Gordon's Sk8er Boi Blog

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

Monday, February 28, 2011

PCAS 2011 Report

As promised, some general notes on Pacific Coast Adult Sectionals.

The competition was held at the Sobe Ice Arena, which is in the Fiesta Rancho hotel & casino in North Las Vegas.  The arena is a single sheet of ice, with the bleachers/viewing area elevated above the ice.  The ice was pretty good!  Harder than some are used to (so I heard) but I was fine with it.

Friday morning there was practice ice, then the competition started at 11 and ran until 6 or 7.  Saturday morning early practice ice, and the competition ran from 8 a.m. to about 7:30 p.m. with a break in the middle of the day for the rink's Learn to Skate program and some practice ice. Saturday night's skating concluding with two exhibitions, first the adult synchro team from the St. Moritz club in Oakland and then the theater on ice team from LA (I think it's a combined effort of All Year and LAFSC?) doing "Hair".  Both were pretty awesome and looked like a lot of fun.

After the skating Saturday there was a competitor's party in one of the restaurants in the hotel.  The surprise for the party was that there was a skater wedding, with "Elvis" as the officiant!  Wow.  Only in Vegas!

Sunday morning was more artistic programs from 8 a.m. until the end of the competition at around 12:30.

I made some new friends, in particular Agnes (LVFSC) and Carolee (from Sandy Eggo, a friend of Jose's).  Skate buddies Melissa, Jose and Brenda all did multiple programs which made me feel like a lazy lout for just doing my freeskate!  Oh well.

The competition was a LOT of fun, with small but very enthusiastic audiences, some great skating, and very friendly and hardworking volunteers.  I have to give major kudos to the Las Vegas FSC for their hard work in putting this competition on, they did a great job and things ran pretty smoothly.

Favorite moments -- Saturday evening one of the volunteers was handing out feather boas to everyone to wear to the party.  I really wish I had gotten a picture of all the judges wearing their boas!  It was pretty funny to see.  Also one of the spectators (I think he was the husband of a skater) had an air gun-type device that shot beanie babies as tossies -- he would load it up and launch a beanie baby onto the ice after a program and it would go clear across the ice!  The "FWOOMP!" sound it made as it went off cracked us up every time!

For Brenda's "Octopus's Garden" artistic light program we had deployed bottles of soap bubbles and were making bubbles during the program in the stands.  It was pretty funny and a lot of fun!  And finally... sweepers!  On Saturday we actually had a couple of young skaters from the LTS program (I think) sweeping tossies for us. It was very cute!

Friday, February 25, 2011

PCAS 2011 Free Skate

(N.B. I will blog about PCAS 2011 in general separately)

Here's how my free skate at PCAS 2011 went.

I had practice ice from 9 to 9:30.  Everything was fine, didn't play my music but ran my program in chunks (it was not horribly crowded but still difficult to run straight through).  I had also signed up and paid for a "warmup session" (20 min) which was at 10 a.m. as it turned out, so I did that too.  Between all that I was pretty warmed up, a little tired, but feeling in good shape.  Went off to get some food and relax.  Came back to the rink, checked in and watched more skating.  Right after skate buddy Melissa's skate it was time to get ready.

Did some stretching and jumping, and warmed up  my muscles a bit.  Got my skates on, and went into the skater's area and checked in with the ice monitor.  Hung out a bit, met my fellow competitors.  There were three of us (Pre-Bronze Men's III, IV) and also two Pre-Bronze Ladies III that we were sharing a warmup with.  Finally they called us on the ice for our warmup.  Skated around, got my legs under me, went through my difficult spots.

Warmup was over, and we watched while the ladies did their thing.  Then the first man went out (I was skating second).  I didn't want to watch so I just looked away and did some visualization of my program and breathed a bit.  Finally it was time to go, skated out and took my position...

The music started and I went to do my 2-foot spin and... something weird happened, I'm not sure what.  Anyway I kinda muffed the 2-foot spin and more or less made it a one foot.  Stopped a little early, waited and did my back pivot, then on into the glides and so forth.  It's kind of a blur.  The waltz jump went well but I was just a fraction of a second early, which was frustrating.  Still I actual heard some crowd applause at that point so that was nice.  Went and did my mohawk sequence which was just okay, a bit slow.  Remembered to do the salchow right after the mohawks and it went okay, then into the spin and did a really good one!  I was pretty jazzed!  Exited the spin and got as far up-ice as I could before I did my t-stop.

Second half, did the bunny hop (think I had some slight weirdness there at the last part), lunge (good), into the 3 (not bad) and toe loop, into the second spin which also went really well!  Exited the spin and went to do the last lunge and it went okay although I think I turned a bit at the end :-(.  Despite it being right before the Z-break it was still pretty slick but did the little salute at the end as best I could... got up and bowed to the judges, collected my tossies (yay!) and got off the ice relieved and happy.

Sat in the box (we entered/exited from the hockey box) and watched the last man skate.  He was a bit nervous and had some mistakes, but much better skills than me (like, a camel spin!).  I had seen the first man skate in practice ice and he had all kinds of good skilz (twizzles!) so I figured I wasn't going to win this one :-).

After that we all left and waited for results -- I got 3rd.  Oh well!  Went and collected my medal, got a picture taken with my competition, and said hi to my friends.  Went and texted some friends and of course JJ and Sonya.

All in all I'm quite happy with how it went.  Not perfect, but quite good, I was really happy that my spins were better, and hey, I didn't fall!  A good note to retire this program on!


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Last Practice

I skated coffee club at Chandler today and had my last practice before Sectionals.  I had a pretty good skate.  My dad and stepmom came to watch and I did my program for them, so that was nice -- they have only seen me skate "live" one other time, and that was a long time ago.

Program practice went okay.  The only disturbing thing is that in both of my runthroughs, for whatever reason (I think I got a little distracted by other people on the ice) I didn't go into the salchow straight out of the mohawk sequence, so I had to go into it just from an LFO edge which threw me.  Not sure why that happened but I worked on it afterward.

Wednesday Night Zoo

I skated for an hour at the Gilbert public session.  It was actually not that crowded (so "zoo" is a little unfair).  I was a bit tired so not that ambitious, and I was more social than usual, yakking with some of my skate buddies. I did work on jumps and spins a bit, and was rewarded with this:

Definitely my best spin ever, and just when I was whining about my spins... yes, the irony is not lost on me.  I managed to actually get all the pieces together! Unfortunately I didn't get any others nearly as good.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

FO8, BO8, Waltz-8, BI8

My figures lesson with Lynne on the Chandler coffee club. As usual good ice and pretty uncrowded.

Today's lesson:
  • FO8 -- these were pretty stinky when I started but did improve.  I need to be more collected when I start, to remember to get a good position with the free shoulder back, push into the edge and bring the free foot in promptly.  You'd think by now it would be automatic but it isn't.
  • BO8 -- my RBO side of this is pretty awesome!  The LBO is definitely lagging at this point.  The first half of the LBO is okay, but then I tend to lean out of the circle a bit and I go flat.  Grrr.
  • Waltz-8 -- these are slowly improving also.  Managed to retain most of the improvements from last week re: BO edge, so we spent some quality time on the step forward and worked it in isolation to try to step to a better FO edge.  Some progress but it's going to take a lot more work.
  • BI8 -- finished up with these.  The basic positions are good but I need to get more push to fill out the circle.
One lesson left before I move to my new (to patch) boots!  Yay!

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Patch Practice

I skated the Chandler coffee club as usual for patch practice.  Had a pretty good skate, though my FO8s were pretty stinky.  Worked through all my current stuff -- BO8, BI8, waltz-8, and serpentines.  Nothing horribly exciting but some good practice.

Spins & Program Prep

My lesson with JJ on the 7:30 a.m. FS at Gilbert, as usual.

Today's lesson:
  • spins -- I am at the point that I have the potential, I think, for these to be really good -- if I could just put all the pieces together.  I'm very frustrated at this point.  It seems like, if I get a good entrance with speed and power (like I did several times) I don't get over my L side, or I don't get my arms right, or something else.  I can do all these things right, I just can't yet get them all to happen at the same time.  Grrr.  Still, I have to admit that it's all a lot better than it used to be so it's not like I'm going to give up or something.  (Realistically I'm way too stubborn for that!)
  • program prep -- the other part of my lesson was devoted to working on the program, mostly the first part (mostly waltz jump -> mohawks -> salchow -> spin).  We did this chunk several times in a row and I was whupped!  It's a bit better I think.
And that's all we had time for.  After my lesson I stayed and skated the next session.  I worked some on moves but also program elements, and I ran the program with music.  It was just okay.

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Monday Night FS Zoo

I had the day off so I skated the 4:20 FS at Gilbert.  What a zoo!  I think I counted 25 skaters and like 5-6 coaches.  I had my blades sharpened on Saturday so I really needed some time to get adjusted, otherwise I might have just skipped it.  Anyway skate buddy Melissa was there too so we were both in the same boat! 

My goals were mostly limited to trying to get my edges under control and get some program work done, and I managed to do all that. 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Program Practice

I co-opted my usual patch practice time today at Chandler coffee club to work on my program, since there's virtually no ice around anywhere this weekend -- almost every rink seems to be having a President's Day hockey tournament. Some folks were a bit surprised since they've never seen me skating freestyle, just patch.

I had a good warmup, worked on several chunks of my program, then did a runthrough.  It was not a great runthrough. I had some issues coming out of the waltz jump to do the mohawk sequence, kind of stumbled and had to recover.  The rest of it was mostly okay.  Bleah!

BO8s, Waltz-8 & Serpentine!

My figures lesson with Lynne on the Chandler coffee club.  This was a great lesson!!  Lynne took Mary first s I had a good long warmup.  My FO8s were really awesome, it was very encouraging.

Today's lesson:
  • BO8 -- after a couple of just -eh- starts, I did several really nice BO8s.  I'm getting much better control and I'm doing a good job of holding the 2nd half of the circle, even on the L side (though it is still weaker).  Lynne was quite pleased and so was I.   I still need to be more consistent, and to a better job of holding the free foot in front at the beginning.
  • Waltz-8 -- we didn't practice any FO3s to start with, just straight into these.  We talked about the BO edge and we agreed that I can obviously do a nice BO edge (see above!) so there's no reason I couldn't do one here.  So I just kind of re-thought it in my head a bit and decided I was just going to hold that BO edge longer, and if it was too long, well, it wouldn't be the end of the world.  So.. I proceeded to do some really awesome waltz-8s!  The turns were okay (some were quite good), the BO edge was calm, cool, and controlled (!). The step forward is still lacking (I'm still stepping somewhat out) but all in all we were both very pleased with these.
  • Serpentine -- finished up with these.  I was having problems with these yesterday and my first couple were just as bad, but then they improved (partly because my FO edges were so good earlier).  Lynne reminded me that I'm going to have to start pushing a lot harder to make these work (it's a long way around!) and so I did... and did the best yet, by far.  Made it through the RFO to the change of edge and about 4 feet past the halfway point of the new circle. YAY!  The subsequent ones were not quite as good but I am making progress so I'm pretty pleased.
All in all this was an awesome lesson and I am feel very happy about my progress.

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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Patch Perseverance

I skated the Chandler coffee club as usual for patch practice.  I had a pretty good skate in general -- my FO8s have really improved and are at the point where I can start worrying more about tracing and less about the basics of body position and alignment etc.  I also spent a bunch of time on FO3s, BO8, waltz-8, and some frustrating time on serpentine.  Gaah.  Serpentines I am coming into the center and I'm totally square, I can't keep the shoulder back while bringing the free leg forward.  Grrr.

Program Prep

My lesson with JJ this morning on the 7:30 a.m. FS at Gilbert.  As usual good ice and not too crowded.

For today's lesson we spent our time working on the program, most specifically the 2nd half of the program, working to run it a little faster and to take out any extraneous steps.  We ran it several times, both with music and also just with JJ clapping in rhythm.  I actually managed a first, which was to end on time!  Seriously, I don't think that's ever happened before.  It happened mostly because I managed to take out some of the time between the toe loop and the final spin.

We also took a little time to talk about balancing Moves work with new program after PCAS.  Consensus was that I will just need to make some decisions about how to spend my time, and then work to achieve that balance.

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Monday, February 14, 2011


Finally got my butt out of bed to skate this a.m.!  I had private ice for the first half, then one skater and a coach joined me.

I had a pretty good skate; ran my program twice and both times it went... okay.  I am still finishing late but that's nothing new.  I really need to work to not put a single extra step in the second half; I think if I could take every bit of hesitation out I would finish okay.  I spent some more time on the mohawk sequence and found that if I am careful to actually step on a slightly deeper FI edge I can do the first one, at least, without any additional pushes.  Practiced going into the salchow straight from the mohawk sequence and it's okay.

The one really frustrating thing was that I got only one good spin today (it was 3 revs).  Grrr.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Arcadia Zoo

Another field trip out to Arcadia.  I skated for about 75 minutes.  I was mostly social, and worked with Anna and Andrea on FO3s and stroking respectively.  I did work on jumps and spins a little, and just a little work on the Mohawk sequence for my program.

I have not been getting nearly enough ice time in lately and I'm feeling a bit under-prepared :-(.  Grrr.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Light Bulb Moment

My figures lesson with Lynne on the Chandler coffee club.  We started the session on the "North Pole" but got switched to the "South Pole" just before my lesson.  On the positive side the South Pole ice had just been surfaced before we got on.   Also it was intensely cold on the North Pole side but a bit warmer on the South Pole side.

Today's lesson:
  • FO8s -- I had done a bunch of these in my (long) warmup and they were pretty good.   Lynne asked me to do a fresh layout and I did... not so great the first time.  Grr.  Restarted and they were much better.  I was having some upper-body issues but I managed 3x around on each side and they were not bad at all.
  • FO3s -- as usual, on the small hockey semicircle.  These are still a bit skidded, esp. the RFO3, but I am holding the FO edge quite a bit longer so that's something.
  • Waltz-8 -- it's exasperating to me that my FO3s can be kinda okay (see above), but when I put them in the w-8 context all of a sudden they are pretty yukky.  Geez.  In general these are improving, though -- especially the step forward from LBO to RFO is suddenly much better!  I was really pleased with that.
  • BI8 -- finished up with these.  They are continuing to slowly improve.  I actually have pretty good control, but I'm not getting a good push, especially on the subsequent pushes... which led to the....
  • Light bulb moment -- I asked Lynne why my first push on the BI8s is so much better than the later ones, and after some discussion and analysis we realized it's because when I come in to center, I'm stepping on the new BI edge and then pushing.  Really, I should be pushing onto the new BI edge.   Duh!  Like I said, light bulb moment.  In any other non-standing-start scenario you always push onto the new edge and this should be no different.  She showed me what she meant and I can do it a little, it's just tricky.  Something to work on, but really really grateful for the insight.
No skating for me tonight or tomorrow, I will be off to Portland for work.  If all goes well I will get to try on my new boots tomorrow!  Yay.

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Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Patch Perseverance

I skated the Chandler coffee club for patch practice as usual.  Had a pretty good skate!  Worked on FO3s, BO8, FO8, waltz-8, and finished with a bit of serpentine and BI8.  No breakthroughs but some solid practice.

Mohawks & Spins

My lesson with JJ on the 7:30 a.m. FS at Gilbert as usual. Today was a chance to hit some of my weak points in the program.

Today's lesson:
  • spins -- I gave JJ some backstory about how my spins have been recently, and how it seems like I can do a couple of good ones and then they go downhill.  JJ thinks the problem is that I am trying to make adjustments and they are not the right adjustments.  He suggested that I get someone to video me the next time I'm having these issues and look at the video.   It's a good idea.  Anyway, we worked on spins and... yuck.  I was a bit stiff and my windup was horrible (usually it's the best part, lol), and then I was really rushing and not letting the spin develop.  We worked on it for a while and then moved on.
  • mohawks -- I wanted to look at these because, as I explained to JJ, I realized I have a real hard time doing a mohawk when I've been gliding on one foot for any length of time.  Usually I am coming off a two-foot glide when I do them.  I guess I hadn't realized I was doing that until I went on this quest (really it started with Sonya back before Cactus) to remove all the extraneous steps from my program.  Anyway JJ showed me how I am blocking myself with my upper body and how I need to work on learning to move my upper body to prep the mohawk, without moving my feet.  Good stuff to work on.
After my lesson I skated the next session and worked a bunch on this stuff and also on my toe loop.  I actually managed a couple that had the correct position (but precious little "jump"), so that was something.

PCAS is in two weeks and 3 days!  Eeep.

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Monday, February 07, 2011

Monday Night Stinky Skate

I managed to skate the Monday night FS at Gilbert, the first time in a while.  Good ice but a bit crowded.  I had a pretty stinky skate though.... one good spin, the rest pretty ukky.  Toe loop and sal, ditto.  I spent some time working on the mohawk sequence from the program... yuk.  Trying to eliminate my little "scooter" pushes from it and... yuk.  Clearly lots to work on in lesson tomorrow.  *sigh*

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Sunday Zoo

I skated for an hour at the Chandler public this afternoon -- interestingly enough it's the first time I've skated a public session at Chandler (vs. coffee club) since I got my annual pass.  Anyway... not that crowded, actually, but a very frustrating skate.  I did not get a single good spin.  Salchows were really stinky at first but eventually improved.  And I spent lots of time on toe loop, and I think I got one that was only slightly cheated with the rest being worse.  Grrr.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Field Trip To Arcadia

I went on a "field trip" to skate at Arcadia Ice Arena in Phoenix.  Some of the folks I know from the Gilbert Wednesday night zoo skate there on Saturdays so I thought I would go and check it out.

It's an older rink, a bit cramped-feeling -- it lacks the spacious lobby that newer rinks tend to have.  It reminds me of Valley Ice Arena in Beaverton -- except it's a lot brighter than Valley was and smells better, lol!  Looking at their schedule they don't seem to have any freestyle sessions at all!  Just public and lots and lots of hockey, though they do have a skate school.

I skated for about an hour, worked a little on spins (my first one was really good!) and jumps. It was moderately crowded but they had a large area coned off still for skate school so it was a bit cramped.  Ice was just so-so; I've been told they are having Zamboni problems right now.  So I worked on a few things and was social a bit and helped Anna (new adult skater) with her crossovers and edges and also was latched on to by a young girl (Andi?) who wanted help with her jumps, lol.

All in all it was a fun afternoon, though a bit of a hike.  At only $5.50 it's a bargain though.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Wednesday Night Zoo

I skated the evening public at Gilbert as usual.  It was only moderately crowded, but the ice was pretty crappy. I got there just before 8 but the z-break wasn't until about 8:35.  I only skated for about an hour total.  Spins were pretty crappy.  I worked on toe loop but nothing doing there either.  Bleah.

BO8 & Waltz-8

My figures lesson with Lynne on the Chandler coffee club.  We are having a cold snap and it was in the upper 30s outside, and not much warmer in the rink!

Today's lesson:
  • BO8 -- started off with these, using some circles that were already drawn.  Not bad, actually.  I'm having trouble filling out the last quarter or so of the circle and I tend to come in early.  But, positions are good and if I remember not to helicopter the arms on the rotation I have a fair amount of control on the 2nd half, and I'm doing a reasonable job of controlling the free leg.  All in all good progress.
  • FO3s -- we worked on these as prep for the waltz-8.  I did some pretty good LFO3s!  The RFO3s still tend to be pretty skidded, unfortunately, though I did make some progress in keeping the free hip up and getting turned into the circle more.  On the positive side the placement is improving, they now tend to be only 2 ft or so from the top of the lobe.
  • Waltz-8 -- these are improving.  I got into a good groove where I actually did (I think) 3 on each side without stopping -- not that they were perfect, but I kept it going.  Still lots to improve, esp. on the step forward and final FO edge on each side.
I will be getting my new freestyle boots in a month or so, and that means my old freestyle boots will get moved to my patch blades and I can finally re-retire my old Jacksons.  YAY!  Lynne and I agreed that of the elements on the Preliminary figures test the waltz-8 is definitely the weakest at this point.  I'm still hopeful that I can test them sometime in late summer or fall.

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Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Program Prep & A REAL Toe Loop!

My freestyle lesson with JJ on the 7:30 a.m. FS at Gilbert.

Today's lesson was more program prep for PCAS, which is 3 weeks (!) from Friday.  We worked on the second half of the program and fixed a number of issues.  First, the T-stop into the bunny hop.  JJ pointed out that I'm not really stopping before I put the toepick into the ice before the bunny hop.  So we worked on coming to a stop (as I put it, "Wait until the plane has come to a full and complete stop and the captain has turned off the seatbelt sign" lol), then pushing the foot and upper body forward and putting the toepick into the ice and continuing.  JJ pointed out that I'll get a better stop if I am sure to keep the R shoulder forward (it tended to be back a little) so that I'm square coming into the stop.  After that we continued to work on the lunge at the end of the program, as it continues to threaten to get away from me (I "fell", not that there's far to fall, several times working it today).  The solution is to really keep the R hip (in this case) forward (again, square) which requires some active effort.  It helped though!

Finally we came back and worked on the toe loop more, against the wall and out on the ice.  JJ said something a little different to me -- he said that I need to continue to go backward more/longer.  For whatever reason this struck me differently and I went out and did an UNCHEATED TOE LOOP!!
Of course when I tried to do another I couldn't, quite.  Grrr.  I know it's in there somewhere, I just need to bring it out.  

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