Gordon's Sk8er Boi Blog

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

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Wrist update

I had my follow-up visit with the orthopedist today. He looked at my wrist and had me move it around, etc. He says my prognosis is excellent; I have 90% of my range of motion back already. It's still a little weak, but he says that will pass with time. I need to continue my exercises (up to a 10 lb weight for wrist curls), but he says other than the occasional twinge I should have no long-term problems. I'm really pleased. I will probably continue to wear my wrist guard while skating for a couple of weeks or so until I feel I could do a push-up without it hurting too much.


Before today's lesson I had a good warmup, working through a little bit of almost everything. I had some really good FO3s; I seem to be being more consistent about keeping my free foot close to my body so I was able to hold the exit edge. Yay!

Anna asked me what I wanted to work on, and of course I said it's not what I want to work on but what I need to work on. So I said forward crossovers, spins, back edges, and spirals.

We started with forward crossovers. Some of the points to work on include crossing at the knee and keeping the hips/thighs "quiet", getting in a good rhythm, bringing the crossing foot directly in to cross (diagonally, not in an arc), pushing to the side and not back, and of course keeping the eyes up. I made some good progress, being able to get on a good edge and keep a good position. Hopefully I can do it again :-).

Next we worked on spins. Anna reminded me to engage the top toepick on the pivot and point the toe, and to center my hands when I bring them in. After some good progress Anna showed me how to end the spin by pushing out to a landing position -- bring the arms out, left shoulder slightly forward, push off from the left foot onto a strong RBO edge.

Then we went to edges. We revisited the FO and FI edges first. The FO edges were not too bad but Anna emphasized getting a better rhythm to the edge; a better push and a better set. The FI edges were not as good, still need to keep the free side up and to watch the arms on the rotation. After that we went to look at the BO edges on the line. I rather surprised myself, and Anna too, by managing to hold an LBO edge almost convincingly. There was no movement of the free foot back, but I did manage to hold the edge and do the rotation and push off to the RBO edge. The RBO was nowhere near as good. Still, Anna was impressed (and I was too); we will look at these again on Thursday (ah, the luxury of two lessons a week!).

We finished up by looking at my spiral. The LF spiral was not too bad -- of course I need more extension, but other than that it was acceptable. On the RF spiral I need to keep my weight firmly over the skating foot and keep the hip in, forming a nice vertical column.

All in all it was a great lesson, and I was pretty happy.

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Sunday, June 27, 2004

Sunday Morning Freestyle

I managed to drag my butt out of bed and get to the 8:50 a.m. freestyle session today. I'm glad I did. There were a total of 5 skaters at the session, 3 adults (!) and 2 young girls, one taking a lesson.

I worked on pretty much all my stuff. I spent some time on forward crossovers -- I'm not sure I see any improvement but I expect I just need to spend large quantities of time on them to be more comfortable. I've been avoiding making the investment in them and that's got to change.

I spent a fair amount of time on 3-turns and Mohawks. I even spent some time on the FI3s. I seem to be getting an overrotation on the entrance to the RFI3. I think Anna had mentioned this to me too, but I don't remember what else she said about it or how to fix it.

I also spent some time on my two-foot spin. I realized what was missing was the feeling of pulling the left foot back off of the pivot; so I worked on getting that back. That helped some but they are still rather weak.

All in all I packed a lot of good practice into one hour. I need to make this session more often.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Racin' At The Zoo

I went to the afternoon public session today, though I could only stay for a couple of hours. It was fairly crowded. I mostly worked on 3turns and Mohawks and forward stroking.

Around about 3 p.m. the management decided to have a race, in three sections -- under 12, 12-18, and over 18. I decided to enter even though I didn't intend to push hard enough to have any chance of winning. Indeed, I came in 5th of 6. Still, it was good to push hard for once. It also pointed out to me that I really need to spend some time on my hockey stop. I did a few today but it really doesn't have enough confidence behind it.

I had a fun time, but from a practice perspective it was not too productive.

Friday, June 25, 2004

Heel Pressure

Despite a busy work schedule today I managed to get another 70 minutes of skating in today; not at coffee club, unfortunately, but at the beginning of the public session. The first 30 - 40 minutes weren't too bad but after that it got pretty crowded.

When I first got to the rink I bumped into Cecilia, the Queen Mother :-) of coaches at our rink (she's been coaching for 36 years!). She commented that I am skating a lot -- I guess people are noticing. I assume that's a good thing.

I worked on a number of things, but not necessarily the things I should have. I didn't work on spins or forward crossovers at all, despite the fact that I probably ought to spend 10 - 15 minutes on FXOs each session since they stink so badly. I did work on back crossovers, Mohawks, 3 turns, and stroking a bit. While working on the back crossovers it occurred to me to try pushing from the heel more on the front stroke (in addition to the back stroke where I'm already trying to do so). Wow! Definitely more power there, although it's hard to do consistently. Of course after trying this it occurred to me that Anna probably already told me to do that... still, something to think about and work on.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Mohawk Overtime

Before today's lesson I picked up my skates from the sharpener, then headed over to the rink. I got there a bit later than I usually like to, right at 5 p.m. Still, I had a good 20 - 25 minutes to warmup.

We started the lesson by working on forward stroking; this is probably more attention than it's gotten in a while. Specific points were to (as always) push from the heel; to get better knee action when bringing the free foot in before the next stroke; and to get a rolling of the ankle on the push and delay setting the new skating foot down longer for increased power.

Next we went to forward crossovers. I'm not very happy with how these are coming. We worked on getting turned into the circle more without turning the hips. One exercise was to bring the crossing foot over and in front of the skating foot and hold the position before setting it down. I find it very hard to keep turned into the circle; and I notice on the CCW crossovers it's hard for me to keep my trailing left arm up -- residual effects of my shoulder injury last October. It's so annoying!

From there we worked on forward edges a bit -- mostly to keep the initial push shorter, and to keep the first position longer and not overly rotate.

After that we spent some time working on getting me down in my knees more, working on various slalom-style exercises.

At that point we were pretty much out of time and I assumed we were done, but Anna suggested we work on Mohawks. We spent a fair amount of time on them, since they didn't throw us off the ice until about 6:15; so we had about a 45 minute lesson all in all. Besides the usual attempts to keep looking up, we looked at the position of the free foot immediately after the turn. It appears I've been stretching it out or otherwise moving it out, which causes me to lose my balance and put my foot down after the turn. So we worked on getting me to just park the free foot beside/behind the skating foot after the turn. We also worked on getting a better rotation and a reminder to set a better edge to begin with. All in all we made some good progress. I've noticed that I am pretty comfortable with doing them on either foot, and we pretty much just alternated feet all through the lesson. Interesting stuff.

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Wednesday, June 23, 2004


I managed to get in about 70 minutes of skating at coffee club today. I worked on a bunch of stuff -- started off with the BO edge pattern (on two feet) down the line, still trying to get the body positions correct. I also spent some time on 3-turns, including the RFI. Not much progress there. A little bit of time on forward and back crossovers, and some time on Mohawks. Finally, the one real accomplishment for the day was that I managed to do some good spins at last. In thinking about this from yesterday I decided I probably needed both to get my weight more firmly over the pivoting (left) foot, and get a better pivot before releasing. This seems to have resolved my problem (for now) and I did several good spins -- slow, still, but well balanced. Phew!

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

BO Edges And Spin Hell

I got to the rink just before 5 today for my 5:30 lesson. The freestyle session had about 7 skaters along with several coaches. Not too busy to be usable but more than I'd seen before when I scouted the session. Oh well!

The lesson started by working on BO edges on the line. I'd forgotten how the pushoff is supposed to go, so Anna showed me. I can't really do the correct pushoff right now so Anna said I could two-foot the pushoff for now. My BO edges are pretty weak still, and I seem to either not be able to hold the first position or, if I do, I don't get a very good circle/arc. My initial push is a bit weak too. After some work, Anna suggested I try doing them on two feet just to get the feeling of the body position, the rotation and so forth. This was very helpful. I'll keep working on that.

Next we worked on back crossovers a bit. Emphasis today was on keeping the skating hip in and really get my weight solidly over the back foot when the weight is there -- feeling the outside edge. It's a bit weak.

We followed that with spins. My spins seem to have deserted me. I'm not sure what it is, I suspect I'm just trying too hard. I was doing some halfway-okay ones right when I got back on the ice, but now... it's just weird. We worked on them for a bit without much improvement, then Anna suggested we move on.

From there we worked briefly on the bunny hop, although I reminded her I didn't want to be jumping yet. So after a brief refresher we went to work on the waltz jump entry. This is just the initial edge, kick through and jump from the ball of the foot rolling up to the toe pick, into the boards. I'm tending to lean forward, which is bad -- I guess that's how you do a "waxel" when your foot goes out from under you! Also Anna reminded me to keep the left shoulder forward.

For the last couple of minutes we worked on forward crossovers. I'm still having a hard time holding my body turned into the circle. I'm not sure why. The rest of the stroke etc. is not too bad.

I'm hoping to skate at coffee club tomorrow, then taking my skates in for their first sharpening since March. I will pick them up again right before my lesson Thursday.

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Sunday, June 20, 2004

Sunday Zoo

Usually I go to the public session on Saturdays, but I was out of town yesterday. After doing chores in the early afternoon I made it out to the rink to catch the last 75 minutes of the public session. As it turned out, several of my little buddies were there so it was almost like going on Saturday anyway.

Unfortunately the ice was really bad. I had hoped that there would have been a Z-break around 2:30 or so (session runs 12:30 - 4:30) but apparently they just skipped it this afternoon. As a result I was not in the mood to try anything challenging. Other than socializing, I did do some work on spins, FO3s, and back crossovers; I also worked a little on back edges. These are continuing to improve, slowly. All in all, though, not a very productive session.

I need to get my skates sharpened; I'm thinking I will try for tomorrow since I can't skate again until Tuesday evening anyway. Of course that is for my lesson, but I'll have a half-hour warmup so hopefully that will be enough.

Friday, June 18, 2004

3s, 3s, 3s

Today I had a 15-minute makeup lesson w/Anna (makeup from last week). We wound up spending the whole lesson on 3-turns. The FO3s are looking fairly good; right before the lesson I did the best RFO3 I'd ever done -- no scraping at all and really nice. Of course I couldn't quite repeat that. After some time on the FO3s we went to the dreaded FI3s. We spent a fair amount of time on the RFI3, in particular trying to keep the trailing arm up and to get me to look up the whole time, not drop the head. Anna also wants a better initial edge and a better edge throughout; I tend to start on a nice curve which then tends to flatten out, and I'm trying to make it up on the turn. *sigh* After some work it showed some improvement. Then we went on to the LFI3. Many corrections, including the same ones for the RFI3, and of course to keep the free side up. It needs a lot of work.

Anna says the FI3s should be easier than the FO3s, but I sure don't see it. Maybe working on my FI edges will help -- I suspect that is the case. Today's lesson was only 15 minutes but it felt longer.

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Thursday, June 17, 2004

It's All Coming Back To Me Now

I had my 15th lesson with Anna in our new timeslot. Originally it was going to be 5:15 Thursdays but Anna asked to change it to 5:30, which works better for me anyway so that is what we did.

I had a good 30 minute warmup, including both LFO3s and a couple of RFO3s. The freestyle session was not too crowded, just a couple of kids working on ice dance and a couple of freestylers. This is on the back ice -- Anna commented once that she liked to see Nicole and I on the back ice because "it makes you feisty!" I'm not sure about that, but I'm not so daunted by it anymore. Actually, this was the first time I'd had a lesson at a freestyle session, and it was good.

At the beginning of the lesson Anna asked me what I wanted to work on and I told her I was willing to work on anything except jumps -- I'm holding off on that until I see the orthopedist 6/29 and/or feel like I don't need to wear the wrist guard -- I assume a few weeks.

We had a good solid workout, starting with stroking, then forward crossovers. Anna emphasized a need for better posture; I am tending to drop the inside hip and shoulder on crossovers. She still thinks I'm looking more solid on my edges on these though. Interesting.

Then it was on to back crossovers. The word for the day (she'd told me this last Friday too), is to lead with the heel for the crossing foot. Also, she warned me that it's not really supposed to be a "scissoring" action as I had been viewing it; it's really front-stroke and rear-stroke. She said it's fine for now as it is but that's what I'm working toward. She had me work more on bending the back leg/knee, and that had a very salutary effect on getting me to have the beginnings of a real underpush. It's a start.

Next we worked on edges. The outsides are looking pretty good, although I need to be more consistent in my rhythm. Anna said "No 'Perfect' today!" and I replied that that's okay, I've had one that will last me for the year :-).

The insides, however, are another story. Once again I'm tending to drop the free side (at least I'm consistent :-(); and my circles tend to be more like ovals. Anna also pointed out that as I come back toward the transition I need to be keeping my thighs together and pointing the free foot/toe. That will require some work.

Next we went back to the two-foot spin. This is going to take some time and work. First of all I'm rather slow. More importantly I'm tending to look to the right instead of straight ahead. And finally, I'm tending to drop the left side (see a pattern?). We worked on it for a few minutes and then decided to move on, although I suspect we'll come back to it tomorrow.

Lastly Anna wanted to work on Mohawks. I was rather surprised since I was expecting 3-turns (and Anna said "I was going to say 3-turns, but let's look at Mohawks" :-)). I had not done a Mohawk in 2 months, of course. Anyway, I tried an LFI Mohawk. The first one was pretty awful. The second, though, was probably the best one I've ever done! Wow. I don't know how to explain that. We worked on cleaning up some things, mostly looking up (duh!) and once again dropping the free side (if I can figure out how not to do that, it will fix all kinds of stuff!). She was rather pleased though, especially since it was my weaker side and she says I'm doing them even on only a slightly curved edge. We did a bunch on the left and then went to the RFI. Once again the first one stunk, but the others were not bad. I was really pleased.

With that we were out of time, the Zamboni was coming on the ice and the freestyle time was over. As we went to take our skates off I had a chance to talk to her about my skating goals for the next year. She said the waltz jump by August was not going to be a problem. Skating in the holiday show is not a problem. Testing APB by next May is very do-able also. And doing a program is do-able, although she said I should wait and see how I feel about it after doing the holiday show. I don't know if that means she thinks I might not want to do it, or that I might want more time and preparation. Either way I suspect she's right that I'll have a better perspective on it then. Anyway it was a good conversation to have, and it's good to know that we are on track for where I want to go. She said that I'm very goal-driven and that she really likes that. She asked me what my skating schedule was going to be like and I said that right now the goal is 3 or 4 hours of freestyle (Tuesday and Thursday at 5, and Sunday morning for either 1 or 2 hours), plus coffee club (1 hour) on Fridays, Wednesday night public session (2 hours), and my Saturday afternoon "zoo" with the kids. So that's something like 8 - 10 hours or so a week. Whee! I'm really psyched.

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Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Skating Gear

My St. Lidwina medal came in the mail yesterday. Unfortunately it's a small sized medal more suited to women than men; after looking around it doesn't look like a larger version is available. Presumably it's another example of how people don't remember that men skate too.

The weekend before last I took myself to the Nike factory store to shop for new skating gear, as a way of both encouraging myself to get back into things and to reward myself for persevering. I really like the stuff the Nike store sells; they had some nice long-sleeve shirts with a high collar that are 95% cotton and 5% spandex, so they are comfortable, look nice, and breathe well. I picked up 3, they were on the clearance rack for $10 each. I also got some windpants for $20 each; they are some kind of waterproof material that is not fleece, and not a "shiny" finish; they look really nice and are comfortable. They are mesh-lined so they breathe well too. Amazingly enough I'm down to a medium size now, at least in Nike stuff. Way cool!

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Getting Back In The Saddle

I managed to get away to coffee club today, in spite of a very busy workday. It was not very crowded (8 people). I worked mostly on edges and back crossovers, plus some work on 2-foot spins and forward crossovers. I managed to try a few LFO3s (and I think one RFO3). They were scrapey and I didn't hold the exit edge well at all, but I was glad just to do them.

I also spent a fair amount of time on my back edges on a circle, and back glides. Some slight improvement but I have a long way to go.

I'm really excited at the prospect of having two lessons a week. I'm hoping to really delve into my skating this summer and see where it leads me.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Back To The Zoo

Today I went to the Saturday afternoon public session, or as I call it, the Zoo. I'd been there many times while I was off the ice, to hang out with my little (and not-so-little) buddies, but this was the first time skating since the accident (8 weeks ago).

Surprisingly, perhaps, that didn't particularly bother me. One reason might be that the EZ-Skaters seem to have been banned from the rink. I don't think my accident is the reason, but certainly I've not spotted any in quite a while. That's a good thing.

Anyway, I skated for about two hours. Nothing fancy, but I did get up my nerve to try some things out of my repertoire -- CCW forward crossovers, a left-foot lunge, and a T-stop. No turns still. No problems, no falls. I worked on spins a bit with some slight success, although inconsistent. Since the ice monitors seem to be doing a better job of keeping the center clear I also worked a bit on back edges in the center ice. I have a really hard time with these; can't seem to stop the rotation from setting in, nor to hold the free foot in front at the beginning.

All in all it was a good skate. I'm still quite slow, but it's getting a little better. I'm thinking for my lessons next week I'll probably try to work on turns, spins, forward crossovers, and keep working these back edges.

Friday, June 11, 2004


I went to coffee club today for my first lesson after my accident. Alas, Anna was running late, so Nicole and I both got a 15-minute lesson instead of the usual 30.

She asked me how I was feeling, and I told her I was slow and a bit scared. She reassured me that I'd get over that and be fine. We started by looking at stroking. Slow and lacking power, but not so bad. Anna had some corrections on posture (long through the shoulders!) and a reminder to push from the heel, don't point the toe until it's off the ice, and keep the hips set.

Next we looked at edges on the line. First we worked on outside edges. After some initial corrections on timing and rhythm, I did one that evoked that magic, oft-dreamed-of word, "Perfect." I was so floored! Anna has never said that to me before. I'd put it down to trying to encourage me, but Anna really isn't the type for that. So I was really pleased. We worked on both outsides and insides, and afterward Anna remarked in a somewhat surprised tone that they actually looked better than before -- that I seemed more sure of my edges. Interesting.

Then we looked at backward glides, and BO edges on the circle. These need a lot of work, especially to keep the position firm, weight firmly over the skate, and keep looking where I'm going.

Finally we looked at backward crossovers. Anna once again remarked that my CCW ones actually seem better than my CW ones. She pointed out that I need to push the outside edge from the heel, not forward. In general they were not bad for now.

Before the lesson we discussed our lesson schedule. I had asked her about moving to two lessons a week, at least for the summer. Next week we'll do a Thursday lesson during the 5 p.m. freestyle session, and the other 15 minutes of today's lesson on the Friday. Then starting the following week we'll work Tuesdays and Thursdays during the 5 p.m. freestyle session. I'm really excited at the chance to get more lesson time in and make more progress.

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Wednesday, June 09, 2004

A Journey Of A Thousand Miles...

... begins with a single step. At least, that's how I feel. I spent an hour at the public session tonight, all I could manage since I had a choir rehearsal to go to.

Based on the suggestion from several people, I decided to wear my wrist guard (my rollerblading one). I'm surprised it didn't really occur to me yesterday. Anyway, I wore it. I'm not sure whether or not it made me feel more comfortable or not. On the other hand it's probably a reasonable precaution.

I spent my time on the ice just trying to see what I could or couldn't do; or more realistically what I felt comfortable attempting to do or not. I tried several two-foot spins, and although they were quite slow, they were pretty nicely balanced, actually; probably 3-4 revolutions. Beyond that I worked edges somewhat and did 1/2 swizzle pumps on the circle. Still no turns. I worked on stroking but it's rather tentative. The strange thing, of course, is that my form is pretty good. For example, I did some back swizzles, and had no problems whatsoever bringing my feet right together. Strange.

I think it's just going to take some time. I know it's going to take several weeks to regain full use of my hand (although for many things it's just fine), and I suspect it will take several weeks to get my skills back. I'm really looking forward to my lesson Friday though; I suspect Anna will be able to coax quite a bit out of me than I'm otherwise willing to try, and hopefully once it's out it will be mine again.

I got to see a number of skater friends while I was there tonight, and that was really nice.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Recalled To Life

For those that aren't aware, the title of this post is from Dickens's Tale of Two Cities. It came to mind when I was thinking about what to say, so I went with it even though perhaps it's a bit melodramatic.

I got my cast off this morning. After viewing the x-rays, the orthopedist said it's healed very nicely and the prognosis is quite good. After some discussion on therapy, he asked me to get some hand dumbbells and use them to exercise the wrist; I go back in 3 weeks. The wrist feels mostly just sprained now; the range of motion is pretty limited and my grip strength is a bit weak.

After I left the doctor's office I went home and showered (whee!), changed, and set out for the rink...

Unfortunately I was almost at the rink when I realized I'd left my skates at home! This just made me crack up, it was so ironic and funny to me. I was laughing out loud for several minutes.

When I finally got to the rink it was pretty deserted, a total of 4 people there for the session. I'm not sure what I was really expecting, but what I felt was (ta-da!) FEAR. It was kind of intense. I skated for about 45 minutes, just getting used to the ice, my boots, etc. and my balance. I'm really afraid to skate forward -- I assume it's mostly fear of catching my toepick and having a painful fall with my wrist still as it is. Ironically enough (considering how I hurt myself), skating backwards wasn't bad at all, and I could even almost do back crossovers, albeit not with their former speed. Even more strange, while it took me several minutes to get up to gliding (somewhat tentatively) forward on one foot, I was able to do a LB glide almost as well as before, and a rather weak RB glide. Beyond that, I limited myself to one two-footed 3-turn, and a couple of slow two-foot spins. I didn't try any turns at all, nor spirals nor lunges.

All in all, it was worse than I'd hoped for. After a mere 45 minutes though there was marked improvement so that's good. I will try to skate tomorrow for an hour or so, and then I have my lesson Friday. This week is pretty busy so it's hardly optimal.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Patron Saint

Did you know there's a patron saint of ice skating? Yep! It's St. Lydwina of Schiedam. The description says:

Her father was a poor noble, and her mother a poor commoner. Lydwina early evinced a devotion of Our Lady of Schiedam. Injured in an ice-skating accident at age 16, the broken rib caused gangrene to set in, she became paralyzed and suffered for decades. She prayed, meditated, and offered her pain to God.

Developed a devotion to the Eucharist. Given to ecstatic visions in which she was shown Heaven and Purgatory, participated in Christ's Passion, and was visited by saints. Legend says that she had the gift of inedia, and that her only food for her last 19 years was the Eucharist. Miracles occurred at her bed side. Sometimes accused of being possessed, and tested by priests. Blind her last seven years. Her final vision was of Christ administering last rites to her. Biography written by Saint Thomas a Kempis.

Update: Apparently her name is also spelled Lidwina. There's a patron saint medal available, so I ordered one. I don't suppose it will arrive before I'm back on the ice, but it would be nice.