jo skates

Skating in the key of life

There will be cake


So I went in to get my skates sharpened this week, and when my regular skate technician got to my right skate, he paused and checked the blade several times. Then he went “hmmm.”

Uh oh, I thought. That’s not good.

He said that the outside edge was way high: probably a mistake from the last time he sharpened them.

Now, I had been having some trouble on my right side (which I felt odd since, that’s usually my strong side). Twizzles, for instance, have been really wobbly lately. But I thought that was due to something I was doing wrong. But lo and behold, after he redid my skates, I got back on the ice and everything felt way better. So it was the blade after all.

That one change immediately made me feel better about skating in general. This immediately made me feel better about other things too. I will just digress for a moment here. Things at work have been insane. I feel like I need to be in five different places at once. I have never wanted a body double (a Jo-clone) so much! And at home there’s seeing my high school senior through the final stage of college applications. (What’s that whooshing sound? Yes, it’s all that money getting ready to be sucked away for tuition…) Or shuttling my younger son to different engagements. Or taking the car to the shop or remembering that we’re out of milk or realizing that in a moment of mom-guilt I volunteered to help with another event or rehearsal.

But at least that blade runs smoothly underneath me. And a good thing too, since I’ve got all kinds of exciting challenges ahead of me, skating-wise.

Challenge one is continuing to work on good alignment and keeping my body in working order. I still have trouble at times with certain basic positions, and really have to thinking about not “sitting in the hip” or as Ari would say, “hanging off the hip.” In technical terms this is when the pelvis drops down contralaterally into relative hip adduction. But while that’s really fun to say, honestly, that doesn’t help me correct it. Some dance sites do talk about this problems, with advice like lengthening through the hips or imagining air in the joints. This positive thinking is helpful, but I tend towards the more cynical reality of what becomes terrifying when I hang off my hip. Here’s a brief list:

  • Outside edges. I have begun serious work on doing a better outside edge into a strong pivot position, forwards and backward, with my body turned out of the circle and my torso and back leaning into the circle and my head in the right direction.
  • Turns of any kind.
  • Cross steps. If I hang off my hips, there is no room for my new foot and I become a pretzel on a wild ride. As of this past week I have started trying to do these backwards (as in the cross-step into that one-beat outside edge after the slide-slide on the paso doble) and realized that I totally have missed the boat on these.
  • Inside edges.

Okay, that’s pretty much my entire skating life, now, so I need to move on. Challenge two is skating faster. Challenge three will be not panicking when I am skating faster.

Time for happy birthday cakes for Laurie and lesson notes!


  • Left inside, hips as spotlights (don’t let left hip lead too much).
  • Choctaw sequence in kilian with “pulsing leads.”
  • Euro/Starlight three turns.
  • Pivoting outside edges, forwards and backwards. Start with hand to opposite hip, turning out standing as well as free hip/leg, and leaning entire torso in circle
  • Inside mohawks with turnout.
  • Blues choctaw. Deep inside entry edge, and bend further until the new foot contacts the ice (there shouldn’t be an abrupt transfer of weight or push–yet). Change body lean in anticipation of the turn (not during or after the turn). Don’t touch down!
  • Tango mohawk. More speed, new foot comes in behind (fourth position, not heel to heel). Count: 2 beats push and extension, 2 beat swing, turn mohawk, 2 beat outside forward extension, 2 beat backwards extension.
  • Paso Doble exercise on the section after the slide-slide. First spot to watch out for is (1) the first cross step to the left outside edge, which should immediately curve towards the boards. Sickle foot on the back cross, and don’t hang on your right hip on that inside edge leading into the cross. (2) Second possible trouble spot is the right inside-outside change sequence. Don’t rise for the change of edge. Keep looking out of the circle and turn in your left free leg. Simply bend the free leg and draw in so that you can push.



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 “There will be cake

  1. Oh whew – so good to know that the blades were the cause! That has to be comforting that it wasn’t “user error,” which is usually my case. Was it your birthday? If so, happy birthday!! Hope you get to celebrate in a fantastic way!


  2. Eva, it was my coach’s birthday. But with such a great lesson, I feel like it could well have been mine!!! Hope you’re out there baking!


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