jo skates

Skating in the key of life

The eagle has landed: Mom’s sweater #10

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This week my left knee has been a little sore and my foot even more painful (started doing those calf raises where I use only one foot). So I have been taking this as a sign that I have to make sure my knees are tracking properly and that I am truly balanced. (I’ve been feeling so much better that this pain caught me by surprise. But I’ve been trying to think of it in ways that guide my movement and that can potentially help me, rather than as something that is only irritating or depressing.)

I’ve been working on a fairly small but significant movement: a controlled knee bend on inside edges. This is something both my coaches have talked about in different contexts.

I am targeting two places where this controlled bend makes an immediate difference.  First, on the transition between forward lobes: the bend should take place after I rock over to the inside, and just before I push onto an outside edge. Second, on the back inside edges coming out of my three turns: without controlling this movement, I simply fall or drift onto the next back edge haphazardly and fail to get a good push. As my last entry described, this is particularly the case on my right inside edge, but is true of both sides. In all cases, if I bend my knee in a controlled way, the weight transfer doesn’t happen until both feet are on the ice and I’m not tempted to change onto the new foot prematurely.

So I’ve been practicing holding forward and back inside edges and then lowering, lowering, lowering until my free foot touches and I’m on two feet. It’s very revealing how difficult this is for me: I have to fight the desire to rush through it and simply drop my new foot onto the ice. But though the movement feels small, the consequences of not doing the controlled knee bend are huge.

Laurie describes this movement in a really memorable way, as being like a car on a lift after an oil change: you don’t want to drive away before the lift is lowered.

I’m thinking it’s also like a spaceship landing on our planet. There has to be some controlled force in the opposite direction so that the ship doesn’t just come careening down and crash. Well, that bend on the inside edge is the force that is resisting the gravitational pull, letting the ship come slowly down to earth.

Here’s Mom’s sweater #10, perfect for safe landings.  Like the one last week, I got this some years ago as a hand-me-down from my aunt to my mom to me.  This one is long and warm and has a bird pattern all around the front and back and around the sleeves as well.

So what are those birds doing, marching around this one? Are they eagles? The knit equivalent of angry birds? I like to think that they are doing fierce inside edges, all the while thinking of the Kashmiri proverb:

“No strength within, no respect without.”


Sonia just before she passed her European Waltz. Hooray!


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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