Okay, you can tell that I’ve spent a lot of time this summer with a twelve-year-old boy. But what could be more fun? After having gone for weeks without lessons, I was feeling alternately lost (I’m not sure what I’m doing) and over-confident (boy, those back progressives are feeling really good!) Luckily, I ran into Ari today and (1) got to watch him skate gold and international dances with Maddie, which is always inspiring, and (2) asked if I could have a lesson. The session following public skating was chock-full of free skaters. It’s been a long time since I’ve had to dodge double axels (reminded me of skating in LA a long time ago on the same rink as Christopher Bowman), but we persevered and I didn’t knock anyone over. And it was an inspiring lesson. Here are some of the highlights:
- Forward alternating progressives (and chassés). I am still directionally challenged on the transitions, and need to stop flattening my circles. We worked on a cool thing with the feet: don’t bring them in parallel to one another, but bring the free foot to the heel of the skating foot, then use the rocking over of the skating foot to bring the feet together and get a little edge pull at the same time. In general, throughout the progressive I need to feel more resistance on each push (and use this to generate force in the proper direction) rather than just sliding from one edge to another. Generally, I have developed some muscular habits that give me the illusion of pushing, rather than a real push. This is especially true of . . .
- Backward alternating progressives (and chassés). After each extension on the back outside edge, instead of keeping my body in the same position, my hip goes back and out as the extension comes in. Ari’s observation is that I bring in the free leg using my core (which rocks me forward on the blade and allows the hips to move back) rather than simply bending my free knee to bring my feet together. This is hard to picture, but basically when he does it correctly it looks like most of his body is floating, perfectly still, and you can only see the muscles working through the lower leg, whereas when I do it I’m sure there is extra motion throughout my body, especially forward and back, and I rock (or bobble) from one part of my blade to another.
- Alternating cross stroke into 3-turns (man’s steps of the European) Here I am stepping (simply transferring weight by sliding from one edge to another) instead of pushing on the cross stroke and the back outside to forward outside edges. I need to think about constantly driving myself forward rather than stepping from one edge to another and hanging on for dear life.
- Twizzles (starting from a forward inside edge, arms open, and really concentrating on using the rotation of the core rather than rocking from one edge to another). Very challenging on the left side, but after some encouraging scolding, I could actually do it.
One thing I’m constantly impressed by in these lessons is how many very basic things I not only have trouble doing, but also don’t quite understand. Will the understanding and the motion come at the same time? How will my body and my mind get along if they finally get together? At the same time, it’s exciting to be having moments when I feel like I’m getting not just a new move, but a real understanding of how I move. And the basics are improving: not perfect, but more like scaffolding around a building that’s being restored. Will I be shiny and new when I emerge, or an old ruin? All those questions have no answer but frankly it doesn’t matter–what matters is how gleefully they just pour out. All this skating energy today: kids jumping everywhere, every which way and me right there in the middle of all of that, skating as hard as I could. Great lesson, lucky me. I thought I gave up physics long ago! But like those sub-atomic particles that elude attempts at prediction or ratiocination, can we ever fully understand–let along harness–the restless energy of those who go round and round in circles?