Gordon's Sk8er Boi Blog

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

Sunday, October 29, 2006


I skated the afternoon public at Shiny Rink today. I got there late due to an earlier appointment, so only about 1 and 3/4 hours skating.

I worked on 3s, spin entrances, FXOS and BXOs. I spent some real quality time doing the 5-step mohawk on the circle, and especially worked on the LFI mohawk since it's weak. It's a bit better. I also spent some good time working on the weight shift in the back lobe of power-3s and I think I've pretty much got it now. Sonya wanted me to have more of a step, though (i.e. to have the feet close coming out of the 3 and then reach with the other foot while transferring the weight; getting a good *push* to the other foot) and I still need more work on that.

Thursday, October 26, 2006


Today's lesson was on the 8:15 FS as usual, however, the zamboni had an issue before the session so the ice was only half-resurfaced; it was discouraging.

Today's lesson:
  • FO3s -- we worked mostly the RFO3. I've gotten kind of sloppy on these so we fixed a lot of stuff; particularly getting better rotation *before* the turn (instead of during the turn!), better knee bend and setting a better FO edge when starting. We also worked on getting improved control.
  • Power-3s -- I love these. I'm placing the 3 waaay too early in the lobe. Besides that, Sonya told me I need to think more about progressing down the ice; for example on the BXO, don't think so much about going to the boards as going down the ice (which makes it easier). I think I also need to lighten up on these; I tend to get a somewhat frantic pace going on them and that's not what it's about -- for example, starting a new 3-turn lobe, rather than rush the turn I should just sit a bit and take my time to get in position; there's plenty of time and no need to rush. Sonya also said it wouldn't hurt to practice the back Russian stroking to work the back lobe stuff.
  • 5-step mohawk -- just a quick 5 minutes or so on these. Sonya had me working the steps on the hockey circle instead of in lobes, which was interesting but made it hard for me to remember the steps! Sonya emphasized keeping the feet close in this move and avoiding wide-stepping or "squatting".
I was feeling a little off when we started but it was a pretty good lesson anyway... yay!

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Monday, October 23, 2006

Bonus Ice

My Pilates class was cancelled today, so I decided to skate the 8:15 FS this morning. Do I get brownie points since my coach saw me? :-) It was really nice ice, and there were only 3 of us skating (at most) so a good environment.

I had a good skate overall, although for the first 20 minutes or so I felt kind of discouraged. I worked on a lot of my problem areas but not with any real improvement. In working the LFI3 I've decided I'm just not turning into the circle enough. Duh! For whatever reason I try to do these things but I'm not really wanting to turn my body. I have not yet found how to make this new-found knowledge work for me yet, though.

Sunday, October 22, 2006


I skated the afternoon public today as usual. It was definitely zoo-like (3 birthday parties, sigh).

Despite conditions I got some good work in on the left side cross and hold; worked on spins (had a couple of "interesting" falls), and some good work on the half-flip. I'm realizing if I think of it as just a sideways bunny hop it's really not that hard; in particular I wasn't letting my L foot come through very well. I worked it on the boards and that helped a lot. A little work on the LFI3; my biggest problem today was a total lack of check on it. *sigh*

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Jumps & Spins

Today's lesson was on the 8:15 FS (our usual time slot). I was running late to the rink (traffic was horrible) so I didn't get to do my off-ice warmup as I usually would.

Today's lesson:
  • half-flip -- I had wanted to come back to this since lately when I've tried to practice it on-ice I wind up just doing the jump-up but no turn! Anyway we made some good progress so I can actual jump and turn, but I'm still not landing correctly; either landing on two feet, or on the right foot. The mohawk entry is looking pretty good though.
  • spins -- worked on this just from the step forward. Sonya reminded me to set a good edge to start with. A little bit of progress but lots more work needed.
  • BXOs -- just 5 or 6 minutes on these, but they are coming along nicely. We worked just on the bad side (CCW). Sonya had me focus on trying to turn the ankle at the end of the underpush. It's hard. On the (very!) positive side it looks like I am getting a real cross on this side now, at last. So yay! for me!
After my lesson I had a good talk with Sonya about motivation and hard work. She also gave me some info about the holiday show at the rink and gave me some ideas for how I might be involved. I'd like to do a group number with other adults, I think, but I'm still not sure about fitting it into my schedule.

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Tuesday, October 17, 2006


I skated the 6 p.m. FS as usual tonight. It was a bit busy (I think I was the 16th skater) and I was a little tired and felt a little dorky at first, but I had a good skate.

I worked on edges a bit and noticed I'm actually having some success keeping the free foot (more) in front on the back edges! Wow! I have been working these for so long! The BI edges in particular are starting to have some actual zing to them, it's very cool.

Worked a bit on the bad side cross and hold, a little bit of progress there. Also LFI3 (a little), this is still freaking me out. FXOs and some other stuff and finished up with working the good side of the FI-FO 3-turn pattern. I got a little confused about how the weight shift is supposed to work; Sonya was there and had a little time between her last lesson and teaching power, so I asked her about it and she straightened me out. Coming off the LFO3 (for example), you push from the LBI to the RBI and you want to straighten the left leg and hold the weight shift to the top of the new lobe.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Sk8r Survey

I posted this as a bulletin on MySpace but I thought I'd share it with the Web as well...

(Just for us sk8rs! --- GZ)

1. How old were you when you started skating?

2. How long have you been skating?
3.5 years

3. What do you like best about skating?
The feeling of freedom and exhilaration. The adrenalin rush of doing something well, or something that scares me. The wonderful people I've met skating.

4. What do you like least about skating?
Being cold. I know, how ironic.

5. Skating pet peeves?
Wow, this could be a long list!
- EZ-Skaters and the clueless kids piloting them at public sessions
- Little kids unattended at public sessions with no control whatsoever
- rinks that won't Zamboni in a 3-hour public
- when your coach always wants to work on whatever they last saw you working on!

6. How much/how often do you skate?
3 times a week right now, 2 freestyles and a public, so about 4.5 hours.

7. Your boots and blades?
Jackson Frestyle boots and Coronation Comet blades.

8. If you could have a nationally televised exhibition skate, what music would you choose?
That's really tough! Either Josh Groban's "Oceano" or Five for Fighting's "100 Years", I think.

9. Do you have a "signature move"?
Sort of. I learned a lunge-3-turn for a group number I was in, and some of my email skater buddies now call it "the Gordon" :-).

10. What's your worst skating experience?
I was skating once at Polar Ice Tucson on a summer evening; they'd had some compressor problems but were letting people skate anyway. There were huge puddles on the ice, in some cases 2 - 3 inches deep! Also many times (same rink) during monsoon season when there would be lots of fog and "ice stalagmites" from water dripping from the ceiling overnight.

11. Have you been injured skating?
Yes, I broke my right wrist in 2004. A couple of sprained ankles and a slightly sprained rotator cuff.

12. Ice dance -- challenging and difficult, or something for wimps who can't do freestyle?
It looks challenging and difficult to me. I prefer freestyle right now but if I had more time I would love to work on dance.

13. Figures -- did you ever learn them? Would you like to have learned them?
I never learned them... they are on my list of things I'd love to spend time on at some point.

14. What basic skill did or do you most struggle with?
Probably forward inside 3s... they are my nemesis still.

15. Do you do off-ice training?
I do Pilates 3x/week on days I'm not skating, and I do some off-ice jumping as well.

16. Ever thought about quitting?
Sometimes I get pretty discouraged, but I've never really thought seriously about quitting.

17. Favorite time of day to skate?
Midmorning or lunchtime. I'm not a morning person.

18. Ever skated pairs? Ever wanted to skate pairs?
I've never skated pairs, but always wanted to. My basic skating skills would have to improve a lot though!

19. Ever dated a skater?
No, although I've known some very interesting and attractive ones.

20. ISI or USFSA?

21. What skater(s) do you most admire, both among your peers and also national/international competitors?
Peers -- Nicole. She is such a beautiful skater, and so much fun to be around. I really miss her! National -- Michelle Kwan (of course) and Kimmie Meissner. And of course I really admire Katlynn McNab!

22. What's the most important thing you've learned from skating?
Wow, that's a lot. Perseverance, courage, fortitude. How to face my fears and (usually) overcome them. How to persevere in something that I don't have a lot of natural talent for.

Sunday, October 15, 2006


I skated the Sunday afternoon public as usual... lots of kids with EZ-Skaters today (arrrggh!). Skate buddy Amy had just gotten her new skates and was busy breaking 'em in... they are nice.

I worked really hard on the cross and hold and made some good progress. A little work on LFI3 too. Beyond that just a mix of usual stuff, but a good workout.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Shout-Out To Lisa!

(That's Lisa from Houston, not Lisa from Tucson (I know too many Lisa's!).)

A big Congrats to Lisa for getting a write-up in this month's Skating magazine, which I just got yesterday. Woo-hoo! If you don't get Skating (you should!), you can read the article on Lisa's blog.

Fear Factor

I had my lesson today in my normal timeslot on the 8:15 FS. Unlike the last few times I've skated this session, it was a little more crowded -- 6 of us. Still, quite workable.

I did my off-ice jumping before my lesson; between one thing and another (work schedule, being sick, travel), I'd not done them in a while. It takes me 3 or 4 times before the jump checkout looks more or less okay, so clearly I need to work on these a lot more.

Before my lesson Sonya mentioned to me that there is an ISI competition coming up. We talked briefly about ISI and USFSA, competitions and testing. I don't really want to compete right now, I want to stay focused on getting these darn MITF done and tested. To be honest, I feel that if I don't have that stuff in testable shape I would just embarrass myself at a competition anyway. Sonya said I could do ISI or some USFSA competitions next spring if I want. I told her we should talk about it more.

I told Sonya that I needed to get through some fear issues I've been fighting, so we worked on 'em. Today's lesson:
  • Cross and hold -- just working on the CW cross and hold for FXOs (so, that's left over right). We went back first to working them at the boards, then on the ice without moving, then moving at a slow glide. A lot of improvement and I feel much, much better about it. It is still a little scary but I think I can at least have some way to practice, so that I can have some hope of making progress.
  • LFI3 -- my other nemesis. Not as much progress on these as the cross & hold. Sonya had me start out pre-rotated and focus on having the free leg out and behind before the turn to help push through the turn. I thought this was cheating, but apparently not (or maybe just "okay for now"). Sonya told me to try to feel some tension between the R leg and R hand coming out of the turn to get some check, which I'm woefully lacking on these (on the positive side I can practically start a backspin this way -- maybe I should practice that!).
  • Waltz-8 -- having accomplished all that, I mentioned that we had left out waltz-8 when we were working on the APB Moves last time... so on we went. These are looking a lot bettter. I'm still placing the 3 a bit too early; we also looked at holding the second edge longer. The step forward is a lot, lot better, so yay me!
After my lesson Sonya mentioned that they will be doing a holiday show at the rink in December sometime. She thinks the practices will be Wednesday evenings some time. That might be problematic since I have choir practice then; we'll have to see. I told her I might be interested in a group number, but no solos! I'm not ready for that.

I met another adult skater today, Jeannie. She is taking lessons from Jan like a number of other folks I've talked to, and seems quite nice.

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006


Skated the 6 p.m. FS, even though I felt tired, out of sorts and dorky. Bleah!

My waltz jumps, now that I'm doing them much slower, are looking pretty good, I think. Now I should be able to work on going into them with more speed.

Spent a lot of time on 3s, FXOs, and BXOs. Still being a chicken on the LFI3, I don't know why. I need to talk to Sonya about it and see if she has any helpful advice. BXOs are improving a little bit, I think.

Congrats Dima!

I just found out that Dimitri Makansi took 3rd place at SWP Regionals and will be headed for Jr. Nationals! Way to go Dima!!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Workin' It

So, with my pep talk fresh in my mind, I went to the Sunday public session as usual. I had a pretty good skate, actually. I did work a lot on my problem areas (FXOs and FI3s), and some quality time on the waltz-8. The waltz-8 is really improving, actually -- the timing is much better and it's a lot more balanced. I still have to work to place the 3 better though.

I had a couple of falls (one on an LFI3) so maybe that means I am working harder :-).

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Pep Talk

I've been spending a lot of time on MySpace the last couple of days, reconnecting with friends back home, in particular a lot of my skating friends in Tucson. That led to me reading back over this blog and thinking about the progress I'm NOT making.

Some of the elements that I'm struggling with right now (poster child -- LFI3) are ones that I have been able to do better in the past, if I believe the blog. (see, there are some advantages to this thing) Not only that, but many people I know are making a lot faster progress than I am. Yes, some of them have more natural talent than I do, and some of them have more time/money to skate than I do; but that's not really it.

I'm realizing that I need to be more effective, more efficient, and more determined in my practicing if I want to really get where I want to be. I have made some great strides in the last couple of months -- taking lessons from Sonya, being more consistent in my practice time, taking Pilates to improve my core strength, etc. Still, the next big thing, I think, is not so much to try to spend more time practicing (although that would be nice, and helpful) as to get more out of my practices. How many practices have gone by where I avoided working on the things that most need work, or gave them short shrift? How many practices have I avoided working on FXOs or LFI3 or whatever because I'm tired, or afraid of falling, or whatever?

A few weeks ago at the rink I overheard one of the coaches talking about some study that said that figure skaters only really skate 16 minutes of every freestyle hour. The rest is stretching, blowing your nose, getting water, taking off extra layers of clothing, talking, etc. I don't know where that number comes from but I believe it's probably fairly accurate. So, how can I be more efficient and get more out of my practice time?

It wouldn't hurt to make a specific list (like I used to) of things I want to work on, and bring it with me. Blogging my practices helps a lot, but it's after the fact. It does help me track breakthroughs and ideas though.

Anyway, I'll conclude my self-pep talk by saying that I can do this, but I need to be more focused and more disciplined than I have been. I need to be willing to Do What Needs To Be Done, whether it's getting up early, trying something scary, or just staying focused on my problem areas. It's in my power to be a good skater if I will just make it happen.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


I skated the 6 p.m. FS at Shiny Rink as usual. There were about 10 skaters, but many of them were relatively low-level so not as crowded as it might otherwise have been.

I worked on some of my problem areas -- RFO3, FXOs, BXOs, and the RFI3-LFO3 3-turn pattern. I spent some quality time working on the cross and hold on the CW FXOs. I tried some against the boards, and then out on the ice, where I promptly fell. I said to myself "There! Now that's over with, so get over it!" I'm still kind of scared on that side though and I'm going to have to keep forcing myself to work on them. BXOs... slowly making them better. And the 3-turn pattern... eep!

Still, all in all a good skate.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Moves Runthrough

I had this week's lesson today instead of my usual Thursday, as Sonya was leaving for Regionals today and won't be back until next week.

I got to the rink a little early and had some time to work through my off-ice jump routine. It's tiring! I still can't jump all the way around (a full rev), the best I can seem to do right now is 3/4. I hope that with practice I'll be able to do more.

I met another adult male skater today, Matthew. Matthew has been skating for about 15 years, he said. I didn't really have time to talk to him but he seems pretty cool.

For today's lesson, Sonya wanted to run through the Adult Pre-Bronze Moves:
  • perimeter stroking -- when I'm not distracted, these are pretty good. Main issues are 1) tending to shortchange the extension (lack of concentration), and 2) poor quality FXOs or not enough of them. Still, I'm not worried about these. I have to fix the FXOs anyway, and the other stuff will be there if I'm concentrating.
  • edges -- these are in fairly good shape, really. Sonya seems pretty pleased with the F edges, and the B have come along pretty nicely.
  • FXOs -- on the CCW side, when I concentrate these are almost at passing quality. Alas, too often I either chicken out on doing the cross and hold, or I toe-push, or I shortchange the extension. On the CW side I am still pretty terrified of the cross and hold. I need to spend a lot more time working that and realizing that I (probably) won't die :-).
  • BXOs -- Sonya says I am finally (FINALLY!!) getting a true cross on the CW side. Still a bit scratchy though. CCW still need improvement. Sonya said I actually had good kneebend on these (I think that's the very first time I've ever had a coach say that :-)), but I need to think of getting more flex at the ankles in order to get off my toes.
  • forward 3-turn pattern -- I had never really learned this pattern, although I'd been exposed to it a couple of times. It's a standard two-lobe pattern, and the second lobe is a lot like the power-3 second lobe except you change feet at the end. We spent a lot of time working on the weight shift after the FO3 (we only worked the RFI3-LFO3 side, my LFI3s are still too weak for this). I need to work these a lot more; in particular the step-forward is a little rough and it will take a lot more work to be able to do both 3s in succession without flailing around, even on the "good" side.
We did not cover the waltz-8; I think this was an oversight on our parts, or maybe just that we both wanted to spend time teaching/learning the new forward 3-turn pattern. It was a pretty tiring lesson.

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Sunday, October 01, 2006


I skated the afternoon public at Shiny Rink as usual. It was less "Eeyore" than last week, but still a bit bleah. My lesson for this week got moved to tomorrow though, since Sonya is going to regionals in Spokane along with lots of other folks; so I really needed the skating time.

I worked on my RFO3 pretty obsessively, and also some time on FXOs and back edges and a few waltz jumps. Not much to report, alas. It was a somewhat crowded session and there were lots of EZ-Skaters out, which is always rather offputting for me. Oh well.