Monday, December 21, 2009

Just another practice session

I can't believe that I haven't written for over a month but then again I didn't have much to write about until last week. I have been trying to learn new things so that I can pass my bronze freestyle test. This includes several stunts that I still can't do such as back three turns, a backspin, a good toe loop and a good Salchow. While I had a breakthrough last month with the Salchow while in Lake Placid, until last week I just kept practicing and not progressing very much with any of my new maneuvers. I seem to just keep making the same mistakes over and over and not getting anywhere. This is really frustrating with the back threes since I know I could do them when I was a kid but my body has retained absolutely no memory of them. The backspin is another story. I never learned these as a kid so it is all new to me. I just keep reminding myself how long it took me to get a good front spin and figure that the backspin will take just as long if not longer since I never did them before. Therefore, I am a bit more patient with that one.

The only things that have marginally improved is my sit spin which is finally becoming somewhat consistent (meaning I can usually pull a decent one off during most practice session unless I'm having an unusually bad day) and I'm doing better at actually jumping during the Salchow. Not to be confused with a good jump; jumping for me is that I actually manage to get air time between the take off and landing rather then stepping through the jump. This frustrates my coach to no end. As soon as she tries to "fix" my jump by giving me instructions it rapidly deteriorates back to the no air time variety. I was petrified of jumping when I was a kid and that was when I weighed about 1/3 of what I do now and was much closer to the ice so the falls weren't as much of a disaster as they are now. Falls seem to be infinitely more painful now that I am an adult. Even though I have more padding this also means I have more mass and further to fall. Being an engineer I also understand that this means that there is much more force to dissipate through my body when I actually do hit the ice. I have enough aches and pains as it is without adding nasty falls to the list of injuries. My fear of falling has intensified now that I am an adult. It often makes me question my sanity of taking up figure skating as a sport. I guess we can't always choose what we fall in love with. This sheer utter terror of falling has been detrimental to my jump practice. I have gone slow. Really slow. For a long time I would only jump when I was on weekend ice so if I broke something my friends and my coach would be there to help me. Now at least I can jump Salchows and Waltz jumps where ever and when ever I want. They just aren't pretty but at least I am practicing them each time I get on the ice. I guess this should be considered a major accomplishment on my part.

So a month goes by, my backspins still grind to a halt after the entrance three turn, I double foot my back three turns and I still can't do a "good" Salchow. I haven't even gotten to the toe loop yet. So what changed? Why am I writing? I had a good lesson last week. I had two small triumphs. My coach had me do a long, LONG, three turn practice. First she fixed my forward threes since I tend to pitch forward on push off. That was a simple weight transfer problem. I had my weight even between both feet before launch but it turns out that my weight needs to be all on my push off foot and then quickly transferred to my skating foot. This keeps my upper body still. Woohoo. Forward three fixed. Now I just have to practice a lot so I get some body memory for them. Then we started on the back threes. This was much harder. My free leg was all over the place. I can't seem to lock my knees together to keep the free leg still during the turn. The big reveal happened when I accidentally saw my reflection in the glass of the hockey barrier and noticed that I stuck my hip out horribly coming out of the apex of the turn. I had no idea I was doing this. Once I paid attention to keeping my upper body position then the turn was infinitely easier. I still two footed it after the turn but it was much closer to happening than my klutzy prior attempts. As soon as we switched to the other side I managed a good one on the first try! Huzzah!!

A half hour had gone by already. We moved on to spins. I did two scratch spins with no problem. They weren't centered as much as I like but she was happy with them. I tried a couple of camels which didn't go as well. It was a bad camel day for me and these spins are not even close to being consistent yet. She had a minor correction for me but that didn't fix the spin I still fell off my inside edge since I wasn't balanced over my blade. I did a sit spin for her which was great. She said it looked good and she had no corrections other than working on getting lower on the supporting leg. This is a high compliment from her. Then she had me try something new. A camel sit combination. I had never ever done one of these before even as a kid. She had to teach me how to transition from the camel position with my leg sticking out behind me to the sit position with the leg in front while keeping my balance and keeping the rotations going. The key is going slowly. I went into a marginal camel spin which I knew I couldn't hold for long so after two revolutions I started the transition to the sit. It went flawlessly! I was so excited that I only managed two revolutions in the sit before I bounced up, stuck my toe pick in the ice to stop the spin and wave my arms wildly in the air. She was amused. I skated over to the boards all excited and she just looked at me and said that I need three revolutions in each position. "I know but I DID IT!!!" The Zamboni chased us off the ice. I was so excited that all day at random I would turn to my husband and say "I did a camel sit today!" Now I just need to get some more practice in so I can perfect things.