jo skates

Skating in the key of life



So one of the reasons skating never gets boring is that there are always discoveries to be made. There are body issues (like misalignments) and technique issues and technique issues that turn into body issues. And then there’s always that chance that I’ll discover something that, wow, I’ve been doing all wrong. Okay, that may be depressing (how long have I been doing this wrong?), but at least it is never boring.

Here’s the most recent discovery: I don’t bend my knees enough at the right time. I have figured out this from working on forward outside edges, but I think it true on all my edges.

Let me explain. On forward outside edges, such as the ones that Kseniya is doing on this video, there are actually two movements on the first part of the forward outside edge alone, even before the rise and changeover for the next push. One is the push into the initial part of the edge, with the skating knee bent and the free foot extended. Next is the  skating knee bending more as the free leg comes in to deepen the edge. 

This is the part I’m missing. Instead of bending more, I’m rising up as the free leg comes in. This means that I’m not deepening my edge (and getting less power). It also means that I am rising up at a really inopportune moment. And I’m confusing my body.

So I broke down what I need to do on these outside edges into these distinct movements:

  1. Push into initial position.
  2. Deepen knee bend as free leg comes in.
  3. Rise up on skating side, changeover to inside.
  4. Re-bend on skating side to push.

I suspect that I haven’t been doing  (2)–the deepening of the edge–on a lot of other moves (like those outside-outside edges in the Kilian). It’s not for nothing that Andrea, one of my coaches way back, once joked that I was popping up “like a toaster.” So today I worked on this additional knee bend and boy, did that ever feel different! It is especially evident on my right side, and after practice my right glutes felt really worn out (meaning that I’m not used to this!)

This is good for me, not boring, and hopefully will help with a lot of different moves. But how do I make this deepening of the knee really automatic? By the time I’ve told myself, “Not the toaster! Don’t do the toaster!” it’s already too late.

Instead, I think I’ll think about the “swoop” that this movement makes. Maybe it’s more like a “swoosh” but I’m not sure whether Nike will come after me if I make that the title of this post. Whether “swoop” or “swoosh,” this movement feels good. As the knee bends and the free leg comes in, the body accelerates; it almost looks like Kseniya is flying into this move.

A new idea? A little poem? I thought you’d never ask.

  • Push.
  • Swoosh. 
  • Rise up, change edge.
  • (Will this never end?)
  • Did you push? Did you swoosh?
  • If you did, then re-bend.



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.

6 thoughts on “Swoop!

  1. You always have such great insights, Jo! Those super deep edges freak me out because I don’t trust myself and am afraid that I’ll bite it and run into something (or somebody). 🙂


  2. Funny, Eva! I keep telling myself that they are less scary than learning an axel, but you’re right! Trust is an issue for skaters.


  3. Omgg thanks for your posts and that video. Im also working on these right now and this video really explains very throughly. Liked ur post!!


  4. Thanks so much–I’m glad the video was helpful. Oleg and Kseniya have some really good advice on the fundamentals. Good luck with your edge progress!


  5. Oleg and Kseniya are so helpful! What about saying to yourself, “Press, press” to get that second, sustained part of sinking into the edge? Something I may try when I get back on the ice.


  6. Oh, that IS a good idea. “Press” also makes me think (for whatever reason) about shaping dough–gently but firmly!


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