Blog # 4 … the Free Skate at Coast

Today friends is the day, the day in which the rest of the season, the fate of my skating career is decided…today is the day of my freeskate at the 2013 Pacific Coast Championships, the final stage of qualifying for this year’s US Nationals.

Last night I was so mad, I didn’t have much to say other than the little bit that I wrote to you all. I was so mad and upset with my short program that I spent half of the night awake, tossing and turning and replaying my short program over and over in my head. When I finally told myself at some point in the morning (must have been around 2:15am or so) to move on and look onto the freeskate, I still couldn’t sleep because I was thinking about that!

I woke up around 7:30 this morning, groggy and very sleepy, still in a bad mood about the night before, and got ready and dragged myself down the hall for breakfast where I was met by none other than my good friend, Carolyn-Ann. We ate breakfast together and then I had to head off to my first of 2 practices. Usually the day I compete I do just one practice before I compete, but today I chose to do an extra before my 20 minute on ice warm up.

I couldn’t wait to get out onto the ice, I had so much built up aggression from the night before and I was determined to use it to my advantage and not to let it keep me down. That first session was exhilarating! I got out there and just skated, took out all my anger on the ice, but not completely, so when I was done with that practice I still had some anger for later! I soon rushed back to the hotel for a small break and then headed back to the rink for my 20 minute warm up. Again, still angry I used my anger to power me and keep me hungry for my goal. I had an even better practice and was feeling really good for this afternoon.

Now, an hour before I skated I was still mad but also very relaxed and ready. I took an opportunity yesterday to sit down with fellow GFFSC team mate, Max, and ask him about his experience at Sectionals. Sara, Max’s coach had told me about Max asking how to deal with nerves, and how she said you just have to acknowledge them and put them aside. I too told Max something along those lines after this, in fact, I think I told him nerves are good and they help you, but you can’t let them take over you. You have to control them and show them who the boss is.

Well, the skater before me just got off the ice, and it’s my turn. I stroked around and took in my surroundings, felt the ice under my feet and I was ready. I had a great 6 minute warm up prior to taking to the ice to compete and I felt so good, right until I got out there…and then…the nerves. I am not usually nervous when I compete, maybe nervous for a particular jump, or something small, I mean yes I do get nervous but nothing severe. Well I went to the wall for water and to receive some final words from my coaches, and then, it hit me, and it hit me hard!!!! I was nervous. I was standing there and all I wanted to do was quit right there and run off the ice like a 4 year old. But why, I was in 5th, I wasn’t fighting to stay in the top 4, in fact I had nothing to lose, and that’s when I thought to myself and thought about what I had told Max the day before, and how you have to take control of the nerves and show them who the boss is.

I took to my spot, the music started, and I just let go into my program and never looked back. It wasn’t my best skate, but it wasn’t my worst either. I popped one jump, and fell on another, and lost control on a spin. But the jumps and elements that I executed were strong and received high grades of execution for it. When I got off my coaches were proud of me and said I fought and that’s what mattered and what ever happened after that, well, that’s what it was! Well after me was 5 more skaters, 1 more in my warm up, and then the top 4 from the final warm up. I was sitting in first, which meant after the top 4 the lowest I could be was 5th…first alternate, like last year. I knew I just needed to get ahead of one more guy to make it, and well, today was my day! I ended up 4th in the long due to the mistakes made by one of the guys sitting in a top 4 spot, and came only 2 points from getting 3rd in the freeskate.

So, I made it, I conquered my fears and nerves and came out with the end result I wanted. It didn’t happen how I wanted it too, and I have a lot of work ahead of me. But I did it!!!

Thank you EVERYONE at GFFSC, family, and friends for your support this week! It was long, tough, and tears were shed (after we found out the final result) and I can’t wait to share more blogs with you all from Omaha, Nebraska this January!

Have a great Thanks Giving and Holiday Season.
Sean

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