Goth on Ice: A Typical Training Log

Some months back I realized that keeping what my results were from sessions on the ice, where I was making progress, what problems I was having, and what I needed more work on were getting to be too much to keep in my head. Well, to be honest they probably had been too much to keep in my head for long before that but I couldn’t really pretend any more. So I got a little bound 5″ X 7″ notebook that fit nicely in the pocket on the side of my skate bag and have been using it to keep notes of my training. Something similar to these (these are on Amazon–I bought mine locally not wanting to wait for a shipment):

So, here are some examples of my own notes from the past week, from last Sunday through yesterday.

Sunday, Sep 20, 2021
1/2 hour practice session then 1/2 hour class. Practice: FI3, both on the wall and free; 2-1 foot spin, backward stroking, continuous FOE and FIE, extended one foot glides into forward edges; forward stroking and FX; close footed slaloms. Class: Forward and backward stroking, T-stops (both sides), FI3, Lunges, 2-1 foot spin, and Mohawks.

I use several abbreviations. as follows:

  • FI3 = Forward Inside 3-turn
  • FOE = Forward Outside Edge
  • FIE = Forward Inside Edge
  • FX = Forward Crossover
  • 2-1 foot spin = 2 foot to 1 foot spin.

The particular techniques I am most concerned about are the FI3 and the 2-1 foot spin. Those are the techniques that I need to master to complete Adult 6 and progress on to Pre-Free-Skate.

Wed Sep 22, 21
1 hr 30 min
Not bad again. FI3 10 step Combo, FX, BX, 2-1 Foot spin, Toe tap, Bunny hop, FIE, FOE, all OK.
Spins — got to work on staying off the toe pick. That’s the big thing, I think.
Getting the FI3 right sometimes, but only sometimes.
Back stroking getting better.
CW FX my right ankle tends to “collapse” so I lose the push as the side of the boot touches down. Got to work on that.

The additional abbreviation here is BX for Backward Crossover. Some of these notes make sense to me but could use some explanation for the reader.

I spin counterclockwise, as do most right-handed skaters (more on that at another time because…I find my personal case complicated). That means the left skate is moving backward in the spin in tight circles while the right skate is moving forward. I’ve seen some online coaches advocating keeping weight distributed between the two feet but my coaches have advocated keeping most of the weight on the left foot (CCW spin) this makes it easier when picking up the other foot for the 2 foot to 1 foot spin, which is what we’re aiming for. Now, there’s a “sweet spot” right under the ball of the foot on figure skates called a “rocker” or “spin rocker” (latter term is used to avoid confusion when also referring to the overall curve to the blade which is also is called the “rocker”). If you get your weight too far forward on the weight-bearing leg, then the toe picks drag the ice slowing down the spin and also disrupting your balance. However, if you get the weight too far back, the tail of the blade bites into the ice, pretty much stopping your foot from rotating. Since your body keeps rotating, the result is generally a fall where you land flat on your back. Well, I tend to get my weight too far forward. Maybe that’s just the way my biomechanics works but, to be honest, I think it’s an instinctive reaction to avoid falling. The note here was a reminder that I need to do a lot more work on just getting my weight on the right part of the blade. As a result, my spin work is usually one or two brief “blocks” during my ice time where I work the two-foot to one foot spin and in further blocks I just do the two-foot spin while focusing on getting weight placement correct.

The issue with the crossovers is another one that needs more expansion. When I’m doing crossovers in the clockwise direction, the way it works is I push out to the left with my left leg, then when it lifts from the ice I cross it in front of my right leg which is skating on an outside edge and place it to the right of my right leg. I then push out to the left with my right leg, under my body (called the “push under”), lift it from the ice (leaving my left leg skating on an inside edge), and bring it back just to the right side of my left leg, then repeat the process. Done right, it’s a smooth and elegant move while allowing you to get speed and power on the ice. The problem I’m having is that when I’m pushing under, my right ankle rolls to the outside causing the boot to land on the ice and the blade to lose contact. Because this loss of contact is not fully controlled, I’m still trying to push when it happens and I generally stumble although I’m usually able to avoid a fall. Now a certain amount of rolling of the ankle is normal to keep the blade at the proper angle on the ice, but this excessive roll is a fault. I don’t do it going the other direction (CCW) so it’s probably simply that since the normal flow of traffic in public skate sessions is CCW, I don’t get as much practice going CW.

Sat Sep 25, 21
2 hours
Practiced all the usual stuff except spirals & lunges (protecting pulled groin muscle). Some notes:
I think I’m almost there on the FI3. So very close.
Out of practice on the FO3 so started working on that a bit more.
2.5 rotations on the 1 foot portion of the 2 foot to 1 foot spin. New personal best. Getting close. However, later in the session had trouble with the 2 foot spins. The “pumping” foot just didn’t want to come in. Not sure why. I was, however, much better on weight placement–much less toe pick dragging.
Maybe some incremental improvement on the BOE. “Best” isn’t really improving but the average is coming closer to that best. More consistent.
The “ankle collapse” on the CW FX is a bit better but still needs work.

BOE here is Backward Outside Edge. I put in a lot of time working on my backward edges because so much of the stuff coming later in figure skating starts from backward edges.

The thing with a lot of figure skating techniques are there are something like 15 things you have to control to do them right. When you focus on one (like “weight placement” in the spins), then you start to lose control of the others. And I think that’s part of what’s happening here with the issues I’m having with the 2 foot spin. Working on weight placement so something else is slipping. Eventually, however, things start clicking and the various pieces start working together and the the element starts happening. That seems to be what’s happening with the FI3. The various pieces-parts that I’ve been practicing separately are finally starting to “gel” into an actual technique.

I didn’t get a lot of ice time this week, only the three sessions, because I had a lot of other things (like medical appointments) that needed to be dealt with and they ate up the “flex time” that I use to get ice time. Still, progress is being made and that’s what counts.

And 4 1/2 hours of pretty intense exercise in a week is not bad at all.

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