2009 Summer Nationals, Day 4

Div2 Women’s Epee went well for me, overall! I was seeded 40th (out of 113) initially, the last of the “C” rated fencers in the event, as I had the oldest C (a C05). My C will expire at the end of July, and turn into a D09. *sniff* I earned it right before I started my grad program at Texas State, so I didn’t compete for 2+ years. Ah well.

I went 4-and-2/+6 in pools, which put me seeded at 34th. Top 80% after pools went up to the DE round, so 39 people got byes into the round of 64. It took FOREVER for DEs to start; I think it was over two hours between my pool ending and when I got to fence my first DE bout. I won my bout in the round of 64 easily, and then lost 15-11 in the round of 32 to the #2 seed. I didn’t think her fencing was all that special – she was a “one-trick pony” her her circle-6-fleche-to-the-body – but I couldn’t move my feet fast enough to deal with it. Did I mention she’s half my age? Yeah… oh well. She lost in the next round to a fellow Texas fencer who had been in my pool.

I got a little revenge, too – remember when I lost at sectionals 15-14 to a beginner, and therefore didn’t qualify for Div1-A? She was in my pool. She lost 5-1. /snark off

One of my online quilting friends came up to see me and DH fence on Saturday! I was really surprised that she wanted to drive that far (about an hour) to come watch. It was really nice of her. My HS French teacher and her husband also came, and stayed for the entire tournament. I can only think of a handful of tournaments that I had a personal cheering squad. 😀

DH fenced Div3 Men’s Epee. He did AWESOME in pools – won all six bouts and was seeded 3rd after pools. He won his first DE but lost the second one in the round of 32. He was a little annoyed, as both fencers he fenced were weird and erratic, which is hard to fence against.

2009 Summer Nationals, Day3

I’ve been taking pictures, but I don’t have my cable to hook the camera up to the computer. So, those will have to wait until we get home.

Yesterday was Div III Women’s Sabre and Div II Men’s Foil, so DH and I both fenced. We got to see a little of each other’s bouts, but not all as the events were scheduled for roughly the same time. My goals were pretty simple: not to get blanked in pools (i.e., not to lose any bouts 5-0) and to make the cut to get into the DE round. I went 2-and-4 in pools, with a -4 indicator, which wasn’t too shabby considering I’m not a sabre fencer and the competition was tough! The two bouts I won went 5-1 and 5-2, and I got at least a touch on each other person in the pool.

I came out seeded 55th (of 75), and had to fence the #10 seed. I basically didn’t move my feet at all in the first period, and was down 8-1 at the break. I finally woke up for the second period to make a comeback, but still lost 15-8. If I had fenced like that in the first period, the score would have been much closer! The girl I lost to ultimately ended up 8th place, so at least I didn’t lose to a scrub fencer. 😀

DH did okay in pools. He won his first DE handily, and then lost in the round of 64. The referee seemed to have it out for him because he asked for clarification on two calls – not arguing them, just asking what the referee saw – and the ref carded him, saying he didn’t have the right to argue. Uh…that’s not a card… Later in the bout, the other fencer elbowed DH across the mask really hard, causing DH to land on his rear end. The ref SHOULD have carded the other fencer for corps-a-corps (body contact), if not a red card for jostling, but instead he said that because DH was “rushing forward” it was his fault. He then said that he should card both of them, but because it would be a red card for DH he’d let it go – as if he were doing DH a favor for not carding the opponent! There were also a couple of right-of-way calls that were uh…questionable.

I got to watch some of the women’s epee teams, which was some great fencing! Two Texas teams made top 8, one of which was in the round of 4 when we left.

Tomorrow is Div II Women’s Epee (my main event) and DH has Div III Men’s Epee (his secondary weapon). We both stand a good chance of doing well, so keep your fingers crossed for us!

2009 Summer Nationals, Day 2

It was an exciting day today! We left bright and early to give DH enough time to warm up before his event (I didn’t fence today). Long story short, he placed 8th in a field of 150+! The top 8 are considered finalists, so he got to go up on stage, get a medal, a bag of goodies, and have all sorts of pictures taken. Finalist in any national event is a huge deal – he did an awesome job!

Stay tuned. I have pictures, but I forgot to bring the cable to hook the camera up to the computer. DOH! Maybe our host has one to spare…

2009 Summer Nationals, Day 1

We headed to the venue after we dropped the dogs off at James’s house.
DH got his gear checked, as he fences tomorrow and didn’t want to deal with long lines early in the morning. It also allowed for time to fix stuff if it didn’t pass! Fortunately, he stuff passed and we didn’t have to buy a new lame or anything.

I found an AWESOME deal on some new blades. The blades I use are Uhlmann FIE BF (high-end, international standard; read: quality, but not cheap), and they usually cost about $150 each, withOUT being wired for electric scoring. Wiring with the better German points adds about $20-$25 each, depending on who you buy from. I found some, WIRED, for only $120! I got two, which replaces the two that snapped in May. Fortunately, the way that I fence isn’t hard on my weapons, so they last for years. DH got a new blade as well. I also bought my new knickers and had my name stenciled on them. I also got the tournament t-shirt, a hoodie, and some socks that DH has been drooling over for years. They put the fencers’ names on the back of the t-shirt as usual, but you had to choose first or second half of the alphabet – because of the way they did the names on the back (full names, in columns, in teeny-tiny print), they could only fit half of the 6,000 entrant names per shirt. They used to do the names in a big block, using only the first initial and last name. Yes, it was hard to find your name, but everyone’s name was on the same shirt!

We’ve already seen several folks we know, across all areas of the fencing world – competitors, bout committee, armourers, vendors, etc. I realized that we’re pretty well networked across the country, which is neat. We watched some of the men’s team epee, including a great match between one of the Texas teams and one from…Pennsylvania? Tomorrow, a good family friend is going to come out to watch DH fence and catch up visiting with me (and let me explain fencing stuff to him!), and then he and his wife (my HS French teacher) will come on Saturday to watch me fence. I’m really looking forward to seeing them.

More to come!

Summer Nationals

DH and I are leaving in the morning, headed for Grapevine, TX, for Summer Nationals. We’re going to the venue Monday afternoon to shop, get equipment checked, and I’ll have to drop off my (newly-bought-at-that-time) knickers to have my name put on them overnight. I bought my sabre lame and had my name put on it at a NAC less than a month before DH propposed, so it has my maiden name on it. USFA rules require that you have your name on your jacket (epee), lame, or rear knickers leg – my jacket has my married name, but that would be covered by the sabre lame. My old knickers have a USA “splash” on the rear leg, so I can’t even use those for my name. I could buy a lame patch and have the name put on that, but I think the patches look kind of tacky. 😦 Besides, my knickers are snug as they’re almost ten years old at this point, and well, your body changes…

Wish us luck! I’ll try to remember to post here after our events. DH is fencing Div III Men’s Foil on Tuesday. Thursday he is fencing Div II Men’s Foil, and I’ll be doing Div III Women’s Sabre. Saturday, he’s fencing Div III Men’s Epee, and I’ll be doing Div II Women’s Epee (my main weapon), to give you an idea of what is when…



I came in second today, so I qualified for Div II! Whee! I went 3-1 in pools with a +7 indicator (I should have won the last bout, *sigh*, AND not have given up so many touches!), and was seeded third after pools. I fenced a good friend in the first round and won 15-8, then fenced a girl from San Antonio who was solid but youg and beat her 15-10 (I was ahead 13-8 at the second break and just doubled out) and then lost in the finals 15-8 to a 16 year old who was tougher than expected. I barely missed SO many touches, by like half an inch! Aaargh! It was a fun bout anyways.

DH also qualified for both Divs II/III in both foil and epee. (I’m not eligible for DivI III because I have a “C” rating, even though it’ll drop to a “D” at the end of this season, as Div III is only “D” and under at the time of qualification.) He took second in the foil and third in epee, so yay for him too. Good weekend of fencing at the Ray household…

Yorick Open

I fenced today in two events of a small tournament. I did okay in the mixed (men and women) epee, but I had to fence my DH in the first round of DE’s! AAARGH. Not cool.

The women’s event was after that. I won all but one bout in pools (there were 7 of us, total), and the last bout I hit the girl but my light didn’t go off. I asked to have my weapon tested, and it was found to not be working so her last (and final) touch was annulled. We go again, and I just missed. DOH! That was the only bout I lost all day in that event, though, as I ended up winning the tournament. I fenced well, but not the best ever; I also didn’t have to work that hard to do well at this particular tournament, which was also a nice feeling.

How was your Sunday?

Sectionals, Day 1

Day one of the tournament…in short, I got “beginnered” in my direct elimination bout in my “main” weapon. I lost 15-14 to a brand new fencer who basically got me on beginner’s luck. It’s so frustrating, because it wasn’t like I lost because of something I did(n’t) do during the bout or got outfenced by someone better. I didn’t qualify for summer nationals this weekend in epee, but I have one more chance in two weeks. The tourney in two weeks isn’t going to be as good though, as I can only qualify for Division II and not Division I-A AND DivII. I’m actually really, really upset about this because a) I didn’t fence poorly today (rather well overall, actually), b) I “kept my head” better at this tournament than I have in a long time, and c) I’ve been working my @$% off all year with weekly private lessons, intensity at practice, etc. for this tournament and fell short. *sigh*

EDIT: I forgot to mention that if I had won that bout, I would have qualified for both Div I-A and II for epee. *groan*

Jelly legs

I took a lesson tonight with Thomas, one of the assistant coaches. It was a mutually beneficial arrangement: for me, I got the opportunity to break out of a routine (i.e. taking lessons with the same coach for years) and improve my mental flexibility while also addressing ongoing bad habits with a coach, and for him, the opportunity to give an advanced fencer a lesson (while I don’t consider myself advanced in terms of overall competition, I’m definitely advanced for the UT club – 10 years will do that to you!) with constructive feedback on his coaching skills from a former coach.

Oh. My. God.

My legs hate me right now. They’ve been jiggly since the lesson. He started off a bit quicker than I expected – advance-lunges with various blade set-ups. I needed a bit more of a warm-up, but I managed okay. The lesson went well overall, but not as smooth as either of us would have liked due to getting used to each other as coach and student. I’ll have to do a repeat in the future. 😀

Long time…

It’s been awhile since I updated this blog. I haven’t finished anything crafty, so nothing much to post there. I may have some photos by the end of the weekend, though.

I just registered for one of the biggest fencing tournaments in the area tonight. When did they get so expensive? Two events (senior women’s epee and a C and Under mixed event) was $75! It used to be say, $25 with $10 for each additional event. Stop competing for a few years, and they just inflate the prices… *sigh*

Fencing tournament this weekend

DH took some pictures for me. He wasn’t sure what all to take pictures of so keep that in mind. 😀

Here’s all of our gear, before being (mostly) taken out of the bags. The bags are about the same size as a golf bag, to give you an idea of scale. Mine is the bright yellow and grey one, DH’s is the black one.

This is me at the end of getting dressed – the glove is always the last part! I always wear a hat backwards when I fence – it catches sweat, keeps my hair out of my face, and keeps my mask from jiggling around.

I just picked up my epees and was about to head to the floor when DH snapped this picture.

A picture of the venue. This was between events, so there’s not a lot of activity at the moment. The silver things are called strips (also called pistes, the French name) – the “in zone” if you will for the fencing bout. They are 14 meters long by 1 1/2 to 2 meters wide. Two meters at each end are a warning zone – if you can push your opponent all the way off the back end of his side of the strip, you earn a point.

Some members of my club (and me in my fencing gear on the right). The man in the middle wearing a suit is my coach, Paul.

Getting ready to put my mask on. At this point, my weapon has been checked by the referee and the bout is about to begin. DH didn’t get a picture of the next part, which I had specifically asked him to take. 🙄 You must salute your opponent (and if you’re courteous, also the referee, your coach, and the audience) before and after the bout. You also salute if the score becomes tied at match point (4-4 in pool bouts, 14-14 in direct elimination [DE] bouts), called la belle touche (“la belle” for short), or “the beautiful touch.” You also shake your opponent’s hand at the end of the bout.

The bout has begun, but barely so. I just came off of my “on guarde” line. And DH managed to get a picture of me in good form. Most fencers cringe when they see pictures of themselves in action, especially video. This was taken during the DE I won against Karen (also a good fencing friend).

A pirate dummy wearing top of the line fencing gear, made by one of the vendors, Scott. Scott and his wife are good friends of ours. Picture taken for Toni. 😀

Finalists for Senior Women’s Epee. You’re considered a finalist in any tournament if you finish in the top 8. I didn’t have a chance to get my shoes back on before being called up to get my medal, oops! The woman that beat me tied for third – she’s the tall one in the grey sweater. The lady in green (Suzanne) and the one in the navy blue and white jacket, fourth from the left (BJ), are good friends within the fencing community. I had to fence BJ in pools – it was a good bout that went 5-4, to her.

And we saw this great sunset on the way back into Austin!

Yet another pair for the closet shelf!

Those are The Best Fencing Shoes Ever. They are the asymmetrical fencing shoes made by Adidas…”made” being in the past tense. They were discontinued after only two years of production, and have become a rarity to find used or new. The shoe on the left is for the front foot (my left foot). You can see how the heel is reinforced and padded. The shoe on the right (my back foot) has the raised area with extra durable leather, as that is the area most likely to get worn down with repeated footwork and lunging. These shoes also have arch support, which is unheard of in fencing shoes, AND they have good traction. They’re as comfy as tennis shoes, and they wear well.

I planned ahead several years ago. A friend of mine went to summer nationals and offered to buy DH and me anything we wanted (on sale!), and we both requested these shoes. I was the lucky one – they had these shoes in my size because a) my feet are small for shoes that are only made in mens’ sizes, and b) I’m left-handed. He was jealous then.

I just broke into that pair a few weeks ago. My last pair of shoes lasted for four solid competitive seasons plus a season of intermittent fencing. They’re still in decent shape, but they don’t have traction any more. I happened to find another pair on the clearance page of an online fencing retailer – WHEE! DH is again supremely jealous. I looked high and low for his size, but they’re just not to be found.

I suppose it will be that much harder when these two pair are long gone, and who knows what kind of fencing shoes will be on the market?

Fencing pictures

It was requested awhile back that I post some fencing pictures. Unfortunately, most of the few that I had have been lost along the way in various computer crashes, most notably the two times my computer has been fried in a power surge. 🙄 Anyways, I have a userpic on my LiveJournal, but I no longer have the original. But here it is, in all of it’s tiny glory:

DH has a few OLD pictures (as in, back when I was fencing foil), but I’ll spare you. At least the userpic is a) the current weapon I fence (epee), b) depicting me in full uniform, and c) shows my yellow and grey bag in the background. 😀 That hat has long bit the dust, and the one I’m currently using during fencing is navy blue. I wear a hat to keep my mask from jostling around and also to keep my hair out of my face.

I’ll try to remember to take my camera one day, and also see if I can snag a picture that’s on the wall. It was taken at a tournament, and it’s the coach talking to me during a time out. I’ve got my mask on, and I’m holding my weapon behind my head, which is what I do when I’m being coached at tournaments. It’s actually a really good picture, has a nice artistic component to it, and captures the moment well.

First night back…in 15 months, eek!

I suppose that whole “older and wiser” thing does actually apply. DH and I had our first night of fencing practice tonight, and left early so we’re not TOTALLY dead tomorrow. I took a lesson at 5:00, we fenced about 4-5 people each, did some coach-led footwork drills with the rest of the club, stretched, and left. I think my legs may fall off tomorrow, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

My lesson went well. The coach is starting with basics, as I’ve got some old bad habits and some new ones from being out of fencing shape. It apparently took, as I got two touches in different bouts using what we worked on – and one was in my bout against the coach. Thankfully, too, it was not only the “lesson touch” but it was also perfectly executed AND looked pretty! *proud* I also only lost on bout tonight, and it was when I fenced the coach. While my fencing could have been better (ya know, in practice and in shape!) it certainly wasn’t piss poor and a few of the hard-wired reflexes are still intact, yay.

Off to bed early tonight…after I get a good rub down with some IcyHot. 😀


…just watched the semifinal bout for Men’s Team Sabre between the US and Hungary (a sabre powerhouse). We came back from 36-40 to win 45-44!! OMG!! We still have to win another to get a medal, and if they lose the next round, they would have to fence again for bronze. But STILL.

We also got SILVER in Women’s Team Foil – again, UNHEARD of!!!! We’re SECOND in the fencing medal count this year – *SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEE*

Fantastic Olympic fencing for Team USA.

US sweeps Women’s Sabre!

Finally, a fencing post!  The US Women’s Sabre team swept the event this morning in Beijing.  Mariel Zagunis defended her gold and I believe set a US record.  Yay!