Sunflower Skates

Tracking my goals and progress as an adult figure skater

Month eight - Stop, drop & crossroll

September was a breakthrough month! I passed BOTH Level 6 and 7, and started working on the Level 8 curriculum.

Monday 2nd September
Skate UK - Level 6
Not a great start to the month! I had a really horrible day at work and ended up skipping my lesson tonight as I just couldn't face another week of not passing level 6.

Wednesday 4th September
Public Skate - Adults Only
A disaster of a practice session tonight. I ended up with only half an hour on the ice as I didn't want to go to work early so I could leave on time. I seem to have lost all the good progress I had made on my Inside 3 Turns, which is absolutely typical. I did some Crossrolls tonight and really enjoyed them. I seem to find any kind of footwork easy, except for these bloody 3 Turns!

Part of me is considering sneaking into Level 7 as I know I could pass it almost immediately, but another girl did that last week and everyone is really disappointed in her for being such a cheat. It'll only hurt me in the long run, but I've now spent 8 lessons on Level 6 over the course of 3 months (I'm not including my time off) and I'm starting to become frustrated with myself, the course and the coaches. I really need to buckle down and just spend a few hours practising them over and over - it's quite impressive in a way that I've got this far without any 'real' time spent practising outside of lessons.

Sunday 8th September
Private Lesson
I really, really enjoyed my lesson with Anthony today. We worked through all of the Level 7 curriculum for the first half an hour, then started on Level 8 for the next. He taught me a small step sequence of 3 Turns and Steps to Forwards which I loved. It made me feel really free and it was a lot of fun (even if I was incredibly dizzy). We had a little bit more practice on the dreaded Inside 3 Turns, and he gave me a few more tips for my lesson tomorrow. I might just end up begging and pleading with Jess to pass me on them in the condition that they're in, as I really can't wait any longer to get to Levels 7 and 8! I tried to have a short practice on the Public Session before my lesson, but the ice was just so carved up and nasty from so many people being on it that I couldn't get anything done at all.

Monday 9th September
Skate UK - Level 6
I DID IT! Well I almost did it! I have figured out the Inside 3 Turn and passed it on my right foot at least! It felt so amazing to have finally 'got' it and I was so pleased and proud of myself the entire night. Now all I have to focus on is my left, which I am determined to pass next week. I can do this, I know I can. Hilarity ensured tonight during the last minute of the lessons when I pushed myself a little too quickly on my left foot and toppled straight over. I lay there spread out like a drama queen laughing at myself - What a great lesson. Big smiles today.

Wednesday 11th September
Public Skate - Adults Only
Not a great practice. I ended up going on my own, and practicing is so boring when you're alone. I wasn't really able to even do my 3 Turns on my right foot, so it seems Monday was a lucky fluke that I passed them. I really want to get them on my left ASAP so I can go into 7.

Sunday 15th September
Private Lesson
I had another great lesson with Anthony today! I told him about passing the Inside 3 Turn on my right foot, and he reckons that if I concentrate and believe in myself, I could easily pass both 6 AND Level 7 tomorrow. As much as I know I am capable of this, I must not beat myself up about if I don't. There's lots of factors that could affect passing - The coach not getting to me, not coming around quick enough, not being allowed to move up. But I'm glad he believes in me, and I need to work on my confidence in myself too.

I learned Twizzles for the first time today, and I was really pleased to achieve them straight away! We also tried the One Foot Spin again but I was so terrified when he let go of me that I nearly cried - I wasn't expecting him to grab my leg and swing me! It was traumatic. But once again he had some lovely words of wisdom for me at the end of the lesson that I hope to carry with me on Monday.

Monday 16th September
Skate UK - Level 6/7
I DID IT!!! I passed it! I am so unbelievably proud of myself! The rest of the lesson was a bit of a cock-up as the Level 7 coach had hurt herself and wasn't in the lesson... nobody had told Jess and she was having to try and teach both on her own. So really I was only messing about in 7 this week (but I did practice my Mohawk) - next week will be my first proper week. I am so excited!

Sunday 22nd September
Private Lesson
A difficult lesson with Anthony today, but a lot of good progress was made. I tried the Continuous 3 Turns for the first time, and noticed my Insides were definitely improving, especially after last week! I need to be able to do 3 in a row for Level 8, and I'm very sure I can manage that. My mum filmed some for my Instagram, which I've uploaded. I did fall over and land on my knees, which hurt a lot, but somehow hasn't bruised (hooray!). Chubby knees are a blessing it seems! Anthony was full of praise as always, I love how he has so much confidence in me. I'm slowly working on the One Foot Spin - it's not quite as scary now I've tried it a few times and figured out all of the motions. We also worked on a short step sequence which included Toe Steps, Twizzles and 3 Turns. I don't have a very good memory for routines, so I'll need to practice and write it down quite a bit to remember it all.

Monday 23rd September
Skate UK - Level 7
Despite being unwell and missing work today, I dragged myself to my first Level 7 lesson, and I'm so glad that I did! It went exceptionally well and I really enjoyed it! As Eleanor is still injured, we had Lucy teaching us. I really like Lucy as she's very down to earth and pushes for perfection, rather than 'good enough', but without being harsh. She said my Mohawks were very good!!! That shocked me. Irritatingly my details hadn't been passed on to be on the register, and I truly believe that if they had been on then she would have passed me tonight. All I need to work on from her comments is my left Landing Position, which I'm determined to get next week. Finally things are going well for me!

Wednesday 25th September
Practice Session - Cancelled
No practice for me tonight as I'm still sick! I'm still glowing from Monday's lesson and dying to get back on the ice, but I can't risk making this cold any worse.

Sunday 29th September
Private Lesson
A horrible lesson, and a horrible day in general. I could not do anything that I learned last week. I was stuck in traffic getting to the rink which made me 10 minutes late for me lesson. This resulted in me forgetting my step sequence, losing any kind of movement resembling a Twizzle, and messing up literally everything else. To top it off, I landed heavily on my pocket of my jacket and snapped my bank card in half. To say I cried would be an understatement. Anthony was lovely as usual, trying to reassure me that I'm not a complete loser, but even he was getting frustrated that I'd somehow gone completely backwards in the space of a week.

Monday 30th September
Skate UK - Level 7
I passed Level 7!!!! Had a fantastic second lesson which resulted in an overall pass on all of my elements, even the dreaded Left Landing Position! I am so excited to get started on Level 8, but it will have to wait another week and I'm missing next week for my birthday! Hooray, a much better month overall.

Review: Roaring Mouse custom-made skating leggings

Finding properly fitting figure skating leggings as an adult is a struggle. At 5 foot 8 and fitting between a UK dress size 14 and 16, it's been a real hassle finding any that give me enough coverage on my tummy and bum, whilst being long enough to hook over the top of my skates.

After trying a Large, followed by an X-Large in Decathlon skating leggings and finding them horribly uncomfortable, I turned to an adult skaters Facebook group in search of some recommendations. What I found (or rather, found me) was a fellow skater called Morrigan, who owns Roaring Mouse - an online skating and activewear store. She very kindly offered to make me a fully custom-made pair of leggings to my exact measurements in exchange for my thoughts and feedback (as she was still working on perfecting the pattern.)

So what did I think to my first ever pair of custom leggings?

Firstly, it's important to mention that as these leggings are made to order, I had to be really careful in measuring myself. Morrigan made this process really easy by supplying me with a form detailing all the measurements required, along with tips and tricks for taking them. I managed to take the majority of measurements myself, and had my mum double-check each one to ensure the leggings would be a perfect fit.

The form also had space to write whether you would prefer high, medium or low-rise leggings, and if they were to go over the top or fit inside your skates. As I'm quite self-conscious of my chubby tummy, I opted for high-waist leggings which hooked over the top of my skates.
After sending off my measurements I was incredibly excited to receive my leggings, and I didn't have long to wait as they arrived only four days later. I was blown away at how quickly they had been made and shipped, so top marks there! They fit like a dream the first time I tried them on, although Morrigan let me know I could simply send them back and she would alter them if needed. As I have a short body and a very high waist, I was so pleased to have leggings that were truly high-rise and came above my belly button, whilst the 7.5cm waist band held my tummy in gently but still supportive (not dis-similar to Bridget Jones style pants, without the trauma of getting into them!)

The first thing I noticed upon wearing the leggings was just how soft and comfortable they are. Manufactured from softest, fleece-lined Italian Lycra, they feel silky to the touch whilst being oh-so warm and snuggly inside. This is a massive bonus compared to regular leggings, as ice rinks are not exactly warm places!

In addition, I love how they make me feel. I'm not the most body-positive person and have always been really self-conscious of my small hips and bum (baggy arse leggings - the worst), but my Roaring Mouse leggings skim every curve and actually make me feel really sexy and powerful whilst wearing them. I wouldn't normally be caught dead wearing leggings-as-trousers, but I feel so good whilst wearing these that I haven't thought twice about wearing them around Meadowhall shopping centre after a skating session. I also have a penchant for wearing absolutely massive pants, so it's amazing that the leggings are thick enough to hide any VPL (and keep the world safe from my granny-pants obsession.)
I would never feel confident to post the above photo in any other pair of leggings

I am also very impressed at how water-resistant they are - I'd been so careful not to fall and get them wet during my first session of wearing them on the ice, only to drop a full can of Pepsi on myself whilst taking off my skates. Luckily, the material seemed to repel the Pepsi without any soaking through, leaving my legs completely dry (if a little cold afterwards.)

Skating in my Roaring Mouse leggings is an absolute dream. I didn't realise just how good they were until I wore my dungarees to skate in one day. I noticed the difference and restricted movement immediately and cursed myself for being too lazy to change out of them. I've made sure to wear my leggings to every session from then on! The only gripe I have with them is that because the waistband is so wide, it can sometimes fold over on itself after I've been sat down, but that's nothing that a little fidgeting around doesn't solve.

Overall, these leggings are absolutely amazing. They keep me warm, comfortable and dry on the ice, and give me the confidence to wear them off-ice too. I can keep them on all day without a single thought of wanting to rip them off and burn them, like I did my Decathlon leggings (they would leave angry red marks on my tummy from digging in so much, and I would feel physically sick at the pain.) There's no way I could go back to wearing anything other than these to skate in now, and I would love if they were available in more colours or with patterned panels.

I'd like to think that figure skating is an inclusive sport, where everyone is capable of making beautiful and graceful movements on the ice, regardless of shape, size, age or gender. Which is why I find it such a shame that it's so difficult to find affordable and good quality practice wear if you're not a slim, petite teenage girl. But luckily, Roaring Mouse has us covered with an array of floaty chiffon skirts and custom-made leggings, to keep us older, chubbier and non-standard sized skaters comfortable and confident, no matter what we're working on.

Roaring Mouse Custom-made Ladies Fleece-lined Lycra Leggings are available to purchase on Etsy now, and are priced at £55 plus delivery.

Month seven - On thin ice

August was a difficult month for me. I struggled with a lot of feelings of failure and contemplated quitting Skate UK lessons, before finally seeing a light at the end of the tunnel during my last lesson of the month.

Monday 12th August
Skate UK - Level 6
What an absolutely horrible lesson. I got into the car and cried immediately after. I felt so stupid, like I couldn't do anything that I tried to do. Even after figuring out my Backwards Crossovers, it seemed like I lost them again. I'm going to be stuck in Level 6 forever, I just know it. The worst is those Inside 3 Turns, I'm never going to get them. I feel so useless. Someone I had rolled my eyes at a few weeks ago is now doing amazing and has passed me, so I feel just awful.

Wednesday 14th August
Private Lesson
I had a good lesson with Anthony, albeit a difficult one. We worked really hard on the Inside 3's, and yet I still can't get them. I don't know just what my problem is. I could do them perfectly fine holding his hand, then it all went to pot as soon as I tried them on my own. I need to get out of my own head and try not to overthink the mechanics of it. And then I need to practice, a lot. I'm meeting Melissa on Saturday for a bit of practice, so hopefully I will make some progress then. On a positive note, I seem to have found my Backwards Crossovers again, and Anthony was quite pleased with them, which is something at least.

Saturday 17th August
Public Skate - 1:30pm to 3:30pm
I really hated the idea of coming to the public skate initially, but by the end of the sesson I felt ok with it. I did keep on getting irritated at the number of horrible chav children messing around and pushing each other over, but other than that it was fine. I didn't manage to get much practicing done, bu it was nice to join up with a group of people as I do tend to struggle with cliquey groups, but everyone was nice so there's a bonus. I'm still not sure how I want to progress with Skate UK - if I don't pass any elements on Wednesday then I'm definitely jacking it in.

Monday 19th August
Skate UK - Level 6
Today's lesson sucked, which seems to have become the norm for Monday evenings. Once again it feels like the lesson went by really quickly, without actually getting anything done. We now only have one coach for the lesson, which makes it difficult for her to get round everyone when we are all working on different things. Fortunately, I do now know exactly what I need to work on for Wednesday. The elements I have left to pass are the Backwards Crossovers, Backwards Step to Forward, and the Inside 3 Turns (obviously), have crossed off my Slalom and 2 Foot Spin weeks ago. I hope I can pass just one thing on Wednesday, that will make it all worthwhile.

Wednesday 21st August
Skate UK Intensive Day - Level 6
Ahhh I had such a fantastic day!! I managed to pass my Backwards Crossovers before breakfast, and Step to Forward during the final session of the day (and had my Slalom double-checked.) I am so pleased with myself for the Step to Forward as I could not do it at all at the start of the day, and now I've managed to nail a really consistent one both sides. I'm going to make sure I practice it often so as not to lose it, as I'm really proud of myself. Now all I have left is the Inside 3 Turns. I'm probably setting my sights too high, but I would ideally like to pass them before the end of this month, and start September off in Level 7. That would be absolutely perfect, and I'm glad to have a plan to aim for.

Saturday 25th August
Private Lesson
I had a really enjoyable lesson with Anthony this morning! We spent the hour on all of the Level 7 skills, and the majority of them he said he would pass if he was coaching on Skate UK. That was really, really greate to hear and made me feel a lot better about my progress on the whole! It would be really great if I could finally crack these 3 turns, have a lesson or two on 7 and then go straight into 8!

Public Skate - 1:30pm to 2:45pm
A guy called Nick helped me out a lot with my 3 turns on the public skate after my lesson. He was really patient and supportive of me, which was really nice. Just realised that my previous plan to start Level 7 in September won't actually work as I only have one Skate UK lesson and no public skates before then, oops!

Monday 26th August
Skate UK - Level 6
IT CLICKED. I've been waiting for it for so long, and tonight the Inside 3 Turns finally clicked! All it took was ensuring my free leg was as far behind me as possible, then bam, it works! Now all I need to do is practice it to get it as nice as possible, then I can go into Level 7. Ami-Lee passed into 7 tonight which is really cool for her, but she kindly offered to stay with me next week and help out. 

It may have taken the whole month, but I'm so glad that I finally figured out the mechanics of it all!