Gordon's Sk8er Boi Blog

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

Friday, August 30, 2013

Patch Perseverance

I skated for 45 minutes at Chandler coffee club today for patch practice.  Warmed up with edges, then on to FO8 (about 20 min), waltz-8 (about 15 min), BO8 and FI8.  I think I made a little progress on fixing my body position on the LFO.  I worked a bunch on the LBO step-forward but no real progress.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Sherwood 2013 Figures Video

Thanks to Jeff Lancaster at Pro-Mix Sound & Video for this video of my figures at the 2013 Sherwood Invitational!


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

FO8, Waltz-8

Today's figures lesson with Lynne on the Chandler coffee club.  Nice ice, about 7 skaters.

I warmed up with edges and FO8, then scribed some circles.

Today's lesson:
  • FO8 -- Ugh.  The first few were kinda like Sunday at the competition.  Grrr.  We worked on them for quite some time and did get some improvement.  Big things to work on are not to just keep the shoulder back but to really work on leading with the skating hip, and keeping the body turned out over the print (i.e. not square).  I also worked on sort of thinking to lean back/into the circle.
  • waltz-8 -- ugh, still.  Although maybe some progress.  I'm still not happy with the 3s; I need to make them more controlled and with a better entry edge (like my 3s to center).   We actually got me to hold the free foot in front ("like a real edge" :-)) on the BO edge, which helped a lot.  The step forward is about the same though.
I told Lynne I will have to cut back to 2 hrs a week of patch for a while while I'm learning all these new programs.  Grrr.

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Side Toe Hop, Salchow

My lesson with JJ on the 8:15 FS at Gilbert.  Gilbert's ice was down last week and while it is up again, they are having morning FS on the South Pole, not the North as we usually do.  Ice was thin and a bit rough, and needs painting (no hockey marks and the white paint is kinda sketchy).

Today's lesson was preceded by some discussion about the new free skate music and costume.  JJ's not entirely convinced, I think, that this music is going to work.

Today's lesson:
  • side toe hop -- I mentioned to JJ that Lynne has put these in our duet and that I hadn't worked on them since 2005ish (lol), so we spent a little time on them.  Critical to really engage the toepick so it won't slip.  Beyond that it's mostly being sure to get the feet placed correctly.  I still need to practice this stuff so it's more comfortable.
  • salchow -- quite a bit of time on this.  We actually made some progress, I think.  Still working on holding the LBI edge longer and bringing the free leg *through*, not "around".  I had all the right pieces at various times, but never all at the same time :-(.  Oh well!  I'll need to practice.

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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Duet Lesson

Melissa and I had our duet lesson with Lynne today on the Chandler coffee club.  We are going to stick with Tuesdays for the next few weeks.

We had plenty of time to warm up, then just before Lynne came out on the ice we ran through our program w/out music.  Not bad but some small things to fix.  I am still being wimpy on the FXOs.

We ran through it for Lynne, then picked up where we left off (after we made one small change to our hand position in the dance-y section).  We went on and picked up another 20 or 30 seconds worth of music that includes a couple of side toe hops (eep!  Hadn't done these since I skated in Tucson, I think) and then RFO3 into BXOs and me towing M in an attitude position.

We are really having a blast, but it takes a lonnng time to work this stuff out.  Yikes.  M and I are going to meet on Monday to practice.  I am going to have to sacrifice some figures time for the next couple of months as there's just not enough time for everything, and I don't have any immediate figures goals other than the long term one of fixing my darn waltz-8 and passing the stupid Preliminary test.

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Sunday, August 25, 2013

2013 Sherwood Invitational

My figures events at the 2013 Sherwood Invitational...

I had wanted to skate FO8, FI8 and BO8.  There was some confusion about this because EntryEeze doesn't handle figures events correctly, e.g. it won't let you sign up for more than one event in the "open" or "restricted" category.  I had signed up for "open" BO8, "restricted" FO8 and then it wouldn't let me enter FI8 at all so I had emailed the registrar.  I talked to the referee Saturday and explained what I wanted.  They had me scheduled to do an exhibition BO8 in "open" and Kara L. to do an exibition BO8 in "restricted".  I talked to Kara and her coach (Madelyn) and they agreed to combine the events, so that's what happened.  So I had competition for BO8 and FO8, each was one of Madelyn's (young) students.

Events were schedule for 7:30 a.m. (eep!) after the ice cut (there was no figures practice ice this year, unfortunately).  They let us out for warmup at the Zamboni end of the rink; they gave us a good 10-12 minutes to warm up, which was nice.  I started by warming up the BO8 since it was first; I was driving Kelli crazy, I think, because of course I'd reverted to my old/bad habits of not keeping the free foot in front and my body positions were a bit wacky.  Finally we got things under better control and they called me up to skate.

I went and picked out a decent spot, made my mark and off I went.  I can't really recall much except that it went reasonably well.  I felt like I had okay control and I didn't go horribly flat and while I probably cut off the return on the LBO, in general I felt it was okay.  Then I was done!  Came back to the warmup area and gave Kara a high-five.

I began warming up the FO8.. yikes!  It was really horrible.  I just couldn't hold an LFO edge to save my life.  My R shoulder kept coming around on me and I would go flat and just grind to a halt.  We worked on it (poor Kelli!  I was a basket case) and it got a little better... and then we were out of time.  Went over and picked out a spot.. marked my center... pushed off.  RFO was okay, not the greatest but under control.  Pushed to the LFO and OMG...I really don't know how I made it around and didn't fall, but it was really, really bad.  Somehow made it back to center and pushed to the RFO and by now I was really freakin' nervous and my knee/ankle were just shaking, which, y'know, doesn't make it easy to hold a good edge and have flow.  I was telling myself to just breathe, and relax.  Yuck.  Somehow I got back to center, pushed to LFO and it was a bit better but still really bad... back to center, push to RFO and it was almost okay.  Not great but I wasn't as panicked.  Around.. push to LFO and it was better but again, still not so great.  Made it around, finished and back over to the warmup area as I still had to skate FI8.

Warmed up the FI8 *very* quickly and then they called me over to skate.  Kelli warned me to watch out for some holes that were left over from yesterday (by now we'd worked our way down toward the lobby end of the rink).  Ugh!  I'm glad she told me, but then I got horribly paranoid about hitting one.  Found a decent spot (far from holes), made my mark and pushed off to the RFI.  I think this figure went relatively well (it's normally my best) although my RFI circle tends to be a bit on the small side.  Anyway it went okay.  I finished and skated off.  Ugh.

Results -- I came in 2nd (of two) on the BO8; but I did get two 1st-place ordinals so that's a minor victory I guess.  I came in 2nd of 2 on the FO8 -- by some miracle I actually got a 1st place ordinal on that one also -- I really don't know how.  And of course the FI8 was an exhibition.

All in all I'm a bit disappointed, though I guess considering the 3.5 months I was off the ice I really shouldn't be.  I just feel like I was a lot more solid last year, and the whole nerves things is distressing to me.  Oh well.  I'm really grateful that Kelli put me on the ice, she made it much better and more bearable than it would have been otherwise.

I'm going to have to de-emphasize figures a bit for the next couple of months as I have a lot of freestyle stuff to work on.  I guess the next goals are to prep for and pass the Preliminary test.  Grr.


Saturday, August 24, 2013

Last Practice

After a long day (7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.) at the Sherwood Invitational (I was announcing along with Ron V.), I grabbed a quick bite to eat and then headed to Lloyd Center to warm up my figures in preparation for tomorrow's events.  I had not skated since Wednesday's lesson.

I got there about 8 p.m. and the ice was not so great, but I figured (no pun intended) that if I could work with that, the real deal would be easier.  FI8 was pretty good, FO8 okay, so I spent most of my time on BO8 as I have the past several weeks.  Despite having to maneuver around little girls going hither and yon, and the girl with the "I used to really skate but now I just come out and skate around fast and do an Axel to impress my boyfriend" look and the other usual public skate types, I actually was able to get some good work in.  I did much better (eventually) at getting my knee to flex on the LBO and so it was much improved.  The main issue remained that I'm tending to come back to center but then overshoot the long axis and start the new circle late.  Grrrr.

I got in about 45 minutes worth.  It will have to do.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Last Competition Prep

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

Lynne had asked me on Monday to bring my scribe, so after I warmed up with edges I scribed some circles.  I continued warming up with FO8, FI8 and BO8 (not on the scribed circles).

For today's lesson, Lynne had me start on the scribed circles and then move to do a fresh layout, for each figure:
  • FO8 -- actually, really good.  I was really pleased.  I had a few moments with the upper body (trying to keep that shoulder back and down) but I made it around and the tracing wasn't bad and the circles were a good size.
  • FI8 -- I actually had an issue on the 3rd LFI on the scribed circle... not sure what that was about.  After that they were pretty good though.  I need to not get complacent about them, though, and prep each side.  Also still need to push a little harder onto the RFI.
  • BO8 -- UGH!  Even the RBO, which has been really reliable for me, was a bit off today.  I kept coming in to the right of center.  I actually made some progress on fixing the LBO but wow, it's still really rough.  I did make it around but 2 of 3 were quite cut in on the last side.  Need to 1) keep the free foot in front for 1/3 (at least) to stabilize the edge, 2) stand up straight, and 3) get a better push on the LBO so I have better flow.   Oh, and I also realized that if I bring my R hand in closer to my body on the first part of the circle I have more control over it (and the L hand) later after I rotate.
So... not perfect.  Not by a long shot.  Oh well!  Sunday morning at 7:30 is the competition.  Kelli is going to put me on the ice (thank goodness!).

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My lesson with JJ.  Since Gilbert's ice is down this week, we had our lesson on the 8:15 FS at Chandler.

At the beginning we played the cut of my FS music that I just received.  I like it a lot!  The ending does sneak up on you though, so I'll have to be careful.  It's a bit repetitive, so JJ says I will have to pay a lot of attention to my gestures and transitions.

After that we worked on basics:
  • deep swizzles -- I had complained that I feel like since I came back on the ice I'm not very grounded, not very into the ice.  So JJ had me do some swizzles around the rink, forward and back; he had me bending my kneeds deeply first (taking care not to lean forward) and then swizzling.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  Ugh, these are tiring!
  • swing rolls -- next he had me working on swing rolls (forward and back, ugh! just FI and BI though), working to bend the knees and make the lobes small but keeping some speed.  They got better.
  • edges/shallow swing rolls -- not sure what to call these, but they are like swing rolls only instead of a lobe, just skating a shallow crescent and alternating feet.  Same idea though -- keep bending the knees into the ice.
All in all, good stuff, although if I want to get any benefit from this I will have to actually work on this stuff.  I've been really focused on the figures competition and so not really thinking much about free skating but will have to get more serious if I want to get back to where I was.

After we came off the ice JJ spent a couple of minutes working some off-ice stuff with me -- basically hopping back and forth on one foot.  First side to side, and then forward and back.  The goal is to land on one foot and not have any little hops to maintain balance.  Hmm.

I'm feeling like there's so much I need to do!  On the free skate side, I want to work hard to at least get back to where I was AND fix my toe loop like I was starting to do when I got hurt.  I also have a free skate AND a light program to work on (Holly is going to choreo that) AND I will need to brush up my dramatic for Autumn Antics.  And of course there's the duet... AND I want to get back to back-3s.

On the figures side I have the competition and I really, really want to fix the darn waltz-8 and pass the stupid test so I can move on to something more interesting.

And of course I need to get to the gym more to rehab my knee and improve my core strength. 


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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Duet Choreo

We continued working on the choreography for our duet on the Chandler coffee club.  I had a work commitment so I couldn't get on the ice until about 20 after.  Had some time to warm up and then we started our work.

We choreographed another 30 seconds or so of the program (at this rate we will finish about mid-September with the first go).  I won't give the blow-by blow here (Melissa is tracking it for us!) at this time.  Basically we tacked on our first jump after the spiral; it's a salchow.  Since Melissa is a leftie and I'm a rightie we can't do them side by side, so we do them in opposite directions and then come together.  From there we have a couple of dance-y style moves.  It actually takes longer than you might think!

So far so good.  After the lesson Melissa and I had a little time to practice some more and then we were out of time.  We did take a video, though, and so we've captured what we have so far.   We have a lot of work to do to get our gestures to be more precise and readable.  It's coming along nicely though and it's a lot of fun!

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Monday, August 19, 2013

Competition Prep

My figures lesson with Lynne on the Chandler coffee club.  This was a make-up lesson for Friday.

I warmed up with edges and FO8, FI8, and BO8. 

Today's lesson:
  • FO8 -- not bad.  Still some cutting in on the return to center.
  • FI8 -- pretty decent.
  • BO8 -- ugh.  Pretty much the same as it's been.  Really struggling to control the LBO coming back to center.
I'm very concerned about the BO8.  Grrr.

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Friday, August 16, 2013


I skated the Chandler coffee club.  I was supposed to have a figures lesson with Lynne.  I warmed up with edges, FO8, FI8, then started working on BO8....  had a good practice.

12:30 came... and went.  No Lynne.  Strange!  I thought "oh well"... then at 12:58 I realized we had agreed to have our lesson at 12:30 IN GILBERT, as she was teaching Melissa that day also.  AGGGGHHHHHHH!  I felt so stoooopid.  Zipped off the ice, threw my guards on, ran out to the car and called her and apologized profusely.

We agreed to have a lesson Monday in Chandler.  Agh!

Thursday, August 15, 2013


Today at Chandler coffee club was the first lesson for our duet for Autumn Antics!  Skate buddy Melissa and I are going to skate to "Summer Nights" from Grease.  Lynne is choreographing for us.

We settled some logistics first.  Lynne has already cut our music, and informed us that based on last year's announcement we should have a 2:40 program.  We both got the deer in the headlights look!  Melissa asked Lynne if she didn't mean 1:40 but nope... 2:40.  Yikes!  We were a little intimidated but oh well!

We had a great time!  We just got through the first 20-30 seconds or so.  I'll capture the choreo as we have it in a later update but so far we've got some fun "acting" stuff to set things up and then we went into some side by side skating into a forward-backward spiral (M is backward and I'm forward).  That part was actually easier than I expected.

Much to do!  Since we have such a long program to do I'm glad we didn't wait -- at this rate it will take us a month just to learn the program choreo, much less really exercise it.

I'm really stoked!

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Wednesday, August 14, 2013


My lesson with JJ on the 8:15 FS at Gilbert.

We got started late so all we really looked at were alternating 3s (I had been working on power 3s earlier and we had looked at them last week also).  Ugh.  I suck at these.  We just mostly worked on getting more control over the actual placement of the 3 and holding a better edge going in.  We actually made some good progress.  We only worked on the R foot, which was just as well since it's the harder side.

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Monday, August 12, 2013

Patch Perseverance

I skated the Chandler coffee club for patch practice.  Warmed up with edges as usual, then FO8 (twice through) and FI8.  I then spent over 30 minutes on BO8.  Eeep.  The LBO is still weak but it did improve.  I really need to make myself lean into that edge more and push a little harder at the start of the LBO, it really helps.

Finished up with a few minutes on the BI8.  Hmmph.

Friday, August 09, 2013

Patch Perseverance

I skated the Chandler coffee club as usual for patch practice.  I warmed up with edges, then did some FO8 and FI8, then spent something on the order of 30 minutes (!) on BO8.  Yuck. They did get better but I'm still really concerned about the LBO, it's still really weak and I'm really cutting off the 2nd half of the circle.  Hmmph.  Finished up with just a little time on serpentines to have something to do. They were not nearly as nice as in my lesson.  Oh well.

This morning JJ met me at my gym and gave me some exercises to work on building strength in my knee.  My R leg is really a lot weaker than my left leg.  Anyway I'm going to see if I cannot actually make it to the gym a few times a week to work on this stuff.  Grrr.

Thursday, August 08, 2013


My lesson with JJ on the 8:15 FS at Gilbert.

After some housekeeping stuff, we spent our lesson working on power-3s.  Specifically the back lobe of the power-3s, as I told JJ that when I'd worked with Kelli on them a couple of weeks ago that was the thing that kept coming up -- I do the first part of the back lobe okay-ish but then I do the BXO and I'm totally not in a position to step forward and continue.  So we worked through and JJ worked with me on an exercise that basically consisted of doing the BXO slowly and then doing a back 2-foot turn and stepping forward on the FO edge.  Yikes.  I had a really hard time doing this well, that is, doing the turn quickly and smoothly, especially since JJ insisted I had to get my arms and upper body set and then WAIT before turning, i.e. I couldn't "cheat" by having the momentum of the arms help me turn.  Yikes.  It got better and it did help a lot.  Clearly I need to work on this a lot more.  I'm glad to work on this though as this is one of those basic problems I've had a long time and I've never really had a good tool to work on fixing it. So I'm willing to try this and see how it goes.

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Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Comp. Prep

My figures lesson with Lynne on the Chandler coffee club as usual.  Nice ice and only 3 skaters!

I warmed up with edges.

Today's lesson:
  • FO8 -- not too bad.  I traced much better than I have in the past.  I still need to work on being consistent -- in particular I think I really need to "re-set" myself when I return to center, and remind myself of what I need to do (hold shoulder back, bend and push) and not be so much on autopilot.  I still need to watch the LFO in particular as I was still cutting the second half of the circle in a bit.
  • FI8 -- pretty good!
  • BO8 -- eep.  Actually my return to center wasn't bad for the most part, but the L foot is very weak and I really need to work on control, esp. the 2nd half of the circle. 
  • serpentines -- finished up with these.  I actually got all the way around on the first complete circle, on each foot!  But my change of edge (FOI) was horrid.  It's just not clean.  
Competition is 2 weeks from Saturday!  Eeep.

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Tuesday, August 06, 2013


My lesson with JJ on the 8:15 FS at Gilbert.  This was a make-up since we had to cancel last week's lesson as JJ was traveling to Showcase.  We got started a little late.

We took care of some housekeeping stuff first -- I played the rough cut of the Light program for him.  He likes it in general but he wants a small change.  We'll have to work that back.  We also talked about the FS costume briefly.  I'm still waiting for the rough cut of the music for that.

For what remained, we worked on spins.  We mostly worked on the upper body position, keeping the R arm/shoulder from swinging around too quickly.  Since I've been back on the ice these are feeling a little... different.  Not better, exactly (unfortunately), just a little different.  It might be a good thing, though I'm not exactly spinning like a top.  But I think there might be some promise here.  We'll see.

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Friday, August 02, 2013

Patch Perseverance

I skated the Chandler coffee club for patch practice.  Competition is 3 weeks from tomorrow!!

I ran through the Preliminary test (actually I skipped the waltz-8) and then spent more quality time on the BO8 since that's my weakest area right now.  I am having a difficult time coming back to center when I'm on open ice.  I'm trying to find reference points (e.g. on the wall) for the short axis so I can find it but it's not really working right now.  And I'm still struggling to be more consistent with my LBO.  Grr.

I finished up with a little time on serpentines.  They weren't great.