Friday, June 30, 2017

Just For Me: Change Edge Alternating Crossovers

I love to do change edge serpentines. Below is an example of a forward change edge as part of a compulsory figure at the Olympics.

Once you master these, there's a sense of "Now what?" Well, what I did, just for me, was to put a crossover at the peak of the curve.
Now if you put a crossover at the point where you change edge, that's a cross stroke. We're not having none of that here.

This is what I do.

Okay, simple enough. Now why do these?

1. Timing and placing the crossover in just the right place means I have to change the edge in just the right place, and be solid on the edge in time for the crossover. If the serpentine isn't very big, this is a challenge.
2. In order to do the change edge after the crossover, I have to do a decent underpush with the inside (outside edge) foot when the free foot crosses over. Then get on the inside edge and be solid before doing the next edge change.

This cute little drill takes a few minutes to do, and helps me with quickness, edges, and upper body control.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Flashback Tuesday: November 2011

A married woman I know slightly came up to me at a party and began chatting. After a while she got to the personal. "So, are you dating anyone?"

I was a bit surprised at this question. But, I'm resigned to the fact that the manners of my youth are long gone, buried in the 'faded memories cemetery' next to the grave of the last pantyhose in America.  "No, not really. But, " I said, thinking of my ice dance coach, "I pay a 28 year old man 50 dollars every week to hold my hand for an hour."

Her eyes widen in shock. Then she hunched closer to me, "So, how can I get some of that?"

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Things Only Figure Skaters Understand #20: Skate Bag Confusion

When Half the Skaters at Your Rink have Zucas with Matching Inserts

 At my rink, there are six Zucas with red inserts--including mine.
Even if you have yours tagged, it's hard not to grab the
first one to hand

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Things Only Figure Skaters Understand #19: Missing Person

When coming out of a hard fast spin from a difficult position you're so dizzy you can't find your coach

 (My coach made this worse by constantly moving behind me--)

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Things only Figure Skaters Understand #18: Buying a New Skating Jacket

If you buy a new jacket and it's warm, and comfortable, and just the right fit--
There's always something wrong with the pockets

If you buy a new jacket and it's warm and fits, and the pockets are perfect--it's the butt ugliest styling in the history of mankind

I now have two jackets: The pink is fantastic--but the pockets--they're pointed backwards. The black is nice in the pockets and, but God is it ugly. 

Monday, June 12, 2017

Our Brave Beginner Adult Skaters Soldier On

Remember a few weeks ago when I described my rink's placement of adult freestyle during group? It's in the red area below. Adult beginners skate in the center circle, with freeskate skaters around them.

What it's like in reality.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

My coach's expressions for various levels of my Figure 8's

Basic FO8 with a two stroke entry

Basic FO8 from a standstill, transitioning into a FI8

3/4 of the first half of a BO8 from a standstill
Yes, BO8 is much much harder.

"You almost did the first full circle of a BO8," she cried.
I swear she was so happy she was practically in tears

And I wasn't even deliberately doing a BO8

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Everything I Did Wrong in Forward Crossovers and How to Fix It

Friday, a beginner adult skater I see around the rink got to talking to me about her progress. She's having problems with  beginner forwards crossovers in which you step over the skating foot and she's on her third session.

I commiserated. "Almost all adult beginners have crossover issues."

(Legal disclaimer) I AM NOT A COACH, If none of this stuff works for you, fuggedaboutit.

Everything I Did Wrong in Forward Crossovers and How to Fix It

1. I didn't bend my knees enough. I bet you think you are but you're probably not.

2. My arms weren't on the circle OR I tried to do crossovers  with my arms square to the circle. This means I felt like I couldn't do a stepover.
 It feels unnatural to twist your upper body to face inside the circle, but it's what you have to do. Your coaches will badger you until you do.

3.  I rolled my shoulders forwards, which made me hunch. (okay this is a real personal thing for me, I've never had a coach give me this particular tip, they just say, "Open that shoulder." With what? A can opener?) I am now going to give my 'beginner's open shoulder tip'.

     I made sure that I rotate my arms so my thumbs are pointed to the ceiling, which slightly rolls the shoulders back. It also opens my chest, and can help reduce hunching. AND! it makes it easier to twist to face into the circle!  I'm going to call this 'the open shoulder.'

For 3 and 4
Open shoulders, and facing inside the circle with good arms
Be a ballerina

You will see more experienced skaters do crossovers with different arm positions, but this is what worked for me when I started. I mean, with open shoulders it felt it was a lot easier than skating with a rolled shoulder. When my trailing shoulder is rolled forward, it makes it hard to twist to face inside the circle (the shoulder compresses the chest), and puts me in a natural hunch position that your beginner anxiety only makes worse. Open shoulders--Thumbs up!

4. I started my crossovers with the crossing foot too far away from the skating foot. Let's call it a wide stance. What happens when I did this?
My unconscious brain told me 'I'll fall if I step over',  and I  LEANED AWAY from the crossover! And once you're leaning out of the circle, doing that stepover is like stepping across a ditch. Of course I felt uncomfortable.

   Get my stepover foot close to the skating foot before I raise it to step over.

  5. I hunched. I was not comfortable with my balance, my blade position,  and my toepick scared me. Hunching makes all those fears worse. Not hunching is the solution. It helps me get on the right part of the blade, supports good balance and helps keeps me off my toepick.

This image illustrates 3, 4, and 5
Here's an illustration of a well trained skater starting
a crossover (1) with feet close together,  arms on the circle, and
not hunching (note she's holding a different trailing arm position,
but she's an experienced skater)

So there is a list of all my bad crossover habits and how I fixed them,

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Back 3's Now and Forever

My coach and I were working on back threes this weekend. So maybe I've been working on these for several years? We don't work on these every lesson, but often enough that I've made slow (if timid progress). I'm now in the position were I can see the top off the mountain.

I'm a little concerned about this metaphor
I'm doing the back 3's on two feet, and doing solid one foot back edges with correct shoulder, head and arm movements, but that turn on the back of the blade on one foot just ain't happening.

She lets me rest one hand lightly on her arm to do the one foot back three. "I always worry about this." I say." I'm afraid if I fall, I'll snap you like a twig." I tell her.

She laughs, "I move much faster than you, you'll never take me down."

I imagine it like this!

Saturday, June 3, 2017


Coach Challenge sat down after Group to join the Freeskate Circle of Fire. "I've been learning how to stone." He added solemnly, "I'm a stoner."

In case you're new here, 'stoning' is what skaters call 'professional level bedazzling'. It's part of the 'crafty' side of skating.

"Going to be another Brad Griffies?" I asked.  Brad is a famous skating costume designer, who does beautiful and striking designs in stones on costumes. I don't think I've ever seen stoned men's pants even on his custom costume site.

"No, no. Just trying it out. " he smiled at everyone. "I want to put some stoning on my skating pants."

"Bunnies!"  someone said.

"I was thinking of a pony." Coach Challenge joked back. Who knew Coach Challenge was a Brony?

"Oh much better," Miss Bun said, "UNICORNS!!"

Almost everyone agreed on unicorns, except I'm still holding out for ......


 But, it will probably turn out to be a diamond stone stripe down the side.  We'll see how it turns out.