Gordon's Sk8er Boi Blog

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

Thursday, August 30, 2012


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

Now that I'm not going to be competing for a couple of months (next up is Autumn Antics, in November -- my Dramatic program again) it's back to Bronze moves.  We talked about them briefly and of course the one I'm most concerned about is power-3s, esp. the R side.  So we spent the whole lesson working on them...

I'd summarize by saying that JJ wants me to get the upper body turned into the circle more for the turn.  I also summarize by saying that what worked (better) is to approach it as if I'm doing figures, i.e. worry about the edge and body position, and turn alllll the way in.  Anyway we made some good progress.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


My figures lesson with Lynne on the Chandler coffee club.  I warmed up with the Preliminary test as usual.  Lynne came on the ice as I was finishing the waltz-8.

Today's lesson:
  • waltz-8 -- we spent quite a bit of time working on this.  After the first time, I mentioned that I had my scribe with me so we got it out and Lynne showed me how to use it.  Some points of geometry that I had not realized (hey, it has been a long time since Mrs. Lathrem's HS Geometry in .. 1977?) -- namely you can use the scribe to scribe the 1/3 points where (for example) the FO3s should be (and similarly, where the BO edge should begin and end).  If you are at the center point (where the two circles touch) then the 1/3 points are one radius (i.e. one scribe length) distant along the circle.  Having marked all those points, we worked some more on the waltz-8.  It's still pretty hard to see the marks from my scribe so I still need to pursue getting a marker attached.  I found working with the scribed circle to be a bit of an eye-opener, and it was very very helpful.  Lynne pointed out that I'm not putting my foot down on the step forward anymore, so that's really positive.  I really just need to keep working on standing up straighter on the BO edge and stepping forward around more.
  • serpentines -- back to these... seems like a long time since I've worked on them.  The good news is that my flow and transitions seem to be better.  The bad news is that I'm not pushing hard enough at all, so I'm still about 1/2 a circle short :-(.  Grrr.
All in all I'm feeling pretty good about things.  I really want to get this waltz-8 whipped into shape and get this test done, maybe before the end of the year.  I hope so.

Addendum: This geometric construction  shows what I'm talking about -- it doesn't say 1/3 of the half circle, but an equilateral triangle has 60 degree angles which is 1/3 of the 180 degrees in a half circle so there it is.  Cool.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


I had my back-3 lesson for the week today (not Friday, as usual, due to a scheduling issue) on the Chandler coffee club.  Nice ice and only 4 of  us skating.

I had a lot of time to warm up since Lynne had another lesson before mine, so I worked on my back-3 warmup stuff (two-foot turns forward and back, and some work on the wall).  I also worked on some Bronze moves and did some good spins.

We started off by more two-foot turns forward and back on the hockey circle, then some BO3s on the wall.  Then we worked on RBO3s for a while... these are improving!  I'm doing a better job of leaning into the circle, not forward, and getting my weight back.  We worked on these for a while, then switched to LBO3... ugh.  While I'm doing a little better (my toes aren't clenching the bottom of the boot so much) it's just not happening yet.  Lynne suggested maybe alternating between the back two-foot turn and the LBO3.  I'll give it a try.

All in all I think we are making some progress.  Now that I'm done competing for a bit I really need to spend a little time on these every time I skate.

Labels: ,

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sherwood Invitational 2012 Experiences

I had a great time at the Sherwood Invitational.  I've blogged already about my actual skating; this blog is more about my experiences at the competition.

I had been asked by the volunteer coordinator to organize the ice monitors, so I met with (most of) them Friday evening during club skate.  I wrote up a brief document describing how to be an ice monitor, so I went over that and then handed out copies and asked them to read them over before their shift.  None of the volunteers had ever ice monitored before.

I showed up at 7:45 a.m. Saturday morning to help get things going (I was present at the beginning of each person's shift to help get them trained).  A few minor things to straighten out but no major issues.  In general the ice monitors did a great job and things ran smoothly from that perspective.

It was, as always, great to see so many friends at this competition.  It's the main reason I come, it's such a great environment.  Saturday was really, really long though as I finished skating at almost 6 p.m., then hung out and watched my buddies Sierra and Madison testing (they passed!), then had dinner with Sonya and Kelli.  A really long day!

Sunday I was back at the rink at 7:45 a.m. to get things started, and then I had my own ice monitor shift from 10-12.  Good stuff. 

I was talking with some folks on Saturday night, I think, and I mentioned I was going to be at NWP regionals next month.  I was asked if I would like to volunteer, and I said yes, but I'd really like to announce again (I've not gotten to announce since last year, I think).  So.. that might happen!  That would be fun.  I love announcing.  I have a good voice for it, and you have the best seat in the house.  It's fun.  Okay it's a bit cold and sometimes a little stressful, but still, a lot of fun.  We'll see.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Sherwood Invitational 2012 - Showcase Dramatic

I skated my "100 Years" dramatic program at the Sherwood Invitational today.  Here's how it went...

I had practice ice from 12:50 - 1:20.  Well, that's when I was scheduled.  They started 7 minutes late, and then I was 2 minutes late getting on the ice (I underestimated how much time I needed to get my gear on, and I was rushing from the figures competition).  I had a reasonably good practice, everything seemed to be okay.  I was kinda tired though, which was disturbing.  There wasn't an opportunity to play program music.  The session seemed really crowded even though there were only 11 of us... some pretty fast skaters for a "low" practice session!  I ran all the pieces of my program but didn't manage to get a complete runthrough.  I wasn't worried though.

I had a lot of time between the practice ice (off at 1:27) and my skate (5:46).  I was feeling a bit tight later in the afternoon so I did some jumping jacks and stretched a bit to loosen up, which helped a lot.  Finally it was time to get my gear on and check in.  I was sharing a warmup with two other skaters, both kids. 

Came out for the warmup and I ran through spins, waltz jump, and salchow, did some program pieces.  Sonya reminded me to get the spiral in.  The one minute warning was a bit of a surprise -- I think it was only a 4 minute warmup, not 5.  Came off the ice and talked with Sonya... then it was time to go.

Skated out to my position and remembered to "present" a bit as JJ and I had worked on on Wednesday.  I was blessed with lots of cheering and clapping from my "cheering section".  Took my position.... and waited.... there was a bit of a delay before my music started.  Then it did and off I went.  Swizzles, waltz jump (good), slaloms... into the spiral, which was good although I was a little slower on it than Holly would probably have liked :-(.  Into the spin, the RFO3s (good, and I managed to avoid the scooter push like Sonya and I had worked on), lunge, and into the 1-foot spin, which went well I think.  Brushed out, into the FXO-BXO section -- I tried to shorten this per my discussion with Sonya, into the salchow (just okay), and then around into the half flip and final pose. I ended probably 2 seconds late, I think.  Skated over to bow, and skated off.

I'm really pleased.  It went really well, I thought, and Sonya was really pleased -- "that's the best I've ever seen you skate!" is what she said.  Best of all -- I really wasn't nervous.  Just a slight amount (adrenalin) but not really fear like I've had in the past.  I was really pleased about that.

So... another competition in the books.  Lots to work on still.  If all goes well I'll do this program again at Autumn Antics in November.


Sherwood 2012 Figures Competition - FO8, BO8, BI8

So today I skated 3 figures for the figures portion of the Sherwood Invitational.  Here's how it went...

Kelli had planned on putting me on for the figures part of the competition, but due to a credentialing snafu she wasn't able to, so Sonya came to the rescue and put me on instead.

We had 20 minutes worth of practice ice at 10:55.  I got a not-so-great patch assignment, next to the end of the rink.  I had a really really hard time getting warmed up... started with FO8s that were pretty bad... moved on to BO8s.  Sonya asked me to try to hold the free leg in front for a count of 3... I counter-offered 2 and a half but she wasn't buying :-).  Some progress so we moved on to BI8, which was not so great, I had a hard time just coming back around to center.  Then our 20 minutes was up.  Practice ice flowed immediately into the figures events, which was nice (no ice resurface though).

I was the first one to skate for the FO8, so I moved over to my warmup patch.   Warmed up the FO8, which I'd just done :-).  Much better this time...the 10 minute warmup was over really quickly!  Then the judges called me over and I skated out to my patch, chose a spot, made my mark, and pushed off... R side went really well the first time... L side not as good (common, for me), a little flatting coming back to center.  The rest of the FO8 went well, I had pretty good traces to follow and I did my best to trace 'em.  Finished and skated off...

I had only about 5 minutes before it was time to warmup for my next event, BO8 (there was a scratch, so I had very little time).  Warmed up the BO8 and felt pretty good about it, I was trying hard to concentrate more on getting that free leg in front.  Warmup was over, had a drink of water and skated out to the judges once more.  I lucked out that this patch had a hockey dot pretty much in the middle :-) so I made my mark a couple of feet from it, in line with it.  Started off... it went pretty well.  Don't remember details much except that it was pretty easy to find my center :-) and I had pretty good flow.  I was happy with it.  Finished and skated off...

Again, just about 5 minutes before I had to warmup again for the BI8.  I was the last figure in the competition.  I was pretty apprehensive about it... warmup wasn't too encouraging but toward the end it was at least flowing halfway okay.  Finished the warmup, a last drink of water, and out to my position and started off... it was pretty bad.  On the positive side I had some semblance of form, and I did manage to push and get around okay... but my circles were quite small, badly shaped, and I didn't do a good job of returning to center.  Still, I had pretty low expectations for this event and I was relatively happy (it could have been much, much worse).  Skated off and I was done!

Later I managed to talk to one of the judges and asked her for feedback on the FO8 and BO8... she mentioned a few things -- 1) body position (of course!) needs work; 2) on the BO pushes I'm on 2 feet for too long (this was news to me).. and 3) I really need to work on my sense of circle, I'm tending to cut off the circle/return to center too shallow (this wasn't news to me).  Good feedback.

All in all I was very happy with the way I skated.  Not perfect, but I think I improved a lot from last year.  It amazes me how much more comfortable and confident I am on the BO8 vs. the FO8.

The results were posted somewhat later -- I got 3rd (of 3) on the FO8;  I did get one 2nd place ordinal though so that was nice.  I didn't have any competition on the BO8 or BI8.

Here's a picture a friend took of my FO8:


Friday, August 24, 2012

Last Minute Polishing

I skated the last hour of the public session at Sherwood today for some practice and a lesson with Sonya.  I felt pretty unsettled trying to warmup, as if I had not skated for forever (when it had only been since Wednesday).   Since there had not been a lot of ice available, and since WSC's ice is down, it was really quite crowded.  After a short warmup Sonya came over to start our lesson.

Today's lesson started with edges since I was feeling unsettled.  We followed with a program runthrough which went relatively okay in spite of the crowded conditions.  We spent some time polishing the RFO3-RFO3 sequence, and Sonya reminded me that I REALLY need to keep my head up.  Then we spent some time working on the spiral ---  I need to really get my skating knee straight before tilting forward.  We need some good progress on getting me to keep my weight back on the blade and lock the knee.  Then we went back and ran the program again and it was a little better.  Sonya suggested that I need to shorten the FXO-BXO section before the salchow (again a reminder to keep the head up) so that I have a better chance of ending on time.

A really good lesson and we accomplished a lot!

Two updates for the competition... 1) Kelli told me there's a snafu with her background check (it's not been processed yet even though, of course, they've already taken her $) so she will not be able to put me on the ice tomorrow for the figures competition; Sonya will put me on instead... and 2) a closer examination of the schedule revealed that I'm sharing a warmup with two other dramatic events, a basic level and a no test.  So chances are I'm actually just doing an exhibition.  Oh well, it will still be a good experience.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Final Competition Prep

My figures lesson with Lynne on the Chandler coffee club.  We were on the South Pole rink today for some reason.  It was not as foggy as it's been this week and the ice was pretty nice.  I warmed up with the Preliminary test as usual; Lynne came on the ice just after I finished the FO8.

Today's lesson:
  • FO8 -- Lynne was really pleased with the tracings from the FO8 and said I did a good job.
  • FI8 -- good, although my RFI was a little wonky (body position).
  • waltz-8 -- I really, really will need to start working this with my scribe.  The R side is totally shifted right now.  The L side is better though the exit from the 3 is not good.
  • BO8 -- these were.. mostly okay.  As we went on my ability to find my center got worse :-(.  Key difficulty is that I am still tending to think I've skated past it when I've actually not yet reached the center.  Grr.
  • BI8 -- the bulk of our lesson time was for these.  They did improve... but they are still quite weak and I don't think they'll be at all good Saturday :-( oh well.  Mostly my L side push is quite weak and my circles are quite small.
After my lesson I had another 15 minutes which I spent obsessively practicing BI8.  It did help a bit.

The figures part of the Sherwood Invitational will be Saturday morning at 11:15 I believe.  There will be 20 minutes of figures practice ice beforehand.  Yow...

Labels: ,

Final Program Prep

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

We spent the lesson working on the dramatic program.  JJ reviewed the video I took from yesterday's runthrough, then we ran it again with music and he video'd it again.  Not bad though I was a bit behind from almost the beginning, and finished maybe 3 seconds late.  We worked on the salchow, we worked on the spiral, we worked on the spin, and we worked on getting me to hold my head up more.  A good workout!

I am traveling to Oregon tomorrow, and get to work with Sonya Friday late afternoon.  I'll be skating this program at 5:46 on Saturday evening.  It appears I'll have some competition.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


I skated at Chandler coffee club today for freestyle practice.  I had a pretty good practice in general.  I ran my dramatic program with music once and it went relatively well although I was several seconds late finishing :-(.

Monday, August 20, 2012


I skated Chandler coffee club for patch practice.  Since I just got my scribe back from my cousin I decided to try using it.  After warmup with the Preliminary test as usual, I grabbed my scribe...

This thing is annoying!  I can just barely see the circles it's making.  I went over them with a marker but since they were so faint there were places where I went wrong (there were a lot of marks on the ice by this point).  Grrrr.  I did finally get a pair of circles but it took waaaay too much time.

I worked on FO8 on the scribed circles and they felt about the same so that was good.  BO8... clearly my circles were small.  I spent the last 15 minutes on BI8 and didn't even try to use the circles as they are just very small at this point.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Skating With The TFSC

I was down in Tucson this morning to skate with my home club, Tucson Figure Skating Club.  We had a good turnout and I had an okay skate.  I took my blades up to the Ice Den yesterday afternoon to get them sharpened, so I was getting used to that today.  I worked a little on figures (even though I had my freestyle blades) and then some spins and jumps.  I ran my program once with music.  I was quite behind at the end :-( and it was a bit rough in places.  I really need to get some time in on it next week before I leave for Oregon.

The schedule is out for the Sherwood Invitational.  The figures part of the competition is Saturday morning at 11:15.  My dramatic program is 5:46 p.m. Saturday.  Going to be a busy day!

Friday, August 17, 2012


I had my back-3 lesson with Lynne on the Chandler coffee club (I only had 45 minutes to skate).

We hadn't worked on these in 6 (!) weeks.  Gratifyingly the RBO3 is about where I left it, after some work -- I can get turned but there's no flow through.  We worked on the LBO3... yow.  I know I said this before, but I really need to work on the LBO in general to try to get my toes to unclench.  Weirdly I don't have this issue in my patch blades... hmph.

Anyway I was pleased with how it went.

Labels: ,

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Patch Perseverance

I skated the Chandler coffee club for patch practice today.  As usual I warmed up with the Preliminary test, then about 10 minutes on BO8, 15 minutes on BI8 and 5 minutes more on FO8.

BI8... wow, this is really stinky.  It did improve a little bit by the end.  Grr.  BO8 about the same as yesterday.   FO8 not too bad.  Since that's the only one I will only have competition on (unless something's changed) I guess that's good.  My tracing is getting better.

Competition Prep

My lesson with JJ on the 7:30 a.m. freestyle at Gilbert.   This lesson was postponed from yesterday as I wasn't feeling well.

Today's lesson was all competition prep.  I ran the dramatic program with music... yow.  It was bad.  Really pretty bad, I thought... although I didn't fall and I did everything.    I realized after I ran it that I've been doing the last part wrong -- the moves are right but I am going the wrong direction.  I watched my video of Holly running the program and sure enough, I am going the wrong way after the salchow.   I've not gone and looked to see if I did it wrong at Cactus but this explains why I always felt the little hockey glide thing at the end wasn't right.  Anyway now I know.  We worked on some of the pieces and got them a bit better.  I feel like it's really slow but JJ says it's not that bad.

I also played JJ a piece of music I'm thinking about using for my next free skate.  The problem is I would have to be *really* ninja for that -- it's more aggressive than my free skate music now!  Yow.  So I might wait and use it for a Bronze program some day.  We'll see.

After my lesson I stayed and skated the next session and worked through some of my weak areas in the program.  Grrr.  I am still feeling a bit slow and tentative, and like I'm really out of shape.   Grr.  After this competition I'm going to have to really start this off-ice JJ has been working with me on.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Competition Prep

My figures lesson with Lynne on the Chandler coffee club as usual.  It was a pretty quiet session, 7 skaters and a mellow vibe.  I warmed up with the Preliminary test as usual - a little rough since I hadn't skated since last Friday due to jury duty and illness.  Lynne came on the ice just as I finished the warmup.

Today's lesson:
  • waltz-8 -- I was a little frustrated with my waltz-8 on the warmup so we worked it a little bit.  Same problem points.  I really think other than the step forward, my biggest issue is a lack of concentration.  I know what to do and am able to do it, but my execution is just not always there.  Grrr.
  • FO8 -- not bad.  So long as I concentrate (see above, lol!) they are okay.  I was working harder on tracing with some good results.  I think these will be okay so long as I don't get complacent.
  • BO8 -- the good news is that my flow on these is pretty good!  The bad news is that I'm still struggling somewhat to come back to center reliably.  We did a number of layouts of these and I was just doing a crap job of spotting my mark.  Grrr.
  • BI8 -- not so good.  Doing an okay job of keeping my center in view but pushes were inconsistent and not usually very good :-(.  I really need to spend a lot of time on these between now and the competition.

Labels: ,

Friday, August 10, 2012


I skated the Chandler coffee club for freestyle practice.  I worked on spins, jumps, and chunks of the dramatic program, though I didn't run it with music.  Got some good spins and fixed some issues with my salchow -- hopefully they will stay fixed! 

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Competition Prep

My figures lesson with Lynne on the Chandler coffee club.  I had a longer warmup than usual, so I went through the Preliminary test, then did a couple more layouts of FO8 since I'm competing those too.

Today's lesson:
  • FO8 -- did a couple more layouts of these with Lynne.  In general they are pretty good but I really need to watch the LFO; need to velcro the R shoulder back :-) and really press into the edge so it's solid.
  • BO8 -- these are really pretty good.  I was tracing relatively well and doing a good job of returning to center.  I think the main point now is to keep my concentration up so that I do what I need to do, and it should be okay.
  • BI8 -- still pretty rough, but getting better.  I did some poor layouts, then a good one, then several poor ones and another good one.  The poor ones are mostly a matter of keeping my eye on my mark as I'm skating the circle, and remembering to get a good solid push.  Circles are still too small but I'm not going to worry about that too much at this point.
After my lesson I had about five minutes left so I did some serpentines.  They were pretty ukky.

Labels: ,


My lesson with JJ on the 7:30 a.m. FS at Gilbert: -- today we spent the whole lesson working on spins.  Unfortunately I don't feel like I made particularly great progress.  I feel like I'm really inconsistent in my spins.  JJ drew a half-circle on the ice and had me try to use it as a guide for my entrance into the spin, with somewhat indifferent results.  It was kind of frustrating, and I was tired.

After my lesson JJ spent some more time with me doing off-ice spin training for backspin.  This was actually kinda fun!  It's all about the snap.  I think I made some progress.  I'll be really glad when my toe is better and things don't hurt.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, August 07, 2012


I skated Chandler coffee club for freestyle practice; I'd not skated in my freestyle boots since my lesson last Wednesday.  It was actually a rather busy (for coffee club) session, 10 skaters and 2 coaches.

I had a pretty decent skate!  My toe didn't hurt too much, mostly just when jumping and then especially with the half flip.  I did a 4-rev spin!  I was pretty happy with that.  Didn't run the program with music but I did run through it in chunks.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Patch Perseverance

I skated the Chandler coffee club for patch practice today... it was pretty quiet.  I only got in 45 minutes due to a work meeting.

Warmed up with the Preliminary test, as usual.... and managed to fall doing FO edges!  What the heck? I was laughing for like 5 minutes, it was so stupid.    The rest was okay.

Spent all my time on BO8 and BI8.  BO8... still having issues finding my center as I'm coming back.  It did improve though.  BI8.. similar issues.  I am doing a much better job of starting with a good BI edge though... and for some reason that I don't understand, it finally hit home to me on these that I can really just watch my center for the whole circle, which (gee!) makes it a lot easier to come back correctly.  So ... improvement.  Push to the LBI is a bit better too.

I took off the rest of last week to rest my toe.  It seems a bit better.  Still a bit painful to get the boot on, and for the first 5-10 minutes, but after that mostly okay.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012


I skated the Chandler coffee club for my figures lesson with Lynne as usual.  I warmed up with the Preliminary test as usual.  Lynne came on the ice as I was finishing the FI8.

Today's lesson:
  • waltz-8 -- meh.   I'm doing a better job of bending my knee for the FO edge to return to center, but I was still not holding the BO edge long enough/shifting my center.  Grrr.
  • BO8 -- not too bad.  I'm getting really good flow.  We did about 3 or 4 layouts.  Main issue is to be really concentrate so as to hold the free foot in front after the push, and to really be vigilant about spotting the mark to return to center. 
  • BI8 -- eeep!  The first layout I did was pretty sad.  The second was much better but still quite rough considering I'm competing these 3 weeks from Saturday!! On the positive side my initial push and edge are quite improved.  On the negative side... my push to the LBI is very weak and so I'm always struggling to maintain that edge.  We worked it a bunch and it improved a bit.  I'm going to have to really focus on this until the competition.

Labels: ,

Program & Spins

I had my regular lesson with JJ on the 7:30 a.m. FS at Gilbert as usual.  My toe continues to slowly heal but it's still pretty painful to put my boot on.

Today's lesson:
  • program -- we ran the dramatic program.  I fell on the mohawk just before the waltz jump; got up and did my best to finish but of course I was way behind.  It was a dumb fall, I'm blaming my toe for unsettling me as all my mohawks were feeling weird.  Grr.
  • spins -- we worked on spins for a bit next.  I managed a really good 4-rev spin! Of course the next one wasn't so good.
  • crossovers -- we spent some time reviewing crossovers.  I am capable of doing really nice FXOs when I concentrate... we worked on my harder-side BXOs.  Grrr.
After my lesson JJ spent some time with me off-ice working using the "cheap" version of the spin trainer (the plastic ones).  I told JJ how I'd broken my foot while using the "good" one (metal) and he said that is because it's too easy to torque your foot on the metal one if you aren't careful.  It's harder to do on the plastic one.  Anyway we worked on it for a few minutes.  It was interesting.

Labels: ,