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


Saturday, June 15, 2019

Form vs Power

I have know, balance, body position, posture, eyes head, shoulders, knee bend. Every thing in the right place. When I skate backwards, I look over my shoulder, do full undercross, and face the center. But oh dear God, I have no power.

When I skate with the 'kids' in one LTS group (they're all 13-ish) the coach puts us in back crossovers in the center for the warm up.


I can't tell you how terrifying it is, to be going backwards in a circle with kids who are skating fast (with poor edge control, not enough knee bend, stiff crossovers always in a near death click of death) and paying no attention to anything.

I'm slow. Yes I acknowledge it, but I'm 68 and cut me some slack.  I look over my shoulder so I don't run into the person behind me, but I have to worry about the person in front of me running into me.

This can lead to a cascading event, where one skater runs into the one behind them, and then the one that gets hits, hits the one behind them...and so on.

Causing a Cascading Event

The Kids Will Bounce back up

My Fear For Myself?
Yes, I Chicken out and get away from them.

But Dah-ham I look good when I do!

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Breaking Spin Fear by learning even harder Spins

So, years ago, I had a riding trainer who told me when I wanted to improve a skill I was stuck on, that I should try to learn a harder related skill and that as I learned the harder skill, and the 'stuck' skill will get better.

Let me translate this into figure skating:

I won't say my forward spins are 'poor'; they're slow and only 2-3 rotations, and I can only enter them from a two foot position.  but DAMN they're centered like they're balanced on a diamond pivot (that should count for something) and my 'form' is perfect. I'm just 'stuck'and not moving forward

So in group I asked for back spin training. And with my coach I asked for the same thing. Let's not fool ourselves that the back spin emerged like a butterfly from a chrysalis. My back pivot is something I never practice, and going back from the toepick to the rocker is terrifying the first few times. I consider it a miracle that I can now pivot and drop from the toepick to the rocker and glide backwards in a tight arc without screaming "I'm going to DIE!!". 

With a lot of practice, about all I can do is do a back inside figures loop .... if I'm lucky.

On the other hand,  the speed of my rotations on my forward spins is better immediately during my second lesson, and I've stopped internally panicking that I'm going to fall backwards and hit my head while I'm spinning forward.

After having seen the hell of a back fall during a back spin...
I am so over my fear of back falls from a forward spin 

So, now that I have lived through dozens of failed back spins, I finished my lesson today with a major improvement; no, it's not the improved faster rotation, it's not the fact that I can now enter a forward spin from a three turn, it's not the fact that I'm willing to give a sit spin a try...and I did them all for the first time in a single lesson. It's that now I'm willing to try ANYTHING my coach asks me to do in spins--

Okay, except maybe camels spins. I'm saving those for when I need a harder spin to do when I'm stuck guessed it...BACK SPINS.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Quality in Motion: What it's like to get a full custom costume

Have you ever wanted a custom costume? Something made just for you for a special program? Designed, and beaded  to accompany the music, showing off your best skills, and with colors, cut, and material just for you, as if you’re an elite skater?

Of course you have. Everyone looks at the costumes in the Olympics and thinks ‘I wish I had that one.’  So, I interviewed the new owners of Del Arbor (Rushdah & Mustafa ) about the process of developing and designing a full custom costume from scratch.

Rushdah & Mustafa

They have lovely  off the rack costumes, and have introduced  simpler costumes in their new FIRST GLIDE line, but they also create one of a kind costumes for customers, including elite skaters. Here's what it's like to have a custom costume made for you.

It starts with the music.

The music gives the designers the concepts of the rhythm and flow the costume will need. Also the theme of the music and the lyrics may even influence the design.  Del Arbour  also keeps up with the latest changes in requirements for costumes since they do change.  (Does anyone remember the several costume scandals in ’89 – including the naughty Alexander Fadeev one? ) Del Arbour stays on top of changes in the rules to make sure that doesn’t happen with the costumes they make.

Accompanying the costume order will need to be a full frontal and full back photo, and notes from the skater regarding comfort (do you like it tight, or low cut, or more relaxed?) and how much sparkle they prefer.  ( I made a comment about Johnny Weir liking Swarovski Crystal AB, and was told that not only did Del Arbor exclusively use Swarovski, but they use the AB Crystal in almost every design due to its superior reflectivity and iridescence.)

 The skater’s coach may put in suggestions for a younger skater; for an elite skater both the coach and choreographer may make suggestions. I suspect some adult skaters with experience and a distinct sense of personal style may want to work with the designers directly, but to me that spoils the fun of working with a team of skater-coach-designer.

I was curious about color selection since I had some ideas about the effect on the dress color by rink lights, but I was wrong! I was told that the overwhelming effect is  the ice itself and its reflectivity really makes the most difference. The ice overwhelms everything and the costume color has to be a strong contrast to the ice. There are some colors that don’t work well: white and certain shades of yellow, and pastels can wash out the skater, and look faded on the ice. (What looks good on a skater in close-ups on TV, probably isn’t the same thing as looking good to the judges at a distance at speed).

But in addition to the costume’s color there is the variety of shades of the illusion mesh. Del Arbour has 10 shades of illusion mesh, and sends swatches to the skater to test on the ice, so their coach can help them select a color that closest matches their skin tone under the glare of the lights on the ice. Del Arbor also sends swatches of the costume fabrics to aid in selections. As this process goes on Del Arbor builds a database on the skater's needs, sizing , and preferences for the future.

During all this time, Del Arbor designers are creating sketches by hand to capture the critical movement and flow of the performance.  The sketches go back and forth to the skater and the coach (and the choreographer if one is involved) until final approval.  And at the point, the design is agreed upon, the fabric is approved by the coach-skater team, the illusion mesh is selected to match the skater’s body, the crystals and their pattern, the sizing, everything is ready to go. And then Del Arbor begins to construct the costume in their work shop in Milford, CT.

I said ‘construct’ the costume, not ‘sew’ the costume because with the demands placed upon the costumes by the athletics of skating, the costume must stand up to repeated use in practices, programs, and do so without showing wear, or having ‘a wardrobe malfunction’.  The costume is made of high quality 4 way stretch fabric that stretches to 3 times its size. Every single piece is lined with three layers –mesh, tricot, and flesh tone lining. They also use metal hook and eye rather than plastic ones.  This  process is so incredibly reliable that Del Arbor has had daughters compete in costumes their mothers competed in!

After the dress is completed, it goes through a rigorous final quality finishing check.Checking all the beading, the seams and the edging; double checking for missed stitches to ensure there will be no rips during a performance. This costume is designed and constructed for many wears, even to survive the number of wears required for an entire elite season!
Quality finishing

Del Arbor  wants every client to feel that special thrill once that package arrives. They call it "the Del Arbour experience." The garment is packaged in tissue to keep wrinkles from forming, then the box is tied with ribbon & a card is included to provide a personal note to the skater.

 When the skater receives the costume, any minor changes are easily taken care of because the workshop is in the USA.  No waiting for something shipped from overseas. Quick response is part of the company's mission.

And the nice thing about Del Arbour dresses, is that if you buy one of their dresses second hand at a sale, you can send it to them for refurbishment, change of skirt or the underpants, or to get it gently resized.  As long as it has the Del Arbor label in it, it doesn’t matter who its original owner was. Therefore, make sure that label is in the dress. You might find it's worth 10-20% more than you thought!

As the new owners look ahead, they're planning on expanding the line to gymnastics, sport dance, practice wear, and lifestyle. Head to toe for the person who is always in motion!

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Working on my Back Threes

My coach turned her back on me for a moment while I was practicing my back threes. When she looked at me again, she asked:

 "Did you properly look over your shoulder during that turn?"



Wow...where is the trust?


Friday, May 24, 2019

Little Mr. Axel

So there's a boy who skates every Saturday, and last week he told me he had his Axel.

So, I told my coach "He has his axel," I nodded to the boy, "I think that's great."

My coach has been a big supporter of this kid and helped him get his first real boots, but she snorted and rolled her eyes. 

At the end of my lesson, she had him check my left spin, and when he just looked polite, she told me, "Now spin the other way."

So I did, and very nicely too. But my coach had something up her sleeve.

The kid looked at her

Where my coach is going with that, no idea. I know to push back and just not ask questions. What happens on freestyle, stays on freestyle.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

When I Get A Compliment

A 9 year old in Freeskate 5 says:
"You're Very Graceful on the Ice"

Kids these days, they have much better manners than when I was a child. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Superfitting your Skates: Insoles

 I had a revelation at LTS tonight, So this works down to a point of useful information.

I've written previously, about how you can double your insoles to get a too wide skate to fit, or how I like to tweak Superfeet Yellow skating insoles to act as  homemade orthotics.

 I'm still a fan of superfeet insoles, but my needs have changed.

Due to the bunion-bone spur from hell, I now need more space in the toebox of my right foot, to get both my foot and my toes spacers in the boot at the same time. This means I need thinner insoles than my sturdy Superfeet.

Now you know why I.NEED.MORE.SPACE
So I opened my magic skate bag, secure in the knowledge that I would have some insoles, or pieces of insoles in there. And I did. I had 1 and a half pair leather insoles that had come out of my Harlicks or Jacksons, never worn.

 The Magic Skate Bag.

After I struggled getting the Superfeet out of my boots, I struggled to get the leather insoles in, and then my feet with the toe spacers.  THEN I GOT ON THE ICE!

With the new thin leather insoles I could finally feel my edges right down to the edge.
 I've heard of people who skated in bare feet (an experiment I'm not willing to try) and I finally  understand why that appeals to some. The sturdy Superfeet that I could make into orthotics, muted my sense of what was going on under my boots.

Will it make my skating better? Mmmm...I don't know. But as an interesting experience, it was revelatory. I look forward to a couple of more times on the ice to see what happens!! Maybe it will improve my skating

(I still have to pad a couple of spots in my boots, I have a thin lacebite pad I'm going to cut up. And my right foot needs a little tweaking in the counter, But I've had worse.)

Sunday, May 5, 2019


It's just not possible to get enough practice time where I live. I work, and the rinks are all far away, so the only way I can get enough practice time is to sign up for two LTS classes in two separate cities.

Coaches at one rink have put me in Freestyle 4, not because I'm qualified, but because I'm too good for Basic, and Freeskate 4 needs another skater in it to keep it open.
I'm Not Worthy
So, the other skaters (of about 13 y.o.) do their jumps, and the 3 of us do our footwork and spins together like a regular class. I've been skating at this rink for about 6 months, and they know what to expect when my body gets shoved onto their class roster.

However, I've been gone for so many months from LTS at my home rink (which is further away) that the coaches teaching adults have changes, and most don't know me. 
The LTS director--who knows me and was so happy to see me back--put me in Freeskate 3, with a coach who doesn't know me from anyone. And to my great sadness, I found all the adults who knew me from last year are now either coaching, or have an injury, or moved. So I'm now in a class with....'youts'
(Amusingly, the young adult skaters all know me. The coach, not at all)

So I work on my spins, and my alternating 3's, and my power threes, and my waltz 3's, and my waltz 8, and that's it.

The coach comes up to me and says, "Don't you want to jump?"

Man, I just shake my head, "Foot problems. I don't jump."

The coach looks at me seriously.
 "Then why did the skating director put you in Freestyle 3?"
Yeah, the only reason I can guess is she likes to mess with my mind!  This new coach will either get used to me, or I'll get moved around. It's not a problem, I'm just here for the ice time!


Sunday, April 28, 2019

Master a Skill. Then STOP!!

I entered a spin first minute of the lesson

Anyway, immediately afterwards as I exited the spin, very nicely thankyouverymuch, I got dizzy, so, meh,  'issues'.

And my coach did this!

 I've learned this. The first time you do a skill, and you know it isn't luck that you did it successfully, you know that you did it successfully because you.actually.have.the.skill....Stop doing it for that lesson. Let the skill sink in until the next day. The reason? You want all the neurons in your brain to save that memory as something as something you can replicate--and if for some reason it doesn't work? You'll have the memory to replicate rather than just flailing around.

I can now officially pass Pre-Free.

For Freeskate 1 all I've got left is that pecky back 3...oh, and beginner back spins.

And that packier inside 3, that bitch.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Perfection in the spin...both ways!!

Have I ever told you my theory of 'sometimes you just need to stop skating for a couple of weeks, and you'll improve"? I can't explain it. My theory is that after a period of struggle your brain needs a week or so to grow othe connections between brain cells and you'll get better. Note that I said 'after a period of struggle'. You have to have that struggle--then the pause--and then it improves.

So, what kept me out of group was a. a tornado, b. a car wreck that blocked the road c. work trip and d. I got sick after I made it to the rink. I don't give up my skating for just any reason.

Group coach was glad to see me. I'd had a sharpening, so I was testing the ice with a couple of tentative spins.Coach stood off to the side, watching as I spun to the right. "Oh that's right you spin to the right and jump  to the left."

"I don't jump at all, I spin both ways. It's my only trick" I spun to the left, without thinking much about it.

"That was really nice." Coach looked down at the ice. "Both are very nicely centered, you're perfectly balanced on your rocker in both directions, your posture and exits are  great."

I blinked.

I had entered the spins with head up, eyes forward, stomach tight, and picked up my foot next to my leg without actually being conscious of the little 'bits' I had to put together, and had been working on for so long. Two easy rotations both direction. My brain had been working while I was 'off ice'.

That was great to hear. I felt a rush.

Praise me! Praise me! I am a GODDESS !!

"You know,"Group Coach said, "If you opened your right shoulder some more, you might be able to get a third rotation on the right spin."

Man, that third spin. I need a vacation to get that thing....maybe a trip to Europe or something....


Sunday, April 21, 2019

Easter Post...on Ice

Jesus Christ Superstar at 2013 Skate America


Sunday, April 14, 2019

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Me and My "Spin Enthusiasm"

First Spin of the Day--2 rotations--the 'wrong' way

Coach: "Two well centered rotations in your weak direction..let's take a picture...You could get 3 rotations if you entered it with more enthusiasm...

Me: "What if I'm not willing to fake enthusiasm?"

Funny wants me to do FI3, it's torture... however, I can do solid beginner one foot  Inside  Rockers... (beginner meaning I have to rest my flat hand over my coach's arm--not gripping it--just a light resting).

It's inside and outside rockers, and inside and outside counters all over the center. "I haven't seen you look this enthusiastic in months," my coach says...I forebear to mention my spins....

Anyway, I haven't posted because of work, a lot of travel, and some family issues. I'm 67, and sadly your time is less and less your own as you get older, and your knees and joints take on a life of their own no matter what you want them to do. Still the blog isn't dead. It will pick up during the summer.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

The Cure for the Struggle of Back Threes

I've struggled with Back Threes forever.

I may struggle with them for some time to come.

What's my biggest problem? I bob forward when I make the turn and  that forces me to drop my free leg. Or maybe it's the other way around. Here's a picture.

Drinking Bird

I'm so ashamed I've spent years struggling with this.

On the other had for some reason,  this last lesson, the bobbing went away. I've still got to master the turn, but I've broken (I don't know how) the bobbing.

I'm going out to Celebrate!!


Saturday, March 23, 2019

Expressions My Coach Makes

------>(Items in parentheses are unspoken)<-------

(You did something wrong, I'm thinking of a way 
to be tactful about it)

Uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh.
( I don't care. ) Let's do it again anyway.

(Not bad. Not bad at all.)

That was good, let's add a mohawk in that pattern. 
I love a cute little mohawk.....
(Yes, I'm the coach, it IS all about me! )

Thursday, March 21, 2019

When Coaches Collaborate

I have two coaches: one is a group coach, the other is a private coach.

They Don't Know Each Other!

They work at rinks 90 miles apart, take students to the same competitions, go to the same LTS USA training sessions, same PSA meeting. Have never even heard each other's name.

Group Coach teaches the LTS USA curriculum
(anything between FREESKATE 1 and 4)
in group

Then Private Coach asks me what I learned in Group--
So she can go over them!

Those 2 kids, they're her other students that skate around me and get in my way.

 Though honestly, sometimes I just want to lie so I don't have to do Back Inside 3's....again.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Competition and Performance Makeup for the Male Skater

Now every woman skater knows that if her coach says "for this performance lay the makeup on thick," you should be prepared for more makeup than you normally wear.

Nice but this still needs darker lipstick
And for skaters with darker complexions
This is from a stage makeup tutorial
You going to be 20+ feet away from your audience, moving fast, rotating, jumping, not going to a cotillion to be presented to society. Don't be shy, Be bold. If you have no experience, find someone who can help.
But guys? IDEA!

The coach says, "If you don't wear any make up your face will just look like a blob  out there on the ice. The lights will be so bright your face will wash out."

Most guys may get some help from a friend or relative and come up with something like this as a first attempt...
 "Damn," he thinks, "I look good"

Then the coach takes him aside, "No, heavier!"

I should say, that in my last 'performance' I used dollar store makeup. I was on ice for about 60 seconds as a slutty bombshell. I lathered makeup on. Then I topped it off with some sparkly stuff someone loaned me from her make up kit. 

The rest of my makeup came off, but that sparkly stuff stayed on there for DAYS!!. I flew across country leaking sparkles on airplane upholstery. Men of my age openly stared at me. I eyeballed the cute one and said, "Stage make up. Won't come off. Ice Show." Okay ladies, if you're single and you don't want to be, this has to be on of the best "Hey there" lines ever. Oh, and if you want to meet some widowers of my age, go to the Social Security Office and get in line before the door opens. Dress up, and put on the sparkly make up. You've got the line there, just waiting for you.