jo skates

Skating in the key of life

Learning by osmosis


So I had this high school teacher who used to joke with us by saying that we should put our textbooks under our pillows while we slept and “learn by osmosis.”

I don’t think that would quite work with skating, but heck, I’m willing to give it a try. At least I will this week while a work-related trip is keeping me away from the rink. I’m staying in a hotel with a pool, so I have been trying to keep in shape with some swimming (inspired by the special “poolside issue” at Mary’s Fit&Fed blog). This pool is surrounded by windows and because I’m still in a different time zone, I was in the pool in time to watch the sun rise while doing the backstroke.

Don’t be too impressed. I’m not that great of a swimmer though I love to be in the water (I’m a Pisces, after all!) After a few laps my arms were getting tired from doing the same stroke, and I realized that I needed some plan of action to get enough of a workout. So I started thinking about my skating practice routine, which is so nicely mapped out now after two years of working on basics: going first forwards and then backwards and then turning around in various ways.

This is what I came up with: six lengths of the pool each of breaststroke, elementary backstroke, crawl, and backstroke; then two rounds of the pool with a kick board (going clockwise to counter my tendency to favor going counter-clockwise at the rink). Then repeat the whole sequence.

But where’s the osmosis part, you ask? Well, with each stroke I would try to imagine myself doing a skating move (basic edges, chassés, and the like). For the record, I did actually try doing skating-type motions underwater, but this did not work so well. I’m not sure just thinking about the moves will help, but I did get a pretty good workout and was surprised how this kept me going.

Other things I have been doing: reading Peter Dalby’s Making the Right Moves on the airplane and catching up with some other skating blogs during downtime. Walking around trying to keep the top of my femur right over my foot (honestly, it’s a mind game!). And doing foot exercises in the jacuzzi (helps to keep toe cramping down).

I will report back on my degree of “osmosis” when I return to the ice!

Lesson notes from last week:

Breaking down the Kilian (as opposed to the Kilian breaking me down):

  • Pattern, nice and big and fast (at least the first part until the fear-of-choctaw creeps in)
  • Progressives: make sure right foot doesn’t just step down (emphasize left push onto inside edge)
  • Cross wide
  • Hit “pivot” position after cross (I realized that there is a fundamental posture issue with my doing the “pivot” position–more on that later)
  • Back cross-behind: step inside right where outside edge is, allow inside edge to come around (I realized also that there is a fundamental posture issue with my hip and free leg position on this inside edge–more on that later too!)
  • Choctaw (I actually quite like this turn now, especially since I’m sometimes in a correct position going in!)
  • After the choctaw: push, cross, load foot and step forward–immediate preparation with foot in for next sequence.

More moves:

  • Twizzles: don’t go in on a really deep edge, find the correct part of the blade, check tracing to see if turns are equal, open body position going into turns, speed
  • Rockers: all of them, on real edges, with speed


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 “Learning by osmosis

  1. I used to do water aerobics when I was pregnant with my daughter. I practiced axel drills in the shallow end. I’ve also seen video of Tim Dolensky doing a triple axel off the diving board, so the water can definitely help with skating! Those Killian steps sound so challenging! (Chocktaws and I do not get along)


  2. Oooh, maybe that’s why his triple axel looks so good! By the time you get on the ice, it’s perfect (and you don’t get water up your nose). Will have to try the Kilian in the water now. Wish me luck!


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