Saturday, October 24, 2009

Axel Dreams

Sometimes I feel like figure skating just courses through my veins. I am consumed by it. For days it will be the only thing I think about. My body is tense and ready to launch into a spin or jump even though I am running around on dry land. I am possessed. When I am like this for several days I dream about figure skating. Last month I dreamed that I landed a perfect axel. I am not even attempting them yet. I am hoping that it is a premonition of things to come; that I will, some day, land an axel.

Last night my skating dreams were neither as elegant or even relevant to the real world. I skated yesterday for about an hour practicing spins and the beginnings of my program. Last night I couldn't sleep because I was so excited about my lessons today. No wonder I dreamed about skating. But I didn't dream about my program or doing figure eights like other nights, instead I was in a strange rink where they had laid down fake ice mats on top of the real ice. I tried to skate on the stuff but my fancy blades got stuck in it like I was skating on couch cushions. The mats would move rather than my blades. Suddenly I was up in the stands naked (don't you love those naked dreams?) and they started taking the mats up revealing the lovely ice underneath. By the time I got dressed and got my boots on the Zamboni came on to resurface the ice and I didn't get to skate at all. I was very disappointed. (I am hoping that this dream is NOT a premonition of things to come.) Then as suddenly as all dreams go I was in Lake Placid with my family eating beef wellington in a cafe after being in the 1980 rink at the Olympic center, which is completely odd since I neither eat cows nor wheat although I did like beef wellington when I was a kid. In my dream it was quite tasty and I finished it all up without any of the normal digestive consequences which is what makes dreams so wonderful.

Today I am very glad my skating did not go like it did in my dream. I did a double session today. Two hours solid of skating. I am beginning to find that one hour is just too short a time to practice everything that I would like to do. The two hours allowed for some serious figure time. I did FO, FI regular and serpentine 8s, then some FO 3 turn eights. I didn't get to back 8s since I got distracted with loops. I have rather large drunken loops. They lay on their side. From the tracing it looks like I am going into them too late and exiting too early giving both lobes an odd tilt. This is when my coach came over for my turn in the "group" lesson. Turns out I was skating the entire figure too large. When I shortened it up to closer to the correct size they became easier to do. She also told me that the figure is actually traced with the free leg rather than the skating leg and the turn is initiated by pushing into the ice rather than bending the knee (I still don't really get that bit). I kept doing loops and they magically straightened up. She told me that I have a much better sense of them than the kids trying to learn them for MIF. I am actually doing the edge work rather than just swinging my leg around forcing the turn. since she doesn't give out complements lightly this made me very happy.

The second hour was my private lesson which was mostly consumed with breaking down the Salchow jump and the back spin. First just doing the entrance three turn over and over again until I got all the body bits in the right place. Then she would add the next body movement which I would repeat over and over and then the next. This was all done in slow motion until my skating leg ached. I never actually completed the spin and I only jumped one correct but minuscule Salchow but I feel like I have made a lot of progress. I have a lot to practice and I am over the idea of it has to be perfect and fast the first time. Now I have given myself permission to do things in pieces, go as slow as I want and two foot any part of it. She said I am very close to having the spin in the backspin and I will eventually be able to jump. I trust her absolutely so I know these will come eventually.

Just when I thought my right glute was going to cramp into a pretzel we started on my program. I showed her the stunt I learned from watching old John Curry videos, a spiral into an attitude, which is much harder than it looks since you have to have tons of control to execute the slow lift from the spiral to the attitude. She loved it and immediately put it at the beginning of the program. Now I am doing the spiral from a dead stop into the attitude. This helps tremendously since I just do some forward stroking and crossovers to get myself some speed for the spread eagles. This is much smoother and easier for me than last week's pivot into back crossovers and then the spread eagle. I could never hit the forward edge quite right to smoothly get into the spread eagle. Now it was easy. Next comes the three turns down center ice with the ina bauer and sit spin at the other end of the rink. Man, I hit that sit spin dead on. It was such a good one I stayed with it and made myself totally dizzy. It was awesome! She then added on two edges, one three turn into a waltz jump. When I caught my breath I did the whole thing again from the top. I was tired this time so it was much more sloppy and I had to stop dead after the sit spin since I missed the entrance and was off balance but I made it through without forgetting any of the steps. Boy does it need work. She then had me try back cross steps which are from the silver MIF which I haven't even started practicing for yet. Since I could do them reasonably well she added a pivot and the steps which will eventually lead into the salchow. I had skated the entire hour. It was over. I was pooped, sore, out of breath, and very very happy. Next week she is going to teach me how to do a change edge spiral. I have good spirals both forwards and backwards now I need to get fancy with them.

Until next week I hope I have more axel dreams.

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