jo skates

Thoughts about skating and the practice of everyday life

Slip sliding away

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I dragged myself out to go skating last night instead of curling up with a big bowl of Halloween candy to watch old movies (don’t worry, I spent plenty of quality time with those peanut butter cups today).

I worked on a new and really fun Ari exercise: forward outside, cross to forward inside, change edge keeping the free foot extended back, repeat on other side (I’m allowed to add an extra progressive before the change of edge to maintain speed).  I can feel that left hip working, working, working!

I also realized that I need to think about my right side too, rather than just fixating on the left side. My stability on my left side is much better and as a result I can definitely tell that my right side pushes, both forwards and backwards, are consistently weak.

This problem makes sense given the history of trouble I’ve had with my left hip: since I’ve been fighting for those left edges, I’ve never really been able to push without knocking myself over.  Instead, I’ve learned to slide onto my left foot, setting my left foot down by falling into the circle rather than creating an angle so that my pushing (right) foot would have something to move against.

So last night I spent a considerable amount of time on back chassés going clockwise, working methodically to feel the glide, bend, set the correct angle, and push using my entire foot. Boy, that’s hard. But I can already see improvement.

Today I looked for some kind of diagram or illustration to describe the distinction between setting my blades at the correct angle and placing them in ways that allow them to go, to use the words of Paul Simon, “slip sliding away.” But I couldn’t really find very much that was useful other than a basic hockey diagram:

Hockeybackwards

While I was looking, though, I did find a rather funny set of instructions on inline skating, that among other topics (like “collisions with stationary objects”) listed among its “beginner stops” the “wall stop“:

To do this stop, simply skate towards a wall (or any reasonably stationary object, really) and use your arms to absorb the impact. At low speeds, this should be quite safe (make sure you turn your head to the side so as not to smash your face).

You may or may not bang your skates, depending on your speed and how you hit. The key is to use your arms as cushioning springs (like doing a standing push-up.) One way to practice this is to stand a few feet from a wall (with your skates on). Now fall forward on your hands against the wall. You should be able to bounce slightly, while still avoiding banging your head. The faster your approach, the less bounce you can expect.

A variation on the wall stop is the billiard ball stop. Instead of stopping against an object, use a fellow skater to push off and transfer your momentum to them. To be safe, warn the receiving person about your approach. It works well on flat surfaces and at low to moderate speeds. It’s not recommended at high speeds and especially on people you don’t know 😎

See the collision section for more extreme cases.

So inspiring. If I really get tired of working on the basics of ice dance, I can always work up an innovative program based on Newton’s third law (for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction) where I go careening off the boards, using my arms to further highlight my artistic expressiveness. I can also incorporate my problematic right back pushes into a thrilling finale in which my backward progressives spiral inwards, gradually losing speed in a series of ever-weaker but dramatic “death circles.”

I can just picture it now, that right foot flicking feebly, like the dying swan or sputtering engine of my first car, that blue 1968 Plymouth Valiant. Pffffftttt.

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Author: Joskates

Don't see me on the ice? I may be in the classroom or at the theater, or hanging out with my family and friends.

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