jo skates

Skating in the key of life

Whew! Glad that’s over!


In my neck of the woods, many of the public sessions are really great: just the friendly regulars, pretty good ice, very affordable. Add a little mellow pop music playing in the background and you couldn’t ask for a better time.

But school is out, the weather’s turned cold and snowy, and parents are suddenly thinking that taking the entire family (even the kids who don’t want to skate) to the rink is a good idea. And then they let them loose! Even the music is drowned out by the screaming, which could be either delight or terror. Either way, I got off the ice feeling like I’d been on an episode of Survivor: The Ice Rink.

Now that I’m safely off, I can spend some time thinking about skating rather than holding my breath waiting for the crash (and the crunch of tiny bones). So this post is going to be a series of notes that I can read next week when I get back on the ice (after I come out of my food coma). Hopefully the rink will be back to its normal state.

To begin with, I still need to be really careful about my posture and left side alignment. I am proud to say that this has improved so that on occasion I actually feel stronger on my left side. But I still need to think about really being over my left side, rather than ever-so-slightly shifted towards the right.

Some of this has to do with my upper body now. I tend to have my left shoulder slightly forward and/or tensed up. This really complicates skating with a partner.

Another related issue is that I sometimes still drop my free hip down into moves. This is particularly true of cross strokes and cross steps. The result is that when I do alternating crosses (as in the Paso Doble), my hips rock from side to side–and then my shoulders also move in order to compensate. Too much shimmy when shimmy is not what we want! When it is done correctly, it looks like the legs just replace one another, rather than constantly moving side to side to shift weight.

Finally, I need more work on my ankle and foot strength. I am still having trouble pointing and flexing my right ankle, which makes certain things much harder than they need to be.

Lesson notes:


  • partnering on cross three (aim for the man’s right arm rather than trying to cross tracing.
  • bring feet together on syncopate (down up down)
  • feet together on three
  • more knee bend (lilt)
  • posture in foxtrot position (forward arm directs, no weight on back arm)

Paso Doble

  • cross steps on paso doble (no extension, immediate shift of weight onto new foot)
  • new introduction (two additional steps after my three turn to set up circle)
  • straighten front knee on slide-slide (weight on back leg)
  • work on extensions in opening, break-out section, and forward section


  • don’t flatten cross steps
  • cross three: sideways 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.

4 thoughts on “Whew! Glad that’s over!

  1. Ice tourists are the worst! I will be happy when they are finally off the ice. Glad you are getting over that left side more. I was laughing about your little shimmy because I do that when I attempt to golf. 🙂


  2. I don’t even ATTEMPT to golf anymore, so you’re one up on me, Eva!


  3. It really is that time of year when everyone decides it would be fun to skate, I feel your pain! It’s especially bad for trying to do moves or dance patterns. I hope you had a better session than that for dancing with your partner? As far as the foot and ankle strength, I’m going to be working on that with those PT bands for quite a long time I’m sure, so I’m with you there.


  4. Everyone seemed to vanish by the time I got back on the ice today! It was like magic. I am hoping that your foot and ankle exercises are doing you good. My progress on that front seems SOOOO SLOOOOWWW…


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