jo skates

Skating in the key of life

It’s alive!


Alice never could quite make out, in thinking it over afterwards, how it was that they began: all she remembers is, that they were running hand in hand, and the Queen went so fast that it was all she could do to keep up with her: and still the Queen kept crying ‘Faster! Faster!’ but Alice felt she could not go faster, though she had not breath left to say so.

The most curious part of the thing was, that the trees and the other things round them never changed their places at all: however fast they went, they never seemed to pass anything. ‘I wonder if all the things move along with us?’ thought poor puzzled Alice. And the Queen seemed to guess her thoughts, for she cried, ‘Faster! Don’t try to talk!’

When she falls through the looking glass, Alice goes running with the Red Queen, who keeps telling her to go faster and faster. But Alice realizes that she is not moving. After a while, they stop to rest, and Alice is surprised to find that they have been under the same this tree the entire time. She tells the Queen that “in our country” if you ran very fast for a long time, “you’d generally get to somewhere else.” To which the Queen replies, “A slow sort of country!”

Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!’

This past week, I realized yet again that I skate in ways that make me seem lazy, even though I feel like I am running as fast as I can.

In an ideal skating world, all my edges would be very much alive. What this means is that instead of just hanging out and “riding on top” of the edge, I would be actively pressing into the ice (using my lower leg, ankle, and foot) to control depth and generate power.

The other day, I did a little double-checking of each of my edges to see where I was at. What I found is that most of them were only (gulp!) half alive.

  • right forward outside: alive most of the time, but I have to think about this on the swing roll.
  • left forward outside: alive most of the time
  • right forward inside: alive if I think about proper alignment
  • left forward inside: alive if I can get a good push off the right
  • right back outside: alive and kicking
  • left back outside: I think I can, I think I can. . .
  • right back inside: comatose
  • left back inside: uh. . . .

The good news is that I can fix this fairly consistently (and when I do, the added edge control feels great) by getting over my skate (proper alignment) and using my foot. This feels completely different from what I was doing before. Aside from my ankles, I feel like my body is moving way less than it was. At the same time, I know I am moving faster than I was.

The bad news is that I have to keep poking myself (mentally) . This involves some work to slide my “ankle mortise” forward rather than just dropping my upper body forward and my butt back. And this has to happen immediately. I’ve gotten into the habit of just sitting on the back of the blade. It’s probably a lot like my sitting in a chair all day.

While these wake-up calls are not easy to face, at least I’m making progress. I caught a glimpse of myself in the plexiglass doing a back outside swing roll, and honestly, it didn’t look half bad. So I’m not entirely a skating zombie!

My new goal (at least for the next few weeks) is to make my edges (hey, at least they are half-alive!) consistently dynamic, vital, bursting-with-life force goodness. Wish me luck!

Everyone’s getting their spring look in gear!


Lesson notes:

  • Inside three, change to inside, to push onto inside roll (this is to develop the needed outside-inside transition after the outside edge).
  • Back inside edges (make sure body is shifted over).
  • Back chassès clockwise (don’t lift shoulders, settle into the left outside edge).  Alignment is looking pretty good–hooray!
  • Quick, continuous pushes on progressives (like the “run” in the Viennese)
  • Inside three, back outside three, work on push.
  • Outside cross in front to outside edge (this looks like it’s some kind of evil clown trick).
  • Outside three, push back, back outside three, push through to repeat on other side.
  • Outer edge, inner edge, change edge and repeat on other side (make this deep).

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 “It’s alive!

  1. I like your analogy to Alice in Wonderland. There is a coach at our rink that likes to tell us during competitions, “This is a SKATING competition (not a WALKING competition)!” She is always telling us to skate faster, even though we think we are going fast. You are right that the faster we go, the less movement our bodies seem to have. But why, oh why, is it so hard to execute?!?! I guess that’s the million dollar question. 🙂


  2. I definitely feeling like Alice, huffing and puffing even as I try to push!


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