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Boot and Blade

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The Times They Are a Changin’

Sasha Cohen Spiral SequenceI was watching some old figure skating footage on YouTube, which is totally addictive by the way. Specifically, I was reliving Liz Manley’s free program from the ’88 Olympics–I know, I know, I was in a rather nostalgic mood. During the performance the commentators made a rather big deal that Liz Manley was seeing a sports psychologist in the build up to The Games.

They sounded quite smug about it–as though Ms. Manley lacked the grit to do it on her own.That got me thinking about all the things that have changed in the sport since I was a competitive figure skater back in the 80s and 90s.

Here’s my list. If you can think of others, let me know:

  1. If you’re a top level competitor in 2007 and aren’t using a sports psychologist, you’re at a serious disadvantage.
  2. We didn’t drink water during practice. Did bottled water even exist back then? Either way, we must have been pretty dehydrated.
  3. Tan coloured leggings are all the rage. Back in the day, that look would have never gone over. Nylons or tights, those were the options.
  4. Today, off-ice training is part of every skater’s regime. We have yoga and stretch classes to thank for Cohenesque spirals. Twenty years ago, the best way to train was to get back on the ice and jump around some more.
  5. Speaking of stretching… we didn’t stretch much. At the start of practice we swung our boots up on the boards for about five seconds to tug on our hamstrings, but that was it. We didn’t stretch after practice either. No wonder my muscles are still so… solid.
  6. Most significantly, there were the hours we spent perfecting school figures, which were eliminated from competition after 1990. I believe those hours are translating directly into triple, triple combinations today.

The times, they are a changin’.

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