Coach Challenge, who is our freestyle group coach, likes to throw out high level exercises for the Silver and Gold skaters in group, and the lower level skaters--we sort it out on our own.
First skating element of the evening: forward cross rolls. Good, good, we can all do that. We regulars scamper across the ice doing various levels of forward cross rolls. Then Coach Challenge demonstrates a forward cross roll immediately going into a 'thingy' so you turn and end up going backwards. I have NO IDEA what that 'thingy' was! I see it, then immediately I forget it. Wait. Which way did he turn? Was there a foot switch? Maybe a leg swing? Dear God, was it a choctaw, rocker or bracket? It's like my memory was wiped of that fraction of a second it took to do the turn.
All I know is it wasn't a 3 turn, or a mohawk because I know what those look like at a glance, going fast, at a distance, and even if I can only see the skater's shoulders.
The other low level freestyle skater who's a regular hisses at me, "What WAS that!"
"It exits on a back inside edge, just do a mohawk." I hiss back. Which is what we do. The high level skaters, they scamper across doing whatever the turn is. And we haven't got to the mystery element yet.
Meanwhile the two new freestyle skaters in group who apparently have never been exposed to the wild west show that is Coach Challenge's class, stand away from the melee' and watch in stunned silence. I give them a glance of sympathy. I want to be kind and reassure them, but on this patch of ice they're on their own. I got my own shit to look after.
Let's just say, that in the world of figure skating, I'm getting a lot of experience in dodging, shifting, and somehow sticking to the program...while not exactly doing everything the coach says. And even if I can't, it's not going to be there for long. Zip zap thunderclap something will take its place.
Coach Challenge likes to do 'bad side' elements. Tonight it's 'bad side spins'. Silver ice dancer Mr Badass, actually moans and skates in a little circle of pain when he hears this. Finally, something I can do. I give a Nixon.
This is a 'Nixon'
Yes, I am so old that I made a reference to
a President dead for over 20 years.
Then Coach Challenge wants alternating sit spins in a line down the rink. I take a stab with two footed alternating spins, keeping up with the skaters who are doing them one footed.
"Now, I want you to do this." Coach Challenge does a back cross roll with the crossing foot in the front. (RBO XF-LBO XF-RBO)
I can see it. I understand it. The crossing foot lands on the outside edge to outside edge. I take a stab at doing it. If you do the crossing foot inside edge to inside edge, it's sort of like a beginner's step over. The challenge is doing it to the outside edge on the roll. I get about three successful crosses, then my feet go to the inside edge and I swear. I don't think I'm the only one.
Coach Challenge says, "Now I want you to do this." He does the back cross roll with the cross in the front then does 'another thingy' hops up on one foot in a cute little jump and lands.
This time the entire row of skaters stands there heaving for beath, silent. No one moves. The 'other thingy' has every one, including the Gold skaters just back from Sectionals, stumped. Coach Challenge looks down the line; He clearly recognizes that he has overwhelmed everyone. "Okay, do this!" He does a back swizzle and hops up on one foot. At the end of the back cross rolls with the crossing foot in front, the little hop is a cute little transition. We all are successful on the modification.
Now what is the skating element of mystery? It's the name of the Back Crossrolls with the cross in the front. I consulted with numerous skaters online.
"That's a real cross roll, a cross cut is when the foot goes behind"
It's a cross front back outside
Low cross in fronts
XF--cross front as labeled in the Starlight Waltz
It's a good exercise, it deserves a well known and recognized name!
(I like BOXF--Back Outside Cross Fronts. It has the direction, the edge and a description and can't be mistaken for anything else!)
I took my blades to my sharpener and pulled off my pink and purple fuzzy soakers. "I think I need a sharpening."
Actually I KNOW I need a sharpening, but it's always tactful to open the conversation with "I think." I can tell the instant I skid a turn whether more knee bend will fix the skid, or I need a sharpening.
He ran his thumb across it. "It's close enough, yeah, I can go ahead and do it. You wanted 7/16?"
I'm skating on 1/2" radius of hollow now, because in warm weather, I just float through my turns. But in the winter with hockey season on, the ice is as...cold as ice...hockey ice. With hard cold ice, a tighter radius of hollow gives you a grippier blade.
I bite my lower lip, and my sharpener can read my mind. I'm worried that 7/16 will be waaay too grippy. I'm not jumping, and I don't have that much speed. Too grippy can stick me like glue.
"What if," my sharpener says, "I split the difference."
At this point, I have to do 4th grade arithmetic (well, 4th grade in the 1950s. GOK when kids today learn fractions. High School?--moving on). If he's going to split the difference, that means he has to halve the measurement...so we're now in 32nds.
"Uh, 15/32nds?" I pause then say hoarsely, "Kinky."