Saturday, July 19, 2014

Review: Stroking Exercises On Ice Vol 1. Basics - - Natalia Dubova

As a non-jumping skater I'm always looking for ways to improve my skating. Even if I never perform, or test, I want to continue to build my skills. So like many skaters I look at youTube, and other video sites for ideas or demonstrations.  youTube skating videos have their uses, but I really want to see three things in a video: good instruction, good production quality, and slow motion/close-ups of the skating. You usually don't see that on youTube skating videos.

So I plunked down my credit card and ordered Natalia Dubova's "Stroking Exercises On Ice Vol 1: Basics" from  For me there was a risk; I might end up with a video that starts with skills way over my ability. Happily, this video is useful for a wide variety of skaters, including people like moi!

Natalia Dubova was the coach of the following famous teams Marina Klimova / Sergei Ponomarenko, Maya Usova / Alexander Zhulin, Oksana Grishuk / Evgeny Platov. In 1992, all three teams were on the podium at Worlds. This was not equaled until the team of Shpilbad and Zoueva had three teams on the podium at Worlds in 2011. With her record Dubova is one of the great coaches of any skating discipline (not just ice dance) of all time.

Recorded in 1995, it is the typical class setting with young students, supplemented by the dance team of Elizaveta Stekolnikova  and Dmitri Kazarlyga as demonstrators. There are nine sections: Progressives, stroking, crossovers backwards,  progressives backwards,  chasse', waltz 3s, elements in combination, alternating progressives, and one foot change edge pushes.

In each section Dubova gives instruction to the students in clear but accented English. She herself does not demonstrate on skates, but calls on her demonstrators to perform the elements. The demonstrators are also videoed separately with a narrator (Cecily Morrow) explaining Natalia's points in more detail or clarifying her comments. The demonstrators are also shown in slow motion with the narrator highlighting certain details.

Dubova uses visualization and cue words to explain  her technique. 'Butter on the knee' and 'water on the top (of the head)' and 'back to the wall', to act as cues for the skater to use during exercises are just some of the terms.  Each section is detailed and builds on the terminology and technique from the previous section.

As an example of the level of detail, in the Progressives section alone, Dubova covers the following:
1. Shoulder and arm position
2. Hip position relative to upper body and arms
3. Head position
4. Balance and position over the blade
5. Double sit
6. All exercises in both directions
7. Not crossing the outside hip
8. Smooth change of direction
I would suggest that the viewer watch the video all the way through a couple of times before focusing on a 'problem' element to work on in detail just to understand all the detail that goes into the technique.

The production quality is excellent, with close-ups and slow motion used when necessary. Also, Dubova is miked, so the audio is clear and understandable and the narrator is great. The camera work is professionally done, with two (or more) cameras covering the rink, so you will see close in work in high quality detail.

Who is the audience for this video? I think the audience would be anyone from Basic 8 (Basic 6 for adults) or above. Certainly good for people who are beginning ice dance, but the lessons would also be useful for freestyle skaters who have, shall we say, chunky stroking.  So a wide audience but perhaps not a high level audience.

Two ways to order: DVD or download.
I don't know about the DVD, but the download was like watching a VHS, which means no chaptering. I'd like to have chaptering to play sections over and over again, but it's not a major issue.

One video is $49. But this is a real specialist video, with good production quality and technical content. If you buy it you can be assured of getting your money's worth.

I'm working on the edge push section now. Maybe with the slow motion demos and Dubova's instructional technique to guide my way, I'll finally get those pesky things to work for me!


  1. Sounds like a great video, but wow! what a price point.

    1. I think of it this way, if a video can help me improve my skills, that's fewer lessons I have to pay for to learn that skill. Or if I improve faster maybe I'll start testing again.

  2. Babbette: Does this video detail partner skating or just single skating? I'm looking for clear instruction for hand in hand and dance hold skating. It amazes me that elements like progressives which I can do with nice curves and deep edges become unruly, different animals once I'm holding on to my partner! I'm thick headed so I need another source beyond our coach. Pair unison ain't easy...

    1. They do show a lot of slow motion of the demonstrators in dance hold while the narrator discusses the skating. The section on waltz 3s in hold covers partnering some. It's not a partnering video though.

  3. My partner and I still have a lot of "push me-pull me" stuff going on when we attempt to skate. A lot of that is because our skating schedules only jive about once per week, so we get very limited practice time. Hopefully we'll smooth things out as time goes by.