Gordon's Sk8er Boi Blog

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

Monday, February 28, 2005

Inoue & Baldwin Back To CA

This is interesting -- Pairs skaters return to Calif. for training. That sure didn't last long.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Sunday Evening Skate

I attended the first hour of the Sunday evening session. The first half hour was remarkably uncrowded; after that it filled up a bit but still not bad at all.

I worked a bunch of stuff -- forward crossovers, 3s, spin entrance, and waltz jump. The forward crossovers -- mmm, I'm feeling that edge bite again finally. It's a good feeling -- "delicious" is the word that comes to mind. Don't know why I have trouble finding that spot but I'm hoping increased practice will help me find it more quickly.

The 3s... wow, I practice these things obsessively. The FI3s are coming along okay. The FO3s I'm mostly working to try to improve the exit edge; not sure I'm seeing any improvement at all at this point.

The spin entrance is about the same. I can't seem to tighten that FO edge down, and Anna was asking for more "push" onto the LFO and I can't seem to quite get that yet.

The waltz jump -- about the same. Sometimes I'm getting some spring off the toe, but not consistently. At least I'm willing to practice them, so that is something.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Saturday Zoo

I attended the Saturday public session as usual, although between getting there a bit late and leaving early due to other commitments, I only had 2 hours of skating.

I spent some real quality time on my waltz jump. I was assisted in this by Rita (who I'm going to call Coach Rita :-) in the future). Rita is 12 and besides being a good and hard-working skater, she is a very nice person with a really winning smile that's almost always displayed. Anyway, Rita asked me what I was working on, and I was dumb enough to admit that I SHOULD be working on my waltz jump. With that, it was "Okay, come over to the boards! I'll show you." And she spent about 5 or 10 minutes working with me at the boards on my waltz jump. Much of it was stuff that I'd already worked on with Anna, but she was pointing out the position of the newly free foot/leg immediately after the jump. I think Anna had pointed this out to me at one time but I didn't pick up on it then. Rita said I should have the left (for CCW) leg in front of me after the jump and THEN swing it back. I'd never noticed that before, but I think she's right. I also think it's something you'd have to be able to do in order to do a waltz-loop combo (or anything-loop, really). It also seems to make it a little easier to do the jump, although I don't do it very well. Anyway, buoyed by that little workout, I spent another 10-20 minutes working on the waltz jump until I had to leave. Thanks Coach Rita! :-)

Today's quote is from Veronica H: "Why do people say life is short? It's the longest thing you ever do!".

Friday, February 25, 2005


I attended the adult session today as usual. It was kind of strange to be there and NOT have a lesson.

I worked just about everything at some point, with some special attention to the waltz jump. Of course I couldn't do them as well as yesterday. Still, I think the victory at this point is just to practice them.

I worked on edges, spins (just a little), crossovers and 3-turns. Made some progress on the BO edges, I am finally getting some extension when coming back to the line on the right foot. Before my left hip was soldered in place, no budging that puppy; but now it's starting to free up which is very encouraging.

Nicole had her lesson in my old time slot and ran through her program. She's come a long way. I'm really looking forward to watching her compete next week!

Thursday, February 24, 2005


Today's lesson was on the 5:10 freestyle. Conditions were awesome! The ice was freshly surfaced and there were only 4 skaters. Would that it were always so! Today's lesson:
  • spins -- we just revisited these because they'd been troublesome. After one bad one I managed a couple of nice ones, so we moved on.
  • stroking -- just a quick lap around the rink, CCW. I really should do CW next time... Anna says that my extension is good when it's there. I am very inconsistent. Again, I was just happy I actually did the end crossovers.... so clearly I need to practice these more.
  • chassés -- a few quick turns around the hockey circle on these. They are improving a little and don't feel quite so dorky. On the other hand I was not feeling that nice outside edge like I have been feeling on the FXOs, so I wasn't satisfied.
  • waltz prep -- to prepare for working on the waltz, we did some stepovers, some bunnyhops, and some double bunnyhops. They went okay. On the bunnyhops I was looking down and also tending to raise my arms too much. Also, a dumb correction on the double bunnyhop -- for some reason I was trying to jump from the left toepick, land on the left toepick, land on the right toepick, and then push out onto the left flat. Duh! It's not so complicated -- just jump from the left toepick, land on the left toepick, and push out onto the right flat. I don't know WHAT I was thinking on that.
  • waltz jump -- we spent probably 20 of our 30 minutes working on these. We started by working them from a standstill, then went to working them from a couple of quick pushes (like the bunnyhop) -- left edge glide, right edge glide, left edge glide and jump. Anna says I am jumping too much "out" (forward) and it should be more "up" -- as I said, if I'm moving forward the "out" will take care of itself. We worked a lot on getting more ankle motion a.k.a. spring from the toe (observant readers will note I've been pointing this out as being a problem). We made some good progress, I think.

Anna pointed out a couple of interesting things to me toward the end or after the lesson. First, although I am somewhat hesitant about working these outside of our lesson (Anna observed this and I agreed), she noted that while I didn't make every jump I attempted, I got most of them in some fashion, and I didn't fall, and I attempted all of them.

As I thought about it afterward, I realized that I really am starting to get this. While I tend to think of the waltz jump as "something I can't do", I'm realizing that it's really more like "something I can't do well". That's really a pretty amazing thing for me, for some reason. I think in the back of my mind for a long time there was a fear that I don't think I even fully realized, that I would never be able to jump. I'm realizing that I can jump. That fear is baseless! Of course, whether I will be able to jump well is another question, but that is (of course) something I can work on.

Chesterton said, "If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly." I can think of nothing that exemplifies this so well as skating. Waltz jumps are worth doing, and I'm doing them badly! But I'm doing them!

Addendum: During our lesson at some point I mentioned a comment I'd made on Nerd On Ice's blog about the justification for 2 lessons a week being that I'm not getting any younger and I want to land an Axel before I die. Anna laughed. Later when we were working on the waltz jump and she was pointing out that I need to jump "up" more than "out", she said that if I jump out instead of up, I'll never be able to get any rotation in. And I realized... that's for the Axel! I'd realized this before, but it reminded me that, while I may never actually land an Axel, or a double, at least my training is such that I am learning to do things "correctly" so that I am prepared for those jumps. Another example of why my coach is so great -- she doesn't lower her expectations for me because I'm an adult. I really appreciate that.

Addendum #2: I can't believe I forgot to blog this, but I actually got a "That's perfect!" out of Anna during this lesson. No, not on the waltz jump! Actually, it was on the last time on the chassé. I neglected to mention in my write-up above that I complained that I wasn't happy with my outside edge, so (of course) Anna made me fix it, and I did some that were really pretty good -- thus the accolade. I told her I'd rather have waited 'til later in the year to earn my annual "Perfect." :-)

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Wednesday, February 23, 2005

BI Edges And Alt-3s

Tiger asked in a comment:

Do you have any advice on how to do the initial strike on the back inside edges? I can't seem to get enough "push" off the ice (especially with the first one, but all the way through, really).

Also, how are your alternating outside 3s? Mine are killing me - I cannot do the transition (technically a choctaw, right?) without first touching down the free foot.

Hmm. The initial push-off for BI edges IS tricky. What I've seen described (and what I try to do) is: Start with feet together. Pick up right foot and then all at one time make a sort of swizzle or curlicue with the left foot to push off onto the RBI. You're going to turn the right foot in the air while you are balanced on the left foot so that you can push off onto the edge going in the correct direction. When you pick up the left foot you should pick it up in front of the right foot and hold it in the air in front of the right foot. As you do the edge you can swing the left (free) foot back so that it's leading. The other pushes are a lot like you would use for backward stroking, the swizzle-thing with the free foot staying in front. As I wrote, my initial pushoff is still kind of stinky but the other pushes are okay. I actually do these with a little speed, which I find encouraging. Also, I've noticed in general that a lot of times when I have trouble getting push it's because I'm kind of lunging onto the new foot, i.e. I'm stepping too wide and/or transferring my weight too slowly or too soon.

As for the alternating 3s.... yes, the step forward on these is a Choctaw, either BI-FO (the hard one) or BO-FI (easier). The BI-FO is harder because you have to turn from the circle you are facing into a new circle. On the BO-FI you are already facing the new circle so it's easier. I still cannot do these, either, although I think I'll have the BO-FI soon. On the BI-FO, my coach suggested I overcheck the turn and stay in that position. So far that hasn't helped me much. I do hope that as I control the BI edge better and better that it will get easier. What I'm actually sensing on these is two things -- 1) if the turn is placed correctly at the TOP of the lobe it is easier (I tend to place it early, not surprising I suppose) to control the edge, and 2) I tend to have my weight a bit too far forward on my blade to be able to do the step forward. Generally speaking you need to have your weight toward the back of your blade to do any step forward and I can't seem to shift my weight back on the turn exit (yet).

That's what I can tell you. Good luck and let me know how it goes!

Perseverance, Part II

As has been my custom of late, I attended the Wednesday evening public session. I was rather late in arriving, however, due to a 6 p.m. meeting.

I worked on a bunch of stuff. I worked on my spins a bit; they were better than they have been, but still a far cry from what they were before they started weirding out on me. I also worked my crossovers and Mohawks and all the usual stuff. I also spent some time socializing since many of my favorite skaters were there :-).

At one point I was working on my waltz jump at the boards, and of course Jenny-from-the-Rink comes over and says, "Enough! No more boards! Let's see you get out there and do one!".... so I did. And... it wasn't too bad. Same issues, not enough spring off the toe. I was just surprised I did one, so thanks J! I needed that. :-)


I skated the adult session today. I was supposed to work on my spins, and I did -- for about 2 minutes :-). I should have a chance tonight to work on them, but I wanted to take advantage of the uncrowded time to work on other stuff.

I spent much, much time on crossovers, and I'm once more feeling that "edge bite" (edge pressure!) on the outside edge that I was lacking for a bit. I'm really happy about that, it means a good edge and a good stable feeling. I'm not sure I'm making any progress on either the underpush or the toe-pushing though. I worked on the CW ones! Yay. I really needed to.

I of course spent more time compulsively/obsessively working my 3-turns, and some time on Mohawks, and some good time on stroking (with emphasis on the end crossovers and getting a good bend on the skating knee).

I actually skated with my MP3 player for a bit, something I've not done in a while. I spent some good time on back edges (especially BI edges) with it and it was kind of nice. The good thing about BI edges is that I really enjoy practicing them. The first one out always stinks, still, though, but after that I'm getting a nice draw-back on the soon-to-be-free foot and I'm able most of the time to get a nice swing of the free leg from front to back. It's cool. I wish I felt the same about the BO edges though!

I was talking with Nicole as we were leaving and she said my edges are looking good, very strong and stable. That was really nice to hear, especially from Nicole since she's been watching me skate since almost the very beginning.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Moves & Spins

Today's lesson was in our new 5:30 p.m. time slot:
  • stroking -- Once again looking for extension. Also Anna was looking at the end crossovers, which were not too bad. On the other hand we only did these CCW, so I really need to try to practice this CW tomorrow or sometime soon if I can.
  • forward crossovers -- I am SO tired of working on my crossovers... Anna says she can forgive a lot if I would just give better extension on the first push. I'm trying... She also wants me to think about bending the skating knee as I'm bringing the crossing foot around. They are improving, really they are; they are hugely better than they were a couple of months ago. Still, when I look at Nicole's (for example), my FXOs leave a lot to be desired.
  • spins -- just some brief time on these since we had not looked at them in a while. I was having some weird problems today though -- actually I've been having slightly weird problems on these for a while. Partly it's just sloppiness, I think. I'm not pulling in very well, and I tend to go into the 1-foot spin before I've really established the 2-foot. We decided to move on for now and let me work on them a bit.
  • spin entrance -- I was really glad to get back to these since we've not touched it in a while. These had decayed a little too; Anna reminded me not to try to step forward too soon, and to be sure to get the wind up complete. Once I do step forward, I need to get a bit more push than I am getting now. Anna says I've got almost all the pieces together and I'm putting them together most of the time.
  • FO3/back 2-foot turn pattern -- we'd not touched these in a while. This is on the hockey circle, do an FO3, then a back 2-foot turn, repeat ad nauseum. My FO3s on the circle are getting better, especially when I don't rush the preparation or force them. I can do them a bit faster than I used to, too. The back 2-foot turns are improving as well. Strangely enough the CW ones are better than CCW. I think it's remnants of my shoulder injury from last year that keep me from checking well in that direction and/or turning my head to the left well. I should probably considering going to a massage therapist that I met at a party at Christmas; she thought that some of the stuff she'd learned might be more helpful than the PT I had. It's probably worth a try.
  • Mohawk combo -- This is the infamous FXO, FXO, Mohawk, cross step, step forward pattern. These have improved quite a bit, actually. Even the cross step, which is still rather stinky, is at least not scary anymore. I've spent a fair amount of time just practicing the cross step, going around and around the circle. Anna reminded me I should be able to do these with the upper body fairly "quiet". Not yet...
  • Alternating forward/back Mohawks -- Anna asked me if I'd ever just gone around the circle doing FI Mohawk, step forward, repeat, repeat, repeat ad nauseum. "Of course!", I replied, "I do that obsessively all the time!" She seemed surprised by that. Anyway, I demonstrated and she seemed relatively pleased. She says I need to work to keep the position on the forward Mohawk more open -- especially, I think, on the LFI since I tend to "lead with my butt" more on that side. Anyway, when I do these I tend to end up with my back perpendicular to the circle, instead of facing out of the circle. More stuff to work on!
That was all we had time for... Anna said on Thursday we'll work on waltz jumps and also spins if I'm still having problems with them.

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Monday, February 21, 2005


Since I had the day off today (President's Day!), I attended the 4 p.m. freestyle session. I worked on a number of things, including (of course) 3-turns, crossovers, and edges. I also spent some time on waltz jumps -- no big breakthroughs, just working on getting more comfortable with it.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Saturday Zoo

I attended the public session this afternoon. It was even more zoo-like than usual, since a) there's a hockey tournament at our rink this weekend, and b) skate school was delayed starting due to a). The result was that the session, already scheduled for 12:30 - 2:30 (instead of the usual 12:30 - 4:30) due to hockey, didn't really get started until 12:45 or 12:50, and for the first half hour or so the skate school folks were on 1/3 of the ice and the public session the remainder. Not a pleasant environment, because there were hordes of hockey boys roving in packs (I mean that literally). Despite an actual ice monitor AND the skating director trying to impose order it was pretty chaotic. After an hour or so most of the hockey boys left, perhaps to play on the other ice sheet. It settled down somewhat after that and wasn't too bad.

Despite the bad conditions I did get some work done -- Mohawks, 3-turns, crossovers, and even a couple of waltz jumps. I was especially pleased that I am now able to do the RFI3 on the circle, not just in the lobe pattern. YAY! This is progress. As for the jumps -- not as good as yesterday, very little spring off the toe; but heck I was pleased to get anything under the circumstances.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Another Satisfied Reader :-)

Thanks to Tiger for the kind words on rec.sport.skating.ice.recreational. Scroll down to the 6th paragraph.

Waltz Jump Progress

Today's lesson was on the back ice since there's a hockey tournament this weekend and it's mixing up all the schedules.
  • perimeter stroking -- emphasis on (of course) EXTENSION. I tend to want to do my stroking in such a way that the free leg goes out and comes back in again in a sort of rhythm that's (for lack of a better word) symmetrical; but Anna says that people (judges!) should be able to look at me and see "the position" except just before I change feet. I need to work on this. Heck, I was just happy that I did some good crossovers on the ends!
  • forward crossovers -- we spent quite a big chunk of time on these. Anna had me do crossovers with my arms at my sides, just concentrating on crossing the feet, not worrying about pushing or extension. Wow, that was hard! We worked these in the MIF pattern and then again on the circle. Anna was once again reminding me that I need to keep the back arm higher (she actually skated around behind me in the figure 8, holding my hand/arm up!) and also the front arm a bit lower than I have been. I didn't feel quite as good about my crossovers as I did on Monday; not quite that feeling-the-edge feeling.
  • bunnyhops -- we do these mostly as prep for working on the waltz jump. Anna reminded me I need to get good ankle motion in order to spring off the toepick. As usual she had me doing 3 in a row. It's a good exercise, I should try to do them like that every time I skate.
  • waltz jump -- we spent the last 10-12 minutes on these. First doing a number of small exercises like the double bunny hop, doing the stepover onto the toepick and turning on it, and some jumping in place by the boards. The two areas that are most lacking seem to be 1) getting the different pieces to all come together at the same time! and 2) getting the spring off the toe (which I've been whining about for a while). After doing various things we got some good improvement ending with 3-4 that were almost decent. Key thing (once again) is looking up (waaay up!). It makes such a huge difference!

All in all it was a really good lesson. I was really, really psyched about the waltz jump progress because I realized (AFTER the lesson) that they had felt really free and easy, almost the way they do in my dreams (but without the height :-)). That's really good!

After the lesson I asked Anna about the Moves test in May and said that the only thing that really concerned me was the 3-turns. To my surprise, she said she wasn't worried about them, that they were coming along and should be fine with continued work. What she IS concerned about is (not a surprise when I review my last few lessons) toe-pushing on my FXOs and, especially, scratchiness and not-quite-fully-crossed position on my BXOs. This was a revelation to me, and I'm glad I asked since I will start paying even more attention to these items. I had already upped my work on crossovers lately in general since Anna has had me spending so much time on them.

Before we left we discussed our lesson schedule. The rink has added some new freestyle sessions, in particular a Tuesday 5 p.m. and Thursday 5:10 p.m. They aren't necessarily permanent (they may well go away after the Tucson Invitational 3/5-6), but while they are there we are going to use them since it works much better for both of us. So starting next week we will be doing Tuesday at 5:30 and Thursday at 5:40. YAY!

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Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Katlynn McNab On USFSA Website!

This is so cool! Katlynn McNab is featured this week on the USFSA website (they are profiling winners of the 2004 Future Champions Series). After this week it should be accessible here. Way to go Katlynn!

Wednesday Evening Skate

I did the Wednesday "two-fer" and attended the evening public session as well. It was fairly crowded, but many of my favorite skaters were there so that was a lot of fun :-).

I didn't work anything too seriously, but I spent some time on my back edges. I am actually seeing some improvement, especially on being able to hold the free leg in front at the beginning of the edge and then swing it on back through the edge. Better control. I also spent a little time on the waltz jump. I sort-of managed one with a "real" entrance, i.e. from back crossovers. Of course it's still feeling very sideways but I'm resigning myself to it being that way for a while. I figure I have to get used to it somehow.

I got to meet another adult skater, Missy, who is taking lessons from Jennifer. I think she just started last week. She said she'd been off the ice a long time and is just now coming back. I told her about the adult skate (it's well-hidden on the website so a lot of people can't find out about it unless someone tells them) and she sounded interested.

Sharrrp Skates

I got to the adult session today a little late, so about an hour's worth of skating. I just picked up my skates from the sharpener and WHEE-OOH! I don't remember them being this different the last time I got them done. I usually get my skates sharpened every 6 weeks or so. WOW, this was total skates-stuck-to-ice. Couldn't stop worth a darn for some time.

I mostly worked forward and back crossovers and 3turns. I spent much more quality time with the FI3s and they are improving, which is gratifying. I'm discovering I really have to take my time, at this point, to get non-scratchy BXOs. I'm so used to just zip-zip-zipping them but then they are scratchy; to get them non-scratchy I really have to concentrate on getting my weight on that inside foot. Still, it's improving. On the FXOs I worked mostly on being more deliberate (as Anna asked) and really feeling balanced on that edge. I also spent more time on the darn BI Choctaw without much success.

Monday, February 14, 2005

In The Trenches

Today's lesson was another day slogging through the trenches...:
  • Forward crossovers -- started in the MIF pattern, then we worked them on the circle. Anna's pushing for better extension on the crossing-foot stroke. After some work on these I was feeling like I was getting a much better edge on these -- as if I could picture my body perfectly balanced all the way down on that outside edge. Anna also said I'm getting a little "forward" when I cross. In general she wants me to work on doing these very slowly and deliberately, so that each position is correct. Also a correction, the transition between circles in the MIF pattern should be done on an inside edge (I was on the wrong foot!).
  • Back crossovers -- again, the MIF pattern and then on the circle. I thought these were pretty stinky today for some reason, which is odd since usually they are fairly decent. Still working to get the weight on that back foot properly and press the heel during that stroke so they are smooth and not scratchy. Again, Anna wants me to work these more deliberately and carefully.
  • BI Choctaw -- I had asked Anna to work with me on doing the !*&%$@# step forward for the alternating 3s pattern. As I blogged before, I find myself coming back to the line and being "stuck". Anna suggested that to do this from the FO3 I'm going to need to overcheck the exit of the turn and then "unfurl" (or "untwist") to do the step forward. We worked on this a little and I had an inkling of where it needs to go.
And that was it. Usually by the end of our lesson I'm pretty tired mentally and physically, but today I would have liked another 15 minutes or so. Oh well, plenty to practice between now and Friday!

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Sunday, February 13, 2005

Sunday Evening Skate

Since I was once again too lazy to drag my butt to the 9 a.m. freestyle (to be fair, I didn't get to sleep until 2 a.m.), I decided to attend the first hour of the 5 p.m. family skate. My good intentions were somewhat foiled by the fact that I got almost to the rink, only to discover that I'd left my skates at home! Gaaah!

So, in the 40 minutes I actually had to skate, I did get some stuff accomplished. I worked some more on (of course) 3 turns, crossovers, and edges. I also spent more time on the waltz jump. I've noticed that I can get a nice jump off the toe against the boards, but not away from them. Away from them I can still do a nice (albeit very "sideways") jump, but there's no spring off the toe. I don't know if it's just something I have to work up to, or what.

I've decided I need to ask Anna to work just on the BI Choctaw. I've noticed in working on this from the FO3 that I get into the position on the BI edge with free foot extended etc., but I cannot turn out of that position. If I get in that position just from skating, I am similarly "stuck", which tells me that it's nothing to do with coming out of the turn. I can do the other foot Choctaw just fine, and of course I can do all the back Mohawks without too much difficulty. The BI Choctaw is somewhat more difficult, though.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Saturday Zoo

As usual I skated the Saturday afternoon public session. The ice was even more horrid than last week; the 3 p.m. Z-break helped a lot and it was much better after that. I was there from about 1 p.m. to 4:30, with a couple of breaks, so probably 3 hours of skating.

I spent some quality time with my 3 turns (in among the zooming kids etc.). I am actually starting to hold the exit edge of the FO3 with some authority. The secret seems to be a feeling of "standing tall" over my skate after the turn. I was pretty excited about this progress! Worked on the FI3s, but only got one good LFI3.

I spent a good chunk of time over at the boards stepping through the waltz jump, and then managed 3-4 away from the boards. I know I need to keep working on this but it's at that stage where it's sufficiently scary that I really don't feel like practicing it. This is where that "perseverance" thing comes in! Still, I did spend quite a bit of time on it. Being by the boards helps me to get that lift off the toepick that I otherwise seem to lack. Away from the boards I worked on doing a couple with an actual (duh!) outside edge entrance, with some success. I can tell this is going to be a bit longer of a path than I had hoped for or thought. Oh well, Rome wasn't built in a day.

It was a fun time today hanging with the usual crowd of my "homegirls" -- they are a lot of fun. The definite odd moment was Lisa M (I'm going to start calling the older one "Lisa Mc" to distinguish) coming out on the ice in (horrors!) hockey skates! I must have looked aghast because she came over and said, "stop looking at me like that!" :-) She said she wanted to try them out. She was amused/disturbed to discover that it was a definite adjustment that took some time to get used to. Later on she put her figure skates back on :-).

Friday, February 11, 2005


Today's lesson was quite a workout!
  • FO3s -- just a little time on these. Anna says the two things that will help me hold the exit edge are (duh!) head position (which I knew) -- looking where I'm going (as always), and pointing the toe on the free leg coming back to the line.
  • FI3s -- we spent several minutes on these, especially the LFI3. We did some in isolation, then FI, FI, FI3 lobes. I had several really nice LFI3s this way! I mean, really solid, with good flow out of them.
  • Forward crossovers -- Anna's still working on eliminating my toepushing, working to use the whole blade on the underpush and lift from the hip. She also wants me to be more deliberate about them, not rushed. We finished this part by stroking down one length of the rink, then doing Russian stroking coming back the other way and trying to feel the deliberate placement of the strokes in the pattern.
  • Chassés -- that led us somewhat naturally into working chassés on the circle, working to get better extension and to lift the inside foot up flexed. I am having a devil of a time with these, especially the CW ones. Bleah!
  • Spirals and lunges -- we got to finish with "fun stuff". The LF spiral is not too bad but needs more stretch and extension (free leg still is bent a little). Also it takes me too long to get into the position. Anna says I'm still not feeling like I'm moving all of one piece. The RF spiral ... Anna says it looks better than the LF one. I don't see how. I have a devil of a time really getting my weight placed properly over my skate on these. Still, after a few repetitions I did get a couple of halfway decent ones. We finished up with lunges; the LF one is still in good shape (need to remember to get lower than I think, though). The RF one wasn't too bad, just need to keep the arms from turning and keep it going in a straight line.

All in all, a good lesson. The chassés really tired me out, though! Sheesh.

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Thursday, February 10, 2005


I skated the adult session since my 1 p.m. call was cancelled. I had a pretty good skate; no great breakthroughs but some good work. Main emphasis was (again) FI3s, crossovers, and a few spins. I also did a few LF spirals. I'd not done any for quite some time, but on the 3rd or 4th one I got a really good one. Of course, no one really saw it (grr!) and I was too far from the boards to be able to tell how it looked. Anna was present but was teaching so I don't think she saw it either. Oh well. I should have worked on waltz jumps and, for that matter, the RF spiral, but I was lazy/chicken.

I also spent some time working on the LFO3/RFO3 in the moves pattern. I'm getting better at holding the exit edge, which is encouraging. I've told enough people that I'd like to test in May that it's starting to be a little... pressure? Worrisome? Dunno. At this rate it looks like half the rink is going to be testing at that session! I have so much improvement to make before then, especially:
  • Back edges. No way are these passing quality yet. They are improving, though, and I think they will be there.
  • Forward edges. In good shape, so long as I concentrate and don't rush.
  • FXOs. These too are improving and I think they'll be okay.
  • BXOs. About the same place as the FXOs.
  • Stroking. Almost passable, I think; again, so long as I concentrate.
  • Alternate F3s: GAAAH! It's definitely the hardest thing, and the only one I really worry about. It takes so long for me to get stuff that I am worried I won't have these by May.

Of course, this is only Moves. I don't think I'll be quite ready to test FS in May; I think I'll have everything except the 2nd jump. Of course I could do a half jump by then, probably, but I'd rather wait and do a waltz jump and a full jump (Salchow or toe loop, I assume). I'm not in a hurry on that. The other stuff (crossovers, lunge/spiral, spins) should be okay.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005


I skated the evening public session tonight. Perhaps not the wisest choice, since I'm just now getting over a cold I've had for a week or more and I stayed home from work today and slept 'til 2 p.m. Still, I wanted to get some time in.

The session was not crowded at all, which was pretty nice. I was kind of unmotivated for the first half hour but improved after that. I spent some quality time on my crossovers, FI3s and spins. I got an RFI3 that was really quite good. I got a couple of decent LFI3s, but I see I'm still going to need to work on these every time I skate for a while at least just to get back to what I had before. Sheesh.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

USFSA Testing

We had a testing session at the rink today, so I attended both to support my fellow skaters and also to learn by watching. The first, large chunk of time was devoted to preliminary dances (Dutch Waltz, Canasta Tango and Rhythm & Blues). I have to say that ice dance looks very appealing in some respects. If I had even more practice time (*sigh*) I'd consider it, especially since if anyone is qualified to teach dance, it's my coach -- she's an amazing dancer. As it is I have plenty to do just learning the basics at this point. These preliminary dances were followed by a couple of bronze dances (Hickory Hoedown and Willow Waltz, I believe).

After that there were two pre-preliminary tests, 3 Juvenile MIF and 1 Juvenile freeskate. Juvenile MIF and freeskate was by Patrick, another of Anna's students. I'm pleased to say he passed. His freeskate was to music from the Matrix, and of course I'd seen it a number of times at freestyle sessions. He did a really good job with it. It seems like Anna pushes him pretty hard, but I suspect it's because he's really capable of a lot. He works hard and is very talented.

I can tell I am making progress because the only part of the Juvenile MIF that I tended to watch and say "no way!" was the back power 3s. Eeep! The other stuff (8-step Mohawk, cross strokes, and double 3s) seem potentially do-able (yes, even the double 3s).

Congrats to all who tested!

Super Bowl Skate

I skated for an hour at the family skate session tonight, and, as I'd hoped, most of the families were off watching the Super Bowl. It was a nice session -- relatively uncrowded (maybe 20 people) and good ice.

I worked a lot of stuff, but spent the bulk of my time on 3s, and especially on working the FI3s. As a result I can say that the RFI3 is now *almost* comfortable. I can generally get retain some speed coming out of it and do a step forward, which is promising. The LFI3 showed great improvement as well, though it's a long way from being either consistent or comfortable. Still, I got a number of good ones, including some with some speed coming out of them, which is very promising. Things that seemed to particularly help this included forcing myself to not rush into the turn, and trying more to feel the edge like any other lobe-style edge. I'm greatly encouraged.

One other point to note, also encouraging. In the past, from time to time I've tried to see how far I can glide on what foot from a single push. In the past the best I've been able to do is roughly from the blue line to the blue line, a distance of 54 feet. Today I was able to sail way beyond the blue line, to the edge of the face-off circle beyond; a distance I'd estimate at a total of 75 feet. I was really psyched!

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Saturday Zoo

I skated the last two hours of the public session today. When I first got there the ice was absolutely horrible! The worst I've seen in a while. Fortunately the Zamboni break at 3 was an actual wet cut for once (usually it's a dry cut, which seems pretty useless) so that helped a lot. I didn't get a lot done (didn't expect to), but did some good spins, some 3s and Mohawks and crossovers.

Bumped into Lisa M (the younger Lisa M) and horrors! She had a bad fall on Monday and is not going to be able to test her moves tomorrow. She said she was hoping to still test some dances depending on how her skating today went (she'd been off-ice all week). Eeep!

Random observation I made to Veronica H. (Hi V!): why is it that when little kids (or not-so-little kids) get in your way at a public session (going the wrong way, or barrelling randomly out of control through the center circle), they always give you this blank look? Not an "oops, sorry" or even a shrug, just a blank look. It's weird!

Friday, February 04, 2005

A Little More Grace

I meant to blog about this before but I forgot...

So after my lesson, Jenny was leaving the session and said something nice to me, "you looked good out there!" For once, I actually had the grace to just say "thanks!" and not say to myself, "she's just being nice." I've always been bad at accepting compliments of any kind, and of course it's worse about skating since I'm almost always the worst skater on the ice at any particular moment. It's good to allow myself once in a while to feel like I have come a long way and can be proud of what I have learned, and not compare my self to anyone except my former self.

Thanks Jenny!

Waltz Jumps, Still

Today's lesson:
  • slaloms -- started off with these. Anna says I'm getting better kneebend than before. She still wants me to keep it in my warmup. I have to say doing a whole lap of these is just a bit tiring!
  • alternating edges -- this is the edges-down-the-rink pattern. We did FI, BI, FO, and finally BO. Anna was relatively pleased with them all except the BO, which of course are the weakest. I am not getting good edges on these.
  • edges on the line -- a.k.a. the MITF pattern. We went through all of these. The FO are good, the FI not as good but okay. BI are improved, but needing work. BO still need improvement. Fortunately I've got until May to get them up to snuff -- it looks like I'll need all that time.
  • bunnyhops -- Anna always starts my jumping off with bunnyhops. It always takes me a few times to get the rhythm back, which says to me I need to start practicing them more, especially the 3+ in a row.
  • waltz jump -- finished up with these. Plenty of working on getting better ankle action, and keeping that left shoulder forward a bit. I managed a few. I really wish I could just relax on these. I'm not sure what I need to do to make this happen. We went back and tried the double bunny hop thing, and sure enough it DID help a lot. For some reason that seems to help me feel to push off from the toepick. Anna said she wants me to practice the entrance-into-the-boards some more, she thinks it will help me get my timing together. I do have all the pieces, I just can't get them all together at the right time!
After my lesson I skated another hour (until 6). Maybe not such a good idea, as I was a bit tired when I *started* my lesson. Now, I am so wiped out it's unbelievable. It's been a lot of skating this week so it's not surprising. Still, in that hour I got some good work on my crossovers -- I think there's some real improvement there, especially when I relax and don't try to rush them. If I think of "edge pressure" and being somewhat deliberate, I can turn out some good CCW and some okay CW ones. Part of the edge pressure is feeling the whole blade on the inside foot, not just the heel. It's okay (I think) to feel the heel more on the outside pushing foot, but on the inside I need to feel more of the blade I think. At least, when I do that I feel much more firmly in the ice.

I also worked some more on those darn FI3s. The RFI3s are where I left them, the LFI3s not so much. Grr.

There are a lot of people preparing to test and/or compete (testing this Sunday, competition a month away) so I got to see some programs in various stages of preparation. Good luck to everyone who's testing Sunday!

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Thursday, February 03, 2005

Skating With Katlynn!

The reason I took the afternoon off today was that Katlynn McNab was visiting Tucson. It was nice to see and her dad Dale. Being on the same ice with Katlynn was... distracting. It was hard to focus on my stuff (except during my lesson!), it was tempting just to watch her skate. Wow! She was having a "bad double axel" day, though -- lots of falls on that one. A good lesson in perseverance there!

Nevertheless, for the hour of skating I had after my lesson I did get some good work done. Specifically I worked a little on my waltz jump walkthrough (since Anna had said we'd work on it tomorrow). The highlight though was a huge amount of time on the FI3. The result was that the RFI3 is starting to become actually respectable, almost. Best of all I actually did 3 or 4 pretty decent LFI3s! Regular readers know this turn is my nemesis. So that was pretty exciting; of course I got all this at the very end of the session (isn't it always the way?). I was really pleased with that, though. I also spent some time working my RF lunge (weak side) since I don't spend enough time on it. It was a little better.

After we got off the ice, I had the pleasure of going to dinner with Katlynn and Dale. We had a really nice dinner and a great conversation, it was really terrific to talk with them. If you ever have the chance to watch Katlynn skate, take it! She is a good skater who works incredibly hard and is very talented -- a winning combination. Best of all, I've never seen a skater her age with the kind of grace, poise and presentation she has. And of course she's blessed with very supportive and patient parents! Thanks for coming down K & D!

Turns & Spins

I had an "extra" lesson today, since I have a schedule conflict for next Monday's lesson time. I had the afternoon off from work, so I was at the 2:15 freestyle and got good and warmed up for my lesson at 2:45.

For the first part of my lesson we worked on 3s since a) I was working on them before the lesson and b) we've not looked at them in a little bit. On the FO3s the major focus was not forcing the turn (especially the RFO3) and, relatedly, working on getting the turn closer to the top of the lobe in the alternating 3s pattern. My issue with this is that I tend to rush the turn once I've rotated. It should be: push, set, rotate, set, turn, set. It tends to be: push, set, rotate,turn! So we made some progress with that. Another thing we discussed is having the same kind (quality) of edge as when I'm just doing edges. For some reason I tend to treat them as an entirely separate thing, which is probably why I'm trying to do them off of flats so often. Grr!

After the FO3s we went to the FI3s. The RFI3 has continued to improve. Anna noted, though, that my free foot tends to be right at my skating foot. She suggested getting it held a little back and pointed down (I know she's told me this before). Anyway, I managed to do that and voila! much better. Now I just need to work on looking where I'm going. We touched briefly on the LFI3 and it's still problematic.

After almost 20 minutes on 3s we went on to look at spins. I got some really nice one-foot spins, including one that was close (I think) to 5 revs! Then we went to look at the (in)famous backspin. Anna reminded me to keep my stomach firm and stand tall. With that I managed a really nice backspin that was a little better than 2 revs! Wow! And of course Anna saw it, which means it will just encourage her.... :-). It was pretty awesome though!

Next we looked at the FO3/back 2-foot turn on the circle some more. I still am tending to force these FO3s waaaay too much. The back 2-foot turns are improving, though. Anna said she really needs to get me learning the back 3s. I'm not sure why she is so adamant about this, but she is....

At the end of the lesson Anna said she wanted to see me do 3 bunnyhops in a row. So I set off and did 2 and then lost my rhythm.... so had to come back and do the 3. Phew!

Anyway, it was a really good lesson, and best of all I have another one tomorrow! I'll blog more about the rest of my skate in a separate post.

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Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Too Much Of A Good Thing?

I skated the evening public session tonight. I'm not sure it was a good idea; I felt very aimless and unfocused. I'd had such a nice skate at lunchtime, perhaps I should have left it at that.

I worked some more on the edge drills, plus regular edges, a couple of spins, and some crossovers and chassés. I also did a couple of waltz jump stepovers, and some bunnyhops. I managed a nice fall on a bunnyhop when I managed to catch my left toepick. Oh well, I had not fallen in a week or so.

I got to see Veronica H. run through her program -- it's coming along nicely (she's using music from Harry Potter). It's going to be a good program. I also had a nice time talking with José and Allison and her student/roomie Marta. So more socialization and not a lot of work. Oh well!

Edges, Edges

I skated the adult session today. I spent most of the session working on the edgework that Anna had given me on Monday. The BO edges are a bit challenging but improved a lot just in the time I worked on them. This exercise is good because it's making me sit back on my blade more on these, which is a problem I was having when working them down the line. I also worked a little on crossovers and even a few spirals, which I'd not done in quite some time. I think they were a little improved, but it might be just wishful thinking. I did also work on the chassé a little. I really don't like working them, I don't know why. They are not that difficult, I just am not that interested. Hopefully if I work them more I'll like them better.

In other news, due to a schedule conflict next week we moved my Monday 2/7 lesson to tomorrow since I am taking the afternoon off. Anna wrote, "Three lessons in one week!!!...and I am going to keep working your tail off." I will have to point out that my tail came off in the first couple of lessons :-).