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ISPO Beijing Freestyle Competition

Part 1

by Naomi Grigg, March 2007


ARGH!!! It sounds like a nightmare that I might have had a couple of years ago - I find myself at an Asian freestyle competition, surrounded by many many awesome slalomers, and I’ve hardly looked at a cone all winter & don’t seem to be able to make my feet work like they used to – and even if they did, I wouldn’t hold up against these guys. Add to that that everyone seems to know who I was, and to have seen vids of me doing tricks that I can no longer pull off. What to do?!! What to do?!! How will I deal with everyone’s disappointment?!

Well, turns out that just having a really good laugh for 4 days is pretty much the thing to do… There’s no way I can keep learning at the rate I used to, and I certainly don’t have the ambition. So instead of becoming the usual ball of nerves, frantically practicing over on one side of the area, trying to get myself together in time for the competition, I just decided to hope everyone put it down to jet lag, and have fun instead.

Day 1 of the four days of competitions (yes, four days) started off not so well. The previous night Seba & I had had to actually get out of our beds and get dressed again at about 10.30pm, to go and have a 3 hour meeting about scheduling and judging (because, you know, we were bursting with energy after flying half way across the globe and were looking for ways of spending it). Then, on the way to the site that morning, Seba’s back had gone west again (we’re getting old, it happens) so we popped to the hospital for a good few hours. By the time we returned, it was about 1pm and everyone had arrived and the party was in full swing.

Enter me, stage right, tired and self conscious, surrounded by tens of guys (and Chloe Seyres) casually practicing their competition runs. ‘This is the moment’, I thought to myself. This is the moment where everyone sees me bumble sluggishly and awkwardly through the cones and thinks ‘what the hell is she doing here?’. Far too intimidated to try anything that I might not be able to do, I just doodled my way through the cones once, before trying to find someone I actually knew that I could stand nervously beside in order to appear less overwhelmed by the whole experience.


Anyway, like I said, after about an hour, I decided to say ‘screw it’ and just have fun, so the rest of the day (apart from my brief and calamitous qualification for the next days battle contest) was spent chilling out & making new friends, who were, as usual, a lot more friendly than I’d imagined whilst watching them whirling through the cones.

Instead of practicing my own tricks, or learn new tricks, I decided to learn more about the way that the Chinese skaters were using the cones, so the next few days consisted of a whole lot of facial expressions, arm waving, and a hell of a lot of ‘ok’, ‘ok!’ ‘ok?’ ‘hmm, ok…’ ‘aaah! Ok!’ and of course the absolute favorite of the week: ‘ah! Ok okokok’.

Day 2 of the competition included the slides qualification and the battle finals, which were great fun, even the one on one final between Chloe and I – neither of us could really care less, as our positions were pretty clear, so we were able to just have some fun.

This excellent video courtesy of Sebastien Laffargue of www.universkate.com

Day 3 saw the arrival of the Koreans, for the ASSA individual style competition – and also all the really good female skaters. Buy the time I saw all their beautifully fast yet smooth slaloming, I’d totally got over any fear of looking bad, so was able to continue on just having fun & meeting new friends (whilst taking a while to work out why my Chinese wasn’t working). That evening was the big party – I ate turtle, amongst other things, and we got to see our translator on stage dancing, followed by the Koreans singing too! They had tried to get Chloe to sing, having heard that she was in a band, and I’m telling you, taking no for an answer was not happening… she had to quite literally ‘forget’ to arrange the backing music.


Back to summary of Naomi's articles

Continued in Part 2...


Naomi's website: http://www.skatefreestyle.com/




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