Meet your Area Representatives

June 5, 2017
   In The Loop Extended Articles

Josselyn Baumgartner
Area 16 Representative
Ratings: BA-08,CM-12,RFS-12

Who had the greatest influence on you as a skater or a coach, and what important lessons did you learn from them?

The person who had some of the greatest influence on me as a skater was my Russian choreographer and off-ice coach Irina Yelchin. I began lessons with her at age 10 to beat some grace, strength, and conditioning into my enthusiastic yet under-trained limbs. At first I was not used to the Russian style of teaching and it certainly felt that everything I did was 'terrible". I remember she would have me run my program and if, at any point during the run-through, she felt that I was not giving 120% she would stop the music and have me restart from the beginning (and do so again and again). During our off-ice lessons as well, nothing seemed to ever be good enough- my arms were not graceful enough or my leg not high enough. Irina made me work harder than I ever had in my life, even when previously I had thought I was trying my best. Very slowly I started to improve, and when she did say something was "good' it meant the world to me, as I knew praise from her was rare but when given, sincere.

As the years passed and I entered my teens I gradually began to start demanding that same high standard from myself as she demanded. During practice sessions I would perform a maneuver over and over, never satisfied with it being "good enough". I could analyse my own skating and take even what sounded like harsh criticism and look at it constructively without getting upset. This ability alone has helped me in every area of my life. Now when Irina said something was "terrible" I usually agreed. But more importantly, Irina taught me how to really, really work hard, always pursuing improvement. Giving 100% is not good enough to get ahead; give 120% and then give more. Never be satisfied with your current level of abilities; always keep learning, keep striving to get better. Although my competitive skating days have passed, these lessons have become ingrained in me. As a coach, this means I have constantly strived to keep learning, evolving, and training to always become better. Irina taught me to give my all- and then give some more, and to never be satisfied with my current skills and abilities. This lesson shaped my skating, my coaching, and my life, and I feel fortunate to have had her as a coach.