Ask Nancy - Nov. 5

Nancy Kerrigan answers your questions!

Nancy Kerrigan at the "Blades of Glory" premiere.
Nancy Kerrigan at the "Blades of Glory" premiere. (Wire Image)


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(11/05/2007) - Two-time Olympic figure skating medalist and 1993 U.S. champion Nancy Kerrigan answers your questions!

Zack: My question has two parts to it: How often do you train these days? And can you still do a triple Lutz?

NK: My training these days is really geared around my performance schedule so as a result, it goes in cycles. As I get closer to a show, I step up my training. But with two kids, I am not training anywhere near as hard as I did when I was competing. The nice thing is that in a lot of ways, the training is more enjoyable now as I am able to work on the things that I want to put into programs rather than having to figure out how to meet the requirements of the judges! As for the triple Lutz, I really don't try them anymore as they were hurting my leg. I still do doubles in practice but rarely put them in programs as I don't think they work well for most exhibition numbers.

Caitlin: I'm trying to land my Axel, but I can't stop cheating my start! Do you have any advice?

NK: Without seeing you, it is always hard to give coaching advice. One thing that is important in the takeoff for the Axel is to be sure that you skid a bit on your entrance. You should be able to see a little skid mark on the ice before you take off. This jump does not use a clean edge on the take off. Also, remember to breathe in on the way up. Finally, make sure your arms come through from back to front as your free leg (knee) lifts you up into the air. Good luck.

Anonymous: How do I make myself stand out amongst all these wonderful skaters? Is there anything I need to do differently to let the judges know that I want to be a serious competitor for the U.S. now and in the future?

Please let me know if there is anything I can work on other than my skating skills, jumps and spins.

NK: Sounds like you are very determined which is a key part of making it to the elite level of skating (or any sport for that matter). Being on the smaller side, I think it will be important for you to try to stretch your appearance so that you look stronger and more powerful. Sometimes girls that are very small look small on the ice, and I think that does not help them with the judges. So, my advice would be to do everything strong -- stand strong, hold your head high, keep your chin up, skate through to your fingertips and point your toes. By skating through to your fingertips, I mean make sure you use your fingers in your movements as many skaters stop at the wrist. Pointing your toes will make you appear to have longer lines. Your presentation is key as well. Hold your landings longer and hold your positions longer to accentuate your strength. You may need to do some additional off-ice exercise to help give you the strength you will need on the ice. Some of that off-ice work really pays off at the end of a long program, when you might otherwise be getting tired. If you do some of these things, I think you will see a real difference in the way people react to your programs.

A Sk8er's Mom: Hi! I have a big headache with my child's coach. If you are pretty sure the coach is holding your child back, what can you do? I worry that this will be my daughter's last chance to learn the jumps, since she is 11 now. Any advice?

NK: First of all, I think you should always feel like you can talk to the coach about the questions you have about your child's progress on the ice. So, the first step would be to discuss your concerns with the coach. With that in mind, what sometimes might seem like a coach holding someone back might be just the opposite. Many people feel that skaters should be learning all the jumps and moves at the same time. In fact, there is a school of thought that says that before learning some of the more technical jumps and moves, a skater should really be strong in the basics before moving on.

I think young skaters should learn to skate and be strong on the ice before they move to the harder elements. One thing that has been lost in skating today is the foundation which used to come with the compulsory figures. Skating today has become too oriented to the jumping. I think a solid foundation in footwork, edges, etc. is critical to developing someone into a world class skater. So, while I don't know where your daughter is in her development, be careful that you don't try to move her too quickly through the fundamentals of skating. By taking this route, it may appear that she is falling behind some of the other skaters, but in fact, it may be the best thing for her in the long run.

Discuss all this with the coaches and see what they have to say.

Carol: It was so much fun to see your family and your parents at Sun Valley. I love talking to your mom! Will you skate in Brian Boitano's Christmas show in Las Vegas this year? If so, what is the date?

NK: Carol, we too enjoyed seeing you, and always enjoy our time in Sun Valley. As for Brian's Christmas show, I will not be participating this year. I am sure it will be a great show though. Brian has done this show for years and he always comes up with something new and interesting. Thanks for writing.