Sunset from 95th Floor of John Hancock Building in Chicago this past Saturday.
Skating seems to be getting more quantitative. Ever since IJS landed in our laps, I’ve been wishing I had a Degree in Higher Math. Alas, I am more of a “word” person. Not that I have anything against numbers. In fact, I’ve always respected them quite a bit…from a distance.
Lately, I’ve noticed that there are a lot of nice things about numbers. How you can count with them, for instance. How, when you use them in order to back up what you’re trying to say, your statements can sound a lot more like objective facts. How you can maybe understand competition placements after analyzing columns of numbers on a Protocol sheet, and maybe even, with the help of numbers, control those placements more proactively in advance.
You always hear that there is “power in numbers.” This was hit home to me in several different ways last week at the Professional Skaters Association Conference in Chicago. First of all, there were a lot of coaches in attendance: approximately 800, maybe a little more or a little less, one of the largest Conference turnouts ever. We filled a large ballroom and according to more than one speaker up on stage, we, as a collective group, were rather intimidating.
Indeed, from where I sat, the sea of skating coaches around me was an impressive visual. I hate to sound new-age-y but it was a powerful feeling to be surrounded by that many coaches in one room. I imagined that I was somehow buoyed up by all those people with similar perspectives, experiences, schedules, frustrations, and successes…not to mention similar addictions to both coffee and fleece.
But what I’m really getting at here is the weird thing that happened this week: I started to see the world of skating and the world in general as a collection of numbers. I’m not claiming that I suddenly transformed into a Mathematician or that I became Rain Man, I’m saying that I was overcome with the strange urge to create… A Spreadsheet. I admittedly don’t know how to create a real spreadsheet (let alone flow one of these beasts onto this website), but even thinking about doing so makes me feel very “professional,” so bear with me as I present…
THE OFFICIAL CURRENT SKATE OF MIND PSA CONFERENCE “”SPREADSHEET”” (extra set of quotes intentional):
Number of Years PSA has been in existence = 70
Years Kathy Casey has been coaching = 30+
Number of days in the year we should wake up with a burning desire to be better coaches, according to the ever-entertaining Kathy Casey = “every day” a.k.a. 365
The Component Score Susie Wynne would receive on the transitional skating she demonstrated in her wonderful class called, “Simply Skated” if she were competing under the IJS system and I were a judge = 10
Grade of Execution Gale Tanger would have received for her Spiral up on stage (though we’d have to replay the video to see if she held it for 3 seconds) = +3
Number of questions Doug Haw asked Brian Orser in the brilliant segment called, “Inside the Coach’s Studio” modeled after the television show, “Inside the Actor’s Studio” = 29
Number of dizzying revolutions Brian Orser a.k.a. Mr. Triple Axel seemed to do on the floor of his living room in the classic black and white footage from when he was a toddler = approximately 35
Number of syllables in the word “momentum” as counted by Orser’s coach Doug Leigh in the video footage = 3
Number of pillows (both functional and decorative) on the beds at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare (and thank you to my conference buddy for helping me with the calculation of this statistic) = 7
Therefore, when two beds are in the room, the total number of pillows = 14
The deadline for coaches to complete their required Coaching Educational Requirement (CER) credits = July 2010
The number of people who currently understand exactly what this entails = 4
Latest ISU Communication that will probably change after the ISU Congress in June = 1494
Number of times presenters from the judging community encouraged coaches and skaters to aim for high GOE’s rather than high Levels = at least 10
Number of “extremely diverse” conferences simultaneously being held at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare = many
Number of people wearing one or more of the following items for a particularly “intriguing” conference that shall remain nameless on this blog for fear of receiving a crazy amount of unwanted spam: leather, chains, collars, and something I can only call a “skirt-less skirt” = again, many
Number of times I heard someone ponder whether or not the aforementioned conference had a tradeshow = 5
Percentage of sport success that is “mental” according to surveys of Olympian Athletes, as presented by USOC Sport Psychologist Kirsten Peterson, Ph.D. = 50-90%
Amount of training time that athletes spend on the mental side of their sport according to Olympian Athletes as shared by Peterson= not 50-90%
Percentage of human communication that occurs through words according to Psychotherapist Frankie Perez = 7%
Percentage of communication that occurs non-verbally i.e. through body language, tone, etc = 93%
Ideal height of a leg extension for ice dance according to coach Iouri Tchesnitchenko= 80 degrees
Price of an all-event ticket for the World Championships according to a friend who worries, quite rightly, that cost is negatively affecting the skating fan base = $1000
Amount of weight gained from uncontrollable buffet grazing = No Answer
Amount of weight my suitcase mysteriously gained though I did not purchase or steal anything (I suspect foul play: invisible bricks, perhaps?) = 5 pounds
Length of the maze-like hallway leading from the hotel to the Convention Center where some of the presentations were held on the last day (and thank heaven, because I had to walk off some of that buffet-ing) = 16 miles
Pages of notes I scribbled because I am an obsessive note-taker (though in my defense, the pages of my notebook were rather small) = 56
Floor in the John Hancock Building from which my conference buddy and I watched the sun set while enjoying a post-conference drink (see picture above) = 95th
Phone number of the JFK Jetblue baggage claim office in case they ever lose one of your bags = 7186326355
Total number of minutes they might keep you on hold over the course of 3 phone calls = 36
Number of skating blogs I’ll be able to write, thanks to all the information I gathered while on this trip (not that I was lacking for topics) = 477
TOTAL = Priceless
Please add to this “spreadsheet” by clicking on comment below.
And stay tuned. In future installments I intend to address such topics as:
Pair Skating in America: Ouch; Moves in the Meadow; The Ratings Game; Figures: Still Mourning; Youtube as Teaching Tool; Age: To Limit or Not to Limit
Finally, here is the article I wrote about the event for icenetwork: http://web.icenetwork.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20080527&content_id=48350&vkey=ice_news