Skating Year in Review

Due to the obliging nature of Coach1, there’s still actually one lesson to go for this year (yes, between Christmas and New Year), but this still seems a suitable time to look back at my skating year.

It’s definitely been one of ups and downs. Lost one coach, gained two. Learnt the steps to some relatively advanced dances (or parts thereof), and then went back to the beginning again to pull apart the basic ones and put them back together again. Decided to tackle the long abandoned preliminary edges for another attempt.

So where are we?

1) Tackling preliminary edges (again). Forward edges not bad. Backward ones still in a right old state.

2) Dutch Waltz and Canasta Tango. Coach picking on small things, which is a positive. These are in the ‘adequate’ category. Would likely pass as they are.

3) Swing Dance and Fiesta Tango: Need more work. Swing Dance in a better state, but need to fix the mohawk – it’s happening now, but it’s not in the right place in the pattern and is often still rushed. Fiesta end pattern is not great as it stands, although am not baulking at it, so that’s something.

4) Fourteen Step: Still nowhere near where it was a couple of years back. Will be a long time before it’s back up to speed in any sense.

So a bit of a mixed bag. Still nowhere near testing (stupid back edges). Still looking forward to the next year to see if improvements can be made. Aiming primarily at more confidence, which will hopefully help the rest.

Happy Skating New Year to all.


Going For It

Had what I considered a rough lesson last week, but Coach1 seemed happy with it.

From my point of view there were a number of wobbles on the Swing Dance, and I didn’t feel confident as a result. Coach said that she would rather see us ‘going for it’ and have those wobbles. Problem – I don’t really do ‘going for it’. It do analysis, choosing the best course of action, testing the waters and then acting on a set plan. Hmmm.

I understand where she is coming from, of course, but my natural caution, particularly when it comes to skating, says that stable is a really good thing!

On the up side, apparently I managed to look like I was enjoying the Dutch Waltz, which is an improvement over my normal expressions of either worried or petrified!

Cross at Cross Behinds

Really good lesson with Coach1 this week. One of those times when something a coach says suddenly makes everything fall into place. In this case it was “pressing down in the knee bend”. I’d of course heard “more knee bend” before (many, many, many times) and pressing down as well, but for some reason that particular way of phrasing things really helped my back swing rolls. They were more stable and even something approach the correct shape. Actual progress was made.

Picking on more small things in the basic dances now. A few small corrections on Canasta Tango, mainly on the end pattern and the re-start (although this is not the problem it used to be). Was also pleased that the mohawk in the Swing Dance turned out to be repeatable. I assume the next step is getting it in the right position on the pattern. Fiesta Tango is still quite dodgy. The end pattern is not particularly steady, and as for the cross behind….well it’s an issue.

And as it was an issue I decided I would ask Coach2 to help me with it. Oh my goodness, even more of a disaster than cross behinds are usually. Even stuck my toe pick into the ice (although I didn’t go down), which I haven’t done in forever. Needless to say we are completely changing the technique, and I just can’t get the hang of sliding my boot down my leg so it’s already crossed at the point I put my blade onto the ice. Just freaks me out. So a long way to go on that.

On the up side, back edges are showing incremental improvement, although of course I couldn’t reproduce the lightbulb moment from the back swing rolls when skating on my own. But apparently they were a bit more aggressive (or as much as anything I do in skating is aggressive), so that’s good. It’s mainly the outside ones that are the issue, the back insides are sort of coming, in that they get a bit bigger each week – just need to sort out the push between steps.

Anyway, pleased with the dances, not sure where I’m going with cross behinds, jury is out on edges!

Going Backward

So since my last post I’ve added Coach2. At the moment Coach1 will keep concentrating on the dances, whilst Coach2 has the unenviable task of trying to get my back edges and turns in order. Whether Coach2 survives this experience without going crazy remains to be seen.

Coach2 is currently reasonably happy with my forward edges, which I already knew just needed some solid practice and a few reminders regarding technique. I think they could still do with a bit more push, but they’ll do for the moment. Now the challenge is to translate what I’m doing forwards into backwards. If only it were that simple.

I think the back inside edges will come first, although again they need some work on the pushes, which I’m still afraid of doing properly. And haven’t even attempted the full circle at the end of the row yet. As for back outsides, “needs work” doesn’t even begin to describe them. Still, Coach2 is currently still trying to come up with new things that might, possibly, work. The jury is still out as to whether these will ever come good.

Moving onto turns, Coach2 is changing my mohawk technique so that they’re done all on bent legs, rather than rising in the middle.This seems to help, as I’ve started getting the mohawk consistently in the Swing Dance now. As for three turns, still pretty crappy, but I’m hopeful that they will improve with practice. Still having issues with holding the edge going into the turn, rather than just turning immediately.

Moving onto dances, we’re working on smaller tweaks for Dutch Waltz and Canasta Tango, which is a good sign, such as position of the body in the cross roll at the end of the Canasta, and in the restart. Swing Dance is slowly coming. Have almost eliminated the braking before the mohawk, although the speed continues to bother me for now. We’ve also done a bit of work on the Fiesta Tango. Now I really don’t like the mohawk in that, as I know things will be bad if it goes wrong. But at least it’s progress from the first two dances. Other than that, the basics are going reasonably well, with a noticable improvement in forward crossovers in particular.

So the theory is that one day I’ll pass that edges test and then be able to move onto the dances. I think others have more faith in that idea than I.


Well, I think my posture is going to improve pretty quickly under new coach. Not that I’m being told anything new, but lots of reinforcement of things I should know, but often can’t manage to do all at the same time. So, hips forward, relax the shoulders (yeees, it’s possible that could happen…maybe), head up (also dubious), strong frame. And then remember to do all the correct skating things – bend knees, up and down at the right points, strong pushes, bring feet close together before the next push (a quick boot to boot tap works for me with that last one).

More work on the basic dance components like edges, swing rolls, cross rolls. My inside swing rolls are feeling a lot more stable, and I’m sometimes even managing a backward leg stretch on the left one, instead of just bringing the free leg straight in. Crossovers/progressives are still in need of improvement, I fear, but as these are difficult to practice on even moderately busy sessions, that’s not really a surprise.

We ran through Dutch Waltz again, including to music, which somehow felt a lot faster than normal, even though it’s not like¬† I haven’t done this recently. Not sure what’s going on there. Also looked at Canasta Tango briefly, which wasn’t too bad, and even managed to get a smidgin of edge in the slide chasses. Finished off with some chasses in preparation for Swing Dance. These were suprisingly okay, even though I was going backwards. I’ve certainly done them a lot flatter in the past, so maybe Swing Dance at the very end of a session is the way to go!

Back to Basics

So, the first lesson with new coach went quite well.

As expected, we worked on a lot of basic stuff, which was a good thing, as that all needs to be right for everything else to follow. I also quite like just doing edges, chasses and so on every now and then, as it’s sometimes nice to do some easier stuff well (or relatively well anyway). Was also the first time in a long time I was skating with partner who wasn’t a coach, so there was a height adjustment there, but this didn’t go anywhere near as badly as I’d feared.

We started with outside and inside swing rolls in killian hold, mainly working on getting the hold solid, and a little bit on extension. Moved on to edges in waltz hold, forward and backward – more corrections to hold (mostly mine – applying pressure where needed, arm position). Chasses went pretty well, even backwards, which could have gone horribly wrong, as my backward chasses are normally ridiculously shallow. Did some progressives in open hold, which were okay, considering it’s some time since I actually practiced them, though we only did them in the ‘good’ direction. Followed up with some crossovers in killian (never have managed progressives in a closer hold).

Ran through Dutch Waltz a few times, which went fine (it would bloody want to be – I’ve been working on it for long enough!). Had some small corrections of course, but nothing major.

Finished with cross rolls – these still need a lot of work, but that wans’t news. Backward cross rolls was where the big revelation occured. New coach suggested I flex my free foot before placing it, and oh my goodness, it got rid of all the scary toe pick jab, and they started to even feel vaguely stable (not stable enough to want to do them on my own, but less grip of death). Wonderful!

There was also a little bit of work on back edges, but less said about this the better (no change there then).

Anyway, pretty happy with how it all went.




Hello Blog, Long Time No Post

So my last post was in December 2012. There were a few things that stopped me posting at that point, not all of them involving sheer laziness.

First the rink closed for planned maintenance. Then, less than a week after it reopened, there was a fire in a storeroom and it was shut again for just over six months. Of course arrangements were made for people to train at other rinks during that time, but these didn’t really work for me, for a variety of reasons largely irrelevant at this point.

Once the rink reopened, I’d missed a lot of time, and even now, almost a year down the track, I still don’t feel like my skating is back to where it was before the long break. A level of confidence (never great in the first place) has gone, along with some skills that were improving. To be more specific, Swing Dance mohawk has never consistently returned, and I can no longer do the Fourteen Step to proper speed. I don’t belive I’ve even attempted Foxtrot since I last blogged about it.¬† On the up side, I’ve finally got the hang of the re-start on the Canasta Tango.

I’d really been waiting till everything was back to where it was before starting to write about skating again, but it just hasn’t happened yet. So why now?

Well, my coach has decided to stop coaching. It wasn’t actually that much of a surprise when he announced it, but I was still sad. There was also a very strong pull to perhaps look at this as a sign, and decide this was a good time for me to stop skating as well. There was, however, the prospect of new coaches, and it certainly wasn’t a case of not enjoying the skating, so I was unsure of what to do. My final lesson with coach was quite a good one (even my twizzly things were pretty solid), which you’d think would make the decision to continue easy, but my brain doesn’t work that way. Instead I wondered if the combination of stopping when things were going well, and I had positve associations with the sport, was perhaps a good time to stop. I was still a mass of indecision.

Anyway, to cut a long story and lots of angst short, first lesson with new coach is coming up in a few days time. I suspect we’ll be going right back to basics (and it will be a very, very long time before anyone lets me play around with the Paso Doble again), and I’ll have to learn to do things on my own again without having a helping hand. At the moment I still have mixed feelings, but am prepared to give the new arrangement a go.

All of which is a long winded way of saying that, with a new beginning, it seems like a good time to start logging progress again. Let’s see how long it all lasts!