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Clayton Haslop

When Thinking Turns to Gold

January 20, 2010 at 6:28 PM

A few days ago Tania, daughter Clara and I watched in awe as Jeremy Abbott jumped, spun and otherwise skated his way to a second title as U.S. men’s figure skating champion.  And as the top skater in a field as deep as the United States has ever seen, he didn’t do it by a slim margin either. 

He did it walking away, beating his nearest competitor, Evan Lysacek by some 10% in accumulated points. 

His free skate missed being the highest scored EVER, in the history of figure skating, by just tenths of a point.

Now, I do a little skating myself.  Well, just enough to know how incredibly remarkable it is to do what he does on those two blades.  And he made it look like a hop, skip and a jump in the park.

Naturally I wanted to hear what he had to say about his performance afterwards.  And sure enough, in the interview he said something that really hit home.

He said, ‘I’m not the kind of skater who can just go out there and skate on autopilot.  I have to think of every little detail in the program as I do it.’

You know, so often I hear people talk about ‘just letting it happen.’  And I’ll admit that there are times when the mind does interfere in a negative way with what people are trying to accomplish.  Yet at the same time I would feel remiss if I set a student adrift with this as the FINAL answer to an interfering mind.

You see, a neutral mind is Very, Very, difficult to hold on to when the pressure is REALLY on.

This is, after all, when the questions start flying.  ‘Am I up to this, what if I fail, etc., etc.’

There’s nothing to send your adrenaline to peak levels as those thoughts.

So what I have recognized, over the years, is that the more accurate and rich is your consciousness of ‘all the little details’ in practice, the more easily your mind can become entangled with useful, affirming thoughts at crunch time.

There is no substitute for exercising your ‘knowingness.’

Recently I had a music teacher write in complimenting me on how I explain my thinking continuously as I go through the music in my courses. 

And of course, the above is precisely why.

Every bow change, string crossing and finger location is worthy of having my conscious intention behind it.  As I see it this is what supplies meaning to what I do; and it’s where the pleasure of fulfillment gets realized.

All the best,

Clayton Haslop

From John Cadd
Posted on January 21, 2010 at 12:53 PM

Good advice about the music but I can`t get past my awful memory of skating.The hired skates had loose bolts and the ice was wet.So my first memory was --wet pants.Second memory was sliding gracefully off my motorcycle on a steep patch of black ice in the house shadow.  One dislocated left shoulder.  Fortunately I never tried the third alternative ,--having my fingers chopped by another skater as I struggled up from a fall.   Stay indoors ,it`s safer!   Mind the edge of that rug.

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