Our daughter Grace is an ice skater, though she is only nine, my wife and I are complete newbies to the skating competition world- we’ll delve into the psychological interaction between skater and hockey families another time- and from a modeler perspective, perhaps learn something and pass along to our IPMS brethren.
My wife, I and Grace, drove to Kalamazoo, Michigan, Nov. 21st., in a snow storm, to her first skating competition. None of us modelers have risked life and car to travel four hours to a model show…BlizzCon 2015 comes to my mind…
Her club is the Cleveland Edges, and from a bias point-of-view, the premier club in the Cleveland area. There are many different levels of competition within the sport, our daughter is on the Basic Skills team, the beginners, along with fifteen other 7-12-year-old girls, all have more skating talent than I could ever hope for, tying on a pair of skates to my own feet would be dangerous enough. We can by-pass the whole event and get to the good parts. But really, it’s just like a models show; vendors and competitors; crappy weather and cold hallways; though finding any 1/72 Revell kit is a bit difficult at these contest.
And much like a model show where there are mostly men and a few tortured wives; conversely, a skating show is 99% female with a scattering of male presence. So revenge is a dish best served cold.
Grace’s team placed 4th out of six in their category, really terrific for a bunch of little girls who never competed professionally before in their lives, and personally, way better that us parents expected. United States Figure Skating gives medals to the first six place teams; there are no participation trophies, so if your team placed 7th or lower…no phony feel good trophy like in some sports, just the words of the judges during the judge’s scrutiny stage of each team. Each team faces one of their judges and for fifteen minutes, repeats their routine and is given pointers and items to make their team better for the next show. Harsh words, yes at times. Do the girls and the few boys feel bad for loosing; who doesn’t, but through their mistake, they practice many long days and night to be better.
So how does this affect us modelers?
For starters, we can all learn from a bunch of skater girls that winning isn’t everything and practice makes perfect. Today, this basic concept, taught for Centuries, is now a foreign language to American children. Our PC inspired world has nearly killed that.
But perhaps we can take a page from the skater scrutiny and use that to IPMS/USA benefit. Perhaps, just as a thought, that along with our judging manual, why not hold a public scrutiny after the show. Not for each model of course, but a watch and learn presentation of what wins and why we judge the way we do. Sometimes, pictures are truly worth more than words.
Why not have a canned Power Point presentation that we can develop and take to shows; use a laptop and have a few modelers gather around and ask questions and get good, educational feed-back, unlike the usual system where it seems to be a bitching session and why did his win and mine didn’t…with many words used questioning linage and up-bringing of the judges. Rally we could make a Power Point with very little effort; use photos from the Nationals and various submitted photos, point out the good and bad; point out where improvements can be made; make suggestions on where the modeler can learn more about making a winner…and a recruiting tool also.
Perhaps we should do a minor overhaul to the post-judging system and learn from our little skaters that winning isn’t really everything; that failure is not the end of the world and that a fifty year-old whining about not winning is not attractive. There’s no crying in modelling…but their sure hell is in skating!
The skater girls/boys have fun and get to know each other; trade pins and interact with adults better than some adults interact with their own contemporaries. After all, if the least shall be first; well then, we can learn from the littlest.
Perhaps there is hope for our hobby. We just need to look down a bit and watch a bunch of little girls teach an old modeler/new skater dad that there are new ways to be critical and develop talent at the same time.
Honestly, which would I rather watch: The Cleveland Browns’ AFC championship game or a figure skating show…I know how the Browns game will end, in profound disappointment…so I guess a big bowl of popcorn and watch the skating show with my daughter.