jo skates

Skating in the key of life

Imposter edges and rogue free legs


Although I didn’t do much skating as a child, I have been working on skating for what seems like many years now. So it’s been a particularly humbling process to find that my edges, which feel so deep and heroic, are actually at times imposters: postures that pretend to be edges, but are really just accidents waiting to happen.

Similarly, my free leg sometimes makes me feel like there is a certain unpredictability to how a particular move is going to go. I can be all set up nicely for that turn or swing, and BOOM! Here comes the free leg out of nowhere, careening in an entirely different plane of existence, and pulling me off balance.

So I have two interrelated theories about why these imposter edges and rogue free legs have made my skating life into some kind of crazy spy novel. And however scary it is to imagine that I have been skating with imposters and rogues for this long, it is relief to realize that I can turn this story around just by realizing what’s going on.

So the imposter edge tends to happen when I think about balancing in a position rather than moving through an actual edge. I’ve been fixated on holding my body in a certain way and not thinking enough about how to move my body through different positions. One example might be on my forward inside, back outside choctaws (like in the Kilian). Here’s a picture of a novice Russian team doing this edge.


Maria Marchenko and Egor Pozdniakov in 2015

I have been fixated on getting a strong inside edge, which for me meant really cranking on that left ankle and foot and using a lot of left knee bend. Then on my lesson last week Ari pointed out that on that inside edge I am not allowing my body to rotate into the circle.

I believe that this is what we would call fighting the edge, right?

Doing a real edge entails not only bringing my left arm in front and around, but also allowing my lower body (yes, hips, too) to come around the inside edge. I practiced this last night and yes, this works much better. The real edge felt more shallow than the imposter, but it worked much better to get in and out of the turn.

So I think there is a key point here to be made about allowing my hips and upper body to move rather than locking them in place. This brings me to my second theory, which is about how I might have developed some less-than-constructive patterns  bad habits with my free leg. This is most apparent with my left forward outside three turns.

First, an apology for going back to my well-worn topic of these three turns. I honestly thought I had fixed them, since they do feel a lot better. But at my last lesson Laurie pointed out that I still was using my free (right) side to pull the turn around, even though I did it so stealthily that only catching me on video could prove the crime. (Okay, it wasn’t stealthy to her, since I couldn’t really keep my feet together and do the turn.)

The little rogue movement of using the free leg to pull around or touch down means that I am not using the correct skating side action. The rogue free leg means well; it’s like giving the weaker side an assist (like touching down, which I also do). But it also doesn’t allow the mobility and muscle action of the skating side to develop properly, which means that I’m not ever going to progress farther on these moves. I can get around, but I can’t actually do the turn. And there is a difference.

So the goal is to find and banish the imposters and rouges, which I suspect are hiding in plain sight!!! I won’t need a trench coat for this one.

On another note, I am enjoying seeing so many of my fellow adult skaters getting ready for Adult Nationals. The guys were out in full force earlier this week!

Who can resist this 1982 classic by the Weather Girls, Martha Wash and Izora Rhodes Armstead? Hallejulah!

Some additional notes on posture:

  • outside edges, experiment with where your torso is; trying turning navel 30 degrees out of the circle.
  • back inside edge (don’t turn free leg in, turn it out)
  • back outside edges, let skating side dictate where the edge goes, not the free side.


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 “Imposter edges and rogue free legs

  1. Way to be a super sleuth, Jo! I’m happy that you figured out what was causing those imposter edges. Now that you’re self-aware, I hope the corrections will be easy to do! 🙂


  2. Thanks, Eva–I hope for steady progress, even if the path there is slooooww goooooing!


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