AST Skater Spotlight Series – Meet Elaine

Our Adults Skate Too Skater Spotlight Series is a bi-weekly blog where you get to know your fellow adult skaters from all over the world! For our next edition, you will get to meet Elaine! She is from across the pond in Northern Ireland and began skating last year after being inspired by Dancing on Ice! Read more about her first lesson, how she tackles confidence issues, and more!

What’s your name? Where are you from? What do you do for a living?

My name is Elaine (@30_something_skater)

I am from Northern Ireland and for a living I wipe noses, change nappies and sing “if you’re happy and you know it” on a very regular basis. I work in childcare with toddlers aged 18 months-30 months.

What’s your story? How did you get into figure skating?

Northern Ireland is a very small place, so when someone from here makes it onto a show like Dancing on Ice (UK) we get behind them.  In 2009 Zoe Salmon (former Miss. Northern Ireland) was on the show and when they brought their tour to Belfast she performed her own version of the Bolero along with her skating partner Matt. That performance sparked something in me that has never left me. However, I was never brave enough to do anything about it. 10 years later and still a big fan of the show, my favourite pro skater Brianne inspired me to finally bite the bullet and on 10th March 2019 I took myself to Dundonald Icebowl for my first ever lesson and I haven’t looked back since.

What does your skating schedule look like?

3-4 times a week and anything from 2-6 hours at a time. If I’m off work for any reason my first port of call is the ice rink.

What has been the most rewarding or exciting moment in your skating career?

Probably my first lesson with my coach.  I was so excited but also had absolutely no idea what to expect, so I was freaking out on the inside, and in all honesty I still get nervous on days when I know I have a lesson. I can only compare the feeling of my first lesson with going on a first date. The feeling of excitement mixed with pure fear!  I literally didn’t know the first thing about skating – I didn’t even know the difference between private lessons and Learn to Skate. All I knew was that I wanted to skate and it had to be with Maria, but it was the best day ever and I wouldn’t change a thing. 

What was the most difficult moment of your skating career and how did you overcome it?

Confidence is a big problem for me and has been in lots of areas, like when I was learning to drive – I was terrible, and not because I couldn’t do it, but because I didn’t believe that I could.  It’s the same with skating, I talk myself down and convince myself that I’ll never be able to do it – right now it’s inside 3 turns but I will keep fighting until I get it.

How do I overcome this? Well, sometimes I don’t, but mostly I have to challenge my own thoughts and, as fate would have it, I am trained in Counselling so I can use my experience with clients to change my own mind frame – but it’s a whole other ball game when you’re working with yourself! 

I also have a running joke with one of my skating besties, I’ll say, “I’m never going to be able to do it!” and she’ll reply with, “not with that attitude you won’t!” Even though I know she’s only saying it to make me laugh it is actually a good reminder and it really helps.

What’s your favorite element to practice?

Anything that doesn’t require a backward outside edge. At the moment love throwing in a forward drag.  It’s my ‘go to’ when I can’t make anything else work.
I love teapots too (shoot the duck) even though they are the most inconsistent element ever for me.  I have a lot of fun with them.

What’s your favorite off-ice exercise to practice?

Does watching Dancing on Ice with a cup of tea count? 

What motivates you?

Other adult skaters. The people who motivate me the most are not necessarily the people who are natural born skaters, but the people who struggle and still show up over and over again.  The friends I have made on Instagram also really motivate me – sometimes all it takes is for someone on the other side of the world to say “me too”.  Backward crossovers were a real struggle for me and I was beginning to think I wasn’t made for skating, but after uploading a few dodgy crossover videos on my progress account I realised I wasn’t alone.  So many people were in the same boat as me and somehow we are all in this together, helping each other out.

How has skating impacted your life?

I recently read a quote that sums it up for me …

“You often feel tired, not because you’ve done too much, but because you’ve done too little of what sparks a light in you.”

I think skating has sparked a light in me.  I am guilty of falling into the eat-sleep-work cycle and skating has helped to break it.  It’s a form of self care for me, I do it purely for me.  It’s almost like therapy, a time and a place where I can put all of the busyness of life to one side and refocus.

It just makes me happy and has changed my perspective on so many things.  I’ve learned that success is not always having the perfect element but actually it’s every little step along the way.  It’s finding the courage to cross one foot over the other for the first time, finally feeling the edge that you’ve been working on for months or fixing the crazy free leg that has been causing havoc in a step sequence.

What’s the best advice your coach has given you?

Don’t worry about spending big money on crash pants, just cut up a yoga mat and put them inside your leggings … just kidding (although it IS good advice, and I totally do it!!)

The BEST advice Maria has given me is simple: slow down.  Sometimes less really is more, start small and take the time to really develop control and finesse.  It is easy to hide poor technique behind speed, so take it slow to start with and once the technique is there, the speed will follow.

What’s your advice for other adult skaters out there?

If you don’t already have a coach, get one (or at least do the Learn to Skate programme).  It is too easy to form bad habits and without a coach you might not even realise.  If you’re not happy with your coach, try someone else.  If you are not progressing well it doesn’t mean that you are a bad skater or that he/she is a bad coach, sometimes you just have to find the right fit. I am lucky, before I even thought about lessons I already knew which coach I would choose and I couldn’t be happier.

Don’t rush into buying expensive skates.  I have watched people skate beautifully in entry level skates but, also people in skates that are more advanced than their level of skating.  Expensive skates will not make you a better skater, but hard work and determination will.  There’s plenty of time to upgrade your blades/boots  when you reach a level that requires them.

Oh, one more thing … don’t forget to bend your knees!!

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