jo skates

Skating in the key of life

Growing a skater and reverse kilians

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Am just getting back in the groove after some time on vacation, and I was reminded of how much skating is like growing a garden. Spend some time away, and it is alarming how quickly those weeds can grow. How did that arm get there? Why am I rocking over to an inside edge instead of just turning that counter? OMG, why is my head down again?

On the other hand, the garden metaphor is positive as well. Lots of repetitive tasks, lots of daily care needed for each tender little shoot. My mother, having grown up on a farm outside Shanghai, would speak of tiny plants with the same loving care that we often use for children, calling each “little cutie” (in Chinese). I’ve been spending at least a half hour or more at each practice session on stroking, progressives, chassés, back crossovers, swing rolls, and various turns. It’s like planting rows of seeds: mapping out the spaces, digging up the larger patch of ground, scooping out each hole, placing the seed inside, covering it, and smoothing the surface before watering it so that there won’t be those flooded areas and tiny hills that dry out immediately in the hot Minnesota summer sun.

Skating is blessedly much cooler (I love skating in summer). I’m not sure my basic moves are particularly cute, but I’m trying to give them the same degree of loving-kindness. With each exercise I have to work myself up to the requisite speed, figure out the lobes and edges, think about bending in some places (ankle, knee) and not in others (waist, neck). I imagine the lines of force running through my body.  I work on a smooth transfer of weight and also a continually dynamic motion from push to extension. I fight the urge to twist my body into the circle, and keep both hips facing forward (“like headlights”).  It’s hard. I think about Maia Usova’s three-turns. Sigh.

I take a break and play around a bit. The rink at Roseville was very quiet today, and I spent some time today playing with doing the kilian in the opposite direction. Wahoo! It’s actually a lot of fun, and feels like it will help to balance out some of the muscles that have been overdeveloped by going counter-clockwise all the time. Plus it makes the “regular” kilian feel easy in comparison. I was talking with Lenore today about doing the blues in the opposite direction, but I’m not sure I’m ready for that yet.

So there is a place in the garden for the unexpected (the reverse kilian) as well as for the slow progress on my basics. Those are so much better than they were. On the left side I can feel muscles I’ve never used before, firing when I need them. I can feel a more correct movement of the torso against the hips as I try an outside bracket and then a counter. It’s all there, not only germinating but starting to grow. The change inside becomes perceptible, then defining. Plant, nurture, repeat. The same thing next time, only better.


Author: Joskates

Don't see me on the ice? I may be in the classroom or at the theater, or hanging out with my family and friends.

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