Friday, May 31, 2013

Ready, Steady, Got! Or Not...

At times figure skating can be enormously frustrating. Kids sometimes lose their jumps as they grow. One day an adult can do a skill, and the next day not. Yeah, one day skating is ready, you're steady, you gots... and the next day....nots.

I've had that for the last few weeks with my three turns. I used to have nice ones. Not great, but consistent and I could do them with any foot, leg or arm position.

Today I saw Dance Coach leaning on the boards while he waited for Miss Cheerleader to warm up for their Gold Moves lesson. "How is your return to skating coming?" he was kind enough to ask.

"The knee and the hip," I waved my hands in frustration, "I'm going nowhere fast."

That was a hard statement to make. I must have looked really down. Dance Coach smiled sadly and said, "Skate safe."  What else could he say?

Five minutes later, I fell off my back edge in a 3 turn. I almost walked off the ice. What was I doing? This constant stream over the weeks of choppy three turns, no improvement,...

But I'd paid for the ice, so I skated to the other end of the rink to get away from the 'falling spot.'  'Falling spots' carry bad juju for a few minutes so it's best to skate away, just so it doesn't reach out and zap you. Yeah, I'm a doofus.

Other end of the rink, I do a FO3, and just as I'm about to do the turn I squeeze my thighs together. Bam! Perfect three turn with about 10 feet of glide, steady as a rock.

Rest of the session I'm doing outside threes with any foot, leg or arm position, either direction equally well. As long as I bring that free leg in so the thighs touch, I'm golden.

No idea what's going on, but...

Back in love with skating!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Oh, The LOOKS I Get on Freestyle!

Sometimes, I skate on freestyle at a rink in another town. Let's just say, some of the skaters there can be a little pretentious about their skating.

The little girls on freestyle give me looks like this:

"Old people should stay home."
I ignore their expressions.

The look the teenage girls on freestyle give me looks like this:

"That a skater of MY caliber should have to share the ice
with that old woman that moves like a snail."
I ignore their expressions, too.

Mainly because when I barrel down the ice, it's a game of Newton's Third Law. They may be fast, but I have mass.

If you run into me on the ice, you will cushion my fall.
All but one coach generally acknowledge me with a nod. They've seen me for years. They never know when I'll need a new coach.

The one coach who doesn't is a Grumpy High Level Coach with a skater at Nationals. The looks I get from him are always this:

 Meh, whatever. He looks at everyone that way.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Never Ending Construction Project--Me

I'm a FO3 flinger. When I'm doing a LFO3, I fling my right hip around during the turn. Apparently, I do this going up stairs in just regular life, so there's an underlying disability. Rapunzel the Cruel, my physical therapist, has been working on strengthening and stretching muscles around the hip, and the  effects are starting to bleed through into my skating.

"I've been working on not letting my right leg  open up too much on FO3," I tell Miss Bianca. "I think if I keep my hips square it seems to help me with the back edge."

"Hm, let's see." Miss Bianca says.

I demonstrate.

"No," she says, "The issue is that you keep your right hip hiked up and fling it around the turn. So when you go backwards, you're off balance. Let's fix that right now."

I think every coach I've ever had, has told me a variation of this. I just didn't know how to process it. Now with the new awareness I've gained from physical therapy, and stronger muscles around the hip, I'm ready to work on it consciously.

I spent my lesson, getting my hip to un-hike. It's not just a matter of lowering it a little, it's a matter of lowering it a lot. To get my hips even, I have to lower my right hip to the point it feels scary.

"Lower," Miss Bianca says, "Even lower than that."

"Eeeeee!" my brain goes. But it works!

We do some edge exercises, and for the first time on an inside edge, I can feel a sense of power as I get the hips even.  What's happening, is that when I hiked my hip up, I was either on the flat or an outside edge ("How do you DO that!" one coach said) when I'm supposed to be on an inside edge. Unhiked, I'm finally on the inside edge.

Nothing's 'fixed' yet, but I think I've had a breakthrough.

Miss Bianca says, "Oh yes,
that looks much better."

Friday, May 24, 2013

Training To Do It Wrong

Today I went in to practice and realized that I've got something wrong with my CCW back crossovers. I can't get the legs to scissor properly. The outside leg just doesn't want to cross in front of the inside leg. CW works fine. No problemo.

I gave it a few tries. Sat deeper on the edge. Worked my upper body position. Tried it on a circle. Tried it alternating with CW back cross. No go.

So I stopped practicing them.

I know. I know. There's this mantra of "practice till you get it right." But what if you don't get it right? What good does practice do?

If you fail over and over again, the same way, at the same task, you run the risk of training yourself to do it wrong. Practice is supposed to wire your brain to do a skill, so you can do it fluidly and naturally without thinking about it. Practicing a skill wrong, programs your brain to do it wrong.

Fortunately, I have a lesson tomorrow with Madam Mim. We'll work through it and she'll tell me how to fix it.

This is why we have coaches. Sometimes, we have non obvious reasons why we're failing a skill.  My coach has to look at what I'm doing wrong, and work with me to correct whatever position, edge, or other error I've worked into habit. Then fix it.

And hope I remember it....When I practice.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Madam Mim's Army

I stopped  at the boards while Madam Mim's working with another student, and take a stab at improving my checking. She wasn't even looking in my direction.

Then in my lesson, first thing...

Apparently, when you get to be a coach, PSA allows you to order the All Seeing Eye off their website.
"Great! My PSA approved back of the head eye is here!"
And since she's a beloved coach at the rink, once they heard my story about 'no boards',  all my skating buddies have told me they're going to tell her if they see me practicing at the boards...

She's got snitches in her power now. Not even Cruella was able to do that.

Oh, God, I just realized they all have video too.

I'm doomed.

I guess I'll just have to get out in the middle.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Toughing It Out

 Madam Mim is determined in my post injury restart, to get me to use power.


So we spend about a third of the lesson in back crossovers and back edges or in transitioning to back edges (waltz threes). And I have to use real, adult power. Not scaredy cat adult power.
Power? Backwards? You sure?
I'm okay in here in the no power hotel.
Madam Mim won't accept a weak back crossover (usually my clockwise ones). We start with back crossovers around the circle, and those go fine. They're as smooth and solid as my forward crossovers (which are superior).

It's not until I'm doing alternating back crossovers that my sidedness issues appear.  Madam Mim lightly touches my hand to get my leading shoulder further back . And reminds me to 'sit' into the crossover. After a couple of tries, I'm laying them down, alternating CW to CCW, with power and good edges on my own.  Probably some of the best alternating crossovers I've ever done. I'm not nervous, or twitchy. The transitions are smooth. The crossovers are soundless. I am in complete control.


Say hello to no toepicking in back crossovers
Yes, I'm making real post injury progress; now I'm finally starting to improve, not just recover basic skills.

Unfortunately, I'm going through tissues by the pound. I use up all of mine, then I have to dig into Madam Mim's stash and I go through hers. Stupid head cold.

At the end of the lesson, I have a really bad back fall. My right skate 'gets stuck' in a drop three and a fall backwards so that my skating foot is almost tucked under my butt when I land. There's a pain in my bad knee like a knife. I don't really remember that landing, I just know I rolled around in what must have been scary to behold.

 I hear a sudden silence in the freestyle, then the sound of skates coming towards me.

"I'm good." I tell Madam Mim quietly. She calls out "It's okay." I'm able to get up on my own and we go back to lesson.

Yeah, my least inspiring lesson in a long time. But I came off the ice feeling that I'm finally comfortable with backwards skating. I'm getting tweaks now, not corrections. I feel at ease going backwards. I don't feel uncomfortable looking over my shoulder to see ahead, and I have good skating skills. I'm happy with that for today.

Had to stop at a grocery store to buy some frozen peas to ice my knee, but I'm okay.
Useful in an emergency when you don't have access to ice.
Or an ice bag.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The "F" Word at the Rink

You're not supposed to swear at the  rink. Maybe it's because there are so many little monsters darlings around, that rinks have developed the 'no swearing' rule as a defense mechanism. Never mind that the some of the parents of children are slack jawed yokels who can't string together a sentence without dropping an f-bomb or two, coaches never swear, and adult students pick up on the rule pretty quickly.

I never ever swear on freestyle. Not once. But on public, I've been known to drop a bomb or two (it shocked my dance coach), 'cause on public with the music and the screaming.....
Meh, who can hear me two feet away?
Honestly, there's other F-words I'm more worried about hearing on the ice, and would rather never, ever hear....


After any of the above, I'm sure you'll hear a few F-bombs floating around.

If it's one of mine...pretend you didn't hear. Okay?

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Perfect Number of People on Freestyle

Saturday I was taking a lesson from Madam Mim and she was doing her usual act of being the sweetest person ever while still being 'tizloy' tough underneath. I can't get away with squat. Somehow she just makes me rise to the challenge of doing stuff that scare me witless.

So as we're working on the swing mohawk transition from forward to backwards crossovers, I notice that no one's jumping into the corners and giving us dirty looks because we're camping out on TWO end circles.  There's a competition somewhere and the only people on the ice are a guy working on gold moves, Madam Mim and me, and a smattering of skaters who weren't ready for the comp.

In fact, I realize, there's the perfect number of people for freestyle on the ice.

1 is scarey. What if you fall and no one sees it and comes to help out?

2-4 is worse. With 2 to 4 there's so few people on the ice that no one looks out for each other and inevitable crashes result. (I was once checking out my tracings when a girl skated backwards into me and whacked me in the face with her hand. Yep, we were the only two people on the ice.)

5 puts one person in each corner and the fifth one is working on some power pattern from silver or gold moves and expects everyone else to move out of the way--because there's plenty of space.

6 means theres at least one skater working on a program--over and over--with no one else  to break up the replays of the program music (although this irritates the coaches too. I've seen a coach tell a girl, "3 times in a row is the limit." I don't know if that's a local rule, or what.)

7  With seven there's one in each corner, one in the center and two working on a program.  Everyone seems to spread out like that, each has a patch (maybe it's instinctive) and the program skaters really really resent the person in the center (who for some reason always seems to be the skater who will.not.move)

But with EIGHT, now there's just enough people to override the instinctive need to camp out, there's enough skaters moving around to keep everyone on their toes, variety in the music, and enough space between the skaters to make it comfortable to do big things.

Eight, the perfect number on freestyle.

And, off topic, what's that little boy doing in the video? Mohawks? It goes so fast I can't make it out!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Six Stages of Adult Skating- Now Illustrated!

1. Disbelief
"You want me to do what with my foot and put it where while I'm doing this with my arms?"

2. Disorganization
"Okay, I got my foot there, now why can't I do that at the same time?"

3. Denial
"I don't care what coach says, nobody over the age of 9 can learn this."

4. Deliberation
"Well, maybe if I alter my hip position, thus, and add a little upper body swing...."

5. Dominate the Move!

6. Disbelief
"What does coach mean it's not perfect? Coaches, they're never happy."

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Curate's Egg in Saturday's Lesson

As you all know I'm in the process of  re-learning to skate (for the THIRD time--every time I get competent something happens). So today, when Madam Mim was coaching me, she said, "I hate 3 turns, but I love mohawks. Let's review your mohawks."
"I love mohawks," Madam Mim says.
I've done these a few times since I returned to the ice. I have them to the left but not to the right, so I'm behind where I was when the knee went Kablooey (TM applied for) last November.

I rip off one to the left: fast, noisy and scary for anyone watching (although I'm solid as a rock they're not pretty).  When I come out of it, Madam Mim smiles.

"That was actually not awful," she said.

I give a fist pump, "YEEAH!"

Yes, I'm at the stage of skating where 'actually not awful' is a GOAL!

This is the Curate's Egg of skating. I'm taking the positive attitude from my critiques. Some parts of my mohawk are 'quite excellent'!

Madam Mim has decided I'm going to learn Moves--not test-- just learn. So today I learned using the mohawk as a transition between the forward and backwards crossovers in the crossover eight in Pre-Bronze. Homework, I have homework!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

What keeps me from skating?

Early in the day: Emergency Alert from National Weather Service

Flood Warning
Okay, okay, that's 20 miles the opposite way from the rink. The rink is clear. I can make it.

An hour later: National Weather Service advises

Severe Thunderstorm Alert
Okay, that's more serious. But the roads are good down there and don't flood. I can still make it.

Then, I start coughing and by 3 pm...

I'm hard core, but even I have to draw the line somewhere!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Things I Wish I Could Say.1

You all know there are things that happen at rinks, that drive me batty, but are harmless.

"Excuse me rink management. I paid for full ice and
There, I feel better.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Things that Scare Me About Figure Skating

People in flip flops crowding the gate--or anywhere near the gate
Cause one trip on my part could result in this
(Don't click on that link unless you're one tough cookie!)

Yes, this the first thought thru my  head every time a coach says:
"You need to try Champion Cords."

Seeing a coach look like this as I skate towards them.
What's coming up behind me!

Witnessing a HORRIBLE fall!
This expression on a judge's face during my test!


Saturday, May 4, 2013

Czech Please! Part Dva !

One of the reasons I picked Madam Mim is that when she substituted in a Group Class, she tried to fix my 3 turn checks.

Well, actually as I did my three turn, she grabbed my arm and pulled it into a check position. "Stop being a baby. Learn to Check."

Today, we revisited my checks.  After a few whacks at it. Madam Mim commented, "Why do you wave your arms around when you three turn?"

"Uh, overexcited shoulder action?"

Yeah, I'm one of those beginner skater who falls into bad arm waving habits to force the 3 turn. So I suppressed my arm waving and got some decent checks.
Maybe life would be easier if I had a pivot in my head.
Now here's the miracle. With the shots in my knees, and physical therapy, and icing my hip 3 times a day, I'm skating without pain and with more response in my knees than I've had for 30 years. I can feel the rocker, and I'm gliding backwards further. So happy about that.  And it only takes a few minutes for me to improve my checks.  A ways to go, still a lot of improvement in one lesson.

But as the lesson continues working on my back edges, Madam Mim comments, "It's scary watching you go backwards on an edge, you're so slow, I don't see how you do it."

Every coach I've ever had has said that. What can I say? I had thorough  balance training as a child!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Bursitis on Ice

Wednesday night, I went skating and could barely move around. And it's all my fault.

Monday my orthopod had drawn his Thumb of Pain down my hip and diagnosed "Bursitis"

Yes, fixing me is a construction project. The bursitis was always there  but its depth was masked by my knee pain.
So after an initial  adjustment to my physical therapy Tuesday, I power muscled my way through my exercises. I paid for it Wednesday, when I could barely do a crossover.  That's the bursitis acting up.
It hurt here
Today, the PT backed off on the weights, and I hang my head in shame. I'm for my height I'm strong and I got carried away. I should have left my PT know I was 'challenged' by the weights I was doing.

I got Ultrasound treatment for the bursitis at the end of my exercises this afternoon.  This involved partially disrobing in a treatment room to expose my hip. If I'd known I was going to have to do that, I would have worn my Sunday go to meeting panties.

The Ultrasound does make my hip feel better.  I can't help but wonder how it works though. I had it 30 years ago for scar tissue in a shoulder, and it worked a miracle. I'm hoping it does the same here.

I'm a sucker for technology

Lesson learned. Just because I'm small but mighty, I don't need to rise to the challenge every time.  I can slack off with lighter weights for a while.