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New Skates! – Part 2

29 Oct

Since I had broken my leg twice in Riedells I felt like it was probably time to make a change. This is not to say I blame the break on the Riedells but I wanted to make a clean break (no pun intended, ha!) from the old and have absolutely no doubts about the boots.

In between my Riedell’s, I wore Jackson’s for about 6 years and liked them well enough. They gave me a little more height on my jumps since the heel was a little higher. However, I have a narrow foot so I was always told to go to Reidell’s first and that was why I went back. Now, however, I was looking for boots not only for narrow feet but also for flat, pronating feet. When I say pronating, I mean extreme pronation. This actually led me to Edea’s which I had an extreme aversion to in the past because I honestly thought they were the ugliest skates on the planet. I think this is because I would see some skaters on tv wearing them and all I could think of was concrete boots. I think this was because of the lighter colored heel which made them look a lot like hockey skates.

 

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This is probably a good example of why at first I did not like these skates, for the smaller skaters, I feel like they can look almost too big and bulky. (This is Satoko Miyahara,  a lovely skater from Japan)

 

That being said, I had heard they were extremely comfortable, good for narrow feet and allowed for more of a knee bend thereby decreasing the likelihood of injury. It seemed like a lot of adults were having a fair amount of luck in them so I decided I would give them a try. I also had heard that you could not overboot in Edea’s because of this.

 

Only a few skate shops in the area had the Edea’s and out of those only two shops had skates to actually try on and it was the lower model. I would have to special order the actual boot I wanted and then try that on once it came in to make a decision. I went, I tried and I was in heaven. I couldn’t even believe how comfy this boot was! It was crazy. Mike, the person who fitted me told me they made him try on a pair when they went through training and he said, they were so comfortable that they felt like hockey skates!

I’ve told my husband time and time again, if the boots aren’t at least a little uncomfortable and tight then they are probably not the right size or the right boot. It was insane how they almost felt like street shoes. This also freaked me out. What figure skate feels good the first time you wear it?? Usually breaking in skates results in some type of pain or uncomfortableness (blisters, sore spots etc) as you break in the leather. It was so easy to put them on that it threw me off. Could this be right? Could figure skates be comfy when you first purchase them? What a weird idea.

With Edea’s there is a whole methodology about tying your laces and the wearing of the boot. Instead of your boot creasing as you break them in at the ankle, the laces are the ones that actually stretch and flex with your foot/ankle/knee. Along with that, you should never tie your laces tight around the top of the boot, they should be almost loose to allow for your knee and ankle bend. This, as it turns out, was the most freaky part of these skates but I digress.

The skates I ended up ordering to try were the Chorus.

 

First try on without blades mounted.

 

I kept my old blades as they still had a lot of life. Plus, as I am already skating challenged these days ; ) I wanted to make the break in as easy as possible. At the shop, I initially tried on the Motivo to see if I would even be interested in ordering the Chorus to try on. The Motivo has a stiffness rating of 45 I believe so yes, I knew this was going to be a lot less boot compared to the Chorus. As I am 5’7″ and not light as a feather, a stiffness rating of 70 seemed to be a better fit. That and I’ve been skating for a good 15 years. While I have no double jumps to speak of, I am not in any way a tentative skater. This made the Chorus vs. the Overture (with a stiffness rating of 48) a good fit for me. Not too stiff and not too soft. I don’t want to break them in and then have to purchase new ones in a years time nor do I want to kill myself breaking them in (Piano’s & Ice Fly’s) with the injuries I’ve already had!

As it turns out when the boots came in, the Chorus felt just as amazing and I will not lie, they were gorgeous. I couldn’t believe how pretty these skates were. I mean these are figure skates, right? Gone were my thoughts of the ugly lighter colored heel and concrete block shoes that I’ve always remarked on when I saw other skaters wear them.  These skates had a champagne heel with crystals on the boot.  Say what??! My graphic designer mind went into overdrive. Who knew skates could be both practical and gorgeous?  I’m a sucker for pretty colors and bling and yes, I fell in love.  My husband thinks I’m insane but I admit to being completely obsessed when I saw them. They felt great, looked amazing and I purchased them. Holy $$. Yes, they were the most expensive skates I’ve ever bought in 15 years of skating but I’m hoping they are worth it.

 

Chorus skates mounted with blades and my lime green soakers!

 

My first few moments on the ice were quite a shock though. I’ve always tied my skates so tight and had little to no room between the leather and my ankle but these skates? I almost took a nose dive on my first few steps. The heels are higher like Jackson’s but there is so much more space at the top of the skate it felt like I had left my skates untied. There was room to bend and some space behind the back of my ankle (the heel was still secure). That took some getting use to and for the last few weeks that is exactly what I’ve been doing.

 

A look with the actual skates on…

I was afraid to jump initially as I wanted to feel the comfort of leather around my ankle tied tightly but they do just fine, holding me on every jump. I find myself bending a lot more on back crossovers and reminding myself to bend more as I can feel that I have more room to do just that. The space behind my heel still freaks me out a little but I’m slowly adjusting. I only skate 2x a week so it is taking some time to get a feel for them. I decided to have custom orthotic inserts made to put in them so there will still be some adjusting to do in a few days. No blisters as of yet. The only thing I notice is that yes, they are very stiff and compared to my broken in skates that does feel very different and yes, they do feel a little bit more bulky when compared with regular skates such as Jackson or Riedell.

 

As of yet, no doubles, axels or miraculous skills have appeared with these skates. No surprise there, however, I can now land my toe loop again without a nasty jolt to the side of my leg. That alone may be worth it. Time will tell though. For now, I’m doing fist pumps every time I land a toe loop as it was impossible to do it before because of the pain from the older boots knocking the plate in my leg. This is exciting by itself!

I will update as I go along how the orthotics feel and how the boots adjust, for now, I’m just happy to be skating again! I hope this can help other adults choose the right skates as I couldn’t really find much info on these specific ones by looking at other blogs. If you are thinking about trying Edea’s I would definitely try them on first before purchasing because even though I like them very much they are quite a change from other skates.

Till next time!

 

 

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Where I’ve Been and New Skates! – Part 1

29 Oct

Since this is a long blog post I’ve broken this into two posts so it is easier to read! If you just want to know what skates I bought skip to the next post!  (will be up shortly)

This is my favourite sport and I have my own pair of skates but also it is a great way if staying fit and improving your balance! I hope you have ago but just remember it is harder than it looks!

And so I find myself once again back in the saddle, on the ice and skating with a purpose once again! A little bit about the last year and a half as I took an extended break from the blog. I have been skating over the past year or so just not with any regularity as it really did take some time to recover from my last injury. I still find myself limping here and there as it effected an old injury I had and it was a bit of a struggle to just walk normally for a very long time. I still have to baby the bad foot and go slower off ice, watch how much I practice and in general, really pay attention to my body. I kind of did that before but I am extremely vigilant now. If I feel off, you better believe that I will not step on that ice.

Plus, I finally got married last year! WOOHOO!!

 

Walking out of the church after our ceremony in Tuscany

 

I was distracted from skating (to say the least) and very much focused on being injury free. Walking pain-free was much more important. Our wedding was in Italy so I was determined to not risk any chance of injury so I could walk to my heart’s content in Tuscany, Rome, Sorrento etc.

 

My husband and I in Florence

 

If you’ve been to Italy, you know that walking there involves a ton of uphill, uneven cobblestones, and stairs of every kind.  Even skating couldn’t tempt me! And that’s saying something as anyone who has read any part of my blog knows that I am a true skate-aholic! So I stuck to walking/cycling for most of the last year and then returned to the ice about 2x a month toward the end of 2016 and beginning of 2017.

However, in the very beginning of this summer, I started taking group lessons at a local ice rink to get my bearings again and go over the basics. I wanted to really feel the ice, make sure my crossovers, 3 turns, and spins were solid again. I also wanted to introduce myself to having someone make corrections to my skating in an informal atmosphere where I didn’t feel pressure. Not that private lessons were tons of pressure, it’s just that I wanted to feel free to skate slower and not get wrapped up in where I was before versus where I am now. Also, the cost was a lot less $$. This helped a lot. It forced me to have a regular skating schedule again and to build up some of those skating muscles which I had lost.

I ended up taking one other group lesson and going to a 2-day adult skating camp focusing on basic skating skills. This forced me to remember the correct posture and gave me some new skating skills that I didn’t have before.  Then I decided to take some time off the ice at the end of the summer for vacations and other family type events. I was doing pretty well before that and had really regained a lot of the skills I had lost but then when I returned again at the end of September it was like starting all over again with the basics so that was uninspiring, to say the least.

In general, I was able to regain or at least try to do all the things I used to do without much pain with the exception of one skill, my toe loop. Not because I couldn’t do it or I was afraid but because every time I did it the darn boot would bang against the plate in the side of my leg. This was a little upsetting as it is one of the easiest jumps I do and pretty integral to any program but it was very painful to do the jump. Almost like a shock every time the boot banged on my leg. For a little while I just ignored it (although it bothered me) and then I started feeling like other elements (while not bothering the plate) were just a little slidey.

I then had my blades sharpened but I still felt like things were not quite right. I remembered before the break sometimes feeling my boot slip a little on jumps so I thought perhaps it was time to get new boots. It had been 5 years after all with many hours on the ice and I was starting to tighten my boots every 30 minutes or so in the sessions I was skating. Not to mention the large creasing in the boot by the ankle, a sure sign that my boots were breaking down. So, despite the thought that I would probably have to start all over again with building my skills up, I realized I needed new skates.

On the bright side and I’m sure many would agree, there is nothing more thrilling than imagining all the new skills you will be able to do if you can just get the right skates. Of course, the boots will not magically make new skills appear, sigh…. but they can make it easier or harder to do them! It’s great imagining and I must admit, the main part of the fun in buying new skates. Ahh, the axels, the doubles, and those damn moves… all mine, once I find the right skates! Right? HA! Probably not but I can dream, right? After all, this is what this blog is about, dreaming to skate, right?

More realistically though what if I could do my toe loop again without pain? My Riedells were laced up so tight I thought maybe I could find a skate that would not bother my leg as much, not be as tight. Maybe my landings would be more secure? Yes, that’s what I was looking forward to and hoped to fix and so the hunt for new skates began!

 

 

 

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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!