Monday, October 03, 2005

A long, and long-overdue update!

Hey Everyone, Ok, so I got a bit busy with breaking in new boots and blades in time for the National Training camp in Italy, and for the competition in Japan, but I'm back in Lake Arrowhead with a moment to share with anyone who reads this.

First there's something I need to get off my back before I get into my past few weeks. When I compete internationally, and even nationally my parents very seldom are able to come and watch me. In order to find out how I've done at these competitions they usually go on some figure skating chat sites to look for results. What they certainly don't expect to find on these sites are topics questioning their parenting skills. I know this is maybe a side of me that people have never seen before, but I'm the one who chose to be a competitive skater. I've learned to deal with criticism and the odd negative comment because I know that it comes with the territory, but my parents? For the record, my parents are incredible people! They were the ones who supported me both emotionally and economically even when I came last at competitions. Some days when I didn't think I had what it took, they reminded me that all it takes is perseverance. They disciplined my sister and me when we misbehaved, and raised us to treat others as we wished to be treated.

I know that all of the people that read this blog are probably great supporters of mine, so I would ask if you could do this: Ask the others, who may not care for my skating (which is fine of course!), to direct all insult and criticism to ME, and not my parents.

To clear things furthermore... I was asked a couple of days prior to the USFS/Campbellā€™s press release when someone withdrew if I would participate in the event. I was already doing the Torino National Training Camp which I think without a doubt was something I should do (great preparation for the Olympics, and the ability to do a mock-competition in the Olympic venue), and I had also already agreed to fly directly from Torino to Tokyo for an international competition. So, Lee (my coach) and I sat down and discussed the opportunity and decided that my health and the extra training time were worth more in the long run than prize money. Also, the last time that I competed three week-ends in a row I ended up with food-poisoning. I then e-mailed my agent and said that even though it is a great opportunity, I will have to pass. The next day, I find out that the press release stated my participation in the event. Of course I was angry, but it was nobody's fault. USFS had tickets to sell and needed a press-release to advertise for the event, and I needed a couple of days to decide with my coach. Maybe my coach and I could have been more decisive, but I don't think a couple of days are such a big deal considering the commitment. I have not pulled out of this event because I was never in it to begin with. If I were to have been asked before the invitation to the Japanese international, of course I would have accepted, but this is the way the cards were dealt to me. I'm sorry if my decisions disappoint anyone, but to me a healthy mind and body is worth much more this year than a full wallet.

Now onto something WAY more uplifting: My week in Torino!

It was such a great experience! Skate Canada really went above and beyond for the athletes with this experience. The week consisted of team building activities, a tour of the Olympic village, and training in the Olympic skating venue as well as a mock two-day competition of the short and long programs. They had past Canadian Olympic Medalists there (Elvis Stojko, Tracy Wilson, and Debbie Wilkes), a wonderful Sports Psychologist (Peter Jensen), Technical Specialists and "gurus" if you will, not to mention the Olympic doctor and physiotherapist. The Skate Canada staff was there to answer any question and help in any possible way. It was truly a worthwhile event, and all of the ice was free because the national team did a show on the Saturday night for a full audience!!! The rink has a great warm atmosphere, and I was getting nothing but good vibes from it (that sounded so new age, but its true!!).

Next I traveled to Tokyo from Torino for the Japan International Challenge. I'm not going to lie, I was pretty nervous because the program still feels a bit new, and it's still fairly early in the season, not to mention that after the mock-competition in Torino Lee and I made quite a number of changes that were more "COP" friendly. I did however manage to survive, despite not having a great performance (I felt a bit cautious, and was holding back because of it!); I managed to do enough to win. As of now, it may not look it, but I know already that this is the best work David and I have ever come up with. It just has so much more substance and meaning than any of my other programs... We tried our best to be true to the inspiration for the program. Of course it's a tribute to Glenn Gould and his life, but even more so, it's inspired by something he had said. He believed that, "The purpose of art is not the release of a momentary ejection of adrenaline but is, rather, the gradual, lifelong construction of a state of wonder and serenity." So without going into great detail (which I could...), this program is not so much about the climaxes, so much as it is about the detail, the effort that went on before the performance. Because it really is the stuff in between the highs and lows that define a life. Don't you think?

Anyways, I have a feeling I might be getting a tad philosophical, so I'll end it there for today. Hope you guys are ready for a big competitive season. The off-season was nice, if not short, but I'm feeling good about this year.

Cheers,

Jeff.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Home Sweet Home!


Well, I'm just about to hit the sack, but thought I might drop a line, or two. I've been back home now for a week and a bit in preparation for Thornhill summer competition. I'd like to say that I'm in top shape for this, but the plan is to be in peak form in February, NOT August. However, I had a great time skating in the 16th annual Mariposa Gala... Jamie and Dave, Steve, Jen, Brian, and everyone else in the show were great. The show is for such a great cause (The Royal Victoria Hospital in Barrie), but even more impressive is the legacy that Doug Leigh has created here in Barrie.

I debuted my new short program to the music of "sing sing sing", though it still needs the mileage. Don't worry, it's nothing like the "sing sing sing" that you all know and have heard all too many times on the ice. It's a very unique version (actually, the original version) by Louis Prima with scatting and everything. What I like about this program (other than it being the most demanding in terms of spinning and steps), is that my true personality shines through while I perform it.

And.... as most likely anticipated, the long is something very different than the short. The long is a tribute to Canadian pianist Glenn Gould. The quote by Glenn Gould that inspired the choreographic tribute to his life is:

"The purpose of art is not the release of a momentary ejection of adrenaline but is, rather, the gradual, lifelong construction of a state of wonder and serenity."

Anyways, I had better go to sleep because I compete in two days. Hope everyone enjoys the rest of their summer. It's gone by way too quickly!!!

Cheers,
Jeff.

p.s. The best part of being home is that my family (all 4 of us) are able to spend some time together... This usually only happens a couple of times a year!!!

Sunday, July 17, 2005

2 Weeks Left in Cali...

Good evening,

I had a great day! Despite not sleeping well, I dragged my tired ass to the gym, and forced myself through my "off-ice" program. Afterwards, I went down the mountain with Angela and Ivan (my mountain roomies) and we had a day of shopping. Though I didn't buy anything, it's nice to get off the mountain every now and then (prolonged isolation up here is what we refer to as "mountain fever").

I was looking forward however to getting back up so that I could finish my book. I'm finishing up "Angels and Demons" by Dan Brown (The author of The DaVinci Code, which is incredible!!! If you decide to read it, I recommend the illustrated version.) This novel was actually written before the DaVinci Code, but I am thoroughly enjoying it...one of those thrilling "I can't put it down" type of books.

Well, as the title states I only have 2 weeks left in California, then it's back to Canada for the annual Mariposa Gala (A great show for a wonderful cause... I love doing it!!!), and of course for the end of summer Thornhill competition. I must say, though it's the first competition of the year, and still 4 weeks away, I had better push it into high gear... starting with a good nights sleep.

Cheers,
Jeff.

Damned Delicious Caffeine!

Well I can't sleep!!! It's been a re-occurring problem lately so I've devised this solution. In order to get things off my chest, and get some sleep, I'll write it down here. If it works, anticipate a small novel each evening, and if it doesn't consider this my first and last post...haha!

Anyways, for those who are interested, it's Saturday night in Lake Arrowhead... LATE saturday night. For those who know me, I'm hypersensitive to the effects of caffeine and had a coffee around 4pm today (a little pick me up, aka the kiss-of-death come bedtime).

Summer training is always interesting, but this year I have been so much better than past years. It has always been my season of least improvement, and yet I feel that this year will be unlike any other. The weather here has been Hot as hell of course (note: I am notorious for complaining in winter that it's too cold, and complaining in summer that it's too hot), and could use a nice breeze right about now.

Tomorrow I have the day off skating (Sunday!), but the best thing to do in the mountains is to fill the day with any kind of activity. So I'll probably go for a bike ride to the gym, then read my book by the lake. I'll let you know how it goes.

Cheers,

Jeff.