So when I succeed in using the glutes of the pushing side to drive the skating side forward, two things happen. The first thing is that I get a much better forward push, driving my body right along the edge. On my last lesson, Laurie noticed that in pushing onto my forward left outside edges, I had been sending some of the energy sideways. It’s amazing what happens when you correct something as basic as this, and then couple it with that “glute goose.” The energy is channeled right through the new thigh bone, and everything moves forward immediately, rather than being interrupted while I check my balance on the new side.
I’ve been working on doing this on many exercises: one is the outside-outside two-beat edges in the Kilian, right in the beginning of the dance. This has transformed those edges from tedious to EWD (edges worth doing).
The second thing that skating from the butt changes is where my new foot comes down. I feel like the new skate is much further forward than it used to be, like it shoots out in front of me rather than coming down right below me.
This makes for a really different sensation in the new skating leg and hip. Instead of being right over my foot, it’s like the foot is in front of me. The push sends my new skating side forward, and as I said before (but ooh, I want to say it again!), the energy feels like it’s moving directly through my new thighbone. I am really supporting through the glutes on the new skating side, and my weight remains directly over my heel.
What makes this even more remarkable is that the knee bend just happens as a natural part of this movement forward. It feels like the new skating leg simply bends. While I will never look like either Nathalie Péchalat or Fabian Bourzat (sigh), I am able to understand how their knee bends are humanly possible.
This photograph shows how there is a direct connection between the forward energy of the skating leg into the knee bend and the push: it’s like a release forward, rather than a strained movement up and down.
So I realized that the occasional knee pain I’ve had while skating is related to my old posture issues. I would try to bend straight down over the center of my blades, rather than allowing the knee to release forward. This is also what I did incorrectly in ballet classes; I would grip my quad muscles while bending down for a plié. Ditto on squats. I’ve never liked squats, though they are very good for building leg and glute strength, because I always felt like they put a lot of pressure on my knees. Lo and behold, according to the first five minutes of this video, it’s the same problem!
My poor knees are finally going to get a break. They can’t wait for the celebration, which will begin after I make my to-practice list from the past few lessons. Here’s some music for list-making: the 2Cellos version of Sting’s “Shape of My Heart.”
- Exercises with lots of threes, starting backwards: double threes (back outside-forward inside, or back inside-forward outside) with back crossover in between; triple threes with a crossover, step to inside three in between; quadruple threes with back crossover in between
- inside mohawk, back inside three, cross over (get the correct arm in front)
- Euro-man’s side pattern: use the correct rhythm, stay down and press into ice
- forward progressives: really point the foot
- back progressives: (1) head and upper body position; (2) circular lift of upper body; (3) legs moving on and around circle
- inside-inside mohawks: (a) free leg comes in from farther back to prevent spinning out of control (b) after foot comes in, turn belly button from being over the inside of one leg to the inside of the new leg (c) pass through fifth position (d) simply replace your feet, don’t fall from one edge to another, (e) transfer energy transfer up into new leg.
- outside-outside mohawks: don’t allow entry edge to sneak off curve, maintain curve into pivot, keep new foot on outside, ankle bones together, allow slight bend on initial ankle before turn (but don’t intentionally bend), allow the new leg to pass by the old one, check back position in plexiglass.
- Creepers: bend free knee on change of edge shoulders over circle; get a nicer free leg position
- inside open mohawk (new one!) arm and shoulder and back positions
- overall body positions: hips forward–flat front (light shining on stomach as well); hip flexors relaxed.
And my final reminder: don’t forget to skate from the butt!