Gordon's Sk8er Boi Blog

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

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Half Flip & Spins

The rink was pretty deserted today; apparently the threat of a winter storm caused many folks to cancel their lessons. Only 3 skaters and 2 coaches were present the whole time.

Today's lesson:
  • LFI3 -- as usual, just a little time on these. They are slowly getting better. I'm remembering to look at my L hand and to actually bring it more into the center. Sonya worked with me to get more control, and to hold the edge longer before the turn. We also worked to hold the core firm and not tilt forward. We'll keep working them but I'm glad for some progress.
  • BXOs -- Sonya really wanted to look at these since we made such good progress last week. The CW ones are not so bad, so long as I take my time (a recurring theme!). Sonya wants more actual underpush though! On CCW I'm tending to not line up my feet well, and not getting a good, complete cross. Definitely better.
  • Half flip -- we got a little distracted as Sonya decided this was the time to fix my Mohawk entrance. She wanted more curve on the edge right before the turn and a closer step to make it less "hoppy". Once we fixed that, the jump itself is getting a little better. It still needs more "jump!" but the timing is improving.
  • 1-foot spin -- We spent quite a bit of time on this, with some improvement, although I'm still suffering from the same problems. Sonya's corrections were -- stay down in the knee longer, remember to deepen the kneebend, bring the free leg into the skating leg (don't hold it out), bring the arms around. Also we decided it would be better if I backed off being quite so aggressive with the entrance, as I'm tending to be too frantic/frenetic/powerful. Strange advice (it seems so backward!) but it did help quite a bit. I would have liked even more time on these, but we used up most of our time here, alas!
  • Scratch spin prep -- we closed with Sonya giving me a prep exercise for the scratch spin. It's pretty simple really -- an LF glide, extend the free leg in an "H" with arms spread out; then bring the free foot in to the knee, then bring the arms in, then push arms and free foot down, then two-foot glide. Repeat ad nauseum :-).
I feel like this has been a good week for skating. I didn't really miss skating the public session (except for not getting to see my skate buddies) and the extra FS really helps a lot.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006


Today's Pinky-Swear Skate was pretty good. About 8 skaters on the ice, so less crowded than last week, I think.

I worked my usual stuff. Made some good progress on the half flip; I did about 10 of them (reminding myself that they will always stink if I don't practice them, Duh!) and they are starting to improve. I don't know why I'm reluctant to practice them -- I'm not scared of them, I think I just feel dorky. Oh well! I think everybody feels dorky, and if you can't feel dorky at a freestyle session then you can't anywhere.

I also decided to spend some time on my back edges. I've been reading Lisa's blog and decided that she (and also 3Turn) are right -- my back edges are hindering my progress. Especially since I have so much trouble keeping the free leg in front. Anyway, I worked them pretty obsessively for a while and they did get better, so that's good stuff.

Other than that, same old stuff -- spins, FXOs, BXOs (these are improving), spins, LFI3 (bleah).

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


I skated the 5:15 FS today. It was my first time on the ice since last Wednesday! In spite of that I felt pretty good on the ice... loose and relaxed. That was very encouraging to me.

I worked a number of problem areas... LFI3... FXOs on the bad side... spins... half flip. No breakthroughs (it was kind of a crowded session) but a good skate.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

More On Tucson Ice

I've been taking a Thanksgiving break from skating. In the meantime, I found the following posted on the Tucson Ice website:


Tucson, AZ - November 22, 2006 – In October 2005, Don Bourn and Dave Williamson, principals of WB Gateway LLC asked Group Ice to reopen the ice rink formerly known as Polar Ice. Group Ice began operation of the skating facility as Tucson Ice.

The Group Ice team set up operations and developed programming to grow the business and invited Tucsonans to ‘experience the ice’. Group Ice raised the level of professionalism, developed conjoint programs within the community, and provisioned the facility on a par with its other top level operations. The Tucson community was enthusiastic and quick to support Group Ice, by participating in new programs and numerous promotions and events held at the rink.

Group Ice notified Don Bourn and Dave Williamson that the Tucson ice skating market could not support the debt service required by WB Gateway LLC. Group Ice proposed to Don Bourn that the most effective way to continue to provide a skating experience for the Tucson community was to convert the existing facility to a single-surface, or develop a new single-surface facility across the street on a parcel of land also owned by WB Gateway LLC.

In October, 2006, Don Bourn informed Group Ice that he will close the rink by April 1, 2007 and “convert to an office use”. Don Bourn later notified Group Ice that he and David Williamson had given full authority to Jon Goodman for the operation of the rink going forward, effectively ending Group Ice’s Management Agreement.

Group Ice is unaware of the rink’s future at this time and its affiliates are no longer involved or associated with the Tucson ice rink.

Therefore all communication concerning the facility’s future, its programs, event schedules and/or financial responsibilities should be directed to principles Don Bourn, Dave Williamson or the on site manager Jon Goodman.

“Group Ice would like to thank the Tucson community for their support over the last year. It has been our pleasure to serve you. We will continue our efforts to find an appropriate venue to open a single-sheet facility for the Tucson skating community.”

Questions concerning Group Ice should be addressed to:

Update: I was advised that contact info for some of the people above was posted without their permission, so I've removed it.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


PSS is Pinky-Swear Skate :-). I did my first PSS (hey, it's at least a change from "Perseverance", right?) this morning at 6 a.m. I got up promptly (groan) at 5:10 a.m. and actually got to the rink with plenty of time to warm up, get my skates on, check in with skate buddy Mary (my PSS partner-in-crime) and get on the ice.

I had a pretty good skate! It was more crowded than I expected (probably 13-14 skaters) but workable. I worked on my FXOs -- mostly the bad (CW) side, trying to regain a feeling I'd had with these before of getting good extension, then bringing the free leg in smoothly while really feeling the flex in the skating ankle. I made some progress. Also worked BXOs and LFI3 (eh! not much going on there) and did a couple of nice waltz jumps.

I worked on the half-flip some. I seem to be able to either jump up, or turn, but not both in the same motion! *sigh*

The big accomplishment for the day came at the very end of the session when I spent some time on spins, working as usual lately on the step forward and entrance into the spin. When I'd worked on these with Sonya last I was always going up on my toepick. Today, however, I was able to keep off the toe. I am not getting quite on the rocker though, so what I wind up doing are these sort of loopy kind of things where you can see the entrance edge, 3-turn and a big oval that does actually cross the print, and out. I think that is progress of a sort!

Anyway, this first PSS was a big success and I think we'll keep at it. I felt really good about it although I'm sure I'll be very tired later since I had like 5 hours of sleep *sigh*.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Tucson Rink Changes Again

Apparently while I've been gone, Tucson's ice rink has changed management yet again. All the more reason to be grateful to skate at Shiny Rink, where we have 4 hours of FS every morning and it doesn't get messed with.

Monday, November 20, 2006


Today's lesson:
  • LFI3 -- as usual. These are slowly getting a little better. Sonya reminded me to keep my chin up, and also not to have my free foot drift too high -- if it does I tend to break at the waist to compensate. I'm tending to have a hard time synchronizing turning the upper body and turning the hips for these. Frustrating.
  • FXOs -- CCW are, I think, almost passable *when I take my time*. There's a good cross, good extension, and no toe-pushing if I just take my time. CW, on the other hand -- we worked on cross and hold a bit (it's still SO difficult!) and of course extension needs to be better. I tend to just be falling onto the crossing foot on these (i.e. transferring my weight before the crossing blade is actually on the ice). Grrr.
  • BXOs -- Mary said to me yesterday "friends don't let friends do bad crossovers!" :-) Sonya had me work on just skating backward and lining my feet up as if I were half-way through the crossover; then working on pulling the one foot over and pushing with the other. This really helped a lot! My CCW are still a little scratchy, but the CW were much, much improved -- a real cross and not very scratchy at all. Wow!
After my lesson I worked a little on the back Russian stroking. I was having trouble with it (going verrrry slowly) and then I realized I wasn't doing the arms right. Duh! Once you do the arms right, the weight-shift thing is much, much easier. I'll have to keep working these.

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Sunday, November 19, 2006


I skated the Sunday Zoo as usual, and it was indeed zoo-like. I spent some quality time working on FXOs and 3s, including the LFI3 (not much real progress there, though).

During the Z-break I was complaining that I really need to get to more freestyles rather than the public sessions, and Mary said the same. She said it would be easier to get to those early a.m. freestyles with some support and accountability; so we formed a pact. We're going to start attending the 6 a.m. FS on Wednesdays (at least, we'll try it out this week). We pinky-swore on it :-). I know, it sounds a little silly but I think it might really help me start getting more quality practice time, so whatever works!

Thursday, November 16, 2006


Today's lesson was on the 8:15 FS as usual. Just two of us on the ice and one coach. Yay!

Before my lesson, I showed Sonya the print from a waltz jump I'd done. I'm coming much straighter off the pick now. Sonya said it looked good.

Today's lesson:
  • LFI3 -- as promised, we spent some time on these, and a good thing too. They still stink! Not sure what kind of progress I can lay claim to, but we'll keep working on it.
  • spins -- A bit over half the lesson on these. I'm actually getting closer. We fixed a number of issues (at least, fixed for now!) including needing to keep the upper body straight. I'm getting onto my toe and hitting my toepick, though, so I'm not even getting one rev. yet. Key input from Sonya was to think about bending the knee even more in the curve into the spin. She had me work on trying not to pop up so quickly once the spin starts; that's one reason I'm getting on my toe. Also, trying to feel like standing on the ball of the foot (or perhaps I need to think it further back) and bring the free leg in and hold it close. Also she said I'm tending to get into a twisted position. Despite all this I really did make some progress, though!
Sonya now is sporting a bright pink cast on her hand, but she said she will get it off in 3 weeks or so. She seems to be taking it pretty well, at least it appears so. It certainly didn't seem to affect her teaching at all!

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006


I have two lessons this week (one is make-up from last week), so today we decided to work on moves. I had a nice warmup on my newly-sharpened blades. As usual, it was a nice session with only 3 skaters.

Today's lesson:
  • back Russian stroking -- we started with this as a way of working on the back pattern for some of the moves I'm working on (power-3, 3-turn pattern). So we worked doing the back Russian stroking down the rink. Sonya said I need to go out more on the first part of the lobe (push/weight shift) and also that I need to be facing out of the circle (arms extended), then face into the circle (rotate arms) before the BXO. It's starting to come together.
  • 3-turn pattern -- just the right side on this (RFI3, LFO3). I actually managed to do a couple in a row, more than once (yea me!). I tend to rush these though. If I just relax and wait a bit I have plenty of time to set up (not so frantic) and that gives me better placement of the turns anyway.
  • LFI3 -- I told Sonya I need to spend a little time on these every lesson until I am able to consistently practice them. My mind block on them comes and goes but it's pretty strong. We worked on them for a bit with not much success, and then Sonya suggested doing a two-foot turn (clockwise) and picking up the R foot right after the turn for the check. So i did a couple of those, then tried an LFI3 quickly. Yea! Of course, Sonya wasn't looking when I did it :-), so I did it again. I think I did 4 or 5, preceded by the two-foot turn each time. We'll keep working on it.
  • waltz-8 -- We just had a couple of moments on this. I wanted to fix my 3-turn placement on this, so Sonya marked it for me and I memorized where I want to put those 3s. For the record :-) it's on the tip of the green pine tree in the center ice logo (right foot), and on the right side of the 2nd "O" in "Sherwood" on the left foot. My RFO3s are a bit stinky on the waltz-8, I don't curve the edge enough and I force them too much. But the placement is improving. Sonya also reminded me to hold the free foot in front on the BO edge (and look into the circle) and not move it back (or turn the head) until after the midpoint of the edge (the red line).
I felt really good after this lesson, and I was intrigued by the contrast between how I felt today vs. Sunday. Maybe I just need more freestyle time. The drive to and from the rink today was slowed by a) fog and b) drivers unwilling to drive the speed limit even though the fog wasn't that bad. Oh well!

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Sunday, November 12, 2006

Sunday Zoo

I skated the Sunday afternoon public as usual. The first half-hour or so wasn't bad, but after that... sheesh! It got VERY crowded, they didn't do an ice cut until 2:45 (session was 1 - 4), and the Zamboni had problems and didn't do a full cut on top of that. Sheesh.

So, not a very good skate. Didn't accomplish much, and it was very discouraging. I did drop my skates off to be sharpened, though.


A big congrats to skate buddy Amy, who rocked at the Lloyd Center ISI competition today! Way to go Amy!

And, a shout-out to Marie from Walla Walla, an adult skater I met today who *gasp* reads this blog! It was a very surreal experience to meet an "anonymous" reader like that. Thanks Marie!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


I skated the 6 p.m. FS as usual. Fairly crowded as always. I was not in the best of moods but I got some solid practice in; but nothing really to report.

Monday, November 06, 2006


I was supposed to have my lesson this morning on the 8:15 FS (moved due to testing this Thursday), but when I arrived at the rink I was told that Sonya had to leave because she broke her hand!

I called Sonya when I got to work, and she is okay. She's going to have to wear a brace/support for 4 weeks or so, but she sounded pretty chipper. I feel bad for her though, it's a painful injury I'm sure.

Anyway, since I was at the rink I skated and had a very nice skate -- again, only 2 skaters on the ice and it was really nice. I worked a lot of different things -- waltz jumps, salchow, half flip, BXOs, FXOs (esp. bad side cross and hold), waltz-8, and more.

An "I Told You So" award goes out to 3Turn for her comment recently that my FI edges might be weak. I played around with this a bit and discovered that my right foot (not just FI) is really pretty weak, far weaker than I realized. I really am going to have to start just spending more time skating on just the right foot -- like, all those times I'm just getting from one place to another and I tend to be on one foot, it's almost always the L foot. I need to make it the R foot.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Sunday Zoo

I skated the Sunday public at Shiny Rink, as usual. It was more zoo-like than usual (although, there were few or no EZ Skaters, so that's a blessing) so I just did what I could and enjoyed hangin' wit da homies. Spent some time doing the 5-step mohawk on the circle, and some quality time working the LFI mohawk since I never do. Some nice waltz jumps, a little work on spins and 3s and FXOs... eh. Oh well!

Thursday, November 02, 2006


I couldn't have asked for a better environment for my lesson than Shiny Rink this morning -- ice was just gorgeous and only two skaters on the ice. Whee!

Today's lesson was all jumps:
  • waltz jump -- just a couple of minutes on this since I did one before my lesson :-). I'm getting reasonably good height/length. Sonya reminded me to bend the knee/push my weight back a bit on the RBO before the step forward; I'm getting up on the toe a bit. Also the first one was rotated on the toe a bit. I fixed that and my last one was really, really nice; it just felt very easy and had good form. Yea!
  • half flip -- these are coming along okay. I really need more practice on them! The biggest thing is to get more spring off the toe (it took me forever to get that on the waltz jump).
  • salchow -- Sonya had never looked at this with me as far as I know. It's about where I left it with Anna :-); the turn and check is not bad (need to remember to feel the tension between the L arm and free leg), but still a lot of work to do on sitting back on the edge and getting some snap to the deepening edge. Also, Sonya wants me to bring the free leg and arm around together and do so wide, not close-in to the body (she said "like riding a horse").
  • toe loop prep -- Sonya taught me an exercise to do by the wall to help me prep this. Basically it's RBO, pick behind, draw the R foot through and then bring the R hip through and pivot/lift the R leg. She suggested I try to do 20-25 of these (!) when I skate.
I was pretty happy with this lesson, things are coming along on the jump front. Sonya mentioned that we would have to reschedule next week's lesson as there is a testing session that morning at Valley. I'm going to try to go watch some of the tests if I can, it's always instructive.

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