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S.T.A.R.S.


style tests in the 1970s and 1980s. In my 20s and 30s I passed more tests, including all the moves-in-the-field tests. I now compete at the novice-junior level, which means I can run a


Local trainers Amanda Borges and Juan Sanchez helped conduct the combine.


program of 3:40 length and three Level 2 or 3 spins with the necessary stamina — but only with single jumps. Te stamina required for me to add the double jumps is another level of physical (and mental) fitness entirely. Outside of a program, I can land all jumps through a double loop, and on a good day I can even do a double-double combination. Not bad for 41 years old with two children under the age of 5, limited time to skate (let alone warm up off ice!), a full-time job and also trying to fit any free time on the side. Needless to say, it’s not ideal for maxi- mizing my potential in competition. Currently, I’m on the ice a mere two hours a week, which is only just enough for me to show up at the U.S. Adult Championships and not look like a complete idiot in front of a judging panel. Tere are cavernous holes and weaknesses in my training, and I would prefer to skate to my absolute highest potential. I came to S.T.A.R.S. hoping it would show me exactly how to fix those weaknesses. I was curious to see how I would stack up against skaters of a similar proficiency level. Before starting the 15 tests, the S.T.A.R.S. crew, assisted by Team USA pairs skaters Don Baldwin and Tiffany Vise, measured my height, weight and leg length. Leg length is critical when it comes to mea- suring flexibility; since some people have longer legs than others, the length of the leg is factored into the equation. Next was a series of jumping and speed tests, such as vertical leap,


short sprints and a series of tuck jumps. I tested well on all of those. But the next few tests were telling. I have really never been strong enough in the upper body for pushups or weight-bearing work. Te S.T.A.R.S. program provides data on all athletes tested in pri-


or years. Comparing myself to my peers, the average number of push- ups for a female at my level is 20 to 23. I was only able to complete a pathetic five.


Sam Gordon demonstrates his agility in the hex jump. Te hand press also tripped up most of the adults. As a test de-


signed for pairs and dance teams who use their upper bodies frequently in competition, few adult skaters could get off the ground at all. So I was told that my ability to get off the ground for a mere 0.75 seconds was admirable (or perhaps my assessor was just being kind). Te final tests were a series of flexibility and proprioception. I


scored high in leg and hip flexibility, which surprised me, but scored low with the Stork Stand yoga pose, which was no surprise. I’m ex- tremely flat-footed, and my feet overpronate, which also means that without orthotics my entire leg rolls inward, throwing me off balance. So holding a difficult yoga pose on one leg without shoes was difficult. U.S. Figure Skating’s Director of Sports Science and Medicine


Doug Johnsen gets tested on the side plank.


Peter Zapalo asked me whether adult skaters were sore several hours later or the next day after going through the combine. Since S.T.A.R.S. combines are sometimes held during competitions, this is a concern for skaters and parents as well. While I was a bit sore in my upper body, I had no trouble at all competing in my event the next day. And after interviewing a few other adult skaters of various levels, not one of them felt physically hindered by participating in the combine, and all thought it was fun. One skater actually landed two doubles in compe- tition that had been eluding her all week. So when all was said and done, I came away with a comprehensive


score sheet outlining that I do some things just as well as my younger peers and that I have some weaknesses, and I was given instruction on what I can do to improve. I’m glad to have provided the organizers with some metrics to add to the data that they provide to participants. By the 2014 U.S. Adult Championships in Hyannis, Mass., I hope to implement the feedback provided by S.T.A.R.S. and make improvements — assum- ing, of course, that my children, cats, work and daily life allow me the time.


Dana Opsincs, right, and her coach Kelly (Carrie) Paige


Perhaps I can fit in a few pushups before breakfast, do hand press- es on my office floor, or some vertical leaps down the street when run- ning after my kids. Every little bit helps.


SKATING 27


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