A few weeks ago I went on vacation (the beautiful island of Kauai), and the day I got back to skating was pretty rough. I had been off the ice for nearly two weeks and went to the rink only a few hours after a long flight back. When I started my feet were all swollen, and I could barely get my skates on, let alone feel my edges.
But as the week went on and I gradually got over jet lag and back into the skating groove, I’ve been realizing how much my skating has improved in the past few years.
To begin with, I am much more in control of my edges. Instead of a brief delay every time I got on a new edge (this was often very brief, but I still could feel it), I feel like I know how to get right on the edge. What’s more, I can actually deepen and accelerate edges at will. While I’m not able to use every edge to generate power (you’ll see from my lesson notes how much this is a priority!) I’m getting better at this.
Aside from post-vacation euphoria, what is going on? Well, several things that seem to be working in my favor.
One is a postural correction. In my Pilates class, PT Sarah has been telling me to “bend your knees without really bending your knees”: imagining that my thighs are moving forward as if my knees were starting to bend, but not actually bending at the knees. This makes my lower abdominals and glutes engage as if I were tucking my hips under (posterior pelvic tilt). But the important thing is that I’m not actually changing my hip position that radically.
Instead, I’m trying to learn how to turn those stabilizing muscles on without allowing the hips to go out from under me, whether forwards or backward.
Another is that this improved posture actually allows me some more mobility in the hip joints. I am actually figuring out how to use the hip joint not only for stability, but also to do turns and deepen existing edges.
Laurie suggested that on cross strokes and progressives, I think about my free leg as folding in and helping to deepen the edge. This seems like a small change, but it makes a world of difference.
So just (a) the right amount of sunshine and snorkeling, plus (b) better posture through the hips, plus (c) hip movement and mobility, plus (d) free leg helpfulness equals one happy skater! Add some friendly skating buddies and there you go! You don’t need to ask me what I’m grateful for this year.
I’m usually a “glass half empty” kinda gal, but I can’t resist.
- Progressives. Be aware of movement in the hip joint.
- Powerpulls. Watch position of free leg on inside edge (not too far over in front of skating leg).
- Back chassès. Work on the direction and stability of the inside edge push. Connect this to the action in the hip joint (leg turns in but then moves back to neutral or even turns out).
- 3-step pattern with inside mohawks. Work on establishing third position before the back inside to forward inside. Stronger forward inside edge.
- Forward cross strokes. Bend free knee to allow weight to deepen into the skating foot. This is also important on forward progressives; make sure you do this on both the outside and inside edges.
- Forward inside three, cross over front, back inside threes (in circle). Work on establishing a stronger inside edge into the three, rotate in hip joint, try to get rid of the skid, hold back outside edge longer before crossing.
- Swing roll (try to get a power pull), change edge, inside mohawk, quick step to change feet, push forward to repeat on other side.
- Inside three, back cross, outside three-mohawk (continuous action), repeat on other side.
- Different entry edges twizzles. Keep skating hip slightly open, skating side leads on entry (rather than letting body swinging around), ankles together.
- Inside counters. Use inside edge pressure to “jump” the turn.
- Forward power pulls (inside, outside, inside), inside mohawk, back power pulls (inside, outside, inside), step forward, repeat on other side.
- Swing roll, (try to get a power pull), change edge, inside mohawk, power pull, step forward on outside edge on other side, repeat.
- Outside rocker, cross in front to back outside (change arms at the same time), back cross stroke.
- Forward choctaw, power pull, step forward, tuck behind, repeat on other side.
- Three step outside-outside mohawk. Do this on pattern. Make sure your free side stays elongated.
- Inside mohawk, power pull, back outside to forward inside (choctaw).