Gordon's Sk8er Boi Blog

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

Friday, April 30, 2010

Waltz-8 Progress!

I had my figures lesson for the week on the Chandler coffee club, delayed from Wednesday.  Ice was good and about 5 skaters.  Before Lynne came on the ice I was warming up with edges and FI8s.

Today's lesson:
  • FO8s -- just a couple of minutes on these.  RFO8 not bad, LFO8 still needs work. They are improving though -- circles are usually about the right side and I'm doing a better job of holding the edge and making it (almost) around.  I'll keep plugging away.
  • step forward/BO mohawk -- worked on keeping the free foot close and keeping some tension in the free leg so I stand straighter.   Did some good ones so we went on to...
  • waltz-8 -- so we went to work on putting it all together.  Marked out where the 3 turns should be and did some on the L side, though I was stepping to a definite FI edge and couldn't get around.  Then we did some on the R side and wow! I was still stepping more to an FI or a flat but I was able to fix it and come back to center!  Woohoo!  Did it twice!  I was so happy I could just spit, it felt so great!
  • serpentine -- we had not looked at these in quite a while.  We just worked the FO-FI at this point.  It went reasonably well -- Lynne told me I need to be sure to bring the free leg through more quickly and sit back on the blade a bit more.  The biggest issue right now is that I am not getting enough push to really work on the rest of the serpentine since I pretty much get to the edge change and a little past and I'm out of momentum.  
 All in all a great lesson!  I was sooooo happy with my progress!

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I skated the 8:15 FS as usual this morning.  I actually had a pretty good skate!  Did my usual stuff.  I procrastinated on salchow until the very end and then did 3 one after another.  Not bad, though I don't think I'm getting the toe point JJ wants me to had.  Made some progress on spins finally!  Not that I had any great ones but did a little better at holding the FO a little longer and being a bit more relaxed on it and holding the free leg back and out.  Waltz jump is looking better now that I am paying more attention to the setup and how I bring my arms through.  I was pretty happy with that.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Spins & Sals

This week's FS lesson with JJ; postponed from Tuesday due to work travel.  The Thursday morning FS time at Gilbert is a lot busier than Tuesdays!  Well, not so much that there were a lot of skaters, but there were a lot more coaches -- I think it was 6 skaters and 5 coaches, or something like that.  Just before my lesson I was warming up with the perimeter FXOs and had a nasty fall straight onto my knees. Uck.  No harm done but it put me off a little.

Today's lesson:
  • spins -- still working these.  JJ seems concerned that I am too hard on myself.  Well, there are definitely some good things happening -- my windup is awesome (still) and I'm pretty comfortable so that is something.  Still trying to relax and not force them.  I can kinda make myself slow down when JJ's there, not as well when he's not.  Grrr.
  • salchow -- these are coming along.  JJ worked with me (on the wall and on the ice) to get more tension in the free leg after the 3.  He really wants me to point the toe and have some real tension there before the jump.  It felt really awkward.
After my lesson I stayed until 9 working on some moves (5-step mohawk, power-3s, FO8/FI8).

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Sharp Patch Blades

I didn't get to skate yesterday due to a work trip, but today I finally got to skate in my newly-sharpened patch blades.... and vive la difference! as they say.  I would guess that 75% of my previous skidding-ness was due to dull blades, not me.  Woohoo!  I skated for just 45 minutes but worked on most of my usual stuff including some steps-forward.  Only one fall!

For the record my patch blades have a ROH of 1.5".

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Bonus Skate

I skated for an hour at the Sunday a.m. FS at Chandler.  Nice ice and just 5 skaters (for the last half hour just 2 of us).  I will miss this time, it's not on the PIC calendar after today :-(.

Worked my now-usual drill, warm up with moves (since it wasn't crowded I worked on the BXO to landing position move), then 21 spins, 5 each waltz, toe and sal.  Sals were not bad for the most part.  Waltz I think I've gotten a little sloppy in the setup so I worked a bit on remembering to bring the arms through and get more spring.  Toes... uk.  Spins were... mostly bad but a couple that were promising.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Perseverance Pt. II

I skated coffee club at Chandler for patch practice, got there a bit late due to a work meeting, so only 45 minutes of skating.  I worked on LFO and RFO pretty extensively with (eventually) some progress, also waltz-8 portions though I only did one step-forward.  Bleah.

After skating I took my patch skates to be permanently mounted and also sharpened.


I skated the 8:15 a.m. FS as usual at Chandler.  Did my 21 spins, 5 each sal, toe and waltz.  Salchows mostly good, toe loops still cheated... spins mostly sucky.  Also some time on 5-step mohawk.  Yech.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Planning & Perseverance

I skated the 8:15 FS this morning at Chandler.  I was feeling a bit unmotivated, but fortunately I had made my practice plan so I was able to get myself to actually *work*.  Very helpful!  Warmed up with moves, then did 21 spins, 5 each sal, toe and waltz jump.  The rest was spent on waltz-8, edges and some misc stuff.

The amusing element for the day was hearing "Defying Gravity" on the sound system as I was working on salchow -- right as I'm entering the salchow I hear the line "It's time to trust my instincts, close my eyes and LEAP" and I did (well, I didn't close my eyes) and did probably the nicest salchow I've ever done!  It made me laugh. It was a good feeling.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Today's figures lesson with Lynne on Chandler coffee club as usual.  About 6 skaters and 2 coaches if I remember correctly.

Today's lesson:
  • FO edge -- Per my discoveries from yesterday we worked on getting a better FO edge from the beginning of the lobe.  We eventually came up with 4 things that I need to do: 1) stand up straight, 2) bend the knee more, 3) bring the free foot in promptly, and 4) don't push so hard.  The last is obviously "for now" so that I'll have more control.  Adding all these things helped a lot.  It still needs a bit of work but even on the LFO I was pretty much getting straight to a good edge and I didn't have to fight so hard to hold it.
  • BO edges -- checking the results of the new blade alignment and yup, we both agreed it's a lot better.  What a relief!
  • step forward -- of course Lynne wanted to work on these next :-).  They are improving.  The main corrections are to keep the free foot close and stand straight on the BO edge, and then to be decisive about the step forward -- just do it.  Only a couple of falls today :-).
After our lesson I spent the rest of the time working on pretty much the same stuff to reinforce it, plus some FI8s and FO3s.

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Photo Shoot 9/10/09

Some of you may remember that my friend John came out in September and took some photos (actually, 736!) of my lesson with Sonya.

I've posted some of my favorites from the shoot here.  Here are a couple of my faves:

Sonya and I:


Perseverance Pt. II

I skated Chandler coffee club for patch time as usual.  I think I can definitely confirm that the new blade alignment has helped my LBO, and doesn't seem to have affected the LFO one way or another.  I spent my time on F8s, the pieces of the waltz-8, and working just on my push.

I've decided that on the step-forward I really have to be decisive in turning my body forward.  If I'm not decisive I lean forward and fall (only 3 times today, lol).  I'm still stepping to an FI edge though :-(.  I've also concluded that my issues with poor FO edge quality really relate to the open-hip position at the start of the F8 or edge; when I get to the closed hip position after I bring the free leg forward I generally am on a good edge.  I worked on holding the free hip firmly back but with only modest success.

Power-3s, Spins, Salchow

My lesson with JJ on the 7:30 a.m. FS at Gilbert as usual.  Just 3 skaters and 2 coaches :-).

Today's lesson:
  • Power-3s -- precious little power in them yet!  I've been working a lot on gaining better control over my 3s, so we worked on that a bit.  I'm doing substantially better on the first one, but on the subsequent ones I've picked up some speed and I tend to get into a very rushed rhythm.  We worked on holding the edge before releasing the upper body and succeeding in moving the 3 about 1.5 - 2 feet, so that's a start.
  • Spins -- a lot of corrections on these.  Besides the ones I tend to focus on (holding back the free side until after the hook), we also worked on getting better knee bend on the step forward, and being more committed to the spin and also not stepping at such a right angle.
  • Waltz jump -- just a few of these.  I focused on keeping my head/chin up and not looking down at the ice.  It felt weird but I had good success.
  • Salchow -- as I told JJ, for some reason I'm not into this jump very much.  Despite that I did several nice ones (and a couple not so great).  Actually this jump is my 2nd-best jump after my waltz jump.  When it's on the timing is pretty good!  What it really needs is more ooomph, more jump, more height :-).
After my lesson I skated the 8:15 and worked more on my jumps and spins, as well as power-3s, 5-step mohawk, and FXOs.

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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Bonus Skate

Chandler has Sunday morning ice during April (apparently not after April :-(), so I skated for an hour this morning.  Good ice and only about 4 skaters and one coach.  I worked a fair amount on 5-step mohawk and spins, and also did a fair number of jumps.

Only a couple of decent spins, the rest were pretty ukky.  It's disappointing.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Field Trip

For my last skate of the week I took a field trip out to Gilbert to skate at coffee club there and say hi to skate buddy Melissa (Hi Melissa!).  I tried out my newly-realigned patch blades.  I'd forgotten just how hard the ice is on the North Pole rink there and it kind of threw me off for a while but I eventually warmed up a bit.  I worked a bunch on F8s, back edges and waltz-8.  At the end of the session I helped Melissa with her F8s as well.

It's kind of hard to come to a firm conclusion about the blade alignment.  It seems like the LBO is definitely better but the LFO is about the same.  I'll want to try it out on the softer ice at Chandler before I come to a conclusion though.

This is the first week I've gotten all my planned ice time.  It was kind of tiring!  I don't think I've ever gotten this much non-public session ice time in ever.  Still I think it went pretty well although I need to get a bit more sleep -- I was kind of dragging Thursday and Friday mornings.


8:15 FS at Chandler this morning as usual.  Quiet session, just me and Alyssa and Amanda.  Had a pretty good skate.  Finally tried some spins -- the first one was really nice, 3 revs more-or-less centered!  The rest were not so good :-(.  It's so exasperating to me that I know exactly what I need to do, I just cannot consistently make myself do it. Gaaah.

Did a couple of salchows -- not bad.  I wish I could make myself like this jump more because it's actually coming together pretty well.  I guess maybe I will like them more when I've done a few hundred :-).  Toe loops were just eh.  Worked a fair amount on moves, especially 5-step (hey, at least I'm hitting my weak points!).  Actually made a little progress on improving the step forward a bit, on the RBO side. 

Unless something comes up in the next hour or so I will run out at lunchtime and skate in my newly-moved patch blades.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


I skated the 8:15 FS this a.m. at Chandler.  Ice was pretty beat up but only 3 skaters and one coach on  the ice, so that was nice.  Since I had newly-sharpened blades (and wow were they sharp!) I took it somewhat cautiously,  didn't work on spins today.  Worked a bit on jumps but mostly on 5-step mohawk and holding the BO edge  (esp. LBO).  

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Waltz-8, Still

Today's figures lesson with Lynne on the Chandler coffee club as usual.  There were only about 5 of us and the ice was actually pretty nice.

Today's lesson:
  • FI8 -- I did a few of these at the beginning.  They were actually quite good!  I was getting all the way around and the tracings were pretty close.  The RFI8 circle was a bit smaller than the LFI8 one though.
  • FO8 -- Ugh.  Still issues with the LFO.  RFO not too bad.
  • Waltz-8 -- the 3s are improving.  I am holding them longer and getting improved control.  Still need to improve on holding the exit edge longer.  The BO edge still needs work (esp. the darn LBO) and the step forward still a big problem.
We talked a bit about my issues with the LFO/LBO.  I'm beginning to suspect a blade alignment problem.  I don't like to sound like one of those people who blames all their skating problems on equipment -- but I also don't want to be banging my head against a problem that could be solved in 5 minutes.  Lynne looked at my skating a flat on the L foot and didn't see a really obvious problem, but we agreed that it was worth taking it in to be looked at (there's not much to lose).

After my lesson I went ahead and took my patch blades in to Dave Kimmel and he looked at them and thought the back of the blade needed to come in a little (which was my thought as well).  So he was able to fix that right then and there.  I'll skate in them on Friday and we'll see what we can find.

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Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Per my practice plan I skated the Chandler coffee club today for some patch time.  It was pretty crowded actually.  My coach Lynne was there (she teaches a figures class just before coffee club) and was skating for herself a bit.  WOW.  She's such an amazing skater.  I can't describe how cool it is to see one's coach doing a really fast camel, sit, doughnut, and Y-spin.  Awesome!

My practice was okay.  I spent about half an hour on F8s, then 15 minutes or so on BO edges, and the last 15 minutes on 3s and waltz-8 pieces.  It's coming along, but no big breakthroughs.

After skating I took my freestyle blades in for sharpening -- the first time I've had them sharpened since I moved here!  I actually only had 52 hours of ice time on them, which is a little high (my nominal sharpen time would be after 50 hours) but not overly so.

Moves & Spins

My FS lesson with JJ on the 7:30 a.m. FS at Gilbert.  We had the ice all to ourselves!  Very nice for us, not so great for the rink.

Today's lesson:

  • FO8/FI8 -- the Bronze Moves pattern.  JJ wanted to look at this since we hadn't done it before.  There was some confusion about the pattern.  I skated RFO8, LFO8, LFI8, RFI8.  JJ was really impressed -- my tracings on the right side were very, very close! (but see below)
  • BXOs to BO edges -- I suggested working on these since the rink was empty -- these are pretty blind so I don't like to do them around other people :-).  Anyway they were pretty good and I was really happy with them.  JJ's only correction was that he'd like to see my free leg higher on the extension on the BO edge.
  • FO8/FI8 again -- we were checking things on the BO edges pattern and looked again at the FO8/FI8 pattern.  On reading the text, it appears that it's supposed to be RFO8, LFO8, RFI8, LFI8, so I tried it that way.  Weird.  It just feels weird that way.  I'm going to double-check but that seems weird to skate the same circle twice in a row (LFO8, RFI8).
  • Spins -- back to these.  Eh.  Many of the same corrections but no good ones today.  Blah!
  • 5-step mohawk -- we had a little time left and I asked to look at these because they stink.  The mohawk is actually not that bad, but I need to hold the BO edge longer which should help the step forward be better.
  • Power-3s -- JJ was being (very) generous with his time so we spent a little time talking about these.  These and the 5-step are my weakest moves by far.  The 3 feels so different when I try to do it in this context vs., say, waltz-8.  JJ thinks it's the hip position.  He demonstrated... wow.  I rarely get to see JJ really skate but when I do... wow, it's impressive.  POWER!
Not a bad lesson, though I'm very frustrated with my spins.  I stayed until 9 and worked on them some more along with a bunch of other stuff.  I made myself do the FXO-BXO perimeter stroking with the mohawk in between, and also even worked on doing T-stops from a bit more speed.  I really can't be doing a Bronze MITF test and doing a snowplow stop.

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Sunday, April 11, 2010


Chandler now has 2 hrs of freestyle on Sunday mornings (10:15 - 12:15), so I took advantage and skated the 10:15.  This is on the newly-redone South Pole, so nice ice and only 5 skaters.  I had a decent skate.  I actually worked on the "new" perimeter FXO-BXO pattern (the one starting in September, one side of FXOs and then straight into the other side of BXOs).  Not bad though I am still lacking power.  Some work on power-3s (bleah), 5-step (eh) and waltz-8.  A fair amount of time on jumps and spins, but no really good spins.  I'm having a hard time disciplining myself to not rush them and of course when I do rush them the results are not good.

 It was nice to have the practice time!  Skating tomorrow morning too.

Friday, April 09, 2010


I skated coffee club at Chandler for patch time as per the new practice plan.  I only got 45 minutes in due to a work meeting prior.  There were 3 folks up from Tucson that I knew that I had not seen in a lonnnnng time!  It was pretty cool to see them again.

It was a very frustrating skate.  On the positive side I spent time on FO3s and I'm doing much better at holding the entry and exit edge.  My FI8 is also looking relatively good.  I'm very frustrated though as my LFO in particularly is quite stinky, it takes me forever to get a good edge, my push stinks, and my circles are huuuuuuge.  Grrr.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Workin' The Waltz-8

Today's figures lesson with Lynne, on the Chandler coffee club as usual.

Today's lesson:
  • FI8/FO8 -- I had literally had like 2 minutes of warmup when we started.  The FI8 was actually not bad -- the first one on each side were kind of skidded, but the 2nd and 3rd one were pretty good, circle size a bit smaller than it's been (so about right) and I actually got all the way around!  FO8 -- not so good.  LFO8 in particular still weak.  Gaah.  It takes me several feet on that side to get a good edge, the circle is too large, and I'm not getting around on one push.
  • FO3s -- we continued where I left off yesterday, working to get the FO3s placed correctly for the waltz-8.  I was able to do this on both sides!  The RFO3 is a bit skidded though.
  • BO edge & step forward -- I also retained my progress on improving my BO edges from yesterday.  It occurred to me that my BO edge (even the RBO) in this context doesn't have nearly the knee-bend that my BO edges do when in isolation; so I worked to try to have that same approach.  It helped.  So the BO edges themselves are better.  The step forward is still problematic though since it's usually to an inside edge or a flat at best.  Grrr.
All in all the additional ice time I'm getting in patch is already paying dividends, it seems, and I just started.  I'm encouraged.  There's a lot of work to do before the all-figures competition in August though.

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Tuesday, April 06, 2010


Per the new practice plan, I skated for an hour at coffee club (Chandler) -- patch of course.  Today was "ScribeMania" day since I brought my new scribe (I'd never used it before) and there were 3 others there already!  Wow, I'd never seen so many in one place before, it was kinda funny.

I had a pretty good skate, worked a long time on FO8/FI8, edges, and waltz-8.  I made some good progress on improving my LBO.  My work on the waltz-8 was fruitful also as I was able to hold the entrance of the 3 until almost the actual correct place in the pattern, and then was able to hold the exit for a while also.  Some good progress.

I did use my scribe but I am going to have to see about modifying it so I can use a marker with it as it's just too hard to see the markings with the lights we have, especially on less-than-virgin ice.

There were a lot of people there today!  I counted 12 skaters and two coaches!  Really, it was pretty neat.  Besides the usual crowd there were also skate buddy Bob who I know from Tucson and also Keila who skated with me in Tucson and now lives up here.  It is always great to see people I know :-).

Speed, Spins, Jumps

Today's freestyle lesson with JJ on the 7:30 a.m. FS at Gilbert as usual.

Today's lesson:

  • Speed trial -- JJ had threatened... er, warned me last week he wanted to do this this week, and so he got his stop watch and off we went.  The format is start at the blue line, one lap forward and one lap backward without stopping.  My time today was 1:24.  I am not impressed by that but oh well, one has to start somewhere.  I slowed myself down a little bit to do the mohawk after the first lap.  I know I *can* skate faster, I'm just afraid to.  Grr.
  • Spins -- same old stuff.  Got one that was okay, the rest not so much.  I know what I need to do I'm just pretty crappy about being consistent.  Grrr.
  • Backspin prep -- just a couple of minutes on this, basically working on the RFI3 but keeping the weight forward on the blade and the hip position is different, and the free foot stays in front.
  • waltz jump -- JJ had me work to fix my issue with not coming off the toepick straight (this is caused by the R side coming through early).  Mostly he had me working on trying to keep the L side leading into the takeoff.
  • salchow -- my timing is improving slightly on this.   JJ told me that I am bringing my arms in too early.  He said I really don't need to bring them in at all if I don't want -- it's only a single! :-)  I tried to keep them out a bit and it seemed a bit better although it threw my timing off a bit.
  • toe loop -- a couple of things we worked on (JJ was very generous with his time and gave me like 10 extra minutes) -- keeping the R hand/arm/shoulder back before the jump and also bringing the R foot in before the takeoff.  Keeping the R side back is tough -- JJ had me turn my palm out (it had been down, he had me rotate it to facing out), this helped me keep the shoulder down and back a bit.  The rest will come I guess.
All in all some solid work but tiring.  Afterward I stayed 'til 9 and worked on moves and spins and also a bit on waltz-8.

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Monday, April 05, 2010


In accordance with my new skating/practice plan I skated the 8:15 FS this morning at Chandler.  Ice was okay and only 2-3 other skaters.  I had a pretty good skate, worked on moves for a bit then into jumps and spins.  No breakthroughs but some good practice.