Gordon's Sk8er Boi Blog

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

Wednesday, November 30, 2005


I went to the rink for adult skate today, only to discover that they were letting people skate for free because the Zamboni was broken and the ice was extremely horrible. Apparently the other Zamboni is off getting its engine replaced or something.

Being a masochist as I am, I skated for 45 minutes or something, but it was truly awful. I managed to fall just stroking down the rink. Bleah! Nothing much accomplished.

Monday, November 28, 2005


Brrrr! It was 40 degrees F in the rink today! BRRRR!

Today's lesson:
  • BXOs -- we started with these, and they were horrible. So horrible, in fact, that we had a new first. Anna said she didn't even want to look at them, that I should work on them and we would come back to them. She's never reacted that way before, but I could see why. For some reason they really were just awful, to the point I was embarrassed myself. Yech.
  • Perimeter stroking -- we did these in each direction. For some reason people were congregating around the rink in clumps, and (particularly on the CW lap) I felt like I was playing the old video game "Frogger." Nevertheless, Anna was pleased with the placement of my strokes and the tempo. The crossovers were fairly good too. She did say I need to be sure to get the leg completely straight on the extension though.
  • FXOs -- in the Moves pattern. About the same as before; still need to get better extension, and keep that darn back arm up. Anna also reminded me to bend the knee on the underpush.
  • Waltz-8 -- the 3-turn is pretty good on these. We worked a lot on the step forward, again, in particular being sure not to block with the shoulder; keep the step forward as the last part of the rotation on the BO edge. These have improved, though.
  • Waltz jump -- we spent a huuuge amount of time on these. I have no idea how many I did -- 15? 20? Sheesh! We worked mostly on timing, getting the forward edge to be more consistent and more than a trivial length; getting the arms and free leg to come up at the same time; and keeping the head up (grr!). Anna actually stood in front of me on the ice and waved at me to get me to look up! How sad is that, that she should have to do that? Anyway, I managed some really great improvement, more lift, better timing and jumping more straight off the toe.
  • Salchow -- We finished up with these. They have really improved! For some reason practicing these doesn't scare me, which is a good thing. Anyway, Anna's main correction was to try to curve a little harder and jump a little sooner; she said I'd need to be more aggressive. So I heightened my aggression quotient and tried again, and wow! Much improved! I'm really pleased with my progress on these.
Once again Anna was very generous with her time; she gave me at least 10 extra minutes. After my lesson I asked her about blades again. She started to say that she wanted me in Coronations, but then stopped herself and said she wasn't done thinking about it.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2005


I managed to escape to the adult skate today and got in about an hour of skating. No big breakthroughs, just some good practice. I did an entire lap of Russian stroking (not the 2 Anna asked for) -- eep, it's a bit tiring! Clearly I need to keep at this.

Had a good opportunity to hang out and yak with skate buddy Nicole. At the end of the session we tried out some ice dance moves -- just stroking together in the Killian(?) position (my right hand on her right hip, left hands joined). It was kind of fun. The crossovers were dicey though :-).

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


Today's lesson:
  • Waltz jump -- I'd told Anna that I'd made some progress on my waltz jump, so we spent a little time on them. Anna was pleased that I am getting more lift. She worked with me a bit on trying to bend the knee and push the toepick harder, and I was able to get the lift-off to be more straight over the toepick and more lift.
  • Salchow -- I'd told Anna I wanted to look at this since I'd been working on it. I did one from the LFO3 entrance and Anna gave me a funny look. I asked her what that meant and she said she wanted to think about it. So I did it again and again. She really liked that I was approaching it aggressively. We worked on improving the timing -- I'm not sure I can explain exactly what we worked on. It culminated in a creditable (albeit, perhaps, a little cheated) Salchow! I did a couple more, and then Anna wanted to see the mohawk entrance. The trick on the mohawk was to get squared off after the mohawk, bringing the hip forward a bit instead of having it open. I find it harder to initiate the deepened edge from the mohawk, though. We worked on it a bit and then we went on.
  • Spins -- we spent almost half the lesson on spins. We started with the one-foot spin from the pivot. It was okay. We went on to the spin entrance. Anna says I'm much more comfortable with the entrance, but I need to consistently push into the spin. Sometimes I'm just "leisurely" with the push and that won't work. At one point Anna had me go back to the pepperoni dot and push from there and I could get into it, but from the BXOs not so much. It was frustrating. Anna said when I get to the point where I feel like I'm going to do the 3-turn I need to push the free leg back even more and feel the tension between the free leg and the skating arm, and just hold a little longer and then tuck in. At one point I had a weird fall, I was stepping forward and somehow stepped behind myself and wound up on the ice. It was so silly I just sat there and laughed for a minute. It must have looked pretty funny.
  • Russian stroking -- just a lap of these. Anna says they are looking much better, but reminded me that I need to get the extension on the stroke into the crosssover; when I do the crossover is much smoother and flowing. She said when I practice them I should try to do a full 2 laps every time. She's got a point; I tend to do one side (or at most one lap) and say enough.
  • FXOs -- we finished up with these in the Moves pattern. They are improving, but Anna reminded me to push for the extension, especially on the bad side. Her main correction was to really work on keeping the back arm up. When I manage to keep that back arm up I stay turned into the circle and everything else is much better.
I am so excited about today, I could just spit. I noticed that my last "memorable entry" (Forward Spin!) was a full 11 months after the previous one (Waltz Jump!). And now I have another one only 3 weeks later! I really feel like I'm at some kind of crossroads or turning point or something. It's very encouraging.

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Monday, November 21, 2005


I skated the adult session today. Normally I would have had my lesson today, but Anna called me this morning and re-scheduled due to a conflict she had, so I'll have my lesson tomorrow on the FS session. That's usually a pretty quiet session so it will be good.

I had a good skate today. The high point was progress on my waltz jump. I did my usual 5 from a standing start, then 2 or 3 from BXOs. I wasn't happy with them; I'm still lacking control and lift. I get decent lift from standing start, but not from BXOs. So I practiced just BXOs to step forward 3 or 4 times, working to get better knee bend and keep the feet close together. After that I went back and did the best waltz jump I've ever done! Key improvements were a real FO edge that lasted longer than 6 inches, and some actual lift. I was very psyched. I did a few more and then left them alone.

I worked a bit on the Salchow entrance, practicing from the LFO3 and also the RFI mohawk. I'm a bit too slow from the mohawk entrance, so I tried it after a few strokes instead of a standing start -- that helped. I find it hard to curve the edge from the mohawk though.

I also spent some quality time on my FI3s, and especially the LFI3, my nemesis. It improved a bit. I really need to spend at least 5 minutes on it every time I skate, I think. Beyond that, practiced 3s and Russian stroking and FXOs and BXOs (a little) and just stroking and a little bit of 5 step. Spent some time on the spin entrance with not much luck.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Shout Out To Jennifer

I should have done this a long time ago, but I'm finally adding Jennifer's skating blog to my blogroll. Check it out!

Tucson Ice Publicity

There was a story in yesterday's Arizona Daily Star -- Gung-ho ice skaters jump-start Tucson Ice rink's opening. It all sounds very upbeat and promising ... let's hope the reality is, too. I do have to say that it certainly does appear that some significant $$ have gone into the facility -- I've heard they've replaced compressors and other equipment. The building looks about the same, but it's definitely colder than it used to be, which IMHO is a good thing. The ice quality is usually fair on the front and excellent on the back. Of course I've not skated any public sessions since they re-opened, just freestyle and adult session, so I'm getting spoiled.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


I managed to get to the adult session today to skate, which makes 3 days in a row of skating. That's great but I probably won't get to skate again until next Monday, so ... oh well.

I had a good solid skate. Anna was there so I asked her about the mohawk vs. LFO3 on the Salchow entrance and (not surprisingly) she said that some people do that, so I should practice it both ways :-). I did, a bit -- it will need some work. Worked on waltz jumps some more; when I do them from a standing start I'm getting better lift, but from BXOs I tend to get distracted and don't get that same lift. I worked a little bit on just doing the BXOs, BO edge, and step forward to try to get rid of the scratchiness, but with only a little bit of success. More time on spins -- I seem to have lost the progress I made on these -- grr! More time on 3s, especially the FI3s; some good progress but I should have spent more time on the LFI3; I'm such a chicken.

One nice realization for today -- I was practicing perimeter stroking and FXOs and I realized I am no longer scared to do FXOs. YAY! Sure, they still need a lot of work, and they aren't my favorite thing to do; but I don't have that adrenalin fear reaction when doing them any more, even when doing them relatively fast in stroking. YAY!


That's "Other People's Skating"as Nerd says. I'm watching my Cup of China long program tape... wow! Slutskaya was amazing, but my fave was Mao Asada. Her program gave me chills down my spine! For 15 she has great maturity and poise.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005


I attended the 4:45 freestyle today. I really like this session, it's usually pretty uncrowded (4 people today); hopefully it won't go away.

I worked most everything, but a lot of time on crossovers, stroking, waltz jumps and 3s and some time also on spins. I'm getting a little more lift on the waltz jump; working to get a more bent knee on the step forward and also to remember to jump up, not out. I worked my perimeter stroking; I'm getting a pretty good rhythm now on the straightaway, counting it slowly as 1 (stroke) - AND (extension) 2 (stroke) - AND (extension) etc. Good stuff. I spent some quality time working on my FI3s, especially the LFI3, but it's still pretty stinky.

I spent a few minutes at the end of the session working on the Salchow entrance. I really think I'm getting closer on this jump. I still tend to drop the hip after the LFO3 which makes the entrance curve too much. On the positive side I think I am getting the feel for how it will go, which is good. I am wondering if I would be better off doing this from a mohawk, though. Maybe I'll ask Anna about that. I don't have a problem keeping the hip up after a mohawk.

Monday, November 14, 2005

New Moves Pattern

I've had a really bad 24 hours for many reasons, so having a lesson today really helped me keep my sanity. Before my lesson I talked with Anna about a few things -- first to congratulate her (yesterday was her birthday) and then to talk to her about my blades. I told her what I'd been told about my blades and that I was thinking about the MK Pros or Ultima Protégé. She took a good look at my blades and said that she didn't want me to have bigger toepicks, and she showed me hers (her teaching skates have Phantom blades). She said the Mark IVs I have have the bottom toepick pretty low to the ice. She concluded that she wanted to do some research about what would be best for me. She also looked at my boots (I told her I'd been considering getting new boots next year) and she said she'd like me to stay in these boots for another year; she thinks I need to finish breaking them in (which is true) and that I need to experience what that's like and skating in boots that are actually broken-in (not broken down) would help me to gain strength in my ankles and feet.

Today's lesson:
  • FI3-FO3 pattern -- this is the new Adult Pre-Bronze Moves pattern. I'd asked Anna if we could work on it. We spent quite a bit of time on it (probably half the lesson or even more). It's a tricky beast. I'm used to working on the power-3s, and the back half of this move is similar except that you turn the other way for the step-forward, for an FI edge instead of an FO edge. I had a lot of problems with this, mostly because my FI3s are so weak. We made some good improvments on my FI3s, even the LFI3 is somewhat improved. Anna really doesn't like this move! She thinks it's a lot closer to the power-3 than the alternating 3s it's replaced. Presumably though the criteria won't be power on this move. Anna said she would try to work with one of the local judges to see what they look for on this move.
  • perimeter stroking -- we did these in both directions. I'm really happy with how much they have improved, especially the crossovers. Anna wants me to shorten up the timing on the strokes; she says I don't need to hold the extension quite so long, just long enough to show control. This combines with the issue that she wants my end crossover pattern to be rounder/curvier -- I've been placing the middle crossover right at the back of the hockey goal, but she wants it placed several feet back from that, just a few feet from the boards. Still, we were both pretty happy about them.
  • BO edges -- we'd not looked at these in a while I think. They are in fairly good shape. Anna says that I need more consistency (and concentration), but that when I do them well they are right on. I still need to work on keeping that foot in front.
  • BI edges -- I'm still not happy with these, but Anna says they are a bit improved. Like the BO edges, I need to still work on keeping that foot in front; and in particular when stepping to the right foot I need to work on keeping the foot close and not stepping to wide. Also I need bigger circles!
As happens so often, Anna was extra-generous with her time; I think she gave me an extra 10 minutes. (the clock was off in the rink, and we were on the front ice).

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Friday, November 11, 2005


Had the day off so I got to have a nice skate at the adult session. I just got my blades sharpened so I had the usual interesting few minutes before they were more skateable. I spent a lot of time on the waltz jump, trying to get more lift and get rid of that scratchy edge. Some small success; one key is to get better knee bend before the jump, I think. I've noticed I'm getting much better knee bend on the landing lately. I worked on 3s and spins (not much going on there) and a little bit on power pulls (which have NO power and precious little pull), and of course edges. I practice edges every time I skate. I'm pretty happy with all of them these days except BI which for some reason have been pretty icky lately. *sigh* I also worked on the 5-step Mohawk and trying to teach myself the new APB Moves 3-turn pattern -- I can do one set but then I'm not ready for the next set, I'm off for some reason. I'll have to get Anna to show me that.

Bill was having a lesson with Lorie, she was teaching him edges. I had to smile as it took me back. They look so easy, "how hard can that be?" but of course they are not...

I spent a fair amount of time on crossovers, in the pattern and on the circle, and also in Russian stroking. These are definitely improving. I'm finding with the Russian stroking that if I concentrate more on doing a better job of just stroking on the FI edge before the crossover that they are much, much better. I'm actually almost happy with them. I finished up my skate with a lap of perimeter stroking, and although my extension wasn't quite up to snuff, I noticed that placement of my steps and my end crossovers were both right on, so that made me pretty happy.

Young Lisa M (not the older Lisa M!) was at the session. I had to give her a hard time when I got there -- in my best "official" voice, "Pardon me, ma'am, but are you old enough to skate this session? I'll need to see some ID!" (she just turned 18 a couple of months ago). Jan (who is 72) piped up with "I'm not old enough!" And we made the "shush, keep this quiet" gesture (finger to lips). These people crack me up!

Afterwards I got to talk to ice dancer Bob. He's amazing! I thought he was in his mid-to-late 60s but he said he started skating at age 68 (!), 7 years ago! He's done Moves up through Preliminary and a number of dances. He has really nice edges and is very smooth on the ice... someday I hope to skate that well. I also bumped into Rebecca and Rita as I was leaving (they were skating at the public session) -- I'd not seen them (or most of my other young skating buddies) in ages, so it was nice to say Hi and get a big smile.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

New Blades?

I dropped my skates off to be sharpened today, and took some time to talk with my sharpener ("skate maintenance technician"? :-)) about my blades. It's beginning to look like I might have to stick with these boots a while longer than I'd hoped -- I'd been hoping to get new boots and blades next spring -- so I'm considering just getting new blades in the spring (my current blades are Ultima Mark IVs and they are going to be at the end of their useful life in a few months, probably). He suggested I talk to Anna about it, but also took the time to show me some MK Gold Stars. I asked about the MK Pros and he said they would be fine but maybe not enough blade for me. I think he may have a somewhat exaggerated notion of my current qualifications though :-). He also said some of the mid-priced Ultimas are pretty good. With Rainbo selling Gold Stars for $500 (!) and the MK Pros for $200, I'm thinking MK Pros are more in my future, or maybe the Ultima Protégé like Nerd on Ice has ($130).

He also mentioned that a good approximation of blade size is to measure the boot from toe to heel and subtract 1/4 inch. My current blades are 10 2/3 (!), I've never seen any other blades measured in thirds.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


Since I wouldn't get to skate tomorrow, I went to the 4:45 p.m. freestyle today. I worked on almost everything, with no particular breakthroughs or brilliant moments. Still, it was good to put some time in. The session wasn't crowded, which was nice; it was on the newly-up front ice. The ice seems a little brittle; I was told that's because they are keeping it colder than normal while they are still adding more layers.

The rink has a website up now, it's Tucson Ice. There's not a whole lot of info there yet.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Slow But Steady

Before my lesson I got some feedback from Marge (a judge) on my waltz-8s as I was practicing them. She says my 3-turn is too early (she's right) and she had some other feedback as well.

Today's lesson:
  • FXOs -- these are coming along. Anna says while my extension is improving I need to be sure to get the leg fully extended so it's straight, and hold just a moment at that point. She also wants me to work on pushing more firmly with the blade on the underpush, so that the blade almost become parallel to the ice; curling the ankle a bit. Still, there seems to be real improvement in these in the last couple of weeks and I'm not sure why. I still need to avoid rushing them though; when I take my time they are pretty good, but Anna noticed that often the first few are better than those that follow; as I go faster I tend to rush them, or perhaps the speed is the issue.
  • BXOs -- these are improving also. Anna really had me working on looking over my arm on these -- I think she's not going to put up with me looking down or toward the center of the circle anymore. They are still pretty scratchy but Anna says I'm starting to get a real cross on the bad direction, finally. I think in another month or so these will be worth looking at.
  • Spins -- still working on these. They were better today than Friday (always better with your coach around!). I'm still tending to wide-step the step forward and Anna says I need to feel the tension in my arms when I'm stepping forward; also wait a little longer for the step forward and keep the free leg back straight on the step forward. Still, they are coming along slowly; Anna says that if I keep working on them I'll start to feel where the spin should be and it will just happen, instead of forcing it like I am now.
  • Power pulls -- Anna wanted to look at these. We looked at both forward and back, and interspersed them with doing some slaloms. Apparently I'm cheating my slaloms somewhat by generating the change of edge by pushing instead of pure knee action. You should be able to do these with your feet glued together, but I can't. I can do these just a little, but I have trouble getting the knee rise and fall to work. Anyway, Anna decided we would focus first on the forward power pulls and she wants me to work on them.
  • 5-step Mohawk -- Anna wanted to work these in the pattern ("big") instead of down the line as we've always worked them before. I did my first set and went in with a lot of speed -- Anna said she'd never seen me skate into anything that fast before except crossovers! Well, it was a bit too much speed for me to feel comfortable (although I didn't lose control) so I slowed it down after that. I find them actually a little easier in the pattern since the lobes are much bigger. However the bigger lobes definitely show up the problems in my timing! Anna made me do an entire side down the rink -- I wound up doing 7 lobes instead of the prescribed 5. Anna says I shouldn't worry about it, when I do them with more speed they will be the right size instead of a little too small as they were. Anna says I should work these, but always in the pattern now and not down the line.
The special treat for today was that my Dad and stepmother happened to be passing through town and got to see the last few minutes of my lesson (the 5-step). They're the only members of my family to have seen me skate. Anna was really excited to get to meet them, as was skate buddy Nicole. It was a good feeling.

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Friday, November 04, 2005

Shaking Out The Cobwebs

I didn't manage to get away to skate at adult session, so I escaped to the 5 p.m. freestyle. I had a good skate, and worked on pretty much everything in my repertoire (except spirals, I think). Astute readers will have noticed that I've not had much icetime in the past couple of months, and wow am I feeling it! It's been a long week, too, which didn't help -- by the end of the hour I was pretty wiped out.

I did my 10 waltz jumps; they are about the same but they feel a bit more secure, at least, so that's good. I worked on my spins but couldn't get back to where I was during my lesson Monday. I did almost manage a spin from the forward entrance, but it was not at all centered and calling it a spin would probably be overly generous.

Since it was a pretty deserted session I spent some time on Russian stroking, especially since I was watching Bri do hers and I was inspired -- she was working on them in her lesson and her coach was telling her "extend! extend" and I realized I've not thought about that. Strangely enough working to have good extension and hold the long inside edge makes them a little less scary and more solid... so I was pleased. Did some 5-step Mohawk and power-3s, not much to say there. Worked on waltz-8 and alt-3s. My FI3s are a little better, including (amazingly enough) the LFI3. I did several that were pretty solid, which was nice since it's been my nemesis. I think I have just relaxed about them enough to not think of them as anything really different than the other side. I also spent some time just on stroking and forward and backward XOs, and of course did some edges.

All in all, a good skate. Not very crowded either, which was nice. I noticed in passing that they are almost done with the front ice, and that apparently they'll be having their first public session tomorrow afternoon. Very exciting! Unfortunately this weekend I have a football game and a concert, so no public sessions for me :-(. Also, Anna was there when I arrived and we discussed possibly moving my lesson to the new Tuesday 4:45 freestyle. She said she'd let me know.