Gordon's Sk8er Boi Blog

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

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Dress Rehearsal

For today's lesson I got dressed in my program costume (okay, I didn't put on the studs or cufflinks, but other than that it was complete). I got to the rink and warmed up off-ice, then Sonya talked to me about the competition and gave me a 5 minute warmup. For the warmup she wanted a lap of stroking and/or slaloms, then suggested I could work on problem areas -- in this case, that would be my footwork areas that are giving me grief still. The good news is that I've been skating so much lately (although I was off yesterday since I am coming down with something and wanted to rest) that I actually felt reasonably warmed up. Sonya said if I'm the first one skating I should remember to come off at the 1 minute warning.

After the 5 minute warmup, a brief rest and then poof, skating the program. The good news is that I was more or less okay. The bad news is that I fell doing a crossover and went zipping merrily along the nice, clean, just-Zamboni'd ice. I couldn't get up for the longest time because I couldn't stop! I was laughing pretty hard. I should have remembered Amy's advice to use your toepicks to stop yourself! Oh well. By the time I was able to get up I had just a few moments so I did a quick spiral and then the 3-turn into the 1-foot spin.

At this point the photographer and reporter from the Oregonian showed up, but Sonya and I did our best to ignore them after we helped them over to the hockey boxes (we were told for insurance purposes we had to help them, and there's no way into the hockey boxes except from the ice).

We continued with working on problem areas and did another runthrough and several partial ones (last half, mostly). Sonya says I still need to be quicker about the transitions. Not surprisingly, Sonya decided we needed to drop the spiral from the program -- there's just not enough time for me to reliably put it in (apologies to all who were hoping to see one from me!). Instead it's just a two-foot glide to the RFI3 etc. Sonya wants more height and push from the half flip, better extension on the swing rolls and gotta keep the head up more! On the positive side... waltz jumps are not too bad (but Sonya wants me to bring my hands through together), and my little toepick move (Sonya likened it to Michael Jackson... OOH! :-)) is finally right.

We also reviewed etiquette etc. for getting to starting position, bowing to the judges and audience, and exiting.

After all this it was a bit past our time. Sonya went to get ready to work on her own program, and I worked some more on my problem areas while the photographer and reporter did their thing.

I've still got work to do but I'm feeling reasonably good about things. I'm still running late but I can adapt if need be, and I do still have a week. My costume is all set and I skated in it for over an hour and it was reasonably comfy. Not wearing gloves didn't bother me as much as I feared (even when sliding all over the ice!).

One lesson left, on Monday. My practice ice is 7 a.m. Sunday a.m. 3/9, and my skate is noon 3/9.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Perseverance & Prep

I managed to get to the pro shop yesterday evening and got my skates sharpened. Today at lunchtime I ran downtown to buy my vest for my costume, so I'm pretty much set.

I skated the 6 p.m. FS as usual. It was pretty crowded at first but cleared out quite a bit around 6:15, from 14+ skaters to more like 8, and 6 coaches to 4 or so. Worked on my problem elements with maybe some success. Didn't work on the 1-ft spin, I've seen too many nasty falls when people try those on freshly sharpened blades. Going to try some in the morning though.

I'm scared I'm coming down with something, though. I felt fine earlier but now I have a sore throat. Eeep! Bad timing.

I talked with Sonya and we are going to do a "competition simulation" so to speak Thursday morning -- i.e. 5 minute warmup then skate. Hopefully that will help stress-proof things a little. I sure hope so.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Filling In The Cracks

Lesson this morning on the 7 a.m. FS as usual. It's actually light when I get to the rink, but that will change in a couple of weeks when the evil Daylight Saving Time starts. Grrr.

For today's lesson I asked Sonya to concentrate on the last half of the program, and especially the very end. So we did, but of course we did work the whole program. Many, many corrections. Here they are in program order:
  • 3-turn section -- emphasis here is to keep going. As expected the CCW back 2-foot turn still stinks. Sonya reminded me to give myself a moment before the turn to actually bend my knees and get in position. For the LFO edge, Sonya agreed I could switch back to the original arm position she'd given me (R arm up, L arm down) rather than the hands at waist. My "4" position is pretty stinky though.
  • Push back/2-foot spin -- Sonya wants me to not be so emphatic about putting the toepick in before the pivot, it's distracting. Also I reminded myself that if I look up in this section it looks much nicer AND I don't go up on my toepicks on the push back.
  • Lunge -- Sonya reminded me that if I can't get the turn done, just stand up and keep going. Duh.
  • FXOs/FI edges -- these need to be faster transitions and really bring the foot through. The mohawk following needs to be earlier so the following section is placed better on the ice.
  • Waltz jumps -- not bad, but more collected and placed earlier.
  • Spiral/turn/spin -- need to get in position for the spiral faster and really straighten the skating leg. For the turn Sonya reminded me to get a good check with the shoulders and not let the free leg get away from me. For the transition to the spin entrance she pulled out the funky step thing and now I'm basically just putting the free foot down and pushing into a BXO. For the windup, Sonya asked me to really look out of the circle and behind me before the step forward. This really helps! I did so much better with this, I think because when I step forward it's all together.
  • Closing pose -- we finally got this worked out. It's brush back from the spin, then into an RBI pivot finishing FACING THE JUDGES :-), then stand, bring R arm over the head and down, L arm up and look along the arm up to the "sky".
*Phew*! Lots of work there, it was a great lesson. Sonya asked me whether I can get these transitions faster in two weeks and I said I thought I can get them somewhat faster, yes, I still need more practice. I'm going to try to practice a lot this week because I don't want to be wearing myself out too much the last week before the comp. Sonya reminded me that if I'm way behind in the second section I should cut the spiral and just go straight to the turn/spin/pivot/end.

I tried out my new Bunga pad on my toe today. It felt a little weird, but certainly didn't hurt. I'll keep wearing it and see how it goes.

Tomorrow I'm getting my blades sharpened and changing out my purple laces for black ones (*sob*).

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Sunday, February 24, 2008

No Skating Today

I was going to skate today, but when I got to the rink it was so zoo-like I just couldn't bear the thought. I will have to get more time in this week, though, so I'm going to talk to my boss about coming in a little late this week and working late.

It wasn't a wasted trip as I was able to pick up a new FS pass, and best of all I stopped by the pro shop and was able to get a piece of Bunga pad for my toe. I'll give it a try tomorrow a.m.

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Program That Was, Then Wasn't, And Now Is Again

I had an email yesterday a.m. from Terri L that the PCAS LOC was going to let me skate, so don't call everything off. I called the reporter from the Oregonian (hi Annie!) and told her that we were back on, and of course I told Sonya. I didn't get any official confirmation though.

I got to the rink for the 8:15 FS this morning and Lauren Z was there -- she's the PCAS organizer (or one of them), a local judge and ice dancer. She told me they had decided that I would skate with the women's adult intro. Yay!

Got on the ice and was warming up, and they were playing with the lights. Lauren, Kelli and Pam were trying to figure out optimal lighting for the figures competition -- I would have thought you'd want it bright, but apparently that's not so -- full lights is too much glare. While they were working on the lighting stuff Annie M. (reporter) showed up to take pictures. She's not allowed to stand on the ice (insurance issues etc.) So she stood at the door for almost a full hour (minus a break to walk across to Walgreen's for batteries) taking pictures. I worked on individual program elements and finished with a runthrough to music. It'll be interesting to see how the pictures come out -- with the funky lighting and perhaps not the best camera for the conditions (light, distance, motion, etc.), who knows?

After the session Annie told me that the article was originally slated to be in the weekly supplement section, but that she'd been talking about the story and there was some interest in perhaps putting it in the Metro section instead. That would be cool! If they do that they will probably send a regular sports photographer out to take some better pictures. (I'll have documentation on my poor posture and looking at the ice too much! eep!)

I had a fairly good skate despite the distractions. My music runthrough I was behind, of course. Sonya has cleverly built up a place halfway through to catch up so that was good, but I got behind in the second section. I didn't fall though, which was exciting for me :-).

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Program That Wasn't

I had an email yesterday morning (well, it was emailed Sunday but I didn't get it until this Tuesday morning) from the PCAS committee saying that my event was cancelled since I was the only entrant. After conferring with Sonya I sent a note back asking if I could do an exhibition skate or skate with the women. I've not heard back yet but I'm not optimistic since the schedule is already done.

This is very discouraging! I called the reporter back and told her about the situation, she said she'd confer with her editor about it. Sheesh.


I skated the 5:15 PM FS. It was fairly crowded (17 skaters and 6 coaches!). I worked on some of my problem areas but was feeling pretty unmotivated due to some news I will blog about separately in just a minute.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Monday Public & Fame

Sonya called last night to cancel my lesson, she's been sick all weekend. Since I was off today for the holiday, and the rink scheduled a Monday a.m. public, I decided to get some sleep and then skate that.

I had a pretty good skate! It didn't get over more that 12 - 15 rugrats, and they mostly stayed out of my way. I didn't do any runthroughs with music but I worked pretty extensively on all my problem areas. Waltz-waltz is okay, but sticking the side toe hop in between really throws me off. My half flips were wimpy today. I did do one nice 1-rev spin with a very small (like, 8 inch diameter) tracing, so I was happy.

I skated a full two hours, the longest I've skated in a while, and I was thoroughly whupped at the end. Eeep!

At 2 p.m. I met with a reporter from the Oregonian newspaper, she interviewed me for a story they are doing about PCAS and adult skating. It was fun to talk about skating -- the reporter had skated herself when she was in high school... I told her she should get back into it :-). She is going to come to my lesson Thursday and take some pictures for the story. Fun!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Sunday Zoo

I skated the last hour (well, it turned out the last 45 minutes due to the Z-break) of the Sunday public. Just enough time to warm up and do some elements that are giving me problems.

Ran into a skater (Jo) who was just getting back on the ice after 5 years away (she's 22). She was complaining how rusty she was. Of course she's better rusty than I am after 5 years, but I didn't tell her that. She did teach me how to do the paired waltz jump thing -- that is where you hold hands and one of you does a waltz jump, then the other, etc. We did about three and got going freakishly fast, so I bailed. Still, it was fun.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


I skated the 6 p.m. FS. As usual it was fairly crowded, I think about 16 skaters and 6 or 7 coaches. I had a pretty good skate, working on program elements. My waltz jump -- waltz jump is improving; it's amazing how getting some lift in your arms can improve the whole thing! Didn't try putting the side toe hop in, but did practice it a little bit. Also worked on the RFI3 thing for the program, some half flips (almost fell on one, slipped off my toepick... eep!). Spent some time working the darn back 2-foot turn against the wall and that seemed to help; I'll need to work that more.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Spins & Program Work

I didn't skate the Sunday public as when I got there it was enormously crowded, much more so than usual -- even a school bus outside (maybe a church group?).

Today's lesson on the 7 a.m. FS:
  • Spins -- at my request. We're trying to fix me not bringing the right side around. Sonya had me work to bring the left arm/hand around and left shoulder back. Some progress on this but then it (temporarily, I hope) broke some other things. Need to work these more.
  • RFI3 program element -- this is the part in my program after the spiral, where Sonya wants an RFI3 and then put the other foot down and sort of slide it back, then a BXO (basically). I was making it harder than it was by thinking I had to put the foot down crossed but that's not what she's after. It's coming
  • program -- we did a couple of complete runthroughs and then worked the last half. It's coming. I'm predicting the CCW back 2-foot turn is just going to stink, so I'm going to not spend all my time trying to fix it at the expense of other stuff that I probably can indeed fix. The first half of the program is coming along well. Second half -- mixed bag. I'm really, really pleased with how my half flip has improved. I'm going into it faster and it's got some nice spring if I take my time to prep. The lunge is okay, but coming out of it into the FXO I'm having some issues. I keep wanting to do an LFO3 instead of the FXO for some reason! We worked on that. We still didn't get to explore the very last part of the program much, esp. the side toe hop between the jumps. I need to practice that on my own I think and see how it feels.
That's all we had time for. This is a busy week for me but I'm considering whether I need a 2nd lesson next week. I want to have all the basic program elements down by the end of next week so I'll have some time to just practice, practice, practice without overdoing it right before the competition.

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Thursday, February 07, 2008

Program Choreo Wrapup

I had an additional lesson this week so we could finish up the choreography for the program. It was on the 8:15 FS and it was very nice, just myself and Aaron and Pam. Here's the last part, after the waltz jump -- waltz jump:
  • Step forward
  • FXO
  • Stroke into LF spiral
  • RFI3, hold the free leg behind after the turn
  • Windup into 1-foot spin, and...
  • End pose
We did not actually practice the 1-foot spin or the end pose. Sonya originally wanted to do an inside spread eagle and some BXOs, but my inside spread eagle is not likely to be doable before the competition since I can't really do it yet. She asked how I felt about a spiral and I said it was fine with me, if it didn't look too stinky. She seems happy with it.

After finishing up, we practiced just the last half of the program and then the entire program. On the last run through I fell on the lunge (how stupid is that! Grr!) and was a bit slow getting up so all I had time to do was a waltz jump and spiral.

I learned a lot today. I'm tending to fall behind in this program, which is distressing, but pretty typical for this point I would tend to think. It's probably good that I fell so I could get used to the idea that I have to get up quickly and move on -- Sonya informed me it's not acceptable to lie on the ice and bawl or have a nervous breakdown :-).

So... lots to work on. Sonya reminded me that while I do need to work on my problem elements (right now the one that's still bugging me most is that darn CCW back 2-foot turn!), I have to be sure to spend lots of time running the program with the music. Otherwise I'll probably have problems getting used to the timing and tempo.

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Tuesday, February 05, 2008


I skated the 6 p.m. FS as usual... fairly crowded, probably 15 people and 4 or 5 coaches. I didn't try a program runthrough, but worked extensively on various chunks of my program at least a couple times each. Did the waltz jump -- waltz jump combo, it's not scary but a bit uncontrolled. Putting the side toe hop in there might slow me down enough to make it better, perhaps.

I worked a lot on the 3-turn -- back 2-foot turn sequence. My CCW back 2-foot turn really stinks, I'm doing this weird thing where I'm sort of pushing with my right foot. Grrr.

All in all it's coming along well, but I'm dreadfully slow. Alas. I used to tell my coach Anna to shoot me if I skated slow, but she's not here. *sigh*

Monday, February 04, 2008

More Program Work

Today's lesson was on the 7 a.m. FS. It was really deserted, just me and Emmy (and later on, Aaron and Carol toward the very end). Not sure why that is.

We spent most of our time going over the part of the program I've already learned, fixing some issues, in particular:
  • I tend to put extra steps in! Sonya corrected most of these and I was able to remove them most of the time, but it's something I need to watch.
  • I tend to get a little ahead in the first part (it's slow), then get behind in the 3-turn section. Grr.
  • The LFO glide in '4' position, Sonya wants my hands at my waist, and I need to bend my knee more and make it a smaller lobe to get to where I need to be on time.
  • The push back BXO wasn't really a BXO, and it needs to be.
  • We worked on the up-on-the-toepicks thing and I can more or less do it now.
With all this work we only had a few minutes for the next part of the program, and I only got to go through it once. It's something like:
  • After the half flip, do a lunge - 3turn - back lunge (YES! the "Gordon" is in my program! :-))
  • Brush back
  • Step forward
  • FXO to the left
  • LFI swingroll with nice pointed foot
  • FXO
  • RFI swingroll with nice pointed foot
  • Stroke left
  • RFI Mohawk
  • brush back
  • waltz jump
  • waltz jump
We may put a side toe hop inbetween the waltz jumps. That's most of the program. About all that's left is a little more stroking, maybe an RFI3 and probably my sucky 1-foot spin. Gotta work on that.

In the middle of all that Sonya showed me an inside spread eagle also. I think she'd like to put one in there some where, so I guess I will work on it more.

All in all a very good lesson and lots accomplished, but lots more to do. We agreed to throw in an extra lesson next week (Valentine's Day, actually) as we need more time and it's better to do it now than later.

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Sunday, February 03, 2008

Sunday Zoo

I skated the last 1.5 hours of the Sunday public at Shiny Rink. Skate buddies Lisa and Amy were there, and Mary from Valley showed up also. It was nice to have some adult company.

I worked on my program elements as best I could under the conditions, including the half flip and the 3-turn -- back 2 foot turn. Some improvement. Worked some spins as well. Not really much progress but at least they are feeling more comfortable. Worked my bad side FXOs and I think I am finally seeing some real improvement there.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Program Practice

I had the opportunity to skate at coffee club for an hour, and had a very productive skate. I ran through my program (what I have of it) several times without music, then worked on individual chunks with which I'm having problems. I worked on the initial push off and LF glide since I was having problems having good extension, and got some good improvement on that. I worked a fair amount on the FO3 - back 2 foot turn move without much improvement. I think I just need to bend my knees a lot more and get a better feel for it. Also worked on the push back - BXO - cross front thing with some good improvement, and on the toe-pick lean thing (don't know how to describe it) with not much improvement. Finally, I worked on the LFO glide in '4' position with toepick drag and I was actually able to do it! Which made me very happy. On the other hand if I drag my pick very much at all I slow down too much and I don't know that I'll make it to where I need to go... I guess I'll need a really good push into that.

All in all I was pleased with my progress but I have a lot of work to do. I was pleased that I pretty much remember the whole thing without problems. On the other hand, I don't recall being given anything much to do with my arms after the first 3 elements so either I've forgotten or Sonya was easing me into this. I hope it's the latter as I'd hate to think I'd forgotten already.