jo skates

Thoughts about skating and the practice of everyday life

The stroke starts here

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So in working on my cross rolls today, I discovered that I needed to push throughout the edge, not just at the end of it.  What this means is that I have to put energy down into the ice from the moment my weight is transferred to that new outer edge.

What I was doing was transferring my weight to the new side, trying to balance over that edge, and only pushing into the ice at the end of the edge as I was getting ready to move to the next one.

The beauty of this modification is that it puts me on a much more secure and dynamic edge from the get-go. For one, I feel like I’m in a slightly different position on the blade itself. When going forward, I’m just a little more forward on the blade, which keeps me from breaking forward at the hips. When I’m doing backward cross rolls, I can actually feel like I’m in a position to push through my outside edges (and more able to turn out at the hips).

This gives me much more power; it’s kind of like putting toe clips on a bicycle and suddenly realizing that you’ve missed out on the force of pulling up on the pedal as well as pushing down.  And I can get better extensions, since I have increased the amount of dynamic energy on that edge, which counter-balances the force of the free leg.

It’s not the secret to a longer life, but it may well be the secret to looking like I have longer legs. And that’s something to be excited about. Longer legs! I’ve always wanted longer legs!

So does this perhaps mean that every edge is actually a stroke?  That there is no difference between stroking and having real edges?

I’m not sure yet, but I was so excited after trying this with cross rolls that I started applying the idea to lots of other things. Does it work on the following?

  • Progressives: yes!
  • Outside outside edges, like in the kilian: yes!
  • Back outside edge to forward outside edge (like in between three-turns on the European): yes!
  • Forward right outside, cross behind to left back inside (like in the kilian before the choctaw): not sure (but heck, I would try anything that is not a banned substance to improve this edge).

On an earlier lesson, Laurie told me to rise on the knee by pushing down into the ice rather than just popping up like a toaster. This is consistent with the idea that the edge is dynamic throughout, that the force into the ice starts at the beginning. Pro-active edges, that sounds good to me.

Here’s an instructional video on cross rolls.  I’ve only just discovered YouTube’s “Kseniya and Oleg” channel, but it looks like I’ll have some useful videos to watch when the end-of-semester craziness dies down. Are their legs really long or is it the effect produced by those dynamic-from-the-start edges?

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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.

4 thoughts on “The stroke starts here

  1. Great tips! I rarely think about pushing THROUGH the edge, but it’s something that I will start trying, beginning today. Those active edges surely result in some gorgeous extensions!

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  2. Be sure to report back and tell me if it worked for you!

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  3. Absolutely! Get into that ice! Though you don’t really get into the ice when you push down (physics) it only feels like it. I’m already subscribed to Kseniya and Oleg’s channel, they do have some good stuff. Their idea of what’s ‘basic’ cracks me up!

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    • Yes, it’s important not to get too carried away with this thought–we’ll be grinding ourselves to a halt! And it is fun to hear what is considered “basic” from the point of view of those beautifully trained skaters who probably don’t remember a time when they were skating on flats!

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