Mastering New Skills

Mastering New Skills

When was the last time you did something for the first time?

As a competitive athlete, I’m always looking for ways to push myself to the limit, strengthen my strengths and make my weaknesses less noticeable. Whether it is with diet or my daily training regimen, improving myself is always my number 1 priority.

In the summer of 2014, my skating partner, Eric Radford and I decided that we wanted to learn and master a throw quad sal. In this move, we enter the throw with a Mohawk and I ride a back inside edge as Eric throws me into the air and I have to rotate 4 times and land without Eric’s assistance. We began working on it at the beginning of our summer training and I set a small goal with myself that I would land it within 6 weeks of our very first attempt. I had read a study that said it takes 8 weeks to learn a new habit, and I thought I could beat the average person and learn a new habit in only 6 weeks.

We saw improvement every single week, and slowly but surely we were getting closer to a successful landing. To many people, the thought of throwing yourself in the air and rotating 4 times seems a bit frightening, but for me, it was exhilarating. It wasn’t dangerous at all. The worst thing that happened was I fell on my bum or hip and got a small bruise, nothing serious that stopped us from continuing to work on this new element. 5 weeks into our project, I finally landed a clean quad sal on one foot! It was so exciting for us, our coaching team and all our training mates at the rink who continued to encourage me every single day. I was so proud that Eric and I beat my personal deadline for the quad sal. We decided immediately to include it in our long program. Actually, to be honest, it was choreographed into our long program before we even tried our very first one!! I guess we were pretty confident in our ability.

We adjusted fairly well to this new element in our long program and landed it successfully 4 times in competition last season. We went from being medal contenders at international events, to having an undefeated season, ending the year with a World Championship title. I truly believe that the throw quad sal was a big part of our success and our motivation to continue competing after a frustrating Olympic season in 2013/2014.

Never be afraid to give up the good and go for the great. That is my new motto this skating season as Eric and I are trying to become the first pair’s team in history to land a throw quad lutz in competition. After mastering our first throw quad, Eric and I decided that it was time to incorporate a second throw quad into our long program. We spent the spring touring Canada with Stars on Ice and we kept playing around with the thought of trying a quad lutz. We practiced the triple every single day, training it and preparing it for a quad. We were in Calgary and before our practice session I told Eric that I was ready to go for it, that today was the day. I worked up my courage and I felt confident that I could survive a quad lutz!

In the lutz, I am taking off backwards from an outside edge but Eric is holding me on my hips, as opposed to holding my arm, like he does on the sal. There is no weight transfer on the lutz, which makes it much more difficult to control. That day in Calgary, we did a few anxious laps around the ice, and then it was time. Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje were there to encourage us and Jeff Buttle was filming. First attempt we rotated cleanly on one foot and I sat down. It was such a gentle fall! I really wasn’t expecting the rotation to be that easy, seeing as it took me 5 weeks to learn the first quad! We didn’t try too many that first day and decided that we would try it again the next day when we got to Victoria for the next stop of the Stars on Ice tour.

Once again, we did a few anxious laps around the ice until we felt calm and ready for the quad lutz. Then, something magical happened, we landed it!!! On the second day! It was such an exciting moment for us and the cast of Stars on Ice! We felt proud and accomplished and when we got off the ice, we hoped that it wasn’t a fluke and that we’d be able to repeat the feeling. We went on vacation after that and then we were in Japan doing another tour when we decided to start working on it again. And, on the second day, we landed another one! Then we went home for another vacation. It wasn’t the most ideal time to learn a new skill, because we had to keep relearning it after time away from the ice. It didn’t take long once we were back on the ice to relearn and master the throw quad lutz. It became part of our regular training plan, just as the quad sal had one year earlier.

Video: Quad Lutz Throw Landed on November 20th in Practice

We have to be careful to limit the number of quads we do everyday in practice. My body is in great shape, but I’m not a teenager anymore and I don’t want to risk any chance of injury. We give ourselves a few attempts of both quads daily and make sure not to overdo it. Doing quad throws for Eric and I is not more dangerous then doing a throw triple. The worst thing that will happen on a triple is that I fall on my butt, and it’s the same on the quad. We’ve tried the quad lutz twice in competition this season and we haven’t been successful yet, but we aren’t giving up! We know that it will take patience, faith and hard work, but we are confident that we will get there. We will be competing this week in Japan at the NHK trophy and we will try to become the first pairs team in history to land a throw quad lutz there! If it doesn’t work out, we will try it again at our next competition!

You can be comfortable, or courageous. But you cannot be both.
2015-11-22T23:02:02+00:00 November 22nd, 2015|Personal Journey|0 Comments