Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Forward Figure 8

Since I  choke on dance tests, and my coach has no freestyle time available to practice partnered dance with me anyway, I've been looking at Moves in the Field.

I look at the list of skills for pre-Bronze and Bronze adult Moves, and as I go through I check off, Doable. Doable. Doable. Until I get to Foward Figure 8.
Figure Eight
My dream of passing moves comes to a screeching halt. I started out wanting to do figures, but I've never been able to do a forward 8 to save my life without getting a toepick boost about 2/3 of the way around the first loop, OR cheating by getting introductory steps.

Until this week.

I saw some open ice, eyed the crowd and took my opening.  I stood at the point where I was going to start my strike.

And then a funny thing happened. It just popped into my head that I should hold my shoulders a different way.  So I set my shoulders, drew down my lats, and took a strike.

It was a good outside edge, a good glide. I switched my arms at the 2/3 point and moved my free foot forward immediately after. I was a smooth mover. No jerky moves. Slow and steady.

I made it all the way around the first circle! Then I took the second strike and made it all away around the second circle!

This is the first time I've successfully done a forward outside 8 from a standing start. Just in case it wasn't a fluke, I did it again. And again. Then once more. By this time, the public was building up and I had to move. But I was excited. I'd been working on these for years!

What made the difference? Unlikely to be the blades. I'd just had them sharpened so they didn't have good glide characteristics. Was I a more powerful skater? Yes, but that doesn't always count in figures. In figures, technique rules as much as power. For now I'm going to credit to the upper body changes.  I was finally doing what my old figures coach had told me to do.

Forward INSIDE 8?


Well, not yet. All I need is some blades that weren't sharpened THE DAY BEFORE! and I think I'd have it.

Moves in the Field, here I come.


  1. YAY! Is the Forward 8 on the Bronze test? I don't recall seeing it on Pre-Bronze. Also, didn't they rearrange the elements on the test last year? It would be worth double-checking to be sure you have the most recent list. (I think there are spirals now on Pre-Bronze.) Good luck! My coach just told me today that I should really be prepping for a test too, so now I think I'm heading to Pre-Bronze as well.

    1. Forward 8 is on the Bronze test. The spiral is on the pre-Bronze. It's going to give me trouble, and the Waltz 8 will take some practice. But I think I have a shot at passing both of them. It's not like last year when I just shrugged them off bec. I didn't think I had a chance.
      Silver--years and years of tortuous practice before I'm ready. (Although Dance Coach told me my forward cross strokes are passable--they're also the easiest thing on the Silver test!)

      Good luck on your tests too.

  2. Congratulations! Moves are the best thing for skating skills! I am one month into Silver moves and should be test-ready in February, and this with skating only six hours a week at most, now that work has gotten in the way. They deserve more appreciation than they get.

    You will have to do a forward Figure 8 on both edges on Bronze Moves-- first pass on an outside edge; then the tracing on the inside edge. Your weight should be on the back of the blade to give you more glide, especially as you reach the top of your circle. Your shoulders should be so rotated against your hips that your arms are in line with the circle, with the skating shoulder forward and the free shoulder pressed well back, and you hold your hips square. Stillness is key; even when you switch arms and turn shoulders and pass your free leg forward at the top of the circle, this is all done slowly and deliberately. And the head turns last, as you shift your gaze back to your center.

    Waltz 8 is all about cadence and placement of the turns and changes of edge as you switch from forwards to back and vice-versa. Mentally divide your circle in thirds and that is where you place the turns and steps, and use visual cues to aid you in placing your pattern. My coach made me spend a lot of time on these two, and I passed these two moves three-tenths of a point above the passing score and with really nice comments from the judges. It was the goal that was set for me by my coach and I was glad to have met them.

    While some people forget the previous test as soon as they pass it and move on to the next level, I have found these skills so useful that I use them in warm-up. When I am tired, I'll find a circle and do both the Waltz 8 and the Forward 8 over and over and over again, and when I am done with Silver will do the same with the Eight-Step Mohawk. My coach has even showed me the Backward 8 on the Gold test so I can
    play with that, too. MIF will be your best friend, given the chance; enjoy them and don't forget them.

    Babette--you have Maribel's primer on figure skating; I do, too. The descriptions of the figures are awesome. I keep "Maribel" in my skate bag and feel like I have her with me on the ice, and let her words
    echo in my head. Silver Moves are NOT impossible because Pre-Bronze and Bronze will make sure you will have the skills necessary to take them on. I almost cried in defeat at my first lesson for Silver until my coach said those words to me. Do I hate backward three-turns? Yes, I do! But lo and behold, they are slowly but surely beginning to happen, from begging my coach to "Do not let go of my hand!" to "I will only attempt them when I am in lesson and you are here to watch" to "I practice them on the blue line" to "I will practice them each time, down the ice, just as required for the test". I have surprised myself but have shown my coach what I am sure he has known all along, that all you have to do is trust your edges and keep trying, and to make sure you spend as much time on foundations as you possibly can.

  3. Just wanted to post that I've done these again and duplicated my success. The trick for me is that my legs have to be really really warmed up, and that while facing out of the circle I have to really really restrain my back shoulder from coming forward. I have to force that back shoulder back.

    The whole 'need to skate with warmed up legs' may keep me out of tests.

    1. That's great! Trust me, I need an inordinate amount of "warm-up and get loose in the knees" time--I ran for years and am paying for it now. But not to worry--my coach spent 45 minutes prior to each of my first two tests putting me through exercises to warm-up knees and ankles and to channel Pre-test nerves. I found that very helpful. When sessions are empty, he also does mock test run-throughs. If he had to, I suspect he would give me a shot of brandy laced with some kind of mood-altering medication! Knowing what to expect in terms of environment helps me relax, which translates into looser knees and ankles. You, too, can get through the tests! I suspect you've been skating way longer than I have, first of all, and you've already done some Dance (my coach will start me on Dance AFTER I pass Silver Moves; apparently, he has a game plan for me), and you definitely put in more hours of ice time than I can with my work schedule.

      If you visualize rolling your shoulder back and down into the side of your back, and hold that position tense as you imagine a string pulling your fingertips and the length of your arm like it wants to stretch it longer, and hold your entire core (abs, pelvic muscles, and glutes) engaged, you will be able to better control the rotation of the shoulder against the hip. PHEW!