Gordon's Sk8er Boi Blog

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

Monday, July 31, 2006

Beginning Again, Again

I had my first regular lesson with Sonya today on the 7:45 a.m. freestyle at Shiny Rink. I didn't sleep very well but I was fine once I got there. I got on the ice a little late as I couldn't find anyone to take my money for the session, GRRR.

Today's lesson:
  • Waltz-8 -- we spent quite a bit of time on these. Sonya suggested that I should use a bigger circle (which, come to think of it, Anna had told me too, and I'd forgotten) -- so that if I'm using the center circle (with the blue dot as my zero point) I should be 2 - 3 feet beyond it on the 2nd step. Placement of the 3s actually wasn't so bad, but we spent some quality time on my RFO3; Sonya had me try to get more rotation of the shoulders before the turn, and also reminded me to keep my shoulders down. We worked on the second step a bit, Sonya had me practice backward stroking to remind me to get a good push into the second step and (of course) hold the free foot in front during the first half of the second step. All in all they weren't that bad.
  • FXOs -- we did these in the Moves pattern. We made some good progress on getting me to hold the crossed position (even on the bad side! Incroyable!) but my extension was really, really stinky (worse than usual). Oh well.
  • Waltz jump -- these weren't too bad. We worked on being more collected before the jump. Sonya had me walk through it to work on bringing my hands/arms together so that I can actually bring them back when I step forward. She wants me to practice this in the hall :-).
Next week, Sonya wants to work on BXOs, the new 3-turn pattern (eep! I know we'll spend time on the LFI3), and she says she's going to teach me a half-flip.

I'm working to try to avoid my usual litany of self-criticism that usually punctuates my lessons -- with a new coach, it might be time to break some bad old habits. It's hard though!

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Sunday, July 30, 2006

A New Coach

I took a few days to think about my coaching decision. All in all I'd had trial lessons with 4 coaches: Stacy, Krissy, Sarah, and Sonya. They are all good coaches, no question, and all are well-qualified and competent.

I've chosen Sonya. I felt like I had the best connection with her, and that her coaching style and methods are best suited to where I am at now. I think she will be able to help me past the rut I'm in and get to the next level. I'm really looking forward to working with her... which I will be doing in about 10 hours! I have a lesson with her at 8:15 a.m. tomorrow. I'll let y'all know how it goes.

Champions On Ice

I went to see Champions On Ice at the Rose Garden in Portland today. I took the MAX, which is pretty convenient (there's a MAX station at the Rose Garden) except that they were having some kind of electric problem on the Steel Bridge, so the trains weren't crossing the river. There was a shuttle bus running across instead, so it wasn't a big delay, but it was annoying.

The show...
  • Sasha -- wow. Sasha skated beeyootifully. Really, when the commentators are blathering in your ear about how she chokes under pressure, etc., it's easy to get distracted from the fact that Sasha is a very talented, very beautiful skater. She was awesome.
  • Shizuka -- she skated a very "Kwan-esque" program, but I don't think she quite pulls it off yet. She has come a long way, though, and her artistry has definitely improved; but she is a very strong and powerful skater and this program didn't show that much.
  • Surya -- yes, she can do a backflip, and she's very powerful. She's kind of sloppy though.
  • Plushy -- he doesn't really do it for me, but he did skate nicely.
  • Evan -- he's so darn likeable! Really. I like his skating a lot, almost as much as Timothy Goebel.
  • Johnny Weir -- he did his "My Way" program. It seemed to lack energy. He does have amazing flow and line, though, and he's a joy to watch.
  • Irina -- how can you not like her? She's terrific. She skated to "Big Spender", though, and somehow she's just too darn cute and smily to pull off the sex kitten thing.
  • Michelle -- ah, Michelle. I love Michelle, of course. She's an icon in our sport. Alas, she clearly is still recovering from her injury since she did a very simple program with no jumps. Even so she's a joy to watch. Watching her expression and artistry it's easy to see why she is America's most-decorated and probably best-loved skater.
I found that overall I did not enjoy this COI as much as I have previous ones. I don't know if it's because I was a lot higher up than previously (my seats in Tucson were on-ice) or what. Also, alas, Kimmie Meissner was not skating in Portland. It's too bad. I'd dearly love to watch her skate.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Trial Lesson With Sonya

This morning I had my trial lesson with Sonya at 7 a.m., on the 6:30 a.m. FS at Shiny Rink. This is a fairly crowded FS session.

Today's lesson:
  • Stroking -- of course! We started off CW, which on a session this busy was a bit interesting. Main corrections were extension and posture (don't look down), and then some feedback on the FXOs which led naturally to...
  • FXOs -- we worked these pretty hard, and the work that I've been putting in lately on skating crossed is starting to pay off. I still don't have any real underpush but at least I can actually do the cross & hold on the good side (the bad side is, well, bad still). I did have a rather dumb fall on these, which sent me for about 10 or 15 feet on my hands and knees... "whee!" :-)
  • Edges -- worked all of these. Forward were okay. BO and BI, Sonya worked with me on the pushoff to be more aggressive and get more push... wow! Immediate improvement! It was very gratifying. Other than the pushoff we worked on similar issues (keeping free foot in front, etc.) and also body position.
  • Spin entrance -- we only had about 4 minutes on this. Sonya had me do one from the windup (she said the windup itself looked good), then looked at the trace and showed me how I need to be stepping "back" more, that is, I'm not stepping enough back toward where I came. I tried this and was actually able to step forward and do a two-foot spin, so I was quite pleased and impressed. Then we tried it on one foot and I couldn't reproduce my success :-(. And with that we were out of time.
After the session we spent a couple of minutes chatting. She has been coaching for 14 years. She tested up through Intermediate FS and did figures and some dance also. Her highest level student is working on Senior MITF. She only has one adult student, a girl she's taught for a long time. She's got PSA master ratings etc. (I'm not that interested in those so I tend to not remember them)

I'll post separately about my coaching decision.

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Sunday, July 23, 2006


I skated the evening public at Valley tonight. For the first 20 - 30 minutes I felt quite sluggish and was very discouraged about my skating. After that I felt better about things somewhat. I spent a lot of time working on skating in the crossed-over position. CCW ("good side") it's a lot more comfortable now -- CW isn't really happening yet.

Beyond that, waltz-8, 3s in general, some spins and waltz jumps.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Trial Lesson With Sarah

I had my trial lesson with Sarah on the 6:30 a.m. freestyle at Shiny Rink. The lesson was at the beginning of the session so I didn't get a warmup other than getting on 2 minutes early (shhh, don't tell rink management) and taking the first couple of minutes to warmup, so a very brief warmup.

  • discussion -- we started out with Sarah asking me what I knew about blades and edges. We had a brief discussion about edges, weight placement and so forth.
  • stroking -- from there we went on (of course) to look at stroking. She emphasized many of the same things other coaches have, posture and weight placement. We worked on pushing and getting the extension of the leg/foot with some improvement.
  • edges -- we went through these (FO, FI, BO, BI) much as for the moves test. A lot of emphasis on posture and weight placement. We also spent some time working the pushoff for the back edges and I actually had some real improvement on getting a better pushoff and getting and holding the foot in front. Yea!
  • FXOs -- we spent some time on these on the center circle, working mostly on being more comfortable on the outside edge and (again) skating in the crossed-over position.
After the lesson I briefly asked her about her background. She said she'd gotten the gold medals in freestyle, dance and moves (figures?), and had competed nationally in dance. She's been coaching for 9 years. She seems to be pretty booked up (a good thing) and her available time is all early mornings.

After the session I bumped into the other coach I'd been trying to get in touch with for a lesson, and she promised to call me so hopefully we'll get it figured out soon.


Monday, July 17, 2006

Update On Coach Search

I checked back with Shiny Rink on my lesson request, and a few minutes later I had a call back from Sarah. We have a lesson scheduled for 6:30 a.m. (gulp!) Wednesday. Actually I am fine with that time (really, I am), except that it's at the beginning of the session so I won't have ANY warmup. Eeep.

I'm still waiting to hear back from another coach at Shiny Rink before I make up my mind.

Sunday, July 16, 2006


I skated the evening public session at Valley. Only about an hour of skating, but it was good. I worked a lot on FXOs, BXOs, and some spins and waltz jumps.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Trial Lesson With Krissy

After work today I drove the 19 miles (35 minutes) to Shiny Rink to have my trial lesson with Krissy. The FS session is 5:45 to 6:30 and had about 5 skaters on it, so good conditions for a lesson. I had a quick 15 minute warmup, but I felt a bit nervous and unsettled and not at my best, unfortunately.

Today's lesson:
  • stroking -- yes, every trial lesson will begin with stroking :-). Krissy's comments pretty much echoed everyone else's -- good extension and power, but need to work on keeping the head up and the end crossovers need work.
  • FXOs -- we spent quite a bit of time on these; Krissy wanted me to work harder on skating crossed-over and improving the underpush. She also wanted me to drop my hands and arms lower and work to lower the shoulders and relax :-). We also worked a bit on tempo. Krissy finally said "I could work on these a lot more", but we needed to move on.
  • BXOs -- we worked on these in the Moves pattern and later by the boards. For some reason I was a little distracted and came rather disturbingly close to the wall on the right-hand circle both times I did it. We worked at the boards on sitting down on the edge more and getting a better cross.
  • Spin entrance -- we spent our last five minutes on this since it's still a trouble spot for me. Krissy drew a diagram of what the entrance should look like and I had a go at "skating on the dots" so to speak. Some slight progress but no big breakthrough. It was encouraging, though.
I was pretty happy with this lesson. Krissy is very positive, very professional and organized (she handed me a folder with lots of info about her rates and policies, handy skating tips, etc.), and very experienced. She's been coaching for 11 years and skated competitively for a long time. I was really pleased with her approach and our interaction, and I also felt pretty positive about the environment. The drive wasn't as bad as I feared; traffic was relatively light both ways (I found a better route than I'd used before from Shiny Rink to home, and it was 12 miles and 25 minutes).

I have one more coach I want to try out; hopefully I can get this done by the end of the month.


Sunday, July 09, 2006


I skated the afternoon public session at Valley, but just for an hour. Worked on BXOs and FXOs, 3s, waltz jumps. Nothing exciting. I'm really looking forward to that Tuesday lesson!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Workin' It

I skated the evening public at Valley tonight. It probably wasn't too smart since I was a bit tired from the Pilates session at lunch, but I wanted to take advantage of the ice. As it was, I only skated for an hour, and then I was just too tired so I went home.

It was a good experience -- for a good chunk of the time I had the ice to myself. I worked a lot on FXOs, back edges, and 3s, as well as Russian stroking, 5-step Mohawk and waltz-8s. I felt kind of aimless though. I really need to find a coach! I have another trial lesson next Tuesday over at Shiny Rink.

Shaping Up

3Turn (and others) have blogged about their various off-ice training efforts -- Pilates, yoga, kick-boxing. I did a little bit of yoga when I lived in Tucson, but it's been a long time. Today I finally managed to drag myself to the Pilates class that's offered at my work.

What a workout! I'm a bit whupped, but in a good way. I should have started this a long time ago. It's offered MWF at lunchtime, and it's FREE. I'm going to try to go 2 or 3 times a week, as my travel schedule and meetings etc. permit. I really need this, I think.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Still Persevering

I skated the afternoon public at Shiny Rink+, since I had the day off from work (it's a 25-mile drive there). The first 30 minutes were pretty nice, but after that it filled up. Still, I had a decent skate. No breakthroughs, but some solid skating and worked up a good sweat.

I met another adult skater, Stephanie. She's been skating about 7 years and had driven up from Bend. Any time I feel like complaining, I should keep her story in mind -- they only have ice there in the winter (an outdoor rink), in the summer she drives up here to skate (it's quite a ways) a couple of times a month. Despite all that she's getting ready to test Silver freeskate and Gold moves... geez!

Addendum: I forgot to mention I fell less than 10 seconds after getting on the ice... tripped over my left toepick. It was pretty silly, it just made me laugh. My water bottle went flying about 30 feet!

Sunday, July 02, 2006


I went to the afternoon public session at Valley today. Usually I would have gone to the morning session but I'm on vacation more or less (don't go back to work until Wed.) so I allowed myself to sleep late. I got about 1 hr 45 minutes of skating in.

I worked mostly on 3s and FXOs. I worked a lot on trying to skate in the crossed-over position and made some real progress on my good side (CCW), and some progress on CW as well. Doing FXOs in a very deliberate and collected fashion is good for my edges, I think, not to mention making one feel like a Real Skater.

On the 3s, not much progress. I mostly worked the RFO and RFI3 since the LFO3 doesn't really need work and I'm still chickening out from really working the LFI3.