Saturday, September 7, 2019

Learning to Step Through Jumps

So I signed up to LTS for Freeskate 2 at the rink that follows the LTS USA 'rules'. Let's face it the LTS rink has been really nice to me, and doesn't seem to  care if I jump or not to pass Freeskate. But,  I'm ready to move up,

I told my coach of my plan. A light goes off in her eye. "You need to learn a half flip and a waltz jump to pass Freeskate 1." She knows this is totally unnecessary, but for some reason she wants me to do it, "Against the boards," she says. She apparently isn't looking for miracles.

I don't jump. I'm notorious for not jumping. I have a bad hip on one side and a bad toe on the other. Jumping is off the table.
I'm the cat--jumping is the cup

But my coach looks so happy and cheerful and delighted at the prospect of teaching me some half jumps -- even at the step through level I say "Okay."

Just to make her happy
Sometimes the skater has to make the sacrifice.

So, I stepped through the Waltz Jump and the Half Flip and after I got them mixed up a couple of times, I finally was able to step through them. And they were decent too. I just had to keep one finger on the boards for emotional security.

Then my coach pulled her LTS card set from her pocket, delight in my success wreathing her face. "Let's see what's in Freeskate 2. I don't remember." Then she flipped between two cards. "Oh, I'd forgotten, half flip is in 2. Mazuraka is in 1. I suppose we'll have to work on that."


Monday, September 2, 2019

Checking (EDITED)

I took a lesson checking---because my checking is non-existant. I'm not sure if I have good checking now, but let's just say, if I don't---I've suffered enough for it.

Let's look at a photo of the great Irving Brokaw whose dynamic pose demonstrates the technique I learned.
 There's more going on here than can you see

 The skating leg is leading So here it is the left leg is leading. The shoulders should be back (no hunching) and rolled down...way down. Don't let the shoulders pop up.

The red arrow indicates the carriage of the leading arm. My coach told me to carry it so the hand was over the belly button. It's seems a little close to the body in this picture, but it can be carried from belly button level to shoulder level and away from the body. It just needs to cross the midline of the body.

The shoulders need to be  rotated in opposition. If as in this picture, the left arm is leading, the right shoulder need to counter rotate. The hard part here, is in not letting either shoulder roll forward, up, or forward.

I know when I'm in the right position

OMG the Pain!!

And when I get a little bit out of alignment the coach gently presses my scapula to get me in the right position

 So, I've been doing it wrong for years. It's not easy.

Note: The next day my 'core' hurt so much I could barely do a sit up. I mentioned this to the coach and she nodded sagely."When I was young enough to wear a bikini, I had a six-pack. The guys couldn't keep their eyes off me."

 Another reason to do compulsory figures!!!

Monday, August 26, 2019

Lake Pacid Skate Camp: Day Five Alternating Spins

I'm skating 4 hours a day, plus a lot of walking around Lake Placid before I start my spin lesson.

Coach and I stroke around while she looks at my edging and posture then we touch on mohawks, 3  turns and crossovers.

In the last half of the lesson we start on spins.

I'm tired, but I'm loose.

I do an entry from the left direct into a one foot spin. Dramatic exit, one foot entry into a right spin. Dramatic exit.

Then I do this over and over for the second half of the less, arms held in, arms in the air,  fast, slow,  talking all the time, yakkety yakkety. Snapping into spins, no hesitation. Moe than three rotations consistently

My home coach once told me that there would come a day when spins would be as natural to me as any skill I'd ever had. That when that day came, it would be like a lock opened in my head and I would be doing spins effortlessly from now on.

That Day Has Come!

But for the rest of the week I couldn't get a decent spin if you paid me.


I guess I now know how much warmup it takes for me to get fancy-shmancy spins. Several hours.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Lake Placid Camp: Day Four-The *Very* ADULT Group Program

Day 4 and I'm in a group number. We are doing a two spoke synchro wheel. I can't find a picture of one, but here's a 4 spoke wheel...ignore two of them.
I'm one of the two pivots. The pivots link arms and slowly rotate counter clockwise facing each other. The male skater, adventurous, enthusiastic, and strong, is supposed to link arms with me and  lean in towards me as we turn the wheel.  On the outside of his position is a strong female coach who is skating fast linking arms with him.

Now once the male skater links arms with me and as we rotate, he leans away from me.  He's afraid that the female coach to the outside of the wheel is going to get hurt. I tell him she's a coach she can take care of herself, but he keeps pulling and leaning away from me more! At this point I'm afraid he could  snap my arm because he's so strong and the female pivot skater and I are locked into position by linking our elbows through each others' with a death grip.

Now the program coach is yelling at everyone "Slow Down!"  And the pivot skater is yelling, 'LOOK AT ME" to keep us centered. And I'm yelling at the male skater to lean inside towards me. Because God forbid he leans to the outside and pulls the pivots apart--or breaks my arm.

What the other freestyle skaters hear is ;



Then finally me yelling at the top of my lungs,  "DON'T PULL OUT! DON'T PULL OUT!"

It must have sounded very naughty because the whole rink of skaters burst into laughter

Anyway, the male skater had developed this bad habit of leaning out, so to stop him from doing that, I yell dirty talk in his ear 'OH, MY GOD YOU'RE SO AMAZING, YOUR HOT BODY, YOUR MUSCLES OH TALK DIRTY TO ME...'

Yep, he's at the right pace and got his ear almost on my shoulder. 

What a relief this is an ADULT SESSION.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Lake Placid Day Three: The Ambulance Cometh

One of the skaters in our group fell and had an injury serious enough for an ambulance trip to the hospital and is waiting for major surgery and family to arrive to care for her. Because of the confusion of where people were last night and who was doing what, I got to the hotel late and didn't post yesterday.

After this happened a number of us had discussions about poor safety and medical planning stories for skaters who are injured in serious falls.

Important Safety Tips
People who are 'wishful thinkers' have a belief that "Oh, nothing will happen to me." These are known in the  Disaster Preparedness, Risk and Safety professions as "dead people with an attitude".  My version of this for figure skating is "unconscious people with an attitude."
  1. When you skate, injuries can happen necessitating ambulance transfers to the hospital.. Have an emergency contact who can be contacted and have a second backup contact--just in case. Don't name someone who who can't be reached.  You may be on painkillers and unable to make rationale decisions.  I've been rather astonished by people who don't have cell phones, or email, or even turn off their cell phone when they get home in the evening. Every one has the right to cut themselves off by not being reachable, just don't pick that person as your emergency contact. 
  2. Don't rely on strangers--especially medical personnel-- to help you out without having information on you. Keep your medical information -- doctor, insurance, medications up to date.  The older you are, the more important this is. You can buy USB key drives at your pharmacy just for this or in your skate bag, andf your contact should have a copy of your medical records. I have an app on my phone called an I.C.E card. It puts your In Case of Emergency information on the lock screen of my phone to include emergency contact information, medications, allergies, and other important information. You might feel this is overkill, but for those of us who have no local family when the crisis occurs, it's important to make information available to EMTs. 

Just don't trust on luck. Plan for emergencies.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Lake Placid Day Two: Onset of Exhaustion and Pain

Skating total number of hours--no idea. Started at 7 ended at 5. Break for lunch and various off ice moments.

Private: Stroking. edges. and mohawks to stop that awful scraching noise, and skating with a partner as he changes positions in a pattern.

Endurance Skating: The coach told me, "That's a kid's class, I'm not going to put adults through that on the first day." So we did checking and stroking improvement. My ability to do forward crossovers facing out of the circle really came in handy. I was not the slowest person in the class.
Understanding Turns: Mostly about figuring out how you're messing up your turns.

 Group Number: So far a wheel, spins, and emoting, plus this thing we do like a wave--trust me, it will look fantastic when it's finished.

At the end of the day

Then I did a 20 pose yoga class ending with 'Happy Baby'

And Tylenol

I feel much better.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Lake Placid Day One: The Power of My Blades

My Blades are so magnificent they 
attract the attention of
of a powerful government agency
Well, I got a good laugh out of it.
I guess when TSA x-rayed the luggage, the metal
in the blades produced an image like a forest fire.

I pack the skates behind a mesh cover in 
the suitcase to hold them in place. 
It was a professional inspection, TSA didn't
even disturb the mesh cover. I guess they
saw the skates though the mesh and that was that.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Figure Skaters at the Doctor's Office

When the Doctor asks "Do you fall often?"


When the Doctor looks at the knee X-Ray and says
"I don't even seen how you could get that injury."

When the Doctor says "You know, you're my fittest patient."

When the doctor says, "You do not look your stated age."


Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Group Classes at the August 2019 Lake Placid Adult Camp

The early announcement of next week's adult skate camp group classes. Note that there may be last minute adjustments. Most are on ice, but a few are off ice.


I know you are eager to find out what I plan to take. 
Back spins, basic spins, endurance skating, back 3 turns, checking, hip alignment, figures loops, edges, counters and rockers. Alicia Walters and Marc Fenczak both hit my skating interests dead center, so they will make a small fortune off my group lesson fees. If I thought my feet could take it, I'd take every turn class, except for brackets, brackets can go to hell. 

 Brackets are the Devil's Turn
Facing inside, turning outside....shudder

Saturday, August 10, 2019

When Spins Go Bad

Too Much Toe pick--

Also travelling--just sayin'

Friday, August 2, 2019

When skaters cheat..

I called up a skating friend of mine from years ago, and as  we were chatting I mentioned I was skating LTS at two rinks at the same time.

He cried out, "You whore!"
 We had a good laugh and I said,

"But you never told your primary coach you had a second coach."

"Yeah," he said, "I had a wife coach and a mistress coach"
 You bad boy....

Monday, July 29, 2019

Skater's Mom's Weirdidity

So as I was stepping out of the gate a woman blocked me from the non-ice side of the gate.

"You skate with my daughter," she snapped.

Okay, obviously angry woman blocking my way off ice as it's being filled with hockey mites getting ready for stick and puck is a disquieting  moment. I am always nice with the pre-free kids I'm in a class with, so I have a clean conscience.

I'm ready with an answer, Like a circus psychic doing a cold reading, I ask,"She's a brunette dressed in black?"  As we all know, that's 70 % of the girls in LTS. 

"Yes," the woman continued. Still puffed up like an angry cockerel she quickly gets to the core of her attack, "You're like what? Freeskate 4? Freeskate 5?"

"Freeskate 1," I say.

The woman whips around without another word and storms into the lobby.

NO Explanation

 Well, that was a fun 30 seconds. She couldn't have waited to trap me until I was in the lobby with one boot off? And her question?  She must have seen me skate. So, WTF?

This was weeks ago and haven't seen her since---and I still have no idea which one of the brunettes in black her daughter is. 

Saturday, July 27, 2019

The Dead Zone On Your Blades -You Didn't Know Existed (updated)

I'm going to talk about something so obscure, so obtuse, so arcane,  that you will wonder why I'm writing about it. But it pops up on figure skating groups on Facebook, on skating forums, and it deserves some explanation. 

If you have your skates handy, pick one up and look at the blade. Or you can look at the picture below. Behind the drop pick (or drag pick) you'll notice a short section of the blade that is flat, that is, it's never been sharpened. And then you'll see where the sharpening begins. Although this doesn't have an official name (you'll see why later), I see it referred to as "The Dead Zone" in numerous places.

I've seen this pop up in questions or comments that go like this:

"OMG" (insert excited voice here) "I don't think my sharpener is doing a good job! He doesn't sharpen my blades all the way to the toepick. There's this DEAD ZONE where the sharpening ends and the toepick begins. How do I find a new sharpener! He's the best locally but he doesn't do the whole blade!"

 Let's talk about how the Dead Zone is created during the sharpening process.

Below you see a shot of a skate mounted on the sharpening machine. The pink wheel is the grinding wheel. The skate blade is screwed into the carriage. In the last shot, you'll see how toepick touching the wheel (for visualization) and then a gap (the DEAD ZONE) and finally the grinding wheel touches the blade further back.

When the blade is spinning the toe pick doesn't touch the wheel. This is just a visual to get you to understand the set up

These are not my skates.  DEAR GOD what are those
holes in the side of the boots?!

Here's a close up of the Dead Zone
My sharpener and I have "differences" on whether it's a
"drag pick" or a "drop pick".

So, the 'Dead Zone'  is an artifact of sharpening. If you sharpen up to the drop pick, you will grind off the drop pick. (Or drag pick...whatever...) 

Now, does the Dead Zone matter?

I once had a skate tech that sharpened for USFS at the Olympics, that sharpened for both Johnny Weir and Evan Lysacek, plus many other Olympic skaters. When I asked him about the Dead Zone--actually I just said, "what's this part of the blade that's not sharpened?", he took my boot, put the drop pick on the counter and rolled the skate blade so it rested on the counter at the same time.

"See that?" he said "If you're skating in this unsharpened area, you'll be flat on your face pretty quick. You can't skate in that area," 

So, probably, it's not (much of) an issue (probably)

 However,  a coach reports it can interfere with 
entering spins and toe assisted jump take offs.

Now we're cooking with gas because now I have to institute a test program.

Whether it makes a difference to skates being sharpened for Compulsory Figures? I don't know. There used to be a completely different sharpening process for them that is lost to time....

Monday, July 22, 2019

In Celebration of Skating in the Kids Group (Updated)

In my group class, I'm the Freeskate 1 portion, and the 2 girls are in pre-free. So Coach has me off to the side doing back edges, spins, and whatever else she thinks I need to work

Coach says:

So I do waltz 3 circle to the right. 

Coach says:
"Good Arms! Great Head Position in the turn, Wonderful turn forward. Now go to the left."


Coach says:"Did you just do..?"

But it was a great mohawk!!

So, how did I end up doing a mowhawk when I wasn't thinking about it?
To do waltz 3's in a circle, you do a FO3, step down on the free foot, then turn forward BY TURNING TO FACE THE OUTSIDE OF THE CIRCLE. This puts you in the perfect position to another FO3,

What I did was two FO3 in a row, then turned forward by facing inside the circle,  an stepped down directly into a Mohawk. Did the Mohawk, stepped down on the free foot going backwards, then turned forward facing out of the circle, and did another FO3,

And didn't think a thing about it.

Doing a skill unconsciously, that's real skill advancement !!!  

Saturday, July 20, 2019

We're Having A Heat Wave

My coach emailed me that the ice rink had offered free public passes as a public service to families in the heat.

By the time  my coach called me the rink had closed sign up for free passes, a thousand people had put their names on the list.

She advised me to cancel my lesson.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

How to Pack Your Skates in a Suitcase

There will come a day when you have to pack your skates

So a questions was asked over on
"How to pack my skates in a rolling suitcase so they don't get damaged"

Here's my reply:
You should put soakers on the skates, or if you're worried, put blade guards on before you pack.

Then never clean out your skate bag again

 Leave it filled with the detritus of failed attempts to get your boots to fit (various cut up insoles, thin leather, moleskin, etc), extra gloves that don' match, a pair of scissors, kneepads, foam ,  pieces of leather, callus doughnuts, lambs wool,  toothbrush and toothpaste for dance lessons, extra stockings, gel ankle tubes, a pair of laces, 4 blade rags with holes in them, one blade guard that doesn't match the other two, pain pills loose in the bottom of the suitcase,  a screwdriver to tighten your blade screws, and  a watch that the battery's died in and an ankle wrap, plus a t-shirt with blood on it from when you jabbed a toepick into the back of your calf when you fell on a Jenkins spiral, and an extra pair of panties that you have no idea how they got in there.

At this point, trust me, those skates ain't going anywhere. 

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Elaborate Custom Skates Mailed to my Skate Tech for Care

Are these Skates from the Holstein's Forever Ice Show?

He says these are Moo-shell Kwan's Skates!!

God I love a pun
(Actually my skate tech got these mailed to him from Wisconsin for care. I imagine someone out on a dairy farm who likes to skate.

Monday, July 8, 2019

The Catchfoot Something.

I have to exercise my left hip several times a day by lifting my left foot up, reaching behind me with my right hand and pulling my left leg up towards my shouldr.  Off ice I can hold this position on one foot, no problem. So on the ice (while at the boards) I was able to grab my left boot from behind with my right hand and pull my foot up to relieve a hip cramp.

I know what you're thinking: Catchfoot spiral.....with opposite hand.
Carolina Kostner
Let me say, of all the skater's pictures I looked at the catchfoot spiral with the opposite hand is  3 pictures out of 400 of any kind of catchfoot spiral. And out of the 3 pictures I found of this position , 2 were adult recreational skaters. (I don't know why this is the case. Is it a points issue? Is it just an individual flexibility issue? Elite skates are very flexible. If it's worth it for points, they should be doing it in droves.)
Then there were the pictures of opposite hand catchfoot SPINS! There were more pictures of opposite hand positions for spins than for just opposite hand catchfoot spirals.  Is this happening for some balance reason? Or, again, because of points?

I know that given I'm able to do this balancing on one foot off ice, I should be more enthusiastic about it. I may have found a 'signature move' (as if spinning both ways isn't enough).  But jeeze, isn't this scary?  Crushed fingers, face planting, rolling over the ice like a walnut if I fall level of scary?

When my coach saw me pull my left leg up with my right hand she said, "Oh, we'll need to work on that as soon as you get your leg a little higher."

On the outside I'm all

I'm trapped by my coach's expectations!
Pray for me! 

Sunday, July 7, 2019

The Lace Police

I've had to travel heavily over the last month or reasons of family, I haven't had time to skate or post

When I got back on the ice Saturday,  to my total surprise my skills haven't dropped off! A miracle! Remember when I posted that time off ice can let your mind build up skills? I actually got better in one skill I hardly ever practice (forward edge pulls) and my bad foot and hip got better. So what am I going to post about? I'm going to post about my teeny tiny contribution to the adult skating community as a member of the "Lace Police".

When laces drag on the ice

Let's face it, sometimes it just happens, even to elite skaters. But if they're wearing
boot covers, they can keep the laces tucked in so if a lace comes untied,
at least it doesn't end up on the ice. It's rare to see this.
Nobunari Oda--during competition!!
I'm not writing about elites, or even experienced amateurs. I'm writing about people in this situation

Because, is this still a thing with 'youts'? They run around with untied shoelaces, for 'reasons'?

And when they put skates on they lace to the middle and tie a bow?

 Yes, I've become the "Lace Police"
Because once I see a dragging lace, it catches in my eye and I have to be the nice adult.
I mean I only see laces dragging on the ice one or two times a session, and I only speak to adults or older teens.  I say, "Your laces are dragging on the ice, you don't want to trip over them." That's it. If they're little kids I only point them out to the rink guard because the rink has insurance .If the guard helps the kid, they're covered if the kid falls later and some parent sues the rink.   

You'd be amazed at how many people just tuck the laces in the top of their boots and the laces fall out 30 seconds later. Meh, screw you. I gave you a helpful tip, now it's your job to fix it. 

And for the people who do fix it on their own? Most get off the ice and do it themselves, good for them. But occasionally, people will do it on ice. That's brave of them, but...

Fixing laces on the ice? That's something I don't want to see