- Of Fire and Ice
- Blade of Passion
- US Nationals
- The Gazelle of FS
- The Mentor
- Yu Na Kim
- Uncharted Waters
Of Fire and Ice
A Story of Extremes and Building a Love for this Strange New World of Ice
Far off, the smoke can be seen. A rumble can be felt welling deep inside your chest. The red lava slides and slithers its way to the Pacific Ocean, when the fire and water meet - spumes of heated steam rises up into the air as a towering inferno is cast into serenity. Known as the most active volcano on earth, Kilauea, located on the big island of Hawaii, serves as the dynamic backdrop to a story of extremes that will mark the beginning of an athlete’s admiration and love for her sport.
Samantha Mary Lynn Cabiles was born on December 26, 1996 in Honolulu, Hawaii and was raised on the small island of Lanai. Sami is of Filipino decent and is very proud of her heritage that inhabits the Philippines and the islands of Hawaii. The island of Lanai currently has a population of 3,000 people, and is a private island owned by David Murdock, who acquired it when he purchased the Dole Pineapple Company. Her family bloodline can be traced back to having worked for both Dole Pineapple and Mr. Murdock for years. As most Hawaiians often do, Sami began hula dancing as soon as she could walk. She played on the beach and in the ocean, among other activities like body surfing, swimming, catching crabs and making sandcastles in the warm tropical climate. Sami grew up having the freedoms of this tropical place that others can only dream about having for a weeklong vacation.
Not only does the Filipino decent run deep within Sami, but her mindset has always been that she will move Heaven and Earth to achieve whatever it is that she sets her mind to. As a little girl growing up on the island, many may remember Sami as being very competitive and working at something until she masters it, no matter how difficult the task. Knowing this about Sami, her mother always said that if you tell Sami that no one has ever done something before - it only makes her want to do it all the more.
Sami stayed on Lanai until the age of 7 and then moved to Maui, Hawaii, where she attended one year of school. It was at this time that the family relocated to Jackson, Michigan in March of 2005. One of the families’ favorite memories of Sami is when she first got to Michigan, seeing the snow and ice for the first time; as if drawn to it, she ran and jumped into the snow to make a snow angel. From that point forward, Sami was inseparable from the ice and snow, and in fact, she was amazed by it. One would think that being from Hawaii, she would have been resistant to the cold, but instead she loved and embraced it. Amusingly, Sami was constantly reprimanded for going outside without her coat and gloves. In her defense, she’d say, “I’m not cold. I love it.” The family also loved to snow tube in the winter and Sami would squeal with delight as she’d go tubing down large hills – the bigger and smoother the better. She quickly picked up a love for speed and was right in her element in the snow and ice.
From far off, the sun sets in Michigan. You can see the layer of fog created by the cold meeting the warmth as spring arrives, melting the snow and ice. The daffodils will soon awaken and crest the surface of the snow, followed by cheerful tulips. It will be a long summer, and Sami will not see her winter wonderland until the earth tips its head toward the north and the seasons change again. This is a time for her rejuvenation and training, an embrace of the fire ever burning inside.
Blade of Passion
A Story of How a Small Blade Screwed to a Boot Started a Whirlwind that Became an Offshore Hurricane
After her move from Hawaii, Sami was nearing the end of her second summer in Michigan. August 2006 would mark the beginning of her second autumn and she was truly looking forward to experiencing winter again as it was fast approaching. On an autumn day while shopping with her mother, Sami noticed they were across the street from the Optimist Ice Arena in Jackson, MI. As they headed for their car to leave, Sami spotted the word ice, and asked, “What is an ice arena?” Her mother responded, “It isn’t much, just a place where people go and skate.” Sami immediately responded, “I want to go and see it!” They soon found themselves inside looking at the arena and the ice when a maintenance man approached them and mentioned there was an open skate that night for families. Sami asked if they could go, and her mother responded that they’ll check with Dad when they get home.
Sami could hardly contain her excitement until she got home to ask Dad if he wanted to go skating that night. Dad, being a former college hockey player, jumped at the idea. The family showed up, got everyone in skates, and took the ice. They all had so much fun and the activity truly brought the family even closer together, as you can imagine, such things like being side tracked by phone calls and other day-to-day events are not able to distract you or the ice as itreminds you very quickly that your attention is demanded. Sami took to the ice with a natural connection and loved the speed and control. She later described the skating experience, feeling like she had been given wings and could fly.
Sami Competes in Basic Skills Events
While the family skated, her dad questioned her mother numerous times, “Are you sure she has never been skating before?” The answer came back the same each time: this was her very first time skating. That very night, Sami paid attention to how her dad skated backwards and asked him to teach her how. He showed by example, explaining how he did it and she excelled at it with the very first attempt by using her little ‘hula hips” to move faster and faster. Her dad later exclaimed that he always knew that there were people born to do certain things, but never had he witnessed such a natural bred phenomenon until he saw Sami skate that night. To add to the growing list of admirers, the very same maintenance man they had seen earlier that day was also watching Sami and approached the family after skating was over. He encouraged them to place Sami in the basic skills learn-to-skate program, sponsored by the arena and United State Figure Skating Association. He also provided a contact name of Kaylea Crosby who ran the program and would get them started.
The family contacted Coach Crosby a short time after and found that the new session started that October of 2006, only a couple months away! Sami was overjoyed and officially registered as a basic skills student. Waiting was the hardest part, as Sami was eager to get to her lessons each time and she progressed through each of the levels very quickly. That very year, the Michigan skating program would be hosting competition - the winner would be awarded a trophy for earning the most points.
Basic Skills Coach Kayleah Crosby looks on as Sami begins to learn a sit spin
Those points would be accumulated for each level passed as well as each competition attended and having a placement status in the top three of your specific group. Sami, being of a competitive nature, took to this challenge with a passion and wanted to travel the entire state of Michigan each month to collectively earn her points. She would eagerly watch the leader board and calculate how many points it would take to catch up to anyone ahead, especially since she had a slower start due to never skating before. In 2006, she went from learning to skate to moving into the preliminary level. Now it had come down to this last competition… where she scored a silver medal, tying her for the state title!
Out at sea, the storm had started to brew… Sami now had competed in 14 events, scoring 9 gold and 3 silver medals to get that state title. She had the taste of competing, and wanted more of it. The ice and speed possessed her, and most of all, she was challenged with each competition, feeding her ever-increasing appetite to excel and perform. A need that would have to be consistently fulfilled.
The Gift of 2008 US Nationals
Land Ahoy! A first Look at Top Skaters
It was Christmas of 2007 and also Sami’s 11th birthday. At this stage of her life, she had been skating just over a year, and as her birthday gift she was given tickets to the 2008 U.S. Figure Skating Championships held in St. Paul, Minnesota. Kaylea, her former coach, had been a novice skater who performed, but Sami had never really seen a top ranked figure skater live and in action. When holding the tickets to the nationals, she wondered who and what type of skaters would be there for her to see. This was all so new, and her and her family’s knowledge of skating was still very limited. At the time, there were struggles with conflicting scheduling to even get opportunities to take Sami skating more; she was at the point where it was either school or skating that had to break, because she was having a hard time doing both.
Sami poses with US National Champ Mirai Nagasu who became an inspiration
Arriving at the gigantic stadium there was sheer amazement by Sami and family as we stood looking around at the event. Being new to this skating world, we really didn’t know anyone personally, but had studied many of the skaters at this point and knew some of their names. Sami was determined to get all the skaters’ autographs while at the competition. Helping her to accomplish this goal was an incident involving a mix-up in our seating where we were directed to a section right below Nancy Kerrigan who was commentating. Sami did get her autograph, but with all the hubbub and excitement going on we couldn’t remember how well Nancy did in her career. Things just seamed to work out for us, as we sat with Debbie Thomas and then Audrey Weisiger. Someone sitting next to us told us what Debbie Thomas had accomplished, and we were constantly amazed and honored as skaters came and went from this section. We found ourselves talking comfortably with everyone. We even had the chance to speak with Oksana Baiul who sat right behind us for a short time. There were others too, but we didn’t know who most of them were and only got some autographs. We looked up most of the skaters we saw later and found out more about who Debbie Thomas and Ms. Baiul even were. Today, we laugh about this, as they all must have thought we were really “green behind the ears” asking all sorts of nonchalant questions about skates, how much people train, etc. while not even knowing who they were. In our family, we truly believe that if something is meant to be, often times things will come easily and just fall into place. We have often talked about this day and the other events that lead Sami to be the skater she is. Sometimes, one’s destiny is controlled by events outside of their control… and we believe that many things have graced us in ways most people would have a hard time understanding.
As the competition continued, talking to all the skaters and having Sami picture taken with them really inspired Sami. She watched with great anticipation the huge competition between Johnny Weir and Evan Lysacek that ended in a tie. Sami was also one of the girls running down to see Johnny at the boards. However, the greatest thrill for Sami was to see Mirai Nagasu win the national title shortly after she had taken a picture with Sami. Sami instantly became a huge fan of Mirai, and from that point forward, no one in the family could say anything about her performances; Sami would always take the position that Mirai would win in the end. We credit Mirai for the increased motivation and the newfound goal after this event that ever continues to move Sami to make it to the 2014 Sochi Olympics. That was now her goal, and she continues to plaster her walls with skating symbols and pictures that serve as constant reminder to her dream. She was going to Sochi, and no one was going to tell her any differently.
At the event, there were booths introducing various skate affiliations, programs, services and the like. It was Coach Weisiger who pointed out to us that there was a skating school that had a summer program where she and her company would be working, and that school, Shattuck St. Mary’s, just so happened to have a booth at the event. Weisiger recommended that we should consider having Sami go to a good skating summer camp, as her passion for the sport should be incubated and encouraged. We went to the Shattuck booth and found that not only did they have a summer camp, but a full school combined with skating. We were interested because of our troubles in running Sami back and forth from school to skating, ensuring that she managed her time with the importance of both. The family talked a lot about this and after much deliberation, finally made the decision to send Sami to camp while evaluating the school for Sami to be enrolled as a full-time student.
Overall, the entire event was great, even inspirational and everything seemed to turn out fantastic, but the day ended with Sami crying all the way back to the hotel. One could only wonder why, until Sami confessed that she had her heart set on getting every top figure skater’s signature and had all …but one: Caroline Zhang. She was a favorite of Sami’s, and we tried several times to obtain it, but could never catch Zhang. We stayed awhile after the event had ended and even talked with Zhang’s coach. It was always a case of she was going to come talk to us, but it never happened. Security kicked us out twice, because the event had ended some time ago, and we eventually left without the autograph. As Sami cried in the car, she said, “ When I get to that level, I will stay all night until every little girl gets what they came for.” As Sami’s mother and father, we both smiled, neither of us really understood where any of this was taking us and just thought our daughter was learning some very good life lessons.
The Gazelle of Figure Skating
Christy Krall is Credited for Naming Sami the Gazelle of Figure Skating
By the second year, Sami was jumping 5 feet
in a split jump as high as she was tall.
In June of 2008, we arrived at the Shattuck St Mary’s Figure Skating Camp as we were suggested to by Coach Weisiger at the US Nationals a few months earlier. Sami, at this point, had been skating for less then two years and was very excited to get on the ice and work on some newly developed skills. She could only do single jumps at this time and hadn’t even landed an axel jump yet. The camp was great! Sami received the opportunity to work with coaches in addition to Audrey Weisiger, such as Kathy Casey, Chris Conte, Doug Leigh, and Pasquale Camerlengo… just to name a few.
Sami and her family first attended a briefing session at the camp; the speaker was Coach Christy Krall. Neither Sami nor her family knew who this speaker was or her background, until researched Coach Krall on the internet that night and saw that she had skated with Peggy Fleming, an Olympic Champion in Ladies’ singles and third-time World Champion. During her talk, Coach Krall explained to the skaters about having passion and dedication, enlightening on how others had risen to the top. At one point of the talk she focused on how there will come a day that a woman figure skater will do jumps that no one else has ever been able to accomplish before. In everyone’s life there is that one person that says or does something that motivates in such a way to make a difference in another person’s life, this very talk was the one that would inspire Sami’s goal to do quads someday. In fact, after this meeting, quads were all she talked about. Christy Krall had opened the door and shed the light to a higher goal, a higher standard, and Sami was drinking what Krall was serving in spades.
To understand the family mindset, one must first know that both of Sami’s parents were skeptical of Sami’s capabilities at the beginning. Not you’re A-typical skating parents. Stories of most skaters started at a very young age, and up until this point, both of Sami’s parents were thinking that they would allow Sami to fantasize and reach for the stars, but in their mind, it might be just a phase and should be considered nothing more than a little girl’s dream.
Sami in Michigan basic skills competitions
As the third week neared and camp was almost over, both Sami’s parents had arrived early to watch their daughter on the last few days before they all headed home. Sami’s father looked on as she was working with Christy Krall on Dartfish, which is a video analysis tool that allows the coach to use slow motion to view and correct students’ mistakes. The system also measures your hang time, or airtime, and height in the air. Christy motioned for Sami’s father, who was standing on the other side of the rink, to come over and talk with her. When he got to the other side, Christy pulled up the video of Sami’s jumps and said to him, “Your daughter is a ‘Skating Gazelle’. She needs to be with a professional coach full time.” He asked her what she meant by that comment and Christy replied, “Most girls would love to have her problem. She already jumps high enough to do triples, if she knew what she was doing. Skaters gain height each year they skate and, at her level, she might be the one who will do quads.” He asked Christy if she was joking with him, but she was not only sincere …she was serious. Coach Krall also added, “Some girls are born to jump, it’s in some of their genetics, and your daughter is one in a thousand.”
Of course, when Sami was told of the conversation, she mentioned nonchalantly, “I told you that I will do quads.” However, that day would change the way the family thought about her abilities in skating. Still amazed at his daughter’s building reputation, her father, being an engineer and software developer in video processing systems, began checking statistics and digging deeper into analytics to verify skaters and their capacities and - found that Christy was spot on! Today, Sami has been clocked at hang times over .70, which is a jump height in the area of 24 inches off the ice. This feat not only puts her as one of the highest female jumpers ever, but not even many male skaters can achieve above this height.
The name “The Skating Gazelle” stuck, along with “Quad Girl”, and although still a long ways from quads, she is currently learning how to not over rotate triple jumps, because her biggest challenge is to fully control all of that power and height simultaneously above the ice.
The Shattuck Experience
Maturing and Training at the Boarding School
The famous entrance to the boarding school where Sami attended.
Flash back to September of 2008, Sami had been skating for almost two years now. The family decided to send Sami to Shattuck St. Mary’s boarding school full time after the great experience she had received there during summer camp. It was a very hard decision for the family to make, as both Mom and Dad didn’t like the idea of sending their young daughter to a boarding school, but there were two very beneficial deciding factors: the lack of ice for training in Michigan and the opportunity to have one of the top schools in the country educate Sami. To help in the difficult transition, the family rented a condo and traveled every weekend to be with their daughter.
Sami competing for the Shattuck Figure Skating Team
Sami grew and flourished on the academic level, even achieving the dean’s list on some occasions. She matured from the experience of living on her own, balancing the chores, like having to do her own laundry, shopping, and keeping a hectic six-day a week schedule that started at 4:30 a.m. and ended at 9 p.m. after mandatory homework periods. Despite her busy schedule, she participated in plays, musicals, and traveled on weekend trips with the school.
Figure skating training was very intense for Sami under Diana Ronayne, the former head coach of the olympic world-training center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Sami had never skated with senior and junior level skaters before, and Coach Ronayne’s style of practice had Sami following in line with the higher-level skaters doing moves in the field, jumps, and spins. This approach of higher training increased her speed and boosted her confidence. Also, the strict schedule created an environment where there wasn’t time to get distracted or mess around, setting up a work plan on the ice like no other. Sami had the opportunity to compete with the team all over the United States, providing her with great travel experience. She was also in ballet practice with the team, weight training, and dance. Sami also had Coach Tom Hickey working with her on jumps. His encouragement really helped Sami to continue believing in her abilities as he always told her that she would do the big jumps and tricks - it was just a matter of putting in the time and work.
Sami spent two years at Shattuck under this program until the decision was made in the last year to move her back home to reassess her training needs. In the end, Shattuck was accredited as a great experience. She grew, she matured, and she learned essential people skills that could never have been learned otherwise. Life, after all, is a combination of one’s experiences and memories.
The Mentor Coach
The Story of Gary Clark and Building a solid Foundation
Coach Clark works with a very
inexperienced Sami on jumping technic
After Sami’s first year of skating in basic skills, she started training with Coach Gary Clark who began laying the foundation for proper technique and more advanced moves. Coach Clark is a technical specialist and former judge, but best known for being one of the original founders of the US moves in the field and as the former world team member who lost many friends during the crash of the 1961 world team.
In the early days of figure skating, the very era that Coach Clark is from, school figures were taught as basis for edge work. This basis is the sound technique for all jumps. It is proper technique along with edges that create skating jumps, and without the proper knowledge of these two elements it would be a case of hit or miss for skaters going forward with their jumps. It would be an understatement to say that Coach Clark believed there is only one way to do things … the right way. Coach Clark is solely responsible for teaching Sami many of her jumps, all of her floor techniques and off-ice training. He has been credited with being instrumental in developing the ballet and strength training programs in Sami’s early years and after her return from Shattuck. More than any other coach, Gary Clark became part of Sami’s family thru his caring, encouraging and nurturing ways with the very young and inexperienced skater.
Coach Clark in the background
inspecting an executed double lutz
Coach Clark worked full time with Sami from 2007-2008 and again in 2010. He continued to work with her when she returned home from boarding school during holidays and vacations. To this day, he remains one of Sami’s US coaches and is commissioned by the family as an independent consultant. Clark also continues to coach Sami and act as a technical judge who reviews her programs and content, accompanying Sami to US competitions during the normal year.
Many skaters today have diverse issues and have had to take the time to rework their technique time and time again in jumps, spins, and moves in the field. Few have the foundation that could compare to what Sami has received from this industry patriarch. Clark’s dedication to perfection and proper technique has helped propel Sami faster than most skaters get the advantage to learn. When wondering how and why Sami has progressed so quickly, one can only look to Coach Clark for the answer.
Training with Yu Na Kim
Learning to Skate in the Blink of an Eye, and Training Side by Side with the Olympic Champion
Sami at the 2010 Olympic Celebration Party with Yu Na Kim
the newly crowned Olympic Champion
We find ourselves now in June of 2010, where Sami had been skating for a little over three and a half years. She was working with Coach Gary Clark in Canton, Michigan. We were evaluating training programs around the United States to find the program that could best foster her talent. We found that not only is each skater different, but each coach and club is different as well. So the mission was to locate the best program that fit Sami’s needs like a glove. One of the clubs evaluated was the Toronto Cricket Club, the training ground for the current Olympic Champion, Yu Na Kim.
After much evaluation, we decided the Cricket Club was the best choice for Sami because it offered her the freedom to build a program that emphasized her talents as well as featured some of the best coaches in the world. Sami is a very dominant, kinesthetic learner and requires special attention to how she is trained, and we felt that this club offered the kind of support system she’d need to flourish. Kinesthetic learners take in information through their nervous system, instead of through visual or audio learning as most others do. The advantage - Sami can lay down muscle memory ten times faster then the average skater and retool her technique in the blink of an eye, but in turn she is harder to train and requires a process of physical touch to receive information about what to do. Head Coach Brian Orser and Assistant Coach Ghislain Braind, along with six other coaches, made remarkable progress with her in a very short amount of time.
Sami practices a twist spin at the
Toronto Cricket Club very early in the am,
were she likes to get a head start early.
In the very first week that Sami was at the club, practice was moved to an off-ice rink due to limited ice for maintenance. At the rink north of town, Sami’s dad noticed that Yu Na Kim was practicing on the ice with other world competing champions. Dad asked Sami if she was nervous about skating with the Olympic Champ and she answered, “Not at all. It will give me an opportunity to see how much better she is, so I know what to shoot for.” Ironically, Sami’s family sat next to Yu Na’s family and watched in amazement as the two girls followed one another in field moves and a power stroking practice. Sami’s family could hardly believe the comparison, as Sami was in basic skills only a few years earlier. The three and a half year trip up to this point seemed like a whirlwind. Practices like these became an everyday occurrence, as Sami was given the chance to watch and learn right from Yu Na, both on and off the ice. Sami learned that even a skater at Yu Na’s level has falls and experiences failure, but continues to get up and push on to succeed. Up until Sami had the opportunity to skate with Yu Na, she was hard on herself and even critical of her training. However, seeing the Olympic Champion fall and then seeing how she corrected herself and moved past issues was a life changing experience for Sami that only someone like Yu Na could teach her firsthand by example. This experience was rare and invaluable, and Sami took everything she could from watching the successful senior skater, as every chance to watch Kim she did so like a hawk, not missing anything Yu Na did.
Sami caused some excitement amongst the coaches during her training in the months of July and August. When practicing in the harness with the jump coach, Sami was encouraged to rotate faster and jump higher during double axel training. In doing so, she over rotated and almost landed a triple axel! The coaches were ecstatic; a 13-year-old almost landed a triple axel by accident? “That skater has it hard,” one coach was overheard saying. Rumors spread fast among the coaches like wild fire. They thought that with proper training, some day Sami might be able to land quads.
Then as fast as Sami landed at the Cricket Club, Yu Na left for California. It was the end of September, and Sami took as much as she could from the elite skater, as three months with the champion is better then never having had that experience at all. Within those three months, Sami’s training processes were changed and modified to match her special talents. Knowledge from all sources used so her training fit her skills like a glove. It was a quick study and yielded skills and elements that others would need to learn by trial and error. It was sad that Yu Na was gone, as Sami looked forward to watching her on the ice, but she left her training legacy behind in Sami who had now modified and perfected it for herself. In her departure, Yu Na Kim also left her coaches behind, who were now working with Sami, and those gifts among all else were greatly appreciated.
Learning the process of training, and how to build a systematic way of preparation and focus
The 2011 training season, now coming to an end, began just after the Christmas break in 2010. Samantha Cabiles made it to final round at the regional competition, but could not quite get to the podium. At the start of the season, she had been skating just 3 years out of learning the basic skills, and only a scant 4 years since she saw the ice for the very first time. Samantha was playing catch up to skaters that had been skating since kindergarten, and although a pretty good Intermediate skater, she was not quite at the level of the girls she was chasing. Some of the girls had an additional five years of experience on her, and now she found herself testing up from the Intermediate level to a Novice for this season. With no double axel or triple jumps at this point. New training habits were going to be the focus if she would have any chance to catch the best.
Sami's training grounds are at the Toronto Cricket Club, where many of the world's greatest skaters practice and perform. On a normal day, you can see four or five skaters on the ice that competed at the 2010 Olympics. There are days where you gaze upon the ice and count five or so former world champions between coaches and skaters, and two or three past Olympic medalists. Sami's coach, Brian Orser, for many, the greatest male skater of all time, is a fixture at the club, both on the ice and off. The cricket club could be an intimidating place, as there is no place on earth quite like it. No other place has produced as many world and Olympic champions.
Sami started the year off training with
Shizuka Arakawa the 2006 Olympic Gold Medalist
As Sami began to think about the upcoming year and the challenges presented to her, she realized that hard work alone would not get her to where she needed to be, she had to work smarter. As she started her year off, she had a very special training partner for the first few weeks. The 2006 Olympic Gold Medalist, Shizuka Arakawa. And if you thought you were working hard before, she had a real eye-opener in skating with Shizuka. The focus and determination on this veteran would bring any skater to a level never seen before. Samantha used the lessons taught to her by Arakawa, not just in technique, but also regarding discipline, hard work and positive attitude. Shizuka is not only a professional, but a top performing Olympic athlete.
But the new year had much more in store for Sami then just skating with past Olympians. Sami, now 14 years old, had the goal of attempting to catch and pass others in her age and experience bracket. Sami and her coaching team set the goal of making it through the Regionals, and progressing to the Sectional competition this year. This would be a tall order, as it would require mastering a Double Axel and at least one triple jump, and landing these maneuvers in a clean program with correct spins, foot work, and with two new programs to learn. To try and accomplish this in nine months required tremendous dedication, time, and effort.
To achieve this goal her parents, who act as the schedule coordinators, had meetings with every member of the skating team involved with her, including coaches, trainers, dieticians, therapists and medical staff. It became clear with startling quickness that skating on the ice is only one part of the figure skating puzzle. In addition to working on jumps and skating, there is off-ice strength training, dance lessons, ballet lessons, yoga sessions, nutritional counseling and diet choices, chiropractic work, physical examinations and muscle stretching, muscle strengthening and toning sessions, and more. Then there are the on-ice coaches which consist of a harness coach, jump coach, spin coach, edge coach, and program coach, and last but not least the head coach. All of these people need to be managed, coordinated, and guided so that everyone is working off the same sheet of music regarding Samantha's progress and concerns.
Those present when Sami does her jumps,
become very aware that this is not your average
female figure skaker. Her training regiment models non
figure skating workouts that produce hang times in the .72
range or 25 inches off the ice. One may wonder if a
flight plan needs to be filed
As if all that wasn't enough, there are equipment maintenance issues and decisions regarding styles and combinations of equipment. In addition, it became clear that Ms. Cabiles' parents would need to be involved with her physical and emotional well-being, including injury management, physical therapy, and stretching, yoga and massage work. Sami's parents, both of whom run businesses, assembled the team of coaches with head coach Brian Orser, and spent hundreds of hours of time on when, what, where, how much, and in what orders.
Needless to say Sami's days are managed and scheduled down to the minute, which includes when to eat, what to eat, and how much to eat. Contrary to what many would think, she spends more time training off the ice than she does on ice training. Each coach or trainer has their assigned tasks, and they communicate each week with the team leaders as well as take advisement from Coach Orser on progress and corrections. The spectacular progress of Samantha Cabiles on the ice is a product of all of the work that goes on behind the scenes off the ice. What you see on the ice is built from what you do off the ice. Good off-ice training, enough rest, and a great attitude make for success on the ice. That is an area of uncharted waters but one that has accelerated Sami's pace at trying to catching some very great US Novice skaters this year, and hopefully the best Junior Skaters in the world next year.
Sami's new year training consisted
of heavy doses of dance and Ballet
Sami's parents also had to look at things differently. As parents, you want your skater to win. And only another parent would understand, but sometimes it is a disappointment when your skater doesn't perform well. Her parents had to shift their expectations, looking at Sami's training and progress as building blocks to a much greater skater and a much bigger goal then top US competitions. It required a paradigm shift, planning for a much greater goal than scoring well at one competition, or even doing well within one year. If the goal is longer term, then each year is a step, not the end result to judge upon. They have learned this year that a skater, whose goal is to be landing quadruples in a few years, isn't going to set the world on fire as a Novice skater and maybe not even as a Junior skater. And everyone, including Sami, needs to think that every action taken both on the ice and off it, is a building process to reach the goal of performing in the Olympic Games.
To most people, talking about uncharted waters indicates an unknown and scary prospect. To this skater and her team, that concept is only temporary. She knows how her training processes will lift her to new levels over time. One only needs to watch her perform a double axel, and it becomes very apparent that Sami, better known as "The Skating Gazelle," is unlike any skater you have ever seen before.