Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for January 30th, 2011

Alissa Czisny, figure skating champion — and lesson in persistence

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Alissa Czisny is 23 years old and a figure skater from the United States.  She’s also the two-time U.S. National Champion, winning in 2009, and again this year in 2011.  And if you only knew that about her — not knowing about her 10th place finish last year in 2010, about her 9th place finish in 2008, about her up and down career before that — you’d think she’d had an easy, and perhaps even tranquil, existence.

But knowing that she’s had an up and down career, not to mention that she’s now 23 years of age, which is ancient for a female figure skater (many of the best in the world are 18 or less), changes that perception immeasurably, doesn’t it?

I’ve watched Ms. Czisny’s career for the past seven or eight years; she has beautiful spins, gorgeous spirals, and yet her jumps were never quite up to snuff.  She also battled her nerves, which endeared her to me as I knew when I used to perform that nerves were the final hurdle I needed to jump before performing well.  These two areas — nerves and jumps — had to be part of why her performances were, to be charitable, wildly inconsistent.

However, now she has new coaches,  Jason Dungjen and Yuka Sato (he a former US pairs National champion, she a former World gold medalist for Japan), a new and much more reliable jump technique, and much better control over her nerves. 

All of this has resulted in outstanding performance after outstanding performance this past year, with Ms. Czisny winning the Grand Prix finale, winning Skate Canada, coming in third at Trophée Eric Bompard, and winning the Midwestern Sectionals before winning, easily, the U.S. National championship last night.

Clearly, Ms. Czisny’s new coaches, along with her re-work on her jumping technique to make her jumps more consistent, have helped her greatly.  But what impresses me most about Ms. Czisny is the fact that she’s persisted.  She’s refused to give up, and while she apparently considered quitting after her dismal 10th place performance last year at the U.S. Nationals, she knew she had more to give.  And she was right.

Look.  I root for Alissa Czisny for three reasons.  The first is because she’s a gorgeous skater, with beautiful lines, and she does things I could never do with an ease and serenity that I find extremely appealing.  The second is because she’s 23 — ancient, in her sport — and she’s only getting better as a skater.  The third is because I root for the underdog, big-time, and Ms. Czisny qualifies because of her past inconsistency, and because of her indifferent performances on the international stage prior to this year.

Watching Alissa Czisny skate is like watching a ballerina on ice.  She’s just that graceful, and looks so perfect as a skater that people “ooh” and “ah” over her even when she does the most basic moves.  (Of course, all that “oohing” and “ah-ing” gets considerably louder when Ms. Czisny spins.   She has to be the best female spinner in the world, with grace and center and perfect positions and forms.  No one can outclass her in that area — no one.)

But I think the main reason people root for her, myself included, is because we want her to succeed.  She’s been out there competing on a high level for the past eight or nine years, and has so many strengths, but it’s never quite been her time.

It looks like 2011 is now, finally, Alissa Czisny’s time.

Let that be a lesson to everyone — persist, and don’t give up.  Don’t let anything stop you if you know you’re right.  Be like Alissa Czisny instead, and let yourself soar.

Written by Barb Caffrey

January 30, 2011 at 4:56 pm

Stories at e-Quill Publishing and State of the Elfyverse

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Folks, it’s that time of year again . . . time for my periodic “state of the Elfyverse” post, and also a friendly reminder of my stories, and Michael’s, that are available at e-Quill Publishing.

As for the Elfyverse — Part 45 of AN ELFY ABROAD is complete.  Parts 43 and 44 have been revised and are complete.  Part 46 has been started.  Not a bad month’s work.

As for the Elfyverse (new) short story, “Boys Night In,” I have a new beginning that works a little better, but it’s still in progress.  I’ve maybe added 500 words, total, since the last time I discussed it . . . more work to go on that one.  The story stands, right now, at 8500 words in length.

“Keisha’s Vow,” the ELFY prequel set in 1954 (with dead characters being alive, while others are much younger), remains stalled out.  Right now it’s in the novella range, but I think it projects to a full (albeit short) novel . . . I know what comes next but not quite how to get there, as if I’d missed a few steps along the path that is this particular story.  Still working on this one.

As for ELFY, I haven’t found an agent yet, nor have I found a publisher for it, but I remain hopeful.

Now, as for the stories at e-Quill Publishing?  One is mine alone, a short story satire about friendship, aliens, and unemployment called “The Fair at South Farallon.”  It’s 3750 words long and is available at this link:

The next one is an Elfyverse short story that originally appeared at the Written Word Online Magazine in 2007, “Trouble with Elfs,” that was started with the able assistance of my late husband, Michael, thus he gets a credit for it.  It’s available at this link:

Finally, there are several stories of Michael’s available, the latest of which is the Joey Maverick adventure “On Westmount Station,” a story I finished for him and co-wrote.  It is 10,000 words long, and if there’s interest in this story I plan to continue writing in my husband’s “Maverick” universe.

Please go to this link to find it; it’s a bargain at only $1.00 (Australian):

Written by Barb Caffrey

January 30, 2011 at 11:40 am