jo skates

Skating in the key of life

Tough guys at the rink



Kari, Sonia, Rob, and Marc: Making the World a Better Place for Ice Dancing 

Last night’s session was very busy. In addition to the usual suspects (see picture above), there were a number of skaters polishing programs for Adult Nationals, some hockey skaters in full gear, and some beginners looking very nervous as they entered the fray.

Not an easy session, between dodging double jumps and trying to stay out of the way of the hockey folks (those face masks continue to remind me of those Friday the 13th horror movies that I fortunately have never seen). But since I went out for a bike ride earlier in the day, I wasn’t planning to skate all out. I spent much of the time working on my left side posture and position over my blade.  Sometimes it’s good to hunker down in my own little space and work on–well, the same stuff I usually work on, only smaller.

There was a time when I might have been more assertive, maybe jumped in to put my own music on, or made an effort to do a few patterns of something that might cover the rink. But I’ve been feeling pretty self-contained these days.

At my lesson last week Laurie and I talked about practicing just standing on flats with my feet parallel and next to each other. I am just beginning to be able to do this without my knees running into each other. I used to dismiss that as just the way I was built: a little bit knock-kneed, with fairly closed hips. But now I believe that I am well within the “normal” range, and that it’s nature, not nurture, that’s the issue.


I think that many years ago a hip misalignment changed the way I stand (and skate) so that my knees have been turning in. I’ve gotten used to this, and compensated for it in all kinds of self-destructive ways. Luckily I am finding that these habits and their negative effects (like knee pain) are reversible.

So I am practicing things like standing or doing swizzles with my feet right next to one another. I am also practicing (on a flat) this exercise for swing rolls: extending my leg back while bending the standing knee, then straightening the knee and bringing the free foot right next to the skating foot and then forward without rocking or shaking or allow the knee to turn in. I am doing little baby spread eagles with forward outside edges in between them, trying to keep my hips over my skates in an open position.

All of these exercises don’t require more turn-out, but they do require (1) good posture, with those back dimples in place, (2) staying over the correct part of my blade (farther back than I think I should be), and (3) actually making myself put my feet next to one another.

Practicing these things doesn’t require much space, which is ideal for very crowded sessions like the one last night. So while I am occasionally nostalgic for those days of busting loose and running people over without compunction (in my dreams!), I was fairly content with just practicing exercises and keeping my feet to myself. Hey, just because I look sedate doesn’t mean I’m not tough!

Sedate-yet-tough to-do list:

  • mohawk edge pull (head in direction of travel; zipper faces inside of circle; more knee bend exiting mohawk. And surprise! this is not to an outside edge after all, but two inside edges. Once you’re comfortable (another year? haha) add arm positions on the mohawk.
  • Back outside three, edge pulls (do three on the uphill side, to at top of circle)
  • mohawk, inside three, extension: think of position of head and leading arm
  • European man’s pattern: make sure you bend and really extend the free leg, even if your bruise hurts
  • outside closed mohawk (foxtrot): check for correct hip position and turned out free leg on exit edge; head position is important as well.
  • tuck behind, kilian choctaw in both directions:  check for correct hip position on exit edge; head position is important as well.
  • blues choctaw: again, check hip position and head position on exit edge

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 “Tough guys at the rink

  1. I haven’t tried it yet but heard that Killian Choctaw is so difficult! I squealed a little when you said you were doing baby spread Eagles to help with your hip issues. Yay!


  2. Oooh, getting a squeal is really special. Thanks so much, Eva!


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