Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Torture Edge

For the last two weeks Coach Cruella has had us working on edges inside and outside, forward and back, facing out of the circle!

The first week is forwards facing out of the circle. I'm not adverse to skating forwards facing out of the circle. I had a Czech national champion coach once, who taught me to do crossovers facing out of the circle. I like to use it as a kind of warmup to get my edges and body position neatly in place. The challenge is to put your back solidly on the circle, with your arms on the circle--yes, while facing away from the center.

Then Cruella adds a special twist, she has us look along the back arm while going forwards. Well, this opens your chest more to the outside, and makes the whole thing immensely harder!

What good is facing out of the circle?, you ask. It's not on any tests as far as I know, and seldom gets exercised. (Edit) As was pointed out by commenters, it appears in tests as part of more complex steps. Let me rephrase. As a stand alone element, it doesn't get tested, it is a developmental skill for the hard stuff to come. (Stand by for further edits if that sentence is wrong too. Sigh. I hate being a beginner.End Sigh.)

Skating on edges facing out of the circle is a good way to do two things:

a. Build upper body, lower body independence. This helps you learn to keep your legs operating independently of what your upper body is doing.
b. Improve your edges.  If you can get on an edge and glide there, the hard way, you'll find your edges facing in the circle are much much easier.
(edit) c. Get ready for back 3's and the evil 8 step mohawk! (Thanks Anonymous 1 and 2!)
I'm actually doing the forwards stuff pretty well. I've done it before, and sometimes if he's feeling generous Dance Coach will let me do forward crossovers facing out of the circle in foxtrot hold (although I don't know if there are any dances where the girl takes this position).

The next week, we do backwards edges in Cruella's class facing out of the circle.

Let's just say there were a couple of occasions where I skittered backwards across the ice completely out of control, but on the other hand,  after half the lesson was over, I could get my back solid to the circle and glide along backwards. As long as I can see myself in the boards, I seem to be able to do it. Once I'm relying on muscle cues: no clue.

This is where Coach Cruella introduces the "torture step".

Face out of the circle. Glide backwards on two feet. Take a back inside edge and extend the free leg behind the skating leg and out of the circle. Keep gliding.

Think of doing  a back crossover, hold the inside edge, extend the free leg under the skating leg and hold. Now do that facing out of the circle.

Facing backwards. With your back solid to the circle

Congratulations. You've just done a "torture edge".

My feet still hurt too.


  1. "What good is facing out of the circle?"

    Counter-rotated turns.

    "It's not on any tests as far as I know"

    The eight step mohawk, for starters.

  2. That's what I get for not doing Moves! I don't know the ends and outs!

  3. My coach had me do that on crossovers and also taught Waltz Jump to be looking just slightly outside the circle on takeoff. It helps with amplitude and makes your moves bigger, and teaches you good head posture in relation to the rest of your body when it is in rotation. As Anonymous above mentions, the eight-step Mohawk is a good example. Backwards three-turns are another, as well as Choctaws, where you change direction, edge, and rotation as you step into a new circle. Cruella knows her stuff and is preparing you for bigger and better things, it seems!

    Since you were waxing poetic in your last post, here's one of my favorite verses. I always think of it when I skate:

    "Slippery ice is paradise to dancers, if their feet are wise". And if their heads are, too, in more ways than one!