PSA Conference: Power in Numbers

Sunset from 95th Floor of John Hancock Building in Chicago

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…


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: 



  1. RWT · May 27, 2008

    Well, I wasn’t there, so can’t contribute to your “spreadsheet” but that photo is amazing.

  2. Paula · May 27, 2008

    Ha ha! I wasn’t there either, but this is funny. Thanks for the report! I can’t believe that you lost your bags. And I am very intrigued by this other conference at the hotel.

  3. SusanAtLifeskate · May 27, 2008

    Thanks for this recap. I liked the icenetwork article as well. I was also curious what the breakdown of gender was at the conference. I’m guessing mostly women?

  4. dancer · May 27, 2008

    Don’t forget ISU communications 1496 and 1497 for ice dance! Though otherwise this is a very thorough and entertaining pseudo spreadsheet.

  5. Martina · May 27, 2008

    How many Russians coaches in attendance, roughly?? >2<

    Great spreadsheet!!

  6. DVJ · May 28, 2008

    I loved the line about being at the conference surrounded by coaches who were also “addicted to coffee and fleece”….I found that very funny.I too love coffee and am constantly buying fresh fleece.What did we ever do before fleece?

  7. pat · May 28, 2008

    Here is one: Price of unleaded gas in Chicago = $4.21. Ugh, sounds like we’re all headed in that direction.

  8. BA · May 28, 2008

    Very entertaining, Joc. It’d be nice if all spreadsheets were that creative and interesting!

  9. IceDncr · May 29, 2008

    Number of ratings exams one must pass in order to receive a Master’s moves rating: 4

  10. SB · May 30, 2008

    Number of coaches on the Hyatt’s snack bar/coffee line in between lectures = 45-50

    Number of employees working= 1

  11. bamboo-boo · May 30, 2008

    Thanks Jocelyn! The spreadsheet was very entertaining. Congrats on your Master Rating!

  12. I-sk8r · May 31, 2008

    Jocelyn inspired me to come up with a few more numbers from the PSA Conference:
    – The minimum air time necessary for a tiny little girl to eke out a double loop: 0.35 seconds
    – The minimum air time necessary for a world-class skater to eke out a quad: 0.667 seconds
    – The number of times I saw a man from the “edgier lifestyle” conference wearing a leather kilt: 4
    – The number of times in my life I have seen this before: 0
    – The number of times a man from the “edgier lifestyle” conference smiled at me in the coffee shop, causing me to bolt for the door: 2
    – The number of people I expected to have to speak in front of at the “Meet Your Area Representative” session: 4
    – The number of people who actually came to “Meet Your Area Representative”: about 100!
    – The number of PSA members as of Dec., 2007: 5,712
    – The number of PSA coaches living in Guam: 2
    -The number of other countries in the world where skating coaches come together and freely share their knowledge: 0
    – The value of the overall conference experience: priceless…..

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