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  1. #1
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    How do the top names train?

    Something that has always intrigued me is, the way in which skaters from around the World train.

    If you take a look at the top skater’s profiles in the world, they all seem to say they train around 20hrs per week.

    But under what conditions?

    Is this in an academy structure or is it on practise ice, or even private ice? And how many skaters are on the ice at the same time?

    Here in the UK we seem to have both scenarios.
    The majority of the training is private lesson based, on patch ice, with up to as many coaches as they can fit on with students. Lessons can then be topped up with academy sessions, where you have to be a certain standard to attend. As you get higher up you can attend Elite patch ice, normally during the day.
    It is a lot quieter and more private.

    At some rinks the training structure is reversed, the basic training is done in an academy sessions with the option to top it up with private lessons on patch ice. I believe you can have up to around 20 skaters with 4 or 5 coaches on each academy.


    How do the great names train and come up through the ranks abroad, and what does everyone think is the best method?

    I’m guessing that the likes of Lysacek or Asada wouldn’t get on a patch session with a young novice skater or am I wrong? (Have the ambulance ready)

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    I think the answer will be different for different skaters.

    Do they train at a training center or at a local rink with limited freestyle times?

    Do the advanced-level coaches at that rink teach only private lessons or do they teach in an academy format? (In the US, most use a private lesson model and skaters also practice on their own without direct supervision, although the coach may be on the ice at the same time with another student and occasionally make a comment to another student not in lesson)

    Do they go to school during the day or have other conflicting commitments, or can they train whenever they can get the best ice time?

    Do they need to allocate ice use to be economical about the fees, or can they afford to pay extra for emptier ice or better times?

    I’m guessing that the likes of Lysacek or Asada wouldn’t get on a patch session with a young novice skater or am I wrong?
    In what sense are you using the word novice?

    Novice in the skating sense is generally used to mean the competition level below junior. Internationally it's defined as an age group, in the US and Canada and perhaps elsewhere as a skill level, but in general terms it can be understood as the first level of elite competition. Novice-level skaters are not beginners -- in freestyle, for example, they're generally quite comfortable with double jumps and the better ones may be landing or at least working on some triples. If the rink has a separate training sessions (usually called freestyle in the US, patch in the UK?) for lower and higher level figure skaters, chances are a novice-level competitor would qualify for the advanced sessions, except at a large training center with many junior- and senior-level skaters.

    In general usage, the word "novice" means beginner or newcomer. Someone who is just learning how to skate at all would not be skating on a freestyle or patch session. Someone who is at the beginning levels of learning figure skating, e.g., working on single jumps and basic spins, quite likely would be.

    Some general training sessions might include skill levels ranging from still learning the mid-difficulty single jumps and sitspins all the way up to international competitor.

    I've been on a session where there were only about 5-8 skaters, including me and maybe other low-test figure skaters with single jumps, a few slightly higher skaters working on double jumps, and a soon-to-be world medalist working on triples and quads.

    I've also been on a crowded freestyle with 30 skaters on the ice from single-jump level up to international competitor. It's not really possible for the high-level skater to work on triple jumps or program runthroughs in those conditions, but it can be an opportunity for extra spin practice, for example.

    As much as possible the high-level skaters will want to spend most of their training time on sessions with fewer and preferably only higher level skaters (novice and above). But they have to work with the ice time available where they train.

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    And also keep in mind that at the elite centres, pair teams work on "pair ice", dance teams on "dance ice" etc. Pairs also do "singles" ice working on their individual skills (jumps, spins, stroking) working either with a singles coach or on their own. Some Senior/Junior competitive singles might share "pair ice" but it's difficult to work as well as always being on the look out and not get in the way!

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    Elite skaters who are part of the Russian tradition of training spend a lot of time on off-ice training - in the gym, in the ballet studio - but more than that, jumps, etc. are learned and practiced off ice to develop technique and the particular muscle groups necessary to the element. It's a key difference between U. S. and Russian training approaches.

    I didn't make this up - Ilia K. has talked about it a lot and has tried to insert off ice techniques into his workshops and classes.
    Last edited by Willowway; 08-17-2010 at 06:36 PM.

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    In the US, elite-level teachers that I know, who work in the Russian tradition, normally have several skaters on the ice at once. They'll have one skater (or team) for a private lesson, but at the same time, they are supervising the practice of their other skaters. The other elite-level skaters do not generally practice unsupervised. Again, this is speaking in general - there are always exceptions. For example, one team would sometimes grab ice in between their own coaching work, and practice without their coach there. But in general, the coaches want their students to practice with someone from their coaching staff there, so the coach can observe and correct before bad habits are formed.

    In the US, elite-level teachers in the American tradition normally work with only one skater (or team) at a time, and they do not supervise the practice of their other skaters. Skaters normally practice on their own, aside from lessons with their coaches. But again, this is talking in general, and I'm sure there are exceptions.


    Ice time in the US is normally divided up by level, and how ice time is set up varies very much by rink; but at the training centers where there are elite skaters, there are usually elite/high level only freestyle sessions. However, there are usually also open freestyle sessions, where anyone beyond the very beginner is allowed. At some rinks, elite skaters are on open freestyles. At others, they are not.

    At some of the rinks where I practice, there is elite/very high level ice, specifically for that level of skater; and there will be several skaters on the ice during that time. Less-skilled skaters are allowed on that ice, if they have a lesson with a coach; but otherwise, they can't just step on, and generally, they have to be beyond a certain level of skating.

    At another of my rinks, it's all mixed in. It's a dance session, and there can be elite level dancers practicing alongside beginners. Which tends to terrify the beginners.
    And so, dear Lord, it is with deep sadness that we turn over to you this young woman, whose dream to ride on a giant swan resulted in her death. Maybe it is your way of telling us... to buy American.

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    Here's an article on the training regimen of the Florida pairs - Denney/Barrett and Evora/Ladwig.

    http://www.heraldtribune.com/article...RTICLE/1311060


    A quote from the article:

    "During a typical day, they spend an hour in the gym, followed by 30 minutes of lifts. Then it's onto the ice for two hours of pairs practice before another 90 minutes of skating by themselves. They finish with another hour in the gym.

    And that is in addition to the jobs they have held at the Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex. Barrett and Ladwig, for example, have worked in the snack shop and driven the Zamboni, while Evora has given skating lessons in addition to attending classes at USF."

  7. #7

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    I also find the training methods in different countries very fascinating! Here are some quick facts about how it works in Finland.

    The first thing that is different e.g from the US is the relationship between coaches and clubs. I believe in the US coaches are "independent" and a skater chooses his/her coach but can still represent any club he/she wants. In Finland coaches come with clubs, so if you're thinking about a certain coach, then you need to join the club that he/she is working at. The skaters pay for the club and the club forwards that money to the coach as a salary(at least from what I know). So the link between the club and the coach plays a lot bigger role.

    Now, a club has a certain amount of singles' skaters, which are divided into groups based on their age and level. Most clubs have about 3-4 groups altogether and one group usually consists of somewhere around 10 skaters. So basically the "best" group usually consists of seniors and juniors, the second best group novices and debytants (pre-novice) and so on. As your skill level gets higher, you move on to an upper group.

    Each of these groups practice according to their own schedules and have the ice to themselves. So usually there are about 10-15 skaters who are at least somewhat close to each other in level on the ice at the same time. They all share the coach or coaches of the club (usually a club has 1-3 coaches for their singles' skaters).

    To give an example, Laura Lepistö also skates in a group of about 10 skaters and they usually have 1-2 hours on ice/a day, 6 days a week. The group has 2 coaches who gather the group together every now and then to tell them what to do next. Often the whole group is doing the same thing (jumps, spins, steps) at the same time according to their own skill, although towards the end of the lesson they may also start doing things more individually. After giving instructions, both coaches supervise the skaters and say something to whoever is doing something that needs a comment. Often these comments are very short but at times the coaches also focus on a specific skater for a slightly longer time and give them more specific instructions. And then during the season there's also often someone (one at a time) doing their program in the middle of it all. That skater has priority on the ice and the others have to watch out not to get in the way.

    So apparently it really doesn't require private lessons to be a Worlds' medallist . Not that Lepistö's never had a private lesson in her life... I'm sure she's had one every now and then, especially during summer when she goes on camps abroad since there's no ice in Finland. But most of her training is done in group lessons (although the level of other skaters in the group is of certain standards and all the skaters are also very familiar to each other since they see each other every day).
    Last edited by Hanna; 08-17-2010 at 09:41 PM.
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  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by onmebum View Post
    Something that has always intrigued me is, the way in which skaters from around the World train.

    If you take a look at the top skater’s profiles in the world, they all seem to say they train around 20hrs per week.
    20 hours a week? I think a bit more than that.

    Kim: 48 hrs a week and I am sure she is not the only one. (that's from ISU page)

    Shen/Zhao: 45/51 hrs a week

    http://www.isuresults.com/bios/isufs00007232.htm
    Last edited by hanca; 08-17-2010 at 10:11 PM.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by hanca View Post
    20 hours a week? I think a bit more than that.

    Kim: 48 hrs a week and I am sure she is not the only one. (that's from ISU page)

    Shen/Zhao: 45/51 hrs a week

    http://www.isuresults.com/bios/isufs00007232.htm
    I think some are only including ice time and not total time training like off ice practice, gym time, weight training etc. And some are including all the hours total.

    Savchenko and Szolkowy

    Practice low season: 18 h / week at Chemnitz
    Practice high season: 21 h / week at Chemnitz

    Kavaguti and Smirnov

    Practice low season: 28 h / week at St. Petersburg
    Practice high season: 21 h / week at St. Petersburg

    I remember Yuko saying between stretching, cardio, weight training and training in the ballet studio...actual ice time is around two hours per session per day.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by julieann View Post
    I think some are only including ice time and not total time training like off ice practice, gym time, weight training etc. And some are including all the hours total.

    Savchenko and Szolkowy

    Practice low season: 18 h / week at Chemnitz
    Practice high season: 21 h / week at Chemnitz

    Kavaguti and Smirnov

    Practice low season: 28 h / week at St. Petersburg
    Practice high season: 21 h / week at St. Petersburg

    I remember Yuko saying between stretching, cardio, weight training and training in the ballet studio...actual ice time is around two hours per session per day.
    ITA. In some video the commentator was talking about how Yuna skates for about 3-4 hours a day, which I think is standard for most elite skaters. So if a skater is counting on-ice time only, it should be around 20ish b/c

    3 hours/day x 6 days/week = 18 hours/week
    3 hours/day x 7 days/week = 21 hours/week
    4 hours/day x 5 days/week = 20 hours/week
    4 hours/day x 6 days/week = 24 hours/week

    I would assume most skaters follow a skating schedule similar to those listed above.

    48 hours a week is most definitely including off-ice because that would mean 8 hours a day 6 days a week. So that would mean 4-5 hours outside of skating time, which would make sense because most skaters spend 1-2 hours in the gym, 1 hour stretching or yoga/pilates, 1 hour ballet class, 1 hour conditioning.

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