jo skates

Skating in the key of life

Back pivot challenge


So the intended topic of this post has changed a number of times since the beginning of this week. First I was going to write about spending a few days at the beginning of the week without skating. Normally that wouldn’t be a big deal, but much of that time was spent sitting in meetings. When I did get back on the ice last mid-week, I felt wretched, totally off balance and tentative. Things were not fun off the ice either. At my Pilates class on Wednesday evening, my hamstrings kept cramping up.  PT Sarah said that that much time sitting is enough to turn off anyone’s hamstrings.

It took another couple of days before things started to feel better. The second topic was going to be the consistent progress I’ve been making on edges. I have been working hard not only to keep my lean consistently into the circle, but also to maintain that lean using core muscles (and correctly-aligned hip position) rather than using my upper body.

By Friday, I almost felt on top of things again. Then I had a lesson that included back pivots. For my readers who don’t skate (all two of you), a back pivot is what the male pairs skater basically does while his partner is spiraling towards death. Actually, lots of skaters do this move (usually much more upright). Except for me, that is.

I was fine doing a back pivot in a counter-clockwise direction (leading with a right back outside edge). But you guessed it, the clockwise direction, emphasizing the left back outside edge, was totally feeble. (I was ready to say disastrous, but I wanted to be positive.)  That’s because it involves turning out over the left hip as well as twisting my body towards the right.

But you know what? I got this. I am going to rise to this challenge, and actually learn to do this. I feel like getting even a little more mobility on this move will pay off big time. So here I go, adding the back pivot challenge to my other list of challenges to practice every time I’m on the ice.

Oleg’s “pivot pumps” exercises look even more impossible. That’s next!

Wish me luck!

The musical mood for the week is set by Mendelssohn’s “Song Without Words,” as played by the great cellist Jacqueline du Pré. Starts out simple, but gets full of angst soon enough (seems appropriate for the back pivot challenge!)

Lesson notes:

  • reverse choctaw, step, inside mohawk, push back, repeat sequence. Step behind yourself for the choctaw, don’t give into the temptation to push forward; hips under on inside edge.
  • alternating forward three turns, keeping feet together. Remember to bend and rise for the turn, like the European. Try these with arms lifting and head following arms.
  • Back pivots in both directions. Bend skating arm, look in the direction of travel.
  • Inside mohawk, pull change edge, cross in front, step forward.
  • Back pivot, pull change from outside to inside, step forward, inside mohawk, push back, repeat sequence
  • mohawk, push back, toe-toe (change lobes), step, repeat sequence.

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 “Back pivot challenge

  1. Ah, the dreaded back pivots. For those who jump, these are great exercises for toe loops and lutzes. My pairs partner struggles with the back pivot for the beginner death spiral (we don’t need the ‘death’ part for our level, thankfully!). It’s easier to do these individually rather than having to fling another human around the circle while pivoting! You got this, Jo!


  2. Great point about the back pivots being easier individually! I think having to lean away from a partner makes it really really hard. Can’t wait to hear about your progress on pairs–so awesome that you’re being “flung” around these days!


  3. I must admit I don’t know what a reverse mohawk is. Is it a backward-to-forward mohawk? I have a back pivot in my new program (at least so far) and I’m not consistent at it at all. We’ll see whether it stays in. I hope so because I want to learn it better. Oleg’s pivot pumps would be great for learning it as well as for getting a better edge into my back power three turns. But I hesitate to think of what my legs and feet would feel like after I practiced that move. I certainly wouldn’t do it for as long as Oleg.


  4. Oleg does go round and round, doesn’t he? My legs are feeling it! I’m not sure what a reverse mohawk would be either–maybe just a step forward onto the same type of edge? I meant a reverse choctaw, which is a back outside to a forward inside turn; this video has forward and reverse choctaws on it:


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