Saturday, December 22, 2018

Learn to Skate: Lanes Vs Circles

In Learn to Skate programs, you have a butt load of marginally skilled skaters skittering in fear across the ice. In pursuit of safety, there is a need to keep the groups separate (So, 'no crashing!'), Also, the training space needs to be arranged so the coach can keep can keep an ey on everyone in the class.

First, let's look at Lanes.

First off, 'there are no rules' of how to lay down the lanes. I won't even say this laydown is 'typical'. Remember I've only seen adult LTS. However, Basic 1 seems to get a whole lane to its self because that's where the most students are. Then the laydow of 3,4,5 and 6 get made based on how many students are in the class. If 2 has 5 people and 5-6 had 7,people, then they may get squished into the same lane with different coaches, while a Basic 3-4 with 12 people in it may get its own lane. The only 'rule' I've seen is that the Basic 1 is always at the opposite end of the rink from Freestyle. And every rink I've done Adult LTS always had a kids Freestyle on the Adult LTS ice.

Also, if you look in the center, you might have a freestyle and a Pre-free, or a heavily populated Basic 5-6. The laydowns seem to all be based on class size.

The one distinct usage of the lanes is that they seem to be really good for Basic skills 1 and 2 because the skills can be skated in straight lines. It's not until you get to Basic 3 that the lessons specifically call out for pumps in a circle. IF YOU'RE A COACH IN A LANES LTS IN BASIC 3 AND ABOVE YOU'RE GOING TO NEED A MARKER TO DRAW THE CIRCLE IN THE LANE.

Why if so much of the LTS curriculum requiring skills on the circle, do some rinks use lanes?

Rinks with LTS in circles.
Technically, the ice is divided into patches, usually with a circle in it. Here's an example.  Every class seems to get the same space. The little trick with circles is in the center ice, I've seen like an extra (third) class crammed in there--this has happened to me. Again, the division of classes depends on how many sign up for that class.

The only problem with circle based classes is they don't benefit Basic 1 and 2 students, who live in perpetual fear of being run over in a circle.

Mixed Laydown

Basic 1 and 2 need lanes. Everybody else needs circles. A full set of classes can use lanes and circles together. And, in real life you can have patches of ice overlap. If Freestyle classes overlap Basic skills classes a little, one expects to have the freestyle skaters avoid the lower level skaters.

I've never seen mixed lanes and circle laydowns. That doesn't mean it isn't used. I haven't skated everywhere. And of course the skating director does all the planning based on class sign ups, so the laydowns are based on that.

And finally, no matter the best laid plans of the skating director, once the coaches get on the ice, there's a lot horse trading for space.  And sometimes the skating director  forgets to assign space to an entire class. This has happened to me not once, but twice!

Where do I get to Skate?

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Changing My Spin Entrance

So,  the spin entrance I started with is mohawk, back cross, step into the circle, spin. 

Now my coach has told me to work on my spin rotation speed, and while I'm still injured to stick to two  feet spins. So, she looked at me and said, "Let's switch some things around and start from a three turn rather than a mohawk."

Sure, whatever

So, I ripped into it; 5 rotations and I could have done more but I got really dizzy at the speed.

"Okay," my coach says. "So you tend to look down when you do mohawks, but you don't for threes. So we're switching to threes to enter the pattern." She drew an X on the ice. "I want you to start with a Forward outside  figure 8, from the x, then when you get back to the x, I want you to switch feet into a FO3  on the other circle and go into a spin."

Me: "Alight then." and I skated thourgh the pattern successfully with a nice spin at the end.

Next she said, "Start on the center x, LFO8, into a LFO3 like a  waltz 8, stroke back into two back crossovers on the second half of the first circle, when you reach the x again, switch into a Right back cross onto the other circle , hold the back edge then step into the circle for a spin."

"Anything else?"


Saturday, December 15, 2018

When I am unprepared to skate

When I forget one glove and I have to borrow one from my coach

When I have to dig into my car's repair kit to protect my toe from a stabby piece of boot tongue where the foam's worn off

Do not to this if you have a hairy toe--ouch! when
you pull it off


Thursday, December 6, 2018

Figure Skating Arithmetic

I'm still in my group lesson as the only student-. I feel like I'm really ripping that rink off, I only paid $116 for 8 group sessions, and the coach makes $35 a half hour. But between the 'group'  lessons and my private coach, I'm making some real progress.

The coach is just laying down the challenges during my half hour 'private group' lesson: perimeter stroking, alternating crossovers through the obstacle course of weird cone laydowns for Learn to Play where barely-can-stop wannabe hockey players who are 6 feet plus wave their arms scarily close to me and occasionally fall I give the right of way, back edges that are perfectly nice, fast spins, and finally even after checking the Basic 6 and pre-Free list of stuff to torture me on the coach says:

"Let's see your Waltz 8."

So I Do This....nicely too, in a complete circle

The Coach says, "That's a nice Waltz 3 Pattern, but I asked for a Waltz 8."


Okay, just so no one jumps on me for making a "girls can't do math joke", I've had advanced calculus, linear algebra, ODE, control theory, stats, plus a butt-load of specialized practical physics and engineering math. I've earned the right to say "math is hard." 

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

I'm Constulted at the Rink

So, while I was doing a warmup to get ready for Group Lesson, two boys of about 9 in full hockey gear, skated directly at me and slammed into the shortboards. I did an emergency stop.and narrowly avoided skating into them. As they skated away a little girl came up to me with a sad face and said with a pout: "Hockey boys."

I thought that the only people who used that term, were me,
my readers, and my friends. But no, it's well known.

I was sympathetic and bent over to listen. "They're awful." she said, "And one of them's my brother."

"Well, you have to be nice to your brother." I say. "And he has to be nice to you." I pat her shoulder gently. She smiles and skates away.

Okay, I've done my good deed at the rink for this year. 

Monday, December 3, 2018

Breakthrough Day!!!

Figured out how to do Waltz Threes not only around the circle, 
but ON the circle...
Do them perfectly--with consistency....

Transferred FO3 success skills---
to FI3 ....
Do them Perfectly...

Until my coach looks at me from across the rink--then I fall...


Saturday, December 1, 2018

The Near Death Experience at the Rink

My coach and I were in the center working on my altnernating three turns. As I did one turn, I had my free leg raised when a small child slid on his back under my free leg from my blind side.

The kid came close to clipping me on my skating foot

Actually it could have been worse, because I almost stepped with the blade of my free skate on to his neck.

Instead, he  slid right under the free leg and kept going.

/Since he was on his back, the sight of my blade coming down to his neck must have scared him witless

It was A-OK, I didn't step on him, but it was close.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

"Group" Lesson Three--Alone again..."Private lesson!"

The second student of last week has disappeared to skate in Adult six on Saturdays, so it's just me alone with my "Group" coach.

She likes to start me off with a couple of hard fast circuits of the rink, dodging people and doing crossovers on the shortboards. Then she skated over to one of the other coaches and asked for him to loan her part of his lane so I can have the space for an entire group class, and he can cram his 5 students into half a lane.

"Now," the coach says to me, "I want you to do crossovers around this circle then switch to a one foot glide and skate over this other circle here." She draws it on the ice with a marker.

Oh, dear God, I think she's prepping me for Bronze moves.

Then we do 8s in a back crossover (my left foot is still giving me problems here, sadly). Then she moves to another space on the rink and has me doing alternating 3's (inside and outside--sad face for inside 3's). And we end up doing mohawks. She shows me some new steps. "That looks like a five step mohawk pattern." I say. And so she has me doing that over a space that is about a quarter of a sheet of the ice: 5 step mohawks in a circle, on a line, alternating.

I'm dipping and dodging and zipping through other peoples classes, ripping through other people's patterns, because I am a good figure skating student  and I go where the coach points.We end up moving from the corner of the rink, to gradually taking over the center. None of the other coaches said anything. They moved their classes so to avoid me, and when I charged through their lines,  I dodged them...probably.

Have you ever had a dog? A big dog? An indoor big dog? If you're not a sadist you probably gave up at some point in enforcing the 'humans only' rule of bed occupancy. You yielded to the sad eye, and the cold nose and let the dog get on the bed. Am ' right? It's just easier than raising a fuss.

Imagine then, that the bed represents the surface of the ice rink, and the person in the bed represents all the students in all the other group lessons.

I am the dog.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

I Never Thought I'd Say This....

Oh My God, I LOVE Chloe Noel!

Okay, I could write poetry about the first time I put on a pair of Chloe Noel over the boot tights. Great handfeel, heavy material, just the right amount of stretch and compression. I was finally unfat enough to wear Adult Medium. Which yes, is not dance sizing. 

However, Chloe Noel seems to assume all women are 5'8". The inside leg on a Medium is 32".  I'm 5'2", my normal inseam is 29". In order to get the leg length right, I would have to wear Child Large or Child Xtra Large. I'm never going to be that tiny. I might get to Adult Small, but that's only going to go to a 31" inseam..

Fortunately, I'm able to  take up some of the extra length by pulling  the over-the-boot part of the pants all the way down to cover the toe of my tiny feet.  It stays securely over the toe without any clips or bands under the boot to keep it in place. I actually look like I'm wearing boot covers.

So, I'm happy with them. Long, but it's okay. Form fitting. Meh, I'm 67, I don't think I'm going attract any attention. 

At my age, I just don't want to give anyone nightmares at seeing me in tight pants.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

How to Shop for your Coach for Christmas

 Rule 1: It doesn't have to be about Skating

I gave my coach a great gift one year, a Home Depot gift card contribution to redecorating her bathroom in her mountain cabin.  I think  this was her favorite. Another time I gave her a canvas 'hair tools' tote. Which, like me, she carries stuff in the car in. (I cannot tell you how useful one of these is.)

Rule 2: If it is for skating, it shouldn't be soakers or blade guards--unless they have been making some specific hints. Some people are very fussy about those things. I change mine about once a year, or when I lose one of a pair, but my coach has been repairing her first soakers since she started skating.  And laces are fine, but do you really know the length and whether you coach likes cotton, poly, mixed or nylon? And really, that's cheap.

Rule 3: Stuff which you can give, when you really don't have any good ideas. You almost can't go wrong with fancy moisturizer, lip balm, or skating socks, tights or something for the car like one of those ice scrapers with a mitten over the handle. Car stuff is useful: jumper cables, a seat warmer that plugs into the 12v plug. Just, for God Sakes, don't give candles.

Rule 4: If you give clothes then include a gift receipt. And clothes or a gift card to a shop is perfectly okay. Just don't buy something and monogram it.

Rule 5. If you know your coach's taste in music, movies, or entertainment--give away! My coach does not know I'm a fan of Tyler Perry's Madea, cause I'd kill for a collection of those movies.  And until I know her taste that well, I'm not giving her movies or music.

Rule 6; CASH....Liquor...cookies...can't go wrong with these!

Rule 7: Does your coach have a hobby? Skating may be your hobby but your coach's may be skeet, or travel, or  art.

This year my coach is getting a gift card to TALBOTS.  She said once she always wanted a sweater from there....well, have fun shopping!

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

"Why yes I did lose 40 pounds and it improved my skating"

So, long story short: I've  lost 40 lb. I'm on my way to losing 15 more, which will put me probably at a 6 or a 4 (US sizes).

You'd think I'd be jumping with all that loss of weight, right? Well, here's my experience. The answer is no the to jumping--I'll explain that next--but yes to the improvement.

Why no to the jumping? First off, I am 67, and while I may get some half jumps later,  *mature* adults do lose strength as they age. Also, our reflexes slow. This is just  inevitable (along with cataracts, baldness, wrinkles, and droopy boobs--gravity sucks). So when you're old--the change is not the same as it is for a 20 year old. A 20 year old with the reflexes and strength of youth might be doing salchows by now after losing 40 lb.

However, my quickness and power did immediately improve simply because I'm not hauling as much weight. I'm skating much faster, and I have better control on my edges, I'm able to do 8's on a single push, and as I discovered last night, I can do stepwork now that I was terrified of before (the dreaded step behind).

Other things that happened as the weight dropped off  were that I became much, much more flexible. I am now able to do a catch foot spiral in skates off ice, and soon I'll have enough blade grab security to do it on ice. And, my strength training did get easier and more productive. If only I had an hour a day to work on it I'd be an adorable muscle model.

What's holding me back from instant improvement?  Well, I have some bad habits left over after all the years of hauling zaftig me around the ice. I'm breaking these bad habits as I run over them and usually I can break them right away. For example, last night I fell doing a spin, and as I fell I had the control over my body to roll myself directly up from the fall without hesitation. I just popped up. I never could do that before.

Edit: Although I just used a free calorie counter on my phone, the weight loss turned out to be expensive.Saturday, my favorite pair of skating pants got so loose I wasn't sure it was going to hold on through the lesson; and only two pair of my capris still fit (one is hanging on by the fingernails, and when that one goes, I'll be down to one pair of small capris).I finally bought  a pair of Chloe Noel Adult Medium over the boot  pants---which fit perfectly, except as one fellow skater put it, "There's more leg in the pants than leg in your leg" Yeah, they don't call me stumpy for nothing. So I have the new Chole Noel, two pairs of capris, and that's it to skate in.

There is another downside. When I was fat I didn't have any facial wrinkles. But now, I look like an old lady. However, I'm apparently a hot old lady.

So, I'm in a convenience store and a gray haired man in line ahead of me, looked at me and said,I'm only 57, and I know you're older than I am, but you're a nice looking woman."
I look at him and say, "I may be older but I don't have gray hair like you do."
His friend, standing next to him starts slapping his leg in laughter. "She got you, she got you."

Damn right. If I'm hot enough for figure skating, strange men are free to comment on it if they can take my shots right back. 

Monday, November 12, 2018

All by myself---my lesson ISN'T!!

Remember how I switched to group at another rink and I was the only student in the class. Two miracles have occured:
1. Another student has joined--who is somewhere in the vicinity of my age
2. The class has now become Pre-Free because as the coach put it "You can do everything in 6,"

I feel like I've been allowed to skip a grade in junior high.
This gif never  gets old.
Anyway, here's pre-free

So, funnily enough, after losing 40 lb I can  now do skill D, which is the hardest. Crossover crossover mohawk step-behind cross front turn forward into the circle.   And I can do E, which is upright one foot spin,  and A and B are so dead  easy she skipped them.  And I can do C, which is basically a back mohawk. 

Oh, and we did pivots in many different configurations:  back forward inside outside. Which I can now do because I lost 40 lb.

That's almost everything

Mazurka and waltz jumps?

Saturday, November 10, 2018

A day of Terror!!

I realize I left my wrist guards at home
And I haven't skated without wrist guards since 2009

My Coach's reaction?
My coach decides to start me on brackets
forward and backward 

Then she starts me on Back Spins


 So far I haven't broken anything....
but I'm putting a backup pair of wrist guard in the trunk of the car

Honestly, I should get over this issue, but I refuse to.
It's just easier to patch it over...

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

All by Myself--my lesson is

I showed up for Group lesson at the new (much closer) rink Monday night. I found my coach, and I was in the correct class, Basic 6.

Then one of the other coaches skated  by with a clipboach and answered my group coach's question, "You know, you don't have a lane assigned to you.That's funny."

So while the  group coach was sorting out with other coaches how she was going to share lanes, I thought:

1. I really need to do a blog post on rinks that do LTS in lanes vs circles
2. I was the only skater signed up in Basic 6--which it turned out to be.

When the group coach told me I was the only skater I cheerfully said "Private lesson! private lesson!"

Private lesson!

So here's the basic 6 (LTS USA) list of skills:

This rink goes through every skill with every lesson. As an adult learner  I've got issues how LTS USA lines up its skill building, but it is what it is. Let me just say that I think perimeter stroking is a good skill, but WTF? You're supposed to do it with a group of adult skaters on crowded group lesson ice? Forward and backward? What genius thought that up?

So here were my results, which I will tell Coach Bianca,
A. Forward perimeter stroking--praise, dammit, praise! "Nice shoulders and posture. You've really worked on that, haven't you."
B. Skipped
C. FI3--ODG, these are as sucky as ever. I do not want to talk about it..ever.
 She had me do FO3 even though it's not on the list. FO3--I did them. Not anything special
D. Change edge pattern--I can do this, but I didn't do them well that night. It's a foot issue.
E. T stop--who waits until Basic 6  to learn these? They're an easy win for Basic 3 or 2! Anyway, I nailed them both ways, Ha!
F. Lunge--Skipped
G, Two foot spin into 1 foot spin. First time since my hip issue began. Two rotations. Solid. Even got praise.
Oh, and she ran me through my mohawks which I did in a pattern. (*cough* praise) .And,
she also had me do forward and backward crossovers.  I'm still having issues with my control of my left foot so there's occasions where I'm terrified my blades are going to crash together or I'm going to drop an edge. My physical therapist worked on my left foot today. It has to do with a nerve damage/ inflammation/ whatever in my left leg. So she improved it today with some PT technique that I can't describe. I''m starting to get some control back. At least she improve my range and quickness of motion in my left ankle.

Well, I know the private lesson shtick can't last and at the end of the class I said to the coach, "This one student in a class can't last. Are they going to move me down to the 4-5 class?"

She looked over to the 4-5 lane which was full. "You can't go there because you're way beyond that, and you can't go to freeskate because you don't jump. Maybe, someone else will sign up for 6. Or I'll just stay here,"

 Well, That's a Mystery I'll Have to Live With for a Week
I hate not knowing.
Did I just waste $116 to get put into 4-5?

Monday, November 5, 2018

Rink Thoughts

When I get off the ice, the only person in the booting area is
sitting on the bench right over my boot bag.

How I feel when I skate more than 30 minutes
Then I worry which pocket was my iphone in?

My anxiety during the first 15 minutes on a new sharpening

But a-ok after 15 minutes

Thursday, November 1, 2018

New LTS Program

When I find out a rink closer to me offers
LTS at a more convenient time than my home rink
And saves me an hour of road time.

But I'd have to skate with strangers

And I'd be skating on Stranger's Ice

But an Hour Less Road Time?

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Skating Fall

I fell on a forward outside 8 because 
I was going too fast and rolled across the ic

I Slid across the ice

But popped up uninjured!

Thank God for hip Pads

I do not care how they make my skater's butt look!! 

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Back on the ice--yet again!

Relief! I can skate!

I'm not healed, but if I take care, I can skate for an extended period of time: 90 minutes.

It's a lot of slow lap skating forwards and back, a long period of warm up, and careful avoidance of too much one foot work.

Skating on the bad leg on one foot for spins and mohawks, is right out.  My bad leg is substantially weaker than it was before, so any sharp curves on one foot with strain on the bad leg's hip flexor is a little awkward. Surprisingly,  I can do serviceable outside and inside 3 turns. Two foot spins at a ripping speed are okay too.

Despite the weakness in the bad leg I can do fine forward and backward crossovers.  You know how I know they're fine? My coach didn't make any comments at all.

Praise in Figure Skating Is Not making Corrections

I'm still forced to focus on youTube videos for PT advice. PT is so popular around here, I have to wait two weeks to get an evaluation.  I may be well by then....

Friday, October 19, 2018

Non-surgical therapy for my figure skating bunion--progress!!

A couple of weeks ago, the horrendous pain I was experiencing in my big toe when I walked or skated made me think I was going to have to have surgery to reduce the bone spur in my joint.

I hate to say this, but I have never had anyone ever tell me that they had a good outcome from surgery of the big toe.  I'm sure that podiatrists and orthopedic surgeons have had positive outcomes, but all I've heard is reports of regret.  I actually found a reference that  said  if a skater needed surgery on the toe to put it off as long as possible. Also, that the surgery reduces the power in the push, and can have adverse effect on toe jumps (like I'm going to do those).

I then decided to search for non-surgical treatment. The Cortisone shot didn't work.  And while selecting a stiff soled shoe did work, it didn't really meet my needs . And rest, Advil, and  padding around the foot and between the toe wasn't enough.

I then started going through YouTube and looking for foot treatments to see if I could find something that would build up my foot strength or  maybe find some  padding to protect the bunion or taping to adjust the alignment of the toe with the toe joint.

And what I found was an exercise video from two Canadian (?)  physical therapists for non-surgical exercises for hallux rigidus (stiff toe).

It works!!! The pain is gone!  I do the entry level exercises three times a day, and not only did the pain disappear after a few days, I'm also seeing increased mobility in the toe. Mind you I only have a 'mild case' of toe stiffness, but it's like I have a new toe. I'm looking forward to progressing to the advance exercise using a theraband in a week or so.

Will this 'cure' my big toe? I doubt it. I've got a bone spur on the joint like a walnut, so eventually  I may need to have surgery, but I'm trying to put it off for a couple of years.

Here is the video! It worked for me! 

I'm also modifying my boot, that goes without saying. I've done that before! But just operating on the boot, not on the foot!


Saturday, October 13, 2018

Taking a Skating Pause for more than one Injury

I'm Falling Apart

Right now I have left hip bursitis with some extensive discomfort from the lower back to mid-thigh. Doctor's appointment (round two since August) on Monday.

And keeps me awake at night

Multiple daily stretches means that the pain is reduced, but I can't do a crossover on that side. All I can do is to skate on two feet. So swizzles, and grapevines and pumps--maybe two foot spins--are all I'm able to do.

I also have a bunion on my right big toe.  I can actually skate with this (FOR NOW) but;

1. I have  rescued it with a toe spacer, tape, a donut callus pad plus a gel tube.  That boot is getting crowded in there. 

2. Hurt when I skate? Hnh, it hurts when I walk! Inevitably I will have to have have the bunion operated on. My podiatrist is a level 4 Hockey Coach so at least he understands the problems with skater's feet.  However, that surgery takes 6 weeks to recover.

What do I mean by 'inevitably? Probably in 3 to 6 months plus recovery.

I was really getting the speed going on my spins too. 

So, I may only post once a week when I can find funny topics. My ability to skate is iffy for the nonce.