Tag Archives: camel spins

Let’s Skate!

26 Feb

It’s been a long hiatus from skating and my blog! I haven’t had a private lesson in a year and so I haven’t had any new lessons to share. For the first time in a very long time though I’ve skated at least once a week for the past month and a half. So, I have been working on getting some of my moves back and thinking about updating my blog.

First, the knee is not healed. Nope, no miracle there BUT it’s getting to be manageable. So, what have I been doing for the past year? Well, I’ve been going to a chiropractor for my alignment issues and that has seemed to help with my hip and lower back although maybe not so much directly for the knee. Most recently I have been seeing a massage therapist and that has really helped loosen my IT band a bit which has helped the knee. Finally, I have been doing bikram yoga again. That seems to be the absolute key to maintaining my knees.

In my last post a year ago I wrote that I would be doing bikram in an effort to help with my knee pain for skating. I can honestly say it helps tremendously with the knee issue but I will admit to having avoided it till this past November. If you have ever tried bikram you’ll know that it can be somewhat painful to lay or bend in a room heated to 105 degrees Fahrenheit for 90 minutes.  I tried running and swimming and generally everything but bikram in an effort to get into shape this past year without dealing with the knee pain/skating issue. So while I successfully avoided having any knee pain with those activities, any time I did any exercise with skating the knee pain would flare again so I avoided skating all together. Exercise while moderately enjoyable (I do like running) was pretty much just plain exercise without skating. I realized skating was just too much fun as a sport and too much a part of my life to just not do it anymore so I’m back with the bikram.  I’m doing it once a week with skating 2x a week now to see if it keeps the knee pain in check. I admit I’ve been stubborn, I should have done this last year but I thought I could avoid the bikram heat and somehow find my way back to skating another way. Dropping the weight with running last summer certainly helped but nothing gave my knees the relief that bikram yoga does. I do have to admit that bikram is not all that bad. I get an amazing stretch and I always feel so much more energized afterwards.

At any rate, I’m back skating for now with the bikram and I have been working on my camel spin all by my lonesome. I’ve also been working on getting my sit spin back to what it was in a lower position and I’ve been working a little bit on my 8 step mohawk sequence and spirals.

At any rate, I was at the outdoor rink near me a few weeks ago and I had my oh so patient boyfriend record my camel attempts. I’ve posted one below.

It’s one of my rare good attempts and I’m keeping this one to show myself that I will eventually be able to do a decent camel spin. I just need to hold that outside edge and learn to stay down in the knee before popping into it. We also recorded my loop jumps but I’ll save those for another day 😉 I’ll be looking into private lessons soon if the knee continues to stay in check.

In other related skating news… I just received a MAC eyeshadow called “Let’s Skate” from a friend of mine. It’s a pale pink and shimmery, very skaterish if I do say so myself but not overly gaudy. Now, I’m not a MAC person and I typically do not skate around with makeup on but I have to say I was pretty excited by this little pot of shimmery goodness. I took a photo for those of you obsessed with anything skating related even a pot of eyeshadow! 

"Let's Skate" MAC eyeshadow
“Let’s Skate” MAC eyeshadow

Gotta share the skate love!

Till next time!

A Return to Fundamentals and the Ice

12 Aug

The ice went down in May, for a month, as it always does here. I used the time to do the physical therapy for my knee that I had been putting off for 2 years. The aches and pains that I had been getting throughout winter and spring were worse than normal and I was finally pushed to go see my orthopedist. I found out nothing serious was wrong. Well, just that I pronate in and that I needed to really strengthen my leg muscles in order to strengthen and stabilize my knee. These exercises seem to help although I am sure that I will still have some knee pain here and there as long as I am skating.

Usually I would start skating as soon as the ice came back up – and I did. Except, the first day back I took a hard fall on my right knee. Extremely bad ice with large bumps covered the surface. I knew I had to be careful since I had elected not to wear knee pads that day. That was really stupid.

Towards the end of the session I was skating a little faster and not as mindful of the rough patches and as I was going into a flip jump I tripped over one the bumps and slammed my knee into the ice. Nothing was broken, but I did feel a LOT of pain as the session wore down. I tried to keep skating a little just to feel ok but I knew at the end of the session that I would have a nasty bruise and would need to be off the ice for a little bit more to let it heal. So with disappointment, I took a small 3 week hiatus from the rink only to run into wedding season head on.

I run a small, custom wedding invitation business online and the summer is my peak season so as I healed I also became inundated with order after order. I could barely get 6 hours of sleep let alone find time to skate! And thus…up until 2 weeks ago I had probably skated only 4-5 times this summer. I’ve done nothing but work full-time at my regular job and then come home to work more on my biz. For the first time in years, skating took a backseat.

Nothing has really changed, I’m still trying to keep up with both jobs but after gaining 10lbs and being a nasty, grumpy person for the last 3 months I realized that skating needed to be made part of my life again, if only so I could feel some stress relief!

Since I started skating regularly again, my mood and energy level has risen and I feel almost like my old self again! Well, almost:) Maybe soon I will lose that extra 10lbs so I’m not sweating like a maniac on the ice and breathing hard after a basic warm-up.

I think this blog will take the direction of recording my skating lessons once again. Last year, I wrote a lot about professional skating and I feel I got away from the main purpose of this blog which is to record my lessons for future remembrance and provide a real perspective from the adult skater viewpoint to other adult skaters.

So, true to my renewed skating interest, I have changed coaches for a different perspective. I loved my last coach but it was time for another change. Right now, we are working on various freestyle elements.

Today’s lessons were a rehash of my scratch spin entry, layback and camel positions, as well as backspin technique and at the end of the session we went over an axel exercise.
Three weeks ago at my initial first lesson we started going over jumps and axel prep since that is my focus for now.

Some of the tips below from today’s lesson are things that I may have learned years ago but had forgotten and others are things that I had never heard before, so all are good skating pointers for future use.

Scratch Spin Entry:
I am traveling (sad sad words). I need to hold my left edge into the spin and then really dig deep into the ice for that hook. And, no, that left arm should not swing crazily open to initiate the spin. It is all in the knee bend and the deep hook. So I must be more patient and not turn the three to soon, I must also hold my free leg back before I initiate the turn and I should also stay down in my knee for at least a revolution or two before popping up into a lovely scratch spin that will be as fast and centered as can be. (I hope)


Michelle Kwan’s Oh So Centered and Freeform Layback

Same issue with the entry (see scratch spin above).
Once in the spin my hips should be square. I tend to open my right side and drop my right shoulder. This is not correct. Standing at the boards, I leaned my hips flat against the boards while simultaneously bringing my right leg to the side and back.
Shoulders should drop back when in the spin and if they don’t you can actually push your left shoulder with your right hand as you start to lean back to correct yourself. This was so much fun. I was spinning and trying to push my should back into alignment with the other so everything stayed straight. It was scary at first but I think this will help keep me from leaning to the side and achieving that c-curve. I have many, many sit-ups to do to get back some of my core strength, I just can’t hold that position correctly!
(Here is a great explanation of how to do a layback: http://coachclaire.com/spins/layback.htm)

Camel Spin
Same entry issue as above.
Except, this entry must be even more focused on keeping the leg back until hooking the spin. We did the toturous glove test once again. You can find an explanation of this glove exercise under camel posts. Once again, no arm initiation until I am already in the spin. This went pretty well. I had one awesome camel with the glove test. Maybe the glove exercise is working? Tension played a big part in keeping the spin going once I was in it. Apparently now, I do not bend my knee like I used too. Its nice to know that there are improvements from year to year even if it feels like I am still stuck with the same problems with this spin!

Back Spin
Oh dear back spin, how I hate your ugly inner edge guts! Yes, these are still in the works. Instead of working on this spin from a standstill into a forward right inside edge entry, I now will skate forward on my left foot and then push onto my right into the back spin entry (deep right inside edge). Then I will need to keep right arm with me at all times. YES, I just said that. My right arm kind of travels behind me when its frightened so from now on it needs to be in eye shot along with mr. left arm. Both of them should be in a medium hug position. My core should be solid but I should be slightly rounded when in the spin. Also, my left free leg should stay out longer just as in the scratch spin to begin the spin. This actually helped, holding the entry and keeping my arms with me at all times 😉

Axel Prep
This started with small waltz from a standstill (off toe pick) into a back spin. The goal is to land already spinning as well as to initiate that weight transfer from left to right. Sometimes this happens and sometimes it doesn’t. Its hit or miss. I must keep my arms down when I go into this jump or they get too high. I should also be going into it as I would the axel with my arms already back at take off and then lifting as I jump. Lifting the arms high or starting the arms beforehand will throw off the jump. This is a work in progress. Some days this is very, very good! And other days I just fall and fall and I am just doing a prepping exercise!

Another exercise that I will be doing to building more spring is off ice. Stand in a squat like position with both arms back (as you would in take off) then spring up, moving arms with you. Then I guess you could add a ¼ turn and a ½ turn and then a full turn.

That’s it for today! Today’s skating words of wisdom are: If it doesn’t hurt, then it’s probably not right!

Till next week!

The Camel Spin Monologue

28 Oct

– Sarah Hughes in a camel spin

The camel spin baffles me.

I’ve put time and effort and my fair share of practice into this spin and still it eludes me. Sometimes I hit it and I spin effortlessly (this happens rarely) and other times I skid on the entry, fight with my inside edge and eke out a mere 4-5 rev’s at the speed of a turtle.

Much like Dorothy Hamill, I think if they were to name a camel after my variation of the spin – it would be called “Brokeback” camel. Why? Well, my head is either hanging down or way up and my free leg is usually bent at an odd angle, and typically I end with a bob.

I’ve spoken to a few other adults on this disturbing camel spin topic as well.
It usually starts with “Hmm, well I have one but I lose it routinely” or “yeah, it could be better somehow it’s always different.”

I think this all goes back to technique and entry. Seems like we all tend to mess our technique up just a bit when it comes to this spin and in my estimation, unlike other spins, if you botch the entry on this one you’re not going to be able to fix it. (unless you’re a pro of course ;)Like wise, if you have terrible technique you are not going to be able to pull it off like you might in another spin.

What makes this spin so annoying though is the sheer number of things you have to think about! I try to think back to when I was learning my sit spin and I suppose I felt the same way but I swear it was easier! I’ll give you a little taste of what I think about when I go into my camel spin and then you can bunny hop yourself away from the computer in horror:

1. Go in on a deep knee
2. Make sure you are on a deep outside edge
3. Make sure you are over your left side
4. Don’t forget your left arm – no dropping or opening of that arm until you turn at least 180 degrees!
5. Keep your free leg straight and don’t let it swing forward.
6. Mantain a bent knee for one revolution before rising into a straight leg.
7. Don’t look down.
8. Look to the left but your body should be open to the right.
9. Point the toe!
10. Keep your chest up.

Yes – its a crazy skating mind I have but somebody has to listen to it! Usually it’s just me but now you too can get a taste of crazy skating thoughts! A coach once told me that the mind can only hold a max of three things to focus on while skating. Hmmph obviously that’s part of my problem!

So to finally get to the point of my blog entry, I wanted to post some ideas and videos on the camel spin for all camel challenged people like myself. No longer will adult skaters have to wrestle the camel spin beast by themselves! Luckily they will now find camaraderie in others who are equally camel distressed or deficient. (I prefer distressed)

Sounds kind of ridiculous but trust me there are alot of “us” out there waiting to jump out of the closet! Yeah – shake your head all you want – but I know you’re out there. Oh, and if you are a closet layback challenged skater, just wait! That’s next on my list! For now, we’ll start with deconstructing the camel.

Let’s start with a basic practice (really devised to torture skaters):

I call it the glove test.

Place a glove in your left hand (not on it)if you spin to the right place the glove in your right hand. Perform your camel spin entry and as you go into this entry ensuring a deep knee bend (on the skating leg) you will place the glove in the crease between the hip and leg. As you rise into your camel this glove should not only stay in place but should be locked, securely nestled between your hip and leg joint area. This will ensure a properly executed and level spin.

Now, doesn’t that sound impossible? You can do this all day long like a dog chasing after a bone and you still may not be able to get it to stay in place although you will likely be grabbing for the glove every time as it falls out of place.

However – please be reassured I have once or twice been able to keep the glove in place. Miracles do happen. Not often, but they do. Practice this alot and at least you’ll learn how to amuse your friends during public session with a glove routine, if not stun them with your perfectly balanced camel. (I was daydreaming there)

Here’s a video of nicely executed camel spin from another adult, watch her second spin:

Also, check out this Camel Spin tutorial from Jo Ann Schneider Farris
It’s pretty helpful.

Please feel free to comment if you yourself have any camel tips. Till next time …

Camel Thoughts…

25 Apr

My lesson on early Friday morning was interesting. I finally figured out what I was missing in my spins. We were working on camels since I tend to be very hit or miss on them. Strangely enough, I tend to miss them more from the standard crossover entrance then from just a three turn entrance. On this morning, it was no different.
My coach decided to talk about the entrance and this time it finally clicked! When I was doing the crossovers into the entrance I did not have my upper body turned out of the circle, or have a strong left arm checked in front of me. If I rotate my upper body out of the circle for the entrance, check the left arm in front and the right arm in back and then look into the circle just as I am turning the three into the spin I can rotate the camel without releasing my arm too soon.
Releasing my left arm too soon was always my problem and this really helps to correct it. Not only did it help center and correct the timing on my camel, after my lesson I tried it for my sit spin entrance and it immediately made it center quicker! Amazing.

On Monday night I will try and take video of the both before and after entrance because this tip was just so helpful!

We also worked on jumps, flip as usual. I need to reach back more, sigh, I hate that jump.
On the loop we had one of the other girls demonstrate the h position on the ice. That really helped. Sometimes if you see something you can replicate it faster. So I have been working on crossing my left foot over my right on the ice on the setup for the jump. I also have to make sure my left arm stays in front of me, I like to let the left shoulder open.
I also was working on springing from my right toe pick on lift off. That helps give it height.
At the end of the session we worked on lutz’s which look like back pick in with a loop ;(
Oh well, at least I am picking in. I have a hang up with that jump like the flip. I cross too much behind so we had me pick out to the side more and not stab the ice as much. I am jump stabber. All that energy goes down the drain when I slam my toe pick into the ice but for some reason in my head while doing the jump I think it will help me… uh uh

It’s Ice show week so the rink was covered with lights and drapery in preparation for it. I worked the concession stand for the club last night to help out and was able to see a little bit of the show from where I was. Tonight I will actually be in the stands!

Awww. too bad the rink is shutting down for a month, I was just starting to get into things again!

Program Cut, Finally!

14 Feb

The program is officially cut. Thank goodness. Granted, I may have to tweak it a bit more but the music has been shortened. It was very hard to cut that piece of music.
Friday morning, during the 6am skate my coach and I worked on the program. So now I will be hightailing my butt down the ice after a flip jump to do footwork. Its definitely going to take some time to be able to skate just half of the program. I am VERY out of shape.

Big surprise.

This week’s 6am session included:
1. Camel exercises
in particular this one exercise should provide hours of amusement and painful swelling of the knees and elbows (don’t everyone hurry out on the ice all at once!)
From the sit spin, you check out and then step onto the left outside edge (or right, depending on your spinning leg) to go straight into a camel spin.

Its supposed to teach you a couple things.
1. Control of arms and legs in sync
2. Using your edge to get into the spin
3. Fear of whiplash as you spin out of control and face plant into the ice
(just kidding on the last one)

If you are bored and want to test your camels try this exercise. Its super fun.

Other exercises of the 6am session include:
Camel spin exercise 2:
The holding of the sacred glove
Yes, the sacred glove (this one was pink) is held in your right hand as you enter the spin, then as you go into the spin you will place this sacred (pink) glove in the crevice created by your hip and leg. You should be on a bent leg going into the spin and then rise up into it. For those of us who are spinning correctly you will no doubt be pleased to notice that the sacred glove will remain in the crevice between your hip and thigh. For those of us who are more camel challenged the “sacred” glove will fall to the ground and you will either stop spinning because you realize you lost your glove OR you will run over said glove and come to a grinding halt anyway. 2nd one much more painful 😉

All fun aside, this exercise is helpful in achieving the correct spin position. I like it alot.

In other areas, we worked on a stroking exercise where my coach followed me around the rink in a pattern of back crossovers with a little extra addition.
Hops in alternating landing positions.

Ok 6am. Backwards. Hops kinda like jumps. Arms up. Opposite directions = other than usual landing leg = scary.

So, backward crossovers on right side (we will say 2) into a hop on one leg with arms out and free leg extended at the top of the lobe. Then switch directions and repeat.
Oh, I can’t tell you how small, teensy weensy my left hops were. They were more like invisible mind hops. In my mind I was hopping but in reality my coach thought I was ignoring the hop.
It was alot like self preservation – not to do the hop on the left. But, yes, crazy person I am I eventually achieved one perfect little hop that actually left the ice. Sigh.
Beautiful. Just a couple thousand more and it will be perfect.

Any other practices that morning? Nope. Thats it. Hope these exercises help.

and.. Happy Valentines.