Monday, June 20, 2011


I was asked to do a post about Ted, the coach who tore me down, but never built me back up. So, here goes...

I began my skating career in Manhattan and then after leaving one coach, started skating in Long Island. Since I skated mostly on the weekends and one day during the week, it strangely ended up working. That is, until my coach in Long Island decided I wasn't progressing fast enough and dropped me as a student.

Thanks Susan.

So I returned to Manhattan, which, since I worked in Manhattan, worked well for me. I returned to Sky Rink and asked a few friends who they were taking lessons from. 99% of the coaches were booked. One coach simply refused to take on an adult skater (I wasn't going to the Olympics and what do you know, neither were any of his other students!). Since I wanted to become a stronger skater, rather than a more lyrical skater (I already am pretty lyrical), I decided I wanted a male coach.

Someone suggested Ted.

I met Ted and he seemed interested enough in taking me on as a student. He was able to fit into my schedule, which was a 6:30am session with a lesson once a week. Finances prevented me from any additional lessons. That was fine as far as I was concerned.

I arrived at my first lesson with ALL of my single jumps and a massively cheated axel. My backspin had never been strong, but I was able to crank out three of the slowest revolutions on that spin. I was optimistic.

My first four lessons consisted of Ted making me stroke, over and over and over and over and over again. Everything was wrong with my stroking. Everything. Four lessons and we hadn't even gotten to crossovers and each lesson was 50 minutes long. If I was at the other end of the rink, he whistled for me. Yes, whistled. All the time, I just stroked. If I did a crossover on the ends, he told me I was wrong.

I later found out that Ted was an ice dancer, which explained his obsession with stroking.

When we finally got to crossovers, mine were horrible. He had never seen such bad crossovers. Really? I didn't think they were that bad.

Once when Ted was a little late, I did a spin and a few jumps. A friend asked me why I had been spending so much time on stroking and crossovers. I couldn't answer her; I still can't.

We finally graduated to waltz jumps, salchows and the occasional toe loop. My waltz jumps went from being big to being so small it looked like I tripped. Ted was concentrating on the edge before the jump; the jump itself wasn't important. Okay. He changed the entrance into my salchow which flattened out the edge nicely, but ruined the timing, so I spun the jump instead of jumping it. As for my toe loop, it, along with my loop, flip, lutz and cheated axel disappeared from lack of use.

It was right around then that I had mentioned that I wanted to do Adult Nationals. I had already sent in my money and thought this would kick-start a different training program. After being told I shouldn't have signed up for the competition without his permission, Ted told me I should be prepared to come in last.

Off to Adult Nationals where I came in... last.

Upon returning and telling Ted, he said, "I told you so". And proceeded to tell me NOW we could start working at breaking down all of my bad habits and building them back up. I was told it would probably take years, if he was able to fix it at all.

We returned to stroking. And, strangely, flying camels.

It was right about this time that I developed degenerative joint disease in my back. I remember the day the pain got to be too bad; I was tying my skates and I sneezed. My back pain went from 1 to 100000 in a matter of seconds. I told Ted I was in a lot of pain and he said to suck it up. Okay.

I began to skate more practice sessions in a mad effort to keep what few skills I had left: my waltz jump, toe loop and scratch spin was all that was left. If I did my salchow the way I could do it, I'd land it. If I did it the way Ted wanted, I spun the jump and didn't leave the ground. I tried. I worked the way Ted suggested; afterall, he was the coach. My loop jump sort of returned, if I did a waltz jump before hand. If I showed the jump to Ted, he told me I was doing it wrong. However, since the waltz-loop was going well, he allowed me to continue to practice it.

My flip, lutz and cheated axel simply moved away.

Then one day, all hell broke loose. My skates were stolen.

I was inconsolable. I cried, I prayed, I cried, I prayed. Eventually, I scrapped together enough money to buy another pair.

When I returned to skating, I discovered that the rocker on a Pattern 99 blade had changed, causing me to fall down a lot. I couldn't do a jump, a spin or that annoying stroking. It took weeks to be able to get used to the rocker of the new Pattern 99. When I did, I had totally lost my toe loop, which had been my best jump up until that moment.

My skills slowly returned, and during that time, we returned to stroking forward and backward.

It was right about this time that Ted decided that if I was going to insist on competiting, that my taste in music sucked. I have always been a "show tunes, movie soundtrack, ballet music" type of gal, so Ted picked Yanni. I have nothing against Yanni; he's just not what I would have chosen.

Thanks to Yanni, I met Amy, who was cheographing my program. Thank God. She didn't think the music was for me either.

With now three jumps (waltz, salchow, toe loop) and one spin (scratch) and a new program, the summer arrived. With the summer was a change in Ted's schedule and he handed me over to Amy until the fall.

Something happened that I'm not quite sure of, and Ted never returned. I remained with Amy.

My jumps have slowly returned and my spins are always better when I weigh less. Ted wasn't a bad coach; he just wasn't the coach for me. He was a bit too negative for my incredibly fragile ego.

Right now, because of scheduling, I probably won't be able to take lessons from Amy until the fall. The tenative schedule I had has gone down the drain thanks to sessions being given to hockey. I haven't skated in over a month. I haven't lost a pound and I really need to. I will return to the rink on Friday at World Ice, where the parents are rude and skaters are oblivious.

Wish me luck.