jo skates

Skating in the key of life

Progress on progressives. Then, wham! Ouch!


I started writing this post last week, but didn’t quite finish: got busy with Nationals and the beginning of the semester. So part one is my breakdown of progressives, followed by part two, a description of Thursday’s skating fall that really hurt (no permanent damage, I think).

Part one. There are few things in ice dance more basic than progressives, except for maybe swing rolls (to which I have already dedicated a vigorous post). Last week my lessons focused on both progressives and swing rolls. I asked both Laurie (“I’m all about technique”) and Ari (“yes, even though it’s boring”) to take apart my forward progressives, in part because I’m really trying to get everything lined up over these new blades (which I’ve nicknamed “Unforgiving”).

For those readers unfamiliar with ice dance, a progressive is like a crossover insofar that it moves from an outside edge to an inside edge back to an outside edge. But while in a crossover you move the free foot over the skating foot, in a progressive the new foot comes down before the feet are crossed, creating a more “running” action.

There are several aspects of the progressive that I’m trying to improve. They happen to be quite similar to things that I’m trying to improve overall, so I hope that spending some quality time just doing progressives in a circle will help other aspects of my skating.

Okay, let’s break the beginning of the forward progressive down (warning, agonizing amounts of physical detail–and none of it particularly sexy–coming up).

  1. Push to an outside edge. Bend ankles. Keep weight over pushing foot as long as you can.When I go counterclockwise (the standard direction for most pattern dances), this is a push from the right to the left outside edge. Ari pointed out that I have been scooting sideways (like in a swizzle) rather than actually turning out my pushing foot. Laurie has also been stressing turning out the pushing foot (and leg), which I tend not to do on the right side.
  2. Hips forward and knee even more forward.  Keep weight back towards the free leg. Skating side lead. I still have some trouble really being over my left outside edge. I tend to twist my torso into the circle in an effort to correct this postural problem. Ari says that if you do the forward progressive correctly, you actually feel like your body is facing slightly outside the circle.
  3. Free leg comes in right behind skating leg. As Laurie explained it, it’s as if the weight or momentum of the free leg comes right into the skating side, helping it bend and deepen the edge for the next push. Ari says that if you set up the edge correctly, your free foot should just drop into place.
  4. Inside edge. It’s important that your free leg comes in along the circle.
  5. Repeat.

It’s sometime amazing to me how much time I can spend trying to improve just these few edges. I’ve been working on them for the first part of my warmup, and I think they are getting much better, as is my stroking.

And here, before I forget, is Ari’s tip on the end of forward swing rolls: come up all the way, then flex ankle, feel like you are pushing the ankle forward on the glide.

Part two. So I’d just finished my last session of voluntary ice maintenance and gotten on the ice for a quick session of progressives before going to work. New blades are feeling pretty good, alignment is getting better. Time for those back progressives! But just when I thought things were progressing (haha!) nicely, I forgot to point my free foot down and caught the back of my blade on the ice.

Down I went onto my left hip. Wham!

I was aligned so beautifully that I went straight down onto the left buttock and hip. Dang! I felt like I bruised every single muscle that I’ve been trying to strengthen: glutes, hamstring at the insertion point.

The good news is that after 24 hours of Ibuprofen, ice packs, and worrying, I can sit somewhat normally. No skating for at least a couple of days, but it’s the weekend anyway. We’ll see how things progress.

Some years ago I took a similar fall on some rough ice while skating in London. My bruise lasted for weeks, and looked like this:


This man is Donal MacIntyre, a reporter who was also a contestant on Torvill and Dean’s show, “Dancing on Ice.” He wrote a really funny article for the Daily Mail about his experiences. Two of his quotes:

I have played rugby, skied, I have shot rapids in a canoe, I have climbed the Matterhorn and I have parachuted out of a plane in the Arctic, but I have never before had as many bruises as I now have on a regular basis.

Many people stop me in the street to comment on my bruise, including a squaddie who says: ‘Jesus, Donal! My mate got bitten on the arse by a camel and it didn’t look half as bad as that.’

This bruise isn’t nearly so bad, and hopefully I’ll be back on the ice soon for more progressives.

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.

4 thoughts on “Progress on progressives. Then, wham! Ouch!

  1. Love the pic of you and Zamboni – and hope the bruises heal up fast. And the article was great! BTW, Kate has applied to Iowa Writers Workshop for the fall; crossing our fingers that they want a diverse class, right? ;-]


  2. I hope you heal quickly, Jo! Take care of yourself and rest up!


  3. Thanks, Eva. I’m hoping I’ll be back in gear very soon.


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