jo skates

Skating in the key of life

As the bruise heals


So for a long time I have been struggling with the alignment on my left side. The problems have been both postural (the way I stand) and conceptual (the way I think). I’m happy to say that I’m definitely making progress on both.

To begin with, last week’s injury to my right hip and back has forced me to work extra hard on my alignment on both sides. If I am at all out of whack, my back hurts–it’s as simple as that. And because my right side is sore, I’ve had to spend most of the time on my left side. Either that, or stop skating.

Not that! Anything but that!

But the positive thing about this is that my confidence in my left side has definitely improved. I can actually feel my hip joint (farther out and back than I thought it was) stabilize with those now much-more-buff glute muscles.  And I can get that entire apparatus over the correct part of my blade (again, farther back than I thought it was).

Once that’s settled, so much is possible.

  • I can do progressives and chassés that actually feel like they stay on a consistent circle. Ditto edges, inside and outside, forward and back.
  • I can do mohawks and actually bring in my new foot without compromising the stability of that edge. This means that I can concentrate on the correct movement and position of the incoming foot (heel in, turned out) and simply slip that new skate into place under me–because I now realize what “under me” actually feels like.
  • I can do left twizzles on the correct part of my blade. Only one steady revolution, but there will be more. There will be!
  • I almost can do a spread-eagle. Well, no, but I can at least imagine how one might be done, and that’s really fun.
  • I am still rocking a little when I skate faster. But I can now pinpoint when this happens and (even better) correct it.

So my first goal for the week (as the bruise heals) is to continue to enjoy this new stability on my left side.

The second goal (as the bruise heals more) is to work on a better push and transfer. I tend to bring my feet together, pause, push, and then transfer to the new edge. This whole process, while it shows a meticulous nature, takes waaaayyy too long. By the time I’m on the new edge, everyone else will have gone to sleep and will miss it! Plus this also results in a kind of parallel, sideways sort of half-push, half slide.

Instead, I need to launch my new foot ahead of me. It’s not really that far ahead, but it feels like it. Here’s what it looks like when world record holding speed skater Brittany Bowe does it:

And Laurie gave me a handy saying that she says Dutch speed skaters sometimes use:

Step late the new skate.

But the kicker was when Laurie mentioned that you can see these most excellently defined push-transfers on the videos of Scott and Tessa’s 2008 Argentine Tango. Boy, if this doesn’t give me inspiration, nothing will!

Lesson notes:

  • Viennese Waltz outside mohawk: don’t distort your left skating hip when the right foot comes around. Just move the new foot–not the thigh!–into place; you will have to bend your knee.
  • Alternating forward classes: practice refining the change to the inside edge, and really loading the pushing foot
  • Alternating progressives: surge the new foot ahead to get correct the hip leading (this will help forward swing rolls too)
  • Back inside edge push: feet angled in (the reverse of the forward inside edges with feet angled out).
  • Speaking of forward inside edges: do these on a nice round rather than distorted circle, and keep your weight over inside (do not pull up on the free hip).
  • Maintain your edges with the ankles, not with shoulders or hips.
  • Back inside swing rolls: don’t forget the swing, head moves in direction of travel.
  • Back outside swing rolls: pass feet right next to each other.
  • Alternating back progressives: more inside edge, distribute edges along circle.
  • Inside mohawk: bring in heel first (rather than parallel); practice dragging toe.

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 “As the bruise heals

  1. I’m happy to hear that you’re gaining some stability in that left side, Jo. And man, once you get that spread eagle, you’ll have to take a video of it! Hope that bruise continues to heal quickly.


  2. Thanks, Eva! By the time I get the spread eagle, videos may be obsolete! But at least hopefully I won’t be bruised any more.


  3. Great video of Tessa and Scot–thanks for sharing!


  4. Aren’t they amazing? Sigh…


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