Gordon's Sk8er Boi Blog

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

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Patch Blades!

Today was my figures lesson with Kelli on the 6 p.m. FS. For only the second time I wore my old boots with my brand-new Comet Test patch blades.... Eeeep!

For my 15 min warmup I mostly worked on getting more familiar with the boots & blades, doing swizzles and brief 1-foot glides against the boards. When our lesson started we briefly discussed my test on Sunday, then worked on pushing off correctly and some brief edges. Then we spent the remainder of the lesson working 3-turns against the boards.

I can see that this is going to be really good for me in the long term, as I can't get away with bad habits in these blades. For example, trying to push off using any toe at all results in what can only be described as a farting noise :-) as your non-existent toepick skids. Assuming you don't fall, that is! Similarly I can see how 3-turns in these blades will have to be GOOD ones or they won't happen at all. For today, I was happy just to not fall!

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Monday, July 28, 2008

Back In The Saddle

I was originally tempted to not schedule a lesson for today, but I'm glad I did. As usual my lesson was at 7 a.m. (on ice at 6:30). I was rather unmotivated in my warmup but did do some stroking, crossovers, and of course did a very nice waltz-8 with no FDs :-).

Today's lesson:
  • 2-foot spin -- we started with these since I'd not done any spins at all in a lonnnnnnnnng time. We worked on bringing the hands together more slowly; Sonya also had me start with my L arm in front instead of to the side as I've usually done them.
  • half-flip -- after some rustiness, these came back reasonably nicely; we just did some review and then moved on.
  • waltz jump -- review. I'm really tending to be up on the toe on the back edge before the step forward (this is a persistent problem everywhere in my skating). Sonya also had me really work on keeping my head/chin/eyes up. She ran off and brought back a cervical collar she'd bought (she was so excited to get to use it on me!) so she made me wear it and do a couple waltz jumps. Eeeep! It feels very unnatural, but of course that's because I spend waaaaaaaay too much time staring down at the ice. A good lesson. Fortunately she let me take it off :-).
  • BO pivot -- I'd mentioned these (RBO pivot, specifically) to Sonya as a way of helping me work on the being-up-on-the-toes issue, so we worked 'em a bit. Eeep! Didn't get back to where these had been, I'm finding it very difficult to get turned around like that. Also attempted a couple LBO pivots -- eeep! Very, very weird! It's not that my LBO is that bad (it's not) but that that's the wronnng direction to be turning. Eeep!
All in all a good lesson, I'm glad I didn't postpone -- I think it would have been bad for my motivation. Better to get back in the saddle and keep moving, I think.

We discussed testing options briefly. The next test I'm eligible for is 8/24, but it's down in Eugene and Sonya can't go -- plus I think it's just too early. I need some time off from test prep or I'll go nuts. The next test date after that is 10/5 -- but Sonya will be gone for that one too, and anyway it's at Lloyd Center. I don't really want to try to cut my 3-turn pattern down to fit LC (it's not a standard size rink, it's in a mall and it's smaller) -- I tried that at FS there yesterday and I could only (barely) get 3 lobes in on each side. So that leaves us with November for testing Moves again. That seems pretty reasonable to me.

I'm thinking about the judge's feedback and my own experience of testing -- I think I need to work on my stamina so I won't be quite so ready to die 3/4 of the way through the test. I'll have to think about how best to work on it.

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Sunday, July 27, 2008

APB Moves Test -- "Retry"

As the headline says -- I did not pass my test today. *sigh* I'll give the judge's feedback below in italics, and then my commentary. I skated at Lloyd Center for 45" before the test and that was a Godsend, I don't know how I would have done without that. I was really, really nervous.

  • Stroking -- CC Stable flow throughout extension in legs C OK - but a bit bent over @ waist some trouble w/L foot xovers - eyes up! As I had expected I was really nervous on this, since it was the first move of the test. I was so nervous on the crossovers on the left foot (as she noted), my feet were shaking really badly :-(.
  • Edges -- FO: Control OK - skated very slowly FI: Slight toe push - good control - edges slow & small BO: good flow around lobe BI: lobes small - some trouble w/rotation. I was really pretty happy with these. I tend to not do my forward edges very quickly and apparently that's desirable. I was really pleased with my BO edges, as I did that about as well as I ever have in practice. I had one glitch on one lobe of the BI edges and I assume that's what she was referring to above.
  • Crossovers -- Forward: rolling off foot under Xover makes edges very unstable - push off foot instead Backward: Up on toes on L xover - Right better flow OK. I'm not sure what she's getting at exactly on the forward, I'll have to talk to Sonya about this. Of course my FXOs could stand improvement but they weren't too bad. I did have a glitch at one point on them but I'm not sure what she's getting at here. And of course she's exactly right about my left foot. I should fix that before I test again.
  • Waltz-8 -- L trouble holding edge after 3turn - good back edge @ top of circle - control to center lacking FD. The infamous FD! As in "Foot Down". ACK! I don't know what happened, on the right foot (the second time I think) I had some weirdness after the step forward and I was unbalanced and put my foot down. Sheesh. As I skated back to Sonya after the move I was rolling my eyes. Geez.
  • Forward 3-turn pattern -- most trouble on move due to uncontrol body positions & balance - 2nd side better - work on strengthening core & body - eyes up! - get off toes! By the time I got to this move I was totally wiped out and really, I don't know how I got through it. The 2nd side was better (we saved the best for last!) but yep, her feedback is dead on.
So after I finished I was really relieved, but concerned about the foot down. I skated over to the judge and she asked me to reskate the waltz-8, just once on each side. So I did. And... I did it again! ARRRGGGGHHHHH!!!!!! Her comments: Reskate on waltz 8 - Foot down again to center on R side. Work on control of 3s & edges (flow) to center!

This really bugged me. While I didn't think the waltz-8 was my best move, I certainly didn't think it was my worst and I couldn't believe I messed it up the first time. When I messed up the reskate I just wanted to scream, or cry, or something, because I knew that was it.

Oh well!

Good things: Well, first and foremost I guess is that I made it through the test and I didn't fall (and didn't cry, scream, throw up or pass out!). I almost passed. My stroking was okay, my edges were not bad, and even the 3-turns were almost okay.

Bad things: Besides the obvious, I think I really need to work on stamina. I was really, really tired by about 3/4 of the way through the test, and my back was bugging me. So... need to work on strength and stamina. Besides that, I obviously need to work on my BXOs and a bit better control. I'm not actually that concerned about my foot down since that's not something I've been having a problem with before -- I'm ascribing that mostly to nerves (especially since it was on my "good" side!!).

I'm disappointed, but also a bit relieved. I'm sad that I can't say goodbye to the darn 3-turn pattern (bleah) but maybe it's just as well.

Lesson in the morning -- we are going to work on fun stuff! Spins and jumps! YAY! :-)


Saturday, July 26, 2008


I skated for an hour at Shiny Rink+ today, last regular practice before the test. It went just okay. I got there a bit late due to some drama with my car, and the ice was pretty beat up. I also felt somewhat tired and lethargic, in spite of getting a good night's sleep. Don't know what's up with that other than it was a very long week!

Worked all my stuff for the test -- stroking, XOs, back edges (skipped FO & FI edges), waltz-8 & 3-turn pattern. Not surprisingly it's not greatly improved from yesterday :-). It will have to do... skating at Lloyd Center in the a.m. to warmup, then over to Shiny Rink+ for the test at 10:50. Wish me luck!

Friday, July 25, 2008


Yes, Yet Another Moves Runthrough, and the last lesson before the test. This lesson was at 7 a.m. The session only had about 5 skaters at 6:30 when I got on it but just before my lesson an ice dance pair got on the session.

Today's lesson:
  • Stroking -- reminders to keep the head/chin up, bend the knees, hold the extension. Also on the very last crossover of the move on each side I'm flicking my free leg up, I assume this is some kind of subconscious thing.
  • Edges -- good, overall. Sonya had me re-do the BO and BI edges because she wanted me to hold the free foot in front a bit more (BO) and get deeper lobes (BI).
  • FXOs -- slow, but okay.
  • BXOs -- bad side is still pretty scrapey. Sonya was skating with me saying "heel! heel!". I wanted to bark like a dog :-).
  • Waltz-8 -- not bad. Still need to remember to push out more (bigger circle) on the step to the BO edge.
  • 3-turn pattern -- a bit rough and whippy still. Sonya reminded me that I need to look back to the line on the back lobe and be sure to bring the arm back before the BXO.
It was hard to focus during this runthough due to the dance team and the other skaters, so that caused me some issues that won't happen on Sunday. The main thing is probably to remember to relax and not rush, take my time.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

3-Turn Pattern & Waltz-8

Today's lesson with Kelli was on the 7:45 FS session (at 8:15). I was afraid it would be a zoo but it wasn't too bad, just 7 or 8 skaters I think.

Sonya had asked Kelli to work with me on the 3-turn pattern some more, so we did. Today's lesson:
  • 3-turn pattern -- about 20 minutes on this. Kelli had me working to hold the entrance ede to the FO3 longer, to stay more upright (no hunching over), and to check the FI3 better. On the back lobe we worked on getting a better edge coming out of the BXO, and making the BXO a proper BXO. We mostly worked the LFI3 side. I think with these I mostly need to not let myself get into a weird, dazed mental state that I tend to fall into on them.
  • Waltz-8 -- these are much better. I started with the left foot since I wanted to work that side (it's the bad side) and did a really good one! Well, good for me anyway. The 3 could still be placed better, the step forward was a little scrapy and I could hold the back edge longer -- and the circle could be a bit bigger. Kelli wants me to start on the L foot. I'll have to doublecheck on that, I think most of the moves say you can start on either foot. It did seem to help. At the end of the lesson (end of session) Sonya, Kelli AND Krissy were all watching my waltz-8. I had to laugh!
All in all I'm feeling a bit more confident about the test. I still think I won't be entirely satisfied with my skate but I think I'll probably pass.

Apparently I left my guards at Shink Rink+ yesterday. Grrr! I called and they said they had them, so I'll pick 'em up when I am there on Saturday.

I'm taking tomorrow off from skating -- I'm pretty tired. Lesson Friday, skate at Shiny Rink+ on Saturday afternoon, and then skate FS at Lloyd Center to warm up for the test Sunday morning!

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008


I had to travel for work today, so I had rescheduled my lesson with Kelli to tomorrow morning. However, I brought my skates with me in case I got done early, and sure enough I did, so I was able to skate the 5:15 FS at Shiny Rink+. Best of all, I had the ice all to myself!

Since the test is Sunday I decided that I had to do Yet Another Moves Runthrough. I gave myself a 5 minute warmup, then did the runthrough.

The Good: I made it through without falling! I didn't stop except in between moves as if I were talking to Sonya, getting water, etc. And while it was not at all perfect it might have been more-or-less passable.

The Bad: Well, first of all, it took me 18 minutes (a far cry from the 10 minutes they've allotted for this test!). And, I was SO tired by the end I don't know how I did the 3-turn pattern. I was seriously wiped out. Granted, I had driven 5 hours today (2 hours of driving right before I skated), and I'd not skated since yesterday early morning... I was very nervous (even though there was no one watching me!), so much so my FXOs on the stroking were a bit shaky, which scared me.

After the runthrough I let myself rest for 5 minutes, then worked extensively on BXOs against the wall (10 minutes!) and some on waltz-8, then I left because I was so tired. Eeep.

My test is at 10:55 Sunday morning. Eeeep! At least it's at a civilized hour.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Vegas, Baby!

USFSA announced a while ago that 2009 Pacific Coast Adult Sectionals will be in Las Vegas, NV at Sobe Ice Arena at Fiesta Rancho.

BXOs & 3s

Today's lesson was at 7 a.m. (on the ice at 6:30), and we continued our campaign to work the weak spots.

Today's lesson:
  • BXOs -- we mostly worked the weak side (CCW). We worked them a lot on the circle and then also against the wall. Sonya suggested I work them on the wall a lot (like, 25+ times) and then take them out on the ice. While they are better than they used to be they are still pretty scratchy.
  • FO3s & 3-turn pattern -- next we worked on FO3s in isolation and then in the 3-turn pattern, starting with the RFO3. Some improvement, mostly on holding the edge longer and getting a better kneebend. The weirdest thing happened though -- while we were working the 3-turn pattern (this would be the L side) I kept doing a cross-behind instead of a proper BXO on the back lobe. I don't know what was going on in my brain but I got my feet all confused. Bleah. After that we moved on and did LFO3 and the R side of the pattern.
One lesson with Kelli on Wed. a.m. and a final runthrough with Sonya on Friday morning and then that's it, the test is Sunday. I'm feeling happy, but mostly because one way or another I'm getting a month-long break from Moves after this week. Yay!

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Sunday, July 20, 2008


I skated the public session at Shiny Rink today for about 1.5 hours. Skate buddies Lisa and Amy were there, which made it more fun. Lisa was kind enough to work with my on my FI3s and 3-turn pattern a little, in return I got to (slightly) critique her 3s in the Field.

All in all a good skate, worked mostly waltz-8, FXOs and BXOs and what work I could do on the 3-turn pattern considering the crowd. I think the watch word on the waltz-8 is "take your time", especially on the push to the back edge. I noticed if I really try to just take some time on that I can hold the BO edge in a better position and the step forward is better placed.

Lesson in the a.m. and test in one week! I still don't know my timeslot for the test yet.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Workin' It

I skated at Shiny Rink+ again today (and will next Saturday as well), prepping for the Moves test. I had a pretty good skate, almost 2 hours. Would have stayed longer but the ice cut promised for 3 p.m. didn't happen so I left since the ice was pretty crappy by that point.

It was not too crowded so I got some good practice on the 3-turn pattern, waltz-8, BXOs and FXOs and stroking and back edges. I've decided on the waltz-8 the key may be to relax and not rush, especially on the push to the back edge. If I take my time on that I tend to get set up a bit better so I can hold without rotating a bit longer, which makes the back edge longer and the step forward easier. On the 3-turn pattern, some improvement I think, although I notice the BXO on the R side is pretty bad, much worse than on the L side. I think I'm rushing, again. BXOs... bleah. FXOs continue to slowly improve. All in all a pretty good skate.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


That's "Yet Another Moves Runthrough"....

Today's lesson was just that, at 6 a.m. Only 3 skaters on for the first part of the session, then some more showed up around 6:15 or so.

Today's lesson:
  • Stroking -- I decided to start CCW since I want to have a good start to the test, and I reduced my intro steps from 5 to 4 to get better flow. These were relatively okay although Sonya reminded me to keep my head up and to hold the extension longer. She would like to see a quicker transition between strokes and not so much time with the feet close together before the push. Also a reminder to bend the knees more on the end XOs!
  • Edges -- FO and FI edges pretty good. BO and BI still need to work on keeping the free foot in front or at least "forward".
  • FXOs -- slow, but not too bad. The last circle was verrrry sllloooowwwww. Grr. I should probably try doing these really quickly to see what that's like (bad, I expect).
  • BXOs -- first circle on each side not too bad but 2nd not as good. Still, these have really improved from a month ago.
  • Waltz-8 -- horrible! Really, not too good. Okay, the placement of the 3 wasn't bad but the rest -- yech. Didn't hold the exit of the 3, didn't hold the back edge long enough, and step forward was pretty ukky. Really, not too great.
  • 3-turn pattern -- Also, not too good (not as bad as the waltz-8). It's not the FI3, it's that I really whip the FO3 afterwards. Sonya did say the BXO was better. Sonya wants me to work on the FI3- FO3; really I just need to relax a bit and not rush (gee, where have I heard THAT before?!). There's plenty of time.
After the runthrough we had a couple of extra moments so we worked a little on BXOs to try to improve them. Sonya really had me working on trying to push the heel down on the back (leading) foot (how many times did Anna tell me that?!). Some improvement. It seems like the first circle on each foot is much better than the 2nd. I don't know if I just get tired, or if my concentration lapses, or what. Here's hoping the judges watch the first circle of each and then look down to write notes :-).

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

BO Edges, Waltz-8, BXOs

Tonight's lesson with Kelli was on the 6 p.m. FS as usual for our summer timeslot.

Today's lesson:
  • BO edges -- we started with these and immediately Kelli was excited because she'd found the problem with the back edge of my waltz-8 (I'd tried to tell her this before but it didn't register, I think). So we worked harder at keeping the free foot... if not actually "in front", at least at the side or almost in front. We made some good progress on this.
  • Waltz-8 -- having done that we went to apply it to the waltz-8 with only modest success. The 3s on the waltz-8 have improved but I still need a better check on the LFO3. In general I think I need to relax and not rush this.
  • BXOs -- I had Kelli look at this as well in case she had something to add beyond what Sonya has said. She talked more about body position and keeping turned into the circle. As has been happening lately, the first circle (of the pattern) was pretty good and it went downhill from there, although the CW side was not that bad the 2nd time and even the CCW side was, I think, better than it's been. Still much work to do and the test is approaching fast!

Random Karly quote for today: "You're not staying for Power, Gordon? Tsk, tsk!" (Karly didn't stay for Power skating class either! This girl cracks me up!)

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Monday, July 14, 2008

Same Old Stuff

Today's lesson was in my new timeslot, 7 a.m. I was on the ice at 6:30 and there were only 3 skaters then (by the end of the session there were 7 or so).

Today's lesson was almost a carbon copy of last week's:
  • FXOs -- Just a couple of minutes on this... still looking for a bit more flow and power, but they are improving.
  • BXOs -- working on sitting back on the heel more. I'm tending to bring the trailing leg too far back (i.e. toward me) before cutting it across. Grrr. These are improving but very, very slowly.
  • 3-turn pattern -- the 3s in this are actually pretty good these days. Main corrections for today were 1) hold the FO edge a bit so the FO3 isn't so rushed and forced, 2) hold the BI edge around a bit more and 3) hold the edge after the BXO a bit before the step forward. Unfortunately after the BXO I seem to be more on a flat than a BI :-(. Still, they are improving and they at least feel more comfortable (by far) than the did a couple of months ago.
Another lesson Thursday at 6 a.m. (eep), and also one with Kelli tomorrow.

Kayla was back on the ice today for the first time since her knee surgery... it was nice to see her back. The last part of the session I got to see most of the skaters I know and hadn't seen in a while; it was fun.

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Sunday, July 13, 2008


I skated the afternoon public today at Shiny Rink as usual. Good weather outside so not too crowded inside, although there did seem to be more than the usual complement of first-timers sliding and falling around.

Like yesterday, worked extensively on FXOs and waltz-8 and BXOs. I think the BXOs are actually improving. FXOs still rather tentative but improving. Waltz-8 is coming along; placement of the 3 is improving but I'm still struggling with the step forward on the L side. Oh well.

Lesson in the morning at my summer time slot (7 a.m.). Ugh!

Saturday, July 12, 2008


I skated for 1.5 hours at Shiny Rink+ today, trying to be sure that I'm comfortable with the ice there. It was not very crowded and the ice was pretty good. There was a Z-break at 2:40 which was welcome.

I had a pretty good skate, worked a lot on FXOs and 3-turn pattern. FXOs are getting more confident and sure, but still need more flow and power. 3-turn pattern is getting better too but it was hard to practice even in an uncrowded public :-(. Also spent some time on BXOs; I think I'm getting a better feel on the bad side even. It's hard to explain but it's like trying to let the trailing leg extend fully and then it kind of 'snaps' to angle in to cross.

I am soooo tired of working on moves! After this test I don't want to touch them for at least a month (even if I don't pass!).

I bumped into Molly and Kelsey while I was there -- Molly is teaching there (birthday parties and group lessons). Molly said she is taking her Novice moves test again the same day I'm testing. I'm sure she will pass this time!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

XOs & 3-Turn Pattern

Today's lesson was a reschedule from Monday. I was on the ice at 6:10 and the lesson was at 6:30. The session was quite lightly attended, just 4 skaters (most of them adults!) and 2 coaches.

Today's lesson:
  • FXOs -- these are about where I left them last, which I consider a victory of sorts. Form is good but they don't look confident and need more flow and power. They are slooooow.
  • BXOs -- ugh. The first time through the pattern the first circle was amazingly good! Unfortunately it went down hill from there. On the bad side (that would be CCW) they are pretty stinky -- we worked on them extensively but I'm having a hard time getting the trailing foot to cut across like I do on the other side. I also need to not rush them!
  • 3-turn pattern -- about 10 minutes on these. Three big issues -- 1) I need to step to a better FO edge after the FI3, 2) need to straighten the outside leg (lock the knee!) on the first part of the power-push, and 3) I need to fix a bad habit that showed up of putting my foot down after the BXO, before I step forward. These are actually improving and don't feel quite so frantic -- but the BXOs, here as elsewhere, are pretty stinky.
Altogether some good work done. I'm mostly over my jet lag, thank goodness, but I really need to get more ice time in to make some improvements. I think the 3-turn pattern and the FXOs could really improve with more practice. I'm most pessimistic about the BXOs right now. Sonya has found time for a couple extra lessons for me between now and the test date, so that should help.

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Tuesday, July 08, 2008


Today's lesson with Kelli was on the 6 p.m. FS, our new summer timeslot. It was a great session, only 4 skaters and 2 coaches. We're having what passes for a heatwave here and the rink was practically tropical -- 54 degrees (F), a full 12 degrees warmer than usual.

I had been off the ice since 6/19, so my first 5 minutes (I only had 15 minutes to warm up before my lesson) I felt like Bambi on rollerskates. Eeep! It got better.

We spent the entire lesson working on the waltz-8. The right side is coming along quite nicely, although it wouldn't hurt to move the RFO3 out about 3 feet. The left side, though.... eeep! We spent most of our time working on holding the exit edge of the LFO3 (some improvement) and especially fixing the step forward to LFO3. Strangely enough, when I am not doing the move I can do a pretty good step forward onto the FO edge; but it seems when I'm doing the full pattern I have a really hard time pulling the shoulder back and so my step forward is "out" and I put a bump on the circle, so to speak. Arrrgh. We did make a little practice but I need to fix this ASAP.

The test is 7/27... eeep!

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