Last week one of my instructors suggested that I needed to work the “push” with the back leg when doing forward crossovers. This was in addition to his suggestion of a drill where I cross over and put the crossing (forward) foot down and hold for a beat or two before picking up the rear leg. (This to ensure that the skates are lined up the same way–it becomes real obvious if they aren’t.)
Well, this week, I was struggling with it. I tried to push the foot out and all I ended up doing was stumbling and tripping myself. Needless to say, this was very frustrating.
Then it hit me. Once you’re on that edge, the skate is pretty much locked in side to side motion. Instead of thinking of pushing the rear leg to the outside, I needed to think of pushing my upper body to the inside of the turn. It’s the same muscle action either way you think about it, but the different perspective “clicked” and I was able to do it. When doing that, I generally end up setting the front (crossing) foot farther to the inside of the curve than I had been before, which is a natural result of getting that push from the rear leg. The crossovers aren’t great and and are a long way from automatic, but I ended up picking up enough speed in the turn that I could simply glide to the other of the rink, then do it again to round the end down there.
It did require a good bit of concentration to keep it up, so I’d switch between that push the more casual “stepping around” that I’d been doing, and the “hold the crossed position”. The real challenge is practicing the form while keeping speed down. I don’t want to go too fast, particularly when there are a lot of other people on the rink.
Last week’s epiphany of shifting my weight as a separate step in working backward edges (step 1, pumps to get some speed on the circle, step 2, shift weight to the foot we’re going to be doing an edge on, step 3, pick up the other foot while holding the edge), has been helping much. I’m holding the edges most of the time now for 2-3 seconds. Not like the young lady in the videos who looks like she can hold them forever, but much better than I could do just a week ago. The immediate goal remains backward crossovers. I figure I need to be able to hold these backward edges for about a six count before I’m ready to attempt backward crossovers.
The backward crossover is a move I want so bad I can taste it. It’s a move so graceful that even big ugly guys look good doing it. It’s almost like magic.