I didn’t know what I didn’t know. That’s the easiest way to describe the entire experience of what it took to compete in Piala Walikota Solo 2017 last month. I had no idea what it would cost – not just financially, but emotionally, physically…the time it took, the mental exhaustion, it was a crazy ride, but in the end, I’m proud that I did it. This post is simply my way of giving back to all of the gals who haven’t competed.
I knew I’d have to train hard. It took a lot of discipline. I had to run my own warm up, decide what tricks to work on, etc. When I started, I would simply go in and work on tricks I thought I might use in the routine, specifically working on holding the tricks for long periods of time to build up my conditioning.
I took extra times and I even worked on stuff at home, but I still didn’t feel like I had stuff set up well, even in the week before the competition. That week, I had extra times, which was so helpful. I think the repetition really helped for the day of the competition.
What I wish I had done was really take it to heart that my choreography (trick, dance etc for classic slalom), tricks for battle slide, and my tapping run for speed slalom needed to be locked sooner. I think that, had I locked it sooner, I would had fewer slips and mistakes in the competition. The confidence of knowing the routine in and out would have been higher if I had locked the choreography sooner, too. That’s my advice to anyone looking to compete: start rehearsing immediately.
Choose tricks that you know how to do already and do well – or that you’re very, very close to locking, and work the hell out of them. Don’t throw in something new or something you only nail 80% of the time. Don’t chance it. Choreograph early and be smart about what you choose to do. Don’t forget to pay attention to musicality (for classic slalom), but not be so focused on it that it’s all you think about. Breathe and feel the music, but let your body flow, because if you try too hard to “hit” moments, it will come off as forced. It’s a weird balance.
Another miscellaneous piece of advice: get all of the elements of your costume together earlier, at least with enough lead time that you can rehearse in costume and work out any issues you may have. In my case, my hijab was my first attention.
The Day Of:
First, the obvious: get some good sleep! Go to bed early, because you’ll probably have nerves and not be able to fall asleep right away – better to give yourself a chance to get a little more sleep by trying to head to bed sooner. In my case, we actually rented a hotel room at the location of the competition. It was both to make my day easier.
I was up at 6:00 am to eat breakfast and stretch before the competition time began – because I wasn’t sure how many people would be jockeying for space…and I wanted to be sure that I got a chance to test the venue.
This is where another bit of advice comes in: always, always give yourself more time than you think you will need. I wouldn’t recommend being so late!
Other bits of advice: plenty of sleep, eat a solid breakfast (not too much sugar or caffeine), and keep yourself stretched and warmed up without overextending yourself and your strength.
As far as other advice, I had a huge list of things to pack, and they all ended up being important:
- All costume elements, all skating stuffs I thought I might use, snacks: protein bars, mineral water etc. (Anything reasonably healthy that could be eaten on the run and provide energy).
- Back up music: I also had the song on my phone, so I could listen to it with headphones when I was rehearsing and stretching the day of the event.
- All props. Seriously. All of them. Make a list. Check it twice.
- Cash for tipping, toilets, incidentals, items available at vendor booths, etc.
- A camera if you want your friends to take photos/video – or ask them to use their own.
There’s also the physical and emotional cost of competing. I wore myself down. I was able to train after work, but I was exhausted most of the time. Take care of yourself – eat better (eating well is my biggest challenge, always), sleep more, clear your schedule and treat yourself well.
After each training, I would have Salon-Pas heat patches on my knots/sore muscles just in case if they were really bad. I only had one really ugly emotional breakdown, once the exhaustion, nerves, and lack of preparedness caught up with me.
So, if you cry, know it’s totally normal!!! I felt like I sucked – I was terrified of letting people down and disappointing the people who believed in me and invested their time in helping me. I was overwhelmed beyond belief…and I am willing to bet that I was not alone in that feeling!
My advice? AGAIN: Be kind to yourself. Take time to give back to yourself – a night off to relax or do something that gives you joy – let yourself cry if you need it. Know that it’ll be all about the ups and downs, and that it’s totally normal.
In the end, it was an exhausting experience, but I ended up enjoying it after the fact. I do think that I enjoyed performing a little more because I am an ‘actor’, and performing is something I am conditioned to do. Hehehe…Whatever it is in me that knows how to do that kicked in and took over, which I think allowed me to let go of some of the mistakes I made mid-performance, at least within the performance itself.
Something would happen, and I would accept it and let it go in the moment – there’s no other choice, really. You have to pick yourself back up and keep going as if nothing happened. I felt so much for some of the girls that went ahead of me, who were nearly in tears when they walked off venue because of a mistake they had made in their performances.
Even with the mistakes I made – I had one slip that was super obvious, and I was too fast and had to improvise twice – I still understood that there was nothing I could do to change it after the fact.
Sure, I beat myself up a little bit afterward, but it doesn’t do any good to dwell. So, my advice: get up there, give it all you have, and if there’s a mistake, pick yourself back up and keep going with a smile, let it go, and when you step off venue…do your best to accept it and let it go again.
I placed second in classic slalom senior women category and third place in battle slide senior women category, which are amazing – Honestly, I am not sure if the fact that I placed made me see the competition as more fun or not, but it’s entirely possible – however, even before I knew my placement, I found myself having fun as soon as I performed.
The nerves beforehand got the best of me in terms of truly enjoying everything, but I did have fun being in the middle of the experience – getting to meet some of the other skaters, plus seeing the ones I knew; skating and makeup coming together; putting on my costume, etc. As soon as I was done performing, I had a blast and felt so thrilled to have done it. I was so proud of myself for getting up there and DOING IT. Seeing my friends waiting for me made it that much sweeter, too.
I guess that’s my last piece of advice: be proud of yourself for doing it. You committed to doing something that SO MANY other people would not have the stones to do. You put yourself out there, you competed, you performed, and no matter what the result, it took balls. It takes a lot of courage to get up like that, so be proud and own it.
It’s so hard to disconnect from the fear and the need to be recognized, but in the end, it is a really great opportunity to learn so many things. I had to remind myself of that – there were a lot of freak outs and tears that last week before the competition!
Just remember to focus on what you are already good at – don’t try to learn a zillion new things. Just perfect what you already know and use that in the performance. Lock your choreography early and practice it over and over, even just miming things in your living room.
And… try to be in the moment when you get there – have fun, take a moment to meet and connect with other skaters, get our of your head and enjoy the show.
Aside from the excitement of the Solo city as well as the competition, the crowd was incredible. There were skaters out there dressed in crazy outfits, and many talented plus potential skaters. It was just so incredible!! It gave me goosebumps. I just love the enthusiasm people bring to our sport over here!
I want to take the chance to really thank and recognize the people that helped make it possible this year. I want to thank my many friends, family, supporters, sponsors, club teams, and everyone else for stepping up and generously offering your help via financial support, cheers, and/or pointing me in a new direction. Freestyle slalom skating faces a unique challenge in that we must fund our way to success. Many times this may seem tough, frustrating, and unrealistic- but at the same time I think it challenges us to develop new skills and create a family of supporters. When we get our moment of success or glory, we get to share that success with the thousands of people that got us there.
I am just at the middle of my career, and I know that this year has only set a bar for my future. I look forward to continuing to set new goals and chase after these goals. We are excited to show up, mix it up, and be competitive. It truly is an exciting time.
And finally, thanks to all the wonderful people that sent support through various manners. Maybe even kind notes, cheers, or high fives. You are all wonderful people and help keep me going. I can’t tell you how much it means to get a nice feedback after a good competition, or a response to my social media. I love to hear that people are out there cheering and watching. Like I said, being able to share these goals and this passion with others is what makes it so special.