Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Three more discouraging words I've never heard: You're not ready.

When I asked Dance Coach to teach me progressives he shook his head politely and said, "You're not ready."

Okay. Not ready for the axel? Sure. But progressives? They're just a slidey kind of crossover and he actually called two of my crossovers (out of thousands) "Beautiful."

A couple of weeks ago Coach Cruella introduced progressives into the edge class. I know what you're thinking. It's a Cruella vs Dance Coach Smack Down!

In the Left Corner. Ladies and Gentlemen, we have Dance Coach. Expert in footwork, stance, rhythm, timing, choctaws, stroking, musicality and teaching ice dance.

And in the right corner, we have Coach Cruella. Leader in teaching adults edges and jumps, developmental skating skills, and breaking bad skating habits.

And in the Middle Corner we have your hostess. Wringer of hands, faller on butts. Scaredy cat of the Ages. The ICE DOESN'T CARE BLOGMISTRESS!

Yes, I am just this cute!
Coach Cruella has an interesting way to introduce progressives. The student does a two foot grapevine and then bends the forward knee, while the under leg pushes out. So both feet on the ice, the right foot passes in front of and past the left foot, bend the right knee and straighten the left leg so that you get an under push. Bring the left foot out from under, and do the exercise in the opposite direction.

After a few go rounds with this warm up exercise, we students get in the circle and do progressives 'for real'. Stroke, set the free foot to the side of the skating foot, then pass the free foot (which is now on the ice)  ahead of the skating foot. At this point, the weight change is supposed to go from the skating foot to the free foot. The initial free foot now becomes the skating foot, and the initial skating foot becomes the free foot. When this happens, the former skating leg extends under the former free leg and gives an under push.

When the weight switch happens, it's supposed to be like a light switch. The skating foot becomes the free foot and vice versa just as the free foot passes in front of the skating foot.

Except it's not happening with me. I can do the weight switch, but the timing is off. And the under push is not a push, so much as it's an under leg.

And the winner is?

Dance Coach. He's right. I'm not ready.

Coach Cruella's technique works with the other student who has progressives in 15 minutes. She also has knees 30 years younger than mine. That's my story. Anyway, even with practice I can't get the under push. Apparently, for some reason I'm leaning out of the circle. I also did this when I was learning crossovers, so there's some bad habit in there too.

Sad face. Well, it's another skill to practice and another life challenge to overcome.


  1. i got the 'you're not ready' last week, too, about a test. It hurts...

  2. I don't know if I'm ready. Progressives are hard hard hard. My brain refuses to cross the foot without lifting it first, deep inside I must worry about catching the blades.

    My group dance coach also did the grapevine drill with us, and it does give more confidence about keeping both feet on ice while criss-crossing.

  3. It took me a looooooong time to get progressives. Nothing about them came easily, but I did eventually get them. They're still not very nice, and need more tweaking, but I've never lost them again, unlike a lot of other skating moves. You have reminded me that I need coach to look at them again though, as I don't want to fall into bad habits.

    I hate grapevine (known to me as Former Coach's Evil Swizzle Exercise) - I feel safer doing progressives.

  4. Our dance coaches must be on the same wavelength. During my lesson I asked a question and my coach said, "That is a very good question and you are thinking smart. But that is too far in the future. You are not ready for answer." Great.

    I love progressives! It's one of the few things that clicked kind of easily for me. ("Easy" being relative, mind you.) I love how smooth and rhythmic they are. Mine aren't necessarily good - could use deeper edges and better shoulder placement - oh but I love practicing them. I love the feel of the outside edge gripping the ice on the under push. Heaven...

    During my third ice skating lesson ever we had a substitute coach who wanted us to do backward swizzles. I helpfully explained to her that we had never skated backward. Her reply, "You've got to learn some time." Maybe that applies to your progressives? Go for it!!