From skates to stationery: competition prep from an official’s point of view

I bumped into a former teammate, who’s still skating, at my local convenience store this afternoon. We were both there gathering competition supplies–she, make-up, and I, travel-size toiletries for my carry-on luggage–and it struck me that though I no longer compete as a skater, I can’t help but find familiar comfort in still having pre-competition rituals. Most other officials I know are the same. We each have our own individual ways of preparing (though the seemingly interconnected consciousness of our collective officials’ brains creates some eerie coincidental similarities), but most of us former skaters just can’t kick our old habits. The double, triple, and quadruple skate-check has been replaced by an infinituple paperwork and pens-check. An official, especially we technical officials, can NEVER have too many highlighters. (more…)


Synchro Canadians heads West…times two!

I’m having great difficulty containing my excitement right now.┬áSo I won’t.



Skate Canada, you’re blowing my mind a little.

In separate press releases today, Skate Canada announced that the 2013 and 2014 Skate Canada Synchronized Skating Championships will be held in Calgary, AB, and Burnaby, BC respectively. I’m currently based in Calgary, so couldn’t be happier about this news for obvious reasons. But this is also amazing/important because of the following: (more…)

November is the month for reality checks and finding balance

Ah, November. In all my years of skating, it didn’t matter which team I was on, who was coaching me, or what category I was competing in–November sucked. The anticipation and excitement of the early part of the season, when everyone was fresh and anything was possible, had been replaced by debilitating stress and total panic. A handful of skaters still didn’t know their steps. The intersection that had once been disguised as “challenging” now revealed its true nature: impossible. Elements were over-rotated one day and under-rotated the next. The program didn’t have an ending. There was at least one injury. The dresses either weren’t ready, didn’t fit, or were hideous.

Memories I hold near and dear to my heart.

The intent of this post is not, however, to reminisce. Rather, it’s to speak to a few key points coaches need to keep in mind during this very important month. An optimist might say November builds a team’s character. A pragmatist knows that choices made in November can have a big impact on the trajectory of the rest of the season, and prepares to make adjustments. (more…)

So you think you’re gay? Prove it.

This isn’t exactly skating-related, but at the same time it’s entirely skating-related.

My main motivation for sharing this link (which I’ll get to) is that the website it leads to was invented by my dear and fabulous friend, Christopher Rouleau, who designed the 32blades wordmark you see imposed on the image at the top of this very page.

In addition to wanting to support a friend’s work, I think this particular piece is relevant (if loosely) to skating, which is why I wanted to share it on 32blades. In my view, figure skating has had a fluctuating love/hate relationship with the gay community and gay issues. On the one hand, the skating world itself is largely accepting and supportive of people who are gay, and the gay lifestyle. And at the risk of stereotyping–while also drawing on personal experience–there’s no shortage of gay men who loooooove the sparkly, sequined, drama-filled, voidy flair bonanza that IS figure skating. On the other hand, the negative connotations imposed upon the notion of being a figure skater, and/or a gay figure skater, by homophobic segments of the public have had hurtful and sometimes life-altering consequences for a number of people over the years. Male figure skaters in particular, straight or gay, travel a difficult road.

So, I feel strongly that it’s important for the figure skating community to support and celebrate pride, people, love, and acceptance.

On that note, I present the wonderfully fun and poignant Official Gay Card quiz, and the story behind it. In Christopher’s own words, “Take the quiz. Get the card. Spread the love. Enjoy and be proud.”

Thanks for listening.

32 blades. 16 skaters. 1 heart.

My name is Chelsey, and I adore synchronized skating.

I despised the first few years of my skating “career.” My parents enrolled me and my brother in CanSkate simply so we’d be able to hold our own at public sessions when we went skating with our classmates. I had to be dragged to the rink early Saturday mornings, and was filled with contempt as I sat perched atop the tall wooden bleachers in the arena and watched my parents tie my skates for me.

I remember noticing the precision teams performing in the club carnival when I was 9 or 10, and thinking it looked a lot more interesting and fun than skating alone. I joined a team when I was 11. I’d be lying if I said my love affair with the sport was instant. There were some rough patches the first few seasons–which should not come as a shock to anyone who’s ever spent significant amounts of time with large groups of adolescent girls–and at times I was certainly tempted to quit. But I held on just long enough so that something finally clicked…drew me in with a force that I couldn’t, and didn’t want to elude. I never looked back.

I competed for 16 years, up to the national Senior level, and when my desire to improve the sport grew stronger than my desire to compete, I became an official.

My time spent as a Technical Specialist and judge has been far more rewarding than I ever could have anticipated. I don’t know that anything will ever quite beat the rush of having one of “those” skates–the kind where for a few minutes in time, you’re mentally, emotionally, and physically connected to every one of your teammates in a way that’s hard to describe to anyone who hasn’t experienced it–but having the opportunity to offer teams feedback, educate coaches and skaters, and discuss skating ad nauseam with other like-minded officials has provided another level of excitement and inspiration I wasn’t quite expecting.

So. All that said, why create this blog?

In a nutshell–to share. To share information. To share experiences. To share insight into sometimes cryptic rules and communications, from an official’s perspective. To share ideas. To share memories. To share a love of the sport.

Welcome. I hope you’ll enjoy your time here.

– Chelsey