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Author Topic: "Premium" practice ice at competitions  (Read 1106 times)

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Offline Meli

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"Premium" practice ice at competitions
« on: July 10, 2016, 06:34:31 AM »
More and more, I'm seeing offerings of "premium" practice ice (aka "we make more money on the prime slots"). After being burned a few times on pre-purchased practice ice, I'm really not up for pre-purchasing premium ice only to end up with time slots that are essentially useless. (If it's a noon practice ice, and I skate at seven in the evening, no thanks.)

I'm thinking that unless it's a completely foreign rink to me, that I'll just say forget it.

Are you seeing this trend? Do you even bother with practice ice?

Offline Christy

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Re: "Premium" practice ice at competitions
« Reply #1 on: July 10, 2016, 12:42:13 PM »
Haven't seen it, but have only competed in local competitions. If it was a totally new rink I would try to skate before competing just to see what the ice was like.

Offline Query

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Re: "Premium" practice ice at competitions
« Reply #2 on: July 11, 2016, 12:46:45 AM »
If it was a totally new rink I would try to skate before competing just to see what the ice was like.

At my multi-surface facility, practice ice might be on a separate surface, with much colder hockey ice. It is sometimes more crowded and more expensive than simultaneous public session ice (one cool thing about competitions is that so many people go that the public sessions are almost empty), though practice ice is open more of the day.

In many urban areas, you can go to public and freestyle sessions at other area rinks for less.

Offline ARoo

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Re: "Premium" practice ice at competitions
« Reply #3 on: July 12, 2016, 01:26:04 PM »
I pretty much know we will probably waste our practice ice. We rarely get good slots and practice ice is really mismanaged as far as scheduling. I still buy it just in case it ends up being worthwhile but that isn't the norm.

We wasted 2 practice ice sessions this weekend. I felt the extra hour or so of sleep was more beneficial than the 6:30am practice ice.

Offline Abbyar

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Re: "Premium" practice ice at competitions
« Reply #4 on: March 01, 2017, 12:19:45 PM »
It feels like practice ice is frequently a toss-up as to if it's worthwhile. Last year we had a horrible experience at a rink in Northern NJ where the practice ice was unassigned, and we selected based on my daughter's scheduled skating time.... which ended up 90 minutes behind schedule. It was awful

Offline fsk8r

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Re: "Premium" practice ice at competitions
« Reply #5 on: March 01, 2017, 03:46:16 PM »
I'm about to compete in Germany and there's practice ice the morning before the competition starts and it's first come first served for the time slots they have available, and then before you're actual competition (so in the morning) there's an extra 15min practice (less people). This is all included in the competition fee. I'm gobsmacked. I'm used to there either being no ice available because the competition has taken over every available minute, or there being a fee associated with practice ice. But if all German competitions are like this, I'll be doing more of them.

Offline RoaringSkates

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Re: "Premium" practice ice at competitions
« Reply #6 on: March 08, 2017, 10:55:15 AM »
I'd never experienced practice ice that's scheduled like you're describing, but I've only done eastern sectionals and nationals, and there, the practice ice was interspersed with the events throughout the day. I'm competing at adult eastern sectionals this weekend, and they've done a good job with practice ice. They have it interspersed throughout the day - so unlike the Morris Open, where the practice ice is at 6-7am and my event is at 8pm (useless), at easterns, you can get practice ice that's within about 1-3 hours of when you're skating, normally. They do a good job.

One of the things I try to look into re: practice ice is if the rink has a normal freestyle that I can get to, ideally just before or during the event, or if not, then at any time when I can get there, even weeks before the event if the event is localish. I'm doing that for the Morris Open - I've scheduled myself to drive my butt over there this Monday, although the competition isn't for some weeks, so I can see the place, skate around (even if it's a different rink than where I'll compete, it helps my nerves to have skated in the building before), etc. I also plan to do this the day before the event, but in case those sessions are crowded with other people with the same idea, I've planned for this Monday as well.

But I was happy that the Morris Open didn't have us sign up/pay for practice ice in advance of them publishing their schedule. That would have been a waste of money.

Offline amy1984

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Re: "Premium" practice ice at competitions
« Reply #7 on: March 08, 2017, 01:59:42 PM »
so unlike the Morris Open, where the practice ice is at 6-7am and my event is at 8pm (useless)

I think many people sort of misunderstand what this type of ice is for.  It's not a warm up.  It's to replace practice ice you're missing to compete and to let you run through your program and shake off some rust.  The goal isn't to still be warm for the time you compete.  So useless?  No, not if you're using it for the intended purpose.  Of course, some people don't need or want to use it and that's fine.  But I think it's key to understand what it's for before you make a choice on whether or not to pay for it.  For me, it would depend on several things like how far I'd travelled, the last time I skated, etc.

Offline RoaringSkates

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Re: "Premium" practice ice at competitions
« Reply #8 on: March 09, 2017, 10:57:57 AM »
I want it for the warm up if I can get it, even if that's not what it's formally designed for. I'm almost 50 years old - a four minute warm up, I'm lucky if I can bend my knees by the end of that, it's so short. :lol: And even if I do off ice warmups, I still need the on ice stuff to work out my nerves and stiff legs and to get my jumps and footwork up and running. I am OLD. ;)

And a lot of this really is psychological - if I can get to the rink before the competition so I can put myself in the place, in my head, it makes me feel better. That's what I'm doing for the Morris Open. Going there on Monday, since I think it's maybe only 40 minutes from my work.

But I still say that a 7am practice ice, when I have an 8pm event, isn't going to help me. I'd have to get up at 5am, and then be awake and ready to go at 8pm? Not a good idea for me. I'd fall over. But maybe I'd also be too tired to be nervous... Hmm... ;)

Offline FigureSpins

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Re: "Premium" practice ice at competitions
« Reply #9 on: March 09, 2017, 11:22:29 AM »
I agree that a 7am practice and an 8pm event isn't going to give you any kind of a warm up.  You'll have to do off-ice warmup before your event.

The one advantage that a practice gives you is letting you "feel the ice" before your event.  I remember skating at a new rink for the first time and thinking "Man, this is fast ice."  It was on the warmup that I discovered this and there really wasn't enough time to figure out what I needed to adjust in my skating for that ice.  Face (well, chest-) planted my first camel attempt on that warmup, but managed it in the program.  Blew the Flip jump, though.

I usually recommend that my students go to the competition rink in the week before the competition to skate a public session or freestyle.  That lets them work on their skills, edges and stroking without being pressured for time.  It does mean an extra trip to that rink, which isn't possible for long-distance competitions.  (I was so fortunate to live in NYC, with so many NJ ice rinks within an hour's drive.  At one point, I skated at a different rink every day of the week, sometimes two different rinks in one day.  Gas was cheap back then, though.)

In cases where practice ice is at a radically different time than the event, I usually suggest the skater rest and do a more-strenuous off-ice warm up instead.  This is especially true if the skater doesn't skate mornings or isn't a morning person.  One day, a parent signed her daughter up for a pre-dawn lesson on a Saturday.  The under-7yo went to bed around 10pm and had to get up at 6am.  Not only did I get an earful from the kid about having to wake up early on "her only day off," she started crying halfway through the lesson because she was too tired to understand or perform.   (Mind you: I had been COACHING since 6am that morning, which meant I got up at 4am!  I should have been the one crying, lol.)
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Offline fsk8r

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Re: "Premium" practice ice at competitions
« Reply #10 on: March 09, 2017, 03:03:19 PM »
My biggest discovery for getting over "fast" ice (or competition ice as I generally call it). Is to skate at as many rinks as possible normally. It just gets your brain used to the fact that different rinks feel different. It makes it so much easier when you have to just jump on and go.
 


Offline Query

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Re: "Premium" practice ice at competitions
« Reply #11 on: March 10, 2017, 11:10:12 AM »
There is another potential problem with an 7 AM practice and an 8 PM competition time:

Some rinks change the temperature of the ice for use with hockey play (which is where many or most of them keep it most of the time) and figure skating competitions. In particular, they raise the temperature for figure skating competitions. That produces a slightly softer and faster ice. Depending on how the blade is sharpened, and the aggressiveness and precise blade alignment you skate with, your edges will either catch better or less well. They may have quite different ice at 7 AM and 8 PM.

Practicing during the week(s) before the test or competition at the competition rink, when the ice temperature is still cold, has the same problems.

Incidentally, if a rink saves money by not dehumidifying at night, and doesn't smooth the ice before your session, the ice may be quite rough in early morning. By competition time, they will probably have smoothed the ice, so it may feel different for that reason too.

My biggest discovery for getting over "fast" ice (or competition ice as I generally call it). Is to skate at as many rinks as possible normally. It just gets your brain used to the fact that different rinks feel different. It makes it so much easier when you have to just jump on and go.

Yes! Or skate at an outdoor rink with varying conditions. :)

For me, the best way to handle a wide variety of ice conditions, is to keep your blades quite sharp all the time. Sharp blades interact with all kinds of ice almost exactly the same, except for speed - but you have to get used to them. Of course if you travel a long ways to get to a good skate technician, sharp blades all the time may be impractical.


Offline ARoo

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Re: "Premium" practice ice at competitions
« Reply #12 on: March 10, 2017, 11:37:58 AM »
I actually think we're lucky to have pretty crappy ice most of the year, which we share with an NAHL hockey team and less than conscientious zamboni users. I think it builds character to skate on bad ice. It makes going anywhere and skating in any situation a non-issue. None of our skaters get to a rink and complain about bad ice. They don't even notice. I do think it's hard to do doubles in a program after 4 minutes of warmup, though.

I do think that warm-up time should be increased for pre-pre to pre-juv to at least 6 minutes for pre-pre and preferably 8 minutes for prelim and pre-juv. It doesn't seem fair that you have the same amount of time to warm up at basic 2 that you do for programs that include up to 6 doubles. USFSA has a way of lumping *every* skater under juvenile into one category.

I also think that pre-pre and prelim should have more program time to accommodate all they have to pack into programs at these levels, but that's a whole new post topic. :)

Offline lutefisk

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Re: "Premium" practice ice at competitions
« Reply #13 on: March 10, 2017, 02:00:53 PM »
I think warm up times should be increased to 20 minutes for "adults" and 30 minutes for "masters"!  However more than 30 minutes would be counterproductive--I'd probably need a sandwich, a beer and a nap.  Of course after the nap, I'd need another 30 minutes to warm up.  Say, that sounds kinda civilized.

Offline RoaringSkates

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Re: "Premium" practice ice at competitions
« Reply #14 on: March 10, 2017, 02:45:30 PM »
I had a coach suggest to a student that she drink a glass of wine before her next test. ;)

Offline Isk8NYC

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Re: "Premium" practice ice at competitions
« Reply #15 on: March 10, 2017, 02:57:57 PM »
<snip> I'd probably need a sandwich, a beer and a nap. <snip>

Too funny - I almost did a spit-take while reading this quote.  How can I turn that into a Post Count Title?  Suggestions welcome.
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Offline AgnesNitt

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Re: "Premium" practice ice at competitions
« Reply #16 on: March 10, 2017, 05:01:50 PM »
9 minutes.

It takes me that long to do my warmup. After that, it's just tires me out.
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Offline mamabear

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Re: "Premium" practice ice at competitions
« Reply #17 on: March 10, 2017, 05:23:48 PM »
I have seen it but not much.  The same competition that had premium practice ice last year also charges more for practice ice if you purchase after the schedule is out.  I find that a little frustrating but maybe I'm not understanding the rationale behind it?  From my perspective, we don't know exactly what days we'll be there until we see the schedule.  If I purchase 3 sessions and then everything is on one day-that adds up to 60 minutes of practice early in the morning.  More than my daughter will want/use effectively.  But, she went to a competition last fall where she skated on Friday and then on Sunday.  I would do more practice ice then. 

Although last time, we purchased one session, she was skating on two different days but said she only wanted the first day so she could used to the ice at that rink.  It seemed to work out.

In general, I like it to be as simple as possible so one set price for practice ice seems ideal to me.

Offline Query

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Re: "Premium" practice ice at competitions
« Reply #18 on: March 11, 2017, 01:39:00 PM »
I think the reasons that they don't increase warm-up times are pretty obvious.

Some people already complain that tests and competitions are too expensive, though that is partly because they don't understand all the costs. Increase the standard warm-up time, and/or decrease the number of people on the ice during warm-up, and costs / person go up even more.

In addition, wait times between slots go up, so you may have to wait around more, and it becomes harder to block time for the test or comp at the skating facility, and harder to convince judges and other volunteers to participate. Tougher on the professional coaches too - they often make less money / day then they would on lessons.

Premium practice ice IS an obvious compromise - especially if the test or competition is at a multi-surface facility that has extra time on the other surfaces.

OTOH, if YOU want to organize a test and comp, maybe you can run it differently. Most clubs provide organizing opportunities for willing volunteers, though you may have to convince them it is worth the costs and risk. You can advertise the longer warm-up time, and if you hold it at a multi-surface facility and rent the other surfaces for practice, advertise that too. Have you asked your club officers whether this is possible?

Offline ARoo

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Re: "Premium" practice ice at competitions
« Reply #19 on: March 11, 2017, 10:17:11 PM »
When we have test sessions, we offer longer warm-ups. But as I said, I think longer warm-ups are only necessary for 2 additional levels, not the entire competition. If I do get the opportunity to organize another competition, I'll make that a priority, just as we have with giving longer warmups at test sessions. It's not an issue for us since the rink doesn't charge us for ice in either of those instances. I think everyone can spare 2 minutes in the interest of better quality skating and plain fairness. :)

The idea that the whole structure of all that is right and good would crumble over 2 minutes seems needlessly dramatic. :)

Offline RoaringSkates

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Re: "Premium" practice ice at competitions
« Reply #20 on: March 12, 2017, 04:05:05 PM »
It's skating. We like the dramatic, needlessly or otherwise. ;)