Posts Tagged ‘new passion’

Yes, It Does Take a Village – My Figure Skating Journey, Part 2

With my coach Paula McKinley after competing in the Dogwood Open in Raleigh this past June.

With my coach Paula McKinley after competing in the Dogwood Open in Raleigh this past June.

This blog entry contains many links worth exploring as well as an announcement at the bottom about my next public skating appearance.

Like last year, once again I am going to earmark December as my month for writing a few more personal blog entries. Last December, I wrote about “Finding a New Passion at 59” about starting my journey to become a competitive adult figure skater. I do want to share some progress as well as some learning points.

Things are progressing along fine, and my goal is to qualify to skate in US Adult Nationals in April, 2017 when it is held for the first time in my home state of North Carolina. I will need to train rigorously and pass four different skating skills tests in front of a set of official US Figure Skating judges. And I owe a lot of my progress thus far to both a series of helpful individuals as well as a community of supportive people. Yes, it does often indeed take a village to accomplish a personal goal; I could not have gotten as far as I have without teaching, coaching, support and inspiration from others.

On the individual side, I need to thank my coach Paula McKinley. She has been extraordinarily patient with me starting with my first tentative steps of the slippery ice to progressing through various skill levels. She insists on proper technique from the start so I do not develop bad habits, and she employs the perfect mix of correction and praise. When I do something incorrectly, Paula does have me do it over and over again until I get it right, and will often demonstrate for me my incorrect skating in an exaggerated style, which of course horrifies me but also causes me to smile. And when I train hard between lessons and then demonstrate that I have indeed learned what she has taught, she is quick to give me praise and a hug. Finding a great coach who meshes with your own style and requirements is indeed critical.

I also appreciate the physical support and assistance from my off-ice flexibility coach Eileen Juric (who is nationally known ballet and dance instructor), my physical therapist Caitlyn Espy of the Trinity Wellness Center, and my massage therapist Dennie Michele from Massage Envy at North Hills (Raleigh.)

Again in 2015 I am inspired at the Dorothy Hamill Adult Fantasy Figure Skating Camp

Again in 2015 I am inspired at the Dorothy Hamill Adult Fantasy Figure Skating Camp

In addition to these individuals, I have been inspired by a host of encouraging groups. I am cheered on by the members of the Central Carolina Skating Club of Hillsborough, NC where I am coached and also the friends from the Skating Club of North Carolina, as well as at the Raleigh IcePlex and the Polar Ice House of Garner where I regularly practice. And for the past two years, I have attended the Dorothy Hamill Adult Fantasy Figure Skating Camp in Scottsdale, Arizona. Dorothy Hamill and her coaching team are fantastic with inspiring and teaching each camper, and we become a family encouraging and supporting each other.

In addition I appreciate local friends and family, many Facebook friends who are very supportive and the US Adult Competitive Figure Skaters Facebook group with its excellent conversations and advice.

Yes, I have learned that achieving a goal does take hard work, but is so much easier and enjoyable with individual and team support – it does indeed take a village, or should I even say an extended supportive global community!

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NOTE: My next skating exhibition will be at the Raleigh Iceplex, 2601 Raleigh Blvd in Raleigh, NC, Friday December 11 at 6:30PM. Admission is free!

Finding and Pursuing a New Passion at Age 59!

In my blog of two weeks ago about the value of outstanding coaches, I wrote that my December blogs would be a little more personal, and in writing about my figure skating coach Paula McKinley, I promised to follow up with this blog “Finding and Pursuing a New Passion.”

As I approach my 60th birthday I could not fathom that I would start something totally new. I already have plenty of hobbies and activities including my new consulting practice. But indeed I took the chance to try something new and frankly outside my comfort zone, and discovered something that is giving me unbelievable joy.

A real highlight of my skating journey has been skating with American icon Olympic Champion Dorothy Hamill at her skating camp

A real highlight of my skating journey has been skating with American icon Olympic Champion Dorothy Hamill at her skating camp

With retiring from full time work to being a part-time entrepreneur, I had the time to start attending the entire week of the US Figure Skating Nationals every year and I even traveled to Finland to watch an international competition. Earlier this year, I thought I might want to get off the couch (or out of the stands) as a spectator and try figure skating myself. I am in good health, do a lot of hiking and have a slender and somewhat flexible body conducive to skating.

In May I was fitted for custom skates and secured a private coach at the Central Carolina Skating Club in Hillsborough, NC. I also signed up for the week long Dorothy Hamill Adult Fantasy Figure Skating Camp in October, which provided me extra incentive to get serious about starting lessons so the camp experience would be more worthwhile.

The figure skating journey started in May with getting fitted for the boots.

The figure skating journey started in May with getting fitted for the boots.

From those first extremely tentative steps on the slippery ice as a beginner skater, I have made fast progress and am now very comfortable on the ice. My coach Paula McKinley taught me the correct basics and prepared me for the week long camp where we would spend five hours each day on the ice. I was a little nervous about the length of days and the advanced skills of the other skaters, but by the second day I was discovering the sheer joy of skating and after 5 hours did not want to leave the ice at the end of the day! Olympic gold medalist Dorothy Hamill and the other world-class coaches were very encouraging and told me I had a real talent for skating and was learning very quickly.

Now I am very comfortable on the ice, and hate to leave once I start!

Now I am very comfortable on the ice, and hate to leave once I start!

The week culminated in performing for the local people where the camp was held, and I discovered that skating while hamming it for an audience was great fun. I was in tears by the end of the week, realizing that 6 months short of my 60th birthday, I have found a new love, a new passion! I cannot wait to get on the ice for practice and lessons, and I look forward to jumping and spinning, and even competing in the adult ranks in the future as well as participating in more ice shows.

NOTE: This week my coach and I are skating a duet number at the Central Carolina Skating Club’s annual production of Nutcracker on Ice Dec 19 and 20th after which I will start training for my first competition in May.

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