If you’re go­ing to fall, here’s how to do it

Waterloo Region Record - - Sports - LORI EWING

A mere frac­tion of a sec­ond sep­a­rates land­ing a jump from crash­ing to the ice. And Pa­trick Chan can usu­ally sense when he’s about to go down.

Like any com­pet­i­tive fig­ure skater, Chan has landed on his back­side thou­sands of times, and has learned to lessen the blow.

There is a right way and a wrong way to fall.

“There’s a cer­tain amount of brac­ing that you can cre­ate to lessen the im­pact. I do it sub­con­sciously now, I flex or al­most con­tract as I hit the ice, so it’s al­most like a bounce as op­posed to a splat on the ice,” said Chan, em­pha­siz­ing “splat” with a smack of his palm.

“It’s a bounce where you kind of get a skip and get right back up on your feet. You’re not killing all your mo­men­tum on the ice, you’re car­ry­ing it across the ice, like the skip of a stone.”

If only falls were as grace­ful as skip­ping stones.

The Gangne­ung Ice Arena has hosted a pageantry of un­flat­ter­ing tum­bles at the Pyeongchang Olympics.

“I hate fall­ing,” said world sil­ver medal­list Kaet­lyn Os­mond. “I hate fall­ing with a pas­sion, and I think that’s part of the rea­son why I learned my jumps and learned how to do them well be­cause I hate, hate fall­ing.”

From alpine ski­ing to short-track speed­skat­ing, nu­mer­ous win­ter sports fea­ture spec­tac­u­lar crashes. But there’s noth­ing quite like a wince-in­duc­ing fall in fig­ure skat­ing. It’s a jar­ring in­ter­rup­tion to a skater’s pro­gram, like a punc­tu­a­tion mark in a beau­ti­ful line of po­etry.

“There are falls where I’ll come back to my coach Lee (Barkell) and I’ll say, ‘I can feel my stom­ach in my throat,’” said Gabrielle Dale­man, who won bronze be­hind Os­mond at last year’s world cham­pi­onships. “There are falls where you lit­er­ally can feel your or­gans jump up and down.”

Canada’s two-time world pairs cham­pi­ons Mea­gan Duhamel and Eric Rad­ford added the throw quadru­ple Sal­chow for the 2014-15 sea­son, but the hours of per­fect­ing it — and fall­ing while do­ing it — took a toll on the 32-year-old Duhamel.

“I have a per­ma­nent in­dent in my right hip from fall­ing on the throw quad,” Duhamel said. “But it’s part of the game.”

Few pairs teams in his­tory have per­fected a quad throw, which sees Rad­ford hurl Duhamel four rev­o­lu­tions through the air. She lands back­wards on one foot. Rad­ford joked that when he tosses her, he does it with his best wishes of “Good luck!”

In the jump’s early days, Duhamel fell on the same spot in her lower back so many times, she couldn’t sit in her car to drive home. She stuffed pad­ding down the back of her pants at prac­tice to cush­ion the blow.

A fall comes with a one-point de­duc­tion, and can be the dif­fer­ence be­tween gold and miss­ing the podium en­tirely. Canada’s Kurt Browning fell on his triple Axel in his short pro­gram at the 1992 Al­bertville Olympics, and the reign­ing world cham­pion wound up sixth.

“A lift, the guy needs to know how to save it, that’s Pairs 101,” said Dy­lan Moscov­itch, who nar­rowly missed qual­i­fy­ing for Pyeongchang with pairs part­ner Lubov Ilyushechk­ina. “You have to be aware of where your emer­gency ex­its are, how to bring the lift down if it’s start­ing to feel off, what to do to stop her from meet­ing the ice face-first. Worst-case sce­nario we’re taught to jump un­der­neath. As a pairs guy, that’s kind of your job. Pro­tect your part­ner at all costs. Pre­cious cargo.”

The worst falls, skaters say, are the un­ex­pected ones. Moir’s em­bar­rass­ing back­wards fall when he clipped Virtue’s blade at the 2011 Grand Prix Fi­nal was the sub­ject of a com­i­cal Be­lairdi­rect TV com­mer­cial.

“We know how to brace our­selves, so that when we fall on a jump, it’s OK,” Os­mond said. “It’s the freak falls that hurt the most. The ones when you’re do­ing chore­og­ra­phy and you just hit your toe pick and ... face on the ice. Hope­fully those ones are never done in com­pe­ti­tion, be­cause that’s just re­ally em­bar­rass­ing. But I’ve done that, I’m not go­ing to lie.”

CANA­DIAN PRESS FILE PHOTO

Pa­trick Chan says there’s a way he braces him­self when land­ing on the ice, so that his body skims across the ice like a stone on water — and avoid a “splat.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.