jo skates

Thoughts about skating and the practice of everyday life

Look, ma, I’m skating!

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Oooh, I have a new (well, new to me) favorite exercise: Russian stroking. It’s basically alternating outside left, inside right (like in a progressive), then inside on the other side.  (This is part of perimeter stroking too, but without the additional strokes in between). Here’s a video I found on YouTube:

I got it so that I could work on my right inside to left inside transitions. Laurie is having me really work on rotating my core for each new inside edge (the core rotates against the direction of the edge, something that doesn’t happen instinctively on my left side). I really like how this feels.

So now I have several exercises that rival one another for my favor, like those creepers, or the back crossover change edge exercise (I was trying to figure out when I actually first learned that one; boy, there are a lot of entries to look through!) I realized today that I’ve been keeping this blog for almost a year. How time flies when you’re having fun! I honestly didn’t think it would be fun at all.

As I learned from my eighteen months or so of hand therapy, it can be really frustrating to work on small repetitive movements day in and day out. It’s especially depressing when something used to happen so easily, so instinctively, but doesn’t anymore.  With my hand injury, I felt a deep sense of loss. I had gotten used to my hand’s suppleness, its strength, its ability to make beautiful music or pick up scraps of paper or open jars. I was shocked to have it become so stiff and numb and cold.

Oddly enough, though, working on the on-ice and off-ice left side rehab of my left hip and side this past year has felt much more positive than my hand therapy.  I think the difference is that with my hand, I took certain things for granted, like an ease of movement and power. I have never felt that I was a natural at skating. With skating, everything has always felt a little bit foreign, a little “not-me,” even though I now probably have skated for more years of my life than not. (Not willing to do that math on that one, not yet).

So I’m always a little bit amazed that I can do anything at all.  And the rest, as they say, is gravy.

At some point, though, I’ll need to accept that just being surprised and delighted at being able to do anything at all is not enough.  Back when I was competing, Ari would always say “You’re better than that” to get me to try just a little harder, skate just a little faster. Maybe I should start saying that to myself again.

There is a lovely short essay in the N.Y. Times Magazine this week on gardening by the writer and horticulturist Umberto Pasti that made me think of the blog entry I wrote last week about skating and gardening. It’s definitely worth reading in its entirety, but here’s a few choice quotations. There are so many lovely and apt lines that I’m just tempted to substitute the words “skating” or “skater” for “garden” (or “skater” for “gardener”) everywhere! Instead I will just highlight places where this might happen.

  • To rebuild a little chunk of the flowering earth: This should be every gardener’s goal. You must begin with a light heart and open eyes — as one does when entering a forest — while keeping in mind, at the same time, how tortuous and tiring is the path that lies before you. To become a gardener means to try, to fail, to stubbornly plug away at something, to endure serious disappointments and small triumphs that encourage you to try and fail again. But it means, above all, perking up your ears, sniffing, identifying the rhythm and the secret voice of a place, so that you may abandon yourself to and indulge it. To make a garden is to surrender so completely that you forget yourself. It is to obey.
  • Do it with honesty. Plant what you really like — what the happy child inside you, not the doubtful adolescent into whom life has transformed you, likes. Your garden, notwithstanding all the mistakes you’ll make, will be marvelous.
  • Making a garden is not a task or an action whose goal is the creation of a garden. It’s a condition, a form of being. Your garden is you, as you make it, draw it, think it. This is why the errors are important: not only because it is thanks to them that you learn what not to do, but because in them you express something profoundly yours, your identity.
  • Listening to your garden, abandoning yourself to its voice, means abandoning yourself to the wildest, most secret voice inside yourself. . . . Have courage and be ruthless.
  • Meet the gardener who is within you: Befriend him. For gardeners, paradise doesn’t exist elsewhere; it is here. It’s called the world, and the place from where it springs goes by the name of reality.

So it’s worth repeating: I can see paradise right here. It’s cold and hard and frozen over! And I am a skater through and through, one who can do Russian stroking and hold those inside edges for what feels like forever.

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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 “Look, ma, I’m skating!

  1. The Russian stroking that you’re referring to is an element on the Adult Moves tests (I just can’t remember which level… maybe Bronze?). They are fantastic for helping you get that deep push onto the inside edge, that’s for sure!

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  2. I have not worked on MIF for a few years (stopped after Preliminary). Oooh, those sneaky coaches, putting in those MIF elements when I thought I was just doing something for fun!

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