How did you get involved with USFS and the Skate Coach App?
I got involved with U.S. Figure Skating through Susi Wherli McLaughlin, Director of Membership Services. I met her at Skatefest in New York City about 10 years ago. Her knowledge of basic skills and her desire for people to enjoy skating is really something to behold, and it has been a huge influence on my teaching style over the years. I began a similar project about 10 years ago for the palm pilot, but the palm never caught on. But the iPhone was the perfect medium for it.
What did the physical production of the app involve?
The creation of the U.S. Figure Skating ‘Skate Coach’ app series was a monumental task. There was more than 1600 hours of video editing involved in addition to the programming and graphics work. In regards to the synchro app, I had to fly out to Ann Arbor and video the Hockettes for a total of about seven hours. It was a really eye-opening experience to see such a big team up close. I built my own rig to hold my camera and basically skated around with the teams to give some really awesome on-ice perspectives.
What was it like working with the Hockettes?
Working with Erin Donnovan and Sarah Rominski on this was a treat, particularly because Sarah was one of my first students. She told me for years how much synchro had changed and I always brushed her off. Boy did my opinion change when I got to Ann Arbor. I could not believe how difficult even the basic skills maneuvers were with so many people involved! I was also thoroughly impressed with Erin’s command of the team and her ability to get so many girls coordinated! And the girls, they were awesome. It was absolutely freezing, and early too, but they were so excited and worked exceptionally hard. I was really proud of them!
How did working on this app change your perspective of synchronized skating?
I never realized how technically challenging even simple maneuvers are once more than two people are involved. I did both dance and pairs, and I thought getting two people in sync was tough! I really was stunned to be on the ice with them and see it live. Even the hand-to-hand hold took me about 20 minutes to remember!
How do you expect this app to influence the synchronized skating community?
My hope is for the app to influence many facets of the synchro community. First and foremost, I was primarily concerned about getting the information out to people about what standards should be. Upon trying to do some research for the app, there was really minimal information available. Now, there are video demos in your pocket. Parents, coaches and skaters can all see what skills are supposed to look like, so everyone can agree on a set standard now. I’m quite proud of that. Additionally, I’m really hoping that it gets more prospective skaters and parents involved in the synchro community. Spending $1.99 on an app to see what synchro skating is about is one seriously cheap lesson!
What type of projects involving synchronized skating do you intend to work on in the future?
I am discussing a few things with Erin and other coaches at the moment. One thing I would really like to do is get an app done with rules updates, an app with demos of higher level skills, and I would love to start making apps for actual synchro teams, so people across the country can get easy access to the latest information on tryouts, see videos, sell dresses etc. If any readers are on teams that are interested in having apps done, or participating in them, please have them email us at firstname.lastname@example.org! If you download the synchro app, please leave some positive reviews for the app store. Please visit www.rink-tank.com if you would like to send us some ideas for apps, or look up Rink Tank Interactive on Facebook and twitter as well!