Gordon's Sk8er Boi Blog

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

Friday, July 29, 2005


I attended the adult session today. It feels like forever since I've had a chance to just skate without having a lesson. I worked on a bunch of stuff ... FXOs, BXOs, stroking, waltz jumps. I did a couple of spirals, which I hadn't practiced in a long, long time. I worked on edges a bit and did the nicest BO edges I've done in a long time. Anna saw me working on my BI edges as she was skating nearby and said "Hey, you actually looked up once in a while!" Gotta love yer coach :-). I also worked, of course, on those pesky alt-3s. The only thing I mostly skipped was spinning, I think I only did 1.

Anna was there giving Nicole a lesson and doing some skating for herself too. At one point she was playing the music from her Junior freeskate and trying to remember the program. She did a bunch of doubles and wow... she's such a beautiful skater to watch. Amazing.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Back In The Woodshed

Today's lesson:
  • FXOs -- The theme was "extend and flex." They are slowly improving, due no doubt to our persistent focus on them. Whenever I am tempted to despair about these, all I really have to do is remember (with the help of this blog) what they were like a few months ago. They have come a long way! Probably the biggest single problem with them now, though, is that on the very first push I'm not getting immediately to a good outside edge.
  • BXOs -- Still working on getting the outside toe pointed and weight on the back foot. The CW ones are not too bad, the CCW ones still need quite a bit of work but are improving slowly. To work on getting the weight placed properly, Anna had me do an exercise I'd done quite a long time ago, swooping down the rink in alternating lobes in an extended sort of position, for example an LFO with the right foot on an RFI in the ice, widely separated and holding the separation until the lobe is complete, then feet together and do the same on the opposite foot. The point of this was to work harder on getting the weight on the FO edge. She had me do these both forward and backward.
  • BI3s -- To get into these, Anna had me doing an RFO3 and back 2-foot turn on the hockey circle. The back 2-foot turn has really improved! The RFO3s are still a bit forced. Anna told me I should work on getting into the rotated position and then doing the turn with just a little additional rotation. Then it was on to the BI3. They are getting closer. With the RBI, in particular, Anna said I'm pretty much getting all the pieces in place, but until I'm willing to commit to the turn it's not going to happen. I suppose that's my cue to practice this stuff a lot so that it's more comfortable and I can go ahead and try the turn full-bore.
The ice was much better today -- the rink was a little foggy, and there was still rain from the roof, but the ice itself was pretty good.

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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

A Sk8ing Pome

5-Step Mohawk

Hold some more
Is that enough?

Leg back
Look where you are going
Did you bend the knee?
Is this right?
Don't curve too much
Weight back of the blade

Get a good push
Head straight back
Don't lean back
I always mess this one up
Rotate skinny
Too much to remember

Never around enough
Avoid the wide-step
Where are my arms?

That's good
Don't enjoy it too much
Get distracted and miss the next


Skating In A Fog

Monsoon season has hit Tucson, and apparently the rink's dehumidifiers just can't keep up. At the FS session this morning, there was some pretty healthy fog and lots of cones marking off ice "stalagmites" that had grown up during the night; and there was lots of rain falling from the ceiling all over. It was pretty bumpy elsewhere too. All in all, not the best of conditions.

Today's lesson:
  • spins -- we'd not touched these in a while, and it showed. Bleah! Dropping the free side, and just rushing in general. We managed to get them more or less fixed.
  • spin entrance -- still not quite there yet! Grrr. We did about a zillion of them today, mostly trying to get more aggressiveness and keep that free leg back on the step forward. It seems like I can do one or the other but not both at the same time :-(.
  • 5-step Mohawk -- these are really improving. Anna told me to think of taking the 3rd step more straight back and wow, what a difference -- I actually have plenty of room for all 5 steps then! I'm also tending to lean back on the BO edge instead of just standing straight over my skate. Grrr.
  • waltz-8 -- we'd not touched these in a long, long time. Some of the same corrections for the 5-step apply here as well, especially the leaning back on the BO edge. I was having a hard time seeing (glasses were fogging up so I took 'em off), which made it hard to judge the circle. Mostly the persistent cry that I need to have a better "set" and be more deliberate in my motions. These should be relatively easy for me; I suspect I just need to put a lot more time into them.
Next lesson will be tomorrow on adult session; ice should be better. The conditions were very distracting today and I'm going to do my best to stay off the FS if it's going to be like that.

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Thursday, July 21, 2005

Cactus Classic

A number of TFSC skaters are participating in the Cactus Classic up in Scottsdale starting today. Good luck to Lisa, Erica, Molly, Cheri, Patrick, Jovanna, Savannah, Diana, and Briana, and good luck to Lauren on her test! And, of course, a big Good Luck to Katlynn McNab, who is coming off a great skate at Liberty Cup. Go Katlynn!

Poor Anna -- she has 5 skaters competing! It's got to be nerve-wracking.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The Right Foot Show

Today's lesson:
  • FXOs -- of course there was no escaping working on FXOs. Anna was emphasizing being more deliberate, longer extensions and quicker transitions. At one point she had me just hold the FO glide with extension, then hold the crossed-over FO edge (before placing the crossing foot on the ice). We worked especially on the CW "bad" direction, which was helpful. Anna said I need to think of these as the "right foot show" -- it's all about the right foot. The extension, the crossing, are all just window dressing. She also told me something that seemed new to me, or at least a new way of thinking about it -- I should be bending the skating knee while the free leg is crossing. In some ways it's a different way of talking about the push-under, but it seems to help.
  • BXOs -- arrrgh! My CW "good" direction are getting fairly good. We spent a lot of time on the bad direction, because they are bad. Mostly we worked on feeling like the free leg (outside leg) is straightening as it's crossing, and to really be sitting on that inside leg/hip. We did get some noticeable improvement; hopefully it will still be with me next time I do these.
  • BO edges -- I'm convinced if I don't stop double-pushing on these, Anna is going to inflict severe bodily harm. These weren't too bad, but I still need a better "set" on them.
  • BI edges -- not too bad. Anna reminded me I need to not wide-step when stepping to the new foot; that's part of the reason I have trouble getting a good push since my feet are too far apart.
  • BI3s -- back to these again! We worked them from LBI edge --> RBI edge -->turn, first doing a two-foot turn, then just holding the position, then attempting the turn. There's some small improvement, though I've not yet accomplished the turn. It's kind of hard to hold the setup into the turn, I tend to drop the free hip. Still, it's fun to work on and actually not scary.
My girlfriend was at the adult session today and watched my lesson. I asked her how I looked during my lesson -- am I having fun, or being tortured? "You're being tortured!" was the response... Hmm. I do find my lessons a lot of fun, actually, even if they don't appear that way. Of course I am very intense and focused and sweating up a storm, so I can understand why someone would think that.

Before my lesson, I got some feedback from Marge, a judge who often skates at adult session. She told me I'm tending to land my waltz jump (done from standing start) onto an *inside* edge, and that I'm not landing on the same circle as I started from (which is the same thing, I think). It was nice to actually get some feedback from her, it's very encouraging.

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Monday, July 18, 2005

3s, Sals, & Toes

Today's lesson:
  • FI3s -- per my request, we started with these. I still think they are pretty stinky, though Anna says they are not that bad. We focused a lot on the LFI3 (many of the same issues/corrections apply to the RFI3 though). The main issues for this were, first, Anna insisted I need to keep the free foot/free toe firmly behind me (not at the side) and toe pointed down. She was very adamant! The other main point (one I was well aware of) was not rushing. Push, Set, Rotate, Set, Turn! I tend to especially leave out the second "set" and the result is not good. With some attention to this I did some pretty good LFI3s.
  • Alt-3s -- Anna's idea, not mine (although I was glad to get some time in on them). Still working many of the same issues on the step forward. At one point I had Anna skate in front of me so that I would have to keep eye contact with her -- this was surprisingly helpful, so a pat on the back to me :-). On the FO3s I tend to get in the right position but it's early (too far from the line) so I don't step forward, and then I lose the position. On the FI3s I can usually get the step forward pretty readily, but then it's hard to do the turn because my body position is whacked out. There's an awful lot to do here.
  • Waltz jump -- Anna had me do a few from a standing start just to get the feel in my feet. I actually was getting some good spring on them!
  • Salchow -- Anna started by asking me what I remembered, so I did the entrance (LFO edge, LFO3, hold the LBI, then curve it around and bring the free foot in). She was pleased. We worked on this for quite a while. Anna emphasized that the LBI needs to curve from bending the knee (as I observed, like the RBI entrance for the spin), not from dropping the hip or leaning into the circle. We also worked on the arm position. Anna says that basically it's like doing a waltz jump once you get to the right position. I can see why she'd say that. Anna was very excited (and I was too) and howquickly I'm picking this up and getting closer to it. I'm just lacking a bit of kneebend/oomph to jump at the appropriate point, and also the "flick" off the toepick as the jump happens. I'm really happy about my progress on these!
  • Toe loop prep -- Anna asked me what I remembered about these, and it was just basically the RFI3. We worked on the RFI3, hold and reach back with the leg for a bit. Then we worked just on skating backwards, reaching back with the L leg, planting the toepick and popping up. Anna held my hands while I skated backwards and tried a few. It's a little unnerving. Anna said these would take a while to learn because she wants to make sure I don't fall in the "toe-waltz" habit, which is apparently pretty easy to do. I can kind of see how that would work. Anyway, it's pretty cool to be working this stuff.
Today's lesson was extremely long. I'm not sure what time we started (the clock in the rink was off) but I think we started around 12:55 and went 'til 1:35. Wow! It was very warm in the rink today (62 degrees!) and I was sweating up a storm. Ewwww. I begged Anna not to make me do crossovers today, so I'm sure they'll be at the top of the list on Wednesday. What a great lesson, though.

During my lesson today I told Anna that I had decided I was not going to concern myself with my testing date. I think I've obsessed about that a bit too much; so I told her I would just count on her to let me know when she thinks I'm ready to test and I'm going to leave it at that. At first she seemed concerned that maybe I'm discouraged or down about my skating, but I reassured her it's far from that -- I think I just need to let go of focusing on the test date at this point. Anyway, we have probably 3.5 weeks before we'd need to make up our minds (next testing is 8/28).

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Sunday, July 17, 2005

Intestinal Fortitude

Despite the fact that a) I didn't set an alarm, and b) I didn't fall asleep until at least 2:30 a.m., I woke up at 7:38 this morning. I took that to be a Sign, so I got up and got my butt in gear and got to the rink.

I'm glad I did. I had a good skate. Worked on a number of things -- did my 10 waltz jumps, worked a lot of 3s (inside and outside), worked on crossovers. The waltz jump -- I really need to look up during this jump. I was trying, while working from the entrance, to hold each position a bit. I have a lot of trouble holding the BO edge before the step forward, I'm always getting up on my toe. I probably should go back and work just holding that position on the RBO with knee bent and free foot extended (really, it's like landing position except I'm looking over the shoulder, and the free leg is straight back).

The 3s are improving slightly. In particular the RFO3 is a lot smoother lately. I'm still not at all happy with the FI3s. Anna was there so as we were leaving I asked her if we could look at them tomorrow during lesson. She agreed and reminded me we didn't get to "Sals and toes" on Thursday. I wasn't really aware we were actively prepping the toe loop, but I guess we are (or will be).

FXOs are coming along, I'm starting to get a little better extension. I just need to relax and really push onto the edge.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Saturday Zoo

I skated the afternoon public session today. The ice was so-so at best, and quite crowded, but there were so many people I know there today! That made it a lot of fun. I mostly socialized, but did do some work on my FI3s. They are still pretty stinky. I also did 5 waltz jumps, but didn't feel brave/foolish enough to do them from the entrance since it was so crowded.

I'm hoping I will have enough intestinal fortitude to get up and skate a FS session in the morning. I need some quality time on the ice, preferably before Monday's lesson.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

More BI3s

Today's lesson:
  • FI edges -- review, since we'd not looked at them in a while. In general they are fine, but Anna says I'm still rushing the position a bit. She'd rather I'd have more of a "set" and complete the rotation etc. more slowly and deliberately. As it is, it's "top of the lobe and you're already done!".
  • FO edges -- amazingly enough, Anna had nothing to say about them!
  • BO edges -- bleah! Still coming back to the line diagonally on the left foot, which makes the right-foot lobe too small. The key seemed to be on the left foot, to extend the free foot straight back coming back to the line; gives a better draw-in and better lobe.
  • BI edges -- problems here mostly in getting a good draw-in on the foot and keeping the free hip up.
  • BI3s -- the bulk of our time today. We worked mostly on the right foot, but also some time on the left foot. We started by doing an LBI edge into back two-foot glide, then a back two-foot turn. I'm really impressed by how much easier this is now and how much less scary. From there we went to LBI edge to RBI edge and get into position for the turn. It's coming along. I almost did one, but I don't think it quite counts. The key factors seem to be to really get the shoulder back and be looking over it, and to get the free foot in the correct position from the get-go, i.e., not allowing it to ever be behind but stroking and picking it up in front. After a lot of time on the right foot we worked on the left a little, but it's rough -- not surprising since we've spent almost no time on it. We finished up with Anna asking me to try a (rough) double-3, i.e. in this case an LFO3 and then LBI3. It sort of worked and was surprisingly not scary. Anna said to play with it, although the form will not be correct; just to get familiar with it.
In looking around me at the freestyle session this morning, I couldn't help but be struck by the fact that of the 12 skaters on the ice, 8 of them were Anna's. I don't know if that is just coincidence or what, but it does contribute to a sort of "homey" feeling that is nice. I also had a nice chat with "Tough Love" Tracy, who "encouraged" me in person to get my butt out of bed and to the rink :-). Thanks Tracy! :-)

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Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Das Blinkenlights

I attended the evening public session tonight. Unfortunately, it's apparently been decided that all evening public sessions will be lights-off and disco lights on. I stayed for an hour just because I did need to skate, but sheesh! I won't be returning if I can help it. I tried a waltz jump and almost fell on the landing because I got confused by the lights. Yuck!

I did do some work on 3s and crossovers, and I enjoyed getting to see some folks, but over all, not a very good skate.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Waltz Jumps & XOs

I hadn't skated since Wednesday, so this morning's freestyle was a bit of a shock. Today's lesson:
  • waltz jump -- we worked on these for about half the lesson. First we worked on holding the BO edge longer, and straighter. Anna had me do a pattern where I'd skate around the hockey circle, do a mohawk at a specific point, then hold the RBO down the line to straighten the pattern out before doing the jump. This seemed to help. I was also tending to extend the free leg before the (skinny) rotation, so we worked on staying on two feet until the midpoint of the rotation, so that the L leg extends as the L arm does -- THEN hold the RBO edge, "collect", step forward, and jump. I think basically Anna wants me to slow the process down and hold each position a bit. We made some good progress, but we still need to get to working on the step forward and jump to get better position and height.
  • FXOs -- I wasn't in the mood to work on this, but Anna said we should get it out of the way for the week. They are continuing to improve; but I'm finding that I need to really get my weight more firmly over my skate. That's part of the reason for my lack of extension. Anna said, "I want you to cross because you want to, not because you have to." I really wasn't getting the firm edge that I've gotten in the past (at least at times). It would also help if I bent my knees more. All in all, stuff I've heard a zillion times and ought to know by now. For example, Anna had me doing the cross n' hold drill and if there's one thing I'm reminded of every time I do that, it's that I need to bend my knees more; there's no way to do that drill if you don't. So -- lots to work on.
  • BXOs -- ugh. We worked these for a few minutes, and I'm not happy with them, especially the CCW ones. I am just NOT getting my weight on my back skate, and too much weight either between the legs or on the front foot, so of course I'm not getting the cross. Anna says my front foot needs to be further in front of me but of course it's not happening because there's too much weight on it. Needs work! Anna says she wants to look at back edges on Thursday to help with this.
All in all a good lesson. There's no coffee club this week so my only chances to skate will probably be Wednesday night and the freestyle Thursday morning for my lesson, unless I haul my butt out of bed and hit the 7 a.m. freestyle some other day.

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Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Power-3s And BI3

Today's lesson:
  • Power-3s -- we started working these down the rink. Anna says the pattern is entered similarly to all the other ones, then straight into (I believe) the left foot pattern down one side of the rink, BXOs around the end, and then into the right foot pattern starting with the BXO lobe. Anna's working me hard on these. I'm still needing to get the step forward without wide-stepping, and working on doing a better job on the step forward. Anna says the lobes don't need to be particularly large but of course you are supposed to generate power. The left foot side is not so bad, but the right side! Egad, there's a lot to do, particularly on the step forward. We spent probably 20+ minutes on these.
  • BI3 -- just a few minutes on this. Went back to doing the back two-foot turn, and I did my best ever with some good knee action. So we worked on getting and holding the BI edge (RBI in this case) in the correct position. I'm starting to get a feel for these but they are scary. I almost did one a couple of times though! Anna says I need to commit to doing it though, if I try half-measures I'll hurt myself.
Next week's lessons will be 7:30 a.m. on Monday and Thursday. Unfortunately there is no coffee club next week so my skating will be a bit limited.

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Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Minor Breakthroughs

Today's lesson was on the 7 a.m. freestyle, and I had some minor breakthroughs that encouraged me enormously:
  • FXOs -- I reminded Anna that she wanted to be sure to touch these every week, so of course that's what we started on, first in the Moves pattern and then just on the circle. I worked them in my warmup a bit and that's where I noticed Minor Breakthrough #1 -- I am bringing my free foot around much more smoothly and low to the ice on the "bad" side (CW) now! I don't know where that came from, but it's most welcome. In the past my cross on that side has always been very high and dorky, but for some reason today I just "got it" and there it was, much more like the other side. Anna was pleased. She says I'm still shortchanging her on the extension :-) but they are coming along.
  • BXOs -- the Moves pattern. The CW are looking better, CCW needs much more work. They are still pretty scratchy and Anna says I need to get my weight more firmly over my back skate still, push that heel, and also keep turned into the circle/keep the leading arm forward and be looking over it.
  • 5-step Mohawk -- started with the weak foot (left). These have improved somewhat. I had Minor Breakthrough #2 -- the slide chassé has improved. I now know what it's supposed to feel like -- it's like pushing the blade forward on the ice (pushing the heel) until it slides off the ice. It's really kind of fun. We worked on not trying too hard to rotate on the 3rd step, as that seems to make me a) stay on the edge too long and b) curve it too much. Instead just gently rotate a bit and step forward for the 4th step. I did manage to string a few together so that was good.
  • Power-3s -- starting on my bad foot. Of course my RFO3s are somewhat sucky still. On the 2nd or 3rd attempt I had Minor Breakthrough #3 - I actually managed a good step-forward (back choctaw) from the LBI! I had never done a good one before, and of course it's the same step forward I need for the alt-3s that I've been struggling with so much. So I was pretty psyched about getting that. Of course my success after that was somewhat mixed. We worked on getting a better crossover and getting the body/hips turned into the circle more after the crossover. That, along with bringing the skating hand forward, should help the step forward a lot. Anna also said I will need to work (eventually) on picking up the tempo a bit.
The theme for today might have been to be more deliberate and take my time. Anna said at one point (I think it was the 5-step) that I need to get "frantic" out of my skating vocabulary (or something to that effect). It's true. If I just take my time and relax things flow and it's okay, when I get frantic or anticipate they're not there. I see this everywhere -- rushing my XOs, rushing the 3 in the alt-3s and power-3s, rushing the first couple of steps of the 5-step Mohawk, not getting good extension on XOs and stroking. All these things (all of them!) can be fixed if I'll just focus, let it flow, and not rush.

For tomorrow's lesson Anna wants to look at back 3-turns (eeep!) and some more time on the power 3s. I should ask Anna about starting to work the 5-step and power-3 in the actual pattern, instead of down the line as we usually do. I should probably get some time in on the FI3s as well.

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Saturday, July 02, 2005

Saturday Zoo

I went to the Saturday public session but it was only for an hour or so. I worked on a few things -- did my 10 waltz jumps (5 from a standing start and 5 from BXOs), still working on getting more height. Beyond that I worked on 3s, Mohawks, and crossovers.

Today was a sad day, I had to say goodbye to Veronica H., who is heading home to Sweden next week :-(. She's made great progress on her loop, so she can take that home with her :-). I expect to hear great things about her in the future, although being Queen of Sweden is probably too much to expect :-).

Friday, July 01, 2005

Fun With Salchow Entrance

Today's lesson:
  • FXOs -- first things first, I guess. We worked these in the Moves pattern. I wasn't really thrilled with them. Anna reminded me I need better extension, especially the very first push into the circle. She also reminded me that the transitions need to be quicker, for example bringing the extended free foot in and crossing it over needs to be faster.
  • BXOs -- the Moves pattern as well. These weren't too bad. Anna says the CW ones are almost where they need to be (and I can feel it too); the CCW not so much. I still need to keep pressing the heel on the back foot though.
  • waltz jump --we did these first from a standing start, then from crossovers. Anna says they look a lot better. We worked specifically on jumping straighter over the toe (really pressing the toepick/ball of the foot on the jump will help) and also on (chorus, please:) jumping up more and less out. Actually some good progress on this front, I had some good jumps that really were "up." It's encouraging.
  • salchow entrance - we are actually seriously working this now, which is interesting to me. It's LFO3, hold the LBI, curve it in while bringing the free foot in, then (eventually) "flick" the skating foot and jump. We mostly worked on getting the feel of it. I was happy with it.
  • spin entrance -- we spent a good chunk of time on it, and fixed some small problems. The first one was to step more into the circle, not so much to the left. Another one was to stand up straighter and not crouch forward. Yet another one was to not rush the step forward but to let the RBI mellow just a bit more, and to get a better push onto the LFO.
  • backspin -- finished up with this. Anna says that when I actually do it, I'm getting about 2 revs. Not bad! Anna showed me an entrance I can use, basically an RFI edge that you tighten down until you spin. She asked me to work on it.
After the lesson we worked out next week's schedule. Between the July 4th holiday (the rink is closed! Horrors!) and Anna leaving for the Hidden Valley competition in Escondido, our lessons will have to be Tuesday 7:30 a.m. and Wednesday at adult session.

Anna was really pleased with my crossovers, she said they have improved a lot, but she wants me to remind her to spend some time on them once a week.

All in all, a really good lesson. Anna asked at one point (don't remember exactly when) if I am skating more, and I shook my head. She says I'm looking more comfortable on the ice. Interesting...

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