Back in March I competed in the women’s elite division of the US Pole Sports Federation Championships – and placed 2nd! Last year I won the women’s professional division, and to be honest, I’m not quite sure why I decided to do it again this year. I didn’t particularly enjoy the training process and I got frustrated with trying to figure out all the rules, but somehow I found myself signed up for this year, and in a division with some crazy competition: last year the top three were Rafaela Montanaro (this year’s winner as well!), Polina Volcheck (aka Pink Puma), and Samantha Star. So to say that I was going into this year’s competition without any hope of placing is not an exaggeration.
The USPSF competition differs from other competitions mostly in that you have 10 required moves that you must identify in the order that you will perform them on a judge sheet, and that is one of the things you are judged on during your routine. You have the option to gain bonus points by combing two or more of those moves, but it’s made more difficult with the combos having to be moves from different categories, of which there are 5: strength, flexibility, static spins, dynamic elements, and spin elements. It involves WAY more math than you might think when it comes to choreographing a routine, and it took me hours to fill out the difficulty sheet and double-, triple-, and quadruple-check it to make sure I had everything correct (you lose points before the competition even starts if it’s filled out incorrectly). The goal of the USPSF and IPSAF is to get pole into the Olympics, so it’s modeled closely after gymnastics and ice skating requirements.
I actually felt better when coming off stage than I do now watching the video. I don’t think there’s anything particularly smooth, inventive, or unique about anything here, but I followed the rules: hold each compulsory move for at least 2 seconds, have at least 2 full rotations around the pole in the spin element, finish the moves… so I think that some other competitors may have had really nice, cohesive, and great routines, but because this competition is judged so differently, they may not have scored as high. I felt the same after the PSO SEAAC, because it was judged with a heavier emphasis on emotion than tricks, so I think that’s why I won. Sometimes it makes me feel like I don’t really deserve the wins, to be honest.
With all that said, here’s the video! I haven’t even thought about what music/theme I’m going to do in December for Worlds, which, thankfully, is being held at UNF in Jacksonville. It would be nice to travel to another country like Italy, which is where Worlds was held in 2016, but it’s MUCH cheaper and more convenient to have it right in my own backyard.