hang of steering; they see the traffic but can’t physically maneuver around it. Still others manage to find that balance of being both productive and safe.
I fell into various of these categories at different stages in my training. Often, I was the one constantly letting others go ahead of me or in front of me, or psyching myself out so much that after circling 5 times and being cut-off or not finding an opening, I would finally get one only to “pop” or miss the jump. In later years, I got my focus more under control and learned not to be afraid of the others, but I probably also got more reckless, sometimes taking off for a jump awfully close to someone moving nearby. I remember one of the first times I took off for a double axel really close to someone and I still focused enough to land it. I was proud of my focus and my coaches were too, since I was often much more submissive in letting the other skaters get in what they wanted to do, but it’s definitely a shame that sessions had to be that crowded as I have definitely seen some close calls – or actually cases of injury.