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  1. #1
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    How common or rare are "late bloomers" in figure skating?

    I can never decide when I need to be the realistic parent, and when I need to be the one saying, "don't give up hope."

    How good a Juvenile level skater do you have to be - generally - to follow through with national ambitions at higher levels?

    I know there are a lot of variables - age included - but assuming you're going to maintain a strong work ethic and continue a relationship with good coaches, is there *any* good bet way to tell "has a shot, keep going" versus "skating is nice, smaller competitions will be fun, have you thought about volleyball?"

    Being funny, but still...I'm trying to be a realistic parent while not being the wet rag, you know?

    Are there "late bloomers" in skating?

    There's such pressure to have certain elements by a certain age, and now a certain score as a Juvenile skater. Is Juvie success a good indicator of success later on (as a qualifying competitive skater?)

    Also, does anyone have a crystal ball? :-)

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    No crystal ball.

    If a skater has national ambitions, they should probably keep them tentative until they get a solid double axel (and/or at least one solid triple). By "solid" I mean fully rotated, and landed more often than not. That might not happen until after juvenile age if the skater started late.

    There are plenty of talented skaters who do well at juvenile and intermediate level with only double jumps and have potential to be just as good skaters as the ones who go on to get triples. But if they can't get triple jumps, they're not going to get to Nationals in singles (and only by default at senior level in pairs, assuming they have the other characteristics needed to get to that level in pairs).

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jozet View Post
    Are there "late bloomers" in skating?
    Yes. One example: http://www.unseenskaters.com/article...stephanie.html (Note: Her best Nationals finish happened one year after this interview when she finished 8th in Senior at 2006 U.S. Nationals and wowed the audience in both her short and long.)

    There's such pressure to have certain elements by a certain age, and now a certain score as a Juvenile skater. Is Juvie success a good indicator of success later on (as a qualifying competitive skater?)
    Not at all, as gkelly posted above.

    IMHO, a young skater's desire, determination, tenacity, and work ethic can be as important as "natural ability," but they have to enjoy the PROCESS of training, to keep improving different aspects of their skating, and NOT be fixated on results/scores (their own or other skaters'). Skater and parents both have to trust that their coach(es) are right for them and that there is open and honest communication about realistic short-term and long-term goals for the skater.
    Last edited by Sylvia; 09-08-2011 at 07:28 PM.

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    In addition to what everyone else has said - it can depend on if the skater is male or female, what other sports they've done, and what type of skating they would like to go into. For example, one elite level ice dancer I know didn't start ice skating until age 11, but he'd done another flexibility and balance related sport at a high level. In his favor were the fact that he's male, he'd done that other sport, and he focused on ice dance, where his skills were best served.

    Even for a girl - a girl can reach quite a high level in synchro, go to nationals and worlds, when that same girl might not reach as high a level in singles. The different disciplines do require different skills.

    So one suggestion is to look at other things within skating that your skater could do, should they find that they will never reach a certain level in the field they're in now. You could start exposing her to those other types of skating now, let her have some fun with them, and see where it all goes.

    But I think that a long, honest conversation with her coach would be in order. The coach will likely have the best ability to judge if her goals are realistic or not.
    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.

  5. #5
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    I am not sure what age group Juveniles fall into in the US, but what I have seen is that there seems to be a lot of "churn" in placements as kids get older, their bodies change, they get more interested in other things outside skating, their relationship with their coach changes, etc. So someone with consistently high placements as a pre-teen can drop off quite dramatically as they progress, and the people they consistently beat can start beating them.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is that if someone is not placing "well" (by whatever standard you define that) in a certain category, that doesn't automatically mean that they are doomed to get poor placements forever. As Sylvia pointed out, this is why it's really important to focus on enjoying the process of skating and one's own personal development, regardless of how that measures up against how others are doing

    I think it was Woody Allen who said something like "90% of success is just showing up", and that is so true for skating. Sometimes the kids who are persistent and work hard and just enjoy being in the sport end up doing way better than the kids who are labeled as young superstars....and end up having a better experience from the sport because they're in it for the right reasons.
    Who wants to watch rich people eat pizza? They must have loved that in Bangladesh. - Randy Newman on the 2014 Oscars broadcast

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    Thanks all. Everything you say makes sense.

    I'm just an exhausted parent most of all, I think. :-)

    Coach and skater are both gung-ho with singles skating at a competitive level, and I trust coach implicitly. I don't know why I anticipated my daughter might have a bit more in the way of jumps right now for Juvie level (shaky 2 lutz, just getting double-doubles) but coach is not concerned. I think actually seeing the competition and my making comparisons over the past 6 months is daunting; it's just hard to know how much stock to put into what's going on right now at this level.

    I'm having one of those "is it all worth it" moments - I mean, as far as the pace we're keeping to try to stay competitive at singles level.

    And yes, thank you...it's good to remember that singles skating isn't the be all and end all. :-)

    ETA: Re-reading this all, I realize this is mostly my issue more than my daughters. (Ah, public therapy!) In theory, I agree with thoughts that this is a good experience no matter what and that process is important. Again, I think it's been the long competitive season that's making me think nutty.
    Last edited by Jozet; 09-08-2011 at 09:28 PM. Reason: addition

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    As long as she is enjoying the sport and getting what she personally wants to out of it, that is what matters.
    When you are up to your arse in alligators it is difficult to remember you were only meant to be draining the swamp.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aussie Willy View Post
    As long as she is enjoying the sport and getting what she personally wants to out of it, that is what matters.
    Thank you!

    It's amazing that no matter how often I tell myself I won't become one of "those" kind of skating parents, I still find myself going off the deep end now and again. Reality check in place.

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    Late bloomers aren't common in ladies' singles skating, but they aren't unheard of, either. Joelle Forte's first trip to Nationals was in Novice in 2000, where she placed 9th. 9 years later, at age 22, she won Eastern Sectionals at Senior level and went on to Nationals. She is now 24 and has a college degree. . . and a Grand Prix assignment. Not too shabby! Oh, and Silivia Fontana told me she didn't land her first triple until she was 19.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jozet View Post
    Is Juvie success a good indicator of success later on (as a qualifying competitive skater?)
    Short answer? No. There are some now-elite skaters who made a splash at the Juvenile/Intermediate level, and many who did nothing notable at all until Novice, Junior or even Senior ranks. So many incredibly diverse factors go into success - and that includes how you define success. For some skaters, medaling at Regionals is the pinnacle of their career. For others, it's their Senior tests. And for a highly select few, national and international competition are a real possibility.

    Equal parts talent, determination and resources are necessary to make a serious go at the elite world. You can be abundant in one or two of those things, but without all three, it won't happen. Resources are your responsibility, determination is your daughter's and talent is up to the gods.

  11. #11
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    Well, Johnny Weir started to skate at 11 or 12, and was Junior World champion at 17.

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by vesperholly View Post
    Equal parts talent, determination and resources are necessary to make a serious go at the elite world. You can be abundant in one or two of those things, but without all three, it won't happen.
    And luck.

    E.g., I remember one junior lady a number of years back who was winning lots of summer competitions in the region, landing lots of triples. That could have been her breakthrough year. Then she got mono (so I heard) in September and when regionals came around she had just enough energy to get most of her jumps done but not to present the program, so she came in 5th(?) and didn't make it to sectionals after all.

    There are more talented, committed girls out there than there are spots at Nationals or even at sectionals. Not everyone who deserves to advance will get the opportunity, given that the opportunity only comes once a year.

    On the other hand, most skaters who do well in juvenile with double jumps will never land any clean triples, so by novice-junior-senior level they'll know going in that even a trip to sectionals is a longshot.

    So for those skaters who never make it or who might make it once, they'd better enjoy the process, the club competitions and the challenge at regionals as the climax of the season. If they need the reward of moving on for it all to be worth it, it's not worth it.

    In other disciplines, if the skater is in at least the top half of the field at the middle levels, if they can stick with it to the higher levels and be lucky in the way their bodies mature as well as keeping partners, staying healthy, continuing to have enough resources, etc., then Nationals is more likely, just because the numbers are smaller.

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aussie Willy View Post
    As long as she is enjoying the sport and getting what she personally wants to out of it, that is what matters.
    Correct. I didn't start skating until I was 12, but with A LOT of determination and hard work, 4 years later I had all my doubles and one dodgy triple. In terms of skating success, there was very little, but I loved skating/training etc, and the life lessons I learnt were priceless. Not everything is about being world champion.

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    Continued thanks. I'm reading all these replies with great interest and appreciation!

    Without asking my daughter right now, I'd guess that she'd say she'd love to say that she skated at Nationals once in her life. Chances are slim that she'll make it this year at Juvenile level, although she could stick through Juvenile for another year or move up to Intermediate. I know Junior Nationals are done after this year and Juv/Int will need to go on to Sectionals.

    That said, I do agree that success can have other and many measures equally worthwhile and valid. I'm hoping she continues to find joy in just being on the ice.

    (After a flood-ridden week in Central PA and loss of practice ice, she had a good showing at Challenge Cup this morning, coming in 6th in a field of 14 with a new personal best. She was thrilled!)

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    with a new personal best. She was thrilled!)
    And there it is - the reason to do it in the first place - to understand all that goes into achieving a personal best in anything. From that, she will learn everything there is to learn from skating and take it with her into her adult life. I'd say you both are doing a great job!!

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    Tatianna Malinina was a nobody with shoddy jumps when suddenly, in 1998, someone overhauled her technique and for two seasons she had some of the best jumps to ever grace the sport. Then she returned to mediocrity. Strangest development ever IMO.

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    Quote Originally Posted by poths View Post
    Tatianna Malinina was a nobody with shoddy jumps when suddenly, in 1998, someone overhauled her technique and for two seasons she had some of the best jumps to ever grace the sport. Then she returned to mediocrity. Strangest development ever IMO.
    DRUGS!

    Oh wrong sport...
    To think that fun is simple fun, while earnest things are earnest, proves all too plain that neither one thou truthfully discernest.

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  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by poths View Post
    Tatianna Malinina was a nobody with shoddy jumps when suddenly, in 1998, someone overhauled her technique and for two seasons she had some of the best jumps to ever grace the sport. Then she returned to mediocrity. Strangest development ever IMO.
    Malina was used back in about 2001 or 2002 on one of the ISU training videos for her technique. She really had great technique on all the jumps.

    The main thing about her I remember was she had incredibly musclely legs.

    As for potential, I have respect for skaters whose ambitions are not world and olympic medals (because for the majority that is not realistic). Still some dream of skating in ice shows and get great satisfaction when they achieve that ambition. And others just appreciate being told how much someone likes their skating.

    I think as an adult skater one of my most satisfying performances was placing higher than another particular adult skater. Not because I didn't like this person but rather I thought I must have done something right with my performance because I considered her very good.
    Last edited by Aussie Willy; 09-12-2011 at 03:20 AM.
    When you are up to your arse in alligators it is difficult to remember you were only meant to be draining the swamp.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Willowway View Post
    And there it is - the reason to do it in the first place - to understand all that goes into achieving a personal best in anything. From that, she will learn everything there is to learn from skating and take it with her into her adult life. I'd say you both are doing a great job!!
    Exactly.

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