Video

Back From Injury

4 Dec

I finally stepped foot on ice today for the first time in 7 1/2 months. After a VERY long rehab (which is still ongoing) I decided it was time to try and skate even though I said I wouldn’t. I was terrified, excited and well…again, terrified.

I was going to write a really long blog post about my injury and recovery  but decided I would just make a little video of the last 7 months. Short and sweet.

Thanks to C. for taking the pics and video on the ice today. Hopefully there will be more to come in the future as I am able to skate more.

You’ll see that I’m pretty wobbly in the end videos but I have this huge smile on my face. Some things never change.

 

 

Happy Skating and Happy Holidays!

 

 

 

 

 

Oops, I did it AGAIN.

21 May

Broke my leg, AGAIN, that is.

I’m sure it didn’t look as dramatic as this but it is very close to how I felt.

The words “toe pick”  have a whole new meaning for me now though. For fans of The Cutting Edge … can’t you just hear Moira Kelly aka Kate Mosley singing those two words?

For those interested in the gory details, I broke my leg by catching my toe pick in the ice while doing a back inside three turn pattern in a lesson. My body kept going and my toe pick kept sticking until I wrenched it out of the ice and fell hard to the side. I didn’t feel the fall at all, just the foot and ankle wrench. This proves that having extra fat on your body is a good thing in skating as it completely absorbs the shock from falls. Butt? Chest? Tons of cushion. Leg? Not so much.

The last time I broke my leg it felt so much worse then this that I thought I might have just wrenched my ankle terribly. Nope, no such luck. I did much more than that. Note to all skaters: If you fall and think you broke or sprained anything have the boot removed from your foot immediately before you even leave the ice. I remembered that from last time and that was the first thing I did when I hit the ice. You can’t feel anything right afterwards so that is the best time to remove it. Otherwise, you are going to be in trouble with a capital T. As it was I had to cut my favorite skate pants off later to get them off my leg.

RIP favorite tight skate pants. Sniff.

So, it’s been about a month now since that fateful day. I broke both my fibula and the top part of my ankle along with tearing some ligaments. I had surgery 2 weeks after to stabilize the breaks (that sucked) and now, here I am, sitting pretty with a fashion forward black boot that I can pump up with a big blue button at will. It sounds awesome, I know, but trust me, it has it’s drawbacks.

For one, I can’t tell you how many times people have asked me if I hurt myself doing a triple axel. All non-skaters obviously. At first, I tried to explain exactly what I did and eyes would just glaze over. Now I save my breath and just say, YES, that’s exactly what I did, a triple axel broke my leg. So much more believable. It’s crazy, no one even questions it.

Now, it will be another 4 weeks before I can put weight on the leg and another 4-6 weeks before I’m out of my walking boot. Until then, I’ve invested heavily in what I call anti-anxiety & boredom medication aka beer. HA. Just kidding. Well, sort of. I temper it with food and this thing called ice cream. Extremely addicting. If anyone is wondering, Coldstone’s “The Pie Who Loved Me” is the absolute best. That pie loves me long time, people!

I do miss skating A LOT and my skating buddies. I miss flying around the rink and working on all those spins that I was finally figuring out how to do but I also miss that thing called WALKING the most. My arms are getting pretty ripped from those crutches though. That’s a plus and my left leg is super skinny. Sorry Kate Moss, my leg IS skinnier than yours at this point.

All kidding aside, I guess this is the risk you take whenever you play any sport especially one that requires sharp blades and a stiff boot. Right now, all I know is that I pushed myself to my limits this year trying to achieve everything I wanted to learn in skating, competed, tested and I did not hold back on anything (obviously ;)) I’m happy with that..for now.

Who knows if I will return to the ice after this break though. I don’t know. It’s an important question I’ve asked myself but it’s something I’ll think about later on down the road. Like, when I’m walking. Until then, that thing that looks like melted ice to us skaters… you know, the pool? Looks pretty darn good right now. I think I’m going to go try that for awhile. I’ll save the triple axel for later….and my legs!

To everyone else, happy skating this summer y’all!

Sit Change Sit Success! WOOHOO!

8 Apr

The last two weeks, I’ve been very focused on cleaning up my sit spin, making my camel consistent and trying to finally get my sit change sit spin. I revisited the sit change back sit a few months ago and up until 2 weeks ago I was only practicing it every once in awhile. However, in the past few weeks I’ve been spin crazy and I have been completely laser focused on getting a consistent sit change sit.

My issues with this spin centers on the back upright spin which I have never cared for very much. The back spin headlines my top 3 list for most feared figure skating elements. Why? Because I can’t get out of the damn thing. I get stuck in the back spin with my legs glued together and I have a very hard time pushing out of it. Falling backwards is my main concern and because I am relatively tall at 5’7″ this seems like it might hurt a lot. In fact, it does. I’ve taken many a fall like this so I avoid it like the plague unless I absolutely have to practice it. So my latest brilliant thought was why not focus on the back sit? It will help me with my back scratch exit and as I’m much closer to the ground I can fall out of it as much as I like without hurting myself. So that it exactly what I did. I have been obsessed with this spin and it has been non-stop spinning action on every practice session.

Some things my coach has me focus on to help with the sit change sit are as follows:

1. Not scraping my toe and not rushing the entrance. Letting the edge curve around ( or scoop) before stepping into the three turn.

2. Keeping both my left and right elbow pointed out when I am in either spin on the skating knee. 

3. Leaning forward or hinging at the hips in the spin. I think of this also for the camel spin as well. As it turns out, this is key for me when I change to the back sit. If I’m not hinging way forward on the back sit then there is nothing to balance out my big ol’ butt and I go flying backwards. So I really work on hinging forward on the front sit so I can easily just switch legs to the back sit without losing my balance.

4. Most importantly, (and still working on perfecting this) exit the back sit by pushing forward onto the toe like a back power pull, letting the back free leg swing out straight behind and again keeping the upper body forward hinged at the hips. The back leg should go straight out behind just like in a spiral but not really. Just think like you are doing a back spiral and then your leg will straighten out to allow you to exit the back spin. ( I have yet to experience the full effects of this but I’m working on it!)

5.  Work on quick change foot upright spins with arms open. First back upright, arms open, touch free foot in front to skating foot (maybe 2 revs) then switch to forward upright, touch feet crossed, arms open then repeat over and over 4-5 times. I just managed to do this the other day. It’s actually kind of fun once you get past the thought you might kill yourself doing it.

So, I have been doing 20-30 sit change sit spins on practice ice the past two weeks and the work has finally paid off. I still fall out of it and I still have some trouble getting out of the spin but I am actually rotating and pulling out of the back sit more times than not. This is after many, many, many, many falls. We are talking mucho falls until my lesson this morning.

My stats as of this morning were 4 out of 5 sit change sits were successful! YES! YES! YES! I’m very excited. So excited by this fact that I made a little progression video featuring my sit spin and sit change sit spin over the years. It’s not throwback Thursday yet but I’m still throwing it back all the way to 2007 today!

It’s just a reminder to me of how much time and energy has gone into this and also, that if you try hard, practice hard, and want it enough, you can eventually achieve your skating goals or any skating goals for that matter!

Enjoy!

Breaking Bad… Sit Spin Techniques

31 Mar

Normally this wouldn’t even be a topic. I’m good at sit spins. They are relatively easy and I’ve been doing them for at least 10 years. It’s one of those elements that I choose to do first when I’m nervous or having an off day and it is still fine. I can always do a sit but.. and this is a big BUT (ha, no pun intended) my coach did not agree with the technique on my sit spin. It’s centered, it’s low enough (for an adult, anyway) but she disliked my free leg position which is glued to my skating leg and at the same level as my skating knee.

Don’t know what I’m talking about? View the video below, this is similar to how my coach would like it.

Perhaps this is a technique thing because I certainly see a lot of adult skaters and figure skaters in general clamping their thighs shut when performing the sit. I was always told by my previous coaches to glue my legs together, making them seamless and then to turn my foot out. I listened and therefore, my legs are glued and free foot is turned. Not so, she says. Not so unless you are in a cannonball sit. DO turn out the foot but DO NOT glue your inner thighs together. Let your free leg hang open and touch the ankle of your skating boot with the free skating boot so that there is an opening between the two legs. Not only that, spin with the free arm straight out and the skating side hand (elbow out) on your knee.

What the &%!? Huh??

Ok, so at first I was skeptical. How can this be so completely opposite of what I have learned before and still work? I always spin with my hands straight out in front and together, one hand over the other pressing down.  I mean that’s just basic sit spin technique. Everyone knows that! Or do they?

Perhaps this is an American skating thing then? Maybe. My coach is not from this country so there is a big difference in technique in some things, not many things, but this is definitely one of them. I do see this sit spin technique at adult competitions and even with the amateur skaters but by far I see the other technique (glued legs shut, arms out), at least in the northeast.

So, I had to make a choice a few months ago to either reject the new sit spin technique or embrace it. I think skaters go through this a lot. You spend all this time on something and then you move, take a break, injure yourself, have a falling out etc. and then start again with a new coach and end up having to learn new techniques. I think for adults this can be a little more trying because we are so set in our ways and it also takes us so darn long to learn anything in the first place!

So what did I do?

Ultimately, I believe that if you are going to work with a coach you need to commit to his/her way of teaching. What did the Russian coach say in The Cutting Edge when he wanted them to try that crazy made up move where Moira Kelly was basically bouncing her face off the ice?

“Is no halfway. Halfway is bull shit! You go halfway, you get hurt!”

Yeah, agreed, Mr. Cutting Edge Russian Coach. Although, personally, I would never commit to having my body bounced and then thrown into the air by some ex-hockey player like Moira Kelly’s character. As they say, that shit cray. I would probably bail on that one.

Seriously though, I think you’ve got to commit to the style of the coach you are learning from. I think it all connects anyway and unless you are absolutely perfect at that element you can always learn a better way to do something. You have to at least try to learn the new way and if it doesn’t work out then you can question it but typically I feel that it usually works out better when you do commit. It’s like building blocks for the harder things that you learn from that coach.

So, I’ve been working on this new sit technique sporadically over the last couple months realizing that why, yes, putting my left hand on my left knee is actually allowing me to spin much lower. Holy crap, how about that?!  I’m also spinning a little faster with the free leg more relaxed. My back sit spin is actually spinning lower than the forward sit at times. How crazy is that? Well, not too crazy since that’s my good knee but still, wow! As long as I let that free leg relax and cross at the ankle, this spin rotates pretty easily.

Good things really do come out of changes of technique and an open mind, even in skating.

Till next time… Happy Skating!

Adult Eastern Sectionals and The Joy of Competition

17 Mar

Fiance (doesn’t he look enthralled?) and I after the Freeskate competition

The last time I competed it was at 2008 Adult Nationals and in that time adult competition has not really changed but, oh man, my body definitely did!

Seven years ago I did not have to conserve energy on practice ice an hour and a half before I competed. I did not have to stretch and restretch before and after practice sessions and again, just before the competition. And I definitely did not have to carefully monitor the swelling behind my bad knee just before I went on warm up. With all this though, one thing did not change about competing. I loved it. I absolutely loved stepping on the empty ice to compete in front of a crowd of people (small but nevertheless a crowd) and of course, the judges. The judges in a competition are incidental to me, they are part of the crowd, another area of the arena to impress. Unlike a test, where the goal is to pass, in a competition I’m essentially trying to outperform myself and others as well as interpret the music to the absolute fullest. It’s why I love skating so much. That exhibitionist part of me just loves, loves, LOVES, putting on a show, pretending that I am better then I am and exceeding my physical limitations. This time was no different, it wasn’t a perfect performance by any means but the feeling of just pure adrenaline and enjoyment as I stepped out on the ice to challenge myself to not be afraid, perform and to really put my skills to the test is exactly why I wanted to compete again.

Overall, I placed 4th in the Bronze Freeskate and 2nd in Bronze Compulsory.  I think it was a good showing considering I didn’t start training for it until 6 weeks ago. I had a few “uh oh” moments during my freeskate which I wish I could take back but overall it was a solid skate. I shoved my toe pick in the ice coming down from the camel into the sit spin and I had a very wobbly catch foot spin from my sit. My flip was probably the tiniest flip I have ever done without actually falling on it and I was so annoyed by the missed sit spin that I forgot where I was for a second in my foot work. That aside, the performance was good. I remember thinking during the program that if I smiled anymore my face would break. I just could not stop!

I actually saw two skaters that I had competed against in 2008 in the locker rooms. Skating is such a small, small world.  I also met a few new people both in the stands and while waiting to take the ice for competition. I met another skater up in the stands throwing rubber duckies at the sweepers ( for the skaters ; ) and sipping wine from the bottle. My fiance was slightly disturbed, I thought it was hilarious. They were rubber ducks, no one was going to get hurt except for maybe the ducks!

My grandparents, friend and fiance were all in attendance and we had a great time celebrating afterwards. Maybe a little too much, because the next day for compulsories I was just a tad bit wobbly ; )

For anyone, who has not competed at any adult competition I would encourage you to try it out just for fun. Not everyone enjoys exhibiting themselves in front of a crowd but the camaraderie among the other skaters as well as the chance to feel just a tiny bit like your favorite skaters on tv is definitely worth it. There is no pass or fail in a competition and I can honestly say that it will probably make you a better skater overall. Plus, you get to wear a really sparkly costume which obviously makes everything better! I promise it’s not at all like testing and the worst that can happen is that people pelt you with a rubber duck. How can anyone say no to that?

Till next time….Happy Skating!

 

 

Lutz Fake Out

19 Feb

It’s been awhile since I’ve updated and while I did take a brief break from skating back in November following my Silver moves test (one pass and 2 retries, boooo! more on that later) I’ve been hard at work on some of my freestyle elements.

I decided it was time to have some fun and do something other than just moves for awhile. Make no mistake though, I will be back to the grind again on those patterns to retest and I’ve even incorporated some of those moves in my warm up, but for now, it’s all about improving my basic skating skills and linking the freestyle elements together.

In addition, I’ve also decided last minute to compete at eastern sectionals in the bronze freestyle and compulsory category. My original goal was to compete at silver but since I still have to retry the silver moves I figured I would give my old bronze program one last hurrah. Kind of a final farewell and hello at the same time. The last time I competed was 7 years ago at the Adult Nationals in Lake Placid so, it’s hello competition again and farewell bronze because after this I will be solely working on finishing my silver program. In the meantime, I’ve added my camel sit change sit to the program as well as my layback and lutz to test out the elements for silver. It’s going to be interesting to see if my body holds together (aka knees) long enough to practice freestyle on a regular basis!

So, let’s get right into today’s lesson, lutz and flip! My two not favorite jumps. If you are a toe jumper I really, really envy you and… I may hate you a teensy bit ; )

On to the lesson:

Flip Jump (left 3 turn entrance with push):

These were ok today, I still have a tendency to draw my picking leg in at the last minute as well as to hesitate. I need to work a lot on bending my skating leg before picking in.

1. Strong entrance push from the right leg to turn the 3 turn.

2. Hold arms still and open to the right.

3. Extend free leg and bend very deeply on the left leg (skating leg). Bend even more than you think you can bend when backwards and then pick in with more force.

4. Keep right arm up and don’t let arms drop on the landing.

5. Strong check on the landing with arms up and out.

Lutz or as I like to call it “My fake out jump”:

So, this is my fake out jump because I have a small pause just after I pick in which allows me to turn on my toe pick and do more like a loop rather than a lutz. Bam. Fake out! Eh. It’s definitely a work in progress. My coach says I should be happy with this progress though since not too long ago I could barely do a good flip let alone a lutz so she feels this is moving along ok even with the delay in picking.

1. Work on the entrance edge, always start crossovers from behind the blue line on the other side of the rink (the one on the other side of the circle from your lutz corner)

2. Crossovers behind the blue line should start closer to the side of the rink. Two cross overs and then skate close to the boards for a right inside edge sweep (I’m not sure what to call this?) then lift left leg high, look to the inside and straighten out for preparation for the jump.

3. Arms held straight out over the left side, head looking slightly left, right foot to the front of skating leg as you slowly bring your arms to the front (keeping the arms up, do not drop them by the sides!) while the free foot slowly moves to the back of the skating leg with the arms moving eventually out to the right side (again, do not let them drop to the sides).

4. Head should face forward or slightly to the left just before you jump.

5. Very strong pick in on straight free leg.

Here is a good example of the lutz entry set up I’m doing by MK, just picture it being a single and slower!

All in all, I think my lutz was much better today than 2 weeks ago. I was dropping my left arm to my side instead of keeping it straight out in the beginning and I was also looking way to the right. My coach does not want me to look to the right behind me because much more advanced skaters will do this when they are very sure of the jump. She feels looking to the right makes it harder to jump to the left (further to rotate). So, I’m working on looking to the left because I was looking way to the right just before jumping.

So far, so good. Now, I just have to put it into practice!

Happy Skating!

Skating On The Sharpened Edge

3 Nov

Figure Skating Practice...so true

My favorite skating quote. 

However, right now, I have a confession to make…

I just had my skates sharpened after…gulp… A YEAR!

Yes, it’s true. I waited a whole friggen year to sharpen them. I’ve been averaging at least 6 hours of skating time a week if not more for the past few 10 months. I’ve been noticing some serious skidding on simple edges for the past month and knew I couldn’t put it off any longer. I actually like having my skates sharpened but as the trip is about an hour and a half to the skate sharpener and I usually have to plan about 2 weeks in advance for the appointment, I tend to put it off. This time I really dropped the ball and pushed it way back.  I really wish now I hadn’t.

I take my silver test in exactly 3 1/2 weeks and this morning I spent a lot of time just figuring out how to stop. HA. I’m serious. My blades must have been so dull that now it’s like the blades are extremely sharp. I told Mike (skate sharpener) that I was taking a moves test and he even took the sharpening down a notch. Right now, it’s like I’m skating on completely new blades. T-stop? Non-existent. Back stop? Please. There had better not be anyone right behind me because I will plow right through them. I’m afraid to put the brakes on completely because these things stop completely so I end up skidding a bit. Did I mention that I broke my leg years ago on a front T-stop going too fast? Oh, yes, dragged my leg all the way around and snapped my Tibia. Hence, the freak out on stopping.

I’m trying to laugh and not panic right now. The good news is that things that seemed to take so much energy now take nothing at all. The edge just works. My cross strokes, crossovers, camel spins and spirals all benefited. Before, I was wondering what was wrong with me that I could not hold my spiral edges without a lot of effort whereas months ago it was never even an issue. Now, I know why. DUH.

Also this morning, while hesitant, I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to just gently rock from side to side in the power pulls. Same thing with the back cross strokes, so easy. Nothing takes as much effort including the three turns. However, now I have to adjust my rhythm, push and timing on the three turns. I am way off on on both three turn patterns. I worked really hard to at least feeling somewhat comfortable going in and out of them, not perfect, but at least somewhat controlled. Now, it’s hit or miss again. I’m rocking way up to my toe to turn my back inside three turns, I think leaning too much. I was doing that a little bit anyway and now it is exaggerated and scary to be rocking towards the toe and almost tripping.

It’s so frustrating because I know that means I really didn’t have these moves under control anyway if sharpening my blades caused the turns to be as bad as they were this morning.  So, back to the drawing board I go. I’m not sure if this is going to be under control by the test but I’m going to have to work extremely hard to get everything back to where they were and then some. Oh yeah, and to be able to stop. Especially on the 8 step sequence. I’m like a freight train that gets up to full speed and then can’t stop…everyone on the ice around me should be running for their lives… or skating!

So we will see how things go in the next three weeks.

Until then, some notes from my last lesson on both of the Silver 3 Turn Patterns are below:

1. Look where you are going on the Fwd 3 turn. Always. Not down and not straight ahead  (that is not where you are going) this will place the turn in the middle of the pattern automatically.

2. On the back 3 you should always have your head turned to look over your shoulder, Free arm firmly back.

2. Bend the knee when coming in and out of the 3 turns greatly.

3. Keep the free leg close on both fwd and back 3 turns.

Happy Skating!