Gordon's Sk8er Boi Blog

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

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sunday Zoo

I skated the last 45 minutes of the public session at Shiny Rink today. Had a pretty good skate all in all, despite having been off the ice since last Monday.

While working on my back Mohawk (BO edge/step forward) I had a light bulb moment! Namely, the problem I've had where I can't hold the position (skating hand back, free leg forward) is not really due to some mysterious inability on my part. It's because I'm not actually holding the BO edge correctly. If I am able to lift that darn free hip, and bend the ankle so I stay off my toes, I have no problem holding the position. What's happening is that I'm falling onto the flat (or worse, onto a BI edge that I'm forcing) and the drag etc. from that is pulling me around while I'm trying to hold the edge. So... need to work more on that edge!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Back Mohawk & Posture

Today's lesson started a little late (the rink opened a little late and Sonya was running behind) so I had a good long warmup beforehand. During the week I had sent Sonya and Kelli a note outlining my thoughts on what I needed to work on in order to improve my skating per the feedback I got on my test.

Today's lesson:
  • Back mohawk -- a.k.a. "step forward". We spent about half the lesson working on this, to have a better back edge with more control, then a better step forward. The edge is improving but I'm still having difficulty stepping onto an FO edge, it's usually a flat or FI.
  • Posture -- we worked just on stroking while keeping the head up and a better posture. Eeep. This is not easy and it's annoying, but necessary. Bleah!

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sunday Zoo

I skated for 45 minutes at the Sunday public session, my first time on the ice since my test as it turned out. I had a pretty good skate, just goofin' around mostly, a couple of waltz jumps and a 2-foot spin and of course some moves.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Katlynn McNab --> Nationals!!

A big SHOUT-OUT to Katlynn McNab! Her years of hard work have paid off with a 3rd place finish at Pacific Coast Sectionals and a trip to Nationals in Novice Ladies! Way to go Katlynn!!

APB Moves Test -- "Retry/Retry/Pass"

Well, the headline says it all... but I'll record the details anyway, I'm just that anal-retentive. I will say that I've very discouraged and sad, even though there are some reasons to be optimistic.

I got up relatively late. I had intended to warmup at Valley but when I called they informed me their Zamboni had died and so their ice wasn't fresh. So I switched to plan B and headed over to Lloyd Center and skated the 9 a.m. FS. Had a good skate (there were two (count 'em, two!) other adult male skaters on the session with me!). Went through everything twice or more.

Left Lloyd Center (unfortunately I forgot and left my guards there, I will have to go collect them tomorrow) and drove to Shiny Rink with a detour through the McD's drivethrough for a quick breakfast. Got to the rink and had plenty of time to relax, get my skates on, and talk to my coach. Actually my coaches since Kelli was there as well.

Had my 5 minute warmup at 11 a.m. (15 minutes early), this was shared with a Preliminary MIF tester. That was a little awkward as I was warming up my CW stroking and she was working moves CCW so I kept having to dodge her.

Then off the ice and wait for the Prelim. skater to finish, then on the ice, talk to the judges. APB Moves only needs one judge but I got 3! They were very nice. One of them I have met before, the other two were new to me.

Okay, the actual skate. I'll give each move, then each judge's feedback (with an "A" for the first, "B" for second and "C" for third) in italics, then my commentary. For comparison, here's the feedback from my test in July.

  • Stroking -- (A) OK (B) CCW Very careful. Stepping through ends. CW O.K. Stepping through ends. Need more push. (C) CC - work to build speed - work on flow C - watch stepping crossovers. Judge A is pretty terse. Of course the feedback is spot on, my FXOs are pretty steppy, especially CW. They have improved a lot from the first test, though. I was reasonably happy with them.
  • Edges -- (A) OK (B) FO O.K. Bend knees more. Nice flow/arc. FI Nice edges. More knees please. BO Good pushes. More control of freeleg after push would help. BI O.K. Try starting with wider stance for 1st push-off lobe. (C) FO Very good! FI good - nice lobe shape. BO above average shape - flow. BI Needs more push. Watch wide stepping. I was pretty happy with these. I did have a couple issues with the BI edges as far as bringing the free foot in thus the comments.
  • FXOs & BXOs -- (A) OK (B) Forward Slow - cross-overs better than on Move #1. No toe-pushes please! Backward More knees = more underpush. Scratching on picks. Upper body OK. Finish off move. (C) Forward very slow skating work now on speed/flow. Backward faster skating - watch toe picks. Some new feedback here from what I've seen before. I wasn't aware I was toe-pushing (I guess I shouldn't be shocked) so that will take some investigation. Sonya thought the "finish off move" comment was because I did a back snowplow stop after the BXOs instead of turning forward and stopping.
  • Waltz-8 -- (A) Loss of control in fwd step (B) Shakey - foot down. - touched down on retry. Don't look down. Bend knees & it will all flow better. (C) foot down both sides unstead back edges 2nd try stronger. ARRRRGGGGHHHHH!!!!! I did it again. I really can't describe what happened but this one was actually worse than the last test. It's the FO edge after the step forward, I lost control and put my foot down. If I remember correctly this happend on BOTH the left and right sides. Strangely enough after that the 2nd set was quite nice. I really can't explain it other than that I was suddenly quite nervous and I tried very, very hard not to put the foot down -- but it happened. I was pretty crushed.
  • 3-turn pattern -- (A) loss of control thruout cannot hold ede after 3's left side (B) (1) Don't look down so much! Scratchy. Hold edges. (2) Hold after 3-turns, esp. FO3. (C) weak turns - hold edges longer - into & out of 3's. I really hate this move although it went okay (for me, at least). But yep, the L side esp. (did that first) is quite whippy and uncontrolled. I did somewhat better than in the past on getting the weight shift on the back lobe correct.
So after I finished I skated over to Sonya, then back to the judges, who asked me to reskate the Waltz-8. What a shock :-). Unfortunately it went about the same. Sonya said I was really hunched over. On the L side I almost fell but managed not to and managed not to put the foot down, but on the R side I once again came out of the step forward off balance and put the foot down. And just like before, I did a second set and they were really nice. Grrr.

Judges A and B gave me a Retry and judge C passed me, bless her heart. Judge C came up to me after the test and gave me some verbal feedback and encouragement -- she was very kind. In general she said I need to stand up straighter, keep my eyes/head up, and convince the judges I know what I'm doing :-).

There were a number of positives from this test: first, I was not nearly so nervous in general, and my stamina has greatly improved. I wasn't exhausted when I was done, just tired. My problems were mental, not physical :-). Also in general most elements were improved from July's test and my speed and flow were better.

Despite all that I'm very disheartened. I've been working on this for SO long and I was really, really hoping to move on to something more interesting... but it is not to be. So I will work on fixing the weak points I have and re-test, perhaps in January.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sunday Zoo

Despite a ridiculously crazy weekend schedule I did manage to get to the rink today to skate for about 45 minutes. It was crazy busy. Still I did get some good practice in on my waltz-8 and FXOs and some edges and 3-turn pattern.

The test is tomorrow morning!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Bonus Skate

One of my work projects is delayed, so I was able to escape to the rink for an hour at the public session this afternoon. Amy was there, and also Christina. I'd not seen Christina in an eon so it was a real treat to see her there.

I had an okay skate. I worked mostly on CW FXOs and the waltz-8. They are just okay. I tried especially going into the FXOs with a little more speed, and I'm still pretty nervous about that. Oh well!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

FO8, FI8, Waltz-8

Today's figures lesson on the 8:15 FS as usual. Unfortunately I'll have to switch to an earlier lesson after Thanksgiving due to Kelli's schedule changing :-(.

The excitement for today was that I accidentally did my first 3-turn in patch blades today! See below for details. Today's lesson:
  • FO8 -- we started out with these on a relatively clean patch of ice on one of the pepperoni dots :-). Besides the fact that I never get around on one push :-( I also had some serious issues with the relative size of my circles.
  • FI8 -- we moved elsewhere to work on these. These are somewhat better than the FO8s but have many of the same problems.
  • Waltz-8 -- finished up with these. The very first one I tried (L foot) I totally forgot that I was in my patch blades, and I went and did a LFO3! As I was finishing the turn I realized what I'd done and was so surprised that I almost fell from that (managed not to fall). Later on of course I did fall while trying to do the step forward :-). These are slowly improving.
Kelli is going to start bringing her scribe for us to use. I've been trying to find one but the ones I've seen on eBay are all $75 and I really only wanted to spend like $50.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Test Schedule

I just got the test schedule. I will be warming up at 11:15 on Monday.... so I guess I will need the whole morning off. Eeep.


I skated the 5:15 FS session today. Not too crowded, actually -- 8 skaters.

I worked on every element in the test. Strangely enough my waltz-8 was much better today... I don't know why! 3-turn pattern okay, edges were fine. BXOs actually a bit better (still scratchy, but improving). FXOs... I want to continue working on them between now and Monday because I've decided part of my issue is that I'm just not very comfy with the CW FXOs. So perhaps a bit more practice between now and then will bring my comfort level up a bit, I hope. It's not that they are so horrible (though they certainly aren't great), mostly that I still find them scary.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Test Prep

Today's lesson on the 7 a.m. FS as usual. I felt very uncoordinated, like I had 3 left feet. Bleah. Instead of a runthrough as I expected, Sonya wanted to work on elements. I guess that's a good sign that after last week's runthrough she's not so worried about the whole thing. Before the lesson proper we talked about the possibility of being double-paneled for this test (Carrie is planning to test as well) and what that would mean for how things work.

Today's lesson:
  • Warmup prep -- we talked about what elements to work on in the 5 minute warmup. I should be able to skate FS session before the test so I'll be somewhat warmed up. We settled on stroking (get my legs under me, especially the end FXOs), L side 3-turn pattern, waltz-8 (I think!).
  • Waltz-8 -- yech. These were so much better last week! Once again I'm having problems getting that shoulder pulled back before the step forward. This is really frustrating!
  • FXOs -- not too bad, but when I get to the second set of CW FXOs I get really nervous. I think it might be because I'm going into them faster since it's the middle of the move, not the beginning. I need to practice them more in context -- I think too much of my practice is in isolation so it's not the same as in the test.
  • BXOs -- not that bad. CCW are still quite scratchy, but I'm getting a good cross and Sonya says the transition between circles is better.
  • 3-turn pattern -- we just did the L side (I'm going to stop calling it the bad side!). I wasn't getting a good back lobe, which makes the step forward sloppy. Grrr.
All in all this was a very frustrating lesson! Last week seemed so much better, or at least I felt a lot better about it! Grrr. The test is one week from today. The schedule is not out yet though.

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Sunday, November 09, 2008

Sunday Zoo

I skated the Sunday public, just the last 45 minutes as I had a long-running choir practice before. The shorter session (ends at 3:30 now instead of 4 that it had been) is not helping me!

Had a pretty good skate, worked on a bunch of problem stuff. Met a wonderful adult skater, Greg. Wow, this guy's good! Nice double sal, camel, footwork. Very impressive. Had a chat after the session -- he usually skated at Lloyd Center but of course they had the ISI competition so he was at Shiny Rink instead. He said he's not tested, but he looked very polished, like Intermediate or so.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Edges & FO8

Today's figures lesson on the 8:15 FS as usual:
  • FI & FO edges -- some weirdnesses with my FO edges. FI edges are pretty good.
  • BO & BI edges -- these are still weak but improving. I'm still not keeping my free foot in front on the BO edges; basically I keep it at the side for a bit then move it back. Kelli would like me to keep it front for the first third or so, then move it back smoothly. BI edges are not bad but lobe size is very unmatched from L to R foot.
  • FO8 -- we tried this at "arbitrary place on the ice". Not so great. The L side circle is much smaller than the R side, and I didn't do a good job of getting back to my start. And I'm not getting around the circle very well at all. Kelli wants me to practice more on the L foot, especially getting a bigger push.
After my lesson I had about 20 minutes so I worked a lot on my LFO edge and getting a better push. I also worked on the FI8 a bit and a bit more on back edges.

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Tuesday, November 04, 2008


I skated the 6 p.m. FS. As usual, it was fairly crowded, but workable. I spent some quality time on my top elements from yesterday's lesson -- CW FXOs, the transition in the BXO pattern and the Waltz-8. Some small improvements in each. A good skate all in all.

Monday, November 03, 2008


That's Yet Another Moves Runthrough. I was on the ice at 6:40 to warmup, then when lesson time came we did our runthrough with Sonya at the boards just like for the test. She gave me feedback after the runthrough that I'll give after each element.
  • Stroking -- CCW first, then CW. I was relatively calm about this. Sonya thinks my CW FXOs are too slow and need better flow. I'm reluctant to do them faster even though it probably would help and really, more speed shouldn't be scary.
  • Edges -- Okay. Sonya thought my F edges were kind of small. I was more focused on trying to remember to bring my free leg in after the push, which I did. Back were okay although my BI lobes were a bit inconsistent in size.
  • XOs -- F were not as slow as they have been, so that's good. They are still quite slow though! BXOs -- Sonya's concerned about the transition between lobes, I'm tending to be up on my toes too much and too square. She did say they have improved a lot from the last test.
  • Waltz-8 -- hmmph. The first time on the L side was really bad, had a bad step forward and no push so I couldn't make it back to center, so I wound up pushing into the next lobe from like 3 feet before the center. Bleah! It went better after that, but it was not great.
  • 3-turn pattern -- Actually, not bad. Sonya felt my L side was actually better than the R in that I'm not doing a very good BXO on the R side. My take was that I'm doing a better weight shift on the R side than the left but for some reason a better BXO on L than R. Grrr.
It took me 20 minutes to do the runthrough, even with a couple of delays due to traffic and a little longer in-between than I will get in real life. I was really pleased because even though I was a bit nervous (and it's not even the real test!) I was not nearly so winded as I have been in the past! YAY! I was so happy about that. I was tired, yes, but not "OMG I want to die!" like I have been. So I guess my workouts and other prep are helping.

After the runthrough Sonya had me reskate the Waltz-8 and it was much better. I never thought this was my weakest move but it seems like it is. I'm really inconsistent.

All in all a great runthrough. The test is in two weeks!

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