Traveling Skates

10 Nov

Last week I was in Arizona and I did indeed take my skates with me. They had to go in my checked baggage and luckily they arrived safe and sound. However, I do hear that if you have a USFSA member card you can take them in your carry-on. I heard this from another adult skater but I have not tested the TSA…yet 😉

While I was in Arizona, I, being the crazy adult skater that I am, mapped out all the rinks within a 15 minute radius. This is pretty much an automatic thing for me to do whenever I travel. It’s like taking a tour of the country but through the different ice rinks! Well, I found a nice coffee club session for adults with a 20 minute lesson included. I haven’t been to a coffee club session since I left Penn State! So, with much happiness I left my hotel room last week and found my skating rink, The Ice Den, in Scottsdale.

It was actually one of the largest rinks I’ve been to with a sunken rink on both sides of the building and from what I hear, another one in the works towards the back! Everyone was extremely friendly and reminded me so much of my old rink. I met a few people, one person in particular was performing her artistic program for an ice show. Her fingers lit up and she swung rope like lights in a rhythmic movement to the music that was playing. I found out she was planning to go to adult nationals in Chicago in 2012 (this year) so we exchanged emails. She also introduced me to the Skating Director later on who was also super friendly (they do say this part of the country is one of the friendliest!). I found out she had just come back from helping Dorothy Hamill as a coaching assistant with her adult skating camp in Nantucket! She said they had a full range of adult skaters from one who could barely do crossovers to others who were working on doubles. I thought that was so great to hear! However, the camp as we all know is extremely expensive so I said I would love to take part in that camp one day but I would have to save up some mucho moola before that would happen! As it turns out though, when I returned home my Monthly Skating Magazine was waiting for me and they had included an article on the Hamill camp and a photo which included the woman I had met at the Ice Den! It’s the small things in life….

As for the lesson, during the coffee club we worked on holding first a right outside edge and then switching to a left inside edge hold as we went around a circle. Then she added in a forward outside three turn, holding the free leg position. Then we worked on forward and backward cross rolls both of which are on the silver test. I can do the forward cross rolls better than the back but she had us thinking of pointing the toe of each foot towards either side of the rink when we performed the cross rolls. So, your foot should clearly point in a 90 degree angle to either side as you cross your foot in front. For the back crossrolls (I am stiffer on these) you should feel like your feet are meeting a backward T-position. She had us hold a T position which is where you should push off without feeling like you are stepping back. Using your knees helps and pointing your toe also helps. More to come on this in the coming weeks as I get back into private lessons.

All in all it was totally worth the $14 for a 20 minute lesson and at least an hour of ice time! Definitely visit the Ice Den if you are ever out there. In addition, if you have never been to Arizona it is absolutely stunning. The sunsets are amazing, as they almost look like a small fire burning in the distance. I don’t have a photo of those fantastic sunsets but I do have one of the landscape. So different from our grassy/tree landscape in the northeast.

Now onto my other lessons, I haven’t written lately because I had been out of town and in general getting used to a new schedule. I discontinued the group lessons and started sharing a private lesson with another adult skater who is working on her pre-bronze test. She is actually more like a bronze level skater but like most adults has put off testing.

We shared the first lesson with the coach who I actually took group lessons from when I first came to MD last year. He has a completely different style to some things and in some cases (especially in freestyle) it is totally different from what I’ve known as far as technique. I have been trying to get a feel for whether or not I wanted to do full-on private lessons with him or go back to my other coach so it was great to be able to share lessons.

So for our first lesson we worked on my nemesis, the backward inside three turns. I have many evil moves and jumps but I am happy to say these are no longer one of them! After working on holding the inside edges and tweaking the arm positions I can now turn the 3 on the back inside edge. YAY!
Now, to put it into an actual pattern down the full length of the ice!
The notes below are what made it click for me:

Back Inside Three Turns (Arms Unblocked Version)
1. I block myself with my shoulder so I have a hard time looking over my shoulder when turning the back inside three on both sides. You do need to look over your back shoulder before you turn the three. So, my coach had me open both my hands with my thumbs pointing up. Sounds stupid and probably looks weird but it works. It automatically opens my shoulder and I can freely look back. If it is a right back inside edge your right arm is back behind you with your left is crossed in front. No fists, palms open, thumbs up and voila! Open shoulder!

2. I usually feel like I am tripping forward on my toe especially on the right. I usually feel like I force the three and don’t wait for it to turn. How to fix it? My coach had me just hold that back inside edge on both sides until it started curving automatically in. You should have it curve in to feel this until you can’t curve anymore. It should curve into a tiny circle until it stops. When I go into the back inside three turn instead of thinking turn the three, I think I am just continuing the edge and if you put a little more pressure on the inside edge it will automatically turn that 3-turn. This was a huge revelation! I hardly ever trip over my toe pick now on the turn.

3. Apply pressure. This I am still working on but when you press the inside of your thighs together as your are turning the back inside three turn it will help stabilize the turn. Your free foot should always be in front when you are doing this.

Hope that helps! It did me!

Now onto this weeks lesson…. we are on shared private lesson #2
Forward power pulls and I have no secret to these yet, as they are still incredibly difficult to me. I’ve posted before on tips for these and they are still applicable but here are my newest coach instructions. (I’ll be working on these in practice this week)

1. Start SLOW and big. Think of this as an edge exercise on a red line.
Start at the red line, step onto a right inside edge, left arm in front, right behind. Free foot should be in front, make a half circle and just before you hit the red line you have to switch arms as you pull up to create that pull to switch onto the outside edge, again make a half circle and pull up before the red line.
This is basically a power pull, slower and longer. Forget what you see on tv or even what the kids do… this should be about holding both edges on each foot. I like to compare this to hell since it’s hell on my knees 😉 as of right now I can’t hold that second outside edge without swinging my leg like crazy. Yeah, it’s embarrassing. Arms are swinging too..definitely not pretty.

2. If it helps, really lean your body into that half circle. Think of your ear leaning towards whichever edge side you are on. I think this idea kind of helps me right now. I’ll know more when I get on the ice to practice in the coming days.

3. Arms – they should switch as you change edges but hell if I know how to do them in tandem with the legs. When I figure it out I will post it with a HOLY COW I DID IT right next to it.

4. When I can do this exercise I can graduate to actual one foot power pulls by thinking of long edges and pulling up at the end of the edge. Meaning, your are down in the knees for the whole first part of the edge (half of a circle) then you rise up at the very end. No wiggly butts!

Moving on from this little piece of hell, to flip jumps. Originally we were supposed to do back spins afterwards but we ran out of time. Thank God. Out of the three I can’t tell you which I despise more because each one contains a little special piece of misery for me. Nice, right?

I’m not sure if I can comment on what I learned for the flip, I’ve seen his technique for this jump before and it is still TOTALLY different from any other way I’ve learned it. Not bad or wrong just different.

So, all I can say is that we spent a lot of time holding the entry into the three turn without my usual push into the three turn. So weird. Then I spent time holding my toe pick in the ice until I turned towards the front to actually jump. I went with it not even trying to really jump until I figured out the cadence. At the end I landed one in this way very slowly. I think this is worth trying. Even though I am landing them pretty consistently the way I usually do them, I know that technique wise they are not so good so I think I will just try walking through them. Although I did notice it kills the momentum I think starting without the push into the three turn might be a good idea. It’s like there isn’t an assist to rely on which may be throwing me off.

Oh, I almost forgot, I am supposed to keep my hip under when I pick. None of this hip opening up business. Heh.

Now, you can scratch your head in confusion on what I just wrote! I’m trying to get everything down so I don’t forget but as far as the flip is concerned I will have to have another lesson to really break it down step by step. For now, these will have to suffice.

Happy Skating…

A photo of me at the Ice Den….enjoying my time at coffee club!

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