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.

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!

Three-Hawking – Practice 9th January 2012

We had an excellent ice dance session on Monday evening. It was all adult skaters, so was very friendly and considerate as a result.

Started with some swing rolls as warm up. I am still not happy with my left inside swing rolls, as I can’t seem to extend the free leg for long enough after the push because I feel unbalanced and need to draw the knee in quickly to make the curve without landing on my backside. So I’m really only getting half a swing. Can’t for the life of me work out why it’s different on that side to the other side. I think I will get coach to look at this on Wednesday.

We were able to get through a couple of sequences of the Swing Dance. It has its issues, but at least it’s mostly all together now. I still have trouble striking in the right place when forward facing. I know where I should be striking, and I can do it without problems at a slow speed, but in the dance itself there’s too much speed for me to strike accurately when I’m also constantly rushing in the effort to try and keep the hold vaguely close. Which also means I lean forward on the push, so my body isn’t in the desired position for waltz hold either. But I did do the mohawk vaguely in the right tempo once, which I guess is something at least.

Tried the Fiesta Tango as well. Having had the correction with regard to strength of the hold during the back runs last week, that part of the steps now feels much more stable, and I think the timing should now improve as a result. The cross-in-front-cross-behind still needs to cross and tuck propertly though. Didn’t get time to work on this in isolation again.

Did some more work on the Fourteen Step trying to get the timing right (still at a much slower tempo than the ‘real’ version of the dance). The outside mohawk started to go awry when we tried it at even a slightly faster tempo. As I can barely stand up on it anyway, getting it on the right beat at a slower pace is a major achievement. At a faster pace I believe I invented a new turn, which I have dubbed the ‘three-hawk’, as it’s the bastard child of a three turn and a mohawk. Needless to say, this is a habit I want to break very quickly, before I lose the ability to even do my poor version of an outside mohawk. Coach put on some music for us at one point, but it was too fast for me. I was actually getting most of the steps, but I balked at doing the outside mohawk at the speed required (was having one of those ‘if I do this I will die’ moments).

We did some beginner work on the Foxtrot as well, which I’ve tried before, but haven’t done in a while. The first part isn’t so bad – even the killer forward cross roll into three turn is manageable. It’s the backward cross roll that is the problem. I’ve never actually been taught these (mainly because solid back edges are essential first), so that was really woosy and not resembling a cross roll so much as a vague backwards cross behind. And of course there’s another outside mohawk. But I stumbled through it a few times, although it went severely to pot when we tried it in Foxtrot hold (I was in completely the wrong position for the outside mohawk – entirely my fault, but couldn’t seem to adjust in time).

So on the whole it was a good session, made more enjoyable by not having to keep out of the way of flying teens. Could do with more like that one, as I felt some actual progress was made. Now if I could just make progress on the things I actually have to work on for testing sooner rather than later!




First Skate of the New Year – 2 January 2012

The rink reopened today after the Christmas break. Not sure the rink was completely ready to reopen, as there were sections coned off near the barriers at one end where they clearly hadn’t finished doing maintenance. Upon closer inspection there was a sharp dip right next to the boards (i.e. a 5cm hole). Nevertheless, there was skating. We arrived early, as the normal Skate School session was not on due to school holidays, which turned it into a regular figure skating session, followed by the usual Monday evening dance session.

I can’t say it was my best skate ever. It wasn’t the break that was the issue – it was only a week and a half after all, and that usually doesn’t affect me (let’s face it, there’s not a lot to affect…). Just wasn’t in the right frame of mind. I think the return to skating had snuck up on me before I was ready.

The fresh ice did feel good to skate on though, nowhere near as hard as it usually is, so it felt more secure. I wish it was like this all the time!

Warmed up with some forward edges then did the Novice Foxtrot as an exercise (i.e. very slowly, just doing the steps). For those not in the know, the Novice Foxtrot is a beginner dance unknown outside the UK, and is ‘just’ progressives followed by swing rolls all the way around the rink. Fitting in the end pattern is tricky until you get the hang of it (and sometimes after you get the hang of it). It’s relatively easy when done slowly, but ridiculously difficult when done to the music, which makes me grateful that I will never have to do it to the music again. Unlike Rhythm Blues, however, which is also not in the Australian ice dance syllabus, I’m still happy to do the steps as an exercise, as it’s quite handy for practicing things like doing proper progressives and moving the arms into the correct position. Once I’d done that I did some three turns and mohawks near the barrier to get my eye in (or feet in, or something like that).

Moved on to practicing the edges for the Preliminary test. As I’ve no doubt said before, these are just rows of edges across the rink, starting as three consecutive lobes, followed by a full circle (with cross over at the half way point if needed), then two lobes coming back the other way, followed by a full circle on the other foot. My forward edges are fine in this regard (as they should be, given how much work I did on them with previous coaches), although they’ve been better in the past. My backward edges are still a disaster zone, and I really do despair of them, given how long I’ve been working on them – which must be going on about five years, admittedly with a long break before we moved countries. They just don’t feel safe – there’s really no other way to describe it. If they felt in any way secure I’d be a lot more confident in them. Did have a minor breakthrough with the back insides when told to lift my free hip, which made the lobes larger, but I fear these may not be ready for testing quickly (particularly as I was meant to have them test ready by Christmas, which they clearly are not).

Anyway, we moved on to doing the mohawks from the Swing Dance and Fiesta Tango. It does bother me that we never really do the Fiesta as a dance, we just do bits of it, which makes it much more problematic on the rare occasions when we do run through it in full. We do Swing Dance more often, but that’s easier to do in halves and put together.

Looked briefly at Fourteen Step, which we’re still doing hand in hand. I think I will make it an aim to try and look at doing this in proper hold by mid-year. Also looked at European Waltz three turns. I do not like the speed the builds up in that dance, or even just doing three turn, step forward on the circle. I just don’t like throwing myself into a three turn without being sure I’ll come out the other end.

As the session was quiet, we did the Dutch Waltz and Canasta Tango to the music, which went much as usual. I think we’ve now been doing these so long that I feel a bit stale, and it’s difficult to make further progress. Of course, maybe if I could get past that wretched Preliminary test, I’d be able to test these and put them behind me, but for now we have to keep them in order.

We also did a few other little things, like forward cross rolls, first in open hold, then in killian and then in foxtrot hold (hard!), and finished the session with some Russian stroking in killian hold, which I hadn’t done in ages, and actually quite enjoyed as a result.

All in all, not a great skate, but I guess it was adequate, and also very necessary with a lesson coming up on Wednesday.