jo skates

Skating in the key of life

I think I can


So the musical selection today is the second movement of Mozart’s Piano Sonata #16, nicknamed “Sonata facile” because Mozart himself said this sonata was for beginners. And I chose this movement because (1) it’s the easiest of all the movements, and (2) it is “Andante” or “walking tempo.”

Both describe (1) the easy things I’ve been working on, and (2) the slow speed at which I do them. I am not ashamed to be working on these things, even though they are très facile–or at least they seem as though they should be.

I remind myself that if I were a professional musician, I’d be working on scales my whole life. If I were a ballet dancer, I’d be doing barre every day. Somehow I didn’t expect to still be working on the basics of pushing, weight shifting, and alignment, but there you go.

One emphasis for the week has been trying to keep my weight over my pushing side longer. I realized that I was thinking about this all wrong. I would push as if I were extending my body away from the skating foot, like pushing a scooter along. This meant that some of my weight invariably remained over my pushing foot, which caused me to lean out of the circle. It really helps to think about my pushing side as first firming up  (like a wall, Laurie says), but then releasing to send both hips forward.

Another issue has been maintaining the “hips under” position on inside edges, both forwards and backwards. My inside edges tend to cave in rather precipitously after turns, and I realized that this came from the bigger problem of dropping my free side into the circle (which came from the even bigger problem of just allowing those hip muscles to release rather than staying engaged).

One more issue is my ribcage alignment.  I think that moving my right ribcage just slightly to the right helps to put me in the better place on many moves. I have to keep reminding myself to do this, though. I may have to work on this off-ice as well, since I suspect I still have a degree of functional scoliosis from that hip misalignment.

Will really have to work on these issues. Honestly, I’m not sure how many more times I can get Ari to say “don’t stick your hip out” before he has steam coming out of his ears! But it’s not my long-suffering coaches I’m worried about. It’s about what will happen when one of these days I’m actually pushing and shifting and aligned.

Then I’ll actually be going fast.

Instead of the little engine chugging slowly up the hill, I’ll be screaming with terror as I rocket around the rink! Whoa, Nelly!

But until that day: I think I can. I think I can. I think I can!

Lesson notes:

  • edges, pushes
  • think about how you’re bringing free foot in. Try bending free leg and pointing free toe down toward ice to maintain “flat hip” (relaxed hip flexors) on skating side
  • back inside three with foot in front
  • back inside three, forward inside three. Don’t worry about curve, concentrate on shifting weight from back to forward on blade.
  • three step inside mohawk pattern. Hips under.
  • forward inside 3 (top of circle, bring foot in to turn), back outside 3; forward outside 3, back inside 3 (foot in front). Work on getting half circles to be of equal size.

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.

6 thoughts on “I think I can

  1. Take your time – it’s always better to be slow and correct than fast and incorrect! And why, oh why, is it so hard to keep our hips underneath us?? If you find out the secret to this, please let me know, as I struggle with that too!!


  2. Why, oh why, indeed, Eva! I’m thinking of creating a recording that will just play in the background as I skate. But I shouldn’t need one, I’ve heard it so often!!!


  3. Interesting thought on pushing. The direction I always get is to keep my feet together (in a T) all the way through my bend until I have to push. I’m thinking this probably accomplishes the same thing, keeping the pushing leg from separating early and taking weight with it? I’m totally on basics now, too, just working on my juvenile moves. I know I’ll break out into other things soon, though!


    • Thanks, Mary. I had another lesson on pushing, so will write another post on the same subject. I like the idea of keeping the feet together, that makes sense! Glad to know I’m in good “basics” company!


  4. Lovely, soothing music. Thanks for sharing.


  5. Thanks so much George. It’s been a crazy few weeks work-wise, so soothing music is needed!


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