I was all set to write my “queen of the ice” posting: something inspirational about having my shoulders down and my chin lifted, my neck in a beautifully erect and swan-like position, my eyes grandly surveying the public session around me, edges characterized by largesse and confidence, skating as if I ruled the rink.
But honestly, it has not been a particularly regal week. Things have been changing. Everyday it feels like I am in a different place. But is it getting better? Or are things just moving around?
No royal skating blood here; if I look like the queen of the ice, it’s just the commoner’s hard-won illusion. No, this week I am more like the hard-boiled detective, living (or skating) on the fringes while I figure out what’s wrong with this picture.
For Sherlock here, every movement is a clue. I haven’t added anything new this week, but have spent a good part of each practice feeling the old things out. Some of this feels like experimenting. Or you could call it groping; the problem is that groping doesn’t particularly work well in skating, where wishy-washy positions, half-hearted attempts, and uncertain aim just cause more problems.
But I am not sure, that’s the trouble. Every time a new insight comes to me, it radically changes the way my body feels. So I’m spending much of each session literally and figuratively going around in circles.
On a good day, that last five minutes yields some major discovery. This week, I developed some more insight into the counter clockwise shoulder release that I started working on last week. I realized that it’s not enough to allow the shoulder and upper back to come back; I actually need to do a lower back/core rotation (Laurie has me thinking about turning my belly button) in order to do this properly.
Here’s an important part of the puzzle: when I do this core rotation, I also need to move the left hip turn forward/clockwise in response. This counter motion makes for an action that is like wringing a towel. Or twisting a coiled spring.
This is so natural in turning my core clockwise against my right hip that I barely notice how I do it. But not the other way; there it’s like squeezing blood out of a stone. (Just looked up the origin of that one, and according to internet sources, it’s first recorded in Giovanni Torriano’s Second Alphabet (1662): “To go about to fetch bloud out of stones, viz. to attempt what is impossible.”)
Friday’s major discovery was how this works to help my left outside three turns. The tension of that core against hip twisting one way stores up force that then translates into force the other way. Voila, I’ve turned myself into a spring! It’s torsion in action!
We’ll see if this helps this coming week. An appropriate song to skate by might be Chubby Checker’s “Let’s Twist Again.” But because I was not twisting this part of my body last summer, I will link to Ric Ocasek’s “Emotion in Motion” instead; the tune goes round and round in appropriate ways. This song reminds me of skating at Princeton’s Baker arena; ooh, yup, I’m that old!