After all the shutdown stuff, I was in desperate need to get out and do something when the rink finally opened and I was able to get back not just into public skate but into classes.
I’d lost some ability with the enforced layoff. My backward edges were weaker than they had been and, frankly, I wasn’t about to try backward crossovers again. I just wasn’t stable enough for that to be anything other than a good way to get hurt. And at my age you lose condition fast when you stop exercising. Where before I had been going a good hour during public skate now…not so much.
Still, it felt good to get out on the ice and I started recovering the condition (up to 50-55 minutes a session now).
The backward edges were the particular challenge. For a month I was working them and not seeming to make any progress. Finally, one thing clicked and I realized an error I was making. Going forward, you see, I can simply push directly onto one foot, whether it’s stroking into a straight line one foot glide, or into a forward edge. Indeed, forward crossovers are just that. You push onto a forward outside edge, cross, then push onto a forward inside edge on the other (crossing) foot, bring the crossed foot around and repeat. I was trying to do backward what I had gotten to the point of being able to do forward and it wasn’t working. Being able to “push” directly onto one foot requires a good feel for the body mechanics so that your weight is entirely over the gliding foot as you finish the stroke. I just didn’t have that, yet, going backward.
What I needed to do was, pump to get going backward, something like this:
Then, while still on two feet with feet together I needed to shift my weight to the foot I’m going to be doing the edge on (foot to the inside of the circle if doing an “outside edge”, to the outside of the circle if doing an “inside edge”–each blade has two edges, one on the inside of the foot side of the blade, the “inside edge” and one on the outside of the foot side of the blade, the “outside edge”, with a hollow between them). When my weight is fully transferred, then pick up the foot. The result should look something like these:
That’s what I was trying at Saturday’s session. The result was much improved. Still a ways to go, but much improved. Saturday afternoon the rink was pretty dead so I had the opportunity to get some video of my working the backward edges:
Watching that video I did notice a couple of things I was still having issues with. One was that I had these little, half-hearted pumps to get moving. This meant that I was creeping along around the circle. Bigger, more committed pumps to get more momentum would definitely help (and did on the Saturday evening and Sunday sessions). Another was that while I could have sworn I had my body upright while doing that (I usually have pretty good feel for what my body is doing, something that stood me in good stead in Judo) I see that I have a pronounced forward lean here. And as I got into it, my head would tend to tilt down. I need to work on that.
Still, it was a major improvement over where I had been. When I get to where I can consistently hold a backward edge for 3-4 seconds I figure I’ll be ready to try backward crossovers again.