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!

Edging Away – Practice Monday 11th April 2012

An hour’s solid practice today. Didn’t make much progress, but did a lot of practice.

Spent quite some time on back edges. Every time someone breaks these down for me in a new way and we start from scratch again I feel like I move further and further away from actually being able to just do them. Today was trying to get the push in the right direction, even if I then went around the curve on two feet. And looking up. But I didn’t do that. Just can’t put everything together at the same time. I can do the edge, or I can go in the right direction, or I can push. Add in the distraction of trying not to be run into/run into anyone and they’re hopeless pretty quickly.

Tried spinning for the first time in ages. Nope, still can’t spin. I think this is something that is forever destined to remain a mystery to me. I can’t even see how one can possibly spin. I can squeak out two revolutions of a two foot spin at most.

Three turns. Good if I’m hanging onto someone. Useless otherwise.

Mohawks. See Three turns.

Fourteen step. Getting better (so long as not done to time).

Beginner Twizzle Exercise: this is the two foot version, doing a 360. Think I am sometimes getting the right spot on the blade now, which is good and not too scary. Had some help trying these on one foot as well (actually more like double three turns, rather than twizzles as such). Came tantalisingly close to getting the balance right, but tending to drop my free hip at the wrong moment and not being quite over the skating foot. Fun to try the not-really-twizzles as there’s no actual pressure to get them right at this stage.

So a mixed bag. Looking forward to the day when I begin to make progress again!

The Big Sigh – Lesson Wednesday 21 March 2012

Coach says he would like to get through an entire half hour lesson without The Big Sigh. The Big Sigh is the intake and release of breath I do when he asks me to do something I find difficult/dread/don’t want to do. It’s a ‘bracing myself’ thing, and isn’t necessarily conscious. I think he may be waiting a long time, because there’s a LOT of things that make me nervous.

It’s not always the moves I’m being asked to do that make me nervous, it’s being asked to do them during the session where we have our lesson. It’s hard because I need to pay so much attention to what’s going on around me that it’s virtually impossible to concentrate on what I’m meant to be doing, with the inevitable result that I don’t perform anything well. Combine it with something that’s actually difficult for me, and I never get anything. Result: stalled progress.

Anyway, back to the lesson.

Gaggle of blind children had to be shouted at to get out of our way whilst doing the Dutch Waltz to the music, and wearing the Yellow Jacket of Invisitiblity. At least they scattered the second time round (no, they weren’t really blind, just don’t see how they could manage to have missed seeing us).

Swing Dance mohawks happened, after a fashion. Think the rest of the dance is going backwards though – I certainly don’t feel confident in it at the moment. I need time to think about the steps and it’s time I don’t have.

Fourteen Step (actually done in practice after the lesson) – starting to come dangerously close to jamming the toe pick into the ice on the cross behind. This will be fatal to me ever getting this dance properly if it happens. So need to nip that in the bud.

Back outside edges: as usual, these are fine if I’m hanging on to someone, but disastrous on my own. I would actually prefer not to be offered a hand, because it’s pointless. After all this time, it’s perfectly obvious I can’t transition between the hand holding and doing the edges on my own. So probably best to just abandon the hand (I’d prefer to just abandon the edges).

“Twizzles”: this isin quote marks because they’re nothing resembling actual twizzles. This was the attempt to move my 360 degree two foot turns (well, this is more accurately two succeeding 180 degree turns, but I won’t split hairs) to one foot. Quite fun to try whilst supported by either coach or barrier. Not going to be happening without either of those in a hurry, and of course I can’t do back three turns, which is the actual pre-requisite for twizzles. Happy to mess with this, but under no illusions about what they actually are.

Feeling fed up and like I’m not making progress at the moment.

Swing Mohawks – Practice Monday 19th March 2012

A mixed session this evening.

Started the session with some stroking, cross rolls and swing rolls in various holds, including back swing rolls (a bit flat) and back chasses, attempting (partially successfully) to get some proper edges into them. Still do not feel at all confident on the backward moves – they just don’t feel stable or controlled.

Went on to practice the mohawk from the Swing Dance in isolation, as this now needs work again, after a longish break from practicing it. We had some success with this,  getting it to come further around the corner (and further round the partner!), meaning the following steps are closer to being in the right position on the rink than previously. So that is progress anyway. Of course, there’s a huge gulf between practicing it slowly on its own, and practicing it in the context of the dance to the music. Have to start somwhere though.

Worked a little bit on edges. Did some nice back inside edges of a quality that never comes out when coach is present. Back outsides still a long way from anywhere though.

Practiced some turns near the barrier to make sure I could still do them.

Dancing Again – Lesson Wednesday 7th March 2012

First lesson in a while with partner, following him breaking in new boots.

I was quite nervous, as he’d been saying he wasn’t able to confidentaly stop on the new blades, and normally I rely on him to stop us both when going backwards at a faster speed than I’m comfortable stopping myself. It wasn’t the best lesson as a result. Although there were less skaters than usual on the session, the ones that were there were taking advantage of the space and were flying about like nobody’s business, so I could see potential collisions everywhere.

Anyway, I’m please to say that we stumbled our way around the Swing Dance without incident. The mohawk happened (twice!) although it wasn’t anywhere resembling on time and wasn’t pretty. Coach seemed very pleased with the second mohawk I did, but that didn’t make me very happy because I’d almost fallen on it from twisting my toe pick on the ice before the turn.

We skipped Fiesta Tango as we hadn’t done it in ages, and not at all with partner’s new boots/blades.  Opted for Canasta Tango instead, which was fine apart from having to avoid traffic (we were on the music and wearing the fluoro vests of invisibility). Coach would still like the cross-roll swing to be better, but it was mostly good.

Also did the Fourteen Step to slower tempo music. It’s still pretty crap, particularly the outside mohawk, but all the steps are there, so that’s something. We went through the shoulder position required for the outside mohawk afterwards, which makes it easier, if I can only remember in context.

Remembered to ask coach about inside three turns. I was mistaken – he does want the arm position to start the same way as I’m accustomed to, but then wants them to swing round with the turn, which is not something I’d encountered before. In practice afterwards it did seem to help.

After the lesson, we did do the Fiesta Tango twice through and nobody died, although it has of course gone backwards after the long break.

Did edges as well, but the less said about those the better.