jo skates

Skating in the key of life

Making the world better, one edge at a time


Earlier this week, I made a mental note to write about one of the things I’ve learned from skating: to embrace inefficiency. I don’t learn (or write) things in a linear way; instead, I circle back to concepts, experiences, and movements. Moreover, these are not neat circles; I spend a lot of time and energy moving inside and out of those circles before I finally figure out where I’m going.

Well, this is certainly the case right now. It’s amazing how many times I can do the same move, and it’s still not right. And what can become frustrating is that these are not even big moves, like axels or double loops or flying camels. These are basic edges and turns. They are the ants of the skating world! They are everywhere. They can hold up an enormous amount of weight on their teeny tiny bodies (that is, if they are not squashed by improper technique).

The end of this week was tough. My knees hurt from trying some things that require more turnout than I have: Ina Bauers and mohawks. Not enough sleep one night seems to have messed up some of the left side recovery that has been pretty steady for the past month; my back feels stiff and my muscles don’t seem to engage as readily even though my balance is better. I’ve gotten pretty stuck on three-turns; even took a fall doing them during a lesson, which felt pretty pathetic.

In retrospect, though, I was able to figure out a few things that I will try next week. Laurie had me work on the back outside to forward outside edge (keeping upper ribcage down but space above the hips), the transitions between forward outside edges (rocking over onto the inside edge and getting a really good push to create the new direction) and on back swing rolls (not rotating the upper body on my free side). Ari had me watch the exit to my mohawk in the boards and I saw that I was pretty far forward on my blade on the back inside edge. I have to work to get that weight back but once I do, it’s much more stable.

When I feel down, I try to visualize myself doing some perfect edges. Last night I even had a dream about doing some gorgeous progressives (okay, a little weird for non-skaters to imagine, but it was really fun for me). Still, when I’m on the ice, there’s the cold, cold reality (and honestly, Minnesota dropped 40 degrees this week).

It would be much easier if there were an immediate fix, or even a clear path: A goes to B, which takes us neatly hand-in-hand to C. But that never has been the case for me or if it works out neatly (like my loop jump way back when), I realize later that the sense of neatness was really an illusion, with all kinds of things going on to make it happen.

So the saving grace is that I realize that to some extent it is all about the inefficiency, the circularity, the bobbling in and out of circles. First of all, I burn way more calories this way. Second, I’m facing a philosophical problem of the highest order: how to find joy in the chaos, contentment in imperfection? Third, I’m dealing with this problem through action rather than contemplation, like Hamlet finally does in Act V. The readiness is all.

When composing this post, I wrote a bit more about Hamlet that got lost in the ether: rage, madness, death, repeat. Trying to upload a picture (my “frozen fractal” from a nice collection of images of fractals in nature) got a little wonky so I lost that thought. How appropriate. Back to the ice tomorrow. Circularity reigns.

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.

3 thoughts on “Making the world better, one edge at a time

  1. Well, I was circling through your blogs and landed here. Perfect message for me right now. I will try to embrace my inefficiency and enjoy the circles. Also, I get it that skating dreams are the best!


  2. So true.


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