Gordon's Sk8er Boi Blog

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

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Music Cut Artwork!

I got my CDs back from being cut... ZOMG! This guy (Michael Thomas) not only does great work, but he freakin' gave me CD artwork too! Czech it out:

Saturday Zoo

As usual I skated the afternoon public session (it's included with our group lessons). I only stayed half an hour as I had some other business to attend to. I worked on FXOs, serpentine and a bit on toe loop and a few spins. I got one relatively decent spin. Here's a picture:

I know these are hard to see (if you click on it you can see it bigger). It's about 2 revs. Entry from the right, hook the spin, one small rev and one much bigger, and out.

Figures Lesson #13

Today was our last figures lesson for this semester; there were 6 of us. After a quick warmup on FI8 and FO8, I worked on serpentines most of the time. I'm trying to make the change of edge better -- quicker, and more definite. It's slowly improving. I also briefly worked on BO8 but I have not nearly enough control at this point.


Friday, May 29, 2009

Club Ice

I skated club ice as usual. There were 9 of us, so not too bad. My foot is still bothering me so I took it kinda easy on jumps and spins, mostly worked on moves. I also spent some quality time working on the first part of my program that Sonya taught me last week so I can more or less do it now.

Stroking & FXOs

Today's lesson with Kelli, on the 8:15 FS. Per discussions with Sonya earlier in the week, we are going to focus on power, speed and flow.

Today's lesson:
  • stroking -- we started at the beginning, of course. I'm generating pretty good power and extension is good, of course I need to work on posture.
  • FXOs -- Kelli says I generate pretty good power from the first push... of course the issue is the underpush. We worked on this for quite some time (both sides) to realllly get down in the knee and work to push that foot across and *through*. Kelli pointed out that the underpush should come off the ice just like any other stroke, i.e. pushing through and lifting so the last thing to leave the ice is the ball of the foot. This was a really helpful image.
We'll keep working on this stuff next week.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Eeyore Skate

I skated the 6 p.m. FS as usual. I shouldn't have. I was tired from the early morning skate and a long day at work, and my foot was still bothering me. I felt a bit unsteady and unsafe, actually, so I did something I almost never do -- I left early. I only skated 30 min. and worked on nothing much. Bleah.

New Program

Today's lesson was at 7:30 a.m. (on the ice at 7). We had a number of things to talk over, and in addition we listened to the revised cut for my program, and started choreography for it. Our conclusions:
  • We both agreed the new cut is a keeper, so I'll let Michael know and pay him, get the final CDs, etc.
  • We discussed lesson times and decided we would move back to Mondays at 7 a.m. starting next week. This is a time we can keep even after the rink schedule changes for the summer so that's good.
  • We discussed testing. Since I can skate up one level I don't actually have to pass the APB FS test for the competition (though I certainly need the skills for the program). Next test session is 6/14 but I don't seem me having solid spins by then (that's the problem area for this test, unfortunately) so we agree to postpone testing for now.
  • We agreed that having Kelli work with me on power would be a good use of our lesson time since I need to have better flow and speed for moves AND for the competition.
  • We talked about elements for the program and had some agreement on what was needed.
After that we started work on the new program. It's 1:40 maximum time (music is 1:37 I think), so not a whole lot of time. We just got started on the beginning. I'll record it here when I have more of it.

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Monday, May 25, 2009


I had a lesson with Leone this morning on the 8:15. I had originally planned to have this lesson on Friday but with my foot hurting I had postponed it. My foot is still hurting but it's getting better.

Today's lesson:
  • two-foot spin -- we started with these. We played around with different arm positions, but I think the most helpful feedback was mostly to bend more from the knees/hips and to bring the R arm around better.
  • LFI mohawk -- Leone just had to fix my rather sloppy LFI mohawk I usually do to enter my spins... mostly to make it more of an actual turn, and to keep the free foot inside the circle immediately after the turn. These clean up pretty nicely when I actually think about them.
  • spins -- we worked mostly on the entry-- in particular getting a better FO edge, stepping forward more into the circle (not so perpendicular, but more back-the-way-I-came), and to be a bit straighter on the entrance. On the last, I think I was actually tending to drop the L (yes, that's what I mean) shoulder on the step forward. So we fixed that and I think it helped a bit. I still didn't get any particularly good ones though :-(.
Sonya is back and I have a lesson with her tomorrow at 7:30 a.m. There's a lot to work on and talk about! I'm also still waiting for my revised cut of music.


Saturday, May 23, 2009

Saturday Zoo

I skated the afternoon public today as usual. I only skated for 45" since I had hurt my L foot last Wednesday and I wanted to take it a little easy. I was pretty social but I also did some work on my toe loop, FXOs, power 3s and 5-step mohawk.

Figures Class #12

Today's class was just two of us, Leone was teaching and Aziza was assisting. I started out just warming up FO8 and FI8 since I had not skated since Tuesday and hadn't done figures for 2 weeks. From there I went on to work on serpentines. Leone had me work on coming into the new circle straighter (no diagonals!) and to bend the skating knee more before the change of edge. She also reminded me to keep the free hip up after the change of edge.

After that I spent some time on waltz-8. Leone worked with me on my 3s, she made me come into the center square (instead of skating hand leading) and then really work to bring the free hand alllll the way around into the circle before releasing the turn. This did improve my 3s a bit, they were smoother and less hoppy. We'll see if I can retain this.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Eeyore Skate

It's been a while since I've used that heading, but it definitely fits. I skated the 6 p.m. FS as usual, but I was tired and unmotivated and out of sorts. Toe loop... bleah... spins... going nowhere... the only slightly good thing was I did some good 2-foot spins.

I did get a chance to listen to my draft cut of my program music on the rink sound system. It sounds pretty good but I think it needs some tweaking still.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


I skated the Sunday afternoon public at Shiny Rink; I had a conflict yesterday and didn't get to go to figures class or afternoon public as I usually would. Due to the gorgeous weather it was not too crowded, yay! I skated for an hour.

After some warmups I worked on toe loop, spins, waltz-toe, and also some time working on my change of edge (FIO) for serpentines. I'm only working FIO because FOI is pretty trivial. FIO is getting pretty good.

Spins, not much to report, unfortunately. Toe loop I got a couple that were actually not cheated! Here's a pic:

I know it's pretty hard to see, but on the left in green is the RBO edge with a large flag at the end, and to the right is the toepick mark. I need to get some magic markers and stash 'em in my skate bag so I can do this better.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Power-3s & Spins

Today's lesson with Kelli on the 8:15 a.m FS:
  • Power-3s -- continuing our work on the Bronze moves. The main things we worked on were holding the entrance/placing the 3 at the top of the lobe; getting a good transition into the BXO, and keeping the shoulder back to get a good step forward for the next lobe. I find these a lot of fun to do but it will be a real challenge to get the 3s clean, I think. We only worked on the L side (easier), we will have to address the R side at some point soon. I am reminding myself that my 3s for this will have to be a lot cleaner to pass than they had to be for pre-bronze. Fortunately I have a while to work on them.
  • Spins -- continuing to work on these. Not much really to say, just slogging through.
Kelli is out next week, I am hoping to have a lesson with Leone. I am thinking when she's back it might be fruitful to spend some time working on power and skating faster since I really need to develop that for both testing and competition.

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Spins, Waltz-Toe, Salchow

Today's lesson was on the 7 a.m. FS (on-ice at 6:45). I was actually awake and alive, which is always good :-). Before my lesson I got Sonya to sign the entrance form for Cactus so I can get it mailed off next week. Today's lesson:

  • Spins -- started with a couple of two-foot spins just for practice. Not too great (I had just done a couple nice ones in warmup, of course) but 3 revs so it'll do. On to work on spins. Sonya reminded me of all the current hot buttons -- bent knee on the entry, bring the free foot in, don't go in too fast. Right now I seem kind of stuck at about two revs, I need to keep the free side up and not give up. Not much progress here.
  • Waltz-toe combo -- just a few of these. They are coming along. Sonya reminded me to hold the check of the waltz jump, and not allow myself to start rotating too early for the toe loop. These are coming along; I need to practice them more.
  • Salchow -- ugh. I just don't have a feel for this jump yet. Sonya walked me through it in a couple of different ways. She also reminded me that I need to keep the free foot back in a "5 o'clock" position before bringing it around/through. Also I was trying to bring the foot straight through and not around and through. I'll have to keep working on it.
After my lesson I was working on spins and got this one that was typical, so I ran and got my camera and took a picture (I borrowed Sonya's marker so you can see):

It's a little hard to see but I came in from the right, hooked the spin, then did one rev, bounced off the toe pick, did another rev and out. Grrr.

Oh, while I was at it I took a picture of Kelli and Sonya:

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009


I skated the 6 p.m. FS as usual. Warmed up with some moves (back Russian stroking, 5-step mohawk, FXOs) then worked mostly on spins and toe loop. I got several 2 to 2.5 revs spins but no breakthroughs... *sigh*

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day Skate

I escaped to the rink to skate for an hour this afternoon. As I'd hoped it was pretty deserted, just 2 or 3 skaters and 4-6 civilians.

I worked a lot on toe loop and spins, and also some on salchow and half flip (no, I didn't work on the half lutz, though I should have). I also did my required allotment of two two-foot spins (they were fine). I'm very frustrated on the spins. I think the spinner will help me get my free foot in but I'm always going up on the toe, and I don't think the spinner will help with that. After I got off the ice I remembered that I saw somewhere a suggestion that when spinning you might think about lifting your toes in your boot. I'll have to try that since I think I'm pressing down with my toes and that's part of why I'm up on the toe.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Saturday Zoo

Back to the "normal" Saturday routine of group lesson, break for lunch, and skating the afternoon public (admission is included in the price for group lessons). It was not too crowded (it was a nice sunny day outside, and here in the Pacific NW that means everyone is outside getting their vitamin D fix before the rain returns). Had a pretty good skate for an hour and 15 minutes, worked a lot on toe loop, spins, waltz-toe and some work on t-stops at more speed. I spent some time doing RFI3 into an RBO pivot to (hopefully) help clean up my toe loop. Not sure if it's helping yet. I got several 2.5 rev spins but still very very inconsistent :-(.

Figures Class #11

There were just 3 of us for class today -- plus Kristen came and borrowed some of our ice to work on her back 8s :-). Kelli had me work on serpentines. I don't remember if we'd done these before. Of course, to do a serpentine you need to skate 1.5 circles on one push... so that part is not happening yet :-). The hard part, though, is the change of edge. Kelli had me do LFOI - RFIO. The FI-FO edge change is harder than the FO-FI, but after a while I was more-or-less managing it. This one will take more work but it's kind of fun. The only other problem I had was figuring out what to do with my arms, but Kelli clarified for me that there's no change of arms at the edge change. So it's hooooold the one position until you rotate before changing feet. That's a long time to hold the position :-).


Friday, May 08, 2009

5-Step Mohawk & Half Lutz

Today's lesson w/Kelli was moved to club ice this evening due to a schedule conflict. Before the lesson I warmed up and worked on toe loop and back Russian stroking (a.k.a. back perimeter XOs). About 12 skaters & 3 coaches on the session.

Today's lesson:
  • 5-step mohawk -- on to Bronze moves! This and the power-3s will be the hardest for me I think. We worked on (what else) holding the back edge longer and with more control. In general, not too bad. The LFI mohawk definitely needs some cleaning up, though, I can see Kelli grimace every time I do one :-). Right now a key is probably to relax and do these a bit slower and not too small of a pattern.
  • Half lutz -- Sonya had asked Kelli to teach me these; I'm not sure why, really. Anyway, we worked on them for a while and I did a couple by the end of the session. At this stage they are (not surprisingly) not very different from my half flip, the biggest noticeable difference is probably the entry from a straight LBO (hopefully) edge instead of RFI mohawk.
There is so much other stuff going on! I'm getting music cut for my program, the Cactus announcement came out last week and I need to send my test stuff off along with the Cactus registration soon... need to start working on program and costume soon also. Also, I had my first chance to play with my new spinner, I worked with it for about 10 minutes this evening before I left work. Eeep! It's tricky. The best I did was 1.5 revs. It's going to take a lot of work, I'm going to try for 10-15 minutes every weekday.

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Thursday, May 07, 2009

Happy (6th) Skativersary!

So, 6 years ago today, I first put on a pair of skates and set foot on the ice. It's been a long, strange journey from couch potato to aspiring skater. I'm not sure how to organize my thoughts exactly but I'll do the best that I can...

The first thing that comes to mind is an enormous feeling of gratitude. This sport has done so much for me! It's made me healthier, happier, stronger, more confident, and has taught me many valuable lessons -- how to persevere over a long period of time, how to face (and overcome) fear, how to accept my limitations and get over myself and just work on my goals. These are really valuable life lessons for anyone, and I have learned them through skating.

The second thing that comes to mind is the many, many wonderful people I have met. I'm reluctant to name any because there is not room to name them all, but I'll name a few (in no order!) ... first, the homies in Tucson who gave me such friendship and support, people like Nicole, Jose, Tracy, Lisa, Keila, Bri, Dima, the Apodacas, Kas & Tate Racine, Dana, Gail, Marge, the coffee club gang, and of course my wonderful first coach Anna. Then there are the friends I've made along the way, especially the McNabs. Then there are the wonderful friends I've made here in Oregon -- Mary, Amy, Lisa, Lauren, my homegirls Madison, Karly, and Emmy; Molly, Kelsey, Christina, Steffers, Alee, Kayla, Aziza; sk8rmoms Zena, Dot, Deb, coaches Lucy, Krissy, Shannon, Leone, Kristen, Madelyn, and of course my wonderful coaches Kelli and Sonya. Then there are the online skating friends I've made -- too many to mention, but I must mention Janet since she's been so supportive since the very beginning of this blog. Skating is sometimes a lonely thing but the friends you make -- they are the best.

The third thing that comes to mind is how far I've come, of course, and how far I still want to go. Just in the last 14 months or so I did my first competition (PCAS '08), and took the APB Moves test (alas) 3 times. My skating is soooo much improved! I was talking to Sonya about this this morning and we were laughing about how she always likes to talk about how horrible my crossovers were when I first started working with her.

I have a long way to go.... I always joke I would like to get my Axel before I'm 50 and it's only half a joke :-). I really want to get those singles, every one of them. And all the turns, or at least the back 3s and brackets! And an FO Mohawk... those things scare me!

My goals for the next year...
  • pass APB freeskate
  • compete at Cactus
  • maybe one other competition (Sherwood?) or the holiday show
  • pass Bronze moves
I think that's plenty...

Thanks to all that read, and especially those that comment, for your feedback, support, and inspiration. I really appreciate it!

Salchow & Spins

Today's lesson on the 8:15 FS... as usual, wonderful ice (I'm so spoiled! But the rink schedule will change in a month or so and I'll lose this session for the summer :-().

Today's lesson:
  • Salchow -- we worked on this on the ice and a little at the boards as well. I'm actually making progress on jumping *earlier* (yay!) and the setup/entry is pretty good, but I'm still having issues bringing the free leg/side through correctly. I think it is getting better though.
  • Spins -- we did a few two-foot spins (they are on the ABP FS test); Sonya's feedback was mostly to watch the posture (don't hunch) and keep the feet close together. I generally get at least 3 revs so I'm not too worried about this, but I do need to practice them regularly. Then we went on to the one-foot spin; we mostly worked on keeping the free foot close. In the past I've tried to keep the *knee* close but apparently this allows me to do the "stork" thing with the free leg, so... keep the free foot close it will be. We had some improvement. The two issues I'm facing are 1) not keeping the free foot close and 2) spinning too high on the blade and bouncing off the toepick. I'm hoping the spinner will help me with both of these; we'll see.

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Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Jumps & Spins

Today's lesson was on the 6 p.m. FS, a make-up for last week. We have a lot to work on! Before my lesson I picked up my spinner from the pro shop, it finally came in... yay!

Today's lesson:
  • Toe loop -- the good news is, I really like working on this jump. The bad news I still need to clean it up. We worked on bringing the feet together but not much success.
  • Waltz-toe combo -- we went on to work on this because I'm going to need a jump combination for my program. Sonya's main correction was that for the combination I need to keep the L hand forward (like it would be in the toe loop entry), not straight out for a regular waltz jump landing. Once I managed that I did a couple of almost-okay waltz-toe combos -- a bit rough but okay. I was pretty happy with that!
  • Flip & loop intro -- Sonya was on a bit of a tear and decided she wanted to give me some introduction to a different jump. She wanted loop, but I suggested flip instead since I feel more comfortable with toe jumps vs. edge jumps. So, we worked against the wall on the flip for a bit. Eeep! It's harder than it looks :-). We worked on these for a bit and then Sonya insisted I try the loop anyway. So I did and in some ways it IS easier than the flip. She asked me to keep working on them on the wall and/or off-ice and we will come back to them.
  • Spins -- then it was on to spins. We worked on the one-foot spin for a bit, then Sonya had me try doing a two-foot spin from a hockey glide entrance (I've usually done them from a pivot) to get me over my left side more. Then we did some more one-foot spins and it did seem a bit better; I think I got one that was 2.5 revs. Then we went back to two-foot spins and Sonya suggested that I need to aim for 5 revs since I will need 3 for the test (better to overshoot). I did a very nice 4.5 rev one that Sonya claimed I could have gotten 6 revs from if I'd stuck with it. We did some more two-foot spins and then back briefly to one-foot spins and then we were out of time.
I have another lesson with Sonya on Thursday and my regular lesson with Kelli on Friday. Lots of lessons this week! I was really jazzed after this lesson, I'm feeling very optimistic and upbeat -- I think it was the waltz-toe combo and the good 2-foot spin that did it.

After my lesson I asked Kelli if she could show me how to use the spinner, but she kind of shrugged and asked Karly if she would demonstrate; so Karly did (thanks Karly!). I think I get the idea... I'm going to try it out tomorrow :-)

After that I spent some time talking to a friend and then when Sonya was done teaching power I talked to her about a bunch of stuff for the competition and other stuff. I bought my tickets to Phoenix today. Yay! There's a lot to do and not much time but I'm feeling a bit more confident in it. I should have music next week or so.

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Friday, May 01, 2009

T-Stop, Spread Eagle & Spins

Today's lesson with Kelli was on the 8:15 FS as usual. I had asked Sonya what we should work on and we agreed that we need to work on connecting moves so I will have some options for my program; and also spins for the freeskate test.

Today's lesson:
  • T-stop -- I had suggested I work on these because although I can do them on my L foot, I can't on my R and I don't feel comfortable doing them at speed. So... we worked on them. Wow, that R foot stop is just uncomfortable -- I don't really know where my L foot is to try to put it down. Yuk.
  • Inside spread eagle -- I had worked with Sonya on these once a looooong time ago. We worked on them some more and I think I will be able to get there with some practice -- but wow, I have very little turnout to work with. I hope I can improve that otherwise I don't see how I'll ever do outside spread eagles.
  • Spins -- I'm getting increasingly concerned about these since I want to test in something like 6 weeks and I'm not getting 3 revs more than just occasionally. Anyway, we worked on them both from the windup (Kelli had never seen this stuff before and she really liked my windup), and also from a standing start. I did get one relatively nice one (2 revs) the rest not so good. It's going to take a lot of work.
No club ice tonight; there is a competition this weekend at the rink so no figures class tomorrow either. I'll be volunteering, doing both some accounting and some ice monitoring.

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