A Dream Come True – and A Nightmare to Forget
Last weekend, one of my skating dreams came true. Those who know me well are aware that Paul Wylie is my skating hero. I have been a fan of his since the early 1990s and was even a member of his fan club (dork alert!). It has always been a dream of mine to meet and take a lesson with him.
I did get the chance to meet him briefly in 2014 at Adult Nationals in Hyannis (MA) when I competed. He was the keynote speaker at the STARS combine where we got tested on various aspects of endurance and flexibility.
Paul scheduled a seminar with a skating club and I heard about it through various venues. I signed up to attend and also tried to secure a private lesson time. Luckily, I was able to get slots for both.
I had my private lesson (only 20 minutes, boo) with Paul at 11:00 am on a Saturday. I got to the rink a little bit early so I could warm up on my own. Coach B asked me to get Paul work on my axel, camel spin and spread eagle. He took a look at my axel and noticed that I didn’t cross my legs (I’m still working on getting that more consistent). We worked on a few backspin exercises and I was able to successfully cross my legs on the next attempt.
After I tried my camel spin, he said that there was nothing wrong with it. I told him that my camel was inconsistent and that I often popped the “hook” part too early. He didn’t have any suggestions on this spin and asked me to do it into a camel sit and then my camel-sit-back sit combination. He also asked to see the opening sit spin in my program. The only suggestions he had were to turn my level 3 sit into a level 4 (by holding one of the variations for 8 revolutions and to consider adding a jump in my camel-sit-back sit combination.
The spread eagle attempts were laughable. We worked on the inside spread eagle and I could barely do one in a small circle. Then the lesson was over. I had a great time and learned a lot from him.
The early evening seminar with Paul was fun too. We had an edge class, spin class, jump class, cross fit and ballet seminars. By the time the event ended, it was past 7:30pm. And then I had to drive 3 hours to get home.
I didn’t arrive home until 10:30pm. And I had to wake up early the next morning to go compete another 90 minutes away. I didn’t sleep well, and my legs were sore from the previous day’s seminar.
I had a less than stellar warmup and couldn’t get my spins to work. As a result, I missed my opening “money” sit spin in the program and barely saved it. One fellow skater said after my skate, “I don’t know how you saved that spin!” The rest of my program was a bit wobbly, and it definitely wasn’t my best performance. I was disappointed in myself. But I wouldn’t score well since my body was tired from all the travel and the seminar from the day before.
I placed 11th out of 15 and actually received a fairly decent score for my botched performance. What was interesting was that I also received a 0.5 deduction for a time violation. I ended my program about 1 second ahead of the music, so that wasn’t the error. I believe that it was because I had too much “dead air” at the beginning of my music (there is a rule about that) so we will fix that as soon as possible. Had I hit my spin and not gotten dinged on my music CD, I would have placed at least 8th.
All in all, it was a great learning experience and I am excited to make a few tweaks going into Sectionals next month. I am still over the moon about having had the opportunity to work with Paul and hope that I get the chance again my skating lifetime.
Onward we go!