Friday, August 31, 2012

A Lesson with Todd Gilles

All Lake Placid posts here.

Every year when I go to Lake Placid I sign up for the low level ice dance group classes. Last year I took the Ice Dance Partnering class with Todd Gilles and this year I took his Stroking class.
Todd Gilles

So I show up and Todd says, "I remember you from last year!"

So we all know teachers remember only the good students and the bad students.

Yes, you can figure out which one I was.

Anyway, in his Dance Partnering class I learned proper body position (and posture) for dance holds.  He has a really nice way of teaching these 'techniquey' things in ice dance. 

This year in his Stroking class he introduced pre-positioning the blade to us. It's one of those blindingly obvious things that I would never think of until someone points it out to me. So imagine you're stroking along and you bring your free foot next to your skating foot, then you angle your foot at the ankle so the edge is already in position before you put the free foot down.  The correct edge then is the first thing to touch the ice.

I suppose unconsciously, or with luck, I've done this pre-positioning thing before, but I never did it deliberately. After the lesson I was experimenting with trying it everywhere.  I found it really smoothed out my skating.

In the Stroking Group class he also had us do some of the stroking tests that were used when he was in training. Four strokes to get across the rink, then two, then one. Yes, as Dance Coach says, I have no power, I was always the last one across. Sad Face.

I took some private lessons from Todd. He fixed my swingrolls, taught me yet another 3 turn leg position, and got me doing progressives!

Yes, my battle with the curse of the progressive is over! I have them consistently both sides. They finally clicked. 

So, great fun taking lessons from Todd. He pitched the lessons at a level where I could grasp and perform the concepts. I liked how he introduced the techniques of ice dance. Maybe other skaters know all these things already, but I didn't and I felt really informed and skated better after each lesson. You can't ask more than that!


  1. Sounds like a fabulous set of lessons! He sounds like a great coach.

    I took a private lesson from a "star" skater once, and didn't really get much from it. The seminar I attended was fantastic (but she was kind of the secondary instructor), but the private didn't add much new. It was like she was hesitant to say anything, maybe worrying it wasn't what my coach had been saying? I don't know. Not everyone can teach low levels.

    1. One of the things I like about Lake Placid is I can take a lesson on something specific and the coach will express it in a new way. Same skating technique, but different coaches express it differently and sometimes that's all it takes. I don't want coaches to all tell me the same words.

  2. I tried out for the synchronized skating team last year. I went to three practices. I was ALWAYS the last one to reach the other side. I could never hold the line. I didn't have enough power. *sad face*