I made some major, major breakthroughs in last week’s and today’s classes.
Last week, my instructor introduced me to backward crossovers. Now, this is a move that I really wanted to be able to do because it’s just so beautiful even as a fairly “basic” move–before we even get into figure skating type stuff.
You can see how they look, “properly done” here:
I, however, am not doing them anywhere near that well at the moment. (You think?)
Yesterday afternoon was my first chance to get on the ice after last week’s class. (Weekday public skate sessions are mid-day so day job gets in the way.) After going around the rink a few times to warm up, I started with some more work on backward edges. They are improving:
This was also the first time I started practicing what I am told is the correct way to do the back-to-front two foot turn (I use it to turn around after each set on a particular edge). It’s still kind of shaky but should improve with practice. In this set, I’m still not getting up the speed I should be getting as I go around the circle for those edges. It really is easier to hold them at speed than going slow. But “at speed” requires a level of confidence that I’m still working on. Going backward is just scarier than going forward. And at my age, you worry more about falls–it’s just easier to get hurt and injuries take longer to heal. That’s one of the reason I wear the knee and elbow pads every time I get on the ice.
Previously, Every fifteen minutes or so during the public skate session, I would stop my ordinary skating around the rink and go to the big circle at the center to work on my backward edges. This time, I just did backward edges that first time. Additional technique drills were all working the backward crossovers. I recorded the first one. Remember, after about a five minute introduction in class, this is my first time ever trying it.
Yes, it was awkward and clumsy. No, it didn’t look anything like Kseniya and Oleg’s graceful moves. Nevertheless, the basic movement was correct. I need to work on getting farther over in the cross and on having better control of my balance but the basic motion is there. So, yes, I was stoked at the end of that set.
And, indeed, over the course of the skating yesterday and today, it did improve. Going forward it’s practice practice practice practice. Indeed, in class today while working on it with my instructor (a different one from last week–who I work with is often a matter of who’s available at the time) she noted that I was actually doing a fairly advanced form, working both legs in the cross–outside/front leg moving forward and in while back leg pushes out. And indeed, at least occasionally I would manage to get a “full cross”.
An amusing side note: Someone was having a birthday party at the rink. I saw one woman and her daughter struggling at the entrance to the rink, the little girl clinging to the wall so I skated over and asked if it was the little girl’s first time on the ice. Turned out it was both of them actually. I pointed them at the skate rental counter and explained that they could get a stack of buckets for the little girl to use. Some folk don’t like the buckets because they teach bad habits, but I like them because they help build confidence on the ice and that’s really what the absolute beginner needs more than anything else.
Fast forward to forty minutes or so later. The mother approaches me on the ice (I’m guessing she has experience roller blading or at least roller skating given how well she’s doing at this point). She asks me how to do that “leg crossing thing you do.” (I do forward crossovers at both ends of the rink to turn around.)
I explain that before you can learn forward crossovers, you have to first learn forward edges. And before you learn forward edges, you really need to learn forward one foot glides. I go after with her a bit on the one foot glides and explain to her that if she’s interested, for herself or her daughter, the new round of classes were about to start (today’s was the first of the eight week session). And if you take classes, you get free public skate sessions.
And then I left her to practice and continued my sessions.
One of the other techniques I needed for my current “level” in the Adult progression is a forward outside 3 turn. This is like that “two foot turn” I showed in previous posts only it’s done on one foot rather than two. Like this:
It’s called a “3 turn” because, notionally, the skate traces a “3” on the ice.
Well, during the “practice session” before my class (when the small kids and the lower “Basic” levels had their class) I tried it a bit. And, well, I was surprised. Very hit-or-miss but the surprise was that I “hit” at all. This is one of those things that you need to be confident in your edges, both forward and back. I’m pretty confident with my forward edges, but not so much on the backward, although they are getting better.
The final thing I did new this week was the hockey stop.
Now, I can do snowplow and “T-stops” readily enough. The reason hockey stops intimidated me is that they tend to be all-or-nothing. You get them right or or you fall on your face. At least that was my impression. So, my instructor worked me with it today, starting quite slow.
In the end, I was doing them, still very going very slow but it will take time and practice to get to the point of doing them at speed. Still, I think I got them well enough to count as closing out “Adult 4”, meaning I’m now working fully at “Adult 5” with one technique, the “T-Stop” an “Adult 6” technique.
To finish out Adult 5, I need to get that Forward Outside 3 Turn relatively reliable, get a technique called “Swing Rolls”, and a two-foot spin (at least two-turns). And at this point, I can see myself getting there. It will take time and work yet, but I can see but it no longer seems an impossible challenge.