jo skates

Skating in the key of life

How do you spell success?


Hooray, made it through another busy semester (not quite over, but almost). I am counting my blessings.

The other day on a fairly busy session I decided to avoid the crowds by practicing my Shafer pushes in a little section of the center. In case you’re wondering what these are, here’s a video:

So off I push and run right into a little tot! Luckily, she was holding on to one of those metal frames they use for beginners–you know, the kind that the small hockey players grab and then use to ram one another. It’s survival of the fittest around here, I tell you.

She didn’t fall but looked at me, rather puzzled. I expected the immediate intervention of a parent-guardian screaming, “What, you ran into my kid?!!!???” But when I looked around, her supervising adult was busy on her phone and didn’t even see the mild collision. So we both went on our merry skating ways.

Despite these little incidents of terror, I’ve really been enjoying skating. I have been working on the same basic moves, but focusing on several related things.

First is making sure that I am actually always on an edge instead of just balanced over my skate. Sometimes I hit a flat, then try to recuperate the edge with my ankle or knee bend. This mistake usually happens when I change feet–just for an instant, but long enough to throw me off. Laurie reminded me (again) that my new skate actually should be placed on the other side of my midline. If I concentrate on this, it works like a charm!

On certain transitions, such as the back inside to back outside, I have become so used to setting down on a flat that I step inside my circle. I am practicing touching down my new (outside) edge so that it is placed on the ice right beside the other foot, and at the proper edge angle. This is revealing a lot of weird things about my back inside edges.

Second is pushing through my edge so that I get more power. The trick is to feel like I’m actually pushing my foot away from my body, rather than using my foot to push my body forward. You would think this would be same thing, but it actually feels really different if you are on an edge.

Third is thinking about the placement of the axis and different lobes on the ice. Since I have sworn off pushing from flat to flat, this means feeling like certain transitions are retrogressed.

I know, I know. These are all things I should have been doing a long time ago.

But instead of berating myself for being a skater-come-lately, I’m going to lavish myself with praise. I did all three things today, and the time flew by! And I didn’t run into anyone. Okay, there were only four other people there today. And I did have a near-miss when only Chris and I were on the ice and both of us were going backwards. But we didn’t collide.

Real edges! No ice casualties! No angry skating parents! Success!

I’m going to have to adapt this Bob Dylan quotation:

A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do.
to the following:
Jo’s skating session is a success if she gets on the ice and gets off in one piece, and in between she gets on an edge most of the time. And she doesn’t knock over other skaters, especially small children.


Lesson notes:
  • Back to front choctaw, inside counter, back touch, repeat on other side. Think curves.
  • Cross in front, tuck behind, forward choctaw, back cross step (outside-to-outside), step forward into correct leading arm, repeat on other side: learn how to change your lead.
  • Inside mohawk (don’t touch down), push to back outside three: work on placement on circle; retrogressing Inside to inside push—you only need 30 degrees of turnout. Try the “reverse lean”: stay on inside but change lean before push.
  • Inside mohawk (don’t touch down, use that inside edge), back inside three (ankles together, not knees).
  • Inside three, step forward, cross in front, repeat on other side.
  • back progressives: you are setting your outside edge foot too far into the circle: practice touching down with free foot. Practice “touch-down” exercise (don’t try to do this while doing progressives).
  • back crossovers: these are improved. Keep working on more bend.
  • forward outside three turn, back inside three turn: real edges into and out of the three turn; work on isolating free leg movement so it doesn’t throw you off.
  • forward outside loops: remember to continue to bend and deepen for the second half of the loop–don’t rush this part!

Here’s a terrific version of one of my favorite songs, Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror,” as performed by The Main Squeeze: 

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.

8 thoughts on “How do you spell success?

  1. I love your altered Bob Dylan quotation, Jo! Mine would be similar to yours… I also really like the visual of stepping on the other side of the midline so we’re not skating on flats. My coach said that all skating is done on curves, so you’re supposed to regress (retrogress?). Unfortunately, with Moves in the Field these days, we’re all programmed to come directly back to the axis, and almost on a flat. That’s not natural, and it’s causing us to miss skating on edges. But man, if skating on flats gave you additional points during a competition, I’d be in first place for sure! LOL.


  2. That’s a good point about Moves in the Field, Eva. I just had another lesson in which I was corrected for retrogressing too much, which means that you don’t really move down the ice. I also love your idea about competing for the most number of flats–I think I’d have an advantage (I was going to say “an edge” but that would just be too silly) for that gold!


  3. Retrogressing. I haven’t heard or thought about that since I stopped working on back edges and other moves in the field. That Schafer push is another element that rings a distance bell. Once upona I could do it starting from my strong side but never from my weak side. I need to revisit these things–thanks for the wake up call–I think! What will you torture me with on your next post? Not the Tango stop–anything but the Tango stop!


  4. There are all kinds of torturous things about skating–but I am not sure what you mean by “Tango stop.” Is it a fancy version of a t-stop? Set to “Oblivion?”


    • The best way I can describe a Tango Stop (also referred to as a “show stop”) is to compare it with a T-stop. A normal T-stop is a two foot stop with the braking foot behind the skater. The Tango stop places the braking foot in front:

      NB: For the overachievers in the audience, the Tango stop can also be a one foot stop:

      Normal T-stops with the braking blade behind the heel of the gliding skate? No problem.

      I.just.can’! Probably due to an over-fondness for my front teeth…


  5. Thanks, George. Watching the videos now and laughing at how easy Oleg makes it seem: “Avoid doing any sudden motion or jerky action.” As if!!!


  6. Your description of a successful skating session made me smile. 🙂 You sure have a lot to focus on. That must be good for the brain as well as the body


  7. It’s amazing how many moving parts I have to keep track of–at least until muscle memory makes this whole process easier. Thanks for checking in, Anne. Hope you get a chance to skate again soon!


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