Saturday, August 19, 2017

The "F" Word

My coach, Miss Bianca, is chasing me around the rink and barking "push harder,", "move quicker!" as I scamper through the pre-bronze perimeter stroking regime.

With Scamper

Sadly, as hard as I'm scampering, she is skating along side of me going, "I'm skating faster than you." Well, okay, I'd be rattled by that except as smoothly and quickly as she is moving, she's doing three strokes for every one of mine. I'm clinging to the pipe dream that as I do long strokes, I'm slowing down faster than she is. "You go faster, when you try," she says.

"Don't say 'faster'," I say, "As far as I'm concerned, it's the 'F word'." 

A few minutes later I'm doing forward spins, and she's metaphorically cracking the whip to make my rotations, quicker, and I get a "probably 2 and a something 1 foot spin," my coach says. You're getting up to the speed you need. when you force yourself." WIN!! She totally avoided the " F word". Unwin? Well, I still have to skate fas.....never mind.

Now back edges, back edges, outside and inside.  "You need to skate  the 'F' word," she says.

Yes, I've trained my coach not to say the 'F' word--FASTER. And apparently, if I work my little legs off, I can do the 'F word' better than ever.

However, she has told me when I go to Lake Placid, I have to take Marc Fenczak's group class on "Gaining Power." I suspect I can't train him to avoid the F Word--I'm going to have to skate faster--and I'll still be at the tail end of the class no matter how 'F word' scamper I go!

Monday, August 14, 2017

My Coach Gets into the Act for "Cue Words"

I'm deep into my continuing adventure with 'cue words'. These are words you select to 'cue' you to perform a certain action. I wrote about them here when I started learning my back 8s.

The cue words do three things for me:
1. Distract my brain. I've got like a hurricane of things going on in my head during skill development.  A cue word makes me focus on one skill and not every skill.
2.  If the skill is extended, like the Back 8, a series of cue words can chain simple skills into a complex skill
3. If I pick the right cue, all the fiddly distracting skills will fall together. I know, it sounds weird, but it's working for me.

So, I'm working on my spins (both ways) with different skills. I need to get my righ free hip to the closed position. My right hip is naturally in the open position, which makes my  left spin very irregular. So, my cue word is "hip" when I spin to the left. This reminds me to get my free hip in the closed position.

I show this to my coach. "Hip hip hip hip" I go. I get a really decent spin. Lift the foot up, hit the rocker, spin--2 really nice rotations. The third rotation eludes me.

My coach stands like Carlo Fassi, hands in her pockets.  She's used to my unusual training activities. "Try 'knee, knee, knee'. I want your knees together. They're not quite there yet."

So, I've done the 'hip' cue word a few times. If I've done it enough I hope the hip skill merges into the knee skill when I hit the first "knee."

I do the two foot entry, and start chanting "knee, knee, knee!". My 'free' foot whips in, my hip closes, the foot raises and suddenly, I'm doing a big girl spin. I can hear my coach cheering "That's the speed I want to see!"

Internally, my body is chanting "slower slower slower!"

Yeah, there's the reason I'm not getting that 3rd rotation.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Other Skaters Have 'Issues' Too!

I got a text from Mr Badass about his coach's comments in yesterday's lesson:
Beginning of lesson:  "We should definitely put your Lutz in your program."

Five minutes into lesson:  "We need to work on crossovers."

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The Moment Has Arrived: Big Girl Skills

My coach says, "Let's work on your back 8's"
 Yes Coach.

Then my coach says (same lesson), "Let's start on your rockers."

  Yes Coach.

Then my coach says (Same lesson), "Okay, time for counters."


Then my coach says (same lesson), "Brackets."

 "Yeah, whatever, Coach."
Hey, I did one, one-footed bracket!

Then finally after all the stress,  we work on my spins. I never thought I'd ever say, "Thank God, it's only spins."

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Back 8's

"Let's start with back 8s," my Coach says cheerfully.

I've been reading a lot of skills building books lately--listening to them when I drive--and one recommended that for skills building that it's helpful to 'talk' your way through the skills as you practice. That is you say a cue word out loud as you're stepping through a skill in the beginning, then as you get experience doing the skill, you drop the verbalization.

I've messed around with this lately. It has promise so I used it in the back 8.

Here are the steps of the back 8...You start facing in the circle
Push off.
Balance forward towards the toe
Free foot is forward
Switch foot to back at the half way point
Switch arms at the 3/4 point so you're now facing out of the circle.
Look over you leading shoulder  and guide yourself back to the starting point.
This is the first half of the 8. This all I'll talk about.

What it sounds like is...
"push... OFF!.......TOE TOE TOE....switch LEG.........switch ARM....LOOK OVER LOOK OVER LOOK OVER...!!!"

I skate without my glasses on and I cannot see that damn center dot to save my life.

At some point during the beginning of this strongly enunciated skill building, the music in public goes off and all you can hear is .....

I got a couple of strange looks.... but it did work.  So, whatever.

I do what I need for my skating

Friday, August 4, 2017

My Skates go to the Sharpening Spa

Since many of you want to know how to sharpen skates (at least in theory!) here is a long post on what goes on in a sharpener's shack. Actually, for my skates, it's a spa!

From my sharpener:

1.  Fix the laces:  Untie knots and untwist the laces; tie them up so nothing gets tangled in the sharpening wheel (That would be bad ju-ju.)

Why yes these are my skates
2.  Check the mounting for tightness.  You shouldn’t get more than ¾ to 1 revolution out of a screw to tighten it.  More and it’s either been too long since it was checked, or you may need to recondition the hole.  If a screw spins freely and will not become tight, you are definitely in repair-mode; that’s a different post.

 3.  Check for any large nicks/ burrs and stone them out


4.  Dress the wheel to the desired radius.  (He does this once for each pair of skates).


5.  Check edge for evenness.  (He uses a 12" piece of aluminum channel with a magnet in it.  Aluminum because it’s softer than a blade & won't wear it down; a magnet to help it hold on.  If the edges are even, the channel will be parallel to the the holder's vertical stand.)

I'm okay!!
 6.  Check blade to wheel contact.  If one of the edges was higher than the other, it should meet the wheel first.  If edges were even, both should meet the wheel simultaneously.  Adjust the holder's angle as required for the proper contact.


 7.  First pass (light pressure).

8.  Check the sharpening path:  If there was a high edge, it should be getting ground down.  Adjust the holder's angle if needed.  If you're changing the ROH to make it smaller, there should be a grind path down the center of the blade that widens with each pass until it goes edge-to edge.  If you're making it larger, the edges grind from the outside-in.  If that's not happening, check and redress the wheel.  If a change is made, repeat steps 7 & 8.

9.  Sharpening passes (medium pressure).  Usually two or three.  Repeat until the grind path covers the entire blade, edge-to-edge, all the way down the blade.


10.  Final check for level.

11.  With a hand-stone, gently pull down the tiny metal fines that are left on the blade from the sharpening--top to bottom down the length of the blade, then one long pull front-to-back.  Do this on each edge.  Then apply wax.

12.  Finishing pass (slow, very light pressure).

13.  Wipe down the blade w/ warm rag. (removes any leftover wax).

14.  Clean/ oil the blade and put the soaker on.


And for this I pay the munificent sum of $10!!

Plus he includes a chocolate!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017


Some Days the Public Skate Music Just Moves Me

I don't even know the name of the turne. It was in 4/4 time, rather slow, with a steady beat under some smooth modern melody. Not jazz, not rock. I'd heard it before, and it swept me up.

I was doing stuff on my toepicks backwards, arm waving and body bending, slow spins both ways, turns one foot and two foot, step behinds, deep edges, maybe a two foot twizzle, beautiful forward crossovers with unusual positions, deep back crossovers into a landing position, turn forward......

...turn forward?....What did I just do?... I stop..

.....I think, step one step two, step three: ...No,  I did an unintentional FI3....

I don't know whether to do this.....

Or this....

When I tell my coach, she nods sagely like she knows more about me than I do.  I need a back 3 shrink.