jo skates

Skating in the key of life

Jo on a stick


Feminine design. That’s a phrase I heard a number of times when I was watching one of the many competitions at the Minnesota State Fair. This was from a judge who was determining which heifer best deserved awards. While all those bovine contestants looked pretty alike to me (white, well-groomed, placid), the judge explained that for him the winning heifers were not only well-proportioned and spry (to the extent any cow can be spry), but exhibited a certain “femininity” in their appearance and walk.


I looked up some websites (mainly for cattle feed) that might explain this term better, and these suggested qualities such as a “clean neckline,” no excess fat around the neck, shoulders, or brisket (chest) area, and a lean and taut build. And I surmise that this appearance is coupled with that smooth heifer strut so pleasing to those feminine-design-minded judges.

I’m so glad figure skating judges don’t use this criteria (I think). I’m also glad skaters are not judged like vegetables or pigs at the State Fair, which are given distinction on the basis of their impressive size.

I have spent the past skating year working on small changes and bodily adjustments that don’t even register on the scale of “gee, Jo, you look better!” As far as I can tell, these wouldn’t even get me close to a blue ribbon in terms of visible skating improvements.

And yet I did learn a skating lesson at this day at the fair. The Minnesota State Fair prides itself on having all kinds of food on a stick.  In addition to the traditional skewered foods (corn dogs, pickles, pork chops) you can get things like deep-fried Snickers bars, ostrich kebabs, cheesecake, and Scotch eggs.

Today I was working on some mohawks and one-foot turns, and I realized that my balance on my left side was a little off (no surprises there).  Normally I would try to use certain muscles (the glutes and adductors) to line up over my skate. But today I just thought about a stick running through the sole of my foot (just in front of the heel) and through the middle of my ankle bone. While the rest of my body didn’t always stay on that axis (unless I was standing straight up and down), just thinking about having the stick as a reference point seemed to help a lot.

For one, it helped me keep my body weight stable over the ankle rather than rocking towards the front of the foot. I’ve been having regular bouts of foot pain on the left side. Even more frustratingly, I’d had trouble using my left foot to help with the necessary rocking action in one-foot turns. When I put myself on that imaginary stick (in which my weight was farther back), I could actually feel the rest of my foot working to help shape my edges and initiate those turns.

I’m hoping this idea will be a keeper, not just one of those State Fair novelties. Who knows, maybe being a skater on a stick will help me gain the skating equivalent of “feminine design” by the time next year’s fair rolls around!

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.

2 thoughts on “Jo on a stick

  1. Thank goodness we aren’t judged by the excess fat in our appearances! I would place last otherwise! 😉


  2. My sentiments exactly, Eva!!! But fat in the right places does give us more “feminine design,” hahaha.


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