Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Essay from Grad School Writing Class About How My Competitive Skating Career Ended - Written September 17, 1981

I found this essay I wrote for a grad school writing class in 1981.  It sums up what skating can do to a young person.  Wow...only other figure skaters who obtain the elite level can relate to this...hope this helps others...I was 25 years old and married when I wrote was before I began teaching skating when I was 26.....


Jo Ann Farris
Essay #3

I was a competitive figure skater for fifteen years.  I retired from the figure skating world five years ago, at the age of twenty.  Durng my years of figure skating, I faced many tests of character.  I was constantly faced with the threat of losing, which tested my attitudes towards myself.  My whole self-worth was based on winning or losing.  I was under extreme pressure.  During my last competiion, in January of 1977, I faced the ultimate test:  we (my partner and I) came in last in the Midwestern Figure Skating Championships.

My partner, Richard, and I skated together for five years.  During our third year together, we placed second in the United States National Figure Skating Championships.  After that, things seemed to be going up and up.  Many officials in the skating world looked at us as Olympic hopefuls.  We too, expected to be top national contenders.

Disaster occured the following summer after our victory at the Nationals.  Richard had an accident. He was off the ice for two-and-a-half months.  We never recovered completely from that time off the ice.

For the next two years, we struggled with many losses.  We worked hard, but many skaters passed us up. We began to fight during practice periods.  Skating became torture instead of pleasure.  I remember crying all the time.  I was being torn apart.

During the summer of 1976, we went to Toronto, Canada, to get special choreographic instruction from a world-famous coach.  Going to Canada was our last hope.  We felt that we needed better choreography than our coach in Colorado Springs could give us.  We left Toronto with many new ideas, movements, and steps.  We were looking forward to a sure comeback.

Competition season in skating is during the winter.  We worked extremely hard that winter.  As the time for the Midwestern Championships approached, we grew excited.  We had high hopes.

We arrived at the competition site, in Ohio, a week early.  We could tell that people were surprised at our progress.  Our competitors definitely looked at us as a threat.  We were confident that we'd make a comeback and be going to the National Championships.

I still don't really know what went wrong on the day of the preliminaries.  All I know is that we placed last.  I remember smiling to keep the tears back.  My partner never left his hotel room until our final performance.  He'd lost hope; his self-worth was destroyed.

After that competition, I decided it was time to retire from skating.  The test I faced was a tough one: Was I worth anything without skating?  I knew nothing else, and I'd lived my whole life basing my worth as a person on my skating accomplishments.

After I quit, an entirely new world unfolded.  Unlike most young people, I had not had much social activity.  The world of people and activity opened up to me.  For the first time in my life, I went to parties, football games, and out to eat with people.  These people weren't all skaters.  For the first time in my life, I was an ordinary person.  I saw that I had some worth without having to prove it by winning a competition and a medal.  I felt as if I'd been reborn; each new day was so exciting.  Life was exciting!

It's been nearly five years since that dreadful competition.  One thing I'll always remember is that we did skate our best that day.  I look back on that experience as a meaningful one.  My life changed that day.  All that the world had to offer came into my life.  I had a chance to learn and find out about what life really is; I certainly passed the test.  I definitely respect myself now.  Winning is no longer everything.


Here is the response to this papeer from my college professor:

Hooray for you, Jo Ann.  This was handled beautifully: it was both fascinating and convincing. Do you realize you wrote five pages in an hour?

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Annabelle Schneider-Farris - Adagio Skating 12-1-16

Annabelle Schneider-Farris shows off some of her adagio skating skills in this video. (The two of us made the video together tonight and it is so much fun to watch!) usual, I'm so proud of my sweet daughter!


Sunday, November 13, 2016

Annabelle Passes the Silver Samba International Dance Test Partnered by Ben Agosto! 11-13-16

Annabelle passed the Silver Samba international ice dance today, 11-13-16, partnered by one of her ice dance coaches Ben Agosto! (Non-skating friends: Ben is the 2006 Olympic Ice Dancing Silver Medalist! - pretty cool, huh?)

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Make America Skate Again!

A Facebook friend shared "Make America Skate Again!"

I agree...going skating or thinking about skating will take your mind off the recent recommendation is go do something fun today!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Skating With Rhonda, Gabriella, Daniel, and Yossi Gordon 11-7-16

Rhonda and I have known one another for something "like 15 years" online, but finally connected only recently face to face. She's a busy home school mom and her kids are great. It was fun to skate with her and her kids and give them a few pointers too!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Joel in Stonehenge, United Kingdom! 10-24-16

My son Joel shared this photo today from Stonehenge, United Kingdom! He's have an amazing time in this European Disney On Ice Frozen tour!  He says these rocks have been here for 4,500 years!  Also, he commented that the English countryside is so beautiful and that he feels like he is in Narnia!

Lakewood Ice - Ice Hockey Skating Fun - Monday, 10-24-16

I skated today at Lakewood Ice. I started out in figure skates, but when this little four year old boy in ice hockey skates got on the ice, I changed into my hockey skates and had the best time playing with him and helping a young 21 year old man who had just begun to skate and hopes to play hockey.

The public was really empty (only about 5 or 6 people on the ice!), so all of a sudden, all of us on the ice that were skating began socialzing in our hockey skates and I had the best time.

What was fun today was that I just shared my love of skating without thinking about getting paid ...and that made it extra fun!

This photo was taken by the very friendly and nice skate guard. Lakewood Ice is a really fun ice rink!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Congratulation Card to Annabelle From Broadmoor Skating Club Board of Directors!

Annabelle just received a wonderful congratulation card for becoming a US Figure Skating SEXTUPLE Gold Medalist from the Broadmoor Skating Club board of directors!

Annabelle represented Los Angeles Figure Skating Club since when she competed in pairs with her brother Joel, one partner needed to be from the Pacific Coast section, but almost all her skating tests were taken at the Broadmoor Skating Club and her 2nd club is Broadmoor Skating Club.

What a wonderful surprise it was for her to open up and read this card yesterday morning! Thank you Broadmoor Skating Club!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

My son Joel is off to England and Europe! 10-9-16

My son Joel left for England this morning 10-9-16....the Disney On Ice Frozen tour will tour much of England (with a week or so in Ireland squeezed in) through the end of 2016. Then he goes to Sweden, Norway, Finland, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, and France! We won't see him back in Colorado until mid-April 2017.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Annabelle in SKATING Magazine - October, 2016

Thanks to Rebecca Skiest Simon for sending me this...we haven't received our SKATING Magazine for Oct 2016 yet...I'm so proud of Annabelle!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Los Angeles Figure Skating Club Recognizes Annabelle's SIX Gold Medals!

Annabelle could not attend the 2016 Los Angeles Figure Skating Club awards ceremony since she had a conflicting event she had to be at, so my dad and I attended so that I could accept her last two good medals. She's a US Figure Skating SEXTUPLE Gold Medalist, and I'm so grateful to the Los Angeles Figure Skating Club for recognizing her MAJOR achievement and milestone!


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Opinion: Why Does Figure Skating Sometimes Cause Parents to Act Crazy?

I've been involved in figure skating as a skater, coach, and also a parent for over 50 years and I've made observations about the sport during all my years involved in our wonderful sport.

As I have observed what happens to the lives of figure skating families, I have determined that some skating parents change as they get more and more involved with the sport of figure skating, and that the changes that happen are not always positive changes.

When I have sat in the stands at a skating rink, watching my own children practice, parents of other figure skaters have chatted with me.  These interactions have almost always been conversations about our children.

Quite often, a parent who looks "so normal on the outside" might tell me what his or her family has sacrificed for figure skating.  These conversations almost always are similar.

Usually, these families have at least two or three children, and these families have relocated for skating or are considering relocating for the sport.  There's a father at home working one to three jobs supporting their children's skating passion and sometimes it seems that there is one "normal" child that has been left back home who wants nothing to do with the sport.  

Then, I'm told about how much money a family has spent on the sport and I learn about the child's goals,   I learn about the rink, skating club, and coaching changes that have been made and I also learn about the child's skating achievements.  I learn that the child is "doing school online" or the family has made special and/or untraditional arrangements for their child's education.  

Not always, but sometimes when I have these conversations, the parent may ask me about my own children's skating.  I have discovered that those questions are not always asked out of polite interest, but to compare my children's skating accomplishments to the child or children of the parent I've just met.  These parents sometimes have no interest in getting to know me, my children, or other skating families.

Usually, these conversations, which are similar in nature, do not leave me with a "warm-fuzzy" feeling; instead, I find these conversations draining. As time has passed, for my own well-being, I skate myself or take a bike ride (or scooter ride) instead of sitting in an ice arena's stands.

I asked a famous skating coach once why she thought figure skating seems to create "crazy skating parents," and her answer was that all those years of sitting inside a cold ice arena could make anyone crazy!

In my opinion, what causes parents of figure skaters to act crazy is that our sport costs so much money and takes up so much time.  Also, there is a desire to see our children be the best and the drive to become the best may unbalance a family's life.  I am sad when I hear that marriages may end because of figure skating.

Anyway, if you are a parent of a figure skater who is reading this, I recommend that you take the time to look at your reasons for your involvement in our sport.

Years from now, no one is going to remember or care if your child participated on the Junior Grand Prix Circuit, landed a triple, made "Nationals," or won a medal at a qualifying or non-qualifying competition.

Is your family's life balanced?  If so, that is great, but if not, take the time to step back and decide if figure skating may be making you act crazy.

Further Reading:

Monday, August 15, 2016

Skating with My Friend Rosie at Lakewood Ice 8/15/16

My friend Rosie has had an amazing life that should be put in a book...her father died when she was 13 and her mom died when she was 19 and Rosie suddenly became the "parent" to her four younger siblings and supported a family at such a young age.

Figure skating gave Rosie much happiness after she raised those four kids. She competed as an adult and passed her 2nd figure test and as time passed was away from skating, but has returned to the ice again!

She also impressed me so much today since I found out she became a stockbroker and has recently completed a Masters Degree!

I am so happy to be back in touch with Rosie!

Friday, August 5, 2016

Joel Climbs Mount Fuji in Japan!

My son Joel (and other members of the Disney On Ice Frozen cast) climbed Mount Fuji!

Joel wrote: "Survived mt fuji made it up in the mountain fairly quickly,but struggled a bit coming back down.Was an amazing experience,but never"