Gordon's Sk8er Boi Blog

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

Tuesday, May 31, 2005


Today's lesson:
  • FO3s -- alternating FO3s that is! Not that there's a lot of alternation going on. I seem to have problems with my right side no matter which foot I'm on. For the LFO3 that means that I have a hard time keeping the R shoulder pressed back after the turn. We worked on keeping the arm/hand/shoulder pressed back/checked after the turn -- Anna says I should be basically facing forward to do the step forward (duh!). The RFO3 was a bit better; well, the 3 is not better, but the body position looking to step forward is better. I sort of/kind of managed to do the step forward from one of these, so of course I rushed the LFO3 instead of just waiting. Grr! We probably spent 15 minutes on these.
  • FI3s -- these are improved. On the RFI3 the biggest thing is to place the turn better, I'm still struggling with this -- it's stupid, it just makes it harder. Anna mentioned that I need to make the actual turn a little faster, just think of flipping the blade from forward to back -- my tracing shows it's a bit slow. On the LFI3 I tend to place the turn a bit better, actually, but they still are pretty stinky. Anna says I need to be more committed to the turn, I'm still tending to lean back. Also had some issues with my free foot creeping forward on me, had a small fall on these when my feet got tangled together. The nice thing about these is that the step forward is so much easier! We probably spent 8 minutes on this.
  • spin entrance -- we spent our last 7 minutes or so on these. They are very close; I have all the pieces, I just need to put them together all at the same time with enough oomph to actually get a spin out of it. I need to work these more on my own.
All in all it was a darn good lesson, a tiring one though.

Labels: ,

Monday, May 30, 2005


I attended the adult session today. I was expecting it to be quite crowded due to the holiday, but that was not the case at all. Amazing!

I had a pretty good skate. Worked my 3s some more, but not obsessively (for once). Went to work on BXOs and got some feedback from an Intelligent Observer that they are not that bad. I think they are pretty scratchy, but IO says the main thing is that I'm still not getting fully crossed. Anna would say -- point that toe! And get the weight firmly on the inside skate. Hmmph. Still, it ocurred to me that I am probably too hard on myself. IO has absolutely no reason to flatter me. So maybe I can allow myself a little bit of happiness that they aren't as bad as all that... still, gotta work 'em more, I don't practice them enough.

Did my 10 waltz jumps. IO says my form is pretty good, just (as I keep saying) need more JUMP. I did get a couple that some loft to them (some!), and wow, can you feel the difference when you land -- all of a sudden you are travelling backward! Wow.

Of course I worked on edges and FXOs and some other stuff. I finished up working on the 5-step Mo again, concentrating on the left foot one since I do the right foot all the time. The left foot is a bit rough; my RBI edge (step 2) is curved too much and not stable. I took that as needing to work the LFI Mo a bit and yes, it definitely needs more attention. I gave it a little, then I had to go.

Anna is coming back today, so back in the saddle tomorrow with a 7:30 a.m. lesson. I'm looking forward to it.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Saturday Zoo

I attended the public session today, about 2 hours of skating total. Many of my favorite homegirls were there so that was fun.

I worked a lot on 3s, and in a very positive change spent a lot of time on FI3s and especially the LFI3. It's good to work on the weaker side more and I really did spend time on it. It's improving. I also did some waltz jumps, not just 5 but about 15 total. I'm going to up my quota from 5 to 10 since I think I need to do more. They are okay.

My single most happy accomplishment was working on the 5-step mohawk (just the RFI/CCW one) and for once finally getting all 5 steps in before coming back to the line! Woohoo! I think the difference was really trying to hold the 1st and 2nd edges longer so that I was "out" more. Good stuff!

Friday, May 27, 2005


I attended the adult session today. It was relatively crowded; about 20 people, including about 5 late teens-early 20s newbies, and a couple of people on lesson.

I had decided I wanted to pick up where I left off, working on the 3-turn placement. Fortunately Jennifer was working with Dana on the exact same thing, and left me a nicely drawn lobe with X marking the spot! So I spent some time on that and the result was that for the LFO3 I'm pretty much able to nail it at the top of the lobe now! I was really psyched. The RFO3 is not as good, but much improved -- I'm tending to be a couple feet early, but still way, way better. Didn't look at the FI3s hardly at all.

Besides all that I did work on my waltz jump. Did my requisite 5, and some bonus ones as well. I would like to work some more on getting the entrance from BXOs but it was too crowded to really work on them. Worked some edges, a few FXOs, and some fun stuff and talked a bit too. It was good.

The rink just came out with the new freestyle schedule starting 6/6. Eeep! Starting 6/6 we'll have 2 hours worth M-F like now, but 7-9 instead of 6-8. That is going to cause some problems; not so much for me (flexible work schedule!) but for many folks. Worse yet, the schedule for the week of 6/20 has only 7 hours of FS, and 4 of them are afternoons (the other 3 are 6-7 a.m.). Eeep!

Wednesday, May 25, 2005


I attended the adult skate today, got about 75 minutes' worth in. Met a new skater, Bill, who is apparently in Wed. night skate school. He said he'd had a lesson from Anna last week (she was subbing) and was very impressed. I told him she was my coach and then I probably ranted and raved about how terrific she is (I tend to do that). It's nice to see more male skaters. You ladies out there have no idea what it's like!

I worked a bunch of stuff -- did my 5 waltz jumps, stroking, FXOs, the 5-step Mohawk, some power-3s. No spins though! Toward the end of the session Nicole asked me how my alt-3s were coming (!) so I showed her, and she demonstrated for me. I was reminded what Anna had told me (that I'd forgotten), that my upper body should be relatively quiet. I actually managed some relatively nice ones that were placed on the top of the lobe! I was happy about that. A good chunk of it is that my setup tended not to be the same for the 3 as for just an edge; my weight placement wasn't as firm on my skate, and my free hip wasn't held quite right. Also, I'm looking down a lot -- gotta stop that. I was really pleased to make a little progress on these. Of course there's still much to do!

Tuesday, May 24, 2005


I attended the 4:40 p.m. freestyle session today. I did my requisite 5 waltz jumps (from standing start); on examining the tracing it appears I'm getting about 2 feet of "out" and I'm not turning off the toe so badly as before, so that's good.

I worked just about everything a bit, but especially spent some time working on controlling placement of my 3-turn. Not much luck there; some improvement but it's still wacky. I really think I just make too much out of these things. Not much else to report; I did edges, some FXOs, stroking, a few spins and worked the spin entrance a little. Also a couple of lunges and spirals.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Sunday Zoo

I attended the Sunday public session for an hour or so, mostly to attend Veronica A's birthday party. Didn't accomplish a whole lot, but did do my requisite 5 waltz jumps and also worked a bit more on controlling that BI edge.

No lessons this week as Anna is out of town; I'll have to see what I can do for skating time as I have some work stuff that will be keeping me busy.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

USFSA Testing

TFSC hosted a test session, it started at 6:30 a.m. (!). Amazingly enough I actually managed to get up and go in spite of just being a spectator/supporter. I had a number of friends and fellow students in Anna's Skating School :-) testing though, so I thought it was important to show up to support them and cheer them on.

I got to see one Novice Moves test, a couple of Intermediate Moves, a couple of Pre-pre Moves, an Intermediate FS, a Juv Moves & FS, a Pre-pre FS, and a bunch of dance tests (sorry, I'm not that big on dance right now). Some people passed, some didn't. From the spectator perspective it's sometimes difficult to figure out what's passing and what's not. I brought my rulebook with me (everyone kept borrowing it). The Novice and Intermediate Moves -- geez! Some of that stuff just makes your head spin. Especially the Novice back quick rocker turn sequence. Wow! On the Intermediate moves the one that looks most intimidating to me is the back power 3s; however, it would seem the most difficult move for the testers was the brackets since they both had to reskate them.

The Pre-pre tests are, of course, most similar to my level. Based on my observations I'd have to say my edges and perimeter stroking are ready to go (the PB XOs and alt-3s are from the Prelim test).

Congratulations to all who passed, and better luck next time to those who didn't!

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Moves Test Runthrough

For today's lesson, Anna decided we should run through the APB Moves test in order, more-or-less as if I were doing it for real.
  • perimeter stroking -- Started with the CCW. In some ways, my best effort yet in that I did everything more or less as I should. I was especially happy that I actually got my 3 FXOs on the end pattern placed pretty darn nicely. My extension was sorely, sorely lacking though -- I was just not placing my weight firmly over my skate. I don't know why. I was doing 4 strokes per side. Anna says she wants me to do 6, and to practice it that way. It's good to have enough power to be able to do 4, but she says that the tempo is lacking with 4 and that 6 would give me a better tempo. Next we did the CW, and this was ... not so great. Specifically the end crossovers are poorly placed and I tend to only do 2. Anna said I am tending to place my blade for the first crossover so that I'm turning too much; need to place the blade to go more down-rink and not across, and actually ride the edge for the turn. Duh! I do that for the CCW ones (good side), gotta make it happen CW.
  • edges-- FO: not too bad. Anna said I didn't look comfortable, and it shows in me not getting the free foot fully extended forward with toe pointed. FI: not bad at all (better than FO, how weird is that?). Anna would like me to take more time with the initial "set"; I tend to get all in position (including free foot nicely extended) by the top of the lobe. As Anna said, it's nice to know I can just hold that position for the full half-lobe, but it would be better to take more time. BO: still need to get the free foot in front more, to really sit on the blade, and to look over the darn shoulder (how many times have I heard that one!). Still, not so bad. BI: Not bad at all. Still could use the free foot more in front at the beginning of the lobe, but all in all not too bad.
  • FXOs - ugh! The biggest accomplishment was actually managing to do 4 crossovers (on the bad direction, no less) on the circle. Other than that I need to get a better rhythm and not wait so long between XOs on the CW circle. Still need better extension on the transition.
  • BXOs - I was not too happy, but Anna didn't think they were that bad. On the CW circle, need to really push that heel better on the inside foot (less scratching!). On the CCW circle, Anna wants more toe-point of the free (outside) foot. She said in passing that I tend to think of it as a pump and it really should be more of a push. Hmm. The first time I was doing them, on the 2nd time through on the CCW I caught my edge (left foot) in the ice so that it kind of stuck and I went careening toward the wall. Fortunately I was able to un-stick it and stop, but it certainly got my heart rate up!
  • Alt-3s -- hahahaha. Seriously, we just got to the FO3s (short on time) and while the 3s were not that bad in themselves, what did I hear but what Jenni had told me last night! I am rushing these too much, and the more rushed they are the less controlled they are. It's a vicious circle. I need to work on pacing these more. Anna also said that I need to hold that check better (duh!).
All in all this was a good workout and a good learning experience. On the one hand I think I'm a bit better than I sometimes give myself credit for. On the other hand I definitely experienced that I just don't practice my bad side stuff enough, especially the bad side FXOs. I've got to spend more of my time on that. As for my 3s I really need to think about how I can get them to be less rushed and what can help me feel that.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Wednesday Night Skate

I attended the Wednesday night public session, got there a bit late but stayed later than usual, so 1.5 hours of skating. Did my requisite 5 waltz jumps (I should probably up it to 10). Worked on my 3s pretty extensively; some progress on the RFO3 (weak side). I'm noticing I'm getting an interesting feeling like I'm pushing onto the ball of the foot more, which makes the turn flow better. I'm not sure where that came from, it just happened but it's interesting. I'll have to see if it's still there in the morning! Jenni reminded me that I need to not rush these 3s as much as I do... of course she's right.

The schedule for Sunday's testing was posted at the rink... the first tests are at 6:30 a.m.! Sheesh. It's a good thing I'm getting more used to skating in the early morning, otherwise my chances of passing when I finally do test would be slim to none...

Monday, May 16, 2005

Michelle Kwan Has Nothing To Worry About

Today's lesson:
  • power-3s -- at my request we started by looking at these. I've noticed that my step forward tends to be "bowed out" a bit, i.e. when I step forward for the new lobe instead of going more-or-less straight I'm tending to go "out" a bit and then curve back. We worked these for a while on each foot. Anna says partly it's that I'm (waaait for it!) stepping wide. Figures! It's a common problem. Oh, and could I place the 3-turn at least a little closer to the top of the lobe? Anyway, some improvement on these, even on the right foot. At least they are fun; the step forward and new lobe always gives me that I-might-fall-but-probably-won't adrenalin rush. Whee!
  • spirals -- we spent quite a bit of time on these; Michelle Kwan's signature move but her legend is safe from me! Anna showed me the PM Moves pattern for consecutive FO and FI spirals. I had some real problems with these at first, mostly because I needed to take more time in between the spirals to get prepared. Anna said, "what's my favorite word?" The answer she was looking for was "set" but I wanted to say "eyes!" :-) Anyway, if I take the time to do the "set" properly they are sort of do-able. I did manage to do an entire rink-length of outsides and almost the whole rink-length of insides, so yea Gordon! However, Anna did say that my skating leg is bent ( or appears bent). I gave her a hard time about that since we'd just talked about it last week or whenever, but she says it does look bent so I need to fix that -- she said she doesn't want me to think of "locked knee" so much as "lifted up". We also looked at the PPM pattern (right and left foot spirals on flats). My problem here isn't so much (as I thought) that I'm falling onto the FO edge, it's actually that when I start the spiral I'm on an FO edge already. I don't know why that is. Anna suggested I try lining my shoulders up pointing to the end of the rink, and that did seem to help somewhat. I don't actually need to test these until Adult Silver (that's just bizarre) so I'm not worried about it. I should clarify -- you can do a lunge or a spiral on the APB freestyle test, but as far as moves are concerned, it's not 'til AS and it's only the Pre-pre Moves pattern. Just bizarre. Anna was happy with how well I picked up the FO and FI spirals though. Of course I'm still working to get acceptable extension, but they are improving slowly. Gotta keep stretching! :-)
  • FXOs -- about 2 minutes on these, in the moves pattern. Anna was pleased that the transition between circles looks more natural and graceful, but she's going to bonk me if I don't stop toe-pushing into the first XO of each circle -- that is, toe-pushing on the "easy" push. I don't know why that is. Also, I expressed my concern to Anna because I counted, and I'm only doing *2* or so FXOs per circle and it's supposed to be at least 4. Anna said that we'll need to fix that but it's a low priority, and that it's hard for a person my size. I am getting some pretty good speed out of just those two XOs -- besides the XOs there's the push between circles, a total of 5 pushes per circle and I'm going not at a huge speed, but almost as fast as I can handle a circle that size. Eeep!
That was all we had time for. I suspect on Thursday Anna's going to want to look at the BI3 again. Eeep!

Addendum: I forgot to mention that while I was working on the FO spirals I wound up doing the fastest LFO3 I've ever done. Do you ever get in that mode where you forget what pattern you are working on and winding up doing something similar that's comfortable or familiar? I was working on the FO3 spiral pattern and whoosh found myself doing an LFO3 while going at a pretty good clip. It was rather cool!

Labels: ,

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Misc. Shout-Outs

Wanted to do some congratulations:
  • Big CONGRATS to e-skater for managing her first LBO3! Woo hoo!
  • A belated birthday congrats to Tracy, who turned 21 on Wednesday! I've not seen her since, it must have been a heck of a party!
  • And, happy graduation! to Melinda, Allison, and Jennifer, three coaches (!) at our rink. Allison got her BA, Jennifer a Ph.D., and Melinda whatever degree they give architects (BA? MA?). Congratulations all around!

Saturday Zoo -- The Dark Side Attacks

I attended the last hour or so of the public session today. Didn't accomplish much , it was crowded and I felt a little dorky. I did manage to do my requisite 5 waltz jumps, such as they are. I need to start practicing these from other than a standing start, but not at a public session.

The amusing part of today's skate was that for some reason -- perhaps the upcoming Star Wars movie -- a number of my homeys "went over to the Dark Side" and put on hockey skates! Seriously, it was a long list -- Tate, Dimitri, Bri, Rita & Veronica H, and all 3 Apodacas. Sheesh! Only Rebecca, Jenni and Kathryn seem to have resisted the lure of the Dark Side.

The Dark Side has no appeal for me. Besides, I'm already wearing black boots. :-)

Friday, May 13, 2005

Yet Another Backwards Day

Today's lesson was a makeup for Monday's postponed lesson. Here's what we did:
  • presentation -- Anna said she wanted to work on something different, so we worked for a couple of minutes on presentation, specifically "ballet arms" so to speak. This is conceptually simple -- Anna just wanted me to skate alternating FO edges down the length of the rink, but on each edge bring the skating hand/arm out into a "presentation" sort of position. This seems pretty easy, but it's just the beginning for me of learning to do one thing with my arms while doing something else with the rest of the body; so it was a bit tricky. After a bit I got the hang of it. Then, of course, Anna pointed out that I need to follow the arm motion with my head -- always looking in the direction of the arm motion so that it, well, makes sense instead of looking totally artificial. This was also tricky but I did eventually get it. It's a small thing but it's kind of neat to be planning ahead like this.
  • BXOs -- the Moves pattern. I'm just not happy with how these are going. I think they are improving very slowly, but right now I'm still not using the whole blade on the inside foot, and I tend to get my weight too far forward. I notice this especially on the transition between the hockey circles -- I'm hearing a scratch just in the back 2-foot glide. Sheesh!
  • back cross-step -- just skating a BO edge with the free foot extended in front, then placing it on the ice. I'm finding these hard to do. I had thought that by now my back edges were sufficiently improved that this shouldn't be that difficult -- but the evidence is otherwise. Anna says they are not that bad, but I'm disappointed. I need to work these.
  • Back stroking -- we went to look at this to help me with getting my free foot extended in front on the back cross-step. I'm still not getting my weight far enough back on the blade, I think, but it did help.
  • back edges -- since it was already a backwards day, we worked on these just a bit. BO edges first -- reminders to rotate skinny and can we avoid the double-push, please? :-) After that came the request to get the free foot in front, and wow, I actually am starting to manage that most of the time. Then on to BI edges -- these are improving and she was pretty happy with them, especially once I managed to start holding the free foot in front on these too.
  • spin entrance -- Anna really wanted to come back to this, and I did too since I thought we had made a lot of progress on it. We worked the entrance for probably 8-10 minutes and it's allllmmost there. Anna reminded me to keep that free hip/free leg extended back (with tension!) and really dig that FO edge, really press the edge and especially to feel like the skating knee is pushing into the circle while keeping the back to the circle (Anna expressed this as the skating shoulder pushing out of the circle). I managed a couple where I almost went into the spin, but ran out of oomph. Anna says I need to work this and just be a little more aggressive, get more push and then it will happen. More stuff to work on!
  • spins -- finished off by looking at these quickly again, both forward and back. I'm still being a little sloppy with my upper body position, tend to hunch forward a bit and not hold the tension in my arms. Anna says I'm tending to be too far forward (on the toepick) on my forward spin, and too far back on the blade on my backspin. Need to get it on the ball of the foot! Still more stuff to work on.
A good workout, all in all. Anna said the back edges are testable. I think that means of the stuff on the APB moves test, the perimeter stroking and edges are testable. The XOs -- not yet, I think, although they are getting there. And of course the infamous alt-3s will take some work.

I forgot to mention from yesterday's freestyle session that apparently we've started the "patch the ice" custom that I've seen elsewhere; so after the FS session we all spent a couple of quick moments patching holes in the ice with snow. Of course I hadn't actually CAUSED any of those holes, but that's okay -- I benefit from them not being there just as much as anyone (and one of these days I will hopefully be making a few holes of my own). It's actually kind of cool.

Labels: ,

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Freestyle Stuff

Today's lesson:
  • forward spin -- some quick review on the 1-foot spin. I think Anna only works this stuff right now just to keep me from getting sloppy (which is a good thing). She pointed out that I'm tending to bring my arms in more at belly-button level -- too low! And of course I'm still fighting the tendency to go right to the 1-foot spin before stabilizing the 2-foot spin.
  • back spin -- mostly worked on getting this more stable. We worked on getting me to not pick my foot up so high, which tends to destabilize me. I actually managed to keep my free foot low by more or less consciously saying "must... keep... foot... low!" And wow, what a difference! Ironically in some ways this is better than the forward in that I know I have to have a good 2-foot before I get into this. Before we left this I remembered to ask Anna how you are supposed to exit a backspin. She said (and demonstrated) that you basically do a power pull out of the spin position. When I made the "yeah right, that's not happening" face, she said for now I can push off with the other foot.
  • spin entrance -- serious work on this, and some real progress. Anna reminded me to lead with the hand but not hunch forward (I fell the first or second one I tried, caught my toepick), and get the knee over the boot more -- as I said, sort of like the extension I have on stroking, but with the free leg more straight back and less out to the side. She also said not to rush the step forward, but be willing to sit on the RBI edge until it's ready. Also she reminded me on the step forward to have my back to the circle; and finally, to push that LFO edge and when I feel like I have to put my free foot down, to bend my knee more. We finished up with a couple of fairly good ones. I feel like I'm getting closer on this -- gotta practice it more.
  • waltz jump -- I'm really glad I've been making myself do these recently. We only spent 6 or 7 minutes on them but got some good stuff done. Anna reminded (for the millionth time?), jump UP not OUT. Also she said I am still tending to jump from the side of the blade and not over the toepick. She showed me the tracing, and it's true. The turn in the jump should happen mostly from the edge itself, and maybe a bit (I think) on the toepick, but definitely not on the blade. These improved a bit. I probably should work more on doing them from a moving start and not a standstill.
All in all, a good lesson. Anna said she was pleased that I was (once more) pretty aggressive. That's good to hear.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Wednesday Night Skate

I got to the evening public session a bit late, so only an hour or so of skating. It was not very crowded, and lots of people I knew were there, so that was fun. Worked on miscellaneous stuff -- did my requisite 5 waltz jumps (that's your influence, Laura!) and a spiral and the usual 3s and crossovers. Not much to report but a fun skate nevertheless!

Ice report: The Polar Ice website now says that the front ice will be up 6/10.

Clarification: The website actually says the repairs will be completed and they'll begin putting down ice 6/10. So presumably if all goes well the front ice will be up a week or so after 6/10.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005


I managed to escape to the sole remaining evening freestyle session that we have (4:40 - 5:40 p.m. Tuesdays). It was a bit crowded; almost every coach we have was there giving at least one lesson.

I had a very productive skate. I worked at least a bit on almost everything (okay, no BXOs). Did my 5 waltz jumps. Did a couple of spirals (was Anna watching? No, darn it!). Worked the 5-step Mohawk -- bleah. Worked power-3s -- the left foot -- wow! I'm actually able to chain them together and they are kind of fast and fun and swoopy -- I love 'em. Now, if I could just place the 3 at the top of the lobe instead of 2 feet in, I'd really have something... *sigh*. Oh, and the right foot ones are pretty stinky. And of course I worked my 3s and FXOs and edges and stroking (just a little). And some spins, including one that was very nicely centered! Like I said, it was a good workout.

Monday, May 09, 2005

2nd Skativersary

Okay, I'm finally sitting down to write about my 2nd anniversary of starting skating. Sorry for the loooong post!

I'm very fortunate, I think, to have had this blog the whole time I've been skating. It really is amazing for me to read back and see and remember where I've been. It really does help to put things in perspective. Here's the link to my last Skativersary post. It's also interesting sometimes to read back through my lessons with Anna and see how some of the things I'm working on have been things I constantly work on, and others not.

When I was at the rink on Saturday, Cass (Tate's mom) was actually on the ice, along with Addie (Mariah's/Veronica's/Heaven's mom). They were being brave! I told Cass it was my Skativersary. She said she remembered my very first lesson! Eeep! She said I was pathetic! It's true. But, she said, I got right out there, no wall-crawling, which is also true.

My last Skativersary was a bit bittersweet, since I was in the middle of 2 months off the ice with a broken wrist. It was not fun, and it took me a while to get over that. In the last 12 months, though, I've definitely upped my commitment and effort -- I went to two lessons a week, and started attending freestyle sessions. I went from skating 3 times a week or so, to 5 or 6. I've also made a lot of new friends, performed in the holiday show, and helped out at the competition in March.

There are a lot of things I've fallen short on -- from the goals I had last year, I've only accomplished half of them (waltz jump and holiday show). I still haven't tested, and competition seems a ways off for me -- maybe as much as a year, maybe a little more even. I'm not even sure how I would get to actually compete against other men at this point -- it will certainly require travel and thus be expensive (no WAY am I doing my first competition without Anna!).

I think, though, in some ways I am settling in as a skater. I certainly have gained a lot of skills since last year, although not as many as one might think. Mostly, the skills that I have are much more solid and assured -- better edges, better stroking, more speed, more power. I'm still not happy with some things (can you say "crossovers"? I knew you could!). I still compare myself to other skaters (adults AND kids), but less often. The fact of the matter is that I don't have a great deal of natural talent, but what I do have in abundance is determination, perseverance, fortitude, and most fundamentally, a love of skating. Being a single man with no children and some amount of job flexibility :-), I've been able to pour time and money into my skating in a way that many adults cannot. So, I have made progress. Not as fast as I would like (after all, I STILL don't have the darn scratch spin entrance!) but it's measurable and noticeable, even by me.

It's been interesting to me to note that there is a lot of turnover in adult skaters, and then there's a core. I see people signed up for skate school in the adult classes (I'm not in them), but for the most part the adults that I see are in the "core group" and they are the same people that have been watching me skate for 2 years now; the skate school people usually (not always) seem to take a class or two and then disappear. It's strange. Being so addicted to skating myself, it's hard to understand anyone *not* wanting to skate.

3Turn asked a while back how I decided to start skating. When I was working on finishing my thesis for my master's degree, I kept being tempted by other things that seemed more interesting. In the interest of actually finishing my degree (it took me 8 years!), I started making a list with the intention that when I was done with school I could start doing some of those "fun" things. The initial list looked something like this:
  • rollerblading
  • ice skating
  • piano
  • Spanish
I graduated in December 2001. I started learning rollerblading seriously in spring of 2002 (I think I had done a little before that with a previous girlfriend), when I bought my own rollerblades. While I enjoyed it, and I took lessons at Fast Eddie's Skate School, it was a little daunting to find time, especially since this is Tucson, and it gets hot fast. Eventually I was going late at night. I never got particularly good, and in July of 2002 I fell and broke my right arm (a radial head fracture). Right after I recovered from that (it was a relatively minor injury, just a sling for a few weeks) I was laid off. After I got a new job I was temporarily too busy and preoccupied to get back into rollerblading. Finally I checked out the ice rink and signed myself up for lessons starting in May of 2003, and the rest is history, as they say.

I see I may not have really answered the question. Why ice skating? I don't know. I had never been on the ice in my life, and to the best of my knowledge none of my siblings had either. We grew up in Arizona and such things are not a big part of most people's consciousness. I had been skiing in the past, but that's it for winter sports. I do know that I really enjoyed watching Michelle Kwan in the '98 Olympics, and started following figure skating more seriously with the 2002 Olympics. I always admired the grace, the artistry, the strength and skill. I was not (am not) a horribly athletic person, and I'm not particularly graceful or coordinated (it shows in my skating, unfortunately); I'm not much of a dancer either although I do enjoy it. I am a musician and do have a sense of rhythm and timing, though, which has often helped. And of course, I have a great deal of willpower and stubbornness ;-).

What do I like most about skating? I like the feeling of the cold wind in my face; the feeling of holding an edge; I love the feeling of a (good) 3-turn; I love a good, centered spin; and yes, I love that signature move of mine! And of course I love the wonderful people I've met -- my coach, of course, but also Nicole and all my skating buddies young and old who are so much fun to be around.

Who knows where I'll be next year? I'm not going to set time frames for my goals anymore -- it doesn't seem to really help. Some things just take time. My real goals are to work hard, play hard, and enjoy the process. Stop and smell the ice! :-)

May you have smooth ice and sharp blades!


Since I didn't have a lesson this morning and got to sleep in a bit (yea!), I went to the adult session at lunchtime. Ice was nice, and very uncrowded (9 of us). Worked a bit on everything. In particular, my new resolution is to do at least 5 waltz jumps every time I skate. I also dutifully did some spirals. Beyond that I worked crossovers, Russian stroking (forward and a little back), 5-step Mohawk, power-3s, a couple of spins, and edges. And of course 3s. I spent special quality time on the RFO3 and the LFI3 since they are weak. All in all it was good and I was relatively happy with my skating.

Happy News!

First, a big Happy Birthday to Briana. Hope it's good, Bri!

Second, I had no lesson this morning, as I had an email from my coach that she is now engaged! She is back home telling her family the good news. Congratulations Anna and Bradley! Woohoo!

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Video Whine

Okay, this is just a short whine -- my sister gave me the tapes she'd done of Friday night of the Worlds competition. Unfortunately, her WebTV started downloading updates IN THE MIDDLE OF TOTMIANINA AND MARININ'S SKATE!

ARRRGH! Then it comes back in the end of their skate with the commentator saying "that's a gold medal skate, regardless of the marks." ARRGGHH!

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Saturday Zoo

Today was another installment of the Saturday Zoo, a.k.a. the afternoon public session. I got there a bit late, about 2 hours of skating today. Of course I had a good time hanging out with the homeys and socializing. I also put some serious time into the waltz-8, 3s, and the forward t-stop; and a smattering of time on spins. I also did 6 or 7 waltz jumps. I'm just not particularly enthused about them, but at least I attempt them and I don't generally fall. I'm not scared of them. I'd probably be more enthused about them if they were better -- the usual catch-22. I'm thinking I'll ask Anna to work on these next week along with the darned alt-3s.

Today is also my 2-year Skativersary. I'll blog some thoughts on that later when I have more time.

Friday, May 06, 2005


I attended the adult session today, but I was running late so I only got about an hour's worth of skating in. I worked on my power-3s; they are improving a bit. I also worked some spins, some Russian stroking (just forwards), some 3s, edges (of course), and a couple of spirals. Nothing exciting but just keeping my hand in.

I saw Dana prepping for the pre-pre moves test. It looks like she has some of the same issues with the Waltz-8 that I do (although her 3s are smoother than mine). It's kind of nice to know. She's been skating about 6 months longer than me (she's 18 or 19) and has a number of jumps and nice spins. She said she's still concerned about her edges though. The test is 2 weeks from Sunday.

Thursday, May 05, 2005


Today's lesson was great. I have to say, much though I grumble and complain about being up so darn early (I think I had 5 or 5.5 hours of sleep), generally I have had some darn good lessons in this time slot. Here's what we did:
  • perimeter crossovers -- Anna pointed out to me that I'm still not turning into the new circle very well, which makes it hard to get my weight firmly over my skating hip/foot. She had me concentrate on remembering to turn my arms/shoulders and to really feel like I'm looking over the hand when I'm going into the crossover. Also she said I am supposed to do 4 lobes down the rink. I'm tending to not count at all and not remember where I am or when I'm done. Still, these have improved a lot, actually. Anna also reminded me to make the lobes a bit curvier than I have done, mostly in coming out of the XO.
  • BXOs -- in the moves pattern. I'm not that thrilled with them. Anna says I still need to get more point in the toe on the free foot to get better separation. We did these mostly as intro to ...
  • back perimeter crossovers -- she had showed me these once before a couple of weeks ago but we'd not worked on them or looked at them. They are fun! I'm pretty slow at them right now. Anna reminded me to place the XO at the bottom/top of the lobe.
  • power-3s -- these have improved. It helps that I think they are fun and I practice them whenever I get a chance. On the other hand, I clearly haven't practiced my right foot enough! The left foot is not so bad, the right foot -- has issues. One of the things we worked on is to remember to be "led" by the hand in the BXO and to be sure to have turned into the circle when starting the BXO. Anna wants me to start these with the "wrong" hand/arm in front (e.g. left foot power 3s starting with right hand/arm in front). Otherwise she says there's just too much rotation going on. It was a little difficult to adjust to this but I managed. The best thing about these, Anna says, is that I'm really committed to the edge and so they flow really well.

Anna said at the end of the lesson that she's really pleased with the aggressiveness I'm showing in these moves. I am really pleased with my progress on them!

Random note -- Anna mentioned in passing that she'd had a dream about me doing a salchow! Don't know what that means, but it's interesting.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Wednesday Night Madness

I attended the Wed. night public session. It used to start at 7 but it's now been moved back to 7:10 in order to accommodate the synchro class -- they've actually given the synchro class the whole ice sheet for 30 minutes, which is waay cool. I wish I were able to be in a class like that; maybe someday when I'm a better skater.

Tonight's session was crazy -- about a zillion kids from some school in Mexico apparently, falling all over but (of course) having a great time. Still, I had a good time and many of my favorite compadres were there. I spent some time working on that forward T-stop. Allison suggested that I practice it into the boards -- duh! Why didn't I think of that. Anyway, I spent some time on it and made some progress. It's very fun, I'll have to work it some more. Also some time on crossovers and 3s, tried one or two spirals but it's scary with it so busy and the ice so bad. Ah well.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

The Big Picture

I was thinking about the last year or so that I've been taking private lessons, and how wonderful my coach is, and all that stuff. It's probably because Saturday will be my second Skativersary. Anyway, I was thinking about all the stuff I've learned and how much time I've spent on some things and what things I have and haven't learned...

My question is, does my coach have a Plan for me? I don't mean "does she know what she is doing?" -- believe me, there is no doubt in my mind that she does. What I mean is, does she have an explicit plan for where I'm going, or is it sort of just something that is not at a conscious, planned level?

I ask this because, of course, I plan everything. I'm big on planning. I also ask it because I'm starting to notice some payoff to some of the hard work that I've put in in the last year and a half (almost). That is, I'm starting to see some... synchronicity. Some of the skills that I've spent so incredibly much time on are helping with other things. Here's one -- I suddenly realized that I can (more or less) do forward cross rolls. I've never been taught them as such -- I've seen other folks do them. But with all the practicing of forward edges and crossovers and other skills, I tried some the other day and gosh, I can pretty much do them. Of course if Anna were to look at them, I am sure there would be plenty of room for improvement; but I'm still amazed.

My gut feeling is that Anna, and perhaps other coaches, doesn't work on that explicit, incredibly detailed planning level; that it's so internalized that she could tell you the reasoning behind the decisions she makes, but she'd have to think about it for a bit. Another case in point -- working on BI3 prep. Why now? She said, "It's time." How does she know? I suspect she "just knows." For us anal-retentive engineer types, that kind of thing can drive you bonkers. Fortunately I respect and trust her so much, I'm willing to just do what I'm told. And let me tell you, that is not normally my behavior at all! I just know that she knows what she is doing and that she's got her job to do and I've got mine; and mine is to work hard and do what she tells me to. I think that's why we get along so well and why I enjoy my lessons so much. It's probably the only area of my life where I entrust myself to someone so wholeheartedly and without reserve. It's refreshing.

A good coach is worth her weight in gold!

Monday, May 02, 2005

Test Delayed

I talked with Anna after my lesson today, and we agreed that I'm just not going to be ready for the May 22nd testing. She said that we can aim for the August test date, or possibly test up in Phoenix (some of her other students may be doing that); there are tests up in Phoenix every month (we only have them once a quarter). So that's a possibility.

She also mentioned she might ask one of our local judges to come to Friday adult session (two of them attend regularly anyway) and critique me. I think that would be a good idea. I'm sure we'll talk about it more later.

Waltz-8 & 5-Step

Today's lesson:
  • Waltz-8 -- we spent about half the lesson (or more!) on this. It's actually coming along. We spent most of our effort on the step forward; although this (BO Mohawk) is supposedly the easier of steps forward, for me for some reason it is difficult. We worked on keeping a good posture and not stepping wide. In some ways it's the same problem manifested in another place -- turning the head and keeping the shoulder from creeping up. These seem to be causing me problems in lots of different places. I guess the positive side is I have lots of different areas to approach fixing them from!
  • 5-step Mohawk -- we came to these in part to work on the same issues as the Waltz-8. They are definitely improving. Anna says that part of my timing issue is I'm holding the BI edge (step 2) too long; so it's not that the BO edge is too long (which is what I thought), it's that I'm starting it late. These are definitely improving though. To give me perspective, these are on the adult bronze test, standard track is pre-juv. So I shouldn't be surprised they are not easy; and actually I'm pleased with my progress on them.
All in all I was really pleased with this lesson. I was expecting to work on the waltz jump, but wasn't really in the mood; so this was a pleasant surprise.

Labels: ,