Friday, June 26, 2009

Lake Placid Day 3: Spins, Counters and Brackets


Three Turn


It is only Tuesday and I am already falling down tired. I haven't been sleeping well for the last several weeks. Excited about coming up here? Nervous about my upcoming skating tests? Worried about sewing my costume for my test? Some combination of the above? No matter what the cause I was pooped. The alarm had to get both of us up. We weren't about to get out of bed without being forced. I made it to the rink in time for the morning stretch class; so I was a little late... When we got to the seated part it struck me how lucky I was to be here. The sun was shining and a few puffy clouds were drifting past the window. When I did the stretches using the windowsill as a prop I was looking out over the Olympic speed skating track, the flags of nations and the ski jumps with the lovely Adirondack Mountains along the back. What a wonderful sight. I had been waiting for this week for months and I was finally here. How exciting! How extraordinary!

Stretch class was over and down to the rink I went. MIF practice. I did one lap and was instantly breathless. What the heck is wrong with me? I also noticed that my legs were like jello. I'll just have to take breathers between laps and go slow. After all this was only Tuesday and I had the rest of the week that I needed to be able to skate as well. Despite being winded and a little off I had a good practice. I swear I was fitting in an extra lobe in some of the patterns. Was the rink longer? Mom wasn't sure.

11am time for coffee break. Off with the skates for our run up to the coffee shop. The reason for this daily endeavour at exactly 11am is that only group classes were allowed on the ice at this time. One was for adults and the other was for kids. Most of the 11am adult classes I wasn't interested in. Mostly spins which I took last year. I preferred to have a private spin lesson with Robin than a coach that taught a totally different technique than what I would be using back home. Last year we had two ice surfaces so we had almost non-stop open ice on the 1980 rink with the groups being taught on the USA rink with pairs and dance on the 1932 rink. No such luck this year. There was no ice at all on the USA rink. I mean melted down to the concrete no ice. So, off with the skates and up to the coffee shop.

Noon time patch session. I set up the eights for me and my Mom and the new lady asked to borrow my scribe again. I set the right length for her (1.5x the skater's height) and let her do her own tracing this time. I did forward outside and inside eights. Then did some serpentine patterns (3 lobe eights). Finally I tried the 3 turn pattern that Robin taught me the day before and I couldn't do the back 3s anymore and I couldn't figure out why. They had mysteriously disappeared from my repertoire. Oh well. This happens. They will come back on their own time.

1pm Counter class. This is an advanced single foot turn that used to be part of the figure eight tests and is now in the advanced kids moves test. They are not in the adult tests but I always wanted to learn how to do them since they look cool. The coach was telling us that she loved loved doing figures and was disappointed when they stopped testing them in 1990s. She asked who had ever tested in patch and I was the only one that had. I passed my prelim in 1976! Ugh. She did a wonderful job explaining how to do the turn and I managed to mimic her closely enough that I did a turn that resembled a counter on the first try!! I kept practicing and after a few trys did a respectable counter. I heard her yell "the new counter queen" at me from across the ice. Another proud moment for me at adult week. I also manged to do them on the other foot but not as nicely and did some respectable inside ones before the class was done. Yeah me!! I was very very happy!

2:30 private spin lesson with Jack Devitt. My mom and I doubled up on him for this one. We took turns doing scratch spins. I learned a new entry for it that doesn't have me doing the karate chop arms which was kindof cool. However, I still wasn't centering them well. He also called me out on not pressing the heel of my free foot downwards. "I have been getting lazy with that" I confessed. Then he told me about Dick Button that would click his free heel to the toe pick of his spinning skate just before exiting the spin. This showed that the feet were in the correct position. The coolest thing I learned is a history of famous spinners. One of the things he said off hand stuck with me "you have to like spinning to get good at it". Luckily I love spinning.

Off the ice for a few hours so time for lunch with sis. It is about 2:30 at this point. We are to meet her at the local diner which has wonderful food. However, it is closed. The restaurant next to it is closed also. We go around the corner to Lisa G's one of our other favorites and it is closed as well. WTF? It is Tuesday at the end of June in a resort town and you can't find lunch anywhere? What is up with that? We finally end up at Downhill Grill where I had a nice chicken fajita salad. The place was packed and no wonder. I think it was the only place near the rink that was even open. I recognized a few people from the rink there.

Time to run home and put on some dry clothes. Not only had I sweated out what I was wearing but we also got rained on trying to find an open restaurant. Back to the rink for a 5pm 3's and double 3's class and bracket class with Robin. She showed the class the three turns which was now review for me from Monday. I found out why I couldn't do them this morning. I was committing her cardinal sin in double threes; swinging my arms around instead of sliding them past my body. What this does is make the entire upper body swing around which stops you from executing the three turn properly. Ah Ha! That's where my back threes went. Mystery solved! I was now happily doing double threes ( a forward three turn immediately followed by a back three turn all done on the same foot without putting the free foot down: they can be started with either a forward outside or inside three). After the class got that hang of it she lined us up at one end of a hockey line. We were to do them on alternating feet along the hockey line for the entire width of the rink. Since I was feeling a little ballsy I went first and started even before she was finished with the explanation. The first one went very well. The next few were a bit more shaky. They were steadily getting worse but I was almost at the end of the rink. Someone was applauding me and I came around and considered quitting the pattern but made a split second decision to do one more. What the heck. I was doing great so far. I stepped onto my right foot, did a forward inside three, moved my arms and free leg and setup for the back three, executed the three and immediately caught my pick and started to fall. I put my left arm back to catch myself but my arm got stuck behind me and the weight of my body was ripping it apart like a turkey wishbone. I had searing pain in my rotator cuff and couldn't roll off my arm fast enough. Mind you this is my bad arm that I have been getting moxa burned on to repair my rotator cuff. I was sitting on the ice with tears in my eyes, swearing my head off. Good lord that hurt. Everyone came over and made a big fuss over me. Robin sent someone for ice and an emt if one was around. They got me up and off the ice and handed me a bag of ice to hold on the shoulder. I kept telling them to continue with their class and that I would be okay. I don't like being the center of attention. Robin banned me from the bracket class. She told me that bracket falls are the most painful. I told her she had to teach it near the hockey box where I was sitting so I could listen in. Truth be told I don't remember anything of the class now. I just remember sitting there in pain with the ice pack on my shoulder. My mom was in the other rink having her private dance lesson so I somehow managed to get my boots off one handed. I packed everything up and hiked over to the 1932 rink. I sat up in the stands with my coat draped over my shoulders. It was too painful to try and put it on. I was seriously worried that this would end my skating for the week. I knew how bad my shoulder could get. I was worried about driving home one handed. That wouldn't be fun either. Ugh.

It wasn't long before we were home. I took some aspirin and put Traumeel on my shoulder (this is wonderful homeopathic gel that gets rid of pain topically; I've used it on my knees in the past). Mom went to bed and I laid down on my blow up bed and instantly fell asleep: in my clothes, with the lights on. I woke up at midnight and crawled out of bed, brushed my teeth, put on bedclothes, turned out the lights and collapsed on a pile of pillows in bed again. I was so tired my sore shoulder couldn't even keep me awake!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Lake Placid Day 2: Jump Lesson

First thing Monday morning I'm standing in line at the box office to purchase the first round of tickets for group and private lessons. The lady in front of me buys over $600 worth of tickets. OMG! I wish I could do that. Instead I walk up to the window and get 6 on ice group lessons, 2 private lessons with Robin and 3 stretch class tickets. This cost me close to $100. The group classes run around $13 for 25 minutes but the private lesson depend upon which coach you have the lesson with. Just before I leave the window I take a quick look at the lady behind the desk. If you have ever watched the TV show Reaper she reminded me of Gladys, the demon that works in the DMV. This made me smile. I think my mom said she is one of the nicest people that works in the box office.

I make it to stretch class early and it turns out I am in the wrong corner of the rink. Since the Lussi rink is under construction, they moved the ballet mats, mirrors and bars up into one of the corners of the 1980 rink. Turns out that the stretch class is in the temporary ballet area rather than the awards room where it used to be held. I have one hour of stretching. I seem to be more limber than some of the kids in the class but I have been doing this for many months now on my own. I have been making a point of stretching before I go out on the ice even if it is for a quick ten mintes. When I have time I try to do about half an hour. One of the ladies in the class is amazingly flexible. I can tell she practices yoga on a regular basis.

Stretch class is done and I run down the stairs to the rink to throw on my skates for my private jump lesson. I go around the rink a few times to warm up and start doing MIF until Robin shows up. We start with the waltz jump. Just like Joanna, my regular coach, she doesn't like my waltz jump. She says my free leg is swinging around too much and I am rotating my upper body before I even take off. She backs me up and starts me jumping over a hockey line. When my jumps straighten out she has me do one with a regular entry, a Mohawk and two backward crossovers. When she likes that one she has me do three in a row. The first one is nice but by the third one I am back to swinging my free leg and pitching my upper body forward on the landings. "What was that?" I hear from across the ice. "Do it again." This keeps up until I can jump three good waltz jumps in a row. She then has me try my half flip since it is going to be on my test Friday. When she was happy with that one she had me do a waltz jump and then a half flip. She then had my mom come over and watch me jump just to add some pressure. I managed to do both jumps fine so she was happy. Then she found out that I hadn't been doing Salchows so she started me on them over at the boards. I mumbled something about falling and she just looked at me, smiled and told me "You're not going to fall" and had me go out into the middle of the ice. She had me stand up straight, I did my three turn entry and I jumped and landed a good Salchow!! I was amazed! I have learned that it is a matter of trusting the coach. If I put all of my body parts the way the coach tells me then I can do the stunt or damn close to it. Robin also gave me my word of the day "Patience!" She uses it when I am trying to launch into a jump too fast and I end up twisting up before I even leave the ice. Once I started using some patience I got my timing right and I went on to land three good Salchows. Not much height but hey I jumped good Salchows!! I was so happy!! Time ran out before we even got to do toe loops. Oh well. I have all week.

Mum and I took our skates off and ran up to the coffee shop for tea and snacks. Just before noon we were back down at the rink for the patch session. Mum and I ganged up on Robin for a semi private patch lesson. I set the scribe and made an 8 for me and a slightly smaller one for mum. One of the other ladies came over and asked to use the scribe and I made her a circle as well. She had never done patch before and wanted to give it a try.

I started my FO 8s. Robin came over and helped Mum with hers. She then came over and completely rearranged my upper body. Apparently during the past year I had started to twist things up. The present method has you square to the tracings with your palms flat to the ice and pressing downwards. The old method had you twisting up which makes it really difficult to maintain a single edge. I found the 8 much easier to do but didn't have a chance to check my tracings to see if I was staying on one edge. I'll have to take a look later. When Robin was done with my Mom she came over and had me do inside eights which she was happy with. She then had both of us start doing backward three turns. I found out that it is a matter of having the free foot in front, the upper body twisted around so you are looking in the direction that you are going and poof I could do a backward three!! I was amazed!! I had been trying to do these buggers for months with limited success. She then showed us a really neat figure eight that makes you practice all of your three turns. It isn't a traditional one so it isn't in any books I've ever read. You start at the top of the eight instead of the middle, and do a forward outside 3, once you reach the center you switch feet and do a back inside three, at the other end you switch feet and do the forward inside 3 and then switch feet at the center and finish the pattern with a back outside 3. After a few go arounds you turn around and do the same thing in the opposite direction on the other foot. Way cool!! While she is helping Mum I go off in the corner to practice my back inside 3s and I have my first fall of the week. Of course since I was doing patch I wasn't wearing my crash pad and I land hard on my right hip. Robin looks over at me and I yell "I missed" which makes her laugh. Mum and I have been driving her crazy during the lesson. Apparently we have many of the same mannerisms and she is so used to teaching my mom that it wigs her out when I use the same expression or body language. When she was showing us the 3 turn figure 8 Mum and I just looked at each other and smiled. Robin found this hilarious and scolded us between giggles. The lesson was over much too soon.

We had to take our skates off fast since we were meeting my sister for lunch. When we finally got back to the condo we both ended up taking naps for about an hour. It was a great day! Salchows and back 3s in one day!! And my waltz jumps are much improved! Yeah me!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Lake Placid Day 1; Evening Skate

After the reception we had open ice until 9pm. After looking at the weird schedule I had I decided that it would be best to practice my MIF during the open skate. I had just watched the Zamboni do a double cut of the ice. This is the first time I have ever witnessed this. Apparently at LP they do a double cut after a hockey game to prep the ice for the figure skaters. This results in a nice smooth sheet of ice sans ruts! It was a great sheet to be out on. Nice and smooth! If I ever learn how to make ice I am going to learn it from these guys in LP. They do a wonderful job.

I donned my skates and onto the ice I went. I skated hard! I was excited and full of energy. I knew that I would pay for this but I needed to release the pent up energy. I ran through my moves and then started to do some freestyle. I tried a spin and the first one I did was centered. What a surprise! I did a couple of more with really long hang time. I looked over at my mom who was watching from the hockey booth and two other skaters gave me the thumbs up and yelled that I did a great spin. That made me smile and made me proud. Back home I'm not a great skater compared to the other adults I skate with. They are way ahead of me. Now here I was getting compliments from the other skaters.

It was getting close to the end of the session so I looked at my mom and made sure I caught her eye. I did a lovely Spread Eagle into an Ina Bauer. I was showing off. She was smiling. I got off the ice and I had yet another skater tell me "it is a real pleasure watching you skate". My head is getting big already and it is only the first day!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Lake Placid Day 1: A Day of Irony

This is the second time that I am writing this. I was trying to write each day while I was in LP but my Mom's mini laptop mysteriously deleted the entire entry on me. Just when I was figuring out how to restore the backup it backed up the blank page. I love the mini computer but the tiny keyboard takes some getting used to, particularly since I have been touch typing for 30+ years now.

Back to skating...
Day 1 in LP
Drove out to Loon Lake to visit with my sister. Took my old skates with me to let her try them on. After all of the hugs and kisses we went out onto the deck to enjoy the sunny weather. This is when she decided to try the skates on. So here she is in shorts in the sun walking up and down the deck with one of my old skates on her left foot and one of my new skates on her right foot. The irony of this struck me. Here we are on top of a mountain in the middle of nowhere and she is walking around a deck in skating boots on a very sunny 80F day in June. The only ice within tens of miles of her is in her freezer. The good news is that my old boots fit her much better than her old boots so I gave them to her. Now she will be able to go skating with Mum once in a while.

After lunch and lots of talking we headed back to LP to have a quick bite and go to the rink to register. We were the first ones at the registration desk and had to hang around for a while before anyone else showed up. When the two ladies that ran the program came we got our packets and red tshirts. We found out that only 20 people had signed up and that there was no ice after Friday at 11:30am. They had sold the ice to a hockey group but charged everyone for ice through the evening on Saturday. I was mad but wanted to check a few things before I spoke with anyone about it so instead I sat down and talked with the coaches about lessons.

I booked three lessons with Robin and got to talk to my favorite jump coach Jack Devitt. While he wasn't giving any group lessons (due to a miscommunication he was left off the schedule) he was giving private lessons. Food for thought there.

I had another moment of irony, here I was in sitting on the floor at a table with a coach of national champions with a pairs champion on the couch behind me surrounded by pictures of famous athletes (we were in the Hall of Fame room) in the Olympic rink at Lake Placid. Little old me!! I would never had dreamed this a few years ago. It is truly an amazing experience.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Lake Placid day 0

I haven't written lately since it has been more of the same. Lots of practice. My teacher is finding fewer technical errors though. She is resorting to fixing my presentation now. Not bad! I am ready to test! But in the meantime onto my adventures in Lake Placid.......

I finally got here. What a long ride. I actually resorted to drinking vending machine coffee on the trip out here. I haven't drunk that since I left my job at the Sears garage 25+ years ago. Yucko! I haven't slept well this past week since I was so excited about coming here. I would wake up in the middle of the night and do nothing but think about skating out here. I am totally exhausted but very happy I am finally here.

I only have the preliminary schedule so far. My favorite jump coach doesn't seem to be teaching group lessons this year. I'll just have to take more lessons from Robin. There are more turn classes this year; 3 turns, brackets, rockers, counters etc. I am going to have a go at all of them. There seems to be only one MIF class. I can't see how they are going to teach five patterns in 25 minutes. That leaves only five minutes per pattern. This is going to be interesting.

Still have no idea what off ice classes there are yet. Nothing was listed. Also Friday was blank. Registration isn't until tomorrow night so I won't really know what is going on until then. Of course the entire thing is subject to change daily.

I'm off to Loon Lake tomorrow to spend the day with family. Hopefully the rain stops so that I can go kayaking. I love kayaking.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Beware of Braggadocio

Doesn't it figure. After last night saying how comfortable I am getting with MIF and how well I'm doing, today I get my legs tangled and take a fall on the ice. Weird I'm used to falling while I'm learning jumps. This is the first time I've fallen doing MIF for over six months now. Don't get me wrong, I've come damn close thousands of times but I've always managed to catch myself before I actually go down. Not this time. I had gotten my legs into a weird crossed over position and when I felt myself going down I couldn't get them untangled fast enough to save my myself.

The nice thing was I used my arms to catch myself and it wasn't painful for the first time in months. (for the new readers; I have calcium deposits in both shoulders possibly as a result of the car accidents coupled with skating falls. The calcium deposits resulted in rotator cuff tendinitis in both shoulders. The right calcium chunk melted away but the left one only cleared up for a little while after the first cortisone shot but came back with a vengeance once it wore off. A second shot did nothing and it progressed to the point where I had serious trouble dressing myself.) Thank you Zack!! He has been burning moxa on my shoulder and for some reason it works. Weird acupuncture trick

I did one killer centered spin. It was really long. I had to come out of it because I was too dizzy not because I was running out of momentum. Yeah! I need more of those.

I was also very happy with my waltz jumps. My coach is trying to reinvent me on these. I told her last night that she has her work cut out for her when it comes to me and jumps. I'm chicken is the root of it coupled with 30+ years of bad technique so she really needs to start from scratch with me. I've decided to start practicing the half flip. If I chicken out with the toe loop on my test in three weeks I can sub in the half flip.

Half flip demo

Full flip demo: included because it has better instruction

Waltz jump demo

Toe loop demo: on a good day I'm barely doing a single

Thursday, June 4, 2009

I almost have it

I wasn't expecting to skate well this evening. I have had lots going on lately and haven't been able to practice at all this week. Instead I got on the ice and just emptied my head and buckled down to work. I have practiced the moves in the field so much at this point that they have become completely familiar. My coach is at the point where she is refining things rather than correcting outright mistakes. Out of all five patterns I only skated one half of the three turn pattern badly and had to skate it a few times over before I managed to incorporate her fixes. The other four patterns were just a matter of holding my arms up higher, bending my knees at the right point and crossing my arms over my center line when I take my back edge. It is nice because I am so used to skating these patterns I relax into them which enables me to concentrate on the details. It is almost like dancing a familiar waltz. It feels quite wonderful to be gliding around the rink and being quite sure footed doing it and going fast all at the same time.

What surprised me was a couple of her comments. I accidentally two footed a start and she told me "come on. You're a much better skater than that. I want you to pay attention and just push." I got the warm fuzzies with the "you're a much better skater than that" bit. The other one was for my back outside edges otherwise known as pattern four. It is a short crossover with a long edge all skated backwards. I held my arms up and off I went. When I got to the boards she told me that "I haven't seen that skated any better at this level." It made me smile. She doesn't hand out compliments lightly.

I am quite happy with my skate. I just wish I didn't run out of breath so easily. I am going to have to ask the judges to give me a minute between patterns so I don't end up passing out on the last one.

The Big Move

While LiveJournal has served me well I am moving my blog to here for now. So far it seems a bit easier to operate but I need to play with how to insert pictures and video. LiveJournal wanted to charge me to post vids so lets see how I do on Blogger.

To see my older entries go to: This includes why I got back on the ice, fun at adult skate camp in Lake Placid, watching the '08 Adult Nationals and even nutrition and off ice training things I have learned.

BTW, I picked the title Silver Blades for several reasons: my hair is turning silver, it is the first rink that I remember skating on in England and my dad used to work there. Sadly the rinks are gone now.