Gordon's Sk8er Boi Blog

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

Wednesday, May 31, 2006


I skated the Wednesday evening session at Valley. The ice was uncrowded (3 of us), but the ice was poor at first. Fortunately, about 30 minutes into the session they resurfaced, after which it was nice indeed.

I worked a lot of stuff -- 3s, FXOs, BXOs, back edges, spins, waltz jumps, Russian stroking, waltz-8. My back edges are definitely looking better. Still, I came away feeling a little depressed about my skating. After 3 years of skating my FI3s still stink! Grrr. Still, a good skate.

I got to meet the owner of the rink. He seems a pretty cool character. It's nice to see an owner who's involved with his business and seems to care passionately about it. He says they will continue this session through the summer, which is great since it fits my schedule well.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Mixing It Up

As usual I skated the 9:30 a.m. session at Valley today for my lesson. I had called on Friday and they'd said the ice was up again. The ice today was a bit thin and rather rough (no Zamboni before the session) but acceptable.

Today's lesson:
  • Stroking -- Lucy says my extension is much improved. Main corrections were to keep the shoulders down, head up and try to look more relaxed :-).
  • Waltz-8 -- timing on these has improved. Lucy said I am tending to drop my R shoulder and block with my L shoulder on the step forward from RBO that I've been struggling with; that's one reason why that last step (LFO) on that side tends to take me so wide. Some good progress though.
  • Spirals -- left foot is looking pretty good; Lucy says my free leg is almost at hip height now, yay! Right foot -- yech. I'd not tried one in a while and it was like I'd never done one at all. Couldn't seem to get my weight planted correctly and couldn't straighten the skating knee. *sigh*
  • Lunges -- left foot is good. Right foot -- after a couple of bad efforts, managed a pretty good one. I need to practice these more.
  • FXOs -- ever popular, these are (sounding like Yoda I am!). Extension on these is improving, and Lucy says my rhythm is improving too. Still need to work on keeping the shoulders down, and still some toepushing on the underpush (such as it is).
All in all a pretty good lesson. I only have 2 lessons left with Lucy before she leaves; I'm thinking I want to learn something new. Maybe an outside Mohawk?

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Thursday, May 25, 2006

Shiny+ Rink

Since I hadn't skated since Sunday morning, I took the trek out to Shiny+ Rink for the 7 p.m. public session. Between getting there a little late and a Z-break, about 90 minutes of skating.

It was not too crowded, and I found a quite corner or two to work on back edges. I'm starting to be a bit happier with these -- I'm finally getting some knee bend in the back edges so they are more controlled and the lobes are a bit bigger. Even the BI edges are showing some improvement. I also spent some time on spins -- no progress on the entrance, but I did a couple of very nice ones from a pivot. Also time on FXOs, BXOs, 3s, and 5-step mohawk. At the end I was working on the Waltz-8, and these are starting to show some real improvement at last. I'm finally starting to get the edges to be about the same length (almost) instead of the last edge being half of the quasi-circle.

All in all, a pretty good skate and I was happy with it. Unfortunately there was a memo posted at the rink saying that they are in the process of negotiating the sale of the rink, and, assuming it goes through, they will be shutting down their second ice sheet and carry on with just one sheet of ice. It's too bad; it is the nicest facility in the area.

Valley Ice Down

I went to Valley last night to skate at the 7-9 p.m. session, only to find that the ice is down due to a broken pipe. The guy I spoke to said they hope to have it up Friday, but by the looks of things that's a pretty optimistic statement.

Considering my past history I'm very concerned. Fortunately in this area I have other options!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

3s And Spins

Today's lesson was on the 9:30 a.m. public at Valley. As usual this session was very uncrowded and nice ice -- it's really a good environment. Today's lesson:
  • FO3s -- as usual the LFO3 looks nice. I really shouldn't bother to spend any time on it at all. The RFO3 still needs work. Lucy reminded me to keep tension in my arms, I have a tendency to draw them in at the turn. We also worked on holding the entrance edge longer and keeping the free foot/leg close.
  • FI3s -- quality time on these at last. On the RFI3 we worked on holding the entrance edge longer, keeping the free foot/leg close, and keeping the uppper body quiet. On the LFI3 we worked on pretty much the same stuff. I was really pleased, because my LFI3 has been so dreadful and while it's still quite bad we made some real progress. Good stuff.
  • Spins -- just a bit of time on these. I'm tending to drop my shoulder on the entrance, which is throwing me off. Not much progress though.
Addendum: I forgot to post that I spent some time after the lesson working on my right-foot T-stop. My left-foot T-stop is okay, but I've not spent any appreciable time working on the right foot and so it stinks. In working on the left foot I managed to put a nick in my left blade when I stepped on the back of my R blade (no fall). Kind of annoying that I've had these blades less than a week and I've already put a nick in 'em. Oh well!

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Friday, May 19, 2006

Shiny Rink

At lunchtime today I went on the trek (it's a 35 minute drive) down to Shiny Rink to skate at coffee club there. The ice was really nice, the session uncrowded and I got to meet Leslie and her husband Dale as a bonus. Leslie is a frequent poster on RSSIR. She was kind enough to give me some contact info for some of the coaches at Sherwood since that's where I'm looking now.

I had a pretty good skate, went through most of my repertoire. I'm still adjusting to these blades. Spent some quality time on 3s and on the spin entrance, but no major progress to report. About an hour's worth of skating total.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

XOs And Spins

Today's lesson:
  • FXOs -- with the new blades, these are much better. I think partly it's that the mounting position is, perhaps, slightly different and it's a little easier to get on that outside edge. We did these both on the center circle and the Moves pattern. Still working for better extension on both pushes, and to stay turned into the circle. I noticed I'm getting more power on these now, it's a smidge scary.
  • BXOs -- just a little time on these. They are improved; the good side is "almost okay", the bad side still has a long way to go. Lucy said I need to keep my crossing foot turned out longer and have more of a feeling of drawing it in.
  • spins -- two-foot, one-foot, and one-foot from the entrance. My two-foot is now pretty darn nice -- well-centered and getting fairly good speed/# of rotations. The one foot is also better. We spent a lot of time on the entrance. Lucy pointed out (major "a-ha" moment) that after the 3 I'm falling onto my BI edge; I need to be spinning on the BO edge which means I need to get weight over further, and be more "lifted" or solid over the sweet spot on the blade. We worked on these for a while, and I had a couple of (harmless) falls. I really think I just need to work on these a lot more, and a lot more consistently.
All in all a good lesson, I was quite pleased.

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Monday, May 15, 2006

New Blades!

Once again I'm tempted to title this Whee! or Woo-hoo! or Woot! or maybe just, "Like Buttah!"

I got down to Lloyd Center around 7:15 and picked up my skates, and got on the public session. As usual, the first hour of the evening public session, the ice was horrible. After the Z-break the ice was nice AND it was less crowded. I skated about 90 minutes total.

The new blades... WOW. What a difference. Not a bad difference, just a much more secure feeling, more stability. When I tried a spin, again, WOW. I can actual find the rocker (there's a rocker there to find!) and I did some great spins. I'm SO glad I did this, and I wish I'd done it a lot sooner. I feel soooo much more enthusiastic now. Everything's better -- edges, turns, XOs, spins... okay, jumps are about the same, but other than that, much better. Yay!

While I was there I noticed an employee running around with a drill, drilling holes in the ice. Apparently (from glancing at the sheet he was filling out), the ice there (which seems reasonably flat) varies from 1.5 to 3.5 inches thick depending on where you measure it! Amazing.

What Adult Skating Is All About

This letter to the chair of the USFSA Adult Skating Committee was recently posted on several adult skating lists, and I received permission from the author to post it here. I think it says a lot about adult skating that's worth thinking about.

Dear Mr. Conte,

I want to thank you and your committee for your work on behalf of adult skating, and to tell you a short story.

I subscribe to the Internet Figure Skating Channel, and as time permits, I have been watching the Ladies' competitions at the recent Adult Nationals. To my considerable surprise, I have cried over nearly every performance. I thought, What on earth is going on here? I mean, if I'm going to cry over skating, which is rather a strange thing to do, why didn't I do it at, for example, the Olympics?

I think it was because I don't identify with Olympians, and I did identify with these women. I was deeply moved and inspired to see grown women with believable figures and good solid legs -- women my age and undoubtedly with the same adult insecurities I have -- get out there, in front of everyone, and do their best. I was proud of the countless hours of work they must have invested to get to Nationals. I was proud of the sacrifices they must have made to carve out practice time from their school, work, and family responsibilities.

Although I saw many truly talented competitors, the quality of the skating actually mattered less than the quality of the women themselves. The lady who placed last in Bronze Class 2 looked like she might have actually been a Special Olympian, and with each element she attempted, the audience erupted in enthusiastic cheers of encouragement. As she finished her routine, on which I imagine she had worked for months, she beamed with pride, her face radiant, sending me scrambling for another box of tissues.

I have seen few things as beautiful as that collection of women.

Each time someone hit an element (either solidly or with a bit of a fight), or glided by with that unhurried elegance that only a woman can have, flashed a smile of pure delight, or looked up to acknowledge the shouted support of their family and friends who had come -- out of love, just for them -- the tears began to fall again. And I thought, Maybe I, too, could do this one day. I could be a strong, brave, beautiful woman like that. And a dream, a goal, began to take shape in my mind.

Seven weeks ago, my sister, my five-year-old nephew, and I joined a local ISI skate school. I literally cannot describe the amount of positive change the last eight weeks have already brought me, in terms of self-confidence and helping me redefine myself as a person who can be active. Growing up, my family was marked by significant academic and musical accomplishments, but we were not at all active, and it's led to a lifetime of struggling with my weight and with my self-confidence.

But when I got on the ice, to my astonishment, things came naturally. I discovered that there was in fact coordination, balance, and grace buried somewhere inside of me - and I slowly began to let an adventurous woman emerge, slowly replacing the painful memory of the nearsighted, clumsy, insecure girl who only passed physical education in school because of the written tests. My image of myself as "non-active" began to change.

Inspired, my sister and I both joined our local YMCAs and now exercise daily (and we've both lost about 10 pounds!). We are becoming USFSA Basic Skills members, and we just finished our beginner skating course and passed our first two ISI levels (Pre-Alpha 1 & 2). After the last class, when I skated proudly off the ice to show my nephew (who closely monitors my progress) the stars in my student record book, he flung his arms around my neck and said, "Oh, Auntie Lisa, I'm so proud of you!" And then he wiped my fresh tears with his little mittened hands.

I have *just* begun lessons with a private coach, and I even dare to dream of competing at Nationals someday. I work just a few minutes from the rink, and I practice nearly every day on my lunch hour. All the little girls there (the ones training seriously, there during school hours) know and love and help me.

On Saturday evenings, when the rink is full of families enjoying themselves, I love to help the adults still hanging onto the wall. I take their hands and go around the rink with them and tell them that they can do it. Several parents have stopped me and told me that they are inspired when they see me practicing all my little elements. "You are so brave!" they say. "Aren't you afraid that you'll fall?" And then, inevitably: "Do you think . maybe I could do it?"

And then, last week, one mother caught up to me on the ice and took my hand. "Look, look, I can stand up!" she said with a wide smile. "I've just started taking lessons. I've been watching you for weeks, and you looked like you were enjoying yourself so much that I gathered up the courage to try."

And I felt like I had just won the gold at Nationals.


Houston, Texas
Age 34

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Skating Update

I dropped my skates off yesterday to have the new blades mounted. I am supposed to pick them up tomorrow evening at Lloyd Center. I'm very psyched about it.

I didn't get to skate all week as my car was in the shop all week with clutch problems (*sigh*), and now my skates are in the shop. Arrgghh!

And... I am losing my coach. When I first talked with Lucy she told me that she had applied to be in a summer skate show, and would know in late May if she'd gotten in. She did, and she'll be leaving in mid-June for the show and won't be back 'til September. So I have only 3 or 4 lessons left with her. *sigh* She recommended some possibilities for other coaches to me, and I'll have to work on that.

I'm trying to decide what, under the circumstances, I want to cover in my remaining lessons (especially with new and different blades). So far I'm leaning toward working mostly on fundamentals -- crossovers, 3s; and also working on that darn forward spin.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

HBD Tracy!

And a big Happy Birthday to Tracy! Tracy is one of the hardest-working, most dedicated skaters I know. Have a good one T!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

HBD Bri!

Happy 12th birthday to Briana L! Hope it's great, Bri!

Monday, May 08, 2006

Obsessive 3s

I skated the 8:30 a.m. freestyle today -- wow, I've skated 3x in 3 days! As usual, a lightly attended session (4 people, later 6).

I spent a lot of time working 3s, especially my RFO3. My LFO3 has such a nice cadence and feel to it, but I can't seem to get that on my right foot. The RFO3 always seems very forced. I must have done about 12 bazillion of them but they didn't seem to improve much. Also a few FI3s but not enough to make a difference :-(.

I also spent some time on FXOs and working back edges; did Russian stroking forwards and backwards. Backwards is pretty fun but my lobes are pretty shallow and I'm not going that fast yet.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

3rd Skativersary

Today is the third anniversary of my first setting foot on ice; my 3rd Skativersary. As I looked back on my 2nd Skativersary post and my 1st Skativersary post I couln't help be struck by what a long, strange trip it's been.

This has been a long, tough year. Some "lowlights" of the year were the continuing saga of ice problems at Polar Ice in Tucson, with ice being closed down and poor quality ice, etc., culminating in the rink's closure in September for 6 or 7 weeks.

Then, of course, there was my move to Portland and the skating "desert" that I went through for several months. Finally, there's where I am today, with a new coach, soon-to-be-new blades, and, (hopefully) a new (or re-newed) commitment to skating.

Skills-wise, I'm not sure that I've really learned anything at all new since last year, except that I have the beginnings of a Salchow. There are many frustrating aspects of my skating right now, things I should be able to do but can't, or can't do well:
  • I STILL can't !*#&!%@! SPIN. That is, I still can't do a forward spin from crossovers, despite the fact that I've been working on it seriously for, what, almost 2 years? Gaaaah! I have GOT to get this this year even (I'll regret saying this, I know) if it kills me. Sheesh.
  • I still can't reliably do an LFI3, and my RFI3 is pretty weak.
  • My BXOs are still not "real", i.e. I still don't have a full cross of the feet, after all this time.
  • I still can't do a Salchow.
Last year I decided not to set any goals for the coming year, but I fully expected to have passed the APB Moves test by now; and I might have if I had maintained the kind of momentum I had a year ago where I was skating 4+ times a week, had two lessons a week, etc. Well, that's all melted ice now. Instead of focusing on testing or competing, I'm going to set my goals for this year at fixing all the stuff I listed above. If I can do all that stuff by next May I'll be pretty happy, and if I can do other stuff (toe loop?) so much the better.

So that's the year in review. Thanks for reading, and for all your kind comments.

Taking My Time

I had my lesson this morning at 10 a.m. Before the lesson I showed Lucy a trace of a Waltz-8 I'd done before my lesson. I'm still turning the 3 too early and the first two edges are only half the circle together. Bleah! Today's lesson:
  • FXOs -- back at these. They are definitely improved. I'm finally getting better extension (even on the bad side). Lucy had me be more deliberate and pace myself more, which resulted in better positions all around. We did them both on the center circle and in the Moves pattern.
  • BXOs -- just a brief little time on these, working some more on the ISI-style BXOs and back edges in general. These are still pretty poor and need a lot of work.
  • Waltz jump -- we finished up with these. They are looking fairly good. We worked on getting a better back edge and better setup for the jump, and watching the free leg position before the step forward. These are much better than they used to be.
As Lucy said, the theme for today's lesson was "take your time." You hear this a lot from the commentators on TV, and it's true. Another way of putting it is "one thing at a time." When I take my time to really focus on each part of the setup for the waltz jump, for example, I can remember to get a nice back edge, good extension of the free leg prior to the step forward, and good kneebend on the step forward (compressing the spring). I was pretty happy with today's lesson and glad to be making some progress.

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Saturday, May 06, 2006

Skatin' Wit Da Homies

Since I really wanted a chance to skate on my newly-sharpened blades before my lesson, I went to the Saturday night public session at Valley. As usual for this sort of session it was filled with teenagers, most of whom weren't there to skate but to hang out with their friends and flirt with the opposite sex.

Since Valley doesn't have any disco lights or a working mirror ball, the lights were on the whole time, so in spite of the crowd and the goofy music it was an acceptable skate. I skated for about an hour and got a good workout; my toe seems to be fine now so that helped. This is the first time since I got these blades (well, with the exception of the first sharpening when I got them) that they had not been sharpened by my old sharpener back in Tucson. They felt fine; not as sharp/grabby as I'm used to after a sharpening, but definitely much, much better.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Skate Update

I picked up my skates on Wednesday evening, but haven't had an opportunity to skate *sigh*. I have some kind of corn or callus on one of my toes that's really bothering me right now anyway. Tomorrow is the spring ice show at Valley, and Sunday is my lesson. My new blades are supposed to be in on Tuesday (yay!) so hopefully I will drop my skates off Wed. evening and get 'em back Friday night (I think).

My current thinking is to turn my old blades into bookends... I'm thinking I could get a 4 x 4 and cut it diagonally and mount a blade on each half so it sits upright. Could be cool...

Monday, May 01, 2006

New Blades Ordered

I dropped my skates off today to be sharpened, and to get my new blades ordered. Vicki Zander runs Superior Skateworks, and she is, apparently, *the* skate maintenance person of Portland. At least, everyone I asked pointed me at her! So I feel pretty comfortable with that. Anyway, she is going to sharpen my blades and have them back to me on Wednesday, at which time she should be able to tell me when I'll get my new blades. The price for my new blades (Coronation Comets) is $242 mounted and sharpened. It's a fair price. It amuses me a bit, though, because these blades will cost me more than my first set of boots and blades! Well, that's to be expected I suppose.

Vicki thought my boots were broken down. I don't see how -- they are creased, yes, but they are not at all floppy and they support me well. I was planning on getting new boots in 9 - 12 months. We'll see.