Saturday, April 30, 2016

100 Day Lunge Challenge is Dead--new 100 Day Challenge Begins

Today I did lunges, both sides, feet nicely placed during the lunge and raised the foot from the ice without snagging. The 100 Days of Lunges is now over.

They're as good as I can get them for now.  I have knee injuries that keep me from going deep in the knee and coming back up, so .....meh....what can you do.

The new 100 Day Challenge is.....

100 Days of Spread Eagles!

I know what you're thinking, "That's the same hip opener stuff you're already doing!"

Well, yeah. 

US Figure Skating Changes Its LTS program....again (EDITED)

This is a review of the coming USFS/USA HOCKEY new Learn to Skate Program. You won't hear about it at your rink until June. 
Welcome To the New Logo

The New Logo
To summarize, USFS is partnering with USA Hockey and some speedskating group to create a new skating program that supports all of the ice skating sports. The new LTS program will be completely revamped.

I like many of the proposed changes. In fact, I look forward  to our new Learn to Skate Overlords.

The  program materials will be made more diverse (which I hope means more boys and more races other than Caucasian to be pictured in materials) and the program will be made more clear to parents. Both of these are fantastic and long needed changes.  My rink's LTS program has kids from many races and areas of the world. We also have an amazing lot of boys. Materials need to reflect the American population of today. And boys on materials makes them feel like they belong in the program. About the clarity of the program to parents and adult skaters, LONG TIME COMING! How many of you felt that figure skating has the tenor of a private club or secret society to it? You have to root around in USFS website to find anything out. How many parents (or even adult skaters) take the trouble to sort it out? Not many.

The actual skating program seems to have only had some superficial reorg to Basic Skills. However, they're adding more programs for Hockey, such as Power Skating and for Figure Skating they've added something called Shadowing.

I'm hoping "Welcoming and Orientation" teaches parents and skaters how to tie their skates.

Here's the new program as a chart
(Sorry it's hard to read)
Note that the totally unnecessary ADULT LTS still lives.
But they've added Adult Fitness which I look forward to!

Here's Some Other Changes

I like the additional Snow Plow Sam Levels--great idea
However, is combining 7-8 really going to make a skater ready for freeskate?
Half the rinks around here have Freeskate bridge programs because the transition is so big.

Also, there will be a website to record your passed levels and stuff. Therefore, when you switch rinks, the new rink can look you up. This is just like ISI runs it I'm told.
  But here's the big problem:
This is a skater

 These are Skaters!

Maybe the Logo should be:

Thursday, April 28, 2016

100 Days of Lunges Challenge: Report Day 13

I've been working on my 100 Day Challenge and now is the time for an update.

Okay, prepare to be bored by details.

My left hip is closed. So, I'm a little pigeon toed on the left. When I try to do a left lunge, my toe pick goes right into the ice.

After 13 days, I have enough external rotation on the left leg, to not dig that toepick into the ice! It's still not a great lunge on the left, but it's improving. In another couple of weeks I may be able hold that position as I rise from the ice.

The right leg, I could always do a lunge, and I'm working on getting deeper. No progress on that. But I  have hopes.

So what am I using? Jill Miller's Hip Helpers....possibly the best exercise video ever made.  Contents:
Yoga breathing section, 68 minutes of detailed instruction on how to do the yoga positions correctly and make modifications if needed, 58 minute yoga session, and a copy of the entire thing on MP3 for putting on your computer or phone. Plus, closed captioning!

I don't do the entire yoga practice, I do the first 8, then I do a few more select exercises from the rest as I improve and gain strength  I add new ones. Each exercise is videoed as a stand alone exercise so it's easy to just skip to the ones you want. I usually set the video to mute, turn on the closed captioning and listen to music.

To test my improvement off-ice, I prop my 'skating foot' on the yoga block (to give me the height of the blade) and do the lunge. This is much, much easier than on ice, but it still shows my improvement. Also, I'm now doing it on ice (though it's not great).

If you use this technique, make sure to lay the free foot
on its inner side to get a true skating lunge
Also, use figure skating arm position

 In addition to the Hip Helpers, I'm also doing XBX daily, and lift weights a couple of times a week. I've had some weary evenings. But hot damn, do my hips feel good!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Toepicky Things

My coach has two obsessions: mohawks and toepicky things.

What are 'toepicky things'? Side toe hops, mazurkas, and  toepicking  as a 'cute little element' after three turns, back crosses, etc.

From the perspective of a coach of a slow, timid, not very accomplished skater (moi!) toepicky things are a nice way to add variety to skating and to get the skater over her timidity. If you can toepick in, you can do anything.

During yesterday's lesson she said, "Toepicking is a nice little technique to use to to step through a waltz jump to add variety to a program."

"I can do that already," I said. So I did my usual waltz jump step through on my toe picks, and ended with a side toe hop.

My coach has seen me do these before but like every other coach I have ever had, they never remember diddly after a couple of weeks.

So now she says happily, "Oh, you can do a complete turn on your toepick. That's hard."

I wish she hadn't told me that, because now I can't do them anymore.

So immediately, she wants me to do a step through waltz jump, followed by a back cross, with two toepick half turns and one 360 degree turn on a toepick.
My expression while she demonstrates waltz jump, back cross, then
more toepicking that is good for me.
Then after we work on that for a while she wants me to work on mohawk crosses, which go backwards while you're skating forwards.  I SWEAR THEY VIOLATE THE FUNDAMENTAL LAWS OF THE UNIVERSE! (In particular parity in quantum mechanics).
Mohawk                      Mohawk with back cross

Saturday, April 23, 2016

The Slow Boat of Improvement VS. the Land of Exploding Skills

The Slow Boat of Three Turn Checking
The  Land of consistent both side mohawks even from weird entry positions
The Slow Boat of Alternating 3 turns is at the dock of the Land of Exploding Skills--- 
they're solid and fearless---
But have all the flow of a rock


Monday, April 18, 2016

What I Learned from Shoot The Duck

This past Sunday after fiddling around for a half hour or so at the rink, I decided to try Shoot the Ducks.
Shoot The Duck
I haven't tried them for years, since I never could do them. Then Sunday,  I decided, "Give 'em a try."

Now some people think you have to do shoot the ducks by descending on one leg with the other stuck out, but a coach I know told me, "That's a good way to hurt yourself by blowing out a knee, and there's no requirement to do it that way. Drop down on both feet, then extend the leg you want forward."

So, I did it. Slam bam thank you m'am, I did a shoot the duck. Then 10 seconds later, I did it on the other leg.

And nice ducks too.

I don't have any idea where I got the leg strength to do them.  Yes, I do off ice exercise, some of which is balancing on one leg while lifting weights with the opposite arm (which is freaky). But that's not specifically dedicated to getting  shoot the ducks. Still, from somewhere I gotz the strength to do them.

So what did I learn?

Even when you're in your mid-sixties you can still build up your strength and get better. It's not down hill all the way.

So, THEREOld age and Death! So take that! I have a shoot the duck that I didn't have before!

100 days of lunges: Video, weight lifting, and yoga. 98 days to go!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Embarassing Moment

Gold Skater, one of our male adult skaters and I were having a good gossip when the topic of spreadeagles came up. The male skater has some amazing spreadeagles and he has been giving some tips to Gold Skater to improve hers.

I've been working on spreadeagles but I haven't got the loose hips to really get a spread, but I said, "Mine have improved."

"Oh, let's see." Gold Skater said.

I took a stroke and turned into my inside spereadeagle. I don't have the turnout for my feet yet but it's better than it was a couple of months ago. I was just relaxing into the spread when the heel of my trailing blade twisted and.... trailing foot stuck where it was, but the leading foot kept going .....

Then I did a faceplant with my ass up in the air....

My blades were now at an angle where I couldn't pull them in to the center and they were further apart than is natural for a 64 year old woman. More of a split than a 'spread'.

So, face down on the ice, balanced on my hands, my ass up in the air, I had to toe-heel my skates into the center so I could push up to standing.

I  stood and looked at the other skaters "Well, I've got the spread but not the eagle!"

Skating in the Dark

What it looks to me when I skate at a rink with the overhead lights out

Part I
First 30 seconds

Part II
The Rest of the Evening
...wait for it...

I will never go to Disco Skate at that rink again.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

The One Hundred Days of Skating (related stuff)

There's a kind of low key internet project called "One Hundred Days of...." where you do one thing for one hundred days with the idea that you'll get better as you practice. Some people go to the gym for one hundred days, other people do some creative activity like knitting for one hundred days.

I decided to do One Hundred Days of Skating.
Except after consideration, it's really too hard to coordinate and work. I don't have enough leave to leave work early, and during the week it involves going to 3 different rinks late at night with an hour each way commute. I think after 30 days I would have collapsed from exhaustion or torn a ligament or some other injury.

So I backed off, and decided to do......

One hundred days of lunges! (Plus an extra day of skating).

My plan is to do Jill Millers Hip Helpers  (one hour of effective stretching and a bargain, but hard for the inflexible) video for warm up,  followed by lunge stretches.

So tonight after skate I got half way through the video and did my lunge practice. 99 days to go!

Friday, April 15, 2016

Disco Skate

My rink had no public tonight, so I went to another rink's Friday evening public. Not only was I the oldest person on the ice, I was the oldest person in the building (unless there was a 70 Year Old CPA working on the rink's books in a back room).

The problem was, I had forgotten this rink was serious about disco skate. My rink has flashing lights but doesn't turn the regular lights down and it attracts an older crowd (15 to 20 plus parents with kids). This other rink attracts 11 year olds to 15 year olds and it turns.the.lights.down.  It was just like Dundee! Only, much, much darker. (And 50% of the perceived darkness is probably my age related eye degeneration; I bet to the kids it's as bright as twilight is to me)

This is actually Dundee!
I was the only person in the center, except this kid who would give me the eye then try to do a two foot  jump. Then he fell and I moved on with my life. I'm not going to discourage 11 year old boys from jumping, even in hockey skates. I stayed on the ice and stuck with it: edge pulls, swing rolls, some careful barrel rolls, change edge serpentines, a couple of spins and a lot of lap skating.

When I got off the ice I actually got a compliment from an adult by stander. "You were skating so well, and I felt so sorry for you with so many kids running amuck."

What can you do? It's hard to find ice time, I gotta skate.

I did get the DJ to play some Queen so that was cool.

Next time I have to go to Disco skate I'll ask for Ina-Gadda-da-vida, all 17 minutes of it.

When I Gave Group Coach a Hug

Group Coach came up to me and asked, "Can you do a half lutz?"

I gave her a hug.

"Thank you for having faith in me.....but no. On the other hand, you've got me doing alternating 3 turns so it's been a win for me."

That made her happy.

My mission, bringing joy and delight to all who surround people who know me you are!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

LTS Practice Ice

Public Skate HAS RULES---counter-clockwise skating with the center ice coned off for jumps and spins. Rink Guards enforce the rules.

Freestyle HAS RULES--lutz corners, look before you leap, avoid harness alley, dancers with music and skaters in programs have the right of way. Coaches enforce the rules.

In Learn to Skate Practice Ice.........
And no one enforces squat!

I swear tonight I saw a little girl crawling on her hands and knees trying to eat the ice.

ODG, nothing fazes me anymore. 

Monday, April 11, 2016

When I Forget to go to the ATM before a Lesson

Search in my Purse--$20 (a 5, a 10, three 1's, and 8 quarters)

Search in the Foot well of the car-$2.50

Search under the seats of the car-$2.25 in change (including pennies)

Rooting around in the pockets of the Zuca for that last quarter!

How my Coach Feels When I Pay her

Saturday, April 9, 2016

"Wait, Wait, which foot do I use?"

My coach, Miss Bianca, loves mohawks. Let's just say she's got a semi-infinite number of "cute little elements" that somehow always involve mohawks.

So yesterday, seeing that I'm doing mohawks, including bad side mohawks, Miss Bianca decides to teach me 'barrell rolls'. When she demonstrates it, I see that it starts with an inside mohawk FACING OUT OF THE CIRCLE!!!

So if you are weak in your mohawks, doing the
inside ones while facing out of the circle can be a little intimidating.
So this particular barrel roll goes like this:
1. Inside mohawk facing out of the circle
2. Back crossover
3. Turn forward inside the circle
4. Stroke forward
5. Repeat

On my good side, it's a little shaky but I can do it. No coach holding my hand, nothing.

On my bad side---I can do the first mohawk and after that I can't tell my left from my right, up from down, inside from out. I have no idea.

The same thing happens when I do bad side power threes.  Suddenly I'm on a back two foot edge,  getting ready to do a back crossover and thinking, "Wait,  do I cross the left foot in front or the right foot?"

In case you care, the foot that crosses in front in the back crossover for the power three is the foot opposite the skating foot for the outside 3.

I think.

And I shouldn't be 'thinkin' about this, it should just happen. 

I know why this occurs, I'm timid and not on a deep enough curve on my weak side. On my good side I have the confidence to do deep curves. With deep curves it's impossible to do it wrong.

I know you're thinking..

Back on the Ice

After two weeks off ice I finally got on ice today.

This is always an iffy moment when you haven't skated for a while and you step on the ice. You think, "Will I have retained my skills, or will I skate like an ice tourist?"

So, YES! I retained my skills. I think the off ice rest actually improved my bad side mohawk a bit.

It's not that my bad side mohawk is perfect, however, I can now sense where I'm going wrong.  Maybe it's arm position, or upper body, or some thing else.

After doing a few bad  side mohawks, I didn't check with my leading arm correctly, and ended up skating backwards in  a small circle. It was an okay transfer from forward to back, but I almost ended up doing a back spin. So this is my coach and I.

Triumph! I've done worse! I'm making progress!

Saturday, April 2, 2016


So, a couple of weeks ago, a substitute group coach taught us an introduction to figure loops. For those of you who don't know what they look like, here's a video. That little circle inside the big circle is a figure loop.

Well, that picture was Jill Trenary at the Olympics, we learned to do loops on a straight line.

To enter the loop the coach had us do a hockey lunge and do the loop on two feet, then, after 3 or 4 times, she had us try it on one foot.

I can do a loop, but it's big and slow not quick and small like Jill Trenary's. There's some trick of rhythm and motion that I haven't mastered.

What I Want

What I Got