Gordon's Sk8er Boi Blog

My adventures as an adult male figure skater in Tucson, Arizona Portland, Oregon Chandler, Arizona.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Holiday Show Rehearsal

Tonight was the last regular rehearsal for the holiday show. We got to run our number about 5 times, and apart from some minor corrections and tweaks it's in good shape. I only got either 2 or 3 of the lunges right, though, but I'm not too worried about it. I talked with our coach about the bunnyhop and she said I should just do the first one and not worry about the second one. We also got our costumes. All in all it's in good shape, I think. We have our dress rehearsal on Friday evening.


I skated the adult session today. It was a good session. Anna was there working with Nicole on her (first!) program. They've found some pretty cool music, I'm not sure what it is exactly but it suits her well. Anna insisted on me demonstrating my proto-backspin for Nicole, which I actually managed to do. It's still very bizarre and scary-feeling. I'll have to work it more.

I spent some time on the waltz jump, and the spin entrance, and other stuff like that. I also spent some time going over my remaining trouble spot for the holiday show, namely those darn bunny hops. I've decided part of the problem is that I'm having to scuttle back into place really quickly, which means at this point I'm having to do the 2nd one on a curve instead of straight -- and I'm not comfortable with that at all. I'll try to bring it up tonight at rehearsal. I also practiced my lunge/turn and it is looking very cool.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Backspin And Waltz Jump Prep

For today's lesson, I was very well warmed up since I had almost an hour worth of warmup on the public ice just before. We covered just a few elements:
  • back edges -- Anna wanted to spend just a few minutes looking at my back edges to start. On the BO edges Anna said that the although the LBO lobe is a bit large, she likes it better than the RBO. The LBO has a better flow, but I need to be sure to follow through and get the head turned all the way. On the BI edges, Anna says they've improved a lot. I'm dropping my free hip too much coming back to the line, though, and I need to be sure to not come back to the line square (we worked on this before, I know), but stay open.
  • spins -- we spent just a little time looking at my spins. Anna's main corrections were on the exit; she wants me to have a better RBO edge (it's often a flat at this point). She had me do the exit with my arms at my side -- very difficult! This exercise produced, Anna said, the best exit edge I've had. Her point was that I'm tending to have my left arm too much in front of me -- I'm trying to stop the rotation too much, so that I'm not continuing it to get onto a nice edge in the exit.
  • backspin -- we spent a fair amount of time working on this developing backspin. We made a little progress; Anna says I was able to get about a half a revolution, and that I'm freaking out about it a bit not because I'm going to fall but because it feels so scary (which it does!). Her one correction for me was to try to keep my upper body more square, less turned to the right. Anna was pleased though, and so am I. This backspin stuff has been an unexpected bonus.
  • waltz jump prep -- we did a variety of stuff on the waltz jump. We did a few double bunny hops, a few of the step-over (walkthrough) drills. One new variation was working on doing the stepover onto the toe, not just stepping backward. This is closer to the actual waltz jump. I made some progress. Anna reminded me to keep upright, or slightly forward, in the entrance -- no backing away. Anna says we'll work on it more on Friday.
  • lunge/turn -- at the end of the lesson I showed Anna the progress I've made on my forward-backward lunge/turn. She was pleased. She reminded me that I need to keep looking up, but other than that she was happy with it. She said that she thinks doing the holiday show has been a good thing for me; and I have to agree.

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Since I had the day off, I was able to skate the adult session today. However, I did not get there and on the ice until almost 25 minutes in the session, so I had a bit less than an hour of skating. I worked mostly on spins, edges and 3-turns. Nothing horribly exciting, but it was a good skate.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Saturday Zoo

I attended the Saturday public session, but spent most of my time there working at the skating club bakesale table. I wound up only getting about 45 minutes of skating time. I spent most of that time on 3-turns and the spin entrance. Nothing much else noteworthy.

Friday, November 26, 2004


There is a hockey tournament at the rink this weekend, so the usual schedules are in disarray. Since they cancelled the usual freestyle schedule, the management added 2 hours worth of freestyle this morning, which I attended along with 10 or 11 others.

I spent a good chunk of time on the waltz jump prep; in particular I worked on the entrance since that seemed to show up my timing issues. I was able to make some progress with it. Nevertheless, when I try to get myself to jump as part of the walkthrough I tend to just do a bunnyhop. I'm not sure what's up with that. I think it's just a psychological thing.

I spent some time on the spin entrance, and that is definitely improving. Beyond that I spent a fair amount of time on 3-turns, especially working on trying to control the exit edge and do a step forward out of it. It's very slightly improved. I also spent some time on edges and crossovers.

The one kind of interesting thing from today is that at some point I had done... I think it was a step forward from a spin exit (which is an accomplishment in itself) -- and somehow while I was on that LFO edge I did an LFO3 without thinking! I was truly astonished when I realized what I'd done. To me this is sort of a breakthrough because it's evidence I'm starting to internalize more of these techniques I've been working on for what seems like forever. Good stuff!

Wednesday, November 24, 2004


I skated the adult session today. It was lightly attended (about 8-9 people). I had a good skate. I spent quite a lot of time working the forward-backward lunge/turn, and after a number of repetitions finally got it pretty solid -- I can now do the complete lunge, turn to back lunge, and still have enough speed to get up and still be going backward. Very cool! I showed Nicole and she was very impressed.

I also spent time on crossovers and the spin entrance and a number of other things. As the session was ending, Nicole was showing me her latest skill -- she's learning a bracket. Wow. This woman learns stuff so quickly! I'm a little envious.

After the session I took a moment to take a picture of me in my skating gear. If it comes out okay it will be my Christmas card picture, and I'll also post it online somewhere.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Proposed Adult MIF Changes

Someone on RSSIR posted a link to these proposed changes in Adult MIF testing (among other things). The most important thing (for me) is the proposal to change the adult pre-bronze MIF test, deleting the alternating forward 3s and replacing them with the Waltz-8.

I'm not sure what I think of this. I've spent a lot of time on the alternating 3s, and I'm sure even if I didn't have to test them I'd still have to spend a lot of time on them in order to master them. But the Waltz-8 is much easier, and in particular, of course, it doesn't include the darn FI3s which are the bane of my existence. Actually, from looking at the proposals, it would mean FI3s would not be tested at all until the Adult Silver test. On the other hand there's some "snob appeal" in passing the test before the change, I expect.

If this change is approved in May, it would apparently be in effect in September. I've been hoping to test by May.

Waltz Jump Prep

Today's lesson was spent entirely on various aspects of the waltz jump. We worked through a number of preparatory things:
  • walkthrough -- we started with this, left it for a bit, and came back to it. I'm able to do the step up/step through, the difficulty is getting all the different pieces together. Anna says I am really ready for this, I'm just not getting it quite together.
  • double bunny hop -- we went back to this in an effort to feel the "jumping from the ball of the foot" thing. Again, the double BH is just jumping from the left foot, coming down again on the left foot and pushing out onto the right foot. I can do this but I have a hard time not coming down on the flat. After some repetition it got better though.
  • entrance prep -- this was a new thing. I had always thought that the standard entrance was just an ordinary set of back crossovers and then a step forward. Not quite. There's a little step before that to ensure that the rotation has stopped so that you have it under control. The sequence is back crossovers, "spot" a place on the wall, bring the left foot behind (and transfer weight to it), then transfer weight back to the right foot (RBO) and pick up/extend the free leg, rotate the arms and head ("skinny" of course) while re-spotting the same place you spotted before. I worked on this but it's a little weird; and of course my RBO edges are still not as strong as they should be. Anna says I need to work it more, so of course I will.
  • jump prep -- this is the scary "jumping into the boards" routine. Actually, it's not that scary. Anna showed me this quite a long time ago, it's where you do the entrance edge and hit the toepick and catch yourself by throwing yourself into the boards. Working this exercise (which I'v practiced somewhat sporadically) showed the problems I'm having coordinating all the different pieces of this jump. Inevitably I can jump from the toepick, but I'm not getting the free foot up and forward as I need to. The 3rd or 4th time I tried this today, I wound up just skating straight into the boards! It didn't hurt or anything, but I sure wished I had had a video of it because I'm sure it looked screamingly funny. It made me laugh quite a bit, it was so stooooopid. :-)

All in all a pretty good lesson. Anna says we'll work on this stuff and the spins more on Monday.

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Monday, November 22, 2004

Putting It Together

Before the lesson today we had a moment to discuss an email I'd sent Anna detailing our schedule for the rest of the year and some other details. Unfortunately I will only be able to have two lessons in December, due to some minor surgery and Anna's vacation schedule. Still, there is a lot to work on, and the rink will actually have morning ice available during the Christmas break, so I'm very excited at the prospect of getting a lot of practice in. It would be nice to show Anna some real improvement when she returns.

Today's lesson was devoted almost entirely to spins. We started by just doing my regular two-foot to one-foot spin. The first few were kind of ukky, but they improved. From there we went on to work on the LFO edge into the scratch spin. We've worked this exercise before but not with this intensity. The basic thing is skating the edge and get enough edge pressure and actually turning the foot to get into the spin. I didn't quite manage it but made enough progress to know what it should be like. The key is a well-bent knee and lots of edge pressure, as well as keeping the free leg back (extended) until ready to spin.

The next part of our spin work was the back crossovers to RBI edge and step forward. The work I've done on this showed, and Anna was pleased with it. I'm still a little balky on the step forward, even though I know exactly where it's supposed to go. Anna says it's okay (for now) to go and ride the edge until I'm comfortable stepping forward, even if I am at a dead crawl by then. So we worked then on combining the crossovers and stepping forward into the LFO edge. I had a number of passes at this, with some improvement. I'm still not getting into the spin but I can see it from here, so to speak. I was pretty happy with my progress on this.

In the last couple of minutes of the lesson we went over forward crossovers. Anna asked me to skate the APB Moves pattern. I did. It was pretty stinky, at least I thought so. Anna reminded me that I need to push out to the side more. Then she asked me to try (again) to skate in the crossed-over position. After a few attempts I managed a decent example of this. The biggest key to this is to have what feels like an incredibly-bent-knee. Obviously I need to work on this a lot more. And with that we were out of time.

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"It's Not A Gang, It's A Club!"

I now have my "gang paraphernalia" -- my Tucson Figure Skating Club jacket arrived today. Besides the fact that is has the cool TFSC logo on the back and my name embroidered on the left breast, it is also my favorite color (blue!) and very warm and snuggly. Yea!

Friday, November 19, 2004


I skated the adult session today as usual. Anna was not there (thus my Tuesday lesson) as she is out of town. I had a number of good things happen today, it was a very rewarding skate.
  • FI edges -- I usually skate FO and FI edges as part of my warmup, but in skating the FI edges today, something new happened! I was able to keep my free hip up on the darn RFI edge! This made me so happy I could have just burst. I honestly don't know what made the difference, I just know I had a sensation of "standing tall" during the edge. It was so much better! I wish Anna had been there to see it. I did it a number of times to try to lock-in some muscle memory, then I went on to other stuff.
  • waltz jump walkthrough -- no big breakthroughs on this, but I did spend some quality time on it. It's not really scary anymore, so that is a good thing.
  • backspin -- I couldn't resist working on this, it's so cool. I didn't have much success, but I did manage one that was probably half of a (scratchy) revolution. I'll try to spend a little bit of time on this every (or every other) session.
  • forward-backward lunge/turn -- I spent a good chunk of quality time on this in an effort to get it better. After experimenting on it a number of times, I came up with the (in retrospect obvious) solution to my over-rotation problem. You probably saw this coming, but the answer is don't try so hard! I was putting too much effort into it. When I backed it off I did one that was almost perfect. It also helped to remind myself to establish a good, solid, low lunge first -- then just a little bit of pressure from the free hip and a nice, gentle turn. It doesn't need to be fast. Anyway, I was quite pleased with this.
I was talking with one of the skaters as the session started, and she mentioned that she had not been here in a while (which is true, I'd not seen her in months). Anyway, she said she'd seen me skating recently and that I had improved a lot. I guess she'd seen me working on my spins. Anyway that was a really nice thing for her to say, but of course instead of being gracious I just said something along the lines of it seeming my improvement was glacially slow. I really need to stop doing that, but I've always been bad at compliments in general (receiving, not giving), and especially when I'm generally the worst skater around it's hard to feel competent. On the other hand perhaps it keeps me from getting too cocky.

Tracy stopped by the session at the end -- it turns out she's broken a bone in her right hand! Eeep! :-( She was doing a flying camel on Monday, and as she said, it turned into a "dead camel." Strangely enough I saw her right after that, apparently, but she said she didn't realize she had a problem until a couple of hours later when it started swelling. Fortunately she doesn't have to wear a cast, just a brace for 2 - 3 weeks. Her doctor is still letting her skate, but no doubles or flying spins. I told her that would just kill me to be under such restrictions :-). Get well soon, Tracy!

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Katlynn McNab Wins 2004 Future Champions!

Congratulations to Katlynn McNab! She took first place in the Juvenile girls level of the 2004 USFSA Future Champions series!

One of the ironies about success in skating (like in many things in life) is that success means that you have the "opportunity" to then go and work even harder. So congratulations, Katlynn -- now, back to work! :-)

Annoying Public Session

I went to the evening public session tonight; I wasn't able to skate at the lunchtime adult session due to a work schedule problem.

It was an annoying session. A number of annoying hockey boys weaving in and out at high speed, and a 15 minute "break" for " red light, green light" which just really made me annoyed. I don't mind such diversions on the weekend public sessions -- they are 4 hour sessions. But 15 minutes out of a 90 minute public session is a significant dent in my practice time. Grrr!

I didn't get a lot of useful work done. I spent a fair amount of time on spins, and tried a couple of times to do a slow backspin, but no success at all on that. Some time on crossovers. The only accomplishment was that I spent some time early in the session (before it got really crowded) on my forward-backward lunge/turn and got several okay ones and one really good one, so that made me happy. The really good one overrotated though, but I've decided not to worry about that for now. The only remaining issue (other than consistency!) is that I have no speed at all coming out of this. I don't know if I need to go in faster or what.

I don't skate tomorrow or Saturday, so I only have Friday lunchtime and (hopefully) an hour of freestyle Sunday morning before my next lesson. Grr! I need to work on the waltz jump walkthrough some more.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Holiday Show Rehearsal

We had our 4th rehearsal tonight for our Holiday Show number. It's coming along pretty well. Tonight we ran through it several times, practiced our entrance, our bow, and our exit. Out timing is much better although we are still occasionally out of synch. We discussed what to do when that happens, places we can catch up if we get ahead of the music, and so forth. We also worked on getting more into the music.

All in all I'm feeling fairly good about it, with two exceptions. First, I still need to work more on the forward-backward lunge/turn. It's almost there, but I'm still catching my edge when I turn, because I'm not staying down in the lunge. It's psychological but I only have about 2.5 weeks to fix this. Second, I'm still having problems getting these darn bunnyhops done at the right place in the music. I only did it right once tonight; the other times I got the first one but not the second. I really need to get this done. Still, I think it will be entertaining to watch regardless.

Back Spin, Ho!

Today's lesson was a busy one. We covered a lot of ground!
  • forward crossovers -- we started off with my favorite move (not!). Still working on eliminating the toe-pushing. It would help if I would get more comfortable with these. As it is, I can get into a pretty good rhythm with them but it tends to result in a speed that's rather scary. If I go slower I lose the rhythm. Grr. Mostly it seems to help to have (Duh!) more knee bend, then thinking of picking the formerly-inside foot up from/with the toes. This is going to take a lot more work. Lately I've not been that diligent on this, and that has to change.
  • stroking -- we worked on stroking, but I "narc-ed" on myself and did them in my weak direction (CW). There's lots not to like here -- in particular my setup for the crossovers tends to be late or non-existent. Pushing off onto the left foot is pretty good, but the push onto the right foot is still (still!) weak, and I don't really get my weight firmly over my skate. Again, something that I really need to fix, and the only way is to "P" it ("Practice", that is!).
  • spirals -- not my best day on this move. We worked them in isolation and then in the pre-pre pattern. A connection -- the problem I am having with my RF spiral is really the same problem I'm having with my stroking on that foot (see above) -- I'm not getting my weight solidly over my skate so naturally it tends to be kind of all over. The LF ones were not as good as they have been in the past, I think. I need to get over my feeling of dorkiness that keeps me from practicing these when there are lots of people around...
  • bunnyhops -- we just touched on these for a few minutes. Anna says I'm doing better at pushing straight from the toe, but I need a better actual jump (ankle action) and she again reminded me I need to keep my jumping foot straight, not bent.
  • waltz jump walkthrough -- we came back to these after a long absence, and I had not really looked at them much at all. It showed. After some remedial work I was able to get this almost back to where it was. I need to work this between now and Monday though.
  • backspin! -- lastly, a complete surprise. For the last 2 minutes of our lesson or so (really, in "overtime"), Anna asked me to do a two-foot spin and then pick up the left foot (instead of the right), i.e. into a backspin. I gave this a go and was able to do it somewhat! Not well, of course, but not bad for a first try. It feels sooooo weird! Very bizarre. I was very surprised that I could do it at all. It seems a little ironic that I can do that much and still don't have the scratch spin entrance down... but they are different skills (and different entrances) anyway. I'll have to play with it more.

Anna wants me to remind her next week to come back to the waltz jump walkthrough again. My lessons next week are Monday and Tuesday again, so I'll have a couple of days in which to work on some of this stuff. All in all I was very pleased with today's lesson even though there's so much that needs correction.

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Monday, November 15, 2004

Another Backwards Day

Today's lesson was mostly backward stuff:
  • back edges -- We worked on these for about half the lesson. For the BO edges the biggest correction is getting the head to turn correctly. In particular, making the turn of the head all of one smooth motion with the arms switching. On the BI edges, need to keep the push-off short and bring the feet together -- I'm still tending to pick the foot up when the feet are about 18 inches apart, which throws me off. Of course, I still need to work on staying turned out or in to the circle as appropriate, and to open the hips coming back to the line. Anna said that like on the FI edges I really need to work on thinking of coming up the line. In general Anna was very happy with my progress on these, though, and said I was clearly working diligently on them (I usually say "obsessively").
  • back stroking -- We did just a little bit of this, working on keeping the free foot in front. The left foot is better than the right, still, but both are looking a bit better.
  • back crossovers -- On these Anna had a number of points. One that took me by surprise was that she said (on the CW crossovers) that I am leaning too much into the circle. She said they really should not be leaned in, just straight up and down. In general we worked on getting a better separation of the feet, having a better weight placement on the back foot, and getting a better push from the forward foot. Anna said it helps to think of pointing the toe of the forward foot at the beginning of the stroke and then drawing it back in and across.
  • forward-backward lunge -- We finished up with just a couple minutes on this. Anna suggested that I need to use my hips more and move the free leg less. At the end of the lesson I did a couple that were almost right -- I stayed down much longer. Basically if I do them that way and stay down in the lunge a few seconds longer they'll be spot-on. I was worried about over-rotating but Anna didn't seem to think it was likely to be a problem.
Anna said at the end of the lesson she wants me to really work on my ankles, on point-and-flex of the foot and on really digging in for stroking.

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Good Luck Janet!

Janet is testing her Adult Bronze Moves today. Good luck, Janet! Knock 'em dead!

Update: Janet emailed me, and she passed. WOO-HOO! Way to go, J! Someday that will be me...

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Saturday Zoo

I finally dragged my butt to yoga class today, the first time in months. It was a good workout! Afterward I went to skate the public session. It was medium-crowded. Although the Apodacas were not there (:-(), I did get to see a number of my other skating buddies. All told I had about 2.5 hours of skating.

I decided today to work on transitions, that is, linking different things. I spent some time working on stepping forward out of the spin exit, with some success by the end of the day -- this is RBO to LFI. I also spent some more time on stepping forward out of the BI edge from the FO3, but while I was able to do so it was pretty much at a 90-degree angle. Still, it's better than nothing.

I also spent some time working on the spin entrance from crossovers, and I did manage it 3 or 4 times; again, that's definitely progress. This is mostly stepping forward after slowing to a crawl, though!

I made a couple of new acquaintances today -- the first is a girl named Negin who I'd seen skating before. She's fairly good -- she owns a really nice, fast scratch spin (it does travel a bit, though). She said she skated a lot as a kid (I'd say she's late teens or so), but doesn't have time to skate regularly anymore. It's too bad. The other is Chrissy, who says she's been skating for 4 years but she's still in rental skates (the horrible new blue plastic ones, too). I had some fun teaching her some stuff -- worked on a snowplow stop with her (why doesn't anyone learn to stop?!), and some edges. Probably the best accomplishment was getting her on an LFO edge for the first time -- she seemed pretty excited about it.

All in all it was a good skate. Coming after yoga is always good because I feel very warmed-up and loose. Alas, yoga and me are not doing well for the next few weeks, as I have various things getting scheduled at that time. Grr!

Sectionals Results

The results are in, and Yount and Marron took first place at Sectionals in Junior Pairs! Way to go Jenna & Grant!

Sectionals Update

Scottsdale-based pairs team Yount & Marron took first place in the short program at the Pacific Coast Sectionals. Way to go Jenna & Grant!

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Control, Control, Control

In The Empire Strikes Back, Yoda the Jedi Master tells Luke, "Control, control. You must learn control." That's how I felt during today's lesson (although Anna is a lot better-looking than Yoda!).
  • back edges -- I started the lesson by talking about my observations about coming back to the line square on my BI edges and how I couldn't do the step forward as a result. So, we worked on BO and BI edges. The BI edges actually have improved a lot! I have been working them pretty obsessively and while there's still a lot to improve, of course, they are a lot more confident and flowing than even a week ago, which made me happy. We worked on getting the free foot extended back when coming back to the line, and I had some success with this. In looking at the BI edges, though, there's still a lot lacking in terms of position. I'm tending to not really have it "phased" as my forward edges are, it's just a mush of position changes.
  • lunges -- the next thing I mentioned to Anna is how I've noticed I can't turn my foot out without separating my knees more than I think I should when doing a lunge. Anna said it's okay to separate them more, and that it is analogous to extension when stroking -- the free foot doesn't go straight back, it's back and out to the side. This made a lot of sense. Of course I'm not used to doing that. We worked a bit on my front-to-back lunge/3-turn with a little bit of improvement. My blockage on this is just fear, I think, which is pretty dumb since I've fallen doing these and it's not a big deal, I'm already on the ice anyway!
  • program -- from there Anna wanted to look at the holiday show program again. We worked a bit on the bunnyhop section since I'm still having problems with that. It still needs more work, though.
  • 3-turns -- next we looked at working toward getting the step-forward in the 3-turn pattern. I'm a bit closer on the LFO3 -- Anna says after the extension, I need to bring the free foot back to the skating foot for the step-forward (duh!) which is now the sticking point. Still, we made some progress. We worked on these doing the FO-lobe, FO3 pattern. I'm doing better at placing the turn at the top of the lobe, also. In general, though, I need to work on this step forward a lot.
  • perimeter stroking -- evidently I wasn't sweating enough (:-)) as Anna had me do a couple of laps of perimeter stroking (CCW only). No great improvements but it's okay. My crossovers were a bit tentative/lacking -- on one set I was just going faster than I'm used to (!) and I chickened out. What I should have done (Anna nodded when I said this) was to bend my skating knee more. Anna mentioned in passing that when doing these I shouldn't be so close to the boards. I'd been doing them roughly 8 - 10 feet from the boards but Anna says I should follow the line of the "pepperoni dots" and start the crossovers just after the last dot. I suspect she didn't tell me this before because I wouldn't have felt too comfy doing the crossovers in that limited a space. Or, she just didn't think of it :-).
That was it. After my lesson I skated for about another 75 minutes or so on the public session. I worked a bit on the LFI3s (grrr!) and also on the spin entry. I need to ask Anna about that, because I'm not sure where exactly I'm supposed to be looking at the various points in that windup. It's getting better (I'm actually getting the free foot into almost the right position) but I'm still not doing the step forward. Oh well, Rome wasn't built in a day.

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Wednesday, November 10, 2004


I attended the adult skate today, but got there a bit late so only an hour's worth of skating.

I worked on two things in particular today -- first, 3-turns. In particular I tried working something that Anna had me do in a lesson once, namely, do an edge lobe on one foot, then do a lobe on the other foot with a 3-turn. Anna had me doing this on FI3s but I worked it on FO3s because I'm still trying to get the darn back Choctaw (or, at this point, any kind of step forward). This is a good exercise, I think, first because it's more like the actual test and second because it puts the 3-turn in not so isolated a context. However, I realized that I am facing forward (or is that backward?) after the turn (i.e. my hips are square), which is why I can't do a good job of stepping forward.

This revelation led me to the second thing, BI edges. I had worked them a bit anyway before I worked on the 3s, but working on the 3s reminded me that I need to look at my position in the BI edges coming back to the line. Sure enough, I have the same problem there. Theoretically I should be able to do an exercise where I just do a BI edge and then a step forward, but it's not happening in that context. This is interesting since I can do the step forward on the circle. Somehow in the BI edges I'm getting my body all squared up coming back to the line and I'm in no position to do a step forward; this also shows itself in my hands coming almost parallel to the line when it should be perpendicular (and I should be looking over my shoulder).

Anyway, if I remember I'll ask Anna about this tomorrow. Something I definitely need to fix both for the BI edges and the 3s.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Holiday Show Rehearsal

At tonight's rehearsal, we had to re-choreograph our number somewhat, as one of our cast members dropped out. Fortunately the adjustments were pretty minor. It's coming along pretty well, but we still have a lot of work to do on the "little things" that can make such a big difference in the effectiveness of our presentation.

For myself, I still really need to work on doing my bunnyhops in tempo. When I'm rushed I find it hard to just do them. I also still need to work on my trick (see below entry). Other than that it's okay. We aren't going to wow anyone with our brilliance, but at least it will be entertaining.


I attended the adult skate today. For the first half there were 3 of us -- strangely enough, all male! -- and for the last half just myself. That was nice.

Nothing much to report. I worked on crossovers, did some nice spins, a few Mohawks. I spent quality time on my forward-to-back lunge; it must be a flexibility thing but it's really hard for me to get down as far as I think I need to and still bring the leg around. I've noticed that other skaters can turn their foot/ankle such that they can slide on their knee with their foot lying parallel on the ice, but I can't seem to quite do that, at least not yet. I also spent some time on the back crossover spin prep but without much progress to speak of.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Crossovers, Still

Today's lesson:
  • crossovers -- we started with forward crossovers. If you think I've spent a lot of time on forward crossovers, you are absolutely right -- I've worked on them for 4 consecutive lessons for at least a little time. I would find this irksome except that I know they really need the attention. I was a little frustrated at coming back to them since I'd not skated since my lesson on Friday due to weekend commitments. Still, Anna had some things she wanted to explore on them. The first of them was seeing if I could skate in the crossed-over position. I already knew the answer to that -- I've not been able to do that before and I still can't. What followed, however, was an extremely helpful exploration of what I am doing vs. what I need to do. Basically, in looking at my crossovers Anna said that I am trying to transfer my weight to my crossing foot too early, so that I'm basically falling onto it. What needs to happen is that my weight is firmly on my back foot until the crossing foot is on the ice, and then I should be pushing onto the new skating foot. The last was an important connection for me, because what it says is that this should be the same as any other stroke other than the fact that the feet are crossed. In any stroke, you should be pushing onto the new skating foot. DUH! Anyway, this is a good new way of looking at this. I'm looking forward to having some time tomorrow to work on this.
  • Mohawks -- we looked at these first on the crease. Anna's main correction was (as usual) to keep my head/eyes up. I was actually able to do that and it helped the check enormously. Anna's point was to keep looking over/above the skating hand. She really shouldn't have to remind me of this stuff -- it's not like I don't know it or that she hasn't told me that a million times. I guess that's why I pay her the big bucks, but it must be very frustrating at times for her. Heck, it is for me... We next went to looking at the "Mohawk combo from hell" pattern. The main thing that came out of this was not on the Mohawk itself but on that darned cross-step; and that was that I really need to get a good back edge with the foot held in front, then bring it in for the cross-step -- really, similar to doing a regular forward crossover. She had me show her my backward stroking with the free foot held in front, then we went back to the circle again. I know exactly how this pattern is supposed to look -- I just wish I could do it! Anyway, we made some fixes to it and then moved on.
  • spins -- we reviewed my two-foot to one-foot spin. Anna's pleased that I'm more aggressive with these, and that I'm increasingly able to "fix" things that are wrong in the spin without having to abort. My push-out is also pretty nice. The main correction was, as with the Mohawks, to keep my head up. Anytime I wind up on my toepicks it's almost certainly because I dropped my head. Once I fixed that the difference was quite noticeable. After some work on those we went back to the scratch spin prep. First, we looked at the LFO edge prep. Anna wants me to be able to turn a really deep LFO edge with the free foot held out extended and really good heel pressure. It's a bit improved from the last time we worked on it but I need to make it a lot tighter. We finished up by looking at the back crossover windup and step forward. I still can't quite do the step forward, but Anna said the RBI edge is looking good and crisp. The main issue seems to be that the free foot tends to get unstuck and wander around :-). Anna says that it should stay crossed under until the rotation is complete, then I can (for now, at least) "stick" it to the back of my skating foot until I do the step forward. This should help me keep the free foot from getting into a wrong position and from dropping the free hip. Anna says that I have a great position, but then when I'm thinking about doing the step forward I immediately drop the free hip.
That was all we had time for. My next lesson is on Thursday this week since I'm off for Veteran's Day and I have a time conflict for Friday due to a conference call at work.

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Friday, November 05, 2004

A New Trick

Prior to today's lesson I had some time to talk with one of the new skaters, Angel. I met her on Tuesday; she's an absolute beginner -- takes me back! Anyway, gave her a couple of small tips and some encouragement. She's skated at least 3 times this week so clearly she's got the bug...

Today's lesson:
  • holiday show review -- Anna wanted me to show her what I'm doing for the holiday show, so I stepped through it for her. I managed to do something I've never done before, namely, step on my blade when doing a T-stop. Fortunately I didn't fall, but it was the weirdest feeling! Anyway, she had a number of helpful points on the various elements. As the title says, I learned a new trick today, the forward-to-backward lunge/3-turn. It's actually pretty easy. The trick is to keep your skating foot firmly on an outside edge by keeping your weight on the outside of the skating foot. Without that there's no control at all. I managed to do some passable ones -- it needs more practice. I need to get down a bit more on the lunge, but it will be there. I also got to practice the final "wipeout", which should be fun. We spent probably 20 minutes on this but the result was I feel pretty good about it.
  • bunnyhops -- since we had practiced the bunnyhops in the holiday show program, we went on and looked at them. Anna wants me pushing off with the toepick, which is problematic for me. I'm so conditioned not to push with the toepick, and of course since I never skated before I had lessons I'd just never done that! Anyway, we practiced them singly and then in pairs and they improved greatly.
  • forward crossovers -- emphasis on these was to keep over the circle, and of course eyes up. I managed on the last (or second to last) set to get what felt like a lot more lean and push. It was scary but felt really cool. I mentioned it to Anna and she got this look on her face and said, "I'm not going to comment on that right now." I'm not sure what that means, but I suspect it means I did something good but she wants me to play with it and doesn't want to push me on it or freak me out. I'm sure if it were bad/wrong she would have said so (in a heartbeat!). So I'll have to keep working on that.
  • back crossovers -- main point on these was to try to even out the two strokes, to make them symmetrical, and to feel my weight on the back/inside skate more. Some small progress, and again something that needs more work.

All in all a good lesson. Unfortunately I will not get any practice time before my next lesson. Grr!

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Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Small Progress

I attended the adult skate today and got about 75 minutes of skating in. I spent most of my time working on back edges and 3-turns, with some time on spins and crossovers also.

I made some small progress on the LFI3 today. It's small, but I was able to not do the funky free-foot-flail that has characterized my attempts at this, about 3 times. That's 3 times out of... 20 or 30 tries? Anyway, I'm not sure what made the difference, other than a quick prayer beforehand :-). On my "good" tries it felt a lot like the RFI3, which still has problems too. Still, I was happy to see some progress on this, however small, and it encourages me to keep working on it.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Holiday Show Rehearsal

We had our 2nd rehearsal for the holiday show tonight. Our little number is coming together pretty well. I still need to work on my bunnyhops, especially since I need to move a little faster than the others in the number to get back to my place in time. We did make a small change based on an idea I had, to make the ending funnier/cuter. Previously we were going to just join hands and skate forward to take a bow, but now the 3 girls are going to skate forward, and I'm going to skate around and do a lunge/slideout to stop in front of them and they are going to pull my "crown" off my head, like things are reversed from the earlier "king" routine. It should be fun.


I managed to get about an hour's worth of skating in today at the adult session. Not much to report; I worked on stroking and crossovers and 3-turns and spins and Mohawks, and back edges. I worked on that LBO edge and hip position thing, without a lot of success. It was a good skate but I don't feel like I made any progress. That happens sometimes, it's not upsetting to me.

Monday, November 01, 2004

LFI3, Again

At the beginning of today's lesson, Anna asked me what I'd learned at the test session yesterday. I shared with her some of the thoughts I recorded yesterday, and one additional one -- I'm not as bad as I (sometimes) think I am. Today's lesson:
  • LFI3 -- as we'd discussed on Friday, we spent some quality time (almost half the lesson) working on the LFI3. Anna held my hand through it several times and I was able to do it that way. We still haven't fixed the problem, but we've certainly found some issues that are probably contributing. In particular, on my LBO edge coming out my hips are dead square so that I'm no longer turned into the circle. Looking at my LBO edge on the circle in isolation, it's very difficult for me to get and hold that turned-in position, I keep wanting to square the hips off. Just getting the hip turned in was incredibly difficult! Anyway, Anna suggested that I need to spend some time just on the LBO edge to feel that position so that I can "aim" for it. She also says just before the actual turn I'm going from an LFI to a flat, probably because I'm putting my weight back on my skate. I tried another LFI3 with a conscious effort to keep my weight placed just forward of mid-center on my blade and Anna said it was better. Really, there are several things going on here to work on. Now that I've got some ideas I'll spend more time working on it. I really need to get past this!
  • crossovers -- we spent some time on the forward crossovers on the hockey circle. As an exercise, Anna had me not worry about pushing, but just cross the foot (similar to that backward cross step I've been struggling with) and then try to pick the new outside foot up straight. I was able to actually do this correctly a couple of times, which really made Anna's day. The key was actually just to... (wait for it!) .... push from the heel. Of course. Not a big push (I can't do a big push in that position!), just a small push, feeling the heel. So, more homework (icework?) for me for Friday.
  • perimeter stroking -- Anna wanted to look at this again. Amazingly enough, something started to click and I was able to get better (not perfect) extension. Anna said it's the first time she's really seen me have my weight firmly over my skate and push out from the heel and hold it. Of course there is a lot of room for improvement (for one thing, it's not consistent), but most importantly I understand how what she wants feels, so I should be able to do it again (theoretically!). This made me really happy, and motivated to work on this.
  • T-stop -- I had asked Anna to look at a couple of things for the holiday program. We didn't have time to work on the forward-to-backward lunge, but we did look briefly at my problem with quick acceleration and the sudden stop. The pattern that's giving me trouble is left-right-left-STOP. Anna suggested (duh, I should have thought of it myself) that immediately after the push onto the left foot I put the free foot into the T-stop position instead of trying to extend (or whatever) and then hurriedly get the foot into position. Done this way it became a lot easier. Anna says that, as for stopping more quickly, it's really just a matter of being more aggressive about putting my weight on that stopping edge. Duh!
Anyway, I was really pleased with the progress we made today. Yes, the LFI3 is not fixed, but the progress on the other stuff is really good, and I think I know some things to work on to fix the LFI3 eventually.

Anna said for Friday she wants to look at what I'm doing for the holiday show program so she has some idea of what's up for it. In the meantime she wants me to work on my crossovers and stroking.

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