Gordon's Sk8er Boi Blog

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

Monday, March 31, 2008

Spins & Back Russian Stroking

Today's lesson was on the 7 a.m. FS as usual:
  • Back Russian stroking -- (a.k.a. back perimeter XOs) we are continuing with our work on edges and power. We worked on these for about half the lesson. The left side I have a really hard time really straightening the R leg to get the weight really shifted to the L leg, and also having a hard time getting the shoulder pulled back. R side is a bit better. These are really fun, but I have to remind myself not to rush and to take my time on each lobe -- edge/weight shift, shift arms, THEN BXO. There's plenty of time to do it all and I need to work on having deeper lobes. The speed does tend to build up on these!
  • Spins -- we spent almost half the lesson on these and made some good progress, I think. Working always from the windup/step forward. Still not getting more than one rev, but we worked on stepping more back the way I came, getting a better LFO edge on the step forward, and trying to bring the R side along for the ride. Needs a lot more work but compared to a few months ago it's loads better. For one thing it's not at all scary anymore!

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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Sunday Zoo

I skated the last hour (with the Zamboni break, 45 minutes) of the public session. It was not as crowded as yesterday. I had a pretty good skate. I actually made some good progress on my FXOs; for some reason I seem to have figured out that I need to really push into the ice more so I'll feel more secure as I cross. Good progress on the 'good' side and even some on the bad side. Lots of work on LFI3 and BXOs and other stuff too.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Saturday Zoo

I skated the afternoon public session at Shiny Rink today. It was quite crowded. I was tempted to turn around and go home, actually, but decided I needed to get over it and see what I could accomplish. I stayed 'til the 2nd Zamboni break, by which I was pretty tired and called it a day. I had put my old purple laces back on and it took me a couple of times to get it laced right so I'm glad I didn't leave it until Monday.

I got a fair amount accomplished, actually. Worked on my LFI3, and I'm pleased to say it's starting to feel a lot more comfortable, a lot more like the RFI3. Yay! Worked on FXOs and BXOs and a bit on spins too. And of course being a public session I yakked a bit with skate buddy Amy and her little "coach" Bree :-).

Friday, March 28, 2008


I managed to get away to skate at coffee club for an hour. It was a little more crowded than I remember coffee club being before, maybe it's because of spring break? Amy and Molly and Kelsey were there. Kelsey commented on me using "her" music for my program, and I told her (with Molly chiming in in unison) that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery :-).

I had a pretty good skate. Worked on swing rolls and edges and some stroking, and then some 3s and FXOs and BXOs as well. My darn right boot laces cames undone again, it's like the 3rd time it's happened. I keep wondering what would happen if that happened while I was doing something interesting -- what a nasty fall that might be. So I'm changing back to my purple laces tonight (that I had on before the competition) -- they are nylon and stretch a bit more and just seem to work better.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Edge Work

I had this week's lesson on the 6 p.m. FS (had to switch from my usual Monday 7:30 a.m. slot due to a work trip). Since it's spring break the session wasn't crowded at all -- yay! :-)

We spent our time working, as promised on power and edges:
  • Swing roll drill -- Sonya had me do a lap of stroking, then straight into FO swing rolls down the length of the rink. The first side was pretty horrid, the second a little less so. My FO edge quality -- I'm just not getting my weight firmly over my skate. Grr. Then on to the same drill, FI swing rolls. This was a little better, but not much. I can see I'm going to need to do a lot more of these. My stroking's really gone to pot as well. *sigh*
  • Edges -- from this we went to doing some edges down the line, concentrating on getting the hip up and getting a better push. Oh, and chin up and bend the knees. Some improvement, though they weren't that bad to start with.
  • BO edge drill -- at my request, we finished up by working some more on BO edges, keeping the free foot in front and keeping the upper body turned into the circle. This is the same position I have problems with in the waltz-8. Some improvement. For whatever reason the LBO is a LOT harder for me than RBO, to keep the upper body turned in. I honestly think it's partly from when I hurt my L shoulder back in .... 2003? Sheesh. Sonya thinks it's mostly that I need to keep the free foot turned in and over the print. I'm sure that's true, or at least important.
So... a good lesson, in that it's really what I need to work on, I think. These things really ought to be easy for me at this point, but they are not -- so, what I need to work on. Hopefully I will get some time this week to work on 'em.

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Figures Competition Next Year!

I thought I'd pass this along, from Bill Cloran, president of the Oregon Skating Council:

Based on the respose to out figures event at PCAS, the Oregon Skating Council has voted to sponsor an all figures competition in July 2009 in Portland, Oregon. We will be working out the details and dates with the RVC for NWP over the next few weeks. The event will be open to all ages and abilities. Those who have not tested figures will have a choice between a restricted division and an open divison (all comers). Each figure will be a separate event. This will be a "laid back" for fun event with shopping, zoo and wine country trips available. Young skaters are welcome.

Bill Cloran, OSC President

I'm glad there's plenty of notice... I would like to learn at least the first figure (I know, there will be 10 bazillion people who can do that!)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Slow Week/PCAS Video

This week has been really crazy, extra choir rehearsals (it's Holy Week). Extra meetings for work, a work trip and lots of extra stuff. So... haven't skated since Monday and probably won't until Saturday.

One of my fellow Sherwood skaters and competitors, Allison (she's another of Sonya's skaters) posted a video of our event here. I'm the third skater.

Watching that video... it's hard. I'm so slow. It's discouraging. I asked someone who's known me a long time and she agrees that I used to skate faster than I am now. So I really need to work on getting that back. It ties in with something I've been feeling for a long time, that I'm a lot more tense and nervous about my skating than I was a couple of years ago. I really need to find a way to relax and to get into the ice more. Suggestions are welcome -- all I can think of right now is what Sonya and I have discussed: skate more, skate faster, bend the knees more.

Men's Event At Nationals

I finally got to watch this last night... wow, what a crazy finish. Had to love the fire and passion Lysacek showed. Weir... he's a great skater, obviously, and I love his fluidity, but his attitude... don't know. I do admire his courage in making all the changes he made, obviously he has really upped his game and is working harder than ever. With the IJS I'd never have expected an overall tie, truly amazing with resolution down to .01 that they could have an actual tie. I'm glad they built a tiebreaker into the system though.

Monday, March 17, 2008


Today's lesson on the 7 a.m. FS started with a (rather long, as it turned out) talk about what I learned from the competition and what I need/want to do now. So, I communicated to her many of my reflections that I wrote here last week as well as some additional ones. We are going to spend some time working on rebuilding/reworking my basics to get me skating faster and more confidently, with more power. We're still going to aim for testing APB Moves in June at Valley.

After all that talking we only had a bit of time left so we spent it working on stroking. Emphasis on proper weight placement, head up and pushing more quickly. Worked this into end crossovers (which were pretty stinky) and emphasis on getting turned into the crossover correctly.

In a lot of ways it feels almost like starting over! There's a lot to do.

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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Sunday Zoo

I skated the last hour (well, after the Z-break, last 45 minutes) of the public session at Shiny Rink today. As usual it was quite crowded. Skate buddy Amy was there for a bit then left before I did.

It was too crowded to do much really, but I did work on my waltz-8 and also a lot of LFI3s, which seem to have benefited from neglect! They seem a lot easier than they did before, so I did a bunch of 'em. Also a few spins and crossovers. Lesson tomorrow.

Friday, March 14, 2008

What I Learned From PCAS

As promised -- some reflections on what I learned from my first competition...

First, practice ice the day of was, I think, really helpful. It was only a half hour, but it was plenty for me to feel reasonably confident about my performance. It wasn't nearly the zoo I expected, but having skated on plenty of crowded freestyles I think I'd have been okay regardless.

I thought I would be more confused about what to do and where to go, etc. I don't know why I thought this, but the fact is that I've volunteered at plenty of competitions, and I've done score running, registration and ice monitor so I know pretty much how things go and what the flow is. So I recommend to any first time competitors -- volunteer at a competition first so you know how it goes.

As for the warmup -- as I said, I didn't really feel particularly nervous until the warmup itself, and then it really hit me. My legs felt really, really stiff and I felt like I was on the ice, not in it. Grrr. Having practiced the warmup helped a lot, and I did get calmed down a lot.

For the skate itself -- it's mostly a blur now. I don't remember feeling really nervous during the skate itself but the things that I worried about all along were still what I worried about then. I guess your problem elements are your problem elements! I'm still surprised I fell on the waltz jump since I hadn't fallen on a waltz jump in a long time, and don't think I'd ever fallen there during practice of the program. I'll have to see the video to see if I can see what was going on with me before. I probably was rushing too much. After I fell, I remember having a hard time trying to decide how much time I had and what I should try to do with the time I had. Oh well!

I was really disappointed in my performance afterward, and for the next day or two. After a while of reflecting on it I realized that everybody falls (as I've said myself), that I did get to do the harder jump okay, and that I did the first minute or more of my program just fine (more or less), so that part wasn't so bad. So I'm pretty okay with it now.

I really am grateful for all the support I had. It really was uplifting to have people cheering for me, and even though I knew it would be that way, for some reason I didn't expect it. Both the people at the rink and the folks at TFSC were great. It was sad that Sonya couldn't be there (I know it really bothered her not to be there) but honestly I don't think it would have made much difference in the outcome, though I would have been perhaps more at ease.

After almost 5 years of skating this is actually the first real milestone I've accomplished, since I've not tested yet. From that perspective it's both about time and really good to have done this.

As for my performance... I needed more runthroughs of the program. Sonya told me this I don't know how many times, and while it's not that I disregarded her (I didn't), I did not, in retrospect, practice the whole program enough. That wouldn't have helped with the nerves but it would have helped with the transitions and, especially, it would have helped with dealing with speed into some of the elements. I needed to be more disciplined than I was about getting more repetitions of the whole program.

As for the future directions of my skating -- Tracy gave me some good, honest feedback (something I can always count on from her). I was, as she said, the slowest one of my group. I really, really need to work on speed -- not just generating more power so much as handling it effectively and confidently. When I look back at my skating I think I used to have more speed than I do now; I don't know if it's a result of equipment changes (new blades, new boots) or (more likely)a side effect of some of the life changes and crap I've been through in the last couple of years manifesting itself in fear. Grr.

Tracy also said I should do some dance, and she's right. I should probably at least work on the dances I know a little bit -- not because I want to be a dancer (I really don't at this point) but because it will help my edges and posture and many other things. I've known this for some time but haven't taken the time to actually pursue this. I'll have to have a long talk with Sonya about all this, either at my next lesson or perhaps when we watch the video.

Thanks to everyone for your support, encouragement and feedback! It means a lot.

Monday, March 10, 2008

First Competition

Sunday morning I got up at 6 and hit the road to the rink. Since I sang a concert the night before and also DST started that night I didn't get as much sleep as I would have liked, but it was okay. Got to the rink at 6:48 to find Kelli there wondering where I was ("I thought you were one of those people who'd be here way early!"). Hey, it's just like my usual lesson time. Anyway, got my skates on and got on the ice at 7.

Had a good 30" of practice ice. Warmed up and worked on transitions. Kelli was at the boards and worked with me a lot. There were maybe 11 or 12 skaters there but it actually didn't seem nearly as chaotic as, say Tuesday 6 p.m. FS session. So that was good! Didn't get to play my music but did a runthrough and ran the second half.

After our time was up, relaxed a bit, then watched the high test figures event. It was awesome. A bunch of Sherwood people were behind me holding up signs for Kelli. She came out to do her second figure and looked at all of us and mouthed "Watch this!" and smiled. She cracked me up.

After that event I went and grabbed some breakfast, then came back, watched some more skating, checked in (Emmy took a picture to send Sonya of me handing in my music, LOL!), then went and changed into my costume and went up to the stretch room to stretch out a bit, listen to my program music and do some visualization. Came down around 11:25 and talked with Kelli, went and got my skates on. Walked with Kelli, Allison and Krissy (Krissy was putting Allison on for Sonya) down to the end of the rink where you get on for competitions. Checked in with the ice monitor, it was just before the end of the 2nd event before ours (the event before ours was a dance exhibition so not too long). Huddled under the heater talking with the other skaters and Kelli and Krissy.

Time to go, and they let us on the ice for our warmup. I was skating 3rd so I got to stay for the whole time. Got out and did a lap of slaloms and stroking, came out and did the FI3 into the spin and it hit me... horribly nervous. Came back and said to Kelli "okay, NOW I'm nervous!". It made me laugh in a way (but I was still nervous). Kelli reminded me to bend my knees and to breathe deep, and some other stuff I don't remember now :-). Went back out, skated around a bit, practiced the 3-turn section a bit, did a half flip, then a waltz jump, practiced the FXO - Xroll section, did two waltz jumps in a row... felt a little better. My sk8 girl homies (I think it was at least Emmy, Samantha, Kayla, Madison, Molly and maybe some other folks, not to mention Zena and some of the other parents) were yelling and stuff. It was very sweet and made me feel good (THANKS GIRLS!). Then it was time to come off.

Jacquie (first skater) and Allison (2nd) did their thing. I didn't watch, just concentrated on relaxing and talking with Kelli. Then they called my name and skated out to start. The homegirls yelled "You rock Gordon!" or something like that, which made me smile and relaxed me a bit. Music started and off I went... first part went well, first 3 was okay, second was a bit wonky which threw me and I did a step forward instead of the back 2-foot (and it was the EASY side, too). Oh well. Got a good push into the LFO glide, and at this point I was actually a little ahead of the music. Got to the pushback, XF, 2-foot spin and toepick thing and it all went well. Started off for the half flip and it went fine, into the lunge and FXO-Xroll section, still okay although maybe a little wobbly on that last. Went into the first waltz jump and fell on the landing (Kelli said I checked it with low arms, and lost my balance). Took me a little to get up and figure out where I was and how much time I had. Debated going into the RFI3 and spin from there but didn't think I had enough time so wound up skating a litle way, then into a pivot and ending slightly late.

Bowed to the judges, bowed to the audience (see Sonya, I remembered!), and skated off...

After my skate there were a number of things to do... order photos, order video. Once the results were in, take a picture with the ladies in my flight (I got one of just me, too). I got 4th (out of 4), so I still got a medal.

So... my first skate. Yes, I'm a bit disappointed. If I had to predict where I would have fallen it wasn't on the waltz jump! At least not the first one! Oh well. The crowd was really supportive and I really, really appreciated it. What great folks. Lisa Yates threw me a toy to pick up off the ice on my way off. Yay, my first toy! Like Tracy said, "you're a real skater now, you got a toy!" :-)


PCAS '08

There's a lot to write about from this weekend, so I'm going to divide it into 3 parts (just like Gaul). The first part, this one, is about the competition as I experienced it other than my own competition. I'll write a second part about my program skate and how it went. Then I'll write a third part about what I learned and what I want to do as a result.


I got to the rink a little before 8 to watch the first of my friends' skates, Amy and then Allison. Amy was in the Intro FS and Allison Pre-Bronze FS. After that a break, then watched Tracy's and Mary's and Lisa's freeskates. Very cool. Had a lot of fun hanging out talking with people and watching some great skating. Took Tracy to lunch and we had a great time catching up on things. She's such a great friend and someone I can always count on to tell me things straight. After lunch, came back and watched some dance, including coach Shannon and her partner. I was hoping to watch the pairs (they had 2 Gold pairs, I think, and a Bronze pairs exhibition) but they were running a bit behind and I had to leave for another commitment.

All through the day people kept coming up to me and talking about the Oregonian article. It was nice, but made me a little self-conscious. There are so many other skaters who are more deserving of attention than I am.


Sunday I was at the rink early for my practice ice at 7, after that got to watch the high-test figures. Not surprisingly it took longer than they planned. It was really cool, though. It was like watching golf! Everyone was very quiet. When Kelli came out to do her first figure a bunch of her skaters were (quietly) holding up signs and stuff. It was very neat. The judges were very exacting and the whole process was fascinating to watch. Some of the competitors were very, very polished and others not as much, but all of them earned my respect and admiration. Kelli took 2nd (of 8) and we were all very proud of her.

After that I was mostly getting ready for my own skate but I did get to watch Tracy's solo dance. I thought she looked great, but she apparently blanked at one point and did an extra 3-turn, so she took 2nd. Oh well!

After my program I watched Tracy's and Lisa's and Mary's interps (Lisa did dramatic and light both). There was also a lot of running around ordering videos and pictures etc. I also spent some time talking to people and making some new acquaintances.

The coaches' interp at 1:55 was awesome. Sonya has been sick as a dog, poor thing, and her doctor told her she needs to stay home, so she had to withdraw. When Krissy and Laura came out to warm up there was a lot of whooping and hollering. Someone was leading cheers ("Give me a K! K! Give me an R! R!.... What's that spell? KRISSY!" etc., for both Krissy and Laura). Then the judges did the wave! Seriously. It was pretty funny. Laura skated first, and really, she skated just beautifully, it was very inspiring. Then Krissy came out and skated, and she was amazing too! Really awesome. I would say that Krissy's program was a little harder. She had a couple of small flubs, but a harder program. Laura's program was flawless as far as I could tell, but not as challenging. Krissy won.

I ran into Lucy Edwards, my first coach when I came to Oregon and was skating at Valley. She seems to be doing well, although not skating right now alas. Anyway, we had a nice chat, it was good to see her.

After that I watched some more wonderful skating, then had to leave around 4 for some other stuff I needed to do.

All in all it was a whole lot of fun, and it was a great experience.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

I'm Famous!

Well, not really. The article in the Oregonian is up, check it out!

Friday, March 07, 2008

Last Minute Changes

I had an email from Sonya this morning that she was pretty sure she would not be able to be there on Sunday for me. I know she's really upset about this, and I am too -- but I'm glad she is taking care of herself. She really needs to get well and being in a cold ice rink is not the way to do it.

So I talked with Kelly (Sonya's coaching buddy) and she's going to be there for my practice ice and put me on the ice for my event. There might be a slight problem as apparently Allison (another of Sonya's adult skaters) is going to be competing against me! I'm sure we'll work it out fine. Thanks Kelly!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Last? Practice

I hit the 8:15 FS this morning for what is probably my last practice before the competition. I'm really tempted to get some ice tomorrow sometime, but judging by the crowd of out-of-towners at the rink this morning, tomorrow will be a zoo. Plus I'm mindful of what my coach said about getting some rest before the competition -- so I'll probably just go from where I am. I have practice ice Sunday at 7 a.m. and that should suffice.

Practice this morning -- probably only 7 or 8 of us on the ice, all adults except Lauren (and hey, she's 17!). One dance team, the rest FS. I got to run my program twice. The first time went pretty darn well, the second less so. Both times, though, I was behind on the second half and had to cut the 2nd waltz jump to finish on time. I actually finished perfectly the first time, 2nd time I was a little late. So I probably will drop the 2nd waltz jump. I know it's that I'm losing time on the footwork before. Dang it.

Anyway, it is what it is. If my skate on Sunday is like my first runthrough today I'll be pretty happy actually. My event is noon on Sunday.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008


Skated the 6 p.m. FS as usual, and as usual, pretty crowded. Worked on my footwork mostly, trying to be quicker about it. Some improvement, I think.

Got to meet a couple of adult skaters who will be at PCAS -- one from PDX and one from WA. Should be fun.

Cute quote for today: "I'm a highlighter!" -- Karly, referring to her fluorescent orange skating dress.

On a sad note, my coach is sick! One of the skating moms told me she is down with the flu -- I called her and she is miserable! Poor thing. She works waaaaaay too hard. I hope she feels better by the weekend! Eeep!

Monday, March 03, 2008

Polishing -- Coarse Grit

Today's lesson on the 7 a.m. FS as usual. Not too many skaters today, just 4 I counted. Today was all about polishing the program, but it's hardly fine-tuning at this point. There's still much to do. We started with a runthrough (of course), then ran sections and fixed some stuff, then another runthrough at the end.
  • Opening -- no feedback!
  • 3-turn section -- Sonya reminded me to try to set a better edge when stepping into the 3s. For the last part (LFO glide), I went rather straight the last time as I was short on time, but Sonya wants a definite curve, even if I have to do a little curlicue (so to speak) at the end.
  • Pushback/2-foot spin/toepicks -- This is not too bad. Sonya wants the arms coming up and not just back on the toepick thing, but not too bad otherwise.
  • Half flip/lunge -- Sonya's pleased with the half flip. It's definitely better, but I did a really good one about 2 weeks ago and I'm still trying to get back to how that felt. The lunge... I am having real issues with the lunge--3-turn. I'm not sure why, this used to be an easy move for me (the "Gordon"!). Not right now. Sonya gave me the option of dropping it. I think her thought was that sometimes, less is more. She's probably right. I'll play around with it in practice and if it's not solid I will drop it *sigh*.
  • Footwork -- we spent some time working on the footwork after the lunge, Sonya was getting me to speed it up, make the transitions quicker. Some good progress on this. Sonya wants these steps all on a 2-count.
  • Waltz jumps -- not sure if I'm going to do one or two. I've left the second one out a couple of times because I was running late, the last time through I only did one but Sonya said it was "huge!". So we'll see.
  • RFI3/spin/closing -- The problem here is mostly that I'm going hecka fast into the RFI3 and it scares me. Sonya reminded me to really bend my knees (and, as she said, don't assume the "Thinker" pose -- butt out, head dropped, etc. :-)). Other than that it's not so bad, I think it will be okay.
All in all a very good and very tiring lesson! Now it's just get some practice and some rest before my skate (Sunday at noon).

No lesson next week (I'm taking a week off from lessons). I told Sonya when we come back I'd like to spend some time really work just on edges (and speed) as if there's one thing I've learned from this experience it's that my edges are not what I'd like them to be.

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Sunday, March 02, 2008

Sunday Zoo

I'm still getting over my cold... it's moved down to my chest. The good part is that usually means I'm almost well. The bad part is that I practically lost my voice Sat. and Sunday until late in the day.

I only skated an hour at the Sunday public session, working mostly on transitions and hard spots. Some good progress on the RFI3 into the spin, and some other key areas. Lunge-3turn not so good. It was really busy so I didn't stay that long but I'm glad I got some time in before my lesson.