Sunday, November 29, 2015

Johnny Weir As a Commentator

I'm watching Men's Singles at the NHK Trophy replay.

OMG! Is Johnny Weir the best commentator ever.

He's got such a great commentator voice and every once and a while he'll make an informed comment about an error.

I thought his comment about staying with a coach too long was poignant, but probably wise in its reflection.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Brian Boitano, Johnny Weir and Davis and White at the Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park Dec 1 New York

Here is the Official Announcement(my media questions are at the bottom)

"New to the annual Tree Lighting, Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park (New York) presents an original theatrical ice skating show, narrated by Danny Aiello and starring Olympic skating greats: Nancy Kerrigan, Brian Boitano, Johnny Weir and Davis & White.

The Tree Lighting Skate-tacular is a holiday tale about a very special family on the night before Christmas, written for Bryant Park by New York playwright Jon Caren. The show features music from Big Band Holidays, a new album by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis. The public can skate to live music curated by Jazz at Lincoln Center after the tree is lit."

"WHEN: Tuesday, December 1, 2015
• 6:00 p.m. Skate-tacular begins
• 6:35 p.m. (approx.) Tree Lighting"

"WHERE: Media check-in takes place at the main entrance to the Skating Pavilion, located near the 40th Street entrance to the park. Bryant Park is situated behind the New York Public Library in Midtown Manhattan, between 40th and 42nd Streets & Fifth and Sixth Avenues. "

Personal Comment:  Well, if I was there, I'd get to have actual 'media access'. I know, elderly, adult skater would actually get to ask worshipful technical question of my IDOLS!

Since I'm not going to be there I will not get to ask questions. However if I had media access, here's the questions I'd ask

First questions to Weir, and Davis & White:
1. Boots and Blades
2. ROH
3. How many hours between sharpenings

Questions to Johnny Weir:
1. You used asymmetric costumes and the fur tassel to attract the eye during spins and jumps. Did you believe this made the rotation seem faster, or more visually diverting as oppose to costumes made of solid blocks of black? Was this intended as actual 'science trick' of the eye, or was it an artistic decision?

Question for Davis and White
1. Do you use dance blades? At what level should an ice dancer adopt dance blades?  Is it worth it at Silver level?
2. What kind of physical off ice training did you have to adopt to get that amazing lift? Because that thing looks like it could really pull your shoulders if not done just right and you had really good strength training to support it.

Question For Brian Boitano:
1. Brian Orser no longer jumps. You're only a couple of years younger. First, do you see yourself quitting jumping in the near future? Or do you have any special personal training to keep yourself jump ready?
2. Do you see figures as contributing to strengthening skaters bodies as well as skating skills?

 I'm not going to be there, but if I was, those are the questions I'd ask!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Monday, November 23, 2015

(UPDATED) The Yoga Mat as a Figure Skating Tool

I'm talking about a cheap, thin yoga mat. The kind you get at Five and Below.

This thing is an amazing source of cuttable easy to manipulate waterproof sturdy padding.

Tired of paying 10-20 dollars for a gel lace pad? Want something a custom length or width or thickness? Cut up yoga mat is your answer. Bite pad too thin? Double layer it.

Want a nice pad for the bottom of your skate bag?  Custom cut it from a mat.

Want a layer between your skates in your skating suitcase, and every thing piled on top? Yoga mat.

Want something on which lay out your gear in a dirty dressing room?  Yoga mat!

Washable and easily replaced. Best $5 a skater can spend.

(UPDATE) and if you have Tuff Terry soakers (the ones with the ribbon on the bottom) you can put a strip of mat inside temporarily to give you a little more defense against a hard floor. (Take it out for storage)

(UPDATE) If someone walks off with your guards... You can also cut a strip of yoga mat about 3 inches wide and a foot long, fold it lengthwise put it around the blades and hold it on with rubber bands. It may do enough as a blade guard until you can get some new ones.

And you could also use it as a yoga mat!

Friday, November 20, 2015

A Step Backwards--And Behind

I went back to Basic Skills 8 because, Dang-nab-it, Freeskate was too crowded and I was terrified someone would crash into me. (Yes this almost happened a couple of times. Same person, twice. Let's not go there.) There's 10 people in Freeskate. In the Basic Skills class there's 5 total for all levels, and they have twice as much space! So, I took a step back to Basic Skills just so I could feel comfortable again.

Dance Coach is teaching the 5 adult skaters in Basic skills. When he finally gets around to me he looks down at his checklist and says: "Outside Three turns."

Left one Right one. Slam bam thank you ma'am. I look up and he's staring down at his list.

"Very nice." He checks off with his pen "Mohawks."

Both ways. And I swear to God they were the best ones I've ever done.

"Very nice." He's still looking down and checks the list.

"Inside threes."  he says.

"If I could do inside 3's I'd been in Freeskate practicing my axel entry."

I gotta give him credit. Not a blink or a smile at my snark. "Okeey. 8 step mohawk."

I stare up at the rafters in thought. "Is that the one with the step behind going backwards?"

"Yes, do at boards." He demonstrates and leaves to go help the two women in Basic 2. I think what he's showed me is the combination move to graduate from Basic 8, hard to tell. I can't remember everything.

Left alone I don't have any choice. I do it a couple of times at the boards. I work out the step behind. I try it away from the boards.

Mohawk. Glide backwards. Bring free leg alongside the skating leg. Keep the thighs together, keep the free  hip forward, cross behind, step down... FREE BLADE LANDS ON MY MY ACTIVE BLADE! IT SKITTERS BACKWARDS ONTO THE ICE! FLAIL! FLAIL! FLAIL! MADLY TO KEEP FROM FALLING BACKWARDS, recover...calm down...turn forward, and of course Dance Coach is staring at me. At least the mohawk was nice.

"Hey, I stayed upright!" I say. After a couple of tries I can do it a little better, but no one is there to see. I'm satisfied that I'm doing something I've never done before, so the day wasn't wasted.

So I took a step backwards to Basic 8, and a step behind to get ahead.

Now all that's left is FI3 and one foot spin and I'm done with Basic Skills--I'll move forward to Freeskate.... Again. Never to return.

Maybe it'll be less crowded this summer when the 'beach and sailing people' go to the beach and Freeskate will be just the year round regulars. A girl can only hope.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Easy Off-Ice Anywhere Figure Skating Strengthening Exercise

The one thing that separates figure skaters from the rest of the world is we spend a lot of time on one foot.

So here's the exercise: Stand on one foot.
Be subtle, no one will know
You can do it while you're waiting in line, while you're cooking or washing dishes, brushing your teeth or even when  you're in the office.

I do it in the elevator, with all my stuff (lunch, drinks, purse, day timer) on one side. Let me assure you, this is hard. Not only am I fighting the unbalanced weight, but the movement of the elevator and the little bounce at the end when the elevator stops. Try it sometime, that little bounce at the end is a son of a bitch on one foot.

I have to admit, I wear flat shoes, so you ladies who love the high heels--good luck with that.

I know, you're yawning. So go and stand on one foot. How long can you do it? 

Well, I don't know how long I can do it. I get to a minute, then I get bored and stop. Yeah, lazy. I think I could go to a minute and a half.

And while a minute is good for a woman in her 60's, it's not particularly good for a woman in her 30s.  Here are the stats.

And while I'm good with my eyes open, I'm awful with them closed. So, blech!

There is some technique to this.
1. Don't raise your free leg until your hips are in the correct position.
2. Using your arms and hands to balance is an opportunity to practice slow and graceful movments.
3. Don't raise your arms above shoulder level after your leg gets tired.
4. You can practice rising on the ball of your foot and setting back down as an exercise in building strength in your ankles.

So, that's it. Simple, subtle, useful.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Fixing My Spin Entry--"Hi Craig, Nice to see you again!"

Miss Bianca takes out her "Marker of Doom" and draws the following squiggle on the ice in a space about 5 ' x 5'.
"Oh, good, " I say, "Spin Entry." Yes, I have a mental catalog of all Miss Bianca's Marker of Doom diagrams.

I rip into the pattern, and it sort of peters out. It's a struggle to exit with enough speed to make a back edge dramatic pose.

"You enter the spin too early," Miss Bianaca says.

The Red arrow in the diagram shows  the direction I'm facing when I begin my spin. The Blue arrow shows the direction I'm supposed to be facing when I begin my spin.
So Miss Bianca skates a few feet away and draws a happy face. "It's Amy's friend, Craig." I cry, "Hi, Craig!"
Miss Bianca rolls her eyes. I've been doing the 'Craig' shtick for years, I still find it funny.

"Anyway," Miss Bianaca says, "I don't want you to start your turn until you're facing...'Craig'."

Those extra 90° really do make my spin faster. My spins have always been centered, what they have lack is rotational velocity, and number of rotations. This gives me extra speed.

Next Miss Bianca makes me put my hands over my heart on the left, then try and get my nose over my left toe to force me onto my spin leg. Can I do a two rotation one foot spin? No. Do you need to ask?

The only thing was that with the extra speed I did an uncontrolled departure of the spin, it was with extreme rapidity, and I barely stayed up on my toe picks, and staggered my way across 10 feet of ice and crashed into Miss Bianca.  There was a  moment when we both nearly fell down and almost knocked over a five year old.  But we stayed on our feet and nobody fell on the five year old.

My View of "The Crash"
It was very exciting.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Possible Worst Ice Show Ever

So I'm watching the 2005 movie "The Producers". If you're not familiar with this movie, it's a movie that's a parody about a play, that's based on a musical about a play, that's based on a movie about a play (1968) that was originally supposed to be a Broadway play. For the first time I had my glasses on during the end, and there's a list of parody Broadway Shows. The last one was....

Let's face it, what with all the traditional hunching and depressed posture of Willy Loman, he's never going to get an axel for the all important car wreck scene.  

Saturday, November 7, 2015

All Hail The Mighty Cortisone Shot!

Long story short. After two years of off again on again physical therapy for my trochanter bursitis, I told my ortho to shoot my hip full of cortisone.

I don't regret my experience with physical therapy.  It reduced my pain, and I learned some good exercises; the all important fact that my right hip is naturally open, my left is naturally closed, and I twist my body to compensate.  Let's just say, in my skating journey I've learned a lot about my personal anatomy. Fortunately so, since now I'm finally straightening all this out and I'm skating like a real skater.

But, the hell with it, I just wanted the hip pain gone, so bring out the injection!

The only amusing thing was when I showed my ortho some of the skating positions where my hip bothered me, he was a little astonished that I could hold them.

"Okay, here I am doc, in a forward crossover, the the underleg in the second push, and I gently rotate the underleg internally to lift the toepick as I go deeper in the knee while on the inside edge on the overleg...THAT'S when it hurts!"

Maybe he wasn't so much 'astonished' as confused, cause I can talk paint off a wall.

The injection didn't go into the bursa, but next to it. My ortho said it might feel okay the next day or the next week. The cortisone sort of gets absorbed by the bursa and the cortisol reduces the inflammation. I gather some people get injections into the hip, but that didn't happen to me.

The hip pain went away after 48 hours, but I had a mild reaction to the injection itself, and that hurt like a son of a bitch. Now after 6 days I'm pain 'freeish'.

Anyway, off ice this week as a precaution. 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

How to Show Your Friends What Figure Skating is All About

Just in case someone ever asks, "Why are you at the rink all the time?"

Sunday, November 1, 2015

I Need to Get a Ice

Er, I talk about skating, you know, my lessons and training, and my tiny improvments.

Sadly, I'll talk about a problem I'm having like doing mohawks in a pattern and my friends think I'm doing this:

And all my friends can think is:

No, no, really, I'm not that boring.

Oh, Dear...