jo skates

Thoughts about skating and the practice of everyday life

Underpushes and underdogs

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This week I’ve been working a lot on my “underpush”: pushing from the outside edge underneath myself. This happens, for instance, on the second step in progressives, or on crossovers, when the foot crosses over. Here’s a picture of Eva Romanova and Pavel Roman doing this. Notice how their left sides push under and out of the circle. Notice how deep their edges are. Notice how they are smiling.

Eva Romanova, Pawel Roman

I need to push under. I need to be on deeper edges. I also need to smile more, but those first two requirements don’t leave me with enough surplus brain cells.

On progressives, it’s easy to push hard into that first stroke (inside edge to outside edge) but then I tend to let down my guard and simply slide onto the second edge, which doesn’t do me any favors. I also tend to transfer weight onto a flat rather than a true outside edge so that it takes me a split second to gain my edge and initiate a push. This results in a kind of a johnny-come-lately approach to the edge, and hence the underpush suffers.

It isn’t a matter of simply stepping onto the correct edge. On some of my back edges during my lesson last week, I was actually stepping onto edges, but then wobbling onto flats. My cross strokes need help as well.

This week, I worked on some of the same exercises, including alternating cross stroke, three turn, step forward (like in the man’s European). I realized that I wasn’t actually doing real honest-to-goodness, skating-side-lead, free-foot-turned-out outside edges into and out of the cross stroke (or the three turn for that matter).

It’s all these woefully under-utilized edges (that’s a nice way of putting it) that I need to buff up. It’s not that I can’t do them, but they are neither strong nor speedy. Let’s put it this way: I need the supercharged model of what I’ve been doing. No more Clark Kent, Peter Parker, Bob Parr-type edges.

Last December I wrote about initiating the feeling of my skating foot pushing down into the ice from the get-go, which is still a challenge. Another way of thinking about it is I need to have my legs skate through each other, and to have my free side transfer its force into my skating side, pushing me deeper and faster along the edge. (Ari pushes me around on lessons sometimes to give me the feeling of faster edges and more curve–sort of like a cat batting a mouse around with its paws.)

When my sons were little, they would always ask for us to do an “underdog” for them on the playground swings. This is when you push them and run underneath the swing, applying more force down and through the arc. They can go really really high!

Though I’d just as soon forget about a cartoon show featuring a canine character called “Sweet Polly Purebred” (scary, huh?), I did think about supercharging my edges as being like Underdog busting through that wall.

When help is needed, I am not slow,

For it’s hip-hip-hip and AWAY I GO!!!

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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.

2 thoughts on “Underpushes and underdogs

  1. Those underpinned are tricky! Shockingly, I honestly didn’t know about them until the Gold MIF test! The under pushes really help with speed and power and are so important in our sport. Wonder why they haven’t been much of a focus historically?

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  2. Yes, Eva, it’s like they’ve been hiding something! Seriously, I think it’s because it’s sometimes hard to see them–but now that I realize how important they are, I see them everywhere!

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