Gordon's Sk8er Boi Blog

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

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Come-To-Jesus Moment

So I met with JJ at Gilbert today and we had a a long talk about training.  We went over the STARS stuff from US Figure Skating.  He wants me to get serious about this stuff!  We went through the various chunks of the program and he printed some stuff out for me and gave me some equipment and  a list of things to buy... eeep.  I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed.  I know I need to do this stuff but I am having a hard time getting/staying motivated.  Grrr.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Ice Dance Class #3-1

(N.B. I am labeling this #3 because it's the 3rd session they've done.  Even though I didn't enroll in the 2nd session (just dropped in to half of them) I think it's clearer to label this way).

First class of the new ice dance class at Ice Den.  Two kids (they've been there all along, but I don't remember their names :-(), Patti and myself ; and the same instructors as last week, so a skater-coach ratio of 1:1!

We worked on Dutch Waltz, Canasta Tango, Rhythm Blues, and a little bit of Swing Dance and Fiesta Tango.  I really don't know those last ones hardly at all :-(.  Don and Tim and Veronica all spent quality time with me, mostly working on swing rolls and trying to get me to bend my knees more :-).  I am doing somewhat better, I think -- slowly.  I'm feeling reasonably comfy with the SW and CT, though until my swing rolls improve I'm not going to be able to do them on time.

Now that the class is only 45 minutes it really flew by!  I had a good time.


Patch Perseverance

I skated Chandler coffee club for patch practice; due to a work commitment I only had 45 minutes on the ice.  Ran my Preliminary test as usual, then worked on BO8, serpentines, and 3s to center.  I'm really not happy with my serpentines.  They seem to really have regressed from a high point a few weeks ago.  Grrrrr.

Thursday, March 29, 2012


I skated the Chandler coffee club for FS practice (not patch) today.

I had an okay skate. Salchows were okay.  I worked a lot on spins -- the first dozen or so were pretty good but after that not so much :-(.  Grrr.

I worked on waltz-toe, practicing the pick and draw at the boards and then trying it out on the ice.  I can't make myself jump out of the actual waltz jump though :-(.  Yuck.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

F8, Waltz-8, Serpentines, 3s

My figures lesson with Lynne on the Chandler coffee club.  Lynne came on the ice just after I finished doing edges.

Today's lesson:
  • FO8 -- a little wobbly ( I was still warming up) but okay.
  • FI8 -- okay though my circles were maybe a little small.
  • Waltz-8 -- Mmmph.  More work on these.  I'm still stepping forward to early on the L side.  R side is much better but looking at it, it's still a bit egg-shaped.  Hmmph.
  • Serpentines -- just eh. We worked some more on crossing the line straight (not diagonally) and not anticipating the change of edge.  The actual change was a bit better but I didn't make it around once :-(.  Grrr.
  • 3s to center -- We just had a couple of minutes on these.  They were actually not bad.  The 3s are getting better; still need to improve the flow through and hold the check and keep the free leg from popping free after the turn.
 After my lesson we talked briefly about back-3s.  I've been having a discussion with JJ and now Lynne about whether I should learn them in patch or freestyle.  Lots of conflicting information and ideas for me to sort out.... there's more rocker on the FS blades so that might make it easier to learn, however there's more hollow too.  Even if I learn then in FS I will undoubtedly have to clean them up in patch blades to make them passable there.  I also feel like I have more "spare" time in patch than FS.  Not sure how to come down on this, or maybe I should learn in both contexts simultaneously.

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Toe Loop, Spins

My lesson with JJ on the 7:30 a.m. FS at Gilbert.  As usual, good ice and just 3 skaters (me, Brenna and Amber).

Today's lesson:
  • Toe loop -- I asked JJ to work on this and we worked on it in the waltz-toe combo context.    JJ emphasized that I need to reach back more with the picking foot, and we worked on the boards on feeling the pick and draw.  Lots of work on that... it feels quite different than what I've been doing.  The main issue is that I am not getting the weight transfer to the L foot.  Some progress but we have a way to go to fix these.
  • Spins -- we spent the last few minutes on these... I got some good ones!  I've been focusing less on having perfect form going into the spin, and more on making myself bring the free foot in and not bail.  Other people stick with their spins until they've almost stopped -- there's no reason I shouldn't be able to also!  Anyway some good progress.
After my lesson I stayed for the next session and worked on spins and also some moves.  JJ and I are meeting up on Saturday to talk about new program etc.

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Monday, March 26, 2012

Private Ice

Since I didn't skate in the a.m., I escaped to Gilbert since they had a 5:15 p.m. FS.  As it turned out, despite the previous session having been the usual zoo, there was no one on the 5:15 but me!

I had a really good skate... salchows were actually pretty good, and I'm actually getting a little bit of "jump" to them (instead of more like a "step").  I think I'm still jumping too late on these though, but it's progress.  Worked on the waltz-toe combo... this is not happening right now.  I pick in but can't get myself to attempt the jump.  Grrr.  Spins were pretty good though -- I decided I needed to work on not bailing out and I made some progress.. yay!

I spent a little bit of time on Bronze Moves.. Power-3s are better than I remembered; the 3s are actually okay, it's the back lobe that is the issue -- I think I am doing the BXO too early and/or I block myself w/my shoulder when I'm trying to step forward.  Grr.

JJ was there so we had a brief talk after about the program and competition stuff.  We agreed to meet Saturday afternoon off-ice to talk about further stuff.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Ice Dance Class

I dropped-in to the ice dance class at Ice Den tonight.  I'd not been in 3 weeks due to travel.  Skate buddy Mary from Chandler also came and gave it a go.  We had 5 adults (3 women, 2 men) and 2 kids; we had Veronica, Don, and Tim coaching and Katie assisted as usual.

Format was pretty much the same as the last time -- we spent quality time on the Dutch Waltz, Canasta Tango and Rhythm Blues, and then practiced the end pattern from the Swing Dance and also a bit of the Fiesta Tango.

I am definitely skating faster. It's kinda scary but I know I just need to keep pushing it, keep working on it.  I'm still frustrated but I do think my elements are improving a bit.

Looking forward, it looks like I should be able to make all the classes for the next session so I'm going to go ahead and sign up this weekend.


Patch Perseverance

I skated Chandler coffee club for patch practice as usual.  I wasn't very productive today, but I did the Preliminary test as usual, then worked on BO8, serpentines and 3s to center.  Bleah.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

This N' That

I heard today that it appears there won't be a figures competition in Portland this year.  I'm really bummed!  Maybe there will be one next year.

In other news the Ice Den website shows that the ice dance class has been extended for another session, starting 3/30 but skipping (fortunately for me!) Good Friday (4/6).  While the cost is staying the same ($99) the class is going from 60 minutes to 45.  I'm kind of glad to see it will be shorter, as frankly 60 minutes of ice dance was wiping me out.  It would have been nice if the price had been reduced somewhat along with the time.... still it's pretty inexpensive, really, for what you are getting.  I have to check my schedule and see if I can make all of the sessions or not.  I do plan on dropping-in tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Waltz-8, Serpentines, BO8, BI8

My figures lesson with Lynne on the Chandler coffee club as usual.

I ran through the Preliminary test before my lesson, including an extra set of waltz-8.

Today's lesson:
  • Waltz-8 -- Lynne wanted to look at these some more so we did.  The R side is looking much better but the L side is pretty weak still; I am still struggling (it's a mind/attention thing) to hold the BO edge across the top of the circle. And of course I'm still struggling with the final FO edge.  Sometimes I think I need to just spend an hour straight (it's usually just 10 or 20 minutes) working these until I'm totally sick of them..
  • Serpentines -- ARGH.  These were not anywhere near as good as they were yesterday!  It's so frustrating.  I practiced just skating an FO edge and bringing the free leg forward and back -- no problem.  So I don't know why I have this problem that my transition is so bad!  Lynne thought I may be anticipating the change and therefore it's taking too long.
  • BO8 -- these are coming along.  I'm getting reasonably good flow.  I'm not tracing the print very well, though, and the first part of each circle tends to be a bit shallow.  I need to work these with the scribe a bit I think.
  • BI8 -- just a couple of minutes on these.  My push on the L foot is lacking (how dumb is that?); the RBI is actually not that bad (though of course I do need a better push still).
After my lesson I worked on 3s to center a little.

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PCAS Debrief & Program Tweaks

My lesson with JJ on the 7:30 a.m. FS at Gilbert. We spent a good chunk of time talking through my PCAS performance and how I can improve my placements and performance. A good discussion and I'd say the summary is that if I want to improve I'm going to have to work harder -- not necessarily "more time" but harder/better/more efficient ice time and, especially more off-ice training. JJ wants to meet sometime soon off-ice to talk about this more.

After that we looked at some tweaks to the program that we want to make for Cactus. We're going to relocate the beginning to the other side of the rink and add a spiral between the BXOs and the half flip.

After my lesson I stayed through the next session and worked on toe loop, salchow and spins.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Patch Progress

I skated the Chandler coffee club for patch practice as usual. It was pretty quiet, just myself and Mary. I ran through the Preliminary test as usual, then spent about 10 minutes each on BO8, BI8, 3s to center, serpentines, and waltz-8. The big excitement was that I was able to do a complete RFOI-LFIO serpentine... twice! I wasn't able to keep doing that more than once each time but it was still pretty exciting. BO8s are coming along, and even some progress on BI8 and 3s and serpentines.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

PCAS 2012 Free Skate

My "Battle for the Beat" free skate program at Pacific Coast Adult Sectionals in Provo, UT.

I was at the rink in the morning watching, then went back to the hotel w/skate & travel buddy Melissa so we could get prepped.  Got in my costume, rested a little, and was back at the rink by 3.  My skate was scheduled for 5:44 p.m. -- there was an ice cut, then two events (2 skaters each) before me; they were all separate warmups.  Since I was first in my event I'd decided I needed to come off at the 1-minute warning (standard for first skater) and also not push it too much since I didn't want to be too tired and I knew the elevation might get me if I wasn't careful.

Got my skates on after Melissa's skate, then checked in with the ice monitor and went back to wait for my skate.  At this point I was pretty nervous... although the nervousness wore down a bit as the time got closer for my event (thank goodness!).   I had a chance to meet my competitor (just 2 of us), Mark L.

When the event before ours started we walked over and checked in with the ice monitor guarding the actual entrance (like last year, we entered the ice from the hockey boxes) and sat down.  Went out for the warmup, did some stroking, then waltz jump, then waltz-sal, both okay.  A couple of spins and those were okay, but the ice was pretty slick and I was having issues keeping the free leg back on the lunge into the spin -- it kept creeping around on me.  I decided I'd better do a few to get that fixed or it was going to be an issue, so I did several lunges both separately and going into the spin until they were okay (I'd decided I needed to warm up the spins more thoroughly anyway).

I came off at the one-minute warning, and took off my jacket and got some water, and tried to relax.  Finally they called my name, and I went out and started...

I was slightly shaky at the start, then settled down a bit, and the whole first part went pretty well -- no issues on the lunge and it felt nice and low (for me, anyway :-)).  Spin was... okay, but a bit short.  Off into the second half of the program, toe loop (toe-waltz!) was okay, footwork felt okay,waltz jump was good but I biffed the salchow landing just as I had in practice Friday night!  Grrr.  Somehow I got a little confused and didn't recover well, lost some time and decided to just skip the FI3s and go right into the final spin, which was short and ended early.  I managed to end relatively okay.

Did my bow, came off the ice, and watched my competitor do his program.  His spins weren't any better than mine, and his jumps were about the same, although he had more of them.  All in all I thought I had a reasonable shot at it.  Unfortunately the judges didn't agree :-( and I got straight "2" ordinals across the board.  Oh well!

Here's the video!


PCAS Impressions

I'm blogging from the Peaks Arena in lovely  Provo, UT!  My skate is this afternoon.  I thought I'd blog some general impressions and experiences...

The facility -- this is a beautiful, beautiful arena.  Twin sheets of Olympic size ice.  Very smooth, very fast ice.  The whole facility is gorgeous, and like many in UT it's owned and operated by the county here, so it's also inexpensive ($6 freestyles!).  The skaters here have it good!

Provo -- I'd been here once before but never had a chance to look around much.  It's a nice little town.  The Marriott where I'm staying is right downtown, and there are a ton of good restaurants in walking distance.  The rink is less than a mile away so it's like a 5 minute drive.  It's nice and very convenient.  The only downside is the elevation -- 4700 feet.  Most of us have noticed it's just a bit taxing.  I was fine in practice ice except that after I ran my program I was definitely out of breath and it took me a couple of minutes to get it back :-(.

The Competition -- definitely smaller than PCAS last year.  Some really good skating and it's a lot of fun to watch!

Friday, March 16, 2012

PCAS Practice Ice

I had my practice ice at 8 p.m.  I had a pretty good practice!  The ice is fairly hard, but very smooth (slick) and fast.  There were about 13 people on the session, so not too bad.  I did get my music played and ran my program, it went pretty well -- biffed the salchow landing a bit, but my spins were the best I've ever done in the program!  I was psyched. 

I definitely felt the elevation after I ran the program though -- it took me a couple of minutes to get my breath back :-(.  I am skating first (of 2 in my group) so I will definitely need to come off at the 1 minute warning so I'm not too winded.  I'm sure with the adrenalin it will be fine though.

No practice ice tomorrow, just skating at 5:45 p.m.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Waltz-8, Serpentines, BO8

My figures lesson with Lynne on the Chandler coffee club as usual.  Lynne came on the ice as I was finishing the FO8 from the Preliminary test.

Today's lesson:
  • FI8 -- these are looking pretty decent.  Lynne said they looked smooth and controlled.
  • Waltz-8 -- These are a bit better.  I managed to do a much better job of holding across the top of the circle.  Return to center is decent on the R side, on the L side I still have a lot of work to do.
  • serpentines -- not as good as last week.  I did manage to get around on the R foot but that was about it.  My changes of edge are just not that good and I lose speed.  We worked on keeping the hip up; I really need to lean into the edge more, especially right before the change of edge.  The other factor is that I need to change edge more promptly; I've tended to be a little ginger about it but the result is that it takes too long and I am on a flat for a bit which slows me down.
  • BO8 -- I had trouble returning to center on these at first, but they improved.  My tracing is not so great though.  I think the main thing is that I am inconsistent about how I approach them (keeping the free foot in front, rotation, upper body position, etc.) so it's not surprising I get inconsistent results.
All in all I am making progress it's just slow.

After my lesson I stayed and worked on BI8 and a bit on 3s to center also.

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Program Prep

My freestyle lesson with JJ on the 7:30 a.m. FS at Gilbert.  This was my first lesson in our new timeslot (Wednesdays).. ice was a little busy but not so much as to keep me from getting stuff done.  It was really cool to see so many people I know out on the ice.  It was fun :-)

After some warming up, JJ had me do a couple of spins (meh) and then run the footwork sequence a couple of times.  After that we ran the program (pretty good), gave me 6 minutes to rest and talk about it, and ran it again.  The second time was really pretty good!   Spins in the program were better than they have been in quite some time.

All in all it was quite encouraging :-).  After my lesson I stayed for the remainder of the next session (8:15 - 9) and worked on spins and moves (too tired to jump much!).

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Tuesday, March 13, 2012


I skated Chandler coffee club today for patch practice.  I had a difficult time warming up and felt a bit stiff and "off" the whole time.  Ran through the Preliminary test as usual, then spent most of my time on 3s to center and serpentines.  Only got around once on the serpentines (R foot, of course).

I'm thinking that whatever issue I had with my L shoulder in the fall is creeping back on me because I have some real issues with it on the 3s to center and also, I think, it's part of my problem on the LFOI in serpentines.  When I try to move the shoulder back it doesn't want to do so smoothly.    I need to dig out my exercises from PT and start doing them again :-(.

Monday, March 12, 2012


I ditched Pilates today and skated instead at Chandler coffee club since I felt I needed more time before PCAS.  Had a good skate, overall -- it was pretty quiet, just 3 of us.

I did a 5-minute warmup, then skated my program.  Ehh.  Not so great (biffed the salchow landing and the first spin was even worse than usual).  After that I practiced spins and jumps, then ran the program again (much better!) and worked a bit more on spins and jumps.

Friday, March 09, 2012


I skated Chandler coffee club, but instead of patch practice I brought my freestyle skates.  I warmed up with some moves, jumps, spins, then reviewed some program chunks (footwork, spins).

At 12:30ish my Dad and stepmother arrived and I ran my program for them.  It went pretty well other than a little bit of weirdness after the waltz-salchow.  They seemed pleased and said I've improved since the last time they saw me skate (last year).

After they left, I ran my program again (decent) and then worked on spins etc.  All in all a good practice.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Program Prep

My lesson with JJ on the 7:30 a.m. FS at Gilbert.    I came wearing my program costume and club jacket and no gloves, so that it's just like competition.  It was cold!

JJ gave me about a 6 minute warmup, then we ran my program.  I didn't land the salchow and got a little flustered trying to get into the traveling 3s.  We talked it over a little bit and gave me about a 5 minute rest, then we ran the program again.  It was much better and I finished more or less on time.

After that we worked on spins a bit and also reviewed the footwork section; JJ wanted me to be more deliberate and not scratchy on the footwork.   

One lesson left before PCAS!  We are switching to Wednesday mornings starting next week due to a change in my work schedule.

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Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Waltz-8, Serpentines, 3s To Center, BI8

My figures lesson with Lynne on the Chandler coffee club.  I was a little under the weather yesterday so I hadn't skated since last Friday (eep!) but things were okay.  Warmed up with edges, then into my lesson.

Today's lesson:
  • FO8, FI8 -- from the Preliminary test.  A little wobbly on the FO8 (hey, I was still warming up) but not too bad.  FI8 tracing was really nice.
  • Waltz-8 -- I forgot in my pre-move visualization to tell myself to hold the BO edge out across the top of the circle -- so I didn't, particularly.  Other than that not too bad.  After the first set, Lynne had me go back and do them again, remembering that I need to do that.  Much better!  I'm even doing a better job of "turning the corner" (returning to center) after the step forward on the R foot (L foot much weaker).
  • Serpentines -- a breakthrough today, I actually managed to tie together a complete serpentine starting on the R foot!  I.e., RFOI-> LFIO and restart.  Pretty awesome!  L side is still pretty lacking though.  I was really stoked that I got all the way to the restart.
  • 3s to center  -- these are about the same.  I am getting pretty good flow through the turn now.  The turns themselves are still not so great -- a bit skidded.  Still I think that as my BI edges get better I'll do better on the return to center.
  • BI8 -- I asked to look at these quickly in the last part of my lesson.  These are definitely improving, though I am pretty inconsistent on my free foot position at the start.  I need to work harder on that, and of course to improve my push.
All in all a pretty good lesson.  I'm excited.

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Friday, March 02, 2012

Ice Dance Class

I dropped-in to the beginning ice dance class at the Ice Den.  Some changes -- we had 3 adults, one older teen, and 3 kids (they've been there the whole time pretty much); also instructors were Tim D as before, Don B. and jr. coach Katie as before.  I'd seen Don skate before (really amazing) but hadn't ever really met him.  Also hadn't realized he's a "grownup"... he's 34!

Format for this class was quite different, we spent about 15 minutes each on DW, CT and Swing Dance with the instructors running around giving people feedback.  I really liked this as I had time to actually repeat the dances enough to feel like I at least know the steps (for DW and CT -- SD is a whole 'nother ball game).

I had some really good feedback from Don -- I really appreciated that he spent what seemed like a lot of time on me.  Most of his feedback was that I really, really, really need to bend my knees more.  Not surprising but still I had an opportunity to put it into practice right there.  Also for some reason I'd never really internalized that I need to bend my knees going into everything, then straighten when I bring my feet together.  Except for swing rolls -- I never quite got before that I need to straighten up as I bring my free foot through (top of the lobe).

Anyway, it was a good class and I'm glad I went.  It was *really* tiring though!  An hour of solid dancing.  Yow.  Due to travel etc. I won't be able to attend this again for 3 weeks.  Oh well.



I skated the Chandler coffee club for freestyle practice (since I had "bonus time" yesterday).  I did a five minute warmup, then ran my program.  It went pretty well... waited  3-5 minutes and ran it again.  The second runthrough was actually pretty good!  I was pleased.  I finished pretty much on time and spins more-or-less came off (not great, but respectable).

After that the rest of the practice seemed... anti-climactic.  Worked on spins and jumps and was a little social.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Bonus Time

My Thursday noon work meeting was cancelled so I took advantage of the opportunity to skate the Chandler coffee club for patch practice.  I had a decent skate... warmed up with Preliminary test as always, then BO8 (pretty good!), BI8 (ugh.. but maybe a little better), 3s to center (meh) and finished with serpentines (R foot good, L foot stinky).

Since I had this extra time today I will try to skate coffee club tomorrow for freestyle/program practice.

Spins & Program Prep

My lesson with JJ on the 7:30 a.m. FS at Gilbert as usual.  The rink was quite empty today; only a few skaters on the session before me, and I had the ice to myself for an hour and a half!

Today"s lesson:
  • Spins -- much more work on these to follow up my lesson with Kelli last week.  Lots of drawing on the ice.  Sadly I don't feel any closer to being solid on these.  The weird thing is I always feel like I am thisclose to getting it, but it's not happening.  Some day I will get these and will wonder why it took me so long, but for now I'm just frustrated.
  • program -- before I ran my program JJ made me decide on a couple of things to fix, so I told him I wanted to keep my head up in the toe loop and hold the entrance of the salchow longer.  I ran the program and managed to do both of those things.  Afterward we discussed it for a few minutes (6 or 8) and then ran it again.  Eeep!  It was okay.  The spins were pretty stinky each and every time but the rest of it was ... decent.
We also took time to discuss some issues about practice ice at PCAS (I'm going to just stick with the Friday night practice ice and not sign up for 6 a.m. Saturday, just try to get a good night's sleep instead).  Also we are going to have to change our lesson time starting 3/15 as I have a work meeting that is going to interfere; we will switch to Wednesdays.  And finally we discussed my flirtation with ice dance but didn't come to any real conclusions as to what I should do about it.  I've not decided if I am going to keep going to the class or not... generally speaking I figure "what have I got to lose?" although truth be told it's rather frustrating, so the answer might be "my sanity and/or self-esteem."  Oh well.

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