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  1. #1

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    Growth Spurts and Gender

    Whenever we talk about talented junior ladies, we always talk about growth spurts and whether or not their skating will be adversely affected. Of course, this talk is spurred by past talented junior ladies skaters who grew and had difficulties with their jumps.

    However, growth spurts never seem to be an issue with junior men.

    So my question is why are growth spurts potentially more dangerous for ladies skaters as opposed to men skaters? Why do so many ladies have issues with their jumps once they reach puberty while men seem to have little or no issues with their jumps when they reach puberty?
    "If people are looking for guarantees, they should buy appliances at Sears and stay away from human relationships."~Prancer

  2. #2
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    I think taller men tend to have more problems with their jumps when they go through puberty mostly because they grow more. Perhaps women have more of a problem with it because they grow when they are first starting to get their jumps (they go through puberty younger) where as boys have already started to figure things out by the time they start growing.

    Think of it as the girls just started to walk and then you throw them on a skateboard right away, they'll fall right down. But the boys get to walk for much longer before they have to go on the skateboard, so they have a better shot of staying upright.

  3. #3

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    I think the growth spurt issue is bigger for ladies, because of HOW they "spurt". Those little bean poles get hips and boobs, and length, and thighs.....they become womanly....which is not great for jumping and spinning.

    Men get taller and remain stick thin, pretty much until they kinda get into manhood.

    The other thing that is not good is that just the taller you are, the more difficult it is to throw yourself into the air and spin. It is further form your head to your toe, so just physiologically it takes longer the pull everything in, because they are further out.

    If your arm span is 5'9", for example, the distance from fingertip to fingertip is.....well 5'9" , and that is further than 5'1''. And when micro seconds make a difference.......then distance counts.
    DH - and that's just my opinion

  4. #4

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    Girls get hips and boobs so their body proportions change. However boys do tend to go through this gangly stage where nothing looks really attractive. They can have their fair share of problems with growth. However it doesn't seem to affect them as much the girls.

    I remember reading about Laurent Tobel (I think it was in one of Toller Cranston's books) who had a massive growth spurt and it really did affect his jumps. Because he was so tall he always seemed to have a really strange jump technique.
    When you are up to your arse in alligators it is difficult to remember you were only meant to be draining the swamp.

  5. #5

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    I think with boys the centre of gravity remains more or less in the same place, and the muscle doesn't always pack on at the same time as the height. Whereas for girls the centre of gravity does change, and suddenly she's got hips, boobs and a butt, as well as getting taller.

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    One skater I know has told me that some boys have problems if they get a sudden, significant growth spurt, as he did. He said it took him a couple of years to really figure out how to use his body on the ice again. But most boys don't grow as much or as suddenly as he did. For girls, it's harder, because not only are they growing up, they're growing out, changing their center of gravity, higher body fat percentage, etc. That messes them up more than tallness alone does to boys, and it messes up more of them (most male figure skaters are no where near as tall as my coach is, but nearly all girls have major body changes during puberty.)

    I also think part of it may be that many girls have less time to get over what puberty does to their body. In general, in singles, girls reach "elite" at around age 13-16, and may be out of the sport by their late teens/early 20's. Men often have more time post-puberty - they often reach elite seniors older, and are in the sport later.
    Use Yah Blinkah!

  7. #7
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    I also think maintaining a low weight is more important for girls compared to guys. I feel like there are more "normal sized" guys in figure skating, whereas for the females, they are pretty much all very thin/lean/wiry (compared to regular people, that is). Female figure skaters also seem to be getting taller on average these days while the majority of guys seem to be on the shorter side still. It seems like the average height for a female figure skater these days is 5'4" or 5'5" and for guys about 5'7" or 5'8", so the females are pretty much average height while the men are still mostly below average. I think it's also harder for girls to control their weight, as women, the body wants to store fat, and it's really not uncommon that girls that were very short and stick thin become tall-ish and curvy. People blame junk food and not following correct diets but honestly, if they weren't eating properly and training hard, they wouldn't be competing at this level and be able to perform so well, so I really think it's mostly just genetics and puberty. For guys, not only are there more acceptable body types one can have and be a good skater, but they probably don't have to be as careful about what and how much they are eating because their bodies don't store fat the same way and guys have to eat more anyways.

  8. #8

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    One thing I noticed about all of the female athletes in the Summer Olympics was that none of them had any boobs. Not even Misty May and Kerri, two matrons in itsy bitsy bikinis. I guess that says something about their muscle to fat ratio.

  9. #9

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    I agree with several of you that issues are different for growth in men and women. As the parent of a very tall skater, I can tell you that boys are definitely affected by growth. When my kid had 4 inch growth spurts, several difficulties arose:

    1) Joint issues - everything from Osgood-Schlotter's syndrome with the knees, to stress issues in the hip growth plates. In order to stay healthy, many breaks had to be taken from certain higher level jumps, and some positions such as the sit spin were sometimes impossible to train. I can't emphasize enough that your future health is more important than being competitive all the time.......doctors will tell you not to mess with wide open growth plates.

    2) Center of gravity - when the guys get tall, they have to relearn jumps many times. The taller they are, the more precise the jump has to be executed to be able to save the landing - the physics of being tall are just not as forgiving.

    3) Proportion issues - Boys tend to shoot up before they have the necessary muscle growth to support their now larger frame. Many boys who are taller don't fill out until their early 20's. Mine switched from singles to ice dance between 16-17 to be healthier with his joints, but even so has taken a couple years to get enough upper body strength to be an effective lifter. He has to eat an inordinate amount of food to put on any weight. (I know the girls would love to have this problem!)

  10. #10

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    A male ice dance coach I knows encourages only a minimal amount of lifting with his teenage boy students, just because he is concerned about the impact of heavy lifting on their bodies.
    When you are up to your arse in alligators it is difficult to remember you were only meant to be draining the swamp.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by MacombSk8rMom View Post
    ... As the parent of a very tall skater, I can tell you that boys are definitely affected by growth. ...

    1) Joint issues - everything from Osgood-Schlotter's syndrome with the knees, to stress issues in the hip growth plates. In order to stay healthy, many breaks had to be taken from certain higher level jumps, and some positions such as the sit spin were sometimes impossible to train. ...

    2) Center of gravity - when the guys get tall, they have to relearn jumps many times. The taller they are, the more precise the jump has to be executed to be able to save the landing - the physics of being tall are just not as forgiving.

    3) Proportion issues - Boys tend to shoot up before they have the necessary muscle growth to support their now larger frame. Many boys who are taller don't fill out until their early 20's. ...
    This is SO true - so much so that I am often baffled by the idea that girls are more impacted by these growth spurts than boys. I think it's just that it is talked about more because most boys that stay in figure skating tend to be shorter. Why might that be? - see your point number 2!

    There is just so little room for error when a 6' guy does triple jumps - the physics of being tall are not forgiving at all!

    I can also echo the comments about joint issues - I know many boy skaters who had these issues accompanying major growth spurts.

    I'd say both genders have significant but different issues.

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aussie Willy View Post
    A male ice dance coach I knows encourages only a minimal amount of lifting with his teenage boy students, just because he is concerned about the impact of heavy lifting on their bodies.
    Our coaches believe the same. When I meant lifting I meant lifting the girl in more challenging positions that require strength! Sorry I didn't clarify.

    In addition to taller guys having to work harder at jumps, they also tend to get recruited more to other sports that get more public approval. Watching the olympics I was noticing tall guys dominate many of the sports - especially the swimming, volleyball, and basketball. Mine was constantly getting recruited for basketball. Heck, my boy probably could have gotten a college scholarship. Instead, we went to our first nationals this year where many of the skaters there looked at my kid like he was a freak of nature being tall!

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