Saturday, February 25, 2017

Guest Blogger: Attending the Paul Wylie Seminar

While I'm off ice this week, I have a returning guest blogger who previously posted "Why We Skate". This is a long post, but enjoy.
Learn What You Know
I attended an adult skating seminar led by Paul Wylie.  PAUL freakin’ WYLIE!!!  It had excellent points and aspects that could be improved; overall, I’d do it again in a heartbeat.  (Or, as soon as my legs are working right again, whichever comes last.)  My main victory in skating life now is that Paul Wylie told lil ol me that my spreadeagle was nice.  He saw me use it as an entrance into a flip.  He complimented me on it *internal jumping up-and-down* and called me out to do it in front of the group *instant regret*.  This is when I made an example of myself.  (Not the good type.)

I took off from where I was and went and did my thing.  However, where I was and where I was going meant that I ended up doing my spreadeagle with my back to the group.  As I go by, I hear him say "Really?  You're gonna do it with your back to us?  REALLY??" 

I was committed at that point; so, yep, really.  I made my turn, stuck my tongue out, and with a "TTHHHHPPT!!" picked in and took off.  It was a good flip (for me): Nice & high, comfortable rotation, soft landing; I glided out, and with a back outside 3-turn I triumphantly faced the crowd, who was cheering.  And a stern-looking Paul Wylie, who was all-the-way not cheering.  "Did you do that in the right direction?" he asked me in a tone that conveyed the answer.  "At a Technique, Artistry, and Presentation seminar, you're gonna do a trick with your back to us?"  He wasn't impressed with my Technique of Artistically Presenting my backside.

Me:  [sheepish mumbling]

He pointed back to where I jumped.  "Again."  Paul is a small-ish person; he is friendly and personable.  However, I would have to find someone else to trifle with, if that was my intention.  So, I picked up my embarrassment and tucked it away in a pocket to savor later on, and I got on down there.  All right, what the hell:  Let's perform this one.

 I hit my spreadeagle & stretched it out.  *Go, go, Gadget ballet arms!*  (Hey, look, there are people here!  Hi, People!) Turn, pick, jump, rotate, land, kick out & back, stretch it out, aaaaand, finish.  My leading foot had a little shimmy at the start of the spreadeagle.  Air position on the flip wasn't as good as the first, so the landing wasn't as solid.  (Perhaps the embarrassment in my pocket was throwing off my balance.)   But, I felt that I had sold it.

I turned to face the crowd, who was cheering (more).  And Paul, who was cheering.  I like happy Paul.  That's a Paul that's much more fun to be around.

I'm glad it happened that way.  A cornerstone of the seminar was that the 'selling it' is such a big part of a performance.  Paul's visual device was to have us all come to center ice and visualize all the elements and tech stuff as taking one side of the ice, and that the performance was the other half.  The tech side is judged strictly and according to rules, but the performance is all up to us.  And they count equally.  Well, of course, there was no disagreement there.  Nobody had an epiphany about it; it makes sense.  It was a good reminder, though, and it bears stating often.  BUT nothing makes a point like experience, and I got this experience to prove it.

The feedback I got was the best kind:

1)  It was immediate.  Timely feedback is best, and you don't get any timelier than immediate.

2)  It was given by my peers.  Anyone in a supervisory position can tell you that peer feedback is the most powerful.  You know an audience is going to at least be polite.  You know your family and friends are going to be kind.  You know your coach is going to be … well, your coach.  *clears throat; moves along*   But here were a bunch of adult skaters.  These were my people.  I came into a room full of strangers, but by being an all-the-way grown-up and setting down a figure-skating bag at an adult skating seminar, I had told them at least half of my story.  They’re not going to shine me on; nor are they going to cut me down.  A thing I love about the adult skating community is that a person’s win is always a team win.  And everyone knows you don’t get them with fake praise or negative energy.  So therefore:

3)  It was genuine.  There was no doubt that I was seeing honest reactions.

4)  It was undeniable.  My second effort was technically inferior.  But the room was happier.  No doubt about it.  I was happier.  Isn’t that why I’m doing this in the first place?  I’m not a showman by nature, but I like being happy.  (Odd, I know.)  That’s why I’m doing this, right?  Right.

I appreciate how a concept that I’ve heard so often gains much more heft when you experience it.  I learned something I (thought I) already knew.  I’m also excited to work on improving the performance. 

Oh, and by the way, *laces fingers behind head; leans back and puts feet on desk* did I ever tell you guys this thing Paul Wylie once said about my spreadeagle?...

(Yeah, I’m gonna get some mileage outta that.)

Friday, February 24, 2017

Revelation...On the Ice

At group freestyle, Dance Coach got round to me to give me my drill assignment.  He leaned against the boards and said suspiciously, "Have you been skating some place else?"

So, he's probably mentioning this because my skills have become much better in a short period of time. But I can't help but feel like I'm being accused of cheating on my (non-existant) boyfriend.

I confessed. "I went to Rink2, to take Basic 6 again to work on my Forward Inside 3." 

I need this, because to date the number of successful FI3 with full glide out, lifetime 2.

This confession cheered up Dance Coach. "Okey, show me."

So, I do my crippled FI3. Nice entry, very nice turn. Grind to a halt.  Believe it or not, this is much better than the last time he saw me do FI3 a while back. 

He holds up his  arms and I rest my hands lightly on the back of his hands, and do a perfect FI3. "Very nice." He says.

"But you're holding me up." I point out.

He gives me the standard coach reply, "Practice." Then he skates off to another student.

Then as I stand there, mulling over my consistent failure to master the FI3, I HAD A REVELATION!

I can't do the  FI3 at Rink 2, even when the coach there is giving me support. Not only can I not do it, with the Rink 2 coach, it's actually scary. I can do it with Dance Coach, and Miss Bianca. What's the difference between The Rink 2 Coach and Dance Coach and Miss Bianca? 

Rink 2 Coach is taller by several inches, even taller than Dance Coach.

Soooo.......maybe when I do it at Rink 2 with the Coach there, I'm holding my arms too high, and....maybe that's pushing me on my flat or even so I lean outside the circle. And since I've been focusing learning from this coach, maybe I've developed a bad habit. fix it....I need to....

.......lower my arms through the turn?

I lower my arms. Push off onto the FI edge. Bring the free foot to the heel of the skating foot as I rise up...turn on the inside edge....keeping the arms lower than normal....

Life time total number of FI3?.....5! With 3 of those in a 2 minute period at the end of freestyle!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Adventures in Rink #2: The Rink of Misery

The story so far. I signed up for Basic 6 in Rink 2, so I could get some mid-week ice time and work on my FI3.

So far, life time number of FI3 done successfully? 2.

So, yes, I can do a FI3 turn, but I can't glide out. A few weeks ago, I had my epiphany about how to do them, then no matter what I did, I could never get that moment back again. I spent 45 minutes on public one day trying to work through them, and they actually got worse!

However, the rest of Basic 6? I'm a star. I can even get my elderly leg up to true hip height with toe point on both sides with good style points. Back stroking. Yes, fine. I'm doing back edges already. T-stops. Yes, yes. Great T-stops. Alternating with  only two strokes in between. Tits up, short complete stops with good shoulder position. Two foot turns? The coach actually told me they were 'elegant'. On a curve, either direction, on the straight ditto. Two foot spin--passing. Bunny hop--passing.  FI3--no passing.

So, this week I was the only student. I turned to the coach, and said, "I'm not getting out of here am I?"

He kind of talked me down from whatever pinnacle of FI3 agony I was suffering through at having to do Basic 6 again.  He give me a pep talk. "You can't pass without forward inside threes.  You came here to work on these, you really need to master them."

So we spent the most of the lesson working on my FI3. I finally got back the feeling of the entry the turn. And he identified the the problem with my exit glide: I glide out on the flat, so I just grind to a stop.

Still not passing.

There are times like these I just treat whatever I'm doing like structural engineering: Bring the free foot to the heel, hold, rise up turn, ....then try to hit that back  edge somehow without forcing it for the exit glide.

"You're like so many adults," the coach said, "You make it so mechanical, I want you to feeeell it." He demonstrates.

Nope. Not feelin' it.

 So what do I do?



 Yes, I will take Basic 6 again!

The answer? Probably, B. I may be able to twist the next sessions coach's arm and just tell him/her to let me work on FI3. Thank goodness I have freestyle group at my home rink to keep me from going mad from boredom at Rink 2!