Monday, August 28, 2017

Lake Placid 2017 Review

Upfront:  Overall, this was a strange year.

The 1932 rink was being repaired (NFI) this past week so it's hard to judge the quality of the camp when hockey, figure skating (adult) and figure skating (Kid) were  using the  two  remaining surfaces. I will say that the adults had plenty of ice time. Although the schedule struck some as awkward with a break from 2-4, I'm going to cut ORDA some slack on this one. The surfaces were always busy, and financially, that's what is important to the rink.

Secondly, there were very few kids this year and that may have affected some things. I'm not even sure the kids skating on kid ice for two hours a day were from out of town, or locals. So, really, just enough kids for a single surface. The effect this may have had were there were a limited number of what I'll call 'famous coaches': Gregory and Petukhov, Natalia Dubova,  or other well known former competitors were not there. Paul Wylie showed up for only one day due to another commitment. In addition, the test session that used to be held on the last day of camp did not happen this year. So, review the schedule when it's published to see when test sessions are available. You may need to come the weekend before if this becomes the regular scheduling procedure.

Next, ice quality. Everybody seemed to have a different opinion. I thought it was hard, other people thought it was nice and soft. It was never awful--it was just less perfect than last year's. Finally, a coach told me that the ice quality changed from the morning to the afternoon. I'm going to put this one down to possibly related to the repairs going on in the other rink. Eventually, I got used to it.

Group Lessons: I repeated some lessons from last year, and finally they clicked. So, I got a lot of review, and new learning from the lessons I took. I'll drop in some tips I learned in posts in the future. I was taking lessons from a guest coach and doubled up on the skills. For example, I took a group lesson on spins from Evelyn Kramer, and then a private lesson on spins--doing that I was able to syncretize the skills in order to get to the underlying physics of what both coaches were focusing on.
Group Power Stroking Class
Off ice lessons showed the rink was willing to try something new. There was a trainer giving Bolly-X (Bollywoodstyle) dance exercise, Mim Wacholder (a certified Yoga coach) had developed a program to tighten your core and balance using an exercise ball, and there were stretch classes, and other off ice classes. I took Mim Wacholder's CORE class with the ball. I liked it. Even though I've worked with a ball for years, she got me into some challenging positions.

Mim's class was much harder than this--but I like cats, so there.
Kids vs Adults:
Last year I ranted about kids on adult ice. This year, the rink was VERY STRICT about kids on adult ice, and adults on kid ice; in either case the skater had to have a coach with them. We had several adults get kicked off kid ice, and I didn't see a kid on adult ice without a coach. So well done ORDA.

Clocks: The rinks both had brand new hockey clocks in them and they were running, such a relief not to miss a class because you couldn't see the old clocks. So, thanks ORDA.

Dressing Room Facilities: They seem to have the overheating of last year under control. But other than that not much had changed. My recommendation is that you use the public bathrooms down the hall in the lobby to the left, or next to the entrance of the 1932 rink (down the hall to the right and around the corner). I won't even bother going over the issues--but it won't hurt to bring an emergency roll of toilet paper with you if you insist on using the toilets in the dressing room.

Reception: When you go to the meeting where you pick up your ID, t-shirt and stuff-it's no longer a 'reception', it's a 'meet and greet'.  It is still an opportunity to meet some of the coaches and schedule lessons, as well as, meet some friends. There were only some sodas. I assume this is the result of some cost cutting to keep the costs down (group lessons are STILL only $13 and I don't think the camp charge has changed significantly).

Local skating shopping: I always go across the street to the skating store to pick up some new tights or knee-hi's (cheaper than Amazon and in more colors and weights!) and go through  the adult skating clothes rack. This year I scored two cute zip up sweaters (perfect for figures) and a very nice down vest in teal. They also always have some skating themed t-shirts, so a good place to get skating gifts for back home!
Moose in the Field T-shirts were sold out :-(

I settled for....Moo's in the Field! T-shirt. :-)

Adult Ice Show:
It lasted a little over an hour with maybe 20? programs. It started off with a group ice dance number and ended with a group number. In between there were singles, dance, comic and other performances. As always, an opportunity to try out a new program or recycle an older well-loved program. After the ice show there was a nice little reception and camp was over!

Done until 2018!

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Minor Notes from Lake Placid Week

Day 1: My boot insole construction wore out and I had to rebuild it

Day Three: I got boot burn 

 Day 4: Paul Wylie showed up and taught lessons. People cleared an awed space around him and his students

Saturday, August 19, 2017

The "F" Word

My coach, Miss Bianca, is chasing me around the rink and barking "push harder,", "move quicker!" as I scamper through the pre-bronze perimeter stroking regime.

With Scamper

Sadly, as hard as I'm scampering, she is skating along side of me going, "I'm skating faster than you." Well, okay, I'd be rattled by that except as smoothly and quickly as she is moving, she's doing three strokes for every one of mine. I'm clinging to the pipe dream that as I do long strokes, I'm slowing down faster than she is. "You go faster, when you try," she says.

"Don't say 'faster'," I say, "As far as I'm concerned, it's the 'F word'." 

A few minutes later I'm doing forward spins, and she's metaphorically cracking the whip to make my rotations, quicker, and I get a "probably 2 and a something 1 foot spin," my coach says. You're getting up to the speed you need. when you force yourself." WIN!! She totally avoided the " F word". Unwin? Well, I still have to skate fas.....never mind.

Now back edges, back edges, outside and inside.  "You need to skate  the 'F' word," she says.

Yes, I've trained my coach not to say the 'F' word--FASTER. And apparently, if I work my little legs off, I can do the 'F word' better than ever.

However, she has told me when I go to Lake Placid, I have to take Marc Fenczak's group class on "Gaining Power." I suspect I can't train him to avoid the F Word--I'm going to have to skate faster--and I'll still be at the tail end of the class no matter how 'F word' scamper I go!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

This One Time At Lake Placid Skate Camp.......

There were so many great class choices on ice and off ice,  anything I picked meant I crashed my schedule somewhere else.

 Hard decisions!

After skating for 4 hours: Second Breakfast!
And I was still hungry

At the end of the day?
Best sleep ever!


Monday, August 14, 2017

My Coach Gets into the Act for "Cue Words"

I'm deep into my continuing adventure with 'cue words'. These are words you select to 'cue' you to perform a certain action. I wrote about them here when I started learning my back 8s.

The cue words do three things for me:
1. Distract my brain. I've got like a hurricane of things going on in my head during skill development.  A cue word makes me focus on one skill and not every skill.
2.  If the skill is extended, like the Back 8, a series of cue words can chain simple skills into a complex skill
3. If I pick the right cue, all the fiddly distracting skills will fall together. I know, it sounds weird, but it's working for me.

So, I'm working on my spins (both ways) with different skills. I need to get my righ free hip to the closed position. My right hip is naturally in the open position, which makes my  left spin very irregular. So, my cue word is "hip" when I spin to the left. This reminds me to get my free hip in the closed position.

I show this to my coach. "Hip hip hip hip" I go. I get a really decent spin. Lift the foot up, hit the rocker, spin--2 really nice rotations. The third rotation eludes me.

My coach stands like Carlo Fassi, hands in her pockets.  She's used to my unusual training activities. "Try 'knee, knee, knee'. I want your knees together. They're not quite there yet."

So, I've done the 'hip' cue word a few times. If I've done it enough I hope the hip skill merges into the knee skill when I hit the first "knee."

I do the two foot entry, and start chanting "knee, knee, knee!". My 'free' foot whips in, my hip closes, the foot raises and suddenly, I'm doing a big girl spin. I can hear my coach cheering "That's the speed I want to see!"

Internally, my body is chanting "slower slower slower!"

Yeah, there's the reason I'm not getting that 3rd rotation.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Other Skaters Have 'Issues' Too!

I got a text from Mr Badass about his coach's comments in yesterday's lesson:
Beginning of lesson:  "We should definitely put your Lutz in your program."

Five minutes into lesson:  "We need to work on crossovers."

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The Moment Has Arrived: Big Girl Skills

My coach says, "Let's work on your back 8's"
 Yes Coach.

Then my coach says (same lesson), "Let's start on your rockers."

  Yes Coach.

Then my coach says (Same lesson), "Okay, time for counters."


Then my coach says (same lesson), "Brackets."

 "Yeah, whatever, Coach."
Hey, I did one, one-footed bracket!

Then finally after all the stress,  we work on my spins. I never thought I'd ever say, "Thank God, it's only spins."

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Back 8's

"Let's start with back 8s," my Coach says cheerfully.

I've been reading a lot of skills building books lately--listening to them when I drive--and one recommended that for skills building that it's helpful to 'talk' your way through the skills as you practice. That is you say a cue word out loud as you're stepping through a skill in the beginning, then as you get experience doing the skill, you drop the verbalization.

I've messed around with this lately. It has promise so I used it in the back 8.

Here are the steps of the back 8...You start facing in the circle
Push off.
Balance forward towards the toe
Free foot is forward
Switch foot to back at the half way point
Switch arms at the 3/4 point so you're now facing out of the circle.
Look over you leading shoulder  and guide yourself back to the starting point.
This is the first half of the 8. This all I'll talk about.

What it sounds like is...
"push... OFF!.......TOE TOE TOE....switch LEG.........switch ARM....LOOK OVER LOOK OVER LOOK OVER...!!!"

I skate without my glasses on and I cannot see that damn center dot to save my life.

At some point during the beginning of this strongly enunciated skill building, the music in public goes off and all you can hear is .....

I got a couple of strange looks.... but it did work.  So, whatever.

I do what I need for my skating

Friday, August 4, 2017

My Skates go to the Sharpening Spa

Since many of you want to know how to sharpen skates (at least in theory!) here is a long post on what goes on in a sharpener's shack. Actually, for my skates, it's a spa!

From my sharpener:

1.  Fix the laces:  Untie knots and untwist the laces; tie them up so nothing gets tangled in the sharpening wheel (That would be bad ju-ju.)

Why yes these are my skates
2.  Check the mounting for tightness.  You shouldn’t get more than ¾ to 1 revolution out of a screw to tighten it.  More and it’s either been too long since it was checked, or you may need to recondition the hole.  If a screw spins freely and will not become tight, you are definitely in repair-mode; that’s a different post.

 3.  Check for any large nicks/ burrs and stone them out

4.  Dress the wheel to the desired radius.  (He does this once for each pair of skates).

5.  Check edge for evenness.  (He uses a 12" piece of aluminum channel with a magnet in it.  Aluminum because it’s softer than a blade & won't wear it down; a magnet to help it hold on.  If the edges are even, the channel will be parallel to the the holder's vertical stand.)

I'm okay!!
 6.  Check blade to wheel contact.  If one of the edges was higher than the other, it should meet the wheel first.  If edges were even, both should meet the wheel simultaneously.  Adjust the holder's angle as required for the proper contact.

 7.  First pass (light pressure).

8.  Check the sharpening path:  If there was a high edge, it should be getting ground down.  Adjust the holder's angle if needed.  If you're changing the ROH to make it smaller, there should be a grind path down the center of the blade that widens with each pass until it goes edge-to edge.  If you're making it larger, the edges grind from the outside-in.  If that's not happening, check and redress the wheel.  If a change is made, repeat steps 7 & 8.

9.  Sharpening passes (medium pressure).  Usually two or three.  Repeat until the grind path covers the entire blade, edge-to-edge, all the way down the blade.

10.  Final check for level.

11.  With a hand-stone, gently pull down the tiny metal fines that are left on the blade from the sharpening--top to bottom down the length of the blade, then one long pull front-to-back.  Do this on each edge.  Then apply wax.

12.  Finishing pass (slow, very light pressure).

13.  Wipe down the blade w/ warm rag. (removes any leftover wax).

14.  Clean/ oil the blade and put the soaker on.

And for this I pay the munificent sum of $10!!

Plus he includes a chocolate!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017


Some Days the Public Skate Music Just Moves Me

I don't even know the name of the turne. It was in 4/4 time, rather slow, with a steady beat under some smooth modern melody. Not jazz, not rock. I'd heard it before, and it swept me up.

I was doing stuff on my toepicks backwards, arm waving and body bending, slow spins both ways, turns one foot and two foot, step behinds, deep edges, maybe a two foot twizzle, beautiful forward crossovers with unusual positions, deep back crossovers into a landing position, turn forward......

...turn forward?....What did I just do?... I stop..

.....I think, step one step two, step three: ...No,  I did an unintentional FI3....

I don't know whether to do this.....

Or this....

When I tell my coach, she nods sagely like she knows more about me than I do.  I need a back 3 shrink.