Monday, December 30, 2019

Critiquing the New Yorker Figure Skating Cartoons #1 & #2

You perhaps know that the New Yorker magazine has almost a hundred years of cartoons and beautifully illustrated covers. Some of these are about figure skating. I am now going to critique the skating in some of these cartoons.

Garth, 1944

The background skaters are nicely drawn, and you can instantly see what the skater is doing, and their skating level. This is obviously a public skate session.

The problem is with the 'humorous character'  in the front.  He's not funny at all--except his entry to the figure 8 is completely wrong.  Falling is so common in figure skating that it's not fodder for humor. I think this must have been an illustration for a short story or a drawing to fill a blank space.

I do want to mention that every cartoonist in the New Yorker collection draws the figure 8 entry from the end--as if it was being drawn with a pen. What's with that?

Chon Day, 1944
 Here's another example of an 'end on figure 8 entry'
And shouldn't his free leg be tucked in?

  Here's my caption:
To pass Gold moves, USFSA requires you to to skate 
how much you paid in lessons
rounded up to the nearest 8


Sunday, December 29, 2019

The Broken Blade at my Rink

Below I'm showing the effect of a broken blade. Johnathon Hunt in the 1999 South Atlantic Regionals, had a blade break in a triple Lutz.

 He was in good position during the jump, too bad.
And he cleaned up the parts and screws on the ice.
That's a gentleman.

Now at my rink last week a male skater had a blade break, not in quite the same way.

He had Pattern 99, because he's a big guy, and much like Santa Claus, he needed that fist sized toepick that a Pattern 99 gives.

He's walking to the ice, and he hears a click-click with every right foot step.

He ignores it.

He gets on the ice to take a lesson.

He's not jumping, so the lesson goes okay.

He gets off the ice and takes off his boots.

The right blade had a crack straight across the front footplate, so everytime he took a step, it made a click-click.

Red line indicates failure
He skates in 11 1/2 blades (which is rare in any blade, but it seems ALL the male skaters I know, skate in an 11 1/2 blade).

So, he starts a search for a new pair of Pattern 99 blades in 11 1/2" . He finds ONE PAIR, in the UK that will take over a month to get.

Then the skater contacts his coach, who contacts her skate tech, that has a lot of male customers, including several Olympians.  The tech has a pair of Jackson's Ultima Apex in 11 1/2" on the shelf and they're equivalent to the Pattern 99. The tech gets the word the skater will take them. They're mailed out two days later.

Let's face it. In figure skating, who you know counts, even when you're a hobbyist  or recreational skater.

(Oh, and why did the Pattern 99 break? There's a suspicion that it was a manufacturing fault, as skates normally rust out at the stanchions (as in the video above))

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Notes on Christmas Ice

It's Christmas and the Ice Tourists are here en masse. This week and next week are the two most miserable public skates of the year. At my rink, Christmas Ice are the only two publics where they do mid session ice cuts.  So, the ice is crap after the first 10 minutes, and crowds double after the ice cut.

The Rink
Notice women are wearing both back and white boots.
That's a loooong time ago

The one person who goes against the flow
and can't figure out what's going on
The kid who can't skate
is like the cat in the soccer pitch:
everything stops until you get them 
out of the circle

And adults who can't skate then get in
the circle,  ignore my evil eye.
I mean if you're in your 30's and get in the circle because it's not
as scary as skating in the crowds, you should be ashamed of yourself

My coach to entitled mom with kid in the circle: "Please take your child out of the circle."
Entitled Mom: "But it's safe from the crowds."
Mom: You can't tell me what to do.
My Coach: I'm a coach (points to big words on jacket) YES I CAN.

But hey, I got to work on 1 foot inside and outside rockers and counters. New stuff
Coach: "Do inside counter, back cross, then spin."
Me: "Ok"    [spin sucks]  "You learn something new, something old goes bad."

Saturday, December 21, 2019

I SKATE TOO MUCH: Holiday Version

I get this card for Christmas
I thought, "What brand is this?" before I even opened it! 

Any Ideas?
I think the blades are beginners, so either rentals, or sold as a set.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Santa Claus's Boots and Blades

 (I haven't been posting due to a family issue. Please have fun reading my ChRistmas Post from 2018)

According to NORAD--the military organization that tracks SANTA every year--Santa Claus weighs approximately 250 Lb.

 Santa is SHOCKED! Shocked! I tell you!
Get over it, Santa. It's the cookies
 So, when you see Santa in gifs, and mp4's and even jpgs where he's skating, you may be wondering what boots and  blades Santa uses.

First off, I have some semi-inside  information. My skating friend Jim, weighs 230Lb. We can use him as an analog for Santa. Jim had most of his singles: just no lutz and no axel. Cut him some slack willya. Jim skated in the Jackson Premieres and went through two pair a year.  Now JAckson has stiffer boots: Premier is a 69 on Jackson's stiffness meter, and the Supreme is stiffness 95.  Now at 20 lb heavier than Jim, Santa could certainly go up to the stiff Supreme. However, as we all know really stiff boots are a bitch to break in. It's not unusual for a man who jumps a lot to go through a couple of pair a of lower stiffness boots a year since it saves wear and tear on the ankle and knee. Also, the Supreme (stiffness 95) is intended for quad jumps. The guys that are doing those are probably going through two or three pair a year anyway.  Given a reasonable measure of income for Santa, he can afford to buy two to three pair a year. And since Santa probably cannot do quads without using his magical powers (there's no cheating in figure skating) he doesn't need top of the line stiffness 95 boots.

But since Santa weighs 20 pounds over Jim, he will need a stiffer boot than the Premier. Next up in the Jackson line is the Elite at stiffness level 85. This seems a reasonable solution. Multiple pair a year, middle of the road stiffness, and possibly a custom build.

I would bet that SANTA will need a custom build since with all the tramping around on rooftops, he no doubt has extra wide feet to give him traction. Secondly, I would recommend  double loop scallops at the ankle since that will help him with the break in every six months. I know, I know, double loop scallops are a 'dance thing', but honestly, Santa is still working on getting some doubles, so it's not going to kill him to have a flexible ankle

What Brand of Skate?
 Santa has been skating a long time. He was born in 373 CE, and took up skating sometime in the 17th Century. He's gone through a lot of boots. In the last century, Santa had a strong preference for Oberhammers, but once his last pair died, he had to enter into a search for new custom boots. As we all know, finding a new boot maker is traumatic when your favorite one closes down.He skated in Klingbeil for many years (going in disguise to sit in the big chair for his fitting), then he went to all the manfacturers to get a sample of a custom boot for testing. He's now settled on a final maker, but I'm not allowed to reveal it. However, if you look at some of the pictures of Santa skating, you will see he likes a big rounded toe. Perhaps you can guess.
What Brand of Blade?
Santa likes the Pattern 99. Santa needs a toerake the size of his fist for his toe jumps. He has to propel 250lb into the air, and good form can take you only so far, eventually you need force. The only blade that gives him that power is the 99, although he is tempted by the Gold Seal

What is Santa's Skating Discipline
You'd think it would be men's singles, but Santa likes the ladies. He also does pairs and ice dance. Mrs Claus is quite an active skater, and is also the President of the North Pole Skating Association (an ISU non-voting member). Mrs Claus and Santa ice dance together, although Santa does pairs with Amy the Elf in order to get the size advantage for the throw jumps.

Santa is also VERY fond of figures since he regards it as off-season training for landing on rooftops. Landing  8 reindeer and a sleigh on a modern suburban house requires year round focus on good edges and precision turns in an unforgiving pattern. Santa once considered deploying a mobile air traffic control team with the light up wands and stuff, but in the end decided to use VFR rules--Visible Flying Rudolf rules.

Santa is  competing in the World Figures Sports Skating Holiday Dec 30, in Lake Placid. Keep your eyes open in the Men's competition for the guy in the red hat. That will be him.

 See, Here's Santa's Special Figure


Saturday, November 30, 2019

Testing Nightmares

You're planning to test next year: Then

  USFS has a test change for 
some element they think is 'too easy even for adults'
It's your worst element

Then your coach says you have to test in a dress,
and you have to shave your legs because you've been
 too busy practicing 'that bad element' for months

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving!

You know you love figure skating when...
you volunteer to be the turkey in the Fall Show

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

The Future of Boot Manufacture

I went to see my 'hockey coaching podiatrist' and while he was trimming a callus affecting my skating I couldn't trim myself, he mentioned that there's a new method for measuring feet for custom boots.  

The NFL is now making boots for football with a machine. I don't know what buzzword technology it uses: 


This has the most potential

The problem with the 3D printing is probably the robustness of the materials. I've seen 3D  printed shoes already, their longevity is not something I have any information on. But if the NFL has to make 10 pairs per player per year, well they have to spend the money they're not paying Colin Kaepernick on something.

My hockey playing podiatrist was really enthusiastic about for making custom orthotics for figure skates. I said, "But all that technology is for flat soled shoes and boots; figure skates have a raised heel, I've never thought flat orthotics worked well for me in my skates."

He waved that off , "Oh, you figure skaters need to get get rid of that heel obsession and switch to flat boots."

"What? And break 150 years of figure skating tradition?" 

Then he told me they wouldn't be making custom figure skates in this way for 'at least 10 years'.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Beating Ice Bullies

Don't Ever Let Someone Treat You
Like You're a Dirty Pair of Rental Skates
With a Broken Lace,  Two Missing
Lace Hooks, and Blades That Haven't
Been Sharpened Since The Lake Placid

Inside, You're a Pair of Full Custom, Pink
Suede Boots, With Gold Seal Blades,
That You Just  Nailed Your First Axel In,
You Beautiful Bitch.

Now get out there and Kick Some Ice!

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Winter Season Ice Tourist

It's only November and the Ice Tourists are already camping out in the Center

Not to mention the buzzed 20 year olds who kept skating at me during spin practice.

It was so crowded even my coach couldn't block everyone.


Welcome to Winter Skate.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Back Inside Edges: The Pigeon Toe Push Off

I've had a struggle with the push off for my back inside edges. I've done the C-cut for a long time, and my coach has a definite attitude to them.

She regards C-cuts as limiting and lazy and "you can do better".

So we've tried a couple of variations which I won't go into except to say, they broke me of my habit of pushing off on my inside edge with my outside foot. Yes I did an outside swizzle to push on my back edge on the wrong foot. Tbat has to be uniquely awkward among skaters.

So today she introduced me to the Pigeon Toed Back Stroke.

Stand Pigeon Toed -- With a Deep Knee Bend 

Push the Inside Foot Forward--
While keeping the Knee Bend
Throughout  the Edge
 and the free foot forward

I know what you're thinking, "Oh, that's easy." All I have to do is:
a. Break bad habits
b. Get over  ankle weakness.
c. Stabiliizing my balance during my push-off (to avoid falling backwards_
d. Stabilized on the edge just behind the rocker.
e. Rotate my shoulders
f. Switch my arm positions
e. Keep good posture
f. Stop skating  swaybacked
g. Use enough power to get through the whole edge on one stroke

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Travelling Spins

We all know what travelling is. It's not a trip to home for the holidays, it's a spin that goes across the ice rather than be centered.

I was watching a friend do his sit spin.

He's Sooo close to getting too this position..
in a way
His only problem..Travelling
"You know," he said looking at the ice, 
"That's halfway across the circle"

I said, "More of a sit twizzle" 

He's still speaking to me...

Saturday, November 2, 2019

The Evil Judges

I've heard the stories of judges who hate adult skaters.  Or who refuse to follow the rule book for Master's (One adult got marked down for shallow edges when the rule book says 'shallow edges are acceptable').

I never believed these stories until a coach who was testing silver dance, told me her horror story. She had been failed on a Silver dance 3 times by the same judge. Her own coach and partner (a formal national competitor) told her the judge was never going pass her since the judge didn't believe adults should test.

Let's look at this story as if it was a film:

The Judge

 The Dance Coach /Partner

When the Student Under Test Hears about it

Apparently the judge has ticked off so many people: adult students, and coaches (who earn income from teaching and partnering adults) the judge is no longer invited to judge for the club.  

 All of our Adult Skaters testing this session

Friday, October 25, 2019

Wearing My Work Clothes to Skate in Group

Packed my boots in the trunk of the car for evening group, then drove to work--leaving my skating clothes on the couch. Fortunately I had a pair of yoga pants in my office, so that night I skated in yoga pants, a cashmere sweater and a heavy coat with no pockets.

  So, without pockets where do I put my cell phone and my car key?
Problem solved

Anyway, since my sweater is a crew neck, I went into the ladies room to tuck the phone and key into my bra just so no man would see me digging into my bra under my sweater out in public.

Then when I got on the ice, the coach gave me my 4 Public Skate Passes

 So, no know where they went...
For an hour

By the end of the session I was just sticking my hand 
down the neck of my sweater
moving those cards around to stop the itching,
 and I didn't care who was staring at me 
manhandling my boobs!

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Adventures in Sit Spins

When I demonstrate my sit spin to my
 private coach for the first time

45 minutes of trying

My Coach Says
And she's serious!!!

Then coach says,  "And down as far as most kids."

 So my 3 years of one legged squats in a moving elevator while wearing tight skirts was worth it!!

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Dolla! Dolla! Owe me a Dolla!

My coach has a 10+ year old skater in lesson before me; sweet girl but doesn't understand the difference between 'my lesson' and 'her lesson'.

She'll interrupt my lesson like it's play time, and Coach and I will shoo her off. Or she get in my way in a pattern I'm working and coach will have to move her someplace else.

All this is pretty much typical kid behavior.  Coach and I are nice about it, but she's now at that age where she needs to learn good skating etiquette. Coach has talked to her. I've told her (nicely) to scoot before I fall on her when she's in my way in a back 8. We've explained to her before lessons. Nothing seemed to work.

She's having trouble stepping out of little kid behavior (never looking at what's around her) into more responsible kid behavior (being aware of what's going on), and  she's old enough to pay attention to other skaters.

One day I joked to Coach, "Next time she cuts into my lesson I'll charge her a dollar." Coach laughs.

Five minutes later the girl interrupts my lesson to play.

"Dolla. Dolla. Owe me a dolla." I stick my palm out to her.

Coach says, "Yes, this is Babbette's time, she's paid for it, if you want to talk to me you have to pay for it."

A little confused, the girl skates away.

Five minutes later --again--she breaks into my lesson to play.

"Dolla. Dolla..." I say; Coach and I go through the entire bit again.

This time, she gets it.You can almost see the light go on.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Sometimes my Coach's Texts Just Write Themselves

I Text My Coach the results of my group lesson--
What I expected

What I got..

Sunday, October 6, 2019

The Spin Merry-Go-Round

I'm doing a left forward spin. Tight, no travelling. Fast. Perfectly balanced on the rocker.  Good exit.
(No,  the free foot does not cross the skating leg, damn...but other than that..)

"That was the best spin I've ever seen you do."

Me: "Was that a sarcastic golf clap?"

It's hard to tell when she's messing with me
Then she makes me learn a sit spin.

Both Ways.

Left...ain't goin' nowhere.

Right? I can raise my free foot and return to standing.

Now, I've got a whole new world of fear to deal with.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Entry to the Back Spin

Back Spin Entry

So, well, it turns out, the ENTRY is not that hard. 

My private coach looked at my struggle with back spin entry and said:

"So why don't you do a change spin?
Enter to the right forward, and switch to the left back."


So I Do It. 
Inside forward Spin in the 'Wrong' Direction
Switch to Back Outside Edge On the other Foot
And almost get a full rotation

My Coach

I hate it when she' so smug about being right.