Monday, December 28, 2015

What did you get (yourself) as a skating Xmas gift?

Over the last year I pretty much wore all my skating accessories out. I felt that my stuff just 'went' like the 'Deacon's Masterpiece' in The Wonderful One-horse Shay..
"You see, of course, if you're not a dunce,
How it went to pieces all at once, —
All at once, and nothing first, —
Just as bubbles do when they burst."
Soakers, guards, footbeds, and  Katz Strapz all wore out after a 2 to 3 of years of hard wear. A skatingsafe knee pad disappeared (yet another one!) despite my best efforts to account for them after every skate.  

And yet, the things that gets the hardest wear, my laces, look like they're new. <Shrug>

I tried Amazon first for soakers, but they mostly have Terry's (which are fine), but I prefer Softpawz. And to be frank, Amazon pretty much sucks for figure skating stuff.

So after Christmas I  poked around various skating suppliers and ended up on a shopping trip over at Northern Ice and Dance which has a really nice selection of skating accessories (and a good selection of videos), plus apparel, skates, and blades. What I got was....

Soakers: Orange with pink lining Softpawz. I love orange and pink.
Footbed: Riedell adjustable footbed (yes there will be a review)
Beige Sk8Tape. It's so hard to find!

From other vendors: New blade guards still need to be ordered. And I already got new KatzStrapz. And just ordered another skatingsafe pad.

I'm still burned about losing that skatingsafe pad.

What did you get yourself?

Sunday, December 27, 2015


Have you ever seen a coach skate a figure 8 and their glide seems to hardly lose any speed as they go around? Well, that's how it was for me today.  I don't know where this came from, it just popped up in the last week. Today, I nailed my figure 8's inside and outside with consistency of form, precision of edges, the size of 'real' figure 8s, good speed, good flow.

I'm finishing an inside 8, when  out of the corner of my eye, I suddenly see a tiny little girl skating backwards towards me. She passed within a hair of me, and so fast I didn't even have time to flinch. She skates down the length of the rink doing her back crossrolls, zip zap thunderclap.

It's been years since I flinched when someone passed close to me, but this was close enough to be a very close call.

The Close Call
I caught her on the other side of the rink.

"You were doing back cross rolls?" I ask.

She nods.

"And you had me in sight?"

She nods.

"And you knew you would miss me?"

She nods.

"Because I'm so slow?"

She nods.

In my head.

I sigh, and pat her shoulder. "Well done."

Saturday, December 26, 2015

The Return of 'Craig' the turn spotting tool

Anyone remember 'Craig', the little smiley face Miss Bianca draws on the ice? When she wants me to face in a particular direction during a pattern or a turn, out comes the marker of doom, and Craig's face appears.

So today, Miss Bianca draws Craig on the ice.

 Someday I need to tell her that I'm an adult. She doesn't have to draw Craig, she can draw an 'X'. But she's spent too much time in with 5 year olds and Craig-face it is. In fact she has "Craigs" drawn on the walls around the ring so her students can spot on Craig through the glass.

She says, "There's your little friend, 'Greg', look at him during the turn."

"That's 'Craig'," I say, "Don't hurt his feelings."

I'm sure Miss Bianca suppressed a roll of her eyes, "Oh, I thought it was Greg, well, face Craig during the turn."

So, I do my FI3,  and when I come out on the back edge, I don't check very well.

"That was okay," Miss Bianca says, "Except you turned your butt towards Craig."

"Well, maybe Craig likes looking at my my butt." I say.

 Craig's a little perv, y'know.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Peer Pressure

Gold Skater came up to me and said "Show me your FI3."
So I showed her my FI3 near the boards. Last week I had the back glide, but today I've got the turn, but the back glide isn't happening today. Typically, I grind to a halt because I hold my free leg away from the body. Yeah, the usual adult bad habit.

Gold Skater showed me an alternate technique for the back edge by holding the free leg forward, then after giving me a few minutes, she convinced me to try it out in the middle.

This is the awkward moment. I have to get over the hump of fear of falling backwards and move from the boards to out in the middle.  Gold Skater ever so tactfully, ever so thoughtfully, ever so toughly, gets my ass out in the middle.  This is called Peer Pressure,

Gold Skater
End of the session, FI3 in the middle, the back outside edges have glide but need work, but hey FI3 in the middle!!
The Triumph of Peer Pressure
Thanks Gold Skater!

Yeah, BO3...they're out there some place in February. 

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Christmas Skate

Man, I hate to beat a dead horse, but Christmas skate is horrible.

Somehow the three (3!) rink guards kept the ice tourists out of the center, so Skater Dad and I practiced our elements inside the circle and looked intimidating to discourage people from falling on us as they stumble across the center.

And, as usual, the speakers are directly over the center, turned up to full volume and playing mostly Christmas music.

Strangely, "Another One Bites the Dust" came up after "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" and some  song that had bells in it.

I like the song, but if you're too young to have been alive in the 80's, it's not a good Christmas Song.

Anyway, I'm rockin' in the center to Another One Bites the Dust and totally nailed my first real inside spreadeagle, straight legs and everything.

Weren't expecting that were you?

Thursday, December 17, 2015

You Know You Skate Too Much: 6

If someone told you that if you do this, you could get an Axel.

You'd do it.

You go over to GoldenSkate and try to figure out
the hard core figure skating fans IJS discussions.

And they make sense.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

2016 Skating Goals and Wrap Up for the Year

I was perusing the wrap up for 2015 over on Eva Bakes blog and decided it's time for me to do my own wrap up, and determine what my resolutions for next year will be.

This year I got all my skating goals completed for .......
Yeah, I haven't updated my resolutions since then
And I am kind of ahead of 2011. I've done Waltz jumps, Mazurkas, FI3, 3's in patterns, and that evil step behind going backwards, and two foot spin, and something resembling a Level III edge push all in 2015. I never even dreamed of doing those in 2011. And some things that happened this year that I never thought about: change edge serpentines (nice ones too!),  beautiful crossovers (the kind of crossover that no one tries to fix, FINALLY!), and out of nowhere a dance coach said something nice about my inside swing rolls.  Yeah, I'm doing okay for the amount of time I put into it, my age, my weight, and my not having skated as a child.

So, now that my 2011 goals are done with, what do I do for 2016?

1. Okay, lift that foot on the spin....moving on.

2. Back edge pulls. I'm ready, I just need more time on ice.

3. Honestly, if I was skating every day I could have back 3's by now, but maybe the first quarter of 2016? Oh, it hurts to be so close.

4. Back figure 8s. I run out of power about 2/3 way through my back 8s, but the edges are solid. This is a time and space availability issue. It's hard to find the space for practicing even on freestyle.

5. Power. I'm 65 in 2016 so it's downhill on power from now on. Yeah, not holding my breath on this one, but maybe I can tweak my power with technique.

6. Don't get injured. ODG, every time I get injured I have to relearn my right mohawk. Sick of relearning that mohawk.  I've relearned it 3 or four times already. On the other hand, I can do an outside mohawk on the right side, so I've learned something over the years.

Which ones do I actually think will happen? 1, 3, and 4. Which ones do I want most to happen? Six.

Let's just say, that if I'm injured this year, I want to tell my orthopedic surgeon, "I was working on my axel, the hardest figure skating jump there is." not, "I slipped walking down a hallway"

This does not happen to figure skaters!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

I Have FI3!

At the end of the lesson I finally put together all the little things in forward inside threes.

a. Forward arm should be inside the circle.
b. Free hip should be forward (closed) throughout the turn
c. Free foot in the T position
d. Down up down on the rocker to do the turn
e. Hold the body in an upright position (no bobbing, bending at the hip,  or cringing in fear)

Now, as we all know, skating isn't a checklist based sport. You have to do a-e in both sequence and parallel and suffer through the learning process. I've put my time in. My coach was delighted when it finally happened.
My coach when I did a few FI3 in a row.

 Anyway, the FI3 still needs work. Yeah, like everything else in skating there's never an end of work.  Need to be able to do it in a pattern; need to be able to do it with more power, and I'm sure there's more things to fix. Although my FO3 are solid and in some ways beautiful, and I can do them in a pattern and waltz 3s in a circle, there's always some coach 'thing' about them to fix. ODG, there's always something.

But, hey, coach said my  waltz 3's in a circle whipped around like I was doing the Starlight Waltz.

Whip threes
And I didn't even need a man to hold me up!

Techniques for Lacing your Skates

I'm not advocating any of these solutions. I just found them online. I know many skaters have trouble with their boots fitting or maybe their heels staying in place. If you want to give some other lacing techniques a try, here they are! Fixing your fitting issues by adjusting your lace tying is certainly cheaper than buying new boots!

This is from Edea

source This is from a roller site

For people who have pain in their arches.
Selecting the link will lead to a demo of how to do it.

Selecting the link will show how to tie it.

As to how do I tie my skates? I actually tie the right boot like an Edea, and the left boot with an ordinary criss-cross lacing up to the first hole, then like an Edea the rest of the way up. No one says the boots have to be alike :-). 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

When I Screw Up In A Lesson

What the Coach Says

 What I Imagine Is Going On Inside the Coach's Head

How I Feel When I get it Wrong

How the Coach Feels When I Finally Get it Right...

How I Feel When I Get it Right

How the Coach and I Feel When We Realize it was a fluke

I hate Fluke Successes.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Back Threes

Back Threes seem to be my bĂȘte noire.  I'm tying to learn them, yet despite the fact I'm this >< close to doing them, my body won't let me.

My back edges run like they're on rails. Dead solid. 

My body. head, and arm position is perfect.

My two foot back threes are, to put it mildly, perfect two foot back threes.

Two coaches have separately told me to just pick up my free foot and do the turn. In their minds, I'm ready.

In my mind---not ready.

So I start with a solid back edge on my own, my coach gives me a hand to do the one foot turn, and I bob.

"You look like a bobbing bird," she says.

That's probably a sign I'm not bending my knees properly so I bend at my hips to keep my center of gravity over my boots.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Tips for the Beginning Adult Ice Skater

Until I was moved up to Freeskate this year, I was a beginning adult skater for a long time. When Freeskate got too crowded (a person kept spinning into me), I moved back to the wide open spaces of LTS. Now I am by far the best skater in LTS, and I look at the other skaters and I wish I could impart some tips to them about how to skate better.

I'm not going to tell the skaters to their face. That would disrupt the skaters' relationships with our group coach and the LTS program.

So if you're a beginner skater, here's some tips.

1. Warm up before you skate. Walk around the outside of the rink a few times, or if you're at a rink in a mall, walk around the mall. If you want to try my off-ice standing routine, there's Standing XBX (but not in boots).

2. Practice stroking. I got this from the manleywomanskatecast when Allison Manley interviewed Richard Dalley and John Mischa Petkivitch.  Both their coaches had them stroke to build up their strength, stability and edges.  You can't go wrong with stroking. It only seems boring, but you need to get comfortable in your skating and stroking lets you skate without worrying about doing elements. It also builds up the strength in your legs, and that will come in handy later. It's also something to do for warmups. Use good posture and extension as you improve.

3. Practice going around the rink a couple of times a session doing swizzles. Swizzles from a deeply bent knee warm up and strengthen your ankles. I do a lap of forward and backward swizzles in my warmup. 

4. Bend your knees. Bend your knees so deep you think you're about to sit down in a chair. That's about right. As one coach told me, "There's no such thing as too much knee bend." (Well, there is, but you get the point.)

5. Don't hang around the hockey circles. Just because you take a lesson on the circle doesn't mean you need to skate on the circles. Stroke around, get comfortable with the ice. Learn all the places where there's good ice and bad ice.

6. Practice your stops. The strength of your stops is critical to your safety.

7. Don't look down. It's a bad habit. It pulls your center of gravity over your toepicks and makes it more likely you'll fall. 

So those are tips I wish I'd known when I was in the beginning levels of learn to skate.  I do them still.

Friday, December 4, 2015

The Coach Hog in Group

I'm enjoying myself back in the wide open spaces of Basic Skills. Six people in all levels sharing a third of the rink--how delightful! Meanwhile there's 10 people in Freeskate sharing a single hockey circle.

I occupy an awkward niche at the rink. I'm the lowest level skater in Freeskate, but the highest level skater (by a long ways) in Basic Skills. I don't expect the group coach to pay much attention to me. I'm just there for the ice time. He's got 3 people in Basic 2, and two hockey guys who are in some Basic Skill level that exists only in their own mind; They prowl up and down the middle, and never look where they're going while skating backwards.

So Group Coach finally gets a chance to come over to me while I'm working on back-3s. He's standing facing me, and telling me what he wants me to do. Suddenly one of the hockey students comes over, grabs his arm and turns the group coach to face him and stats yakking about some hockey thing.

There's always one of these in a group class, the student who thinks it's a private class and hogs the coach's time.

 I stand there, waiting to see if the group coach tells the hockey guy to wait. Nope. The coach skates away with the hockey guy and that's the last I see of him for five minutes.

I move on with my life, and a few minutes later the group coach glances my way and yells, "Very nice." at what I was skating.

I'll be frank. The hockey guy pulling the coach aside as if I'm invisible is typical guy shit. The fact that the coach let him pull him away--typical guy shit.

I'll just wait until it happens again. No smack-down. No rudeness.

"Hey, hockey guy. You need to learn to take your turn and wait until Coach has finished with me. Now be a good boy, and practice on your own until Coach is finished." delivered in the sweetest primary school teacher voice. Life is less stressful if you treat people like the kid they're acting like, instead of the adult they are.

Meh, and if that doesn't work, so what? I'm just there for the ice time!  There's plenty of space, I'll work on my mazurka and my waltz jump. There NO SPACE FOR THAT IN FREESKATE! Mwah-ha-ha!

{As I was leaving the rink I said "Hi!" to my buds in Freeskate and they told me they missed me. I said, "Hey, LTS has a third of the rink and only 6 people, I've got plenty of room to skate. How about you?"

And for the first time, they realized what was going on. Gold Skater said, "Wait, you've got all that space to spread out in?"

I nodded, I'd watched the 10 skaters in freeskate sharing a corner of the rink. It was miserable over there.

Then Miss Bunhead said, "We ought to talk to someone about that!"

ODG, I need to stop gloating.}

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Skating At Bryant Park (Johnny and Davis and White)

Sorry, the video exceeds Blogger's video limits. Here's some GIFS!

Johnny Weir in his Naughty Santa Diva Outfit.

It's a 'little' see through.

And if he adds a devil's tail, he can re-purpose it for Halloween !!

Davis and White as Classy As Ever!