Healthy Yet Tasty Sweets For the Holidays

2018-19 U.S. Figure Skating DREAM Program and Starlights Synchronized Skating Team Member, Brittney Rivelli

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Hi everyone!

With the holiday season upon us and winter training quickly approaching, it is important that we continue to fuel our bodies efficiently. Around this time, baking with friends and family is very popular, so it is the perfect chance to try out some new, healthy recipes! Over the past few weeks, my teammates and I have been testing out various pre and post-practice snacks and have been pleasantly surprised with the outcome!

Here are a few of our favorite recipes (so far!):

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Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, mash the ripe bananas with a fork. Stir in the peanut butter, and mix until smooth.
  3. Add in the oats and stir until combined.
  4. Add dark chocolate chips
  5. Drop spoonfuls of dough onto prepared baking sheet. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until cookies are set. Let cool on baking sheet for two minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely.

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EmergingTrends inReal EstateDirections:

  1. Remove the pits from the Medjool Dates and pack them (really pack them!) into 1 cup. Transfer the Dates to a larger bowl and cover with hot water. Soak the Dates for 10 minutes (or just cover the Dates in water and microwave for 60-80 seconds if you want to be efficient).
  2. If you do not have Oat Flour, make some by blending a scant ⅔ cup of Quick or Rolled Oats in a Blender for 45-60 seconds until smooth and fluffy.
  3. Drain any excess liquid off of the Medjool Dates (they should be relatively moist, but not dripping) and add them to a food processor or high speed blender with the remaining ingredients for the Caramel. Process until thick and smooth, scraping the sides of the device if necessary.
  4. Remove the Date “Caramel” from the food processor. Add the Oat Flour to the food processor with ¼ cup of the Date Caramel and process until well incorporated. This should form a slightly sticky “dough” that will hold together when you pinch it.
  5. Firmly and evenly press the Oat Flour Nougat into a small and narrow container.
  6. Use a spatula to spread the remaining Date Caramel evenly over the Nougat, then sprinkle the Peanut Pieces over the Caramel. Use your fingers to press the Peanuts into the Caramel layer, so they stick.
  7. Place this in the freezer for 60-90 minutes, until firm.
  8. Remove the frozen “filling” from it’s container, then use a sharp knife to cut it into bar-sized pieces. Return these to the freezer while you melt your chocolate.
  9. Melt your Chocolate using either a double boiler or the microwave. If you choose to use the microwave, place your Chocolate pieces in a wide bowl (so the candy bars will fit along the base) and microwave at 30 seconds intervals, stirring in between. Once the Chocolate is 75% melted, stop microwaving and stir the mixture with a spatula until completely melted.
  10. Moving quickly,  place 1 candy bar into the bowl of melted Chocolate. Use two forks to “flip” the bar, until it is coated in chocolate on all sides. Remove the bar from the melted chocolate, letting any excess chocolate drip off. Then, place it onto a plate lined with parchment paper. Repeat with the remaining bars.
  11. Place the bars in the fridge for 5-10 minutes, to allow the Chocolate to harden.
  12. Serve and enjoy! Bars are best stored in the fridge and will last there for up to 10 days. You can also place them in the freezer, where they will last for up to one month – just let the bars thaw for 5 or so minutes before enjoying.

Source here.


EmergingTrends inReal Estate

EmergingTrends inReal EstateDirections:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 12-count muffin pan very well with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Add the oats, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt to a large mixing bowl and mix until well combined.
  3. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, maple syrup, and vanilla extract until fully combined. Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix until well combined. Add the chopped apple and gently mix it in.
  4. Evenly distribute the mixture between all 12 cavities in the prepared muffin pan. Bake at 350°F for 25-27 minutes, or until the tops of the oatmeal cups are lightly golden brown and firm. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for about 5-10 minutes, then remove the oatmeal cups and transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Source here.

Feel free to share some of your favorite healthy recipes with us! I hope everyone has the happiest of holidays and very productive training this winter!

Love,

Brittney

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Gift Exchange Ideas

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Written By: 2018-19 DREAM Program and Starlights Synchronized Skating Team Member, Hailey Rosenberg

Hi everyone!

As the holiday season is approaching, many teams are reaching the peak of the season and the most significant portion of their training. This does not mean, however, that the holiday is season is all work and no fun! While my team and I spend a lot of time practicing in preparation for our upcoming competitions, we always find time to celebrate the holidays and new year together.

Whether this means coming together for a holiday party, team dinner, and/or a gift exchange, I always enjoy spending quality time with my teammates around this time of year.

Here are some fun, affordable, and useful gift ideas for your teammates:
1. Practice essentials (gloves, hand warmers, chapstick)
2. Candy is always a good idea:)
3. Fuzzy socks
4. Neck pillow for traveling
5. Make-your-own hot chocolate kit
6. Headband/earwarmer

 

Make gift giving more creative by packaging in:
1. Mason jar with ribbon
2. Mug
3. Water bottles
4. Coffee cup
5. Holiday bag with tissue paper
6. Festive wrapping paper

You can also personalize your gift by:
1. Adding photos
2. Attaching quotes
3. Incorporating decals with a name, monogram, or initials
4. Including memories you’ve shared

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I hope everyone has a happy holiday season and keep working hard!

Love always,
Hailey

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5 Tips for Staying Focused and Calm During Finals Season

Written By: 2018-19 U.S. Figure Skating DREAM Program and Skyliners Senior Team Member, Kelsey Bialo

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While I love the holiday season, it unfortunately also brings with it a two-week finals period for most college students, one that is filled with stress, little sleep, and lots of exams. As I start my finals marathon this week, I have been thinking about strategies that help me to keep on task while also keeping my sanity.

  1. Make a game plan for yourself.

Especially when assignments become difficult to prioritize when all are due in within a short period of time, it is important to organize your studying time. At the beginning of each day, I set studying “goals” for myself to direct my focus and keep me on pace so that I’m not leaving anything until the last minute (which I do often!). My studying “game plan” includes what topics/sections I plan to review, the study strategies that will be most effective in helping me review, and how long I will spend focused on one class’ material before I move onto the next.

  1. Have a playlist on hand.

I am someone who lives her life with and through music. At any given point during finals season, I will always have at least four or five different playlists on rotation, ranging from classical music during writing to pump up just before I walk into my exam room. Even if you are someone who needs silence in order to be most focused, it might be helpful to keep at least one singalong, jump/dance/party song on hand to let loose to when the stress gets overwhelming.

  1. Studying can be social, too!

One of the worst parts of final exam period is the inevitable feeling of loneliness, because you spend most of each day buried in your textbooks or paper outlines. Since I go to college, I’ve always made a point of studying with other people, and that doesn’t always mean group studying. For some classes it may be helpful to review with friends, but I have found that even for classes with final projects/papers it can be comforting to have a friend nearby. Even if you are both entirely focused on your own work, it serves as a reminder that you are not alone in the finals battle!

  1. Take care of your mind and body.

While it might not feel as difficult as a back-to-back run through practice, studying is exhausting, and it is important to take care of yourself. The week before my exams begin, I am sure to stock up on healthy snacks that are easy to graze on during extended studying periods, like trail mix, granola, carrots, etc. Additionally, I try to do my workout or skating each day sometime in the afternoon as a way to break up long periods of studying and help me refocus.

  1. Try to keep things in perspective.

While grades are important, at the end of the day, no single grade will make or break your GPA, and none of them are what will be important to you years from now. Stress is expected, but try to keep what matters in perspective, and do not let finals week consume. Remember: you run finals, they don’t run you!

I hope you can find some helpful points from my own studying habits, and good luck to all of you who are wrapping up your semesters and headed into winter training!

– Kelsey

Giving Tuesday

Written by: 2018-19 U.S. Figure Skating Skyliners Senior Team and DREAM Program Member, Kylie Saloma

Hi,

I hope that everyone had a nice thanksgiving and got to spend time with their families. This time of year always makes me think about everything that I am fortunate to have and the support system that is behind me. With Christmas soon approaching and the holiday where one is to give thanks has just passed, I find it really important to take time to give back to others. Simple acts of kindness in your community or volunteer opportunities are a great way to do so. Here are five of the charities that I am a strong supporter of:

1. Make a Wish: I am proud to participate in the Make A Wish charity. As a member of the Chi Omega sorority at Quinnipiac University, our philanthropy is for the Make A Wish foundation. This organization grants “wishes” to children who are diagnosed with severe illnesses. Our sorority hosts two major fundraisers a year to raise money for these children including a basketball game and a carnival.

 

2. Ronald McDonald House Charities: I love this organization because it was founded close to my home in Philadelphia. This charity provides a home environment for families of seriously ill children who are hospitalized or in long term treatment programs. They also give support and furnish resources to ensure that families stay together.

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3. St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital: This is a touching charity that through donations, has the ability to preform research with the goal of finding cures and preventing pediatric diseases. Their mission is to provide treatment to all children regardless of race, religion, and a family’s financial status.

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4. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA): This is the first humane society established in North America and serves as a voice for animals. I have always loved animals and have a dog of mine own. I find it heartwarming to see that almost 50,000 animals have been rescued from harm through this organization.

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5. Toys for Tots: This organization is prevalent this time of year with the holidays quickly approaching. This program is run by the US marine corps and distributes newly donated toys to children whose parents cannot afford to buy them gifts for Christmas. I have been donating toys to this organization since elementary school. The donation boxes are usually found in libraries, schools, and community centers in your local area.

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These are a few of the organizations that are close to my heart. There are countless others that do wonderful deeds for people across the country and around the world. I think it is important to identify a cause that you are passionate about and look if there is a way that you can show your support. As you can tell I love organizations that advocate for children and animals. I encourage you all to identify something with meaning to you and find a way you can make a difference this holiday season.

Best Wishes and Dare to Dream,
Kylie

2018 Kalamazoo Kick-Off Recap!

DREAM skater, Rachel Teets on Crystallettes Senior’s performance at Kalamazoo Kick-Off: 

Our free skate debut at the Kalamazoo Kick Off Classic was a success. We were very happy with our skate, and had so much fun bringing the story of Maleficent to life! Now we’re just counting down the days until Porter!

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DREAM skater, Kara Klomparens on Adrian College’s performances at the Kalamazoo Kick-Off:

Kalamazoo Kick-Off was a short and sweet competition this past weekend. All of Adrian College’s teams took the ice confidently and put out strong skates in each event. The teams enjoyed watching the younger skaters’ new programs and are grateful to the Greater Kalamazoo Skating Association for hosting such a smooth and fun competition. We look forward to committing to training and preparing to compete at the Dr. Porter Classic in two short weeks!

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Skating, Academics, and Pre-Professional Development

Written By: 2018-19 U.S. Figure Skating DREAM Program and Skyliners Senior Team Member, Kelsey Bialo

Every synchronized skater knows the challenges that come with being a full-time student-athlete. In high school, balancing skating and academics meant getting ahead on school work before long weekends of practice, keeping in close contact with my teachers about competition absences, and relying on my friends for help with missed notes and classwork. When I got to college, however, in addition to intensified academic responsibilities, pre-professional development became an extra plate to balance.

As a sophomore at a competitive liberal arts college, there is as much emphasis on academic rigor as extra-curricular and pre-professional experience. Entering my freshman year, I found myself surrounded by classmates who had founded non-profits, developed their own code, or done extensive research in infectious disease clinics, all by their senior year in high school. I came into college feeling as though I had nothing to contribute; my only work experience was teaching Learn-to-Skate, and, not coincidentally, working at figure skating camps. While I am grateful for these valuable work experiences and the chance to see skating through another lens, I sometimes cannot help but feel behind in terms of planning out a career path and securing internships and future work opportunities outside of skating.

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What I have learned to remind myself is that although I have never had the same time and energy to commit to pre-professional development as many of my peers have had, a lifetime of commitment to skating can open doors, too. It is important to take into consideration the connections you have through skating, and to not be afraid to ask around for jobs; there is a high likelihood that you know someone in your field of interest, or an old teammate’s parent knows someone with a connection. More often than not, people in the skating world – those who know firsthand the incredible commitment required to skate competitively – will be thrilled to help you achieve your goals outside of skating and support your search to build work experience and a professional network.

Additionally, in the hunt for jobs and internships, although there will inevitably be time constraints that make balancing skating and pre-professional work challenging, skating provides you with valuable skill-sets and lessons to help you navigate professional experiences. Particularly in interviews, drawing on personal skating experiences can be useful and effective; most employers will recognize the hard work, determination, and dedication required to be a competitive athlete, and will understand how these traits easily translate into professional spaces.

Most importantly, never minimize the value of your skating career! While there may be moments when you feel like “All I’ve done with my life is skate,” it is important to remember the invaluable experiences and lessons a lifetime of skating has given you, and that those experiences and connections will undoubtedly support you in the search for your next career.

– Kelsey

 

What Does It Take to Be On Team USA?

Written By 2018-19 U.S. DREAM Program and Crystallettes Team Member, Rachel Teets

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When you join a synchronized skating team, you may not realize how far this amazing discipline of figure skating can take you. Sure it was not my original goal at the age of 5, but by the time I was 8, all I could think about was being good enough and old enough to try out for Team USA. Now that I am here, I can honestly say that it is an inexplicable honor to represent your country and stand beneath your flag as it rises to the rafters during an international competition award ceremony. This is something much bigger than yourself, as our coaches repeatedly remind us, “It’s not about the me. It’s about the we!”

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Here are the top three qualities needed to become a member of Team USA.

Selflessness

You need to realize that you are now a part of a bigger picture, that your needs now become secondary to that of the team. On the ice, you have to be willing to accept your role, regardless of how big or small and regardless of being in the front row or back, or even as a full spot, alternate or swing position skater. Off the ice, you will sacrifice the social aspects of high school and college life for the better of the team. It means putting your team first. Being 100% committed to your teammates is incredibly important as a member of Team USA.

Resolve

Without judging your success or failure, you need to make decisions that will keep you on the path to achieving your goals. No matter how tired you are, no matter how many times you fall or fail, you must get up, keep going and try until you succeed. It’s the difference between just having a dream and the determination to do whatever it takes to turn that dream into a reality.

Passion and Purpose

You must be dedicated to the “nth” degree. Skaters with passion and purpose literally love all aspects of training. Whether it is off-ice choreography, on-ice skills, strength and conditioning, video review or double runs, a true athlete looks forward to it and gives their all.

To achieve this, I recommend setting specific chronological goals to put you on the path of preparation for excellence. For example, I will be on a juvenile team and pass my intermediate moves by the time I am 12. Next, I will be on a novice team and pass my junior moves by the time I am 14. Then you will be ready to audition for the junior or senior division of Team USA.

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“Learn to be thankful for what you already have, while you pursue all that you want.”

Written By: 2018-19 U.S. DREAM Program and Adrian College Senior Varsity Team Member, Kara Klomparens 

Wake up. Work out. Go to class. Skate. Study. Practice Gratitude. Sleep. Repeat.
Wake up. Work out. Go to class. Skate. Study. Practice Gratitude. Sleep. Repeat.
Wake up. Work out. Go to class. Skate. Study. Practice Gratitude. Sleep. Repeat.

Skaters have to make a lot of sacrifices to reach their maximum potential. Whether it’s going to the movies on a weekend, attending a school dance, or just hanging out with friends, we often have to say no because we have training or we need rest.

Synchronized skaters have an especially long season with far fewer competitions than traditional sports, so it can be easy to feel like all we ever do is train. The combination of making difficult choices during a long season and the daily monotony of training can make it easy to lose sight of why we do what we do.

When we lose sight of “the why” it becomes very easy to lose motivation or think negative thoughts. So what do we do? Practice GRATITUDE.

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We are so lucky to be a part of this incredibly unique sport. Synchronized skating, and all that comes with it, is not what we HAVE to do, but something we GET to do.

There are few sports that combine athleticism, artistry, and comradery. Taking the ice with your best friends supporting you is something only few people get to experience in their lifetime. I promise that when you look back on your time in skating that you won’t remember the sacrifices you made, but rather the moments your team bonded together, overcame an obstacle, or achieved a life-long dream.

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Taking time to appreciate everything synchronized skating gives to us is a very important way to stay positive, focused, and motivated. Feeling and expressing gratitude, especially in the most difficult circumstances, will help you remember why you’re making those tough choices and chasing your dreams.

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Here are some ideas for practicing gratitude:

  • Make a list of 10 things that you’re grateful for in skating. It can be anything, big or
    small. Tack it up on your mirror or somewhere you’ll see it regularly.
  • Instead of groaning when your coach wants to work on stroking, appreciate the
    opportunity to improve your basics.
  • Smile when an extra practice gets added, because it means more time with your
    teammates.
  • Be thankful for the soreness after workouts, because your body is now going to be
    stronger.
  • Take advantage of the time between competitions, and acknowledge the time you have to grow.
  • Say thank you to your coaches, teammates, team managers, support staff, and family members who help you along the way.

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Do your best to remember how lucky you are and how much you have been blessed with. Know that your sacrifices give you strength and let you accomplish what others cannot. The discipline, work ethic, and responsibility you learn on the ice will serve you for the rest of your life. Choosing to practice gratitude for these things every day will improve your experience as a skater. Embracing and being thankful for everything you experience as a skater (the good, the bad, and the ugly) will help you on your journey to becoming the teammate, student, leader, friend, and person you want to be, which is what being an athlete is truly all about.

~Kara

Introducing Hailey Rosenberg

Written by 2018-19 Starlights Junior and DREAM Program Member, Hailey Rosenberg

Hi Everyone!

My name is Hailey Rosenberg, and I am from Deerfield, Illinois. I am excited to begin my fifth season as a member of Starlights Junior and my first season as a DREAM Skater!

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My skating career began at age six, when I marched onto the ice at a local rink for my first group lesson. As I fell down and got back up time and time again, I began to feel a sense of freedom and spontaneity gliding along the ice’s surface.

My first (ISI) Synchro Nationals at Miami University.

This all changed at age eight, only two years after my first steps on the ice. As I watched synchronized skating for the first time in my rink’s annual ice show, there was something so mesmerizing about a team flying across the ice in unison. Little did I know that this single performance would bring a decade of synchronized skating into my life. A few months later I joined that very same ISI youth skating team that had captivated me, and since then I have never looked back. As gratified as I had felt gliding across the ice on my own, synchronized skating fulfilled me with a new sense of both excitement and unity. I skated on Teams Elite’s ISI teams for four years before joining Starlights Intermediate and then Junior the very next year.

As I enter my fifth season with Starlights Junior, my tenth year of skating synchro, and my senior year of high school, I have reflected on everything this sport has brought me. Beyond the physicality of synchronized skating, this sport has provided me with worldly experiences, valuable skills, and lifelong friendships. These countless opportunities as a synchronized skater have shaped my identity and taught me that no force is as strong as teamwork. As my teammates and I quite literally have each others’ backs, I feel incredibly fortunate to forever be a part of such a supportive community.

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These athletic and academic milestones have also caused me to think about the next four years of my life, as I have a very significant transition ahead of me. Although I am unsure of where college will take me, I know synchronized skating will continue to play a large role in my life!

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Inspired in part by synchro, I am interested in pursuing a career in sports medicine and physical therapy. I am fascinated by this field because it is an intersection of several passions of mine: learning about the science of the body’s motion, coaching a patient through the healing process, and the inspiration of mentoring a high potential athlete. I hope to provide injury prevention and rehabilitation practices for developing synchronized skaters, and instill in them the resilience needed for a sustained athletic career.

As we begin the 2018-2019 competition season, I want to share a saying that has inspired me throughout my skating career: “Reach for the moon, and even if you miss you will land among the stars.” By setting goals that may appear to be out of reach, even if they are not ultimately attained, you will end your journey much stronger than had you set your standards low. Believe in yourself and your abilities, and you will be capable of achieving astonishing results!

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I am looking forward to the upcoming synchro season and seeing you all at competitions!

Best of luck this year!

Love always,

Hailey

Monitoring Readiness

Written By: 2018-19 Miami University Senior Varsity Synchronized Skating and U.S. DREAM Synchro Member, Bailey Styzinski 

As the 2018-2019 synchronized skating season begins, skaters across the country are preparing for monitoring sessions to increase competitive success.

For Junior and Senior level teams named to the International Selection Pool (ISP), October means International Monitoring. Teams nominated to the ISP are lucky to have judges and technical specialists visit their practices and give feedback to help them improve before the official start of their competitive season. Junior and Senior level teams aren’t the only levels that have access to monitoring sessions, though. Whether your coach invites a judge or technical specialist to observe your practice, or you sign up for a monitoring session offered at a competition, it is very likely your team will have a monitoring session. Here are some tips to help prepare you for monitoring sessions and help you and your team maximize your time in front of your monitors:

1.    You don’t have to be perfect.

Every team has an October (or November). One of the things I love about synchronized skating is that our programs are built for us to grow in to. You might not have every last head down, and your team might not be pushing the pattern of your program(s) all the way out to the walls, but that’s ok! Monitoring is about working through issues—not being perfect.

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2. Be 100% committed to everything you do.

Chances are, everyone is not going to be completely positive on where your head is supposed to be turned on count two of your second set of eight in your pivoting line. But, if everyone does what they think the head is supposed to be with confidence, it will be a lot easier for your monitors to point differences out to your coaches. They want to see you give each element all you’ve got so they get a good sense of what your program(s) will look like when it is Nationals-ready.

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3. Don’t be nervous, they’re there to help you.

I used to be so intimidated by monitoring sessions because it was hard for me to get past the set of monitors giving my team feedback. Especially because those monitors would probably be judging us at competitions later in the season. It’s so important to remember that the monitors are really there to be as helpful as possible to your coaches and team. Take advantage of their expertise and experience! Everything they say is to help you and your team take your program to the next level.

4. Really listen to what the monitors have to say.

Between each section or full-run you perform for your monitors, the monitors will probably give either you or your coaches some feedback. When monitors are addressing your coaches, make sure you’re quiet and attentive so that the monitors and your coaches can really focus on relaying their impressions of your program(s). When monitors address you and your team directly, be sure to really listen to what the monitors have to say. The opportunity to be monitored doesn’t come around often, so you really want to make the most of all the feedback they give you.

 

5. Give all of their suggestions your best shot.

Sometimes the monitors might suggest making changes that are outside of your comfort zone. They don’t expect the things they implement to look perfect on your first try, but giving their suggestions your best shot will go a long way for their impression of your team.

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6. Give the whole session everything you’ve got.

Monitoring sessions are hard. Usually your team will start off with a full-run of your program(s). Other than the time they spend giving your coaches and team feedback, you will be running sections (or maybe even doing another full-run) of your program(s). It can be a lot of intense skating, but really give it all you’ve got. At this point in the season, you have nothing to lose. Remember that the work you put in will only make you stronger.

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7. Monitoring sessions aren’t easy, but they’re worth it.

Having an outside opinion on that tricky pivoting block or sticky three-spoke can be extremely valuable. You might have to run a certain section multiple times in order for your monitors to really understand what’s going on, so be patient. Their feedback goes a long way, so push through the tough sections!

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8.Have fun!

We don’t always have the opportunity to perform for an audience outside of competitions, so really take advantage of your audience. Have fun interacting with the monitors throughout your program(s). I’m sure it’s more enjoyable for them to watch if you’re out there really performing and having a great time doing what you love.

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