Gordon's Sk8er Boi Blog

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

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Lessons with Sonya

[10/20/09 -- I've created this list and backdated it to the end of the month with my last lesson with Sonya.]

Lesson #134 "Spins, Toe Loop, Salchow"

Lesson #133 "Even More Jumps & Spins"

Lesson #132 "Jumps & Spins, Still"

Lesson #131 "Jumps & Spins"

Lesson #130 "Bronze Moves"

Lesson #129 "Turns & Power-3s"

Lesson #128 "Basics & Bronze Moves"

Lesson #127 "Choreography"

Lesson #126 "New Program"

Lesson #125 "Spins, Waltz-Toe, Salchow"

Lesson #124 "Salchow & Spins"

Lesson #123 "Jumps & Spins"

Lesson #122 "Moves Polishing"

Lesson #121 "3-Turn Pattern, Spins, Toe Loop"

Lesson #120 "Toe Loop!"

Lesson #119 "Toe Loop & Salchow"

Lesson #118 "Jumps & Spins"

Lesson #117 "Waltz-8, Jumps, Spins"

Lesson #116 "Spins & Salchow"

Lesson #115 "Freestyle"

Lesson #114 "Pounding Away"

Lesson #113 "Cross Strokes & Toe Loop

Lesson #112 "Power Pull Prep & 3s"

Lesson #111 "XOs & Spins"

Lesson #110 "Spins, Toe Loop, Etc."

Lesson #109 "Spins, Moves, Jumps Again

Lesson #108 "Spins, Jumps, Moves"

Lesson #107 "Filling The Cracks"

Lesson #106 "Back Mohawk & Posture"

Lesson #105 "Test Prep"

Lesson #104 "YAMR"

Lesson #103 "Waltz-8 & 3-Turn Pattern"

Lesson #102 "XOs & Waltz-8"

Lesson #101 "Stroking, 3-Turns, Edges"

Lesson #100 "Waltz-8 & 3-Turn Pattern"

Lesson #99 "BXOs & Waltz-8"

Lesson #98 "YAMR (1st Half)"

Lesson #97 "Moves"

Lesson #96 "FUNdamentals"

Lesson #95 "Moves & Spins"

Lesson #94 "Salchow"

Lesson #93 "Spins & Salchow"

Lesson #92 "Back Edges & Spins"

Lesson #91 "Jumps & Spins"

Lesson #90 "Back In the Saddle"

Lesson #89 "YAMR"

Lesson #88 "BXOs & 3s"

Lesson #87 "YAMR"

Lesson #86 "Same Old Stuff"

Lesson #85 "XOs & 3-Turn Pattern"

Lesson #84 "BXOs & 3s"

Lesson #83 "Moves Runthrough"

Lesson #82 "3-Turn Pattern & BXOs"

Lesson #81 "XOs, Still"

Lesson #80 "XOs, Again"

Lesson #79 "BXOs & Waltz-8"

Lesson #78 "Edges, BXOs, Spins"

Lesson #77 "XOs"

Lesson #76 "Salchow & Russian Stroking"

Lesson #75 "BI Edges & Toe Loop"

Lesson #74 "Spins & More"

Lesson #73 "Spins & Back Russian Stroking"

Lesson #72 "Edge Work"

Lesson #71 "Regrouping"

Lesson #70 "Polishing -- Coarse Grit"

Lesson #69 "Dress Rehearsal"

Lesson #68 "Filling In The Cracks"

Lesson #67 "Spins & Program Work"

Lesson #66 "Program Choreo Wrapup"

Lesson #65 "More Program Work"

Lesson #64 "Program Work"

Lesson #63 "Spins, Salchow & Turns"

Lesson #62 "Making Connections"

Lesson #61 "Program Element Prep"

Lesson #60 "FXOs & Spins"

Lesson #59 "Jumps"

Lesson #58 "Potpourri"

Lesson #57 "Basics"

Lesson #56 "New Blades!"

Lesson #55 "Waltz-8 & Back Edges"

Lesson #54 "Test Prep"

Lesson #53 "3s & BO Pivot"

Lesson #52 "Stops & Salchows"

Lesson #51 "Toe Loop"

Lesson #50 "Edges, Jumps, Pivots"

Lesson #49 "XOs"

Lesson #48 "More 3s"

Lesson #47 "FO3s"

Lesson #46 "Moves Runthrough"

Lesson #45 "Waltz-8 & BXOs"

Lesson #44 "3-Turn Pattern"

Lesson #43 "XOs & Jumps"

Lesson #42 "Perimeter XOs & Back Edges"

Lesson #41 "Back To Jumping"

Lesson #40 "You Guessed It ... Moves!"

Lesson #39 "Moves, Still"

Lesson #38 "Moves"

Lesson #37 "BXOs & Spins"

Lesson #36 "3-Turn Pattern"

Lesson #35 "XOs & Spins"

Lesson #34 "Basics"

Lesson #33 "Jumps"

Lesson #32 "Waltz-8 And 3-Turn Pattern"

Lesson #31 "Toe Loop"

Lesson #30 "Buns O' Steel"

Lesson #29 "Keeping At It"

Lesson #28 "Even More Moves"

Lesson #27 "More Moves"

Lesson #26 "Freestyle"

Lesson #25 "Moves"

Lesson #24 "Hitting The Hard Spots"

Lesson #23 "Dutch Waltz"

Lesson #22 "Prep Galore"

Lesson #21 "Outside Mohawks"

Lesson #20 "More Jumps"

Lesson #19 "Back Edges"

Lesson #18 "Spins & Salchow"

Lesson #17 "Turns"

Lesson #16 "Half Flip & Spins"

Lesson #15 "XOs"

Lesson #14 "Spins"

Lesson #13 "Moves"

Lesson #12 "Jumps"

Lesson #11 "3Turn-A-Ganza"

Lesson #10 "Jumps & Spins"

Lesson #9 "Fear Factor"

Lesson #8 "Moves Runthrough"

Lesson #7 "Off-Ice Training"

Lesson #6 "MITF Workout"

Lesson #5 "Backwards Woodshedding"

Lesson #4 "Back Edges, BXOs, Half Flip, LFI3, Spins"

Lesson #3 "Half Flip, Spins, FXOs"

Lesson #2 "BXOs, FI3s And Half Flip Intro"

Lesson #1 "Beginning Again, Again"

Trial Lesson With Sonya

Labels: ,

Lessons with Kelli (Figures and Moves)

[10/20/09 -- I've created this list and backdated it to the end of the month with my last lesson with Kelli. Kelli was my secondary coach for Figures and later Moves]

Lesson #51 "Forward Perim. XOs & 5-Step Mohawk"

Lesson #50 "Power-3s"

Lesson #49 "Bronze Moves"

Lesson #48 "5-Step Mohawk & Power-3s"

Lesson #47 "More Bronze Moves"

Lesson #46 "FI8/FO8 & 5-Step Mohawk"

Lesson #45 "Stroking & FXOs"

Lesson #44 "Power-3s & Spins

Lesson #43 "5-Step Mohawk & Half Lutz"

Lesson #42 "T-Stop, Spread Eagle & Spins"

Lesson #41 "3-Turn Pattern"

Lesson #40 "Test Prep"

Lesson #39 "Stroking & 3-Turn Pattern"

Lesson #38 "3-Turn Pattern"

Lesson #37 "BO Edges & FO3s"

Lesson #36 "Stroking & XOs"

Lesson #35 "FI8"

Lesson #34 "BO Edges"

Lesson #33 "F Edges & FI8"

Lesson #32 "FO Edges"

Lesson #31 "Serpentine"

Lesson #30 "Back Edges"

Lesson #29 "Edges, Still"

Lesson #28 "Potpourri"

Lesson #27 "FO8, FI8, Waltz-8"

Lesson #26 "Edges & FO8"

Lesson #25 "BO Edges"

Lesson #24 "Edges, Still"

Lesson #23 "Waltz-8"

Lesson #22 "Edges & Waltz-8"

Lesson #21 "Edges, Edges, Edges"

Lesson #20 "Edges & Waltz-8"

Lesson #19 "BO Edges"

Lesson #18 "Edges and 8s"

Lesson #17 "FI Edges"

Lesson #16 "FO8"

Lesson #15 "FO Edges"

Lesson #14 "FI Edges"

Lesson #13 "Patch Blades!"

Lesson #12 "3-Turn Pattern & Waltz-8"

Lesson #11 "BO Edges, Waltz-8, BXOs"

Lesson #10 "Waltz-8"

Lesson #9 "FO3s"

Lesson #8 "Back Edge Workout"

Lesson #7 "FO8s & 3s"

Lesson #6 "Push-off & 3s"

Lesson #5 "FO8 & Waltz-8"

Lesson #4 "Waltz-8"

Lesson #3 "FI Circle-8"

Lesson #2 "Waltz-8/3-Turns"

Lesson #1 "Circle-8"

Trial Figures Lesson

Labels: ,

Friday, September 25, 2009

Going-Away Party

[Note: I've backdated this post to the date it occurred.]

After club ice a bunch of us had a get-together at the restaurant next to the rink to say our goodbyes. There was a terrific turnout! I believe I counted 23 of us. There was a card from Sonya and gifts from Sonya and Kelli, and amazingly enough a card signed by a huuuuuge number of people that they managed to keep a secret! I was impressed and very, very touched. I will treasure it always.

We talked and laughed and took lots of pictures. Karly and Emmy created a sort of "rap" routine that went something like this:

  • G is for greatly generous!
  • O is for outrageous!
  • R is for ridiculously rockin'!
  • D is for dainty debonair!
  • O is for o-mazing!
  • N is for No one can replace you!
(the last might have been "no one can take your place"? Emmy?). Anyway, you had to have been there to see the presentation... it was awesome! Thanks so much ladies, and thanks SO much to all who came!


We had a great turnout!

Me and my wonderful coaches...

Me and the homegirls!

Club Ice

[Note: I've backdated this entry to the date it happened.]

I skated club ice as usual (for the last time :-(). Had a pretty good skate, worked on bronze moves a bunch and spins and toe loop. Nothing much on either. I was pretty social since it was my last time skating at SIA as a resident (I'm sure I will be back from time to time).

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Forward Perim. XOs & 5-Step Mohawk

Today's lesson was on the 6:15 FS as usual -- just 4 skaters on the ice... nice!

Today's lesson:
  • forward perimeter XOs -- these are coming along very nicely. I'm getting more consistent about keeping my axis, and after a little bit of work I was doing a much better job of holding the extension on the FI edge. We worked the ending of the move (we'd never gotten that far before!) so I know how to finish it. I really need to work on my T-stops so that I'm comfortable doing them at speed... All in all Kelli was pretty happy with these.
  • 5-step mohawk -- eeep. These are pretty stinky. These and the power-3s are definitely my worst Bronze moves. The issue really is the BO edge and step forward, just as it was in the waltz-8. I realized in our discussion that really the 5-step mohawk is almost the same as the waltz-8, except the 3-turn is a mohawk and there's a slide chass&eacute. But really, it's practically the same. So we worked on it. I really get on my toe on the BO edge; and I tend to let the free hip start the rotation right after the step to the BO edge, so I lack control. Grrr. These need a lot more work.
Alas, this was my last lesson with Kelli :-(. Also, probably, my last post for a bit. I am skating at club ice on Friday, and we are having a little get-together afterward, but my internet is going off on Friday so I won't be able to post about it until I am moved to Phoenix.

See y'all on the flip side! Smooth ice and sharp blades!

Labels: ,

Monday, September 21, 2009

Spins, Toe Loop, Salchow

Today's lesson was at 7 a.m. as usual. I was on the ice at 6:45 (our previous issues from last week re: session start time etc. have been resolved). There were about 12 skaters on the ice when I got on but by 7 we were down to 8, not bad at all.

Today's lesson:
  • spins -- some small progress on these. Sonya told me to think of tucking my free foot in and this did help me to bring it in and leave it there for a bit longer :-). My problems with this are mostly mental, I think.
  • toe loop -- we made some progress on these as well. The flow has definitely improved, but Sonya says I'm tending to hunch over and draw in. She suggested that I think of a continuous flow of movement as I draw in, staying straight and getting that turn.
  • salchow -- Sonya held my hand for a couple of these and I tried some by myself as well. The big issue seems to be that I find it difficult to bend the L knee and keep the R leg straight at the same time -- if I actually bend the L knee I want to bend the other one too! Grrr. The setup is pretty good now though.
  • backspin -- we spent a couple of minutes reviewing the entrance to the backspin and I tried a couple -- basically LFI edge, RFI edge into an RFI3 spin entrance. It's not happening yet but I can work on it.
This was my last lesson with Sonya! *sniff* Lesson tomorrow with Kelli, then club ice on Friday and then I am off to Arizona.

Labels: ,

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Saturday Zoo

I skated the public session as usual, just for an hour -- last public session at Shiny Rink :-(. I had lunch with Suweena and Bonnie beforehand and we had a great conversation. I picked up my skates from the pro shop, I had dropped them off for sharpening after club ice last night.

I have to say a quick word about the pro shop at Sherwood, Northwest Skate Authority. They do a good job, have reasonable prices, and are a joy to work with. They know figure skating as well as hockey, unlike many pro shops I've been to. Great service and great people. I will miss them!

Anyway, skated for an hour on my newly-sharpened blades. Nothing exciting to report, same old same old....

Friday, September 18, 2009

Club Ice

I skated club ice as usual; there were about 8 skaters and 2 coaches. I spent the first half working mostly on Bronze moves... still major suckage on the power-3s. Back perim. XOs are coming along nicely. Back XOs to landing position.... having troubles getting a good LBO, I was skidding off it half the time! Yuck.

Second half, worked on spins and jumps. Spins... bleah. Jumps... maybe some small progress on toe loop. Did a couple of really nice waltz jumps though, good spring and I actually did the right stuff with my hands/arms! It's amazing how when I get all that stuff right the landing can feel really confident and secure. Okay, maybe not amazing, but I'm still surprised when I do it :-).

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Today's lesson was on the 6:15 FS. Not too crowded, about 6 skaters. The amusing anecdote for today was just before my lesson started, "That's Not My Name" by The Tings came on the CD player and so Karly, Madison and I were standing around Kelli singing it to her. Okay, maybe you had to be there but it was pretty darn funny!

Today's lesson:
  • power-3s -- we spent the whole lesson on these! They needed it. My biggest issues are not holding the edge before the turn (not placing the turn at the top of the lobe), not holding the BI edge after the BXO, and stepping forward onto an FI edge not an FO. Sheesh! As a result of these various problems my axis tends to look more like a sine wave than a straight line! We worked extensively on holding the BI edge after the BXO and then stepping forward. I tend to get stuck looking forward after the BXO and my shoulder blocks me from stepping forward. Not too surprising since I pretty much have issues with all my steps-forward. I could probably spend weeks just working on that. (I usually work on waltz-8 at most warmups just to work on the step forward actually) We spent most of our time on the LFO3 side; in retrospect we should have started with the other side since my RFO3 is a bit dicier than LFO3 (although I think that step forward is a little better).

Labels: ,

Monday, September 14, 2009

Even More Jumps & Spins

Today's lesson was at 7 a.m. As usual, I was on the ice at 6:45 a.m. What was not usual was that instead of paying the hour rate to skate from 6:45 to 7:45, I was told I had to pay for two sessions because one session was 5:30 to 7 and the next was 7 to 8. I don't understand why they are doing this differently, it means that I paid $8 for 15 minutes of ice time. It was very annoying and really put me off -- if I had known they were doing this I would have scheduled my lesson time differently. (To be clear, it's their right to do as they please I just don't like surprises at 6:30 a.m.) I'm not sure what I'll do about next week. Besides all this I didn't sleep well so I was tired and cranky :-(.

Today's lesson:
  • spins -- not much love on these. We spent some quality time on them. Sonya reminded me that I really need to bend my knee/ankle more when I step into the spin. They were all pretty stinky though.
  • waltz jump -- just a couple of these since I'd not jumped yet. The timing is pretty good. Sonya wanted me to use a bigger pattern into the jump, so I did. I think her point was that it helps make the jump itself bigger.
  • toe loop -- we worked on these pretty extensively. Got a couple that were pretty good, and my form and flow are improving.
  • salchow -- Sonya really wanted to look at these and we had not looked at them in some time. Sonya held my hand through some which really helped as far as getting a feel for how it's supposed to go. She reminded me that I need to keep the L hand in front and not let it drift out to the side. Biggest issues are to really bend the L knee and not to bend the R knee, but bring the free leg around and then through. I am having a hard time trying to do these things at the same time.
After my lesson since I'd paid to skate until 8 I stayed and worked on Bronze moves. 5-step mohawk and power 3s need more work, definitely. Forward and back perim. XOs are coming along nicely though.

Labels: ,

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sunday Zoo

I skated at the public session for an hour or so. Spent some time being social but also some time on toe loop and spins. Got a couple of 2 rev or so spins, one felt pretty good. These are still so inconsistent! It's very frustrating.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Jumps & Spins, Still

Today's lesson had been moved from Monday due to the holiday, so it was on the 8:15 FS. As usual for this session, nice ice and not crowded (4 skaters). Before my lesson I warmed up with forward and back perimeter XOs. I'm being better about not stopping and doing a whole lap or at least a side (of course it helps when the rink isn't crowded!).

Today's lesson:
  • spins -- my two main issues now seem to be that I'm a bit twisted (lol, so Sonya says!) (my R side is not keeping up) and that I'm not staying in position. We tried working both of these issues separately and did get some progress individually but couldn't get them both together. Also I'm widestepping the step forward a bit; need to bring it in. I did get a couple of 1.5 - 2 rev spins where the first rev was nice and tight, which is encouraging.
  • waltz jump -- still working on timing on this. Sonya brought out the champion cords (I think that's what they are called?) and tied one to my R boot and had me hold the other end in my R hand. It's supposed to get you to bring your leg and arms forward together. After a couple of tries where I just couldn't make myself jump with this thing, I did manage several and it did indeed help me to bring my arms forward at the same time as the R leg comes through.
  • half flip -- just a few of these. Not too bad but need to be sure to get the extension immediately on the landing.
  • toe loop -- a bunch of these to finish up. Still working on uncheating them; it is getting better. I got one uncheated and several that were pretty close. Sonya reminded me that I need to keep the hips square until I actually bring the R foot in; I'm tending to turn/twist early which is what makes it so cheated. I think continuing to think about jumping UP is helping too, I'm getting more spring and it makes me get my weight in the right place.
All in all a very good, very tiring lesson! Just two lessons left w/Sonya :-(.

My friend John (one of my coworkers) is a sports photographer (in his copious spare time :-)), and he was at the rink this morning to shoot some pictures of my lesson. It's an experiment; he has a lot of practice with outdoor sports (esp. soccer and football) but hadn't shot skating (at least not figure skating) before. Hopefully some good shots from this shoot. He showed me a couple on his camera and it looks like it might be really instructive for me.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Bronze Moves

Tonight's lesson was on the 6:15 FS as usual. When I got on the ice I was accosted (lol) by Madison, Karly, Emmy and Anna... "you can't leave! Why are you leaving!?" It was really very sweet. While I'm glad to be moving, I am really going to miss my skating buddies here at Sherwood. Thanks gang :-) You've been a real pleasure to skate with and to know. Thanks for your friendship!

Today's lesson:
  • 5-step mohawk -- Kelli wanted to keep working on timing on this. The LFI mohawk is still a bit rough, I'm tending to do weird things with my free leg during the turn. The BO edge needs to be held better and I'm tending to curve it too much on the RBO so that the lobe is cut off. The step forward on both sides is a bit awkward (duh, I've been struggling with those for a while) but it is improving.
  • Back perimeter XOs -- these are getting more confident. Kelli cracked me up because apparently I'm doing some weird sort of thing with my hands on the power shift ("bay window" as Kelli calls it) -- she compared it to the Karate Kid "wax-on, wax-off"... I was disbelieving that I was actually doing that but then the next time through, I caught myself doing it and just cracked up. Who says lessons aren't fun? I thought it was pretty funny. Anyway, stuff to work on but I'm happy with my progress.
  • Forward perimeter XOs -- we just had a couple of minutes on these. Kelli wants me to work more on holding the extension on the FI edge a bit longer, all the way to the top of the lobe, *then* step to the FXO. These are gradually getting a lot more comfortable, although the CW FXO (L over R) is still a bit awkward at times.
All in all some good work. I think the best thing here is that I really like practicing these moves so at least there's some basis to believe that they will continue to improve without me having to use all my willpower to get myself to do 'em.

Labels: ,

Leaving Portland

Just wanted to announce here that I will be relocating to Chandler, AZ at the end of the month.

My current plan is to leave Portland Monday Sept. 28th. I'll have my last skating lessons 9/21 (Sonya) and 9/22 (Kelli), last skate at club ice 9/25. I will be volunteering 9/12 at the Sherwood Invitational as I had promised.

While I'm excited to be moving back to Arizona, and the prospect of being close to my family and friends there, I will definitely miss the many, many wonderful people I've come to know here in Portland, and especially the many wonderful staff, coaches, skaters, and skater moms/dads at Sherwood and elsewhere in PDX. Thank you so much for your friendship and support over the last 3 and a half years. Skating is not so large a world, so I expect this is not so much "goodbye" as "so long for now". Thanks.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Saturday Zoo

I skated the afternoon public for an hour. Spent some time helping Bonnie out w/her edges, and lots of time working on toe loop and spins. No joy on spins. I did get one toe loop that was almost not cheated -- I'm pretty sure I've written this before, but I think besides slowing down I need to focus on jumping UP.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Club Ice

I skated club ice as usual. There were about 11 skaters on the ice and no coaches :-). I spent the first half hour working on Bronze moves. I was really pleased that when I went through the back perimeter XOs my power-shift has really improved! Both sides were pretty good, which made me really really happy!

For the second half I worked on jumps and spins. I got one 2-rev spin (not as good as the one in my lesson last week) and bunch of 1.5 revs spins, yuck. Waltz jump, I was trying hard to collect like I had on Monday and it seemed to really work and seemed a much better jump over all (yay!).

Best of all, I worked a bunch on my toe loop and they were horribly cheated; so I tried slowing it waaaay, waaaay dowwwnnnn. And got AN UNCHEATED TOE LOOP! Here's the proof:

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

5-Step Mohawk & Power-3s

Today's lesson was on the 6:15 FS. Not too crowded, but there was a large puddle (Lake Sherwood!) in mid-ice for some reason. I've never seen that before at SIA.

Today's lesson:
  • 5-step mohawk -- we spent about 20 minutes on this! Mostly working on holding out the first two steps so they aren't rushed. If I hold that FI edge for long I seem to get a bit stuck, but it improved a lot with work so that was good. Main correction was to (how many times have I heard this?) really turn into the circle so that the turn can happen.
  • power-3 -- a lot of time on a similar issue, holding the FO edge before the turn. I think I tend to lock my knee in whatever position I'm in so it's hard to have a soft knee for the down-up-down. This got better with practice. Kelli was reasonably happy with the back lobe power-shift ("bay window") -- it really has improved a lot.

Labels: ,