Monday, July 20, 2009

Random Skating Photos

The entire cast of the show at the Lake Placid June '09 adult skate week. Mum is second from left in the front.

The Dueling Scribes synchro patch team. "Ta Da!"

Rosemary skating to "Stary Night". This is one of my favorite numbers. I first saw it when she competed in the 2008 Adult Nationals.

Mum waiting for her turn in the adult ice show. She is a member of the Dueling Scribes, a synchro patch team.

Mum and her dance coach Mark during a lesson on the 1932 rink.

Me skating patch one morning in Lake Placid

My test dress
Notice the white leotard hanging behind it.
The little white splotches are ribbon flowers with crystals in the centers. Just enough bling for a test dress in my humble opinion.

Two Tests

I didn't panic as much this time as last year. After all last year was the first time that I had tested in almost 40 years. I was okay this year until the day of. Thank God I was still sewing my costume right up until the time that I left the house or I would have had time to really panic. This year I was taking two tests, pre-bronze freestyle and bronze moves in the field.

I took the week off work after skating at Lake Placid. I figured I could sleep a lot,let my knees recover, have time to practice for my test and also time to sew my outfit. I had the design in mind but hadn't started sewing yet. I had until Friday to complete the dress. The basic design I stole- ah copied- from a dress that looked good on me. My modified design consisted of two pieces, a glittery white leotard undergarment and a black overdress with white gores in the skirt. Sewing with the serger made this a breeze. "Where have you been all my life?" I loveingly asked my machine. I always did run my old machine at top speed and it could barely keep up with me. The serger goes so fast I have to run it at half speed so that I can keep up with it. Enough of this. This blog is supposed to be about figure skating rather than sewing.

I was sitting on the couch the morning of my tests, sewing on the modesty panel and the crystal rosettes. Yes, I fell for the lure of crystals but I kept it understated. I knew I wouldn't get the the hem done but I also knew that it wouldn't matter. This year I was determined to get to the rink early. Last year they were running 45 minutes ahead of schedule and I barely had time to get my boots on and get mentally prepared before I had to be on the ice. I wasn't about to let that happen again. I got to the rink and finished dressing. My coach wasn't there yet and my husband decided to run errands for half an hour since things seemed to be running on time this year. I paced, stretched and paced some more. I'm a pacer. I like to move around a lot since it helps me release some of the tension. I started to panic. Still no Joanna. My leotard was slipping so I decided that it was safety pin time or it would bug the hell out of me while I skated. Note to self; finish costume early so you can actually skate in it and then make repairs if necessary. In this case, I shall need a different leotard design if I want to wear this outfit again. So here I am in the ladies bathroom with no coach and no husband trying to insert safety pins that are too short into my bra and leotard and I can't see since I don't have my glasses on. Now I was really starting to panic. Luckily another coach came in that I knew by sight but not to talk to and I asked her if she could help me. It took her some considerable effort and several pins (one bent) to get the two garments attached to each other. Back to pacing again. It was less than half an hour until I was due on the ice and still no husband or coach. My feet were starting to go numb. This is not good. I was just about to sit down and unlace my skates when I turned around and there was Joanna. "How is your husband?" I asked. I had assumed the worst; car accidents, sick spouse, etc. "He's fine. Why?" she replied. "You're late," I didn't mean this as tersely as it came out. "No I'm not," she shot back. I was too wound up and nervous to realize that I wasn't being very nice. Instead of apologizing I sat down and unlaced my skates. I showed her the skate order and I was in the last group and the second to last skater but we couldn't figure out when I was supposed to skate the freestyle and when I was supposed to skate the MIF tests. There were over ten people lumped together in my group with all sorts of tests listed for each one. I just sat in the crowded warming room wiggling my feet around inside my unlaced boots. I had to keep doing deep breathing to calm down. Joanna and I didn't talk at all. Finally word came back that the judges were splitting the group up into two groups of five while preserving the skating order. I was still next to last. As the group before me took to the ice I laced up my boots and resumed pacing. I watched some of the skaters. It turned out that we were all at about the same level. There were two judges so they were calling two girls onto the ice at a time and having them follow each other down the rink for their moves test and then do their freestyle test right afterward. Oh crap! I am going to have to skate the tests back to back! OMG! This is going to be horrible. Particularly since I am supposed to do the freestyle after the MIF and I am useless after the moves never mind jumping! Crap. Oh crap. Oh crap. Now I am really wound up. Suddenly I have to get to the other side of the rink. The other group had finished early and had left the ice already and I wasn't even in the hockey box yet. The other kids in my group were already on the ice warming up and I hadn't even gotten my skate guards off yet. I finally get out onto the ice and don't even make it one lap around and the judges call my name out summoning me to the boards. Since there were five people in my group and my test was different they asked if I could switch and be last. No problem I said. I took the opportunity to ask if I could do my freestyle test first which wasn't a problem and I got up the nerve to ask for a breather between laps of my MIF test. "I'm not as young as I used to be," I said, which elicited chuckles from the balding grey haired judges. He said that wasn't a problem and I could take my time. I told him that I would let the coaches and other skater know about the switch. I skated back to the other booth and let the other skater know. Fortunately she was standing right there. Unfortunately this was cutting into my warm up time. I heard the "one minute left" announcement and I hadn't done a thing yet. I skated off and did some spins. "Warm up is over. Please clear the ice." Nuts! I managed a couple of spins and a couple of waltz jumps and that was it. No moves warm up. Crap oh crap. Now I was last and had to wait. At least this year I had warm clothes with me. I couldn't sit still and kept wiggling my feet and legs. I kept using deep breathing to calm myself down. My right leg was starting to go numb. Damn, this is my landing leg. Not good. I stood up and shifted weight back and forth. There wasn't time to unlace my boots. I sat down. Wiggled and stood up again. Damn. Damn. The girl before me was still skating her freeskate test. I looked over at the judges and he signaled for me to come over. It was time.

I took off my guards and skated over to the judge. He said that we could do our freestyle tests together and then I could do my moves test on my own, which was fine by me. I think I had this judge last year but wasn't sure. He was very nice. He let me know that I could do the freestyle test in any order (no music since this was the pre-bronze test) and he would check it off that I did the element. I started with my spins. The two foot first and then the single foot spin. I had a mild panic attack going into the single foot spin but I forced myself to relax. I knew that if I relaxed and looked straight ahead then the spin would more than likely center itself. My skirt flying around me caught my eye. I could just see it at the edge of my vision and I had to fight the urge to look down and watch it (another reason I need to practice in the outfit first). During the spin exit I snuck a quick look down to see my tracing and it was centered!! Yeah me! Now for my jumps. First the half flip. I landed it a little clunky but it was technically correct. On to the waltz jump; not great height but I landed it fine if a tiny bit wobbly. Nothing that an on looker would notice. I looked around for the other girl since the next element was a huge circle of forwardcrossovers. She was further down the ice so I launched into the forward crossovers. She whizzed by me. Apparently she was setting up for a jump in the corner and now I was in her way. We did't quite crash but her sudden appearance surprised me and I lost my concentration. Luckily I was only doing crossovers so it was no big deal. I flipped around and started the back crossovers. She skated over to the boards. Yeah, she was done. I didn't have to worry about where she was and I could concentrate on what I was doing. I finished the crossovers and flipped around again and stepped right into a nice spiral. My leg doesn't get as high as the kids but at least it is above my butt. I wish I could see myself in a mirror. Oh well. I skated over to the judge. Panting of course. He asked if I needed a break and I told him that I was fine. He asked me if I knew the skate order for the moves which I did. I have skated this so much I literally skate it in my sleep. Last year I had to write the order down on my wrist; this year I didn't need a crib sheet.

Off I went to the other end of the ice. It didn't bode well that I was out of breath before I even started my MIF. "You can do this. You did this in Lake Placid. You can take little breaks. You know this stuff cold." I skated the test well. I went a little slower than usual but I wanted to skate well rather than risk making an error. As it was, I caught a little rake during the backward power crossovers. All in all everything went well. By the third lap I was skating over to Joanna and taking a very short breather, taking slugs of water to hide the fact that I was really trying to catch my breath. She looked at me and said "You can do this. You'll be fine. Just skate." I was 3/4 of the way around the rink on my last pattern when I started "You're almost done. Three more lobes. Shut up and pay attention to your feet. You're almost done. Shut up! 1, 2, 3, 4, 5! 1, 2, 3, 4, 5! You're done! Flip around. Don't trip! Present it to the judge. I'm done!!!!!! Yeah me!!!!!" He just looked at me and said "all set." "Thank you!" I breathlessly replied and I left the ice. That was a good sign. I didn't have to reskate anything! Always a good sign. We walked quietly around to the warming room. All you could hear in the rink was my breathing. "If that didn't pass, I'm a bad coach," Joanna said. I smiled. I was done. I was still panting and couldn't talk. The entire place was empty. Everyone was gone. It wasn't like last year where I had ten pairs of eyes watching me skate. There was no one left except the officials, me, Joanna and my husband. I couldn't get my boots off fast enough. I changed my clothes. I caught my breath. Finally the results came. I had passed both tests! The only comment on my freestyle test was "well centered spin." The MIF test was my first ever scored test. It takes 2.5 to pass and each of the five moves had 2.5 written down. The comments included "good edges" and "nice flow". Joanna told me that he is a hard judge. He doesn't mark high but he is fair. To my mind the comments weren't terribly helpful. I thought that I had skated some bits better than others but there was no indication of that on the test. Typical, I would see a "B+" on my test and wonder why I didn't get an "A". I passed and I passed with a hard judge. I looked up my old test and indeed he was a judge of mine last year as well. He hadn't written anything on that test at all. I guess I should take "well centered spin" as a high compliment considering the judge.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Lake Placid Day 7: A Jam Packed Day

Saturday actually started Friday night. Mum and I were at the condo watching another old ice skating movie. This time it was the Ice Capades. I am old enough to have actually seen some Ice Capades shows live. This was before Disney took them over and turned them into merchandise tie ins. I used to go to the Boston Garden to see them and once in a while one of my parents' old show buddies (Mum and dad met while they were touring in ice shows together: gee I wonder where I got the ice skating bug from?) was on tour with the Capades and I remember going backstage and meeting the skaters. Of course I don't remember any of the names anymore. I'm sure Mum could rattle them off. Anyway, the movie we were watching was an old black and white film with lots of drop outs. It was probably a copy of a copy of a copy but I didn't care. It was a fun movie along the lines of the old "hey kids lets put on a show" genres but on ice instead of the stage. About half way through the movie the phone rang. It was Barbara Colby. She was choreographing another synchronized patch number for the ice show. Turns out she lost several members who went home early due to the lack of ice on Saturday and a stomach bug that was making the rounds. She wanted Mum to skate in the number and the rehearsal was at 9am in the USA rink. So much for our sleep in tomorrow.

We woke up early and had a good breakfast. We got to the rink in plenty of time. The ice was a bit off though. There was a lot of humidity in the rink so the ceiling was dripping down onto the ice surface making horrible discolored bumps in the ice. You had to be careful skating around. Mum got her skates on and I went up into the stands which are way high up in the USA rink. They put them above some offices but the view is really good. This is the ice surface that is used for curling so they not only have hockey lines on the ice but also three curling lane markings. I always thought that was cool. I spent the next hour reading a trashy novel (this is a requirement for a vacation) and watching the patch group rehearse. They had the ice to themselves except for one dance couple who were also rehearsing for the afternoon show. To explain a little synchronised patch is harking back to the origins of figure skating. Back in the 1800s in England skating clubs used to compete with each other drawing figures on the ice. They frequently skated as a team rather than individual members, often tracing figures holding hands in groups of two, three or four people. Barbara started the synchro patch last year and a small write up ended up in Skating magazine. She has modernized it a bit having two groups of four people doing a variety of figures and edges while a single person skates the compulsory figure eights. This is all done to music by Enya which lends itself well to the methodical movements. When Mum got off the ice and we were making our last trip up to the coffee shop we got to talking about how much we love Barbara's choreography. She has to deal with people with mixed skill levels some of whom never did patch prior to coming to adult week up to ones that has passed tests. This forces her to keep the difficulty levels simple but somehow still makes interesting patterns on the ice that are enjoyable to watch. This takes quite a bit of talent on her part.

After coffee and tea it was back to the USA rink for my lesson and my last MIF practice. I had gotten used to doing these in the 1980 rink which Mum told me Friday was indeed bigger since it is an Olympic sized hockey rink. To which I responded "Thank God!". I thought I had lost stamina over night. I looked it up later and found out the rink is actually wider rather than longer however. I must have been skating whopping huge lobes back and forth across the ice which also allowed me to fit in an extra lobe at the end. My first pass around the USA rink was really easy in comparison and I ended up adding in the extra lobe and getting stuck in the boards in the corner of the rink without enough space left to elegantly flip around and go the other way. Something I had just managed to fix before I left for LP. I made several passes before I even got slightly winded. Something that made me very very happy. Now I am glad that I had practiced these all week in an oversized rink.

Robin showed up for my spin lesson and she had me demonstrate my spin which is still not centering right away. Since we had fresh ice we could examine my tracings. She had me use a three turn entrance into the spin and it immediately centered right over the three turn entrance. Turns out that I step slightly to the left when I step into my crossover circle and this de-centers the spin. Fortunately I have figured out how to correct for this mid spin and can center it up after I make one or two rotations after the three turn. Ideally it needs to center right away so I keep spinning. We then moved onto camel spins which I was doing horribly that day. I kept going onto a hard inside edge which made me loose my balance and I would dump out of it. Robin stops me from spinning and we had huge discussion on spinning philosophy. My coach at home didn't want me to waste my time on a bad spin and wants me to stop as soon as it goes wrong and start over again. The idea being that you don't have enough time to waste on something that is going horribly wrong. Robin's idea is that you have to learn to finish even a bad spin because you never know what is going to happen out on the ice during a test or competition. You have to learn how to handle a bad spin or a bad jump and finish it elegantly as possible. This way if it goes bad when you are under pressure you have actually practiced how to recover from it and continue. Since I am an adult skater and not too worried about taking my time learning something I rather like Robin's idea better. It makes sense that you need to practice recovering from errors. I have watched kids make the exact same mistake in their program over and over again. It is almost like they have learned to skate the mistake rather than the element. My spins are still unstable enough that it is hit or miss if I get it right. I have to be able to recover from a mistake. One weird problem I seem to be having now is that I am centering my spin often enough that I am now digging huge ruts in the ice during the spin and then tripping over my own rut. I am going to have to back off my toe pick so they aren't as deep. Robin was telling me that her daughter (who is a high level competitive skater) is so consistent with her lutz jump that she will now use the exact same toe pick hole each time she jumps which becomes a problem.

Once we were done with spins Robin wanted me to skate my test, non-stop, end to end just like I was being judged. She even got off the ice. I had only the dance pair to contend with so I could concentrate really well on the steps and skating around the little brown stalactites forming on the ice surface. I skated down to the hockey goal area while Robin left the ice and stood in the hockey box along with my mother and a few other adult skaters. I felt like I had a little judging panel all of my own and I was even nervous. I stood at attention raised my arms looked down the rink and launched into the first pattern. One lap of the rink come to a nice stop, elegantly glide back to the goal area and start again. By the third pattern I was panting hard and was glad that the dance pair was in my way. I got to wait an extra 30 seconds before starting the next pattern. By the forth pattern I was beginning to feel light headed and was breathing really hard. I heard Robin yell "Breath! Breath!" at me as I whizzed past the hockey box. I was now feeling weak in the knees and praying that my legs would hold my edges and knee bends. I started chanting "1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5" in time to the steps and to help me breath. I was SO out of breath. "I can do this! I can do this! 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. I am almost at the end. Just a couple more." and I was at the end. Somehow I made it over to the box and Robin was beaming at me. "I knew you could do it. I wanted to show that you can do it. Now I want you to do that every day between now and the test. Also skate the patterns in reverse order so your weakest one isn't always last." I was bent over the boards gasping for breath. A couple of the other women looked at me in alarm. Robin said "You can collapse when you get off the ice but you have to show the judges that you can do this. You can throw up later. While you are on the ice you have to show control." This is a level of skating that I am not familiar with. I am very very glad I came here to practice. I am so happy that Robin is willing to help me. She has so much good information not just about the actual skating skills but also the psychology and how to train in a way that makes it more likely that I'll succeed. I am a lucky lucky person. Eventually I caught my breath and came back to earth. "I did it!" "I can't believe I did it!" "Now you know you can," Robin just smiled at me.

After lunch was the show at 2:30pm in the 1932 rink. My Mum got to change into her "costume" of a white shirt which we had bought at Robin's second hand shop for the patch number last year and some black pants. Since my Mum knows everyone there she got to change in the coaches room which is a converted locker room left over from when it was built for the Olympics in 1932. The showers didn't work but heck there was heat in there and a rug.

I sat up in the stands to watch Mum. Barbara sat next to me and gave me a running commentary on many of the skaters. I remember some of them from the previous year. I guess some of them have been coming for decades and the coaches know them well. Several people did their singles freestyle program (I hope to do this next year), some skated their dances. There were two group numbers, one freestyle done by Mary Elizabeth and the patch number by Barbara. Since there were a couple of people subbing in, they had only learned the pattern that morning. I could hear Barbara giving directions under her breath. When the pattern got messed up Barbara almost jumped out of her seat to yell directions. It was killing her to sit still. She is very cute. She cares so much about the women on the ice. Even though it got a bit messed up it still looked really good. I told her that Mum and I like her choreography very much. "You just made my day," she returned. She is such a nice lady.

The show came to a close and there was lots of picture taking. The show was fun and I am very bummed it is all over. In the flurry of email exchanges and photos people kept coming up to me and telling me that I will do great on my test next week. I can't believe how many people wished me luck. It was so wonderful.

To see pictures go to Lake Placid Skater's Blog where she has a slide show of it,
Her photos are much better than mine. I still haven't gotten the hang of taking photos with a digital camera in an ice rink. They come out horrible. I'll have to talk to my photographer friend and get some help.

After the show we have a reception. There were door prizes and I won a wonderful gift bag with Adirondack style stuff in it such as a picture frame, candle, chocolates and my prize possession a small black bear with an LP tee shirt on (these small stuffed animals are common in the skating world at higher levels: they get thrown on the ice when someone does a nice freeskate during a competition). The food was wonderful but I could only pick at it since most of it was wrapped in wheat. We stood around and talked about the past week and adult week next year. I gave some money for a collection to help pay for a kid to skate. Then Ludmilla came up to me, "you skate test next week?" she asked me in her broken English. "Yes," I replied. "You will do well. I watch you skate and you will pass. No problem." Here was a multiple Olympic champion, holding my hands and telling me I was good enough to pass my tests!! OMG!! I could faint to the floor right now. How wonderful! I was almost in tears. I can not get over the support from everyone. People asking me how my shoulder was doing since my bad fall. People telling me that I would do well on my tests. Coaches helping me out so much with my training. How wonderful!! Words fail me. I am proud and happy and lucky and blessed. I don't want to leave.

The reception did come to an end so Mum and I went walking down Main Street. It was finally sunny and I wanted to go to the book store. There is a wonderful store called the Pipe and Book which has old and antique books for sale. Mum was going through a cabinet of figure skating books. "They are half price," she whispered. I just hit pay dirt! I had to decide between a dozen books which ones I wanted. I picked up one unassuming book with a plain red cover "Advanced Figures" by Maribel Vinson. That is my coaches' coach! That was her maiden name. My Mum got her hands on "The Fun of Figure Skating" which was published after she was married, Marible Vinson Owen. I cracked it open and it was how to do all of the compulsory figures. Turns out this was the second book which started at the third figure test. She had published another book that covered the first three tests which the dealer didn't have. I'll have to look for it on Amazon which is where Mum got her Fun book from. I have to buy this book. I also decided on the first edition of "Single Figure Skating for Beginners and Champions" by Dr J. Dedic and published by the ISU (International Skating Union). I had this book when I was a kid. It has some math in it and is an excellent primer on skating being split evenly between figures and freestyle with lots of diagrams and photos. It is written in the order that it would be learned. I asked Mum what happened to it and it turns out that she had given it to Robin since no one was interested in skating at the time. Who knew I was going to get addicted again?

Time to go home, start packing and find out what my sister is up to. On the walk back to the car we run into one of the other skaters and told her about the book sale so she ran off to catch the store before it closed for the day. We get home to find multiple messages on the answering machine from my sister. She is in Loon Lake and wants us to come over for dinner. We head out there which is about a 20 minute drive and spend a nice evening sitting around the dinner table talking. We don't leave until after 10pm. I can't believe how fast it went. I won't see her again for months and I am sad. Mum and I collapse in bed. We plan on going to the diner for breakfast together and then I finish packing and leave for Boston. I think I'll take the ferry again since the weather is supposed to be okay tomorrow. I truly wish I could stay here and train the rest of the summer. It would be great fun.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Lake Placid Day 6: Winding down

We managed to get up early enough to make it to the rink for stretch class. I'm bummed that it is the last day. I didn't have a chance to practice any toe loop jumps. Stretching felt great. I was surprised at the number of people that showed up for class. About 15 minutes in to it the class was quite crowded. The kids were all wedged on one side and the adults had the floor on the other. I guess we have cooties the kids wouldn't cross the center line to our side. We helped each other stretch out for spirals. The yoga lady had the best one out of the adults.

One more round of MIF practice during the free skate. There weren't any more classes or lessons and we were getting kicked off the ice at 11:30 so that CanAm hockey could have the rink. I asked Mum to get my scribe from the locker so I could do patch. When the free skate was over there was no sign of Mum. I started doing patch on the hockey circle. I only lasted about ten minutes. My muscles hurt so badly I couldn't skate anymore. I got off the ice. Not bad. I did patch four days in a row. A new record. Last year I barely made it through a 25 minute lesson before my muscles gave out. I went over to the hockey box to take my skates off. Mum showed up with the scribe. "Too late" I told her. "I can't skate anymore. My butt hurts too much." She sat down next to me and waited for me to take my skates off. Another lady sat down next to us and told us that she was going home. She didn't feel well and was really angry with ORDA for not letting us skate through Saturday. Turns out that what they did was illegal both federally and on the state level. They marketed six days of ice and five full days of lessons for $250. They gave us 4.5 days of ice and only 4 full days of on ice lessons. They even sold time after they knew that there was no ice after 11:30am. The lady said she was going to complain to the state and the FTC. She was really angry. I had mixed feelings about the whole thing. I had a great time but what they did was wrong. Our consolation prize was an off ice creative movement class with Paula Wagener. This is where it gets really weird. We had a party and ORDA had drawings for prizes. Almost everyone got something which meant unless the stuff was donated it cost them quite a bit of money. So why didn't they just give back the $60 per person as a refund for the lost ice time? This would have resulted in way fewer pissed off attendants. Strange.

We left the rink, ate lunch and went to Robin's shop to poke around. She opened a used clothing store in LP and it is doing really well particularly since the economy tanked. It was great fun rummaging in the racks. Tons of stuff in there. Her daughter who also skated produced an ice schedule for the weekend. Turns out that they had been putting down ice in the USA rink since Wednesday and it would be open on Saturday for skating. The adults now had ice on Saturday but ORDA hadn't told anyone about it. I certainly didn't get any sort of notification. The last I heard there was no schedule available yet. I know several adults had left already. Robin asked if I still wanted my spin lesson and I jumped at the chance. Suddenly I was skating on Saturday morning. Yeah!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Lake Placid Day 5: Rockers and Flip Jumps



Although I tried we didn't get up early enough to make it to the stretch class. I had a 10:30 spin lesson with Robin that I didn't want to miss so we did manage to get our butts to the rink for the 10am open session. By the time I got my boots on it was 10:15 already. I got out onto the ice to warm up with Mum not far behind me. After a few laps I decided to start tinkering with my scratch spin to warm up for the lesson. Robin was already out on the ice with another student so I just goofed around with the spins. When 10:35 rolled around I started hanging out at the boards near where Robin was teaching. When I caught her eye she came over and told me that her other lesson was supposed to be for a whole hour and could I move my lesson to 4:30pm. "Not a problem" I told her. Mum and I were ganging up on her at 4pm for a silver MIF lesson anyway. We each wrote the new times in our respective calenders and off we went.
I decided that it was time to practice my MIF for my test. I am tired and wobbly by this time in the week. It didn't take me long to realize that I wasn't going to tear up the ice like I did Sunday night. Instead I went slower and paid close attention to technique; making sure that my free leg was extended properly and I was not stepping ahead with my skating foot. Here I am doing move patterns weaving around skaters. I got into the path of a pair skater that won the 2008 adult nationals. I yelled "Sorry!" at him as he aborted his entrance into a sit spin with his partner. A few more laps and I passed close to Lorna and she yelled "sorry Peg, I didn't mean to get in your way". Here is an Olympic skater giving a lesson apologizing to me for being in MY way. I am not worthy! A few more laps and I end up aborting a lobe of my MIF as the same pair skater is doing an entrance into another spin with his partner. I saw him this time and he smiled at me as he yelled "sorry" to me. What absolute fun!! I can't believe the caliber of people I am sharing the ice with. Everyone is taking care to let each other skate and apologizing when they get in each others way. What a pleasure to skate with these people! Way too soon it is 11am and time to do our coffee shop run.

We got back to the ice a little early and while we were waiting I listened in on the camel spin class and had another ah ha moment. The teacher was talking about rotating the toe on the skating foot during the spin. "As soon as the toe points out. You're done. You're not going to recover from that." the teacher says. I have a nasty tendency to rotate my toes out due to years of ballet training as a kid. I still walk with my feet slightly turned out even though I haven't had lessons since I was 13 or so. I am going to have to watch for this on my camel spins. I bet I am doing this.

Finally back on the freshly made ice. Time for rocker class. Rockers are like Counters but the three turn points in the other direction. After all the falls I had I was too scared to do this on one foot. I touched the free foot down right as I turned. Laura McDonald, the teacher, did a great job explaining the turn just as she did with the counter class. When she saw how tentative I was being she came over and took my hands so I could try it on one foot. I did a decent job on the turn and she was very happy with me. I was happy with me! I asked her why I was getting a flat spot the length of my blade just after the turn and she told me with out blinking an eye "you are tipping forward with your upper body". Boy does she know her stuff. I would love to take her home with me so I could take patch lessons from her. Of course class ended too soon and I went off to practice patch for half an hour before my next class.
Robin was teaching flip jumps. She had a very odd look on her face when I skated up to her. Before she even said anything I launched into "I promise I won't jump. I am here to listen and take notes. I promise I won't actually try this." She let me take the class. It was a great class and I took lots of notes and behaved myself and didn't jump. There was one girl in the class that had little problem with it and was landing the jumps right off. I was jealous. Eventually I'll start jumping regularly.
We had most of the afternoon off. We didn't have anything until our class with Robin at 4pm. Again we had trouble finding anything open so that we could eat a late lunch. Unbelievable. Downtown Lake Placid in the middle of summer and there is no where to eat lunch after 2pm. We finally found an Italian place and I had some very yummy chicken Marsala. It was nice walking around in the afternoon sun.
Back to the rink for more lessons. I wanted to at least run through the silver MIF since this is what I need to learn next and my Mum hadn't practiced them for months and this is the tests she is supposed to be working on. We started with the 8 step mohawk. As soon as I figured out the outside edge mohawk, a move I had never done before, I picked up the rest of the move pretty fast. It didn't take me long and I was gliding around the center circle on the ice changing edges and switching directions. It was fun. Then Robin said "Do it in the other direction." This threw me for about 30 seconds and then I launched into it the other way around. Not bad. Mom and I took turns doing three sets around the center.
Next on the list was spirals the length of the rink. Not a problem for me. Mum made it almost the entire length but took two pushes between feet. Robin had us do it again. Mum almost made it the entire length. She is amazingly good at keeping her balance while going really slow on one foot. I was impressed.
We decided to skip the three turns which had caused most of my falls this week so we moved onto power pulls. I think that these are made to torture us. They are a weird stunt done on one foot. You use the momentum from bending and releasing the skating leg and swinging the free leg in front (going forward) or behind when going backwards. This has to be done in each direction on each foot. Robin did this wonderful thing and had us start with double foot slaloms just like i did during the power stroking class. this made us get the action of the skating leg correct and then all we had to do was pick up one foot and put it in front of us. Ha! Fat chance! This is amazingly hard. It took me a while but I managed to do a few on one foot. I could feel it tweak my knee which is not good. I knew that I would pay for this later. I seriously wondered if my knees would even let me learn how to do this move or if I would be stuck at bronze forever. Mum was doing about as well as me at this. Robin told us that pushing our skating foot into the ice during the hard edge is how to do this correctly. It wasn't simply a change of edge but a deep push to propel us down the ice. It was the end of the hour and I knew I was exhausted and sore but very happy. Other than the power pulls I should be able to do the silver moves with a few months practice. Yeah me! I am going to have to go slow with the power pulls so I don't finish off my knees and end up needing surgery on them.
We stayed a bit longer since Mum had a dance lesson and I tried to take some pictures of her and Mark. They came out badly. I just can't get the hang of taking pictures in the rink with my digital camera. They always come out badly. I was standing at the boards in the 1932 rink stretching out my sore aching muscles watching them foxtrot around the rink. Suddenly they came over to where I was and Mark told me that Mum had asked him to show me how to do a twizzle. He then proceeded to show me how to do one. I'll have to try this when I get home. He told me that while they look easy they are actually quite hard to execute. He told me to start with the forward inside ones and come out of them on two feet. I thanked him profusely. We told him that we had ganged up on Robin and he just looked at the two of us and said "Oh, I would never allow the two of you to take a lesson together with me. I would definitely split you up." We all smiled at each other and they skated off to do practice the waltz. What absolute fun it is to skate here!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Lake Placid Day 4: A day of rest

Well sort of....
We did start the day off with sleeping in which was fantastic. I couldn't believe that I slept okay even with my shoulder being messed up. I had made a big pile of sofa pillows and perched my bed pillow on the apex and slept quite comfortably slightly upright. My arm felt a bit better. I had expected it to be much worse particularly since it was only a few months ago I couldn't dress myself due to the pain from the tendinitis in that arm. I was shocked that it was feeling so much better. Thank you Zach!!!!

While I missed the morning stretch, we managed to get over to the rink in time for the second power stroking class with Lorna Aldridge. I was worried about not having enough stamina to keep up but I did fine. She showed us the correct technique to do crossovers so that they don't curl into the center of the circle. This was another ah ha moment for me. Instead of turning the upper body to face the into the circle you are skating around, you skate with the upper body square to the crossovers. This keeps you from spiraling into the center of the circle and lets you gain speed during the crossovers and actually forces you to trace larger and larger circles. Cool. Good to know for one of the advanced MIF tests. I tried it and found that it worked wonderfully well. I'll have to use this on my test next week. To get us to not twist up our upper bodies she then had us do the crossovers but with dangling arms and then using our arms in a running style swinging back and forth. I couldn't do this with my left arm but what a difference in my crossovers. Wow.

She then had us start to slalom around the perimeter of the ice. She had us push very hard into the ice until we felt it in our thighs. It didn't take long before I was winded. Another good endurance exercise for later.

Class ended much too soon and I moved over to the patch side of the ice. I only had a half hour left and because of my arm I stuck to fo and fi eights. No three turns today!

I got off the ice and was busy taking my boots off when Lorna joined us. I had noticed that she had pink blades so I asked her if she was skating on Paramount blades. Turns out that she switched over a while ago and absolutely loves them. She had skated on Coronation Ace since she was little (same as me) until she switched to dance blades. Then sometime after the Olympics (yes, she competed in the 1980 Olympics in ice dancing) she switched to the Paramount blades and won't use anything else. Well, I'm sold. The guy who sharpens my skates had recommended these and I was dubious about it since it was a newer company and both my parents only skated on Coronation Ace blades but after talking with Lorna I'm sold. I'll switch after my test and competition.

We had the rest of the afternoon off. We weren't due back at the rink until 6pm so we took off to Saranac Lake. We had lunch at one of my favorite places, McKenzie Grill, and then went shopping. I hadn't been around Saranac for quite a few years and it has changed a lot. There used to be a shop that sold home made soaps, talcs and lotions. They have moved to a larger very cool shop and now also sell fabrics and yarns and have expanded their toiletry line to include some French soaps that I love. Of course we left with some Peony soap for me and some Shea Butter soap for Mom.

We finished walking around just in time for a downpour to hit. We were both tired so we went back to the condo for some rest. We both fell asleep for about an hour which is unusual for both of us. We must have been tired.

Back to the rink for more skating. This time it was backward outside figure eights. Only one other girl showed up beside myself. Yeah! A semi private lesson with figure goddess, Barbara Colby. She proceeded to show me an entirely different way to start my back edges. The beginning position is the same; you stand perpendicular to the direction you want to skate in, on both feet facing the center of the circle you are going to trace out. You then pick up your right foot and bring it into the left shifting all of your weight onto your left foot. Now here is the new bit; you twist around on your left foot so you are now on your circle facing backwards, then push off. This is a tricky bit of balancing and I was really nervous from falling yesterday. My first bad fall after I got back on the ice a year ago was while I was doing a push off for a back edge so needless to say I was a bit dubious, nervous and terrified. I didn't really want to twist around on one foot but I kept practicing. I managed to start a few circles. Barbara showed me the hook I was making due to not twisting around fully so now I understood why she used this method. I kept working at it. Two feet, look at the center of my circle, pick up the right foot, shift the weight to the left, turn, push and step, bring free foot in front and glide... Down I went. For some stupid reason I had shifted my weight to the rear of my blade when I got about 1/4 of the way around the circle and of course I fell over the heel of my blade. I sat down hard on the ice on my right cheek. It hurt and of course I was sitting in a puddle of water. I couldn't get myself up since my left arm wasn't working. I couldn't put any weight on it so I scooched over to the boards on my knees so I could use the boards to help myself up. In the meantime both Barbara and the other student had rushed over to help me up. Now both arms hurt and my butt hurt and I was soaking wet. Time to get off the ice. I had wanted to take her next class, the loop, but I couldn't skate again and loops are tricky. I didn't want to loose my balance and go down again. Neither arm would take another fall.

I wasn't about to be defeated so easily though. Barbara's next class was on loops and I might not be able to skate but I can listen and take notes so I can try it on my own later. Off to my bag I went, put on my jacket to keep warm and pick up my pen and notebook and back to the lessons. I drew lots of diagrams and took lots of notes but didn't actually try them. I have always wanted to be able to do a loop and I hope I can remember enough of the lesson to attempt one back home.

I was soggy and in pain. It was time to go home. We got drenched in the rain just on the short walk from the car to the condo entrance. I couldn't change into my pajamas fast enough. Clean dry warm clothes. Yum. I had some leftovers for dinner and took some aspirin. Them Mum and I sat and watched an old Sonya Henie movie together until bedtime at 9:30. What fun!