jo skates

Skating in the key of life

Bitter truths


Which of these is the most horrible skating realization of this week?

  1. I am still not doing proper edges some of the time, especially on my left side.
  2. I am not pushing correctly, especially with my right foot.
  3. When I skate backwards, I am not transferring my weight fully to each new edge.
  4. My back eights make puny circles, even for me.
  5. I won’t get to skate next Thursday or Friday because of work.

If you guessed (5), you are correct! Oh, everything else is true too, by the way. But for some reason, knowing those other things fills me with a certain kind of glee.

Oh, I did feel discouraged earlier this week: Tuesday and Wednesday were especially rough. But I reminded myself that whenever I feel like quitting, that’s usually when I’m about to have some sort of breakthrough moment. That’s because when skating feels really hard, it usually means that I’m pushing myself to do things in new ways, rather than in my “oh well, whatever” kinda way.

So items (1) through (4) are all related, but it’s easier to think of them separately.

(1) Edges and lean inside. Laurie and I talked at length about my worries about not being “over my skate.” That is a misleading term, because in fact if you are on an edge, your body is actually inside of your edge. I’ll let Ulrich and Gillis illustrate.


Gilles Grafström

Gillis Grafström, Winter-Olympics in Lake Placid

On my left side, I really had to think hard about how to make this happen. Laurie had me do chassés in a circle and lean on her, and my body went into total resistance-contortion mode. But once I got into the proper position, everything clicked into place. I could push onto my skate and not have things go sideways, which brings me to (2).

(2) Proper push. So I think I have written before about Laurie’s telling me to put the new skate ahead of my old one: “Step late the new skate.” But saying and doing are two different things, and that push onto the new skate going forward still needs work. I’ve been working hard on backwards pushes too. Today Ari noted that when I push onto my left back inside edge, I am not turning my right foot in for the push. I am turning all other parts of my body, but not the foot. (I noticed that working on using my right foot fully for all my pushes helps a lot; it helps that forward inside edge, and forward inside three turn. My nemesis no more!)

(3) Weight transfer. Laurie and I talked at length about how pushing correctly not only gives you force for the new edge, but also allows you to transfer your weight correctly. This really made sense, especially on my backwards edges going into those back threes.

(4) Puny circles. I started off today’s lesson by telling Ari all my discoveries and asking him, “Why have you let me skate this way all these years?” (He has not been feeling great, so I told him my lesson would probably send him over the edge–get it? Haha!) He retorted, “You always say that,” and then got me back by remarking that my back eights were “really small, even for someone your size.” Okay, time to work on those pushes some more. Small, my #&*##!!!

(5) Work, #&*#@#!!! The only cure for that feeling is more Michael Jackson.

Lesson notes:

  • alternating threes: get on an edge and maintain that edge (goaemte), work on timing of upper body check
  • progressives in a circle: same thing (goaemte)
  • back eights: (goaemte); articulate feet on push, on inside eights lean towards free leg
  • forward inside rocker, change edge, back outside rocker, change edge
  • choctaws forwards and backwards (think about which edge you are supposed to be on; real curves)

Am working on my selfie technique too!

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 “Bitter truths

  1. On getting over the edge: one useful (but terrifying– I hate it!) exercise my dance coach does is have me do an edge in hold, then push my skate more onto the edge with his foot. It really gets me over the edge, more than I’m comfortable with! He did it on my first lesson back! Sorry you are missing your ice time, I’m sure you need the mental break. But on the other hand, at least you have skating problems to worry about to distract you from all the other worries (at least that’s how I think about it)?


  2. I’ve gotten shoved over my edge, too! Scary! You are right that I am lucky to have skating to obsess over–at least I feel like I have some measure of control over my blades. At least on some days I do! So glad you are on lessons again–hope you’re regaining strength and balance quickly, Mary.


  3. I understand the frustration and the urge to quit sometimes. One quotation I try to keep in mind is that there is always someone out there who wants to skate like you. You are their inspiration and motivation! And in this case, you are mine. I wish I could ice dance like you!


  4. You are so sweet, Eva. I think the urge to quit goes hand in hand with anything that is physically and mentally challenging. Part of the challenge for adult skaters is having to juggle skating with so many other aspects of life, so that even getting to the rink is sometimes hard. Frustration at NOT being able to skate is far worse than frustration on the ice. Looking forward to reading about your skating week next Friday!


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