Passing Pre-Preliminary

Back in 2014, when I started my web site, I wrote a post about getting back on the ice after surgery for a broken wrist. Since then, I haven’t posted anything about my adult skating. I thought I’d bring things up to date, for those interested.

My wrist injury happened back in April 2014. At the time, I was feeling pretty good about my adult skating. I had found a coach and was starting to learn the Moves in the Field (MIF) for the Pre-Preliminary (first) test in the USFSA standard-track test sequence. I really wanted to progress fast with my adult skating, after being off the ice for 12 years. But I was having trouble with my scratch spin, fell on the element, and broke my wrist in 4 or 5 places. Surgery followed.

My first day back skating was in November 2014. But, with the holidays coming soon thereafter, I didn’t start skating regularly again until January 2015.

Coming back to skating after my injury definitely took some time. For a while, I did nothing but stroking, crossovers, and turns. I was afraid to try even little jumps like a waltz or mazurka. One thing I did practice was the Moves in the Field that my coach had started to teach me before the accident: the forward inside and outside edges, perimeter stroking, and basic spirals for the Pre-Preliminary test. I found that practicing Moves really helped me regain my confidence on the ice. Moves were something I could do without fear of falling; yet, trying to perfect them was still an interesting challenge.

As I was doing Moves and stroking and trying to regain my confidence, I thought a lot about my blades: Staying over top of them, being aware of how they felt, really feeling the ice through them. Before my accident, I think I was pushing myself to try different tricks, without always being completely in control. As a result, I was falling fairly often. Which may be okay for a kid, but not so great for an adult skater.

I decided that if I was going to skate again, I needed to be more in control. My inspiration was a quote from Robin Szolkowy, one of my favorite pairs skaters. In an Inside Skating interview, Robin said: “I always tried to let the skating boot go, feel where it goes, and react and use the energy for the next step.” I tried to follow Robin’s idea and really feel my blades on the ice and where they were taking me. It seems like the most obvious thing in the world—pay attention to your blades—but it helped to think about it consciously.

After a few months of practicing on my own, I contacted my coach Amy (whom I’d just started with before my accident) and asked if she could fit me back in her schedule. She agreed, and I started lessons again last year, in May 2015. It was great to be back in lessons again, and Amy was very encouraging. She taught me the rest of the Moves for the Pre-Pre test: Back inside/outside edges and the Waltz 8 pattern. I found these Moves more challenging than the first ones I’d learned, and it took a lot of practice to get them to a point where we were relatively happy with them.

The Pre-Pre freestyle tricks were less of a problem…except for the upright spin. I’d been back on the ice for months, but still had not dared to try a spin. I was very, very nervous about it, since it was the move I’d fallen and broken my wrist on. But Amy was matter-of-fact and just told me to do a spin one day during my lesson. I did it. It wasn’t great, but I didn’t fall.

After a couple months of practice, it was time to finally take my Pre-Preliminary test last fall (October 12). My first skating test ever—quite an experience!

There was a long wait in the warmup room before my group of 4 skaters was called to the ice. I didn’t feel nervous yet; I was looking forward to getting out there. Finally, it was our turn. We had a 5- to 6-minute warmup, just like competitive skaters. But for me, it wasn’t nearly enough time! Usually when I get on the ice, I spend the first 5 minutes just stroking around, warming up and getting the feel of the ice. But on the test warmup, I could only stroke for a minute or so, then I needed to try my back inside edges and Waltz 8, because I wanted to do them at least once before the test.

Suddenly, I realized I was completely nervous! My knees felt stiff, like I couldn’t bend them enough. My heart was pounding. Now, I understood about skaters’ nerves!

We were told to start the test. I didn’t really know where to go–just followed the other skaters. I got through the Moves, got through the jumps. But I felt like I had done everything so much better previously, in practice, than I did on the test!! The last thing was the dreaded spin. I felt shaky going into it but told myself: “You can do this.”

I passed both sections. I have my first completed USFSA judging forms (below)! It took a whole year after my injury. But when I passed my Pre-Pre test, I felt like I was really and truly back.


The journey continues. Since last fall, I’ve been learning and practicing the Moves for the Preliminary MIF test. So far, I’m really enjoying them. Also, we choreographed my first-ever program for the Preliminary free skate test!! It has a long, long way to go before it will be ready to perform in front of anyone. But it’s exciting to think that, eventually, that day will come.

Who knows, I may have some more news about my adult skating in another year or so. 🙂


2 thoughts on “Passing Pre-Preliminary

  1. Congratulations, Claire! Even with your nerves you got really nice comments from the judges, it must have been a really good test! I’m glad you were able to rebuild your confidence on the ice. I’ve had so many friends have bad wrist breaks that I’ve started wearing wrist guards (most of the time).


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