Sunday, April 28, 2013

Rink Staff

Somebody's got to do it.

Okay, tell me, haven't you thought about the
fun that could be had with allowing
big dogs on public ice?
Someplace, somewhere, there's an ice manager
thinking about freestyle

We all know this guy all too well.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Relearning FI3

Madam Mim is working on my FO3 checks. While my turns are fine, I have issues in checking w/ my shoulder, so I end up making a turn that is heart shaped.

Madam Mim says it's 'butt shaped'.  Well, that's some negative motivation.

Then she says, "Let's work on your inside 3's."

To my surprise, residual skating memory works. I recover my okay beginner FI3 inside a few minutes.

Then I'm directed to work on my checks.

First try, I haul the leading shoulder back, going deep in the knee as I come out of the turn and glide for about 6 feet.

On the wrong edge.

Madam Mim takes out her Marker of Doom and sketches out the turn.

"Perfect rocker," she says.

First thought through my mind:
My three turn's crap
Then a second later...
Oh, delight! I have a rocker!
It's like losing your virginity. Accident or not, it counts!

"Oh, good," Madam Mim says, " I think that means you're ready for back 3s. Let's start."

ooooh noooo

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Test Hair-Part Deux--The French Twist

Last year I covered the way I do buns for skating tests. Today, I want to cover doing your hair as a french twist for tests.
I think this looks elegant. It's a
simple alternative for women who
don't look good in a bun.
There are complicated ways to do french twists involving pins and requiring three hands, but my way is simple and takes just a couple of minutes. However, my way requires your hair be close to shoulder length and a blunt cut. Shag cuts will require a lot more pinning.

Here's what you'll need.

A french twist comb:
This is a less expensive one.
Try in ULTA
This is a quality one. More expensive too.
If your hair is thin, you may want a 'rat' to pad the twist to make it larger. A hair rat is a roll of hair or foam or netting (the color of your hair) about 3-4" long and an ~inch in diameter. I take an old wiglet and cut a chunk out and make it into a rat. But the best way is to make it out of your own hair so it matches.
Here are a couple of rats someone has
made from their own hair
 (I learned how to do it when I was 5)
Now, here are instructions on how to actually 'do' the twist and use the twist comb. If you have a little tail above the twist, you can let it wag, or you can tuck it down into the twist at the end for a smoother look. To use the hair rat, as you twist the hair in Step 2, twist the hair around the rat by slipping the rat into the fold of the hair at the beginning then continue as in the instructions. If the rat is too heavy or dense the comb won't work. So don't try using something like a rolled up piece of cloth.

I can do a french twist in about a minute. Zip Zap Thunderclap, it's done.

If you want to do a twist in a casual setting, don't tuck in the tail at the top of the twist. Take a barrette and insert it so it catches the tail of the twist and the hair underneath rather than to use a comb (which looks more formal).

You may be frustrated with barrettes from the drugstore or even the beauty accessories store. I have baby fine hair and find even the nicer ones in beauty stores snag my hair. I've taken to buying France Luxe barrettes online. OMG. If the beauty store barrettes are a Toyota Corolla, dependable, and reliable but lacking in finishing details, France Luxe twist combs and barrettes are Porsches. I love these. But they are expensive. I keep my collection of France Luxe accessories in my jewelry box. (On the nice side, for every 3 you buy in an order, you get a free gift of a barrette or pony tie. I've got a couple of nice ones worth about $20 each for free. But it's catch as catch can.)

Bright to match your costume

Classic colors for subtlety
So there's all my tips about how to do a french twist for a test, with comments on barrettes and combs if you want to try buying something of top of the line quality.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Visual History of Skating

St. Jerome works on his mohawk.
I can hear his coach, "Get that back arm down!"
Early skating judge evaluates women's single skater,
while the audience chants, "VI, VI, VI !"
Early Japanese Men's singles have trouble with the design of their skating blades,
they decide to fight a duel instead. 

1700 A.D.
Early crinolines form the perfect skating protection.
At the same time, Nude skating is introduced.
For some reason, it never becomes popular

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Forward Eights

I started out skating wanting to do figures. For those of you who are too young to know what 'figures' was, it was a form of structured skating often known as 'compulsory figures.' These were skated in competition until 1990. In the last couple of years the basic figures, the forward 8s and the backwards 8s have been introduced into Moves. So while these may seem 'antique', there's still a reason to learn them. Recently, I began to do the forward eights successfully, consistently.

Here's what a basic figure 8 looks like.

Text for this diagram
Some people are able to do these right away, and others have to work on them. I was the 'work on them' type. Up until recently, even though I have a good push (the "strike") and nice upper body position,  I couldn't complete the figure without giving myself a toepick boost to make it past the last couple of feet. Now I can. Here's how.

So you start a figure 8 in the center where the two circles intersect. On the diagram above, this is position 6. The figure above is pushing with the left foot onto the right outside edge (position 1). This part is easy, just remember to face out of the circle and keep you trailing shoulder pushed back to keep your back against the circle (arcane skating talk there).  Your free foot should be tucked to the heel of the skating foot.

As you approach the halfway point of the circle you must bend deeper in the knee and bring the free food smoothly in the front of the skating foot. This will give impetus to your power.

Use the free foot in front to guide you to the center of the figure,  when you are at the 3/4 point of the figure switch your arms.

As you get to the center of the figure you will step down onto the free foot, and do the other circle with the new skating foot.

I am now going to talk physics (mechanics) which I haven't thought about for 30 years. So I could be wrong.

The curvature of the blade and the  twist in our body, makes us skate on a curve. As we skate on a curve vector forces come into play. I will now simplify them down to two.

First the radial vector that points to the center of the circle.

Second, the downward vector that is a combination of gravity and our acceleration over the ice.

If you take the cross product of these two vectors, you will get the vector for your forward motion (right hand rule).

When you bend deeper in the knee at the halfway point, two things happen. First when you drop deeper in the knee, you briefly change the load into the ice, altering the vector due to your acceleration, and  you shift back on the rocker, which also affects the acceleration by changing the load. This is very brief so you generate a pulse into the system, which kicks up your power. Finally, bringing the free foot forward also subtly affects the load as well.

Properly done, this is all smooth, and doesn't look like anything much is happening, but it's a 'stroke less stroke'. You get a tiny push of power, just enough to move you across the ice without putting your free foot down.

And now I can do 8's successfully, because I have new knees and can get that kneebend at the halfway point!

Yeah, angular momentum is in there someplace,
I'm just not touching anything with a theta angle in it.
That's real physics.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Power Slide Board

I went to physical therapy tonight and Rapunzel the Cruel upped my therapy to include the Power Slide  Board. This is used in off-ice training for hockey and speed skating. I've never seen any reference to it being used for figure skating.

So, you wear booties over your shoes and step (carefully) onto the board. It's very slick. Then you slide back and forth.
It's scarily slick. Be careful.
Imagine you're stepping on the ice in a pair of broken down rental skates that haven't been sharpened since the last Olympics. That's what it's like.

I looked at it, and I did not think, "Oh, this looks easy." I thought, "This thing is going to kill me."

When I got on, my skating muscle memory kept trying to get an edge. Even though I was consciously sending messages to my leg, knee, and ankle muscles, I kept unconsciously falling back into skating techniques with my feet.

Rapuzel the Cruel had to hold my hands, even though I had deep knee bend and was nicely balanced. Maybe someone with quicker reflexes (mine are old) could have adapted quickly; I couldn't.

Still, I guess it's a nice muscle and stride builder for certain kinds of skating when no ice is available.

Rapunzel the Cruel delights in upping the challenge to my muscles and joints, I think I'll see this again.

Here's what it looks like when you know what you're doing. This is basic stroking:

Here's a speedskater working on his crossover technique. NOT sliding on the board takes a lot of control of upper body and lower leg strength.

This is me:
My destination is good knee health!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Test Session--Part II

The night before the test session, a lucky volunteer gets to pick the judges up at the airport..

While another volunteer decorates the judges room and lays out a simple table of some snacks, and prepares a light lunch.

But the most important volunteer prepares the judges' coffee. You don't want to see a judge like this in the morning.
Meanwhile, the announcer tests the sound system
"Announcing, World Champions Torvill and Dean....always wanted to do that."
And the music monitor gets the player ready.
"I don't know why, but all it plays is 'How much is that doggy in the window'"
When it doesn't work, the technical crew is called in.
"What is this thing? I've never seen one before.
Push that button over there and see what happens!"
Finally all is ready and the first skater is announced.
Most Skaters pass their tests
But some fail
Finally, the session is over and the Test Chair tidies up the paperwork.
The paperwork never ends
And the judges depart
"See you in a few months."
Then finally, the Test Chair can relax.
"I swear, I'm never doing this again...."

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Test Session--Part 1

Someplace, somewhere is a Test Chair a couple of months before the Test.

"Okay, this time I'm getting ahead of the test. Everything's
organized and ready to go."
Then the Test Chair tries to get volunteers
"Who wants to be an ice monitor?
Anyone? Anyone?"
Finally, by using persuasion, bribery, and underhanded techniques, the Test Chair gets some volunteers.

And suddenly, the test is oversubscribed...and people start registering late.
"We'll pay the late registration fee! Please let us in!"
The Test Chair's plans now look like this:
"Oh, no! Only a week to go!"
Meanwhile, the testing skaters ready themselves with confidence and calm certitude.

OMG! Coach just added ANOTHER SPIN with a week to go!!!
Tomorrow: Test Day!

Power with a Capital P and an Edge Exercise

 Madam Mim is still in the stage of making assessments of my skills (those that I still have) while I'm trying to come to grips that I now have knee bend.

Yes, the injections and physical therapy have restored knee bend that I haven't had since I was 14. But I still have habits that rely on muscle memory from when I didn't have knee bend.  So mixed bag here.

Madam Mim has me do one of her 'little exercises'. "Let's look at your power. Take one stroke onto an edge and see how far you get around the hockey circle."

So, it's a simple little exercise. The hockey circle provides a measure of the distance I can skate, so I can   see how I'm improving.

Old knees, I can get 3/4 of the way around on a good day, with a run up to the stroke

New Knees: All the way around both edges (thought LFI  is the weakest) without a run up to the stroke.

"Cellllllebrate good knees, come on!" source
Song: Celebrate (Kool and the Gang)

Then Madam Mim teaches me a strokeless inside edge exercise.  The exercise looks like a traditional edge serpentine, but only one quarter to one half the size.
Face perpendicular to the direction of travel. Stroke onto an inside edge and hold the free foot knee (oops!) toe to heel. This is supposed to be the only stroke you'll need.

As you get to the top of the arc bring the free foot forward and simultaneously bend and rise on the knee. This 'pumps' power  into the glide. Effectively, it's a 'strokeless' stroke. Timing has to be perfect, I can only do it half the time, but working on it.

When you get to the line, step onto the free foot, and put the former skating foot to to heel. If you did the 'strokeless' stroke properly, you won't need to take a stroke to maintain forward motion.

Fans of compulsory figures with recognize this as the leg swing in the 3 circle serpentines.

I can see how this could lead to power pulls, but still intimidated by them.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

What I think I do vs...EVERYONE ELSE THINKS I DO

There's the image we carry in our heads of ourselves vs. the image everyone else has of us. Here's mine.

How kid skaters see me
How my friends see me
How my doctor sees me
How my 89 year old mother sees me--don't ask.

How my coaches see me--timid....
How I see me!