June 2, 2013

Dealing With Trophy Hunters

Hey guys!! I'm back!! *waves*

Thanks so much for stopping by today. I realise it's been a while since my last post, and for good reason(s): I've seen the hand surgeon and it turns out I'm going to need some more tests (this may mean that blogging slows down again in the near future... boo); I was going through my end-of-year-3 (out of 4! Woohoo!) exams at university; we've been cleaning out our house (and oh yes, that means emptying that last moving box from 2 years ago... *hides in shame*). So as you can see a lot has been going on! I'd love to know how you've been spending the start of summer, so don't hesitate to drop a comment or come say hi via Facebook or Twitter!

Now, on to today's post. I was going through some old skating photos and thinking back to my childhood in the rink, and I must admit that my mind did wander to that feeling of going into a competition, knowing you weren't going to win it. Of course this happens 99% of the time (if not more), but usually for a ton of reasons. It happened to me quite a bit simply by glimpsing at the competitor list however: if a trophy-hunting skater was participating, I knew the top spot was as good as already taken.

If you're skating competitively, or your child is, I'm pretty sure if you've read this far y'all know what I'm talking about. For everybody else, in short: trophy hunters are those skaters who stay down a level even though they are more than capable of passing a higher test, just to spend a season competing and picking up trophies.

I've always thought that this practice goes against some of the core values of any sportsmanship: self-betterment, aiming high, pushing oneself, and striving to continually reach new goals. Trophy hunting in this way seems like the anti-thesis to advancement through the ranks in an attempt to just get wherever you can (preferably while enjoying the ride, but that's another story!).

If you or your child is up against some of these kids, it can be super dis-heartening and down-right annoying to see them come out time and again, with moves that the rest of the herd just haven't mastered yet. Axel and a double sal while all the other kids (including yours) still only have a full set of singles in their program? Spending the whole season feeling like you'll never have a chance at gold can be enough to put some little ice stars off permanently, so what can be done about it?

Essentially there is nothing you can do to stop these skaters competing in events, provided they can qualify in terms of both standard, and age. But that doesn't mean that you have to let them ruin your season!

The best thing you can do is take the high road. I know it sucks sometimes, but often this is the only way. There are a few key things to remember when competing against these skaters. The most important thing to take away from any competitive setting is how you've performed in relation to yourself. Are you improving this season? Did you nail that jump that you messed up at your last event? These are the milestones that truly mean something about how you are skating, and how you're improving, as opposed to a meaningless placement behind a skater who should have moved up several months ago.

Another thing to keep in mind is your own personal goals. If you are working hard towards a test and are planning to move up soon, then that is where your efforts should lie. All skaters mature differently, and although one skater may get their axel prematurely, others may catch up and often times overtake these precocious skaters later on down the line. I was one of those late-bloomers, but boy did it feel good to catch right up!

If you're just itching to compete at least once without the trophy hunter by your side, you can always try and find out which competitions they'll be attending. And I don't necessarily mean by gossiping and extrapolating information read between the lines of hearsay: go right up to the skater/parents and ask. They know fine well their skater is over-qualified, and quite frankly 9 times out of 10 they'll be embarrassed if asked straight-faced where they plan on not competing, because you quite honestly want a chance at competing only with skaters of the same standard. Sure that is kind of a strong-willed approach, so it depends on your personality, but I'd definitely give it a go!

Lastly, I suggest that you call up your best friend and have a good moan. Sometimes that's all that's left to do, and it can be surprisingly satisfying!! ;-)

Until next time, keep on keepin' on!
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