Gordon's Sk8er Boi Blog

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

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Skate Update

I ran down to the rink this morning and got to try on my new boots! They are very snug... I'm not used to them being that snug, but that's probably because my current boots are waaay too big for me! Anyway, they are a good fit. They are going to waterproof/seal/etc. for me, then on Thursday I need to drop off my old skates so they can change the blades over. They said that I should have them Saturday 4/7, and if I want they will heat 'em up in the oven again and then I can skate the 9:50 FS session, so I can start breaking 'em in... sounds good to me!

I also had time to get my blades sharpened, yay! I was way overdue.

After that I had a quick lunch with skate buddy Amy, then off I went for the rest of my day.

Tomorrow I'm going to see Blades of Glory! Woohoo!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Buns O' Steel

Today's lesson was on the 8:15 FS as usual. It being spring break, it was much more crowded than usual (12 skaters vs. usual 2 or 3) -- a far cry from yesterday's skate!

Today's lesson:
  • LFI3 -- still plugging away at these. My hard work is starting to pay off though; the entrance edge is longe and the turn a bit less scrapy, and I'm settling into the LBO exit a bit better and more quickly. I'm happy with my progress. I'm thinking we'll keep plugging on them a couple more weeks and then probably just work on the APB 3-turn pattern.
  • BO3 -- ha! I thought I was readier to work on these than I actually am. Sheesh. I really, really need to work on that upper body and free-foot in front stuff, because I will never get these until then. Bleah. We worked on them out on the ice and also at the boards. Strangely enough the LBO3 seems like it will be easier than RBO3. These are going to need a LOT more work, because it's just not happening right now. My free foot keeps trying to sneak in front, and Sonya says I really need to get more twist to make the turn happen.
  • Half flip -- Sonya was really pleased with these! I'm getting a bit of "jump" to it and it's much better than it was. Sonya's main feedback was on the landing/push-out, that I need to have better posture and especially to get the free leg back and extended. I was having problems until Sonya told me to think about squeezing my butt and holding my head up high -- thus the title of this post :-). The Buns o' Steel posture really helps a lot. I joked to Sonya that wow, every once in a while she really *does* know what she's talking about! :-) I'm really happy with my progress on these, but I'll keep working on them for a while since they are nowhere near as comfy as my waltz jump.
  • Salchow -- eep. Sonya's main correction was that I need to get the free leg firmly extended and back after the 3-turn, then simultaneously bend the skating knee while bringing the free leg out and around. Sheesh. Some progress on these, though, but not really a jump yet. I think we'll try to hit these harder in the next few weeks.
Skate update: I just got off the phone with the pro shop; there was a delay in Riedell's shipping dept. due to a new system. My skates should be in today or tomorrow. I should be able to go in Saturday a.m. to try them on, if all goes well.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007


For today's PSS, I had the ice to myself for the first 45 minutes -- courtesy of spring break, apparently. A host of skaters showed up around 6:45 - 6:50 though.

I had a really good skate! Worked on BXOs, FXOs (esp. bad side), LFI3, half flips, and some time on waltz jump, spins, waltz-8, etc. No breakthroughs but a good solid skate.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Sunday Zoo

No choir practice this afternoon, so I convinced the gf to go skating with me. Only about an hour on the ice, but it wasn't too crowded. Worked on FXOs a bit, and LFI3 and a bit on spins. Nothing exciting though.

I checked on my skates at the pro shop. They are still not in!!! Arrrgggghhhh. It's so frustrating.

There's a testing session at Shiny Rink tomorrow. Don't know if I'll get to watch or not.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Keeping At It

Today's lesson:
  • LFI3 -- these continue to improve slowly. Sonya had me do the last few with the step forward and RFO3 as in the APB 3-turn pattern. Not too bad. Still working to hold the entrance edge longer and make the turn less skidded, and to settle back better onto the LBO.
  • Back Russian Stroking -- I still find these quite fun but I'm having a hard time finding the rhythm. I have a hard time straighten the sort-of-free leg on the BI edge; when I do, and really lean on that edge, wow, some power there. I suspect I should try to relax and not rush and maybe that would help me get everything okay.
  • Spins -- some small progress. Sonya suggested I try to think of bringing the right leg into the knee together with the right arm coming in. I think at this point it's probably a combination of not finding the rocker well, and bailing too quickly.
At the end of my lesson Sonya and I talked briefly about Pacific Coast Adult Sectionals, which will be at Shiny Rink next March (2008). We talked about getting my pre-Bronze tests passed so I could potentially compete then.

I had my lesson at the beginning of the session (per Sonya's request). For the last half of the session I worked on spins, back Russian stroking, APB 3-turn pattern (R foot only, bad Gordon!) and half flip. I spent some time working at the boards on just the jump part of the half flip, since it seems pretty wonky and otherwise unimpressive to me.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Back at PSS today... it felt good to be back, though of course I didn't want to get up this morning.

I had a pretty good skate. Skate buddy Amy had the day off so she joined Mary and I at this session, which was really nice. I worked on my LFI3 pretty obsessively; it's slowly getting better. I guess the best thing I can say about it is that I work it pretty conscientiously now, so it should eventually improve, right? Worked spins (bleh), BXOs, and some misc. edges, and BXOs to landing position drill.

For the last 15-20 minutes of the session I got stuck in "Russian skate coach" voice... like, "da, now, back pivot!" Dunno how that came about. It was kind of amusing at first but these things grate after a while, even on me!

Friday, March 16, 2007


I skated the 8:15 FS this morning, my first time on the ice since my car accident last week.

There were 6 skaters on the session. I had a pretty good skate. Worked LFI3, bad side FXOs, half flip, spins, a little bit of BXOs and APB 3-turn pattern. Nothing exciting but a solid skate.

Skate update: I had a call from the pro shop yesterday that my skates shipped then (Thursday) from Riedell, so, almost a week late. So they should have them around 3/22. There's also some confusion about the length of my blades and whether they will work or not. I really don't want to fork out another $200 for blades right now! Anyway, we'll know when they come in.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Bad Gordon

So, I didn't make this morning's PSS. I didn't get much sleep and there's been a lot of stuff going on, so I decided not to go. I will skate in the morning though.

No lesson this week, as Sonya's out of town for a competition. I was going to have a lesson with her yesterday a.m. but my boss moved a meeting up so I had to cancel.

Presumably my new skates are in transit to the pro shop now.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Freestyle Zoo

I skated the 8:40 a.m. FS this morning... as the title suggests it was quite the zoo, about 20 skaters. Sheesh! I did get to meet another adult male skater, Dave. We were both taken aback to see another guy there :-). There were also two teenage guys skating (both of them quite good) so the percentage of males was unusually high :-).

Since it was so crowded I didn't feel up to working on most moves. I did work LFI3s obsessively, plus 3s in general, edges, some outside mohawks (hadn't worked those in a while) and half flip. Not too bad a skate but I have mixed feelings about the worthwhile-ness of this session.

The day went from bad to worse when I got in a fender-bender right after skating. No injuries, thank God, but my hood, grill, and left headlight were badly damaged. Still, the car is driveable so really I'm quite lucky. It's just very exasperating.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Even More Moves

Today's lesson:
  • LFI3 -- still plugging away on these, but they really are improving. At one point I asked Sonya to talk to me while I was doing one, and sure enough -- improvement. It shows that my biggest issue now with trying to hold a longer entrance edge is all psychological. My body knows what to do, but my brain gets in the way. Nevertheless I'm pleased with my progress.
  • FXOs -- in the Moves pattern. Interestingly enough Sonya is more concerned by my lack of consistency on getting good extension than on my continuing (but improving) problems with the underpush and toe-pushing. These are getting a lot faster and it's a bit scary. Sonya suggested I think more about getting a good push and good tempo, taking my time. I can make bigger circles if I need to -- I don't have to slavishly follow the hockey circles.
  • BXOs -- Sonya says I'm tending to pick up my crossed-under foot before I've crossed it all the way under -- I really need to feel those thighs squeeze together. Also, she wants me to think about reaching not just into the circle, but in and back, when I step. This makes it easier to get a better cross.
  • APB 3-Turn Pattern -- We just worked on the LFI3-RFO3 side. Apparently my LFI3 is now good enough to be able to do these! We only had a few minutes on them but they don't look bad at all -- Sonya said, "If this is the bad side I expect the other side to be terrific!" (or something like that). Main correction was to work on placing the 3s correctly -- I was actually holding the exit from the LFI3 too long (!). Obviously much to be done on these.
Sonya is taking some of her skaters to a competition next week so it's unclear what the lesson schedule will be. Also, I will not be able to skate the Sunday Zoo until after Easter due to church choir extra rehearsals. I'll have to try to get more time in elsewhen.

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007


Today's PSS was missing skate buddy Mary! I'll have to give her the evil eye when I see her next :-).

A good skate today, although from 6 - 6:30 the session was pretty crowded (15 people!). Worked LFI3, half flip, FXOs, BXOs, spins, edges, and a few attempts at back Russian stroking and APB 3-turn pattern -- it was too crowded (and I'm too chicken) to do them well. No breakthroughs though.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

More Moves

Today's lesson:
  • Edges -- Sonya wanted to review these, probably because she saw me working them :-). Forward edges look pretty good; Sonya reminded me to keep the free hip up on the FO edges. On my back edges she reminded me to not have the free leg come so far back behind me -- I can still have tension in the leg without having to have it out so far. Overall she seems pretty pleased with these and says I'm too hard on myself on them.
  • Waltz-8 -- these are coming along. The placement of the turn is much better, it's almost right. My RFO3 is sometimes a bit scratchy, though, and I was having real issues with the step forward. Also, I still need to hold the exit of the turn a bit longer -- when I do, the rest of the move goes much, much better.
  • BXOs to landing position -- I asked to look at these since I had gone over all the other Bronze moves except this one. It was a little harder than I expected. Sonya told me that I need to keep the skating leg straighter in the landing position. We also worked on the arm position a bit. These are kind of fun, though. Sonya reminded me I can just work these on the hockey circle when the session is crowded. Good point!
  • Spins -- these are about where I left 'em. Sonya went over my print with her marker and said that the hook of the spin is fine, it's that after that I get up on my toepick. Sonya said she's going to have to think about how we can fix this. It's possible it will be a little easier on my new skates, though -- I sure hope so.
Update on skates: The guy from the pro shop called me yesterday to let me know that my skates should ship from the factory this coming Friday or Monday, and he should have them a week later. After that a couple of days for fitting, sealing, etc., so I should be wearing 'em for my lesson on the 22nd hopefully.

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Sunday, March 04, 2007

Sunday Zoo

I skated the Sunday afternoon public session, my first time in quite a while and my first time on the ice since Wednesday (for various dumb reasons). I had a pretty good skate and got to see skate buddies Amy, Christina and Mary.

I worked my LFI3 and it's feeling a lot more solid, although it still needs mega-work. The main area of improvement is just confidence, so yea me! Beyond that lots of small stuff (it's a public session after all) and yakking with folks.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Gordon's Glossary

I thought I should post a brief glossary of terms I use, so that both non-skaters and skaters will understand what I'm talking about. For a lot more information about the technical aspects of skating check out Don Korte's excellent Figure Skater's Website.

  • 3s -- a 3-turn. More specifically I would usually say "LFI3" (as in, "those darn LFI3s are my nemesis!") which denotes the starting edge of the 3-turn.
  • APB -- Adult Pre-Bronze. The lowest level of the adult testing track in US Figure Skating. The other levels are Bronze, Silver, and Gold, and then there are some other options above that.
  • Boy Points -- sometimes skaters (who are, after all, 90+% female) complain that boys (and men) get treated more easily because they are so few, i.e., they succeed not solely on skill but also by getting favorable treatment ("boy points").
  • BXOs --back crossovers.
  • Click of Death -- the "clicking" noise you hear when your blades touch each other. Usually the CofD is heard while doing crossovers, but other moves can also result in this disturbing noise. The CofD is almost always followed by a nasty fall.
  • Cross & Hold -- when learning or practicing crossovers it's often helpful to practice skating in the crossed-over position, i.e. one leg crossed over the other and both blades on the ice. Skating in this position requires one to be able to hold the crossed-under blade without allowing it the toepick to catch or the blade to turn and run into your other blade causing a Click of Death (see above).
  • DDM -- Dorky Dance Music. Much of the music used for the compulsory ice dances has been in use for about forever, and anyone who skates much has heard it so many times as to be thoroughly tired of it.
  • Edges -- RFI, RBI, LFI, LBI, RFO, RBO, LFO, LBO. As my first coach Anna used to exclaim, skating's one-footed! Most skaters spend very little time with both feet on the ice unless they are standing still. So the abbreviations above refer to which foot (Right or Left), which direction (Forward or Backward) and which edge (Outside or Inside). The outside edge is the edge of your skate on the outside of your body and the inside edge, the inside of your body. See this article on edges for more info.
  • Eeyore skate -- this is for anytime you skate and you feel like Eeyore from "Winnie the Pooh" -- dragging, not getting much out of it, not motivated.
  • FS -- freestyle, as in "FS session".
  • FXOs -- forward crossovers.
  • MIF, MITF -- Moves in the Field. These are patterns that are used by skaters to practice and demonstrate proficiency for testing in the US Figure Skating test track.
  • Perseverance -- I use this term to label any time I skate and there's nothing particularly exciting to report. It's a reminder to myself that perseverance in practice is a very important part of skating.
  • PSS -- this stands for Pinky-Swear-Skate. My skate buddy Mary and I made a pact to skate Wednesday mornings at 6 a.m. The idea of the pact was that if someone is holding us accountable we'll be able to do something that's hard -- get our butts out of bed at 5 a.m. to go skate.
  • Shiny Rink -- Sherwood Ice Arena, so called because it's pretty new and nice.
  • Shiny Rink+ -- Mountain View Ice Arena in Vancouver, WA. It's even nicer than Sherwood, but recently they've closed one of the ice sheets (it was the only rink in the Portland area with two sheets) so it's perhaps less nice than it was.
Last updated 3/1/07.