Goth on Ice: Getting Edgy.

As I have mentioned before, ice skate blades have two edges with a hollow between them. In addition, they have a curve, called a rocker, from front to back:

The combination of the rocker and the edge is what allows the blade to take a curved path on the ice. When the skate is leaned to one side, engaging one edge and lifting the other, its path curves in that direction.

These curves are categorized by which foot you’re skating on (right or left), whether you’re going backward or forward, and which edge you’re using (inside or outside of the foot). So, going forward, using your left foot and curving to the left (and thus using the outside edge) would be a “left forward outside edge). Change direction of curve, to the right, while staying on the left foot and so doing an inside edge would be a left forward inside edge. The thing to remember is “left” or “right” refers to the foot being used, not the direction you’re turning.

Early on in training one of the things we did was forward edges on the circle. Basically we’d use one of the big circles printed on the floor under the ice (part of the hockey playing field setup), or if one of the hockey circles isn’t available, the instructor would draw a big circle with a marker on the ice itself. We’d go around the circle in one direction or the other and lift one foot or the other, just to learn how to skate in a curved path and keep a consistent curve. So far, so good.

But it turns out this is very basic indeed. There’s a more formal system of edge exercises that’s a bit more advanced and requires being more comfortable holding the edges for extended times. Coach Julia shows how these are done for forward edges:

And backward:

Well, this is one of the things my instructor has me doing now. He started me with forward outside edges as well as backward outside edges. In addition, he had me doing three-turns:

Those were what I was working on this past weekend. With the backward outside edges, I wasn’t worried about the switch in arm position and head turn ready for the next lobe, just pushing off in the edge and riding it as long as I can. Get comfortable doing one edge, then set up doing the next one.

After this practice session, I had class. My instructor worked with me on these, correcting some errors I was making. In particular, I was doing the arm switch too soon in the forward outside edges, having my weight too far forward on my blades, not keeping my palms facing downward, and tending to let my leading arm droop (which shifts balance making it harder to hold the edge). For the three-turn I was getting my lifted foot too far forward and trying to turn the foot too soon after turning the upper body which throws off my balance. And for the backward crossovers, making sure I have heels in and toes out when I cross and getting more bend in the back leg. The first of those helps prevent one skate catching on the other. The second gives you more power and “flow” in the crossover.

And that was my weekend as a Goth on Ice.

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