Gordon's Sk8er Boi Blog

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

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Waltz-8 & BXOs

Today's lesson:
  • FI figure-8 -- we started with these since I was working on them right before my lesson. I'm only getting about 3/4 of the circle around on the RFI and less on the the LFI. Sonya reminded me to get better kneebend and a good push, and to really hold the upper body still and look back to the starting point on the last 1/3 or so of the circle.
  • Waltz-8 -- I wanted to look at these because I found out it's quite likely that when I test these I'll be double-paneled and have to share the ice; so I wanted to start working them elsewhere than in the big middle circle, and get used to making my own circles. We worked out a starting point in mid-ice between the end hockey circles. We spent quite a bit of time on these. My 3s were a bit wonky today, which was annoying.
  • BXOs -- More work on these, mostly trying to get a better cross and smoother stroking (less scratchy). Some progress.
  • FXOs -- Finished up with these. Sonya reminded me that the Move needs to be a figure-8, not an infinity sign! That is, not a diagonal between circles but going straight up the middle and then definitely turning to make the new circle. I'm still having real issues with my bad side, and I talked to Sonya about how in general since I got these boots and blades I don't have a firm feel to these edges, which makes me very tentative about them. We'll have to work on that.
I was pleasantly surprised how well this lesson went since I had about 1.5 hours of sleep at most, I was dead tired. I guess that bodes well for how I can skate when I'm tired. I don't recommend it though.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


I skated the 6 p.m. FS tonight. I'm still feeling pretty unmotivated but I had an okay skate. Worked a lot on bad side FXOs, BXOs, back edges, and even some time on the bad side 3-turn pattern. This still scares me a lot, but I'm glad I worked it a bit.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Skating As An Adult

Gill wrote in a comment Thursday:
Just wanted to ask you a question about age. I notice a lot of the adult skaters on here are in their early 20's or are older but have been skating a long time. I am 41 and took up skating a year ago and I'm finding it really enjoyable but not progressing very quickly at all. I was just wondering if you have any theory on whether it is possible to become a reasonable skater taking it up so late in life?

I think the answer is that it's definitely possible. The real question is, is it possible for you? Everyone is different. I don't know if you've ever looked at the Recreational Figure Skating FAQ, but there's a lot of good info in there. The FAQ says about adult skaters:

Everyone observes that some skaters seem to have a flair for the sport and progress faster. How far does determination and practice take you? The answer is "a long way"! Physical talent may be required to be a high level competitor, but anyone with a strong desire to improve can learn at least some of the jumps and master all of the basic skills. A lot depends on how regularly you can find time for lessons/practice and your willingness to try and persevere in pursuit of your goals.

Some of my own observations:
  • Natural talent -- some people have it, some people don't, like the FAQ says. I don't have much natural talent. Some people do. In the end, though, it's no replacement for hard work and dedication.
  • Age -- I do think that the people you see who start skating as an adult in their 20s have better success (or I should say, may have better success) because they are fitter, more flexible, etc. It's not an absolute though. I've seen some really great skaters who started in their mid-30s and are amazing.
  • Practice -- really, this is a key. If you only skate once a week, it will take you forever to get anywhere, even if you are very talented. If you can't afford lessons -- same thing, unfortunately. As adults we are usually willing/able to afford at least some of these things, but the determining factor for most is time. Not just time on ice, either, but also remaining fit in general -- off-ice activities like dance, yoga, Pilates, etc.
  • Athleticism -- I've noticed that adults who were active, and especially ones who did things like dance or rollerskating or whatever as young adults often do much, much better and look more natural on the ice.
I do think it's generally true that you can tell an adult who skated as a child from one who didn't pretty readily, there's a fluidity and naturalness that most of us can't get. It's too bad.

The other point I would really make from my own experience is don't compare yourself with others! It is so easy to do, and so unhelpful. We all come at this from different backgrounds, different skills, abilities, talents and resources. Comparisons can really gnaw at you if you let them. As my first coach reminded me again just a couple of weeks ago, skating should be about how it makes you feel, and enjoying yourself. Yes, we all have days/weeks when things don't seem to go well, and things that seem to take forever to learn or improve. For myself, I've been having a very bad summer and I'm very frustrated with my progress -- but I know that deep down I love to skate, I always have since I first set foot on ice 4 years ago. That's what it's all about, really.

Good luck, Gill!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

3-Turn Pattern

Today's lesson:
  • Back edges -- we both agreed we needed to look at these. The BI edges are looking a lot better but still need some work for consistency and to get the free foot more firmly in front. The BO edges... we worked on quite a bit on the free foot in front. At one point Sonya held my hand (a rarity) so I could feel how much more I need to get my weight back and off my toes. I need to keep working these.
  • 3-turn pattern -- the bulk of our time was on these. We started with the left side... I find these very scary! The right side is not as scary, of course. We actually spent most of our time finessing the back lobe though; Sonya says I need to have a good BXO or the judges will think my basics are weak and that will hurt me. The rest of it's not too bad but I can make the back lobe a bit deeper and take my time so I don't rush the BXO. Sonya also wants better push into the FI3. Eeep!
  • Spins -- Some small improvement. We worked them from a standing start and from BXOs. I have a great entry from BXOs but then I can't spin. Grrr.
After my lesson we talked about testing and decided on the Dec. 6th test date at Valley. I will need to get my butt over there more often to skate so I feel comfortable there. Also after next week we'll move back to the later FS session when the rink schedule changes, although Sonya won't have anyone before me so she wants to do my lesson a little earlier.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


I skated the 6 p.m. FS tonight. As usual during the summer, it was a nice session (6 skaters and 2 coaches). I was feeling unmotivated but not as bad as last week; it's slowly getting better. I did work on bad side FXOs, BXOs, LFI3 and a little on the 3-turn pattern.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Sunday Zoo

I skated for 1.5 hours at the Sunday public session at Shiny Rink. The first 45 minutes weren't too crowded, but after the Z-break (which they really didn't need, but who am I to complain?) it picked up a bit. This was the first time in quite a long time I'd skated a public session, and even longer since I'd skated a public at Shiny Rink. Skate buddies Amy and Christina were there, but no one else I knew.

Worked my LFI3s, BXOs and FXOs a bit, not much else. Amusing tidbit for the day -- while working my LFI3s at the end of the rink, a little girl skated by and said, "I'd give it an A+!". I had to smile.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

XOs & Jumps

Today's lesson:
  • FXOs -- we just worked the bad side (CW). I really have a hard time convincing myself to really bend the knees and trust the inside edge on this side, for whatever reason.
  • BXOs -- On the positive side I am not rushing these anymore; but they are quite scratchy still. We worked on not shortchanging the underpush. The lesson for me is that I really have to feel the thighs squeezing together -- if I do I'm generally doing it right.
  • Half flip -- We only did a couple of these. They were okay, but my tendon is still a little tight so it's painful to point the toe and jump off the toepick.
  • Waltz jump -- from a standing start and also from BXOs. These are not bad. Sonya reminded me to keep my chin up and work on getting a better push onto the FO edge for better flow. I should work on them more, especially doing 2+ in a row.
  • Salchow -- finished up with these. The entry is not bad but I'm tending to bend the free leg prematurely and still jump way too late.
I'm still feeling pretty off in general. I talked with Sonya about it briefly, and she asked me if I wanted to take some time off, and I said no. It's nice of her to ask though. I realized we've been working together over a year now, so I thanked her for that. She reminded me I can look back in this blog and (hopefully) see some progress. I know there has been progress I just wish I felt more energized and positive right now.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Eeyore Skate

Eeep... I am a little sore from Pilates yesterday (was my first time in 3 months!) but I don't think that's why I had such a bad skate. I just felt... off... and unmotivated... and fearful. Yech.

It DID get better, but I didn't accomplish a lot. Did work my bad side FXOs a bit, and a little on 5-step and 3-turn pattern, but that was about it. Bleah!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Testing Observations

I got to observe some USFSA testing today at the rink. Unfortunately I overslept and missed some things I wanted to see -- a Senior MITF test, an Adult Bronze test, and Lauren's Juv FS test. Speaking of which, CONGRATULATIONS LAUREN! on passing her test.

I did get to see an Adult Silver MITF and a bunch of Juv and Pre-Juv tests. It's interesting to compare the Silver test with the others since many of the same Moves are on them. Oftentimes I'll watch a test and think, "mine are that good" -- but I don't really know. I know how they feel to me, but of course I don't know what they would look like to the judges. I was videotaped once about 2 years ago and it was pretty disturbing. Maybe I should do it again.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Perimeter XOs & Back Edges

Today's lesson:
  • Back edges -- still working on keeping that darn free foot in front. I've made a lot of progress (amazing considering how little ice time I've had); I really just need to obsessively work on it. Even the BI pushoff has improved, and I'm able to do the BO pushoff without double-pushing as I had been (it's still weak, though).
  • Forward perimeter stroking -- aka Russian stroking or perimeter XOs. These are getting better but my CW crossover is still stinky. Getting better at filling the rink and staying with the pattern, though. I have a hard time practicing these at a busy session; if anyone has hints for getting over that (other than repetition!) I'm all ears.
  • Back perimeter stroking -- Sonya was pretty pleased with these. Same issues with fear of collisions, especially since I'm going backwards; but the XOs are not bad (hard to rush them in the pattern so they are better) and my change of weight wide step is not bad. These are fun.
  • Spins -- I'd not done these in 2.5 months, really, so Sonya felt that she could start me over on them ("her way" :-)). We started with two foot spins and then went to one foot from a pivot and then finished quickly with a forward entry. Still having trouble finding the sweet spot but I did manage it briefly a couple of times. One of the one foot from pivot spins was really nicely centered and quite good.

Labels: ,