Gordon's Sk8er Boi Blog

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

Sunday, April 30, 2006


For today's lesson, we were back on fundamentals:
  • Forward edges -- Lucy was relatively happy with these. On the FO edges she reminded me to keep my shoulders down. On the FI edges she noticed I start with the free arm forward; she said she's usually seen skaters start with the skating arm forward on these. I'm pretty sure I've always done them this way. She said she'd check to see whether the judges actually care which way it goes, and let me know.
  • Back edges -- these have lost a lot from where I used to be. On the BO edges Lucy reminded me I need to keep the free foot in front until the top of the lobe. On the BI edges there's a lot of stuff to fix -- my lobes are not very consistent (R foot much smaller/shallower than L foot), and Lucy told me I need to work on keeping the free foot pigeon-toed in for the first part of the lobe, and pointed on the 2nd half of the lobe. She also reminded me to keep the free hip up.
  • FXOs -- these are getting better. Lucy reminded me to keep the shoulders down and to keep turned into the circle and eyes up. She also reminded me to work for the extension on the free leg. The CW FXOs are really improving, even though they still feel kind of awkward.
  • BXOs -- we looked at the ISI-style BXOs. Lucy said she could tell I had worked on my BO edges, and they are a little better; but I still need to spend a lot more time working on skating those BO edges with the free foot in front and keeping turned into the circle. The LBO is much harder, for some reason.
After my lesson I only stayed about a half-hour, so about 1.5 hours of skating total. I was pretty happy with this lesson even though I didn't work on anything "fun." Next week I think we'll go back to the spin entrance.

Tomorrow I'm hoping to drop my blades off for sharpening, and get my new ones ordered.

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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Wednesday Night Skate

Valley has a rather variable schedule; last week and this week there was a Wednesday night public session from 7 - 9. I didn't make it last week but I did tonight, and it was well worth it -- I was the only one there!

I am getting over a cold/flu/other sickness, so I was tired and not at all my best; unfortunately I didn't have a skate worthy of the nice ice. I did spend a fair amount of time working on back edges and other backward skating, as well as 3 turns, power-3s, the 5-step mohawk, and over course FXOs and BXOs. I had probably a bit over an hour of actual skating.

I was a little depressed over this skate. Back in Tucson if I'd had those kind of conditions, I'd have skated my brains out no matter how tired or sick I was. Skates like this make me worry that I'm losing my edge, my will. I know that's pretty silly, especially since I just got a coach and things are finally looking up. I was anxious to skate tonight because between being sick earlier in the week and scheduling issues later in the week this was my only chance to skate until my lesson next Sunday.

I guess the positive side is that I got through and skated anyway, instead of giving up and going home. So maybe things are turning around after all.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

A New Beginning

Today was my first lesson with my new coach, Lucy. We are going to have our lesson in this time slot, Sundays at 10 a.m. It's been a long time (4.5 months) since I've had a coach, and it's nice to be making a new beginning. Today's lesson:
  • Stroking -- shouldn't every coach start with stroking? :-) Lucy's main feedback was to be a little looser in the shoulders, to get more extension (straighter leg), and to get the crossovers a bit smoother.
  • FXOs -- in the Moves pattern. Again, more extension, better tempo, don't rush. Lucy said to remember to bend the knees more when I get my speed up.
  • BXOs -- Also in the Moves pattern. These have deteriorated a bit; Lucy says I'm not getting a real cross even on the good side. Lucy wants me to work on improving my BO edges, working on just skating the BO edge with the free foot in front. After that she wants me to go to the ISI-style BXOs.... *sigh*. I know she's right, I'm just not looking forward to it.
  • Spin entrance -- Lucy reminded me that the step forward needs to be on a bent knee. The biggest correction is to not let the free leg wander out on the step forward, but to bring it in to the knee in a sort of spiral as the spin starts. It's getting better but still a long way to go on this.
  • Salchow -- just a little time on this. Lucy confirmed I'm jumping too late; she said I need to think of the "spin" in the air, not on the ice :-) and to work to have a more balanced tempo between the entrance and exit edge of the 3.
After the lesson I stayed until the end of the session, but by the end I was pretty darn tired. I need to get my stamina back to where it used to be.

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Saturday, April 22, 2006

Shiny+ Rink

I took the long (25 mi) drive up to Vancouver today to skate at the afternoon public session at Mountain View Ice Arena. It's a really nice rink -- the only one around here that has two ice surfaces. The session was not too crowded, actually, and while the session was 3 hours long, they actually resurfaced halfway through! So while I'll still call Sherwood "Shiny Rink" I guess Mountain View will have to be Shiny+ Rink.

I skated for about two hours, and had a pretty good workout. Since I had been off the ice for 2 weeks for reasons ranging from stupid to dumb, I was concerned how I'd do. I guess the good news is that I have been skating long enough now that even after two weeks off my skating legs come back pretty quickly, so.. yay me!

The only real progress to report was that I worked a lot on waltz-8s since a previous skater had thoughtfully left them marked on the ice. I've always had problems with the last 3rd of the lobe and coming back to center, but I found today that if I really concentrate on squeezing my thighs together and tucking my free foot in that I do much, much better. I was pleased with my progress.

Addendum: At work on Friday I was taking an online fitness quiz. It calculated my ideal aerobic exercise heartrate based on my age and my resting heartrate (76 - 80 bpm) as 138 bpm. I checked my heartrate in the middle of the session and it was 134! So... good stuff.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Trial Lesson With Suzy

I had a trial lesson with another coach today, Suzy. It was at the end of the public session at Valley. Unfortunately the ice was in pretty sad shape and was swarming with little girls -- Suzy said that usually it's much quieter but there was a Girl Scout troop present. Anyway, I got there a little later that I would have liked so only had about 10 minutes to warm up before our lesson.

Suzy has been teaching for 32 (!) years, and skated competitively for 8. Her background is mostly freestyle although she did some dancing with she was competing. Our lesson:
  • stroking -- Suzy wants me to keep the free leg straight when I bring it in (rise in the knee when bringing the legs together), and work more on holding the extension. Also she reminded me not to look down so much :-).
  • FXOs -- we worked on holding the positions longer, being more deliberate, and (yes) pushing from the heel more. Also, trying to get a better underpush and bringing the free leg around more smoothly. She liked my bad side (CW) FXOs better than the CCW ones! Also keep the back arm further back and stay turned into the circle. These have got sloppy in ways I had not noticed :-(.
  • BXOs -- similar notes to the FXOs -- push from the heel and sit back more on the blade. I'm still (of course) not getting a true cross on the bad direction. Look over/down the arm more.
  • 3-turns -- She wanted me to go into these with the skating hand leading and not do any arm motions at all. That was a bit weird since I've always done them the other way (free arm leading and then rotate skinny), but doable. Didn't like it much though. I didn't attempt the LFI3.
  • waltz jump -- Suzy told me to hold the landing position more firmly and not let the free leg pull me around. It wasn't a great jump and we were running out of time.
Suzy is obviously a very good coach and had some good insights even in just the short time we had. It's interesting to note the differences in approach from someone who's more freestyle oriented though -- not bad, just different. Her schedule is a bit limited in that she only teaches at the morning and afternoon public sessions, M-F; i.e. 9:30 - 11:30 and 1:30 - 6. I don't know if I could make that work with my work schedule. I'll have to think about it and maybe talk with my boss. Basically my options at this point seem to be Lucy, Suzy, or look at one of the other rinks. Food for thought.


Monday, April 03, 2006

These Are The Times...

...that try men's souls!

I've been struggling a lot with motivation lately, as some of my readers might have discerned. Being in a new, strange place is making me ask questions like "why am I doing this?!" and "what do I hope to accomplish?". I'm sure many of you have asked yourselves the same questions. I just feel very isolated and sluggish, and I'm not happy with my skating.

So, I had a talk with myself yesterday, about how if I'm going to skate, I should just skate and forget the whiny thoughts and drama. Yes, I'm in a strange place, and yes, I have no coach, and yes I miss my friends and the warm cozy environment I had in Tucson. But what's done is done, and I am here and I need to make the best of it.

So... with that in mind I actually managed to drag my butt out of bed and skate this morning before work at the 8:30 a.m. freestyle. I had a reasonably good skate. It wasn't that crowded (5 or 6 people, all adults), so I worked on my Russian stroking (finally getting much better at doing a whole lap at a time and not wimping out), 3s, and 5-step Mohawk. I did my 10 waltz jumps and 5 Salchow attempts (bleah) and some spins too.

I had a chance to talk to one of the coaches (Leone), and I asked if I could set up a lesson with her but apparently she is booked solid. I talked to another coach (Suzy) on Saturday and set up a lesson for Friday at 5:30 p.m.

One thing I've noticed is, I'm never skating around kids anymore. That's too bad -- skating around kids always made me work harder, I think, and they are fun to be around.