Gordon's Sk8er Boi Blog

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

Thursday, May 31, 2018

3s & Waltz-8

I skated the Chandler Ice Café (last time for a while, no Ice Café for June or July) for my figures lesson with Danette.  I scribed circles and warmed up with edges.  I reminded myself to start doing 5 lobes per edge, not 4.  Eeep.

Today's lesson:

  • FO edges -- I had forgotten to do these at 5 lobes so Danette suggested I do them now.  It's okay, just need to be more cognizant of where I am.  Danette said I was leaning forward a bit also.
  • 3s -- I asked to work on 3s since they are not so great.  We spent some time on them both on the wall and on the ice, working to get that quick tempo so they don't skid or scrape.  
  • waltz-8 -- about 15 minutes on this. Some specific feedback (e.g. look over the shoulder on the 1st part of the BO edge, like actually look, which I'm not used to doing) that was helpful.  I have been working on this for so long (literally almost a decade) that it's hard for me to focus on fixing one thing because I get an overwhelming sense of despair that I'm never going to get all of this stuff fixed.  I fix one thing and then I forget something else that I had previously fixed.  Gaaah.  New coach, so maybe new me?  I'm trying to stay positive.
After my lesson I had about 15 minutes to work on waltz-8, some 3s and also some time on the BO edge position exercise that Danette gave me at our first lesson.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2018


I skated the Chandler 5:30 pm. FS as usual, even though I already skated today.  I worked on a lot of the same stuff -- moves, spins, salchow.  I did get a couple of relatively nice spins, so that was exciting.  Still working to bring the side around in the salchow -- but at least the jump in general is behaving better now.

Starting next week this session is 15 minutes earlier, which will be slightly challenging since I'll have to get off work 15 minutes early. Ugh. Still, grateful to have at least one session that's in the evening.

Spins, Salchow

My lesson with Holly on the Gilbert adult skate.  I moved my lesson to today since I'll be out Friday (announcing for Ice Fest).

I had a 10 minute warmup, stroking, some slaloms, perimeter XOs and then I tried FO8 (not circle-8) since the ice was really nice.  I actually mostly made it around on the R foot! So yay me.

Today's lesson:

  • circle-8 -- Holly saw me doing the FO8 so she had me do the circle-8.  It was not bad although the R foot is still a little iffy.
  • spins -- we spent a few minutes doing the exercise, then skipped standing start and went straight to doing them from the windup.  It was kind of all over the place, but I actually got a few that were decent!  So, progress.  Yay!
  • waltz jump -- just one. It was pretty nice!
  • salchow -- working to get the takeoff at the right time.. We mostly fixed that so went to trying to get me to bring it around more so that the landing isn't out to the side.  Holly says I need to bring the R leg/side around more as I'm taking off.  Ugh.  No feel for that yet.  I did do some salchows that were otherwise pretty nice, though. It was great!

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Friday, May 25, 2018

Circle-8, Spins & Jumps

I skated the 8:15 a.m. FS at Gilbert for my lesson with Holly, as usual.  Today we had Aly, Zoe, Amber, Brenna, Mia (briefly) and a special treat - Viktorya was there also!  Had not skated with her in forever.  Also coaches Emma and Mark as usual.

I warmed up with stroking and some crossovers.

Today's lesson:

  • blade alignment -- I talked with Holly about this and demonstrated that I can now do really nice CW FXOs, now that I'm not fighting the RFO edge.  Nice!  From there we went to...
  • circle-8 -- about the same as Tuesday. It doesn't help that I tend to make the RFO too big the first time, but really, I'm still struggling so I think it's that I just need a better/stronger push.  Yuck.
  • spins -- we worked on the exercise (Holly's really pleased at my progress!) and then from a standing start.  Still struggling to transfer the skills from the exercise to the standing start, but at least I know where I am supposed to be aiming for, which I didn't really before. Holly's cue for the standing start is "down, around, and up".  I'm okay on the down part, but the around is a struggle and when I stand "up" I'm not bringing my free leg in.  Urph.
  • jumps -- we had just 4 minutes or so at the end so we did some waltz jumps (nice, really) and a couple of salchows (ugh).  Mostly making sure the blade alignment will work.
So, the blade alignment seems to work for me so I'll get them back to Kelly at some point and get the permanent screws in.  Yay!

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Thursday, May 24, 2018

Back To Basics

My figures lesson with new coach Danette, on the Chandler Ice Café.  I just had a short time to warmup so I scribed some circles and did forward edges.  Nice to see Katy K. at this session!

Today's lesson:

  • back push-off/hold  -- this is the exercise Danette gave me a couple of weeks ago.  Back push off as for a BO edge, hold the edge/flat along the boards and hold arms out along the boards.  The emphasis for this exercise is getting the twist in the upper body and holding the free foot in front; and getting the weight on the middle of the blade.  The RB edge is pretty easy, the LB is a lot harder as I don't normally push like that.
  • back edges -- we briefly ran through the BO and BI edges.  The BO edges are pretty nice, BI not bad.
  • BI push -- we spent some time working on the BI edge pushoff.  Danette drew an L on the ice and had me actually line my feet up along the L to get them closer together.  This was a bit unnerving at first but it improved after a while.
After our lesson I had about 20 minutes to work on other stuff, so I did FO8, FI8, and a waltz-8, then some more work on the exercises.

I had told Danette that I wanted to start off by working on fixing some of my basics, and in particular I mentioned 3s and the back mohawk/step forward.  I'm hopeful that if I can improve these basics that I will finally be able to make the progress I want.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

New Figures Coach

After some reflection and review, I've decided that Danette will be my new figures coach.

It wasn't an easy decision, and to be honest I don't think I could have gone wrong with either Tammy or Danette.  I think, though, that Danette will be a slightly better fit for me for figures, and so I texted her and told her we're on.  We'll start Thursday.  I saw Tammy at freestyle tonight and told her also, and of course she was gracious as always.  That's the mark of a quality coach!



I skated the Chandler 5:30 p.m. FS as usual tonight. I got my skates back yesterday so I finally got to skate freestyle again after about a week and a half.  Urph.

I was a bit rusty and it took a while to warm up.  I worked on Bronze Moves (yes, all of them).  Alas, getting my right blade moved (the front of the blade)  to the inside didn't magically solve my circle-8 RFO issues. 

After that I worked on spins.  I worked first on the the exercise Holly gave me, then spins from a standing start, then back to the exercise and back to the standing start.  The exercise is getting better -- I'm doing a much better job of keeping my hands up and in.   I got one really good spin from a standing start, the rest not so much; while I am doing better with my hands/arms (transference from the exercise, yay!) I'm having a hard time bringing my free leg in.  Urph.

I spent the last 5 minutes working on crossovers, and discovered that my clockwise FXOs are magically much better!  I do attribute this to the blade movement as I'm not fighting the edge anymore.  Yay!  They were really quite good -- a full cross and hold.  Nice.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Trial Figures Lesson #2 - Tammy

I had my second trial figures lesson today on the Chandler Ice Café, this time with Tammy.

I warmed up pretty much the same as last week -- scribed circles, edges, FO8 and FI8 and a little waltz-8.

Today's lesson:

  •  Background -- We had some discussions about goals and what I've done in the past, competition-wise.
  • FO8 -- a random layout.  Mostly okay but a little burble when I lost sight of center coming back on the R foot.  Like Danette,  Tammy commented that I tend to pass my foot very late.
  • FI8 -- a random layout again; pretty good except I hit some weird rut that slowed me way down so I didn't make it back to center on one of the LFIs - I had to push.  Yuck.
  • waltz-8 -- after a runthrough, we spent some time working on 3s.  Tammy suggested that instead of thinking "down-up-down" I try thinking "down-PRESS-down".  This did help some. 
  • 3s to center -- we did a few of these to explore my 3s.  They were about the same as before.

All in all it was a good lesson.  I'm not sure how to decide on this as both Danette and Tammy are good coaches and I wouldn't go wrong with either one.  It's nice to have options!  But difficult too.

In other news, I haven't skated this week as I am skateless -- I've been concerned about my R blade placement on my freestyle skates and so I gave them to Kelly on Saturday (he was at the competition) and he is going to move the front of the R blade a little to the inside, which should fix the skidding/chattering issue I've had when trying to do my circle-8 on that side.

Also Tammy mentioned that the 5:30 p.m. Tuesday FS is going to go away in the fall as it's been sold for hockey.  WAAAH!!  The one session I could reliably make it to as it was after work AND I am awake.  Oh well.  Also only two Ice Café sessions left before the summer break :-(.

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Friday, May 11, 2018


My lesson with Holly on the 8:15 FS at Gilbert, as usual.  I warmed up with the odd Bronze moves, and then a couple of jumps.

We spent our lesson on spins, again, just the exercise.  The first few were pretty good and then I started dropping my darn arms again instead of keeping them up. AGH.  We finally managed to fix that but it took a while.

I do think this approach will work.  It's going to take a while to train me out of bad habits, I think, but I think we can get there.  Yay!

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Thursday, May 10, 2018

Trial Figures Lesson #1 - Danette

I skated the Chandler Ice Café today for a trial figures lesson with Coach Danette.  I had about a half hour to warmup so I scribed some circles, did edges and FO8 and FI8.

Today's lesson:

  • FO8 -- we did a random layout.  It was about the same as usual, i.e. not bad, except that I didn't hold the free shoulder back on the last LFO and so I had major issues trying to control the last half of it... but I did.  Danette commented that I tend to pass my arms very late, which is true.
  • FI8 -- also a random layout.  The first set I had some issues because another skater and coach were coming into my path so I aborted. Started over again and they were much better.  Tracings were just okay -- I've certainly done better in the past, but acceptable.
  • waltz-8 -- Danette felt that we really needed to fix the 3s (it's true).  She asked me to start the circle pre-rotated.  It may help a bit, it's hard to say.  We then spent some time working on the BO edge, working to have a better position w/free leg in front.  She took me over to the boards and gave me an exercise to do to help me hold that position better.
  • BO8 -- I didn't want to spend all our time on waltz-8, so we finished with this. Amazingly enough to me, the RBO was really nice (both times I did it!).  Like, really nice!  The LBO was okay flow-wise but I was not tracking the circle well so I couldn't come back to center.

All in all it was a good lesson.  Danette seemed to really enjoy getting back into figures.  Kudos to her for the exercise she gave me.    I'm going to try to have another trial lesson next week and then I'll make a decision (there are only two coaches at Chandler that I'm trialing with for figures).

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Tuesday, May 08, 2018


I skated the 5:30 FS at Chandler for practice as usual.

I was feeling pretty rusty for whatever reason, so my warmup (stroking, crossovers) took longer than usual.  After that I spent about 25 minutes working on spins, both doing the exercise Holly gave me and working from a standing start.  The exercise is getting more comfortable, but it doesn't seem to be transferring to working from a standing start at this point.  I spent the last 5 minutes or so on waltz jumps and salchow.

Monday, May 07, 2018


Fifteen years ago today, I first set foot on the ice.  Wow!  To quote the Grateful Dead, what a long, strange trip it's been...

Fifteen years ago, I started off with learn to skate classes at the Ice-O-Plex in Tucson.  I had never been on the ice until the day of my first lesson -- in retrospect it seems odd, but that's really the way my mind works.  I want to learn the right way right off the bat.

In Tucson I took my first private lessons (with Anna Berry, now Anna Fritz).  I skated a lot and made good progress.

When I left Tucson and moved to Portland, I took a few lessons with a coach at Valley (Lucy), but after she left, I changed rinks to Sherwood Ice Arena and took on Sonya Bedient as my coach.  In some ways I regard this as the "golden age" of my skating.  Sonya was a perfect coach for me.  In this time I also started working with Kelli Clark on moves, and later I bought patch skates and starting working on figures.  I passed my Adult Pre-Bronze Moves test, and did my first competition (2008 Pacific Coast Adult Sectionals).

It's hard to believe that actually, now, the bulk of my skating has been here in Phoenix, where I moved in late 2009.  I started taking lessons with J.J. Barksdale, and worked with Lynne Petta on figures.  I passed my Adult Pre-Bronze Free Skate and began competing on a regular basis, both in freestyle and in figures.  More recently, after JJ stopped coaching I took on Holly Harrington as my freestyle coach (I had worked with her for quite some time as my power coach). 

That's the positive.

For the negative... I've had a broken (R) wrist, a broken left foot, and a broken left ankle.  I've had several serious (as in  off the ice for several weeks) soft tissue injuries.

I took the Bronze Moves test, but did not pass (I averaged .2 - .3 under on most moves).

Most frustrating, I feel like I'm stagnant.  I've been skating for 15 years, but my spins are at best quite short, and more often almost unrecognizable.  I have a waltz jump, a salchow that is sometimes a bit questionable, and a cheated toe loop.  I'm slow, and I look down at the ice way too much.

On the figures side, my FO8 and FI8 are pretty solid, but my waltz-8 (after something like 10 years!) remains weak and probably not passable for the Preliminary test.

When I started skating (at age 39) I hoped to have an axel by the time I was 50.  I'm well past that, and I have no real hope of landing an axel.  I would really like to have all the other single jumps, at least, but that seems out of reach with every passing year.  I've always come in last in my free skates, often to skaters who are competing for the first time and later move up to Bronze while I'm still APB.

I'm frustrated.  I am a slow learner, and I often lately feel like time is running out for me.

I don't expect an answer, and in some ways I am just venting to express those thoughts I don't often share.  I do, surprisingly, still have some hope -- I've been working on spins again with Holly and feel like the approach we are using now might bear fruit.  I am skating at least a little faster than I was, and most importantly, I do still enjoy skating.

So there it is.  A mixed bag, but that's the way life is sometimes.  Happy skativersary to me!

Friday, May 04, 2018


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

I warmed up with stroking. My L ankle was bugging me this morning at first but it got better eventually.

For today's lesson we worked just on spins.  Doing the exercise, and then picking up the free foot.  This did get better and I actually got one or two that looked like real spins!  For about 2-3 revs, but unlike my standing start or windup spins it was a nice, tight circle.  It's not at all consistent yet -- I am still dropping the free side a lot, and other issues.  Still, it's progress.

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Thursday, May 03, 2018

Patch Perseverance

I skated the Chandler Ice Café for patch practice.  Next week I'm hoping to start having trial lessons for a new figures coach, but for now I just was content to get on the ice and get some practice in.  I only skated for 45 minutes.

I worked on edges, FO8, FI8, BO8, and a little time just working on 3s.    BO8 was a bit rough, not as good as my (last) lesson with Lynne 2 weeks ago.  For the 3s I was just working on making a nice clean 3 and to have some control afterward.

Tuesday, May 01, 2018


I skated the 5:30 p.m. FS at Chandler for practice as usual.

It took me a while to get warmed up... I have not been skating a lot.  I ran through the "odd" Bronze moves, then spent a little more time working 5-step mohawk on a circle.  I need to do this more to get off my toe on the BO edge.

After that I spent 10 or 15 minutes working spins, both the spin exercise Holly gave me and just trying them from a standing start.  Not feeling like a lot of progress.  Oh well.

I spent the last 10 minutes or so working on jumps.  A really nice waltz jump (landing was on a nice solid edge, and jump came straight off the toepick), then some salchows.  First few were not so great but they did improve (though the landings were wonky).  Finally some toe loops that were all cheated, though the last one less so.