Gordon's Sk8er Boi Blog

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

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Ice Snob

I attended the public session tonight, but only skated for about an hour since I attended the TFSC board meeting to talk about the proposed TFSC website.

I got precious little accomplished tonight, partly from being in a mood, partly from the interruption for the meeting in the middle of the session, and partly from the hordes of elementary school kids filling the session. I did a few 3-turns, some basic stroking and crossovers and a couple of spins.

I've decided I'm turning into an ice snob. I knew it would probably happen eventually, but I didn't expect it quite so quickly. By "ice snob" I mean mostly that public sessions are almost useless to me anymore. It's hard to even practice stroking since I need to go faster than the general crowd, and I'm not sufficiently competent or brave to try putting my end crossovers in amidst the hordes of slow skaters darting to and fro. So I'm mostly left with working on spins and turns. I can't even really work my edge patterns since (per Anna) I need to get used to doing the whole line's worth (4-6) in a row, and not the two I can usually do before I put myself into traffic. Bleah! I may have to consider trying to make it to coffee club on Wednesdays (as well as Tuesdays and Fridays) just to get more time in. Here's praying they don't entirely cancel Sunday freestyle times...

I was very amused by Dimitri, Jenny and Briana tonight (Hola!), they were hanging out in a "gang". A rather wholesome gang, to be sure, but still... with a little more slouching, and some matching jackets, they'd have something. Briana would have to look a little meaner though, and that could be difficult :-). Just teasing B!

Alas, due to a schedule change at work I had to postpone tomorrow's lesson to Tuesday. It appears that having Tuesday as a backup lesson day is a very valuable thing! I am off work on Friday, spending the day in Phoenix. Among other things, I'm going to get to watch Katlynn McNab's practice -- very cool! And later I'll visit some family and friends. Of course I'll take time to skate at coffee club at the Chandler rink.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Tenley Albright On Skating

I've been reading an interview with Tenley Albright, the Olympic Gold Medalist in figure skating in 1956. There's a great quote:

You have an obligation to do the best you can with whatever you've got. And if you like to do a sport, and you can do part of it well, that's a way of expressing what God gave you.

I think that expresses my view very well.

Solid Work

Today's lesson was just solid work. Not "fun" (but not unenjoyable), just solid work on stuff that needed it. The Tuesday adult session is really a great environment for lessons, though -- good ice and only 5 of us there today.

We started by working the back outside edges. Anna says on the LBO edge I'm scissoring one arm but still bringing the other one around. They are definitely improved. I'm also tending to rise in the knee for some reason, which just makes it more difficult to hold the edge. Of course the turning-the-head thing is still an issue, although I managed to actually do it right once, so that blows any excuses I might be able to make :-), and what a difference it made!

We spent the bulk of our time on the back inside edges, especially the pushoff. It's not easy. Anna says I'm not getting enough weight on the pushing foot for the pushoff, and then I still need to get my weight more firmly on my skating foot as the edge starts. Part of it is that I tend to rush the pushoff and bring the pushing foot in too quickly; it's okay to have it coming in during the first third or fourth of the lobe. There are also a lot of issues of timing, etc. Anna said that these are hard and are just going to take some time, which is what I expected.

After that we spent a few minutes just working on backward stroking, holding the foot in front. I still need to work a bit to keep the free hip up on this, although it has improved and is definitely stronger. I had the strangest feeling as I was doing this -- mostly realizing that I was skating backward on one foot much faster than I'm used to, and it was okay. Cool! Of course part of it was that I was not allowed to look down at the ice since Anna was talking to me and watching me, skating following me.

We finished off our time by looking once more at the perimeter crossover pattern, and I got some good clarifications/corrections on the pattern. I've been trying to place the crossover a little too early, at the very bottom/top of the lobe instead of just after. Anna also noted that I need to hold the arm position until I bring my feet together to step onto the first step (i.e. the FO edge just before the crossover); and the 3rd step needs to be held longer and more perpendicular to the boards/center. The sequence is 1) FO at the top of the lobe, 2) crossover to FI, and 3) push to opposite FI. So step 3 to step 1 is where the arms/body switch positions, not before.

All in all it was a good lesson, solid and fruitful. Anna says we will work on some freestyle stuff at my next lesson (which will be Thursday instead of the usual Friday since I'll be out of town). I guess I know what to work on tomorrow night :-).

After the lesson I had a couple of minutes to skate, and I chatted a little bit with Lisa H. She says that I am skating a lot faster and that I'm improving. It was really nice to hear.

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Monday, September 27, 2004

Crossrolls Etc.

For today's lesson we started with perimeter stroking, CW direction first and then CCW. Anna says my extension is looking good, but I need to hold it. Sometimes I really get in the groove and it's good, so I just need to make that happen all the time.

Next we went to forward crossovers on the hockey circle. On the CW ones I am leaning too much into the circle, or perhaps a better way of saying it is I'm dropping the inside side too much. I need to remember I don't really need to "lean" so much as "bend the knees"!... For both sides I (still) need to either hold the extension or stroke more. It got a little scary at times (too much speed!) and Anna said, "You need to get used to that speed, because that's what the power you've got is going to give you. It's not like you're {6 year old skater on other end of rink}." Of course she's right. She also pointed out that I need to keep my weight over my ankles, not my toes, so I don't catch a toepick. And of course there was the cry, "It's not supposed to be comfortable!" -- referring to keeping that back arm high. I have worked on these a lot but sometimes I feel like I'm making no progress at all. *sigh*

We left those and Anna taught me how to do crossrolls. A crossroll is basically the same as a swingroll, except that when you come back to the axis, instead of just stepping onto the new edge you cross your feet and then step on the edge from the crossed position. We worked them a little bit to get me the idea, then Anna said I had enough to work on for myself so we moved on.

Next up we did forward edges; Anna just wanted a look since we'd not looked at them in quite a while. She was more-or-less pleased with the FO edges. On the FI edges she said the stuff I already was aware of, that I need to keep that free side up, especially on the RFI edge. Also on the FI edges I need to bring the foot through a little more cleanly and get a better "set" of the edge. She was pleased that I just go through and do 'em without stopping now, I can just do them down the line and though they still need improvement they at least look like I know the pattern well.

We finished up looking at the FO3s and working toward doing them as in the test pattern. Anna told me I need to start doing them with my arms set as if to do edges, and not from a straight out position anymore. She also wanted me to start doing the rotation "skinny", i.e. arms scissored around. Fortunately I've been practicing them that way for a few days so it wasn't a big deal. I talked to her about the leg extension on the exit edge and she said if that helps me do them better it's fine, but it's not really necessary. We worked through them a few times. The LFO3 is not too bad. The RFO3 we worked on a bit; Anna wanted me to start the lobe heading straight out from the axis -- she says I need to ride the edge more. I tried it that way and got a really good RFO3. And with that we were out of time.

Another good lesson; I was really happy with my progress. Obviously there's plenty to be worked on. We have another lesson tomorrow (makeup for Friday), so I won't have time to practice (other than my warmup) before that one.

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Sunday, September 26, 2004

Skating In The Ice Cathedral

I got to attend the 9 and 10 a.m. freestyle sessions this morning. They may or may not continue to have Sunday a.m. freestyles so I was glad to get some quality time in. And quality time it was -- 4 people at 9 a.m. and 3 at 10 a.m., and the ice was really, really nice. I always feel like these Sunday morning sessions when it's quiet and peaceful are like skating in a cathedral of ice. I'm not sure how to explain that exactly.

It was a very productive session! I worked almost every skill I have at least a little, the only exception being the mazurka and the waltz jump walkthrough -- just was not in the mood for that for some reason.

I spent a lot of time on 3-turns and discovered that they really are improving. I had been thinking about my problems holding the check and decided that part of it was that I need to extend the free leg behind (behind, not to the side!) coming out of the turn; so I worked that a bit. It was a bit rough but resulted in some real improvement. I was really jazzed about that. I continued exploring this scissoring-the-arm thing. I seem to have turned some kind of corner on this because my 3s are feeling much nicer and neater, even if I think they are still a bit forced.

I also tried some 3s on the hockey circle and discovered that I can do a pretty nice RFI3 on the circle, which surprised me a little. Very nice. I worked the LFI3 a bit more but wasn't able to produce any real improvement.

I spent a good bit of time on back edges. My BO edges are definitely much better than, say, a couple of weeks ago. I'm still not really getting the free foot in front at the beginning of each lobe as I should, but other than that there's some real improvement. One thing I discovered is that part of the weak trailing arm issue is a weak leading arm -- an idea I got from my crossovers. That is, if I want to have the back arm nice and strong coming back to the line it helps if the front arm is also nice and strong. I think of it as having my arms stretched on a 2 x 4. That seems to help significantly. On the other hand :-) my BI edges are not improved. It occurred to me yesterday (at the football game, of all places) that I need to have my feet closer together when I do the pushoff. Unfortunately that didn't seem to help the way I thought it would. Hopefully we'll revisit them this week.

I did a few spins, but there was not a lot to talk about there. It's interesting how I go through cycles on what I want to work on, and spins aren't on it right now. It's mostly turns right now, crossovers and stroking. That's not a bad thing since I really need to have good solid foundations to build on.

I did a few other things (some bunnyhops, worked on RFI-LBI and LFI-RBI Mohawk combo) but nothing else to note particularly. I was in a really good mood when I left, feeling like I made some good progress. A good investment of $12!

Friday, September 24, 2004

Little Things

No lesson today, Anna is out of town. I went to the adult session and worked a little on almost everything, but especially stroking. In one of those weird coincidences, almost everyone at the session today was wearing at least some black. We're talking 15 or so people all wearing mostly black (some navy blue). It was bizarre.

I made a number of small improvements and observations. First, my obsessively working my BO edges has resulted in some real improvement, especially the RBO edge. They feel a lot more comfortable, too.

Second, I worked my FO3s a bit and discovered that I can indeed now "scissor" my arms into position instead of the whole-body rotation thing, and that this seems to be fine -- where a few weeks ago it was not fine at all. Hmm. My FO3s are much improved. I did a few on the hockey circle and they are okay even there. I still need to work up my speed on these. I worked some FI3s today and also Wednesday. The RFI3 is still where it was, and unfortunately the LFI3 is still whacked out too. I don't know if I need to just try duct-taping my right foot to my left leg before trying this, or whether I should ask Anna to hold my hand or something. Grr!

Third, working on my perimeter stroking I finally got myself to get down in my knees a bit before the end crossovers, and Voila! what a difference! Much more secure and comfortable. I got to listen to the Josh Groban Oceano while doing some perim. stroking and yep... it's a good song for that. It does remind me that I need to work on my stamina though!

That's about it. I worked on crossovers a bit, spins, and Mohawks. I still need to put more time on that RBO Mohawk though, and once that's solid I need to go on and work on those back Choctaws more.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Another Shout Out :-)

One of my... classmates? coachmates? has a website of her own as well. Check out Tracy Rineberg's site. She's another of Anna's students and a very hard working, determined skater who's come a long way in a little time. I've had the privilege of watching her skate at Cactus Classic. Tracy manages to balance waaaay too many activities and still has time to be obsessed with skating :-).


I went to the public session tonight and got a good solid 2 hours of skating in. The ice wasn't as bad as last Wednesday, but it was pretty gouged up for all that.

I worked a lot of stuff, but especially those BO edges, FO3s , my Mohawk combos, waltz jump walkthrough and stroking. The BO edges are a little improved -- in particular I'm more-or-less getting that scissoring action with the arms, even on the RBO, and it seems to help me. I'm still having trouble getting the stupid head to turn! But it's a bit improved so I can't complain.

I've noticed my FO3s are improved in that I'm pretty much holding the exit edge okay; which is actually kind of surprising. What's not happening, though, is I'm not holding my check well enough to have a prayer of doing the BI Choctaw so I can do them in lobes. Well, Rome wasn't built in a day.

The Mohawk combo is looking good, the RBI Mo is getting less scary. The waltz jump walkthrough -- hm. I'm able to do it away from the boards! I'm not sure what's up with that. I feel more comfortable doing it near the boards even though I'm not touching them. Bizarre. But I am able to do it in mid-ice now.

My stroking is coming along; of course I've worked it a lot with Anna this week. I was thinking about it tonight and deciding that what I really need :-) is a song. There's a Josh Groban song that Jan (I think) plays at coffee club, and for some reason when I'm listening to part of that song I'm really inspired to stroke with power and even some speed. So I need to find that song :-) and listen to it enough to have it in my head when I'm doing the perimeter stroking. A cheat? Well, maybe. Still I don't see anything wrong with it. I think it's off the second album but I've been looking for it on iTunes and not finding it, so worst comes to worst I'll just find out Friday.

Update: I found it! The song I'm thinking of is "Oceano." A great song...

Tuesday, September 21, 2004


I couldn't have asked for better conditions for today's lesson. The adult session was almost empty (4 people), and the ice was beautiful! Before the lesson Anna was working on her own stuff, including skating actual figures. I'd seen people skating them before, but never anyone who did them at such speed or with such confidence. I think it's a loss to the sport that so few do them anymore.

We started our lesson working on spins. I had worked them in my warmup and I wasn't all that thrilled with them, but I managed to do some nice ones for Anna and she said she didn't have anything more to say about them for now (except for things I already know). It occurred to me when we finished that I am a lot better at spinning than I ever... expected to be? I'm not sure how to explain it other than to say that I had this feeling of gratitude and amazement wash over me that I am actually able to do this stuff. Which is not, of course, to say that it was perfect or couldn't be improved :-).

Next I asked Anna for some clarifications from yesterday's lesson on crossovers. I showed her some of my questions/points, in particular that it had occurred to me that I had been treating the outside foot push of the crossover differently than a normal stroke (as in normal forward stroking) and that I shouldn't. Anna nodded agreement. Then I also asked if I was correct in thinking that the inside foot needs to be pushing as the outside foot is crossing, and she agreed again. So I'm correct in that. Also, I expressed my confusion at trying to keep down in my knees vs. not and she said again that she's trying to get me to lift the inside foot more cleanly and that she needs me to be lifting the free hip to do it. With that I did a few in front of her and she seemed to think they were better. So I think I know what it is supposed to be like, even if I can't always do it.

With that we moved on to do a little quick perimeter stroking, especially in the CW direction. I'm still not getting as much extension as I could/should but she's liking the way these are looking for now.

Having done that we went on to look at the perimeter crossover pattern. Anna said I need to be a little more mindful of this and not shortchange the "3rd step", i.e. the FI just before the crossover. Also I need to think about not turning my body until my feet come together before the crossover. Lots to think about here, but they are looking better. I've worked them fairly often but we had not looked at them in a while; so she was pleased that they have improved.

For the last few minutes we looked at spirals and lunges again. First off I did an LF spiral which prompted Anna to say "Wow!" That made me happy. She said, "That's a real spiral!" I'll have to take her word for it but it certainly felt more stretched out and higher. She then asked me to get into position quicker, so I tried that with some success. We went to look at the RF spiral and that was a bit weird; I had issues getting my weight placed over my right skate correctly. Finally I managed a couple that were more or less okay, but obviously not as good. We went on to look at the LF lunge (Anna made the "lower!" motion with her hands). On the RF lunge I did one and suggested to Anna that I needed more tension in the trailing leg, and she said "Exactly!". I guess I'm learning :-). Anyway, I tried that and it was quite an improvement. I have to say, doing lunges on clean ice is a little disconcerting -- I'm used to doing it on public session ice where you get some drag on the boot, which is actually a stabilizing influence. Without that drag it's a little harder to keep that leg back, thus the need for more tension.

And with that, we were out of time. I was really pleased with today's lesson and felt like I'd really made some progress.

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Monday, September 20, 2004

Mo' 'Hawks

For today's lesson we started with a quick round of perimeter stroking. Anna seemed pleased and said I'm getting my weight placement over the pushing foot better.

Next we went to looking at forward crossovers. Anna says she wants to work on eliminating my toe-pushing from the crossed-under foot. She had me work on lifting the free hip more and then lifting the crossed-under foot straight off the ice (parallel, in a flexed position). I found this very hard, and maybe a little confusing too. I mean, I understand what we are trying to accomplish, it just seems almost like I'm undoing some good stuff in order to fix this. I guess that's the way it goes for now, though.

We went on to look at Mohawks on the circle. First we looked at RFI-LBI, and then LFI-RBI. Anna was pleased with these, but said I need to be sure on the BI not to step wide, but keep my feet close together. On the FI I need to keep my feet closer together also, and get turned into the circle better. We spent quite a bit of time on this. We also worked on the BO Mohawks and I managed a few RBO Mos but Anna asked me to do the rotation "skinny", i.e. scissoring the arms, and I found myself in the same "don't want to turn the head" territory I always seem to be in. I wish I had some easy, simple way to fix that.

We spent the last 5 minutes or so prepping the waltz jump some more, working on the walkthrough. I am having a hard time getting my timing together on this so that the arms and the free leg come up together, and that the free leg is out in the correct position and not tucked back. We worked a bit on just getting into that position and holding it; then we moved to trying to do the full walkthrough. Next we looked at just doing the double bunny hop thing from the jump position, but I kept having a very small jump and coming down on the flat -- dangerous and not good. With that we were out of time.

We have another lesson tomorrow at adult session (makeup from Friday) so we'll see what's in store for that...

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Sunday, September 19, 2004

A Good Coach Is A Godsend

Over on the rec.sport.skating.ice.recreational newsgroup we've been having a discussion on coaches. I thought I'd post my contribution below. My interlocutor, "johns", can be rather annoying and seems to have alienated everyone at his rink, which is in Idaho I believe. It makes me glad, once again, to have such a great coach. I'm really blessed.

"johns" wrote in message news:...
> I saw Coachy today. Apparently we aren't speaking
> again :-) I don't work well with coaches. I try to make
> friends out of them first, and then I "might" listen to
> one of them. I'm just not going to work year in and
> year out with someone who simply has no interest in
> me beyond a $-bill.

Wow. That is so NOT my coach. I don't know how or why you approach
this stuff so differently from me and everyone else I know.

My coach is a professional. She's tested up through Senior MITF and
Junior freestyle, not to mention placing 5th or 6th (can't remember)
at Jr. Nationals in ice dance. But beyond the fact she's a good
skater herself, she's a damn good coach and is able to teach what she
knows in ways I understand.

That said, while I adore her, she is not my "friend". She's my
coach. We certainly have a good, and friendly, working relationship,
but *she's my coach*. She speaks, I listen, I respond. She pushes,
she cajoles, she encourages. I whine (occasionally), I complain
(sometimes), I work hard. We accomplish things -- together. We are a
team, because I can't do this stuff myself.

I'm really grateful for her and I think the world of her, and I know
that while it certainly is a "business" relationship (she's not doing
this for free), it's not just about money. She is generous with her
time and her talent. She doesn't ding me in on the clock and *ding*
out 30 minutes later. She gives me what I've paid for, and often just
a little more. She also expects that for my part I will work hard and
listen to what she says. It's give and take. She's my coach and I'm
one of her students.

Shout Out To Keila!

I had a nice email last night from Keila, who's a competitive skater here in Tucson (yes, we have some). Anyway, check out Keila's website, there's some cool stuff there.

Also, if you are so inclined, you might consider helping out Keila, or Katlynn, or a competitive skater at your rink or in your area. Skating is enormously expensive, between coaching fees and ice time -- and that's not to mention costumes, entrance fees for competitions, travel, and more. Parents of skaters have a tremendous burden. Dave Amorde has some good info on his website on how to go about supporting a skater.

Sunday Zoo

Since I had an afternoon football game to attend yesterday, I didn't skate the Saturday public session as I usually do -- didn't get to see "my girls" either :-(. I managed to get to the rink this afternoon for about an hour in between church and a meeting.

Not a lot to report, worked mostly on back edges. The BO are coming along a little better. The BI! Sheesh. I'm going to have to work with Anna more on the push-off to see how to correct this, it's just bad, bad, bad. I also spent some time on crossovers and worked the LFI-RBI Mohawk combo just to keep it in. That RBI Mo is still a bit scary.

Friday, September 17, 2004


I normally have a lesson on Fridays, but Anna was out sick with a cold, so no lesson today. Instead I skated at the adult session. As (almost) always, a good session, not too crowded and nice ice. I worked on practically everything, but focused especially on those darn back edges, crossovers, and working the FI-BI Mohawk combo.

The BO edges are improving slightly (slightly), they are a little less awkward and a little more controlled. Still, I can tell that they are going to take a long time. The BI edges -- sheesh. I can't get a good push-off onto the BI edge to begin with, and that's the biggest issue.

The crossovers are improving slowly. The LFI - RBI Mohawk combo is still a bit scary. I had to go back and try the RBI Mohawk at the boards again a couple of times, then I was able to do it. It still feels weird though!

Back a few months ago I was convinced that the limiting factor on the APB moves test for me would be the alternating 3s. I've been working them, and they are still an issue; but now I'm thinking maybe it's the back edges that are going to be the real issue. It's taken me months just to get this far! Still, there's nothing for it but to learn this stuff. The ironic thing (at least it seems ironic to me) is that I'm starting to understand that the freestyle stuff really is easier (in some ways) than the moves. The precision and control for the moves is very daunting, and while freestyle isn't a picnic, it seems to have a bit more room for maneuver in many respects.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Tale Of Two Sessions

I had a two-fer today, I attended the adult session and then also the evening public session. I'm really tired!

I went to the adult session since I didn't get to skate yesterday, and I wanted some of that aforementioned quality skating time. The ice was beautiful, the session was not too crowded, and I worked extensively on back edges as well as crossovers, including the Russian stroking. It was a good skate. I met a couple of new skaters, Norma and Jek (sp?). Norma is from Mexico City and has kids in skate school; she's not a bad skater herself. She apparently only skates on Wednesdays which is why I've not seen her before. Jek is just learning (she's taking the adult class that is Wednesdays before the adult session) and seems very nice. She practices diligently... it reminds me of me!

The evening public session normally runs 6:30 - 8:30, however, there had been a sign up since last week saying it would be 7 - 8:30 today. When I got there, however, they were still playing hockey and I was told it would be 7:30 - 9:30. "Whatever!" as my nieces used to say. So I got on the ice at 7:30 and skated until about 9:20, with a short break, so about 1 hr 45 min of skating. That said, though, the ice was dreadful. While they did Zamboni after the hockey game, there were so many gouges and pits in the ice, it was just scary. That left me lacking in enthusiasm for a lot of stuff. In the end, I wound up working quite a bit of stuff, especially because it mostly cleared out after 8:30 anyway. I worked back edges some more (mostly BO), spins a bit (got a really nice almost 3-rev 1-foot spin!), and more Russian stroking.

I got to meet another skater, a girl named Eva. She appears to be a teenager, and says she's in FS 3/4. I'd seen her skate before.

The "prize" for tonight was that between the uncrowded conditions and the horrible ice I decided I was going to really work on my RBI Mohawk. I worked on it at the boards a bit, then worked on it on the circle, doing the LFI Mohawk --> RBI Mohawk combo (instead of stepping and doing an LBO Mo as I had been doing). I did a whole slew of these until they got... not comfortable, but at least not so daunting. They are still a little scary; for some reason turning and stepping in that direction is just a bit unnerving. Still, I did enough of them that I'm confident I can come back to them on Friday and work 'em up a bit. So I was really pleased to have gotten something to show for the evening.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Back Edge Frustration

For today's lesson we had agreed we'd focus on back edges. We started off just by working on backward stroking, holding the free leg in front. This was so-so. I could do it but it was hard to hold the flat (falling to a BI edge), and it was difficult to get my weight placed correctly and leave it there. Anna says I need to work on pushing to the back edge and just holding my weight there; placing it correctly from the beginning, not struggling to find the balance. That will take some work.

From there we went to look at BO edges on the line. Sheesh, there's a lot wrong here. First, I need to actually turn my head when coming back to the axis. Second, I need to place my weight better and have my weight solidly on my blade, not bunched up in front. Third, I need to actually scissor the arms, not swing them wide. Fourth, I need to get a better push-off. Fifth I need to get a good solid "set" with the free foot in front. And of course, as always I need to not look down. We worked on these for quite some time, with a little improvement. Anna said she'd thrown a lot of stuff at me all at once and not to be too frustrated, but I am. I've been working on these for quite a while and I've still got so far to go! The other thing Anna mentioned (applies to forward edges too) is that I need to go ahead and practice them all the way down the line. I tend to do one or two and then stop, either because I messed up or because I'm at a crowded session; but Anna says I need to practice doing them all the way across so I get the feel for the change of feet and the push, and to learn to fight for 'em. She's right, of course, and the whole thing says I need more quality practice time (i.e., freestyle or adult session).

From there we went to look at the BI edges because, well, we have to work on them sometime! This was, of course, even worse. In particular I have trouble just getting onto a solid BI edge without dropping my free side from the pushoff. In one of those rare occasions, Anna held my hands while I pushed off on the edge to show me how much further over I need to be. She says the problem isn't really the BI edge itself (I can do them backward stroking just fine), it's getting the push onto the edge. Anyway, many of the same problems and corrections apply to the BI edges as well, just even more so.

That was all we had time for... I have got to find some more quality practice time. I'm going to start hitting the Sunday a.m. freestyles a week from Sunday, assuming they keep them. The only other freestyles that I can make are perhaps Saturday a.m. (if I get up frightfully early) or late Friday (at 5), although I'll have had a lesson that day already.

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Saturday, September 11, 2004

Saturday Zoo

I attended the public session this afternoon, arriving around 12:45 and staying until 4. With the Zamboni break and lunch, though, probably 2.5 hours of skating. The ice was horrible and it was quite crowded so I was mostly socializing and messing around. I did spend some good time on crossovers and more of those RFI-LBI Mo combos.

The only event of note was that early in the session I was standing in mid-ice contemplating my next move when WHAM! I was knocked to the ice by a little girl who slammed into me from behind -- she was skating backwards, I think, and didn't see me. The nice thing was that I fell more or less straight down and landed on my butt, and it didn't hurt at all! I just got up and skated off. I am really encouraged that I could take a no-warning fall like that and not get hurt.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Freestyle Stuff

Today's lesson was spent entirely on freestyle stuff, especially since for some reason the adult session was really crowded. I had today off so I had plenty of time for once.
  • lunges -- We worked on these for a while. The RF lunge is improving, but I need to work still on keeping the free side up. On the LF lunge (my better one) Anna wants me to get the knee bent even farther; she wants me to keep getting further down until I approach the "breaking point", i.e. the point where it's hard to get up again. This is another one of those areas where she wants me to push my limits out. The RF one is still a challenge just to get the left leg down behind me instead of out to the side, and then to keep it.
  • spirals -- These are looking okay. We experimented with doing them "straight" vs. trying to open the free hip/side. After some tries each way, Anna wants to stick with keeping them straight. These are definitely improving, even the RF one. Anna wants me to work harder to keep the free leg straight (unbent) from the very beginning of the spiral, though -- no starting to get into position with a bent leg and then straightening it later! Nicole went by as we were working on these and was very impressed with my progress.
  • mazurkas -- We worked these a bit more, to get more of that prancy "Katlynn McNab" :-) look. Anna wants me to make my steps smaller and get my feet closer together. Surprisingly the leftward one looks almost as good at the rightward one. Anna wants some ankle action to get a better jump.
  • bunnyhops -- We spent some time on these, fixing a number of things -- keeping the hands together and bringing them back further and then up higher; fixing the rhythm of the right leg going back and then coming forward and syncing it up with the arms better. By the time we were done they looked much, much better -- more like a "real jump" almost. We also worked on getting the left leg bent a bit more and trying to combine the knee action with more ankle action to get a higher, better jump. Anna also wants more push-off from the right toepick landing.
  • back stroking/push-off -- Just before the end of the lesson we spent a couple of minutes looking at this, pushing off into a back glide and keeping the foot in front. Anna was surprised how much better these are; but I have been working on them, and it showed.

For Monday Anna says we'll look at back edges. After my lesson we had time for a birthday lunch, since a bunch of the coffee clubbers have birthdays around this time. We had a nice lunch of pizza and salad, and folks had brought goodies for dessert. It was a lot of fun. After lunch there was no one on the public ice so I couldn't resist; I went and skated for two more hours on the public session. It was so uncrowded and the ice was so nice!

I worked a lot of stuff, but especially crossovers, those RFI-LBI Mohawk combos, and back edges. On the crossovers I worked harder at keeping turned into the circle and keeping the trailing arm/shoulder back and up; my mental image is having my arms (actively) stretching out on a 2 x 4. This combined with trying to keep down in my knees resulted in some of the best crossovers (even CW!) that I've ever done. It was really cool!

On the back edges my one insight/breakthrough was that when I'm pushing off onto the RBO I tend to feel like I can't hold the edge; but by trying to get a better kneebend I was able to drastically improve the RBO so that I could comfortably hold it; it feels more like the LBO now. I was really pleased with this insight. Of course my BO edges are still nowhere near testable, but at least I'm more or less able to do them. The BI edges are another story, still; but I guess we'll work those Monday.

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Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Old Dog, New Tricks

I went to the public session tonight. I was not feeling horribly focused, so for the first hour I was not horribly productive. I did mess around with lots of stuff (still avoiding those FI3s though!).

I did spend a fair amount of time on forward crossovers. I decided to put my left (a.k.a. "bad") shoulder in the correct position for CCW crossovers, and "memorize" how it felt. How it felt was stiff and awkward; not actually painful, just awkward. Anyway, once I had that I decided to try to hold on to that awkward feeling while doing my crossovers. In other words, I'm trying to turn a disadvantage into, if not an advantage, at least a tool. It did seem to help; I was able to stay better turned into the circle, not to mention that worrying about that seemed to distract me enough to get me not to be so worried about catching my toepicks or whatever. Something to think about.

I spent a little time on my various waltz jump preparation things -- the entry approach (LFO glide, pick and jump into the boards), the walkthrough, and also the exit, which I'd not practiced in a while. The latter is basically just standing at the boards, jumping up and landing on the right toepick and rolling down into an RBO edge.

I spent some quality time with my Mohawks (FI and BI) on the circle. These are coming along nicely, and I can do a nice combo of RFI Mo, stroke-stroke, LBI Mo, lather, rinse, repeat :-). I tried 'em the other way but I still can't do the RBI (or RBO) Mo, so instead it's step to LBO and LBO Mo. Still, it's good.

My new trick for the evening was to try teaching myself something I'd seen the kids do. I've seen lots of kids practicing waltz jumps on the circle, and it's a sequence of waltz jump --> mazurka/side toe hop -->waltz jump. So I taught myself to do a mazurka coming off of an LB edge. It was surprisingly easy. I didn't try the RB one since I figure if I can't do an RB Mo I'm not going to be able to do that either. Still, it was fun to try something new, and, once I can do it off an RB edge I'll have something actually useful.

One of my favorite songs came on the PA so I decided to try to stroke around the rink for the entire song. I didn't quite make it; I took a little break in the middle and then finished the song stroking backwards. I haven't done a lot of extended stroking around the rink in a while, and it shows. The most I usually do is one or maybe two laps around the rink, not 3 or 4, and especially not 3 or 4 pushing for a little speed. This points out that I really need to up my off-ice training a bit. I've been thinking about this a lot lately since I've had so many interruptions with my Saturday yoga practice, and since our new church choir practice time is Saturdays 10-12 twice a month, I'm going to have to re-think. There is a new beginning yoga class MW at 8 a.m. that I've been meaning to try; I could do it and still make it to work by 10, I think, even with time for a shower. I'll have to give it some thought.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Perseverance & Progress

I went to the adult session (coffee club, but they don't call it that any more) today, and skated for about 75 minutes or so. It was a really nice session -- the ice was beautiful, and it was not crowded (7 people or so).

I worked on stroking, 3-turns, a few spins. I spent some concerted effort on the RFI Mohawk --> LBI Mohawk combo on the circle. After a few repetitions I finally "got" the LBI Mohawk in a way I'd never done before, so that it stopped being something like a spread eagle and turned into something much more like the LBO Mohawk. It's that whole "turning on the heel" feeling I'd never been able to get before; I think it was just finally really looking where I was going and just relaxing and doing it.

Since that went well I decided to see if I could stretch the LBI Mohawk around a little more and make it a Choctaw. Sure enough, I managed to do a couple of them. It's not much of an FO edge (just barely an edge, quite flat) but it is one. So I was happy to have made that progress.

I was talking with Lisa H (we have a lot of Lisas at our rink!) and we were talking about motivation and such. She gave me a look and said something like, "Well, clearly you are still in the 'addiction' phase!". I had to smile. I suppose I am, but it's the healthiest addiction I've ever had (also probably the only one).

Addendum: I forgot to mention that I spent a little time on the "perimeter power stroking" a.k.a. "Russian Stroking" drill. While there's precious little "power" involved at this point, I was pleasantly surprised by how well I'm doing at getting the basic steps in. I should probably try using this for a warmup since it challenges me to really get my edges -- of course, it's hard to do on a crowded session.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Turns, Etc.

For today's lesson we started by looking at my spins. They are definitely improving, and Anna was pleased. I still could be more aggressive on the entry and get more *snap* on bringing the arms in; but overall they are coming along.

Next up, we looked at pushing into the landing position on the circle. This is rather tentative and weak, and I'm not getting a good BO edge on either foot. From there we went to look at back crossovers. These are looking okay although a bit scrapey, especially CCW. When I take my time with them they are pretty good. Anna says I need to feel the edges more, especially the BO edge.

We moved on to FO3s, first on the hockey goal (Anna says it's called the "crease."). These were not as bad as I'd feared. Anna says I'm tending to over-check them, and also to anticipate the check somewhat. Still, they were okay enough to move on to looking at the FO3s on the circle. I'd done these a few times in the past, but not recently. Anyway, they went surprisingly well, all things considered. Anna showed me a drill where she wants FO3 followed by back 2-foot turn. Since I had not practiced the back 2-foot turns much, not surprisingly they were quite stinky. We spent a little time on them; Anna says I need more knee-bend coming into them and of course the persistent cry that I need to look where I'm going. :-)

We finished the lesson with some quick perimeter stroking in each direction. I'm getting a bit more extension and flow, and my end crossovers are improving. Anna said I need to work the pattern a bit more, especially the end presentation, just so that I'm comfortable doing it.

After my lesson I had a half hour in the freestyle session to skate, since I didn't have to rush off to choir practice (Labor day holiday). I worked a bunch of stuff. It's so much nicer to be really warmed up and in the groove! Although for the last 15 minutes I started to feel pretty tired.

As I was leaving, I noticed they have posted a new freestyle schedule (of course, it's not on the website yet :-(). They have restored the Sunday morning freestyle sessions! I'm jazzed. Of course, I can't go for a couple of weeks (staying out late this coming Saturday so 9/12 won't work, and 9/19 I have choir at 10 a.m.), but I will definitely have to work that into my schedule. I've been concerned that I didn't have enough practice time (especially "quality" time) between my Friday and Monday lessons... so this is really helpful.

Update: So of course when I check the website, they now have the updated schedule posted. Cool!

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Sharp Skates

I picked up my skates from the sharpener today, then proceeded to coffee club. The sharpener says he likes working on my skates because although they get dull, there are very few nicks on them (I think there were two, both on the same blade). He showed me, for comparison, another pair of skates he was working on. Even I could see how badly dented and nicked they were. Sheesh!

I had a good skate at coffee club. The ice was beautiful and it was relatively uncrowded (10 people). It's interesting how 10 people on a freestyle session would feel crowded to me, but at coffee club it's nothing. I guess it's a function of what people are doing.

I managed to work through sharp-skates syndrome and got a pretty good practice in. No breakthroughs, although I got some really nice spins. Worked Mohawks and 3-turns, and also a bit of work on my spiral. I did this close enough to the boards to be able to see myself. Interestingly enough, the leg is getting higher -- the real sticking point is the torso. Even when I feel like it's really low, it's not that low. I'll keep working on it.

I am off today, which has been very nice. After I do some more chores I'm heading back to the rink so I can have a nice leisurely warmup before my 5 p.m. lesson. It's so nice to have time like this. Working sure gets in the way of my skating! :-)

The schedule for the holiday show practices came out, and there are apparently 4 of us for the adult group. We have five 45-minute practices, Tuesdays from 6:55 to 7:40 p.m. They start the last week of October, with a break the week of Thanksgiving. I'm really looking forward to it, just hope I do well.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Abbreviated Zoo

I went to the public session today, but I only got there for the last 45 minutes or so due to a schedule conflict. The ice was quite gross, and it was fairly crowded, so I kept to fairly "safe" stuff.

I do find that I'm getting to like my Mohawks a lot more. One thing I did look at today was working on both the LBO and LBI Mohawk, getting a feeling of pressing the heel more. This is something Anna had told me the first time we ever looked at them, I think. It does give one more confidence and security. I need to work the LBI ones more, and then get back into at least attempting the LBI Choctaw since I need that for the APB Moves test.

I also practiced the waltz walkthrough stuff some more. This is becoming (surprisingly) easy and unfrightening; although I wouldn't say it's entirely comfortable yet. Still, I can recognize that the difference between what i'm doing now and a real waltz jump isn't actually that huge.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Famous Katlynn!

During today's lesson, Anna wanted me to be more "bouncy" and "prancy" with my mazurka steps. This led to the following interchange:

Anna: I want them more (demonstrates), like Katlynn McNab!
Me: You know Katlynn McNab?!
Anna: EVERYONE knows Katlynn McNab!

So Katlynn really is famous, at least here in Arizona! She's competing in the Golden West competition right now... good luck Katlynn!


For today's lesson, we started looking at my spins. These are definitely improving, and I actually managed to do some really solid 1-foot spins. We worked especially on the exit landing position. Key items are to keep looking up during the exit and, of course, don't turn the head or drop the right side.

After that we looked briefly at just the landing position, and worked on pushing off backwards into the landing position. Anna suggested I need to keep my feet closer together and not push out so wide; I don't need to step wide to make the pushoff powerful. Also, I need to keep the left arm a bit out to the side, not straight in front of me.

Next we looked at spirals. Anna helped me stretch out a bit, then we looked at both the LF and RF spiral. The LF has improved a little; just a *little* bit more stretch and extension. The RF one is a little improved as well, though I'm still not horribly comfortable with it. Anna had me experiment with raising the free side (as one might for an LFO or RFO spiral) and was pleased with the results.

From there we went on to lunges. The LF lunge is good, as usual, and the RF one is improved. Key points here are to keep the free side up, especially on the RF lunge; and feel some tension (point the toe) of the free foot during the lunge.

Finally we went on to jump stuff. We looked at the mazurka first. Anna wants them more "prancy," as I've noted before; and also I learned to do them without starting with the toepick in the ice, just step to the toepick and then continue from there. We also worked on just hopping/jumping straight up and down on the ice. Next we went to the bunnyhop. Anna was pleased with these; I still can't do the scissor action with the arms but she said not to worry about that. Instead, I'm just bringing my arms forward with the free leg as one would for a waltz jump. As time was running out, we finished by looking at what Anna calls a "double bunny hop", which is just jumping from the left toepick, but then coming down on the same toe and then pushing off to the right foot.

All in all it was a good lesson. I feel like I am making real progress on pretty much all the stuff we worked on. I'm still a little frustrated on my 3-turns (was working them before the lesson) but I guess they'll get there in time.

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Wednesday, September 01, 2004


I went to the public session tonight. However, the ice wasn't surfaced after hockey, so for the first 50 minutes it was pretty dreadful and kept me from attempting anything at all challenging or worthwhile. After the Z-break I was able to get some good skating in.

I spent most of the quality time working on the waltz jump walkthrough that Anna had showed me last week. I worked on it first against the boards until I could do it without actually touching the boards. Then I tried it out on the ice, and was able to do it without falling (so, a major accomplishment). It's not pretty, and it's not confident, but I was able to do it several times, so I decided that was enough for one night.

I also spent some time on 3-turns and Mohawks. My FI Mohawks are improving, in that they are much smoother. On the other hand I'm still not usually holding the edge afterward, but pretty much put my foot down immediately. So, there's still much to be done. My 3s are about the same. I don't think I've seen much improvement on them in a while; I still tend to force them and make too much of the upper body movement, and not enough from the hips.

Finally, I did spend a little time on spins and got some good ones. I'm hoping to look at these Friday in my lesson. I wonder how much longer it will be before I start doing "real" 1-foot spins...

Dream Comes True

I saw this posted on RSSIR - a really cool story -- Skater Turns Her "Ice Castles" Dream Into Reality. Check it out. I guess mine would more have been "Cutting Edge" than "Ice Castles" (I'd look silly in a skating dress! :-)). Still, I wish I could have seen this show (no cable).