Saturday, October 31, 2015

Out of My Comfort Zone...on IceI

I had a couple of coccyx falls and now I wear a coccyx pad in case I fall on my ass again. I don't want to go through that pain again. Let's just say, I bruised places that in reality, the sun cannot shine there without major medical intervention.

Anyway, while I was skating today the coccyx pad kept slipping around. And trust me when you've got something sliding south on your butt, you cannot do a 3 turn.

In the spirit of the season, it was creepy.

When I got off the ice I found the coccyx pad had slid down and rolled up, so I looked like I was hiding a chihuahua in my skate pants.


Please God, Please, let no one have taken pictures of me today.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Christmas Gifts for Your Figure Skating Coach

Car Emergency Kit
Actually a good gift for any adult

Ol' Reliable--The Amazon Gift Card
When you don't know what to get

 Foot Care Kit
A nice selection of cremes for the coach who spends hours in boots


Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Drama Queen Inside Me....On Ice

I've been improving, really.  My change to 1/2" ROH has forced me to really get down in the knee and correctly hold my body position. I'm gliding like a butterfly.  And many of the things I used to hesitate to do, I'm now doing. It's not like I'm a Gold Level skater, it's like I'm a really, really, incredibly good graduate of LTS.

And since I ditched the 7/16" ROH, I can't rely on the edges to hold me up when I'm in incorrect body position. Since I'm now skating with correct body positions, a persistent pain in my back has rapidly faded away.

And my two foot spins. OMG. For a girl who wouldn't even think about spins two months ago, today I ripped out consistent 4 rotation spins, well-centered, with correct foot position, on the forward spin rocker behind the toepick, silent as the grave, with an exit edge solid as a brick wall. 


Except . . . .Wanna see my one foot spin?
That's right! There's no picture of a one foot spin because there is no one foot spin!

Right now, the old me, the calm mature me would post a picture supporting "Skating is a Journey, not a race." or "it will come".

No, I want my one foot spin and I want it better than now, I want it yesterday!

But on the outside I'm calm. "I'm getting better, I think," I say to my coach.

Her eyes widen with surprise I'd even ask such a question. "Every lesson, you get better and better," she says.

"A little bit better every time, " I reply, "Celebrate the little things."

On the inside?

F*k*g Spins.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Mazurka Jump/Hop--I HAZ ONE!

So Miss Bianca has me do side toe hops. Okay, sure, tap-hop-tap glide. Then she says, "Now I want you to cross one foot over and then glide out." She demonstrates.

I cock my head, "That looks like a mazurka."

"And it is," she says.

The Mazurka is a dance that has appeared in at least one opera and some ballets. I, who was brought up on massive doses of opera against my will, can hear the music in my head. Dum de duum dum, dumdeddum.

Toe in, cross-toe-in, glide away. Ta-DA!

The Historical Ballet Mazurka

And The Mazurka Jump as Demonstrated for a USFSA Video

Tenley Albright--World and Olympic Gold Medalist

You know, I need to work on my arm positions.
Nice height though!
 I now feel like one of those little girls who can do a step-over crossover and says, "I can do crossovers, why are you making me learn them again, I already know how to do crossovers."

Me: "I can do a waltz jump. I can do a mazurka jump why are you making me do them again...."

Coaches everywhere, "Because yours suck!"

 Pretty much!

Real World vs. Figure Skating World

Real World:
You find out you need to paint your house, get your car repaired, pay for new clothes for work

Figure Skating World:
You need to replace your blades with Gold Seals because you're *this* close to getting triples

Phase 1: "Ooh, triples"

Phase 2: But you realize you have no money

Phase 3: "But, Ooh, triples"

Phase 4: "Oh, well, it's only money...and hey TRIPLES!" 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

There Are Days I Shouldn't Be Allowed In the Rink

I sat across from Gold Skater tonight in the booting up area to get ready for Group. I asked, "How you doin'?"

She said, "I pulled a quad today."

I sat up straight and asked, "Which one!?" Then my brain turned itself on.

"No," she said, "I pulled my quadricep. But thanks for the compliment."

Then after group she told it to the entire Freeskate Sacred Circle of  Skating Fire, and they all got a good laugh out of it.


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Depressing Moments in Skating

When My Coach Demonstrates a Skill

When I Try the Skill

When Someone Convinces Me to Try Some On-Ice Skating Training Tool
Weirdly, this might work.

A Chart About Skating


Sunday, October 11, 2015

Changing My Radius of Hollow

The Radius of Hollow (ROH) is the little groove at the bottom of your blades. Do you know what your ROH is? If you don't, well, I expect that you often wonder why your skate blades seem to change from sharpening to sharpening. Some unscrupulous sharpeners will just put the ROH on your blades that they have on the machine.

I've been skating for nine (9) years and not once has a coach ever mentioned ROH to me. Oh, boots, blades, things like that. But the single most important thing about skating, the ROH, nope, nada.

I'm not going to really explain a lot of that here. I can tell you what I learned from my skate tech. The hollow you need depends on the temperature of the ice, the type and level of your skating, and the discipline you're skating in.

The smaller the hollow, the 'grippier' the blade it. The 'flatter' the hollow, the 'glidier' the blade.

I think (based on discussions with my tech) that there are four usual hollows for figure skaters: 3/8", 5/16", 7/16", and 1/2".  Hockey players have five hollows, depending on position, weight, and skill level.

So, I've experimented. I skated one winter w/ 3/8" because it was cold and the ice was hard and I wasn't bending my knees enough. Then for the last few years, I've been at 7/16".

7/16" is a bitch for the first three hours when I try to stop going backwards.

So, this time I waited too long to get a sharpening on my 7/16" ROH, and I noticed that 'oooh, baby' those dead edges make my turns just float across the ice. So I went to my tech and asked for a 1/2" ROH to see if I could keep that skill.

"You might not be able to detect it," he said.

To make a long story short: Yes I can tell. 1/2" is a lot more glidey, but just as grippy in the stops. OTOH, the grippy in the back stops goes away fast. The downside with the 1/2" hollow is that it loses its edge pretty fast. I'm debating investing in a Pro-filer to touch it up between sharpenings.

The interesting thing is, with the 1/2" ROH, my back doesn't hurt as much as it does with the 7/16".  I have to bend the knee more with 1/2" so maybe the ROH change is forcing me to hold my body correctly. Beats me.

Do you know what your hollow is? Do you specify it when you go to your sharpener? Does your coach make suggestions to you?  I think these are all important when you buy your own skates and take your blades to a sharpener.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Zen of the Free Hip: Part 2

In my previous post, I talked about the position of the free hip as it relates to my skating. Today, I want to outline the free hip positions for some basic edges and turns.  These basic rules of thumb, are useful to experiment with if you are interested. If they don't work for you, well, I'll post a picture of a dog down below so it's not a complete waste of time for you to read this post.

I got these tips/rules of thumb/guidelines from the excellent videos by Joan Orvis on ICoachSkating.  Her edges video and her three turns video were what helped me sort this out.

So here are the four rules of thumb I started with:

1. Forward outside edge--hip in the back position.
2. Forward inside edge--hip in the forward position

3. BACK outside edges--hip in the forward position
4. BACK inside edges--hip in the back position

Okay, at this point you may have got an intuitive insight. DO THE OPPOSITE!

Forwards outside--hip back.          Backwards outside--hip forwards
Forwards inside--hip forwards.      Backwards inside--hip back

There's also a neutral position, which is what most people seem to have naturally. (Not me) When I'm stuck, I shove my free hip into the neutral position and try that.

My first try was with FO3.  I did a couple of crossovers, stroked into the 3 and held that free hip back all the way through the turn. BAM! nailed it. I mean I just floated through the turn. Hold the free hip back, down up down, magical three turn. Well, that was on my good side. When I tried it on my 'bad' side, same magical three turn.  The position of the leg didn't seem to be critical as long as it was pressed against the skating leg at the thigh. Dance style, freestyle turn, figures style. 

So, I next tried FO and FI 8's. Really smooth. Much less wobbling, stable transitions.

My back edges are divine works of art. No kidding. I feel like I'm skating on rails. When I'm skating back edges I am a  dynamic figure of elderly adorableness.

I spent  a couple of sessions playing with the Rules of Thumb, and  then I ran into the mohawk. After looking at a number of videos of people doing open mohawks, what seems to be happening is this: Enter the mohawk with the free hip forward and the free leg in an externally rotated position. When stepping down, the hip seems to go to a neutral position and  transitions to being the active foot by externally rotating the free leg. The new free leg seems to be hip forward with externally rotated leg. Using this approach, I've been able to sort out the issues with my bad side mohawk. My bad side hip is naturally back, and I really have to jam the free hip forward just to get it to neutral. I've still got strength issues on that bad side, but that mohawk is now dependable and not just luck.

What about the FI3? Yeah, bane of my existence. The Free hip forward is working for the glide. "Why can't you make that turn?" my coach will ask, "Everything's in position and nicely balanced."  Meh, I've got head issues.

So, what is this good for? Well the free hip position seems a reliable technique for long edges. The fact that holding it through the three turn improved them, was a complete surprise.

I also learned my hip positions are unequal which probably contributed to my good side / bad side depending on the element I'm doing. I can now identify and mentally document what I'm doing that is consistently successful.

The fact that I'm able to separate the hip position from the rotation of the leg in the hip joint means I no longer have to memorize arbitrary leg positions that coaches give me. I can now break it down into free hip position and leg rotation.

I'm not saying that the Zen of the free hip works all the time everywhere, but for me as a beginner skater/intermediate skater it allows me to specify what I'm doing right or wrong, and either follow the right stuff up, or reject the wrong positions.

So, this post is finally out of my system.NOW FOR A FUNNY GIF!

Monday, October 5, 2015

The Zen of the Free Hip

Over the past couple of months I've been manipulating my free hip as a way to gain better control of my edges and turns. This post and the next are the results of some explorations I've been doing.

I can see some eyerolls out there via my psychic powers. "Oh, she's going to be talking about closed and open hips, how droll." You would be wrong. I've heard the terms, and I've had coaches tell me to hold my leg in a certain way and say "That's open." or "That's closed". Those coaches may know what they mean but I can break down the free hip position into SIX positions. Open and closed don't cut it for me.

So here's a picture of a dancer in what is (probably) an 'open' hip position:

Not to me. To me this is a hip in the back position, with externally rotated leg. Next up:

(Tenley Albright?)
This is probably considered to be a free hip in the 'closed' position. To me this is a free hip in the forward position with the leg with neutral (or possibly external) rotation.

So here's how I've broken it down:

Hip position--Forward back neutral

Leg rotation--External neutral internal
How does this work for me?

FO3--Free hip in the back position, externally rotated.

FO edge--Free hip in the back position, neutral  to external rotation

BO edge--Free hip in forward position, neutral rotation

FI3--Free hip in forward position, external rotation

Mohawk--Going in: Free hip in back position, neutral to externally rotated leg. As I bring the free foot forward to the arch of the I bring the free hip to the neutral position, step down and switch, bringing the new free hip into the back position with external rotation.

This is nothing you could explain to a child. But as notation it certainly is more reliable and descriptive than 'open' and 'closed'.

For me this has proved to be a life saver. Because I have one hip that is naturally back and the other neutral, I've had to struggle with 'sidedness'. By understanding what's going on in a detailed way in my free hip, I've seen a lot of improvement as I'm able to make adjustments based on my knowledge of my own body.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

First Skate of the Winter

I break out my Autumn skate jacket.

I have my Winter coat in the wings, ready to go!

And believe it or not, I have a Ushanka, that my mother bought for me when she was traveling by train across the USSR/Russia during the week the USSR died.
And yes, I do look like this.
Only cuter!

Can't wait to skate in it!