Archive | March, 2015

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!

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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!