jo skates

Skating in the key of life

In medias res


In the midst of things. Many stories begin in the middle of the action, such as Homer’s Odyssey, which starts with Odysseus stuck on Calypso’s island, a seven-year hiatus in his journey back to Ithaca.

While not as epic, this blog also begins in the middle, with some of the skating journey behind me and (hopefully) more to come before reaching a destination of some kind. I’ve tried not to focus on the destination part too much; it’s really been about all the adventures along the way.

For most of my years of skating, there were lots of adventures. I felt like I was constantly moving ahead, learning a ton of new things, clear in my purpose (if not my technique). Then, bam! Injured. Stalled. Out of commission for some indeterminate time period. Discovering things so deeply wrong that they will take a long time to correct.

Even though I am enjoying myself at the rink, I’m wondering whether I might wake up one day and realize that seven years have passed, and I’m still very far away from where I want to be.

I might well identify with stalwart Odysseus, itching to get off that island. Though, of course, his adventures were much more memorable: the Lotos-Eaters, Circe, the Cyclops, Scylla and Charybdis, the sirens. My skating problems, on the other hand, feel like playing whack-a-mole.

(I found this image doing a random search for “whack-a-mole,” and selected this one because it featured the University of Minnesota’s mascot, Goldy Gopher, who is supposed to be a ground squirrel but looks like a chipmunk gone wrong.)


There must be a reason why these stories begin only when there is a lull in the action. Perhaps the fact that nothing seems to be happening creates its own suspense. Will Odysseus get off the island? What will poor Calypso do when she is left all by her lonesome?

Maybe she will build a skating rink (she was the daughter of a Titan, after all) and learn to skate. And because there’s no one there to give her advice (and skating isn’t really the kind of thing you can just pick up on your own), she will have to figure out how to get access to internet.

Calypso, here are my lesson notes in case you need them.

  • slide chassé; keep hip position over outside edge hip, don’t rock or drop out of circle
  • Viennese Waltz outside-outside-outside edges: upper body position, bring feet together heel-instep to prevent free leg getting ahead, stay down on knees, last outside has turned-out free leg for the mohawk
  • back outside step forward to forward outside: keep body over back outside edge (don’t turn upper body and arms before hips), turn out hips and feet to fourth position, the back outside becomes an inside while it is still running along. This is different from the 7-push you used to use.
  • left outside three (see, still stuck on that island): work on the turn-out of the right free leg (use back of leg muscles), bring in the leg before rotation, don’t turn upper body prematurely. Then simply rotate core and lift the heel for the turn
  • swing roll, change edge, mohawk, push back, step forward, repeat on other side
  • brackets (don’t do counters instead, envision edge)
  • inside threes (posture, turn the imaginary zipper to inside circle)


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 “In medias res

  1. This is very like a chocolate budino that I make from FormerChef: I’ve made it non-dairy by substituting other types of milk. Good stuff! By comparison, standard American chocolate pudding is hardly chocolate at all!


  2. Wow, that chocolate budino looks great. Will have to try that along with the espresso cream. Coffee and chocolate are a killer combination. Thanks so much, Mary!


  3. Try not to think of an injury as a stall in progress. I tore my meniscus about a year and a half ago and didn’t let that prevent me from skating. Yes, I was limited in terms of the elements that I was able to do, but it also forced me to work on things that I hadn’t made time to practice. Because I injured my spinning leg, I couldn’t do any forward spins. The injury forced me to work on all of my back spins. If it wasn’t for the meniscus tear, I would never had gotten my back sit spin – it’s now one of my strongest spins! 🙂


  4. Wise advice as always, Eva! Yes, though I feel “stalled,” what I’m feeling is probably just another way of making progress (as well as healing). Plus once I get some of these muscles retrained, lots of things should get easier. Your back spin training is a good example–will have to hunker down and work on some of those things I’ve been forgetting about (like brackets and other turns). Thanks for the encouragement!


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