Thursday, May 18, 2017

Boggable Moments in Group #1

The group coach is new, and has never met me before. "Show me your spin," she says.

I do a 2 foot rocker into back cross into a counter clockwise spin. Pick up the free foot and do two rotation 1 foot spin.

"Hmmm," the coach says, "Do only one rotation two footed, you're lifting your foot on the second rotation."

There's a funny thing about rockers, I can never remember which direction ends up being the one to start on to get a particular spin direction. I pick one, and realize it's my alternate direction spin. But, I pick the foot up on the first there!

The coach is puzzled. "Did you just do a spin in the..............opposite direction?" I'm almost certain, that in that long pause she had to keep herself from saying "wrong direction."

"Yes." I reply.

The coach gathered herself together and in the way people do when they want to discourage some behavior asked, "Why?"

"Because it's my ONLY trick!"

Mr Badass Skater does a Lutz. It's not his best. Since our real coach is working with another student, I turn on my 'fake coach' act. "Would Paul Wylie skate like that? No, Paul Wylie would go out and perform that jump. Head up, smile, project!" I get an eyeroll, but Mr Badass goes in for another Lutz. He wipes out sorta like this. Lots of hopping around on one foot.
Well, that's the end of my 'coaching' career.

Next, Gold Skater nearly took out a adult beginner  in the no man's land between our class zones when she did a (LOVELY!) Lutz. There was actual blade to leg contact. Mr. Badass and I had to suppress our laughter.

The Coach of the beginner class came over and said about her students, "They need to learn to look behind them when they skate backwards."  No one cared about the beginner. I sorta feel bad about that. Sorta.

Did I tell you about False Spin Memory Syndrome where I think I"m doing one rotation two foot spin leading into a three rotation one foot spin, but I'm really doing three rotation two foot spin, leading into a single one foot spin?  Apparently, I'm going to make that a thing now.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Things Only Figure Skaters Understand #16: Vest Blindness

When you're in program, wearing the vest then 
some skater skates into your blind side and falls over.

And she blames you.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Where Does Adult Group Freestyle Skate on the Ice

We've had an explosion of adult beginner skaters at the rink. I blame Yuri on Ice (we've actually had a skater show up in full cosplay costume). This is summer, and the tradition is that most people start skating in the winter, and summer group classes are small.

Not here!

I came back after two weeks away and was told by Gold Skater how full the group classes were, and how the ice was full too.  Here's the layout for the beginner adults and the freestyle kids:

 Guess where adult freestyle goes.

Just guess.

C'mon. Give it a try.


 Are you thinking this?

I know, right?

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Settling Into A New ROH

So my skate sharpener had taken me from 1/2 to 15/32  because I was afraid 7/16 would be too grippy. I like the float I got out of 1/2, but due to the rink's ice temperature, it was taking waay too much knee bend.

So I skated on 15/32 for a while. I didn't really like it. It was actually LESS grippy than 1/2. I mean, it should have had more grip than 1/2, but nooo. Somehow it didn't.

So last week I asked my sharpener to take me down to 7/16.

He ran his thumb over my edges. "They still have plenty of wear left," he warned me.

This reminds me of the time I called the roofing company when I needed to replace my roof on my fixer upper house. My roof with FOUR layers of shingles (two layers over code).  Let's just say, there was a period during a blizzard I trembled in fear that the roof would collapse.

"I need to replace my roof," I said to the salesman.

"Is it leaking?" he asked.

"No," I said. "Who waits til it does that?"


So apparently, people with a bad roof, in order to get the last penny of wear out of their roof--so they can go to their grave having not expended a nickel more than necessary in their lifetime--run the risk of major water damage to their trusses and ceilings.

These are the like the people that are miserable on their blades but refuse to get a new ROH or new boots because "they still have wear in them."

"Fuck it," I said to my sharpener, "I want a new ROH and I want it now. It's worth the $10."

My sharpener and I have a little ritual. When he does a change to my blades, he drops my boots off at the rink. I pick them up and text him a report. On the 3rd or 4th text I wrote:

"Ran into Jim and Jane and they both have 7/16.
 My sharpener replied: 7/16 is a popular cut. Maybe the most common.
I feel so ordinary now. No more kinky cut, just one that works for me.


Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Three Turn Checking Tips

So I picked up a couple of FO3 turn checking tips recently.

This one is for building leg strength and balance and is from one of my favorite online coaches, Isk8NYC, a coach who posts over on
"Practice doing back crossovers and holding the BI "cross" in the checked position - chest facing into the circle, shoulders over the curve, skating ankle/knee bent and free leg extended/pointed behind.  You can start doing it on a circle in one direction, then reverse to work the other side.  When that's less challenging, practice it as a serpentine pattern, alternating sides down the ice to fit in more lobes and develop faster checking skills."
 This motivates me to hold the 'checked position' with extension. For mere crossovers, I just move along quickly, slowing it down and holding is a good exercise for the back glide.

The other tip is to 'look at the diamond'. I got this from my coach, Miss Bianca.  She uses it for teaching the flip. But for some reason she was using it with me and I realized it would make an excellent three turn check trick.

"Stick out your leading hand and look at the diamond," she said.

"What diamond?" I asked, looking around at her hand and her glove.

"The one on your wedding ring." She pulled her gloves off. Diamond rings on each hand.

We debate back and forth as to whether I'll ever get married at this point, but finally I stick out my hand stare where the non-existant should be and continued to stare at it as I did a FO3. I checked the turn. May I didn't do it perfectly, and trust me, it's a little disorienting to keep my eye on my hand, but possibilities there, possibilities.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

"You're My Inspiration" #2

As you may remember, faithful followers, I fell a couple of months ago doing a forward edge pull and tapped my head.

Coaches I know gave me little lectures about head protection.

Anyway, I now wear an Ice Halo. A "minion yellow" Ice Halo. When I wear that Ice Halo, you can spot me across the rink, and I skate like a king.

A few weeks after I started wearing the 'minion yellow crown of protection' , a skater in Basic Skills came up to me and said I inspired her to make her own. She had taken a bike helmet apart and put the foam in a cute knit hat. Okay, I was impressed by that.

Then yesterday, I ran into couple I know and the husband said, "You inspired us, we went out and bought these Crasche helmets."

I'd rather inspire them with my skating.

But, I guess I'll take what I can get!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

My First Sit Spin Lesson

Coach Challenge idly glanced over to watch me do a spin.

I ripped into it and lifted one foot, then I began to sink at the knees as my body didn't want to stand up, and I was hunched over  with my arms and hands forward, to counter-balance my enormous ass that was sticking out behind as I kept sinking.

I finally, got upright and exited my spin.

Coach Challenge actually smiled. "If you bend over some more you'll get a better sit spin."

"That wasn't a sit spin try," I tell him, "That was 'desperate not to fall' spin."

Only now that he gave it a name, I can't do anything with it.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Things only Figure Skaters Understand #15: Almost Empty Ice

When there's only three skaters on the ice

They always end up in the same place
at the same time


Friday, April 21, 2017

How Slow the Last MInute of Group Goes

Coach Challenge rolled his eyes to the insulated rink ceiling and pressed his forefinger to his chin while he thought.

"A..a..and for yo..o..ou...."

I glanced at the rink clock. It was one minute before session was over. "Well, session is over, don't worry about it," I say.

All session had been forward crossrolls into figure loops, then something new called power mohawks, then alternating crappy spins.  My figure loops were more like big circles, not oval loops. 

Coach Challenge brightened up. "Okay, I want you do two chasse's then a swing roll."

I glance at the clock. Still holding on the last minute.

I follow him around the space: chasse' chasse' swing roll.

"And then..." Coach Challenge announces triumphantly, "Hold on to that swing roll and circle around."

Clock. Time. Holding.

Chasse' Chasse' Swingroll Ho..o..old.

OMG!! This is to get me to do my figures loop!! Just one more try!

Zamboni horn. Gate opens.


Saturday, April 15, 2017

Great Moments in Figure Skating History #3

The reaction when a man in hockey skates
 does an axel on a lightly attended public

All true. One of the coaches wanted to get a video but he left the rink before she could catch him.

It was a decent axel, about a foot of air, then spoiled by being two footed.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

I'm In a Skating Plateau

This encapsulates my feelings about the last 3 months

The only thing I've advanced on is the Back Outside Cross Forward, which once I realized I could make it  funny I really threw my heart into doing. Everything else,  all the graceful skills, FI3, spins, BO3, I'm kind of where I was  3 months ago. I've tried 'Do the Opposite', 'Five minute focus' and 'Deep practice' to break through. Zip.

I've been on a break for 3 weeks. I'm now at that awkward moment between 'lost all my skills' and 'brain has had time to forget my bad habits'.  I may have been wearing myself down, and I can only hope that this break gives my body a chance to reset.

I've run out of ideas for now, maybe I knead to sit back and get a massage. I mean, it can't hurt.

Ooooh, kittehs.
I won't skate on Good Friday, however, Holy Saturday, there's no mass, so I'm back on the ice! I'll see then if I need to ask St Jude for intercession for those FI3s!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Overused Music: Schubert's Ave Maria

Carolina Kostner
Johnny Weir
Caroline Zhang 
Elena Ilinykh & Nikita Katsalapov 
Belousova & Protopopov 
Totmianina & Marinin 
Shizuka Arakawa
Peggy Fleming 
Yuzuru Hanyu
Stephan Lambiel
Maria Butyrskaya 
Wesley Campbell 
Yu-Na Kim 
Jeffrey Buttle

I know people complain that Carmen is overused, but I think Ave Maria has become a warhorse too. It's so associated with figure skating it's even included in Mario and Sonic Go to the Olympics game.

Well, good coverage of the ice, I didn't expect to see that.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Send-Off to Adult Nats

Saturday there was a going away party for all the adult skaters going to Nats. I don't know how many your  rink is sending, but the Adult Freestyle Circle of Fire is sending 10 skaters.

Since I had practice and a lesson, I tramped over to the VIP room in my skates just to wish the departing skaters good luck and hear their plans. When I got there, I realized that I had forgotten that the VIP room doesn't have matting on the floor, it has carpeting.

Carpeting on top of a concrete foundation. This was going to crush my edges.

I stood in the door for a moment, said my "Hi!", then added, "I don't have guards, I'll just toepick in."

"I'll loan you a set of guards, " Mr Badass said.

"I've got an extra pair in my bag," Miss Bun said, "You can have them."

A couple  other voices said something like "Hey use these!"

I then had to confess, "I HAVE guards, ...."

Someone (maybe Miss Bun) yelled out cheerfully, "You're just too lazy to get them out of your bag to walk over here!"

The end of this story, is that after a quarter hour of chat, I couldn't get out of my chair by going straight onto my toepicks, so a couple of people had to pull me up out of the chair on to my toepicks so I could stalk magnificently out of the room to go back to the rink.

But to all the adult skaters from my rink, (especially those who rescued me from the skater eating chair) have the most and bestest of fun at Nats, and skate your very best!!!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Behind the Scenes at the Sharpener

Boredom On Mid-Shifts Leads to Harmless Habits

Until One Day You're Holding an Irreplaceable No Longer Manufactured Jackson Interchangeable Blade in one Hand


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Great Moments in Figure Skating History #2

A Teenage Hockey Player, in full gear, shooed away 
annoying hockey boys who nearly skated into me
in the Center


Sunday, April 2, 2017

When Adult Skaters have Lives Outside the Rink

When only one person shows up for Group
And the Coach is missing too

I was gone, and the 2 gold skaters got called in to sub in other classes, there was someone with family obligations, and another skater who just didn't show. And I never heard why the coach wasn't there.

But Miss Bun took the single skater and put him  in Kids Freestyle




Friday, March 31, 2017

Things only figure skaters Understand #15: Specialty Clinics

When You Sign Up for a Specialty Spin Clinic and Realize You Have No Idea What You're Getting Yourself Into

Thanks to: Mr. Badass Skater

Monday, March 27, 2017

Blade Snow--Mystery Solved

When you get off the ice after you skate, most people find their blades wet, and they wipe them dry with a blade rag before putting their boots away.

I don't find my blades wet, I find them covered in 'rink snow' from the cutting edge to the top of the blade. I've never seen this on anyone else's skates

What's 'rink snow'? It's the shaved ice that skating blades create as everyone glides across the ice. You know how the more people that skate, and the longer they skate, it's harder to get a good glide? That's due to 'rink snow'.

My snow coverage is much much heavier
Unlike everyone else I skate with, I get a half inch thick of snow over my blades. Not only is it thick and heavy, it interferes with my 3 turns and spins. If I turn with just the wrong angle on the blade to the ice, the back of the blade drags across the ice and chops the turn or the spin. To 'chop' the turn is my term to indicate the snow blocks the turn and I come to an abrupt halt. It can be a  scary abrupt halt, that if I wasn't careful could could drop me on my ass.

A coach told me that I needed to wipe my blades while I was skating to clear the snow build up. It makes a significant difference in my glide, spins and turns. But the question what Why? Why did my blades get so gunked up, and no one else's?

It is a mystery! Let's examine it closer.
It took me a few times on the ice to figure it out. What was it that I did that no one else did? What was it that could build up snow?

Then I finally got serious about it and checked my blades for snow after each warm up element.  Slalom.Nada. Swizzles.Nada...then...

When I did my alternating T-stops in warm up (about 10 times on each foot) my blades gunked up like they were covered with mud.  Hooray! Positive finding! I wiped the snow off my blades and it was much easier to skate!

Did it solved my 'chopped' turns and spins?  I can say that those don't get chopped as often and when they do, I wipe my blades just in case. It's not perfection, but it's a great improvement.

So is it worth it to wipe your blades in mid-practice? It certainly helps me. So it may be worth a try for you.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Big Girl Spins!

Back Cross..ride the inside edge...
 Step forward into a...
Outside Three..
to a Hook ...then...
One Foot Spin

Both Ways!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Skating Element of Mystery

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.
  1. "That's a real cross roll, a cross cut is when the foot goes behind"
  2.  It's a cross front back outside
  3.  Low cross in fronts
  4.  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!)

Thursday, March 16, 2017

When Figure Skating Nerds Collide #1: ROH

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. 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 we're now in 32nds.

"Uh, 15/32nds?"  I pause then say hoarsely, "Kinky."

Knowing my blades and 
understanding technical issues

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

What Do I Tackle Next?

I think I've figured out FI3,  and I'll formally pass into Pre-Free this session. That leaves me with one skill in Pre-Free I can't do: the mazurka (knees won't let me). I can do everything in Freeskate 1 (except the jumps --knees...again), and most of Freeskate 2 except Back 3's and Back spins (and the jumps--you probably know why). Three and Four I have a couple of onsie skills. It's not until Freeskate 5 that I can't do any skill at all in a section.

So over the next few months, what do I want to work on? Honestly, I could care less about jumps. I'm not going to master them unless I have a knee replacement. I want to do foot work. I really don't care about spins, but if I don't get a couple of spins, and spirals my programs will just look like a ship sailing on the silver sea. BORRING.

Let's get the easy selections out of the way--easy because my coach is going to make me do them no matter what:
  1. Back 3's
  2. Back spins
  3. Completely switch over (again) to my wrong side spin direction. I now have 4, maybe 5 coaches, telling me to switch. I might as well make a commitment.
  4. Back inside edges (one of those "I need to practice this 4 or 5 times with a coach to pull it together since the outside version is going so well" edge skills.)
And the harder selections--harder because I believe there are so many things to pick from it's hard to make one:
  1.  Waltz 3. Because that will force me to get my 3 turn checking in line. 
  2.  Back edge pulls...because every coach I work with is determined to get me to do this, I might as well just suffer and take one for the team
  3. Outside mohawks---because it will make my coach so happy to teach me, and then I can do mohawk rolls. My coach loves mohawk cute little elements.
Except for back inside edges, and outside mohawks, this is fraught with suffering. I think I'll suffer through the back three and back spins for months to come, because I'm terrified to do them without a coach. But I noticed everything else in those 2 lists I'm willing to practice on my own and only need lessons on them to solve technical issues.

The next few months aren't going to be the cesspool of suffering I thought they were!

You know, I feel much much better. 

Until I think of Back Threes...

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Summer Public is HERE!!

I know it seems like 10° below zero outside, but the dearth of ice tourists on public today is the formal announcement that empty weekend summer public skate is finally here!

Winter Skate

Summer Skate!!

I was even able to skate backwards around the rink during public today as the total of people on public for a half hour was me + 1.

There seems to be some internal clock among the ice tourists  that one weekend a year they all mutually agree that there is a certain weekend that all of them stop showing up. Last weekend was packed; this weekend, empty ice.

Although it's  -50° outside, it's -150° inside the rink, and I have to skate wearing the following: t-shirt, long sleeved turtleneck thermal over shirt, regular skating jacket, heavy winter skating jacket, and a puffy vest I could hike the Himalayas in, in order to stay warm. (Plus gloves, and two pairs of pants, and a scarf).  

Despite the fact it is clearly the middle of winter (and well below -75°) the ice is abandoned, allowing me the sheer joy of not having to worry about knee high crowds of kids I have to look out for so I don't crush them when they run into me from behind, the side, but never the front--unless it's 3 on 1 and I can't escape. 

Of course two days from now there's supposed to be a blizzard which, according to local news, will cover the entire east coast, and drop the temperature to absolute zero destroying all life on the planet. That must be true, because there's no toilet paper or milk in the grocery stores. I guess that's where all the ice tourists are; stocking up on toilet paper.....and milk to survive the latest snowcopalypse.  

But today, I've had a foretaste of the months to come; Plenty of freestyle on the weekends, empty publics, and I'll be able to skate in short sleeves and a light jacket. Let me for a moment revel in that...I'll be released from the prison of ice tourists and enjoying the light breeze of freedom as I skate.

And now that my revel is over, I know that after the storm, next Saturday the rink will be packed with little kids and parents skating through the middle which I work on back cross rolls. I...I..just need to cling to my moment of summer dreams just one more minute.

Friday, March 10, 2017

I'm a BAAAAAD Girl (at Group)

We had a change of coach with the new session. Let's call him Coach Challenge. Group session is for all level adult freestyle skaters; Coach Challenge runs it at high Silver to high Gold.  I took the advice of another skater who is also a low level freestyler, "Do a lot of things two footed," she whispered.

After fifteen minutes in session of weird shit like back loops, things that might have been twizzles in a back pattern, forward cross rolls with hands behind the back, back cross rolls with something else I faked, then double back threes, alternate jump entrances (I skipped that one); I was exhausted and needed a chance to catch my breath so I decided to distract the coach.

"Coach," I said in Coach Challenge's ear, "Bad Ass skater, has trouble with his back left bracket." I patted his shoulder, "Use that knowledge wisely." I don't think I've ever seen a more delighted evil smile.

As I slunk away, Coach Challenge spun to face Bad Ass..."Hey, Bad Ass, let's work on your brackets!" he announced cheerfully.

My work here was done.

I suspect though, that Mr. Bad Ass has certain evil thoughts about me:

Whatever, he needs to fix that bracket. That will make him so much better at Nats.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017


The Lake Placid Adult Skate Camp announcement was posted last night. There will be two sessions:

June Adult Skating Weekend -June 22-25, 2017
August Adult Skating Week -August 20-26, 2017

Registration begins March 13. You can find the 2017 handbook here.

A list of coaches (don't expect all of them on the list to be there) can be found on teh  Professional Staff page. There may also be famous skaters there. Ryan Bradley showed up one year and taught lessons. My prayers for Johnny Weir to show up will probably be unanswered.

Coaches I've skated with in group lessons:

Natalia Dubova--skating skills, and performance skills. I've written quite a bit about Natalia's technique. I really like Natalia's classes, especially for lower level skaters.

Joel Dear--skating skills.  These were classes  on improving technique. He taught classes off ice and on ice.  My memory of his off ice class was his focus on small details such as placement of the blades in stroking, posture and body position. Joel has appeared as both a dancer and skater on television and in theater, so he has performance skills to teach that would be useful to a skater who wants to improve presentation and expression.

Mark Fenczak- ice dance and figures (I only took his figures group class, I think he's heavily booked for ice dance, so if you want to take lessons with him for dance, you don't want to wait.)

Gregory and Petukhov-- I took a group class with them that was a fun skating obstacle course class. It really put me through my skills in balance, speed and control. However, skaters that took private lessons from them raved about their team teaching. Melissa Gregory got high marks for her jump coaching.

Mimi Wacholder--I took both a private and a group class from Mimi about mohawks. I'm not sure she still teaches that mohawk group class, but she was a fine and thoughtful coach with good methodology; my hips just weren't ready for mohawks then. If she is still teaching the mohawks group class, I'll take it to see if she can up my mohawk checking skills, since I'm nailing mohawks now.

 Paul Wylie--the divine Paul Wylie. He taught a group class on performance skills, and private lessons. What can you say about Paul? He's not only a great skater and a great performer, he's a great coach. I watched him take a skater who had self taught himself jumps and Paul just tweaked his skills to an amazing degree in an hour.

Evelyn Kramer "The Spin Doctor"--I took a group class from Evelyn and she got me over my fear of spins in about 10 minutes--in a GROUP class! So if you've got spin 'issues', at least try her group class.

There were also coaches for group classes whose name I don't remember, but they were all good.  There are also guest coaches from out of town, so you should show up at the first night meet and greet when the coaches are presented.

Whether you go to the June weekend or the August week, I hope you have a wonderful time!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Improving My Push Off for Stroking with Power

I found an easy technique that improved my power in my stroking, with my push off. I mean conceptually easy; It took me some time to put everything together, to actually have an effect.

I do alternating T-stops with two strokes in between stops.

Bear with me.

I have stiff hips, so to build up the flexibility and strength in them, I started doing T-stops around the rink as part of my warm up.

I started out with several strokes between stops. Then as the weeks passed, the strength and flexibility in my hips got better. I decided to do two stroke between T-stops.

Let me explain the procedure:

I do the initial push off to the skating foot with my right foot. My skating foot is the left foot. I glide on the left foot, stroke to the right skating foot, bring my left foot to the T-stop position and do a complete hard stop onto the back edge.
Without raising my left foot (the one now at the back of the right skating foot), I push onto the right foot and glide, then stroke on to the left foot. I now do a T-stop with the right foot.

See what I did there? Stroke. Stop. Stroke.Stroke. Stop with opposite foot.

Okay, easy peasy. What's the trick?

The trick is, I do the push off from the T-stop direct from the stopped position on the outside edge without any fiddling by adjusting the blade. I stop. I push onto the new skating foot from the stopped position.

The first few weeks it was hard to gather my legs, with the right knee bend  and upper body position so I didn't have to move my feet around or give a preliminary stroke. I nearly fell on my face a couple of times before I got the knee bend and push coordinated. But after doing this for a few weeks I could do the alternating stops fast and hard, and push off from the stopped position easily.

Then last night at Rink #2 group, I realized I had a lot more power as I was just stroking aroud. I wasn't pushing from my inside edge anymore. I was pushing not exactly from the outside edge, it was more like I was stopped on the outside edge, then sharply rolling onto the inside edge for the push.  I can't emphasize enough, that the description may over state the roll from the back edge. It's not exaggerated, it just happens.  It works for me.

I've read about pushing from the back edge in a figures book, or maybe a coach told me. I don't know if this kind of push has a name, or if it's part of figures or freeskate. If I can find an older skater, maybe I should ask.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

When a Skill Is Inconsistent

Last week at group I had 3 perfect FI3 in a row. Then I didn't skate again until today. Adulting got in the way....result? Too little sleep,  too much time in the car driving to meetings in another city, too much stress; this all leading to the onset of persistent exhaustion.  I  need a week off.

This week, I don't have perfect FI3.

Now, I'm back to half-assed FI3. But they're much less half-assed than they were two weeks ago--so, maybe I'm up to quarter-assed  I guess you can say I'm improving. Certainly my quarter-assery is consistent and in the middle and without fear. I don't even say 'fuck' anymore when I don't have a glide out.

I complained to my coach. "I get a skill and it disappears. Why?"

She gave me a thoughtful look and said:

"One day I did five lutzes in a row, then they disappeared and I've never seen them since."

So I guess I'm not getting any sympathy from her, cause my FI3 is probably going to come back tomorrow.   

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Adult Skaters Can be Evaluated at S*T*A*R*S Too

USFS runs an off-ice physical evaluation program called S*T*A*R*S or  Standardized Testing of Athleticism to Recognize Skaters.

The ADULT SKATER POLICY is here.  Adults are limited to the High Performance Movement Screen.

Here is the official announcement.
S.T.A.R.S., the official fitness assessment program of U.S. Figure Skating, is returning to more than 15 cities nationwide! U.S. Figure Skating is also excited to introduce the brand new High Performance Movement Screen at selected cities during the S.T.A.R.S. season.

The S.T.A.R.S. combine consists of 15 tests in three areas:

Registration includes:
An assessment
Dynamic warm-up class
“Nutrition Throughout the Season” educational seminar
S.T.A.R.S. t-shirt
A detailed report at the end of the season to track the athlete’s personal improvement and comparative statistics for each test level.
The High Performance Movement Screen (HPMS)
HPMS is an individual, one-on-one evaluation focusing on three key areas:

The tests are based on established movement screen protocols commonly used in sports medicine and are administered by a group of physicians, physical therapists and certified athletic trainers. Each participating athlete will receive a detailed report flagging areas of concern and a thorough explanation of exercises to strengthen and improve flagged areas. Reports are confidential and never shared without permission.

Registration is now open. Click HERE to register today!

Monday, February 27, 2017

Poultry In Motion

During last Thursday's freestyle group lesson, Dance Coach started us off with power threes. Not just any power threes, but ones with the arms up over the head.

"You enter the three as you do," Dance Coach did the entry to the three, "then as you skate back, you raise your arms up. up. gracefully up." He then lowered his arms as he entered the back cross, "And after you do the back cross, and we are gliding backwards, you raise them up again."

We all took a try at it. FO3, arms up on the back edge, lower arms, back cross, raise arms again.

Dance Coach shook his head. "No, no, you are  much too stiff. You turn, you raise your arms gracefully," he gave us an impish look, "then you throw the chicken."

 His arms arced out upwards from his shoulders....and I swear all of us went "Bwak, bwak!"

If someone new ever joins this class, they're going to be soooo confused.