Since getting back on the ice from weeks of summer vacation and houseguests, I’ve been focusing on getting my skating sea legs back. I’ve noticed that while some aspects of skating come back quickly, certain trouble spots–like the back inside edge on the right side and the forward inside edge on the left–continue to plague me. I realized that I have some more basic work on alignment and strength to do, especially on those edges.
When I hit the skating sweet spot, the edge feels really solid. I can turn, deepen the edge, do a power pull, or change positions without much effort. But when I’m not in a good place over the edge, all kinds of crazy things begin to happen. Most of the time I can sort of keep it under control, but sometimes it’s like a horror movie.
I’m pretty sure that these particular edge problems are tied to old injuries (left hip, right ankle) that have made me more tentative on those sides. But playing it safe by backing away from the edge (and I do mean literally backing away, since my backside goes out) makes it even more terrifying. If “safety” is a feeling, I need to redefine it as proper alignment and pressure into the ice.
Luckily I am not having to struggle through this alone; I finally had some lessons as well as a Pilates class this week. One of the first things Laurie told me was to keep my tailbone pointed down. This is something that I wrote about some years ago. But you know, like most good advice, it bears repeating. When I actually moved my tailbone down, I could immediately feel some stretching and pulling through the muscles of the left hip.
At my Pilates class, PT Sarah noticed that the lowest part of my stomach would bulge forward when I would do certain exercises. Once she corrected this, I realized that I haven’t been fully engaging my abdominal muscles (or, I should say, the correct abdominal muscles). This also makes sense, given the skating issues I’ve been having. Now that I’m aware of this, I need to translate this into something I can do on the ice.
Another thing that Laurie pointed out was the weakness of my right back inside push. Again, I realized that I have been backing away from anything that involves a strong back right inside edge, probably because my right ankle feels somewhat unstable these days. I’ve been steadily working on that ankle (which I think is getting stronger and more mobile, so good!) but have to keep thinking about translating that to the ice.
So now I have my work cut out for me. Gotta spend some serious time on the ice! Luckily it’s summer, and skating is a good way to escape the heat. Just to remind me that soon enough the cold winds will blow, here’s a little animation set to an amazing violinist.
- Forward and backward swizzles: tailbone down, articulate ankles more, don’t rush, really focus on right side.
- Progressives: push down through the ice and don’t release early (no popping up).
- Back crossovers: clockwise, watch push from right inside edge goes out of circle, articulate foot/ankle rather than swiveling hips.
- Back cross stroke: practice “v”position and articulating ankle on outside edge.
- Three forward cross strokes, keeping shoulders square (hold thumbs if necessary), hold next outside edge for full circle (skating arm in front). Bend those knees!
- Outside mohawk (foxtrot, tango)—all kinds of problems!
- Back crossover, push to back outside three, forward inside three, repeat on other side.
- Back outside, cross in front, three power pulls, repeat on other side (use pressure of edge pulls, not swinging upper body).
- Three step inside mohawk pattern: keep feet together after turn, get hips in proper place.
- Inside mohawk, back inside three, cross stroke, repeat.
- Inside mohawk, back inside three, swing roll, change edge into mohawk, repeat.
- Mohawk, push back, outside three with power pull on inside edge. Continuous pressure on inside edge for edge pull, not a short “punch.”