Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Pre-bronze practice woes

Practicing those pre-bronze MITFs is slowly crumbling my confidence I'd gained from being good at learning jumps. I'm so slow at doing the basic things! That "plan" my private coach J had set at the beginning, had me good to go for the test by September, yet here is the end of October and I'm still working on it. I now have less than one month when I'm actually going to be doing the test on 11/27!

Worked hard on edges and waltz-8 this morning, the two things that still need work (a lot of work). FO and FI should be okay, but BO and BI have much to be desired. I can sometimes do a good set, but it's not stable at all. Waltz-8 is just a nightmare... I think I'm fine with the 3-turn and the BO edge, it's the step forward to FO edge that I have a problem with. I wish I could just step forward and go on a tangent instead of curving the circle back to the centre. I either a) go off on a tangent or b) curve and as I bring the free foot forward keep curving and curving and curving too much. I know that my arms and legs should be in a certain position but they just keep moving over! I can't control them!

At least all the other elements are good to go (including FS), and I am improving slightly, just oh-so-slow. Definitely need to practice more but it's so hard to get up in the morning.

I had a freak fall when doing crossovers today. It wasn't a hard fall, it was just completely unexpected and unexplainable. A fellow skater said she saw me skating perfectly fine and upright then suddenly the next moment, I went down! It must have looked pretty bad since a few people came and inquired if I was okay, but it actually didn't hurt much as I went down at an angle (and slid across the ice on my back for a few feet) instead of wham! straight down.It was weird, I didn't hit anything, it just felt like my edge gave up grabbing the ice and slid out from under me! I doubt it's that the blades need sharpening, since they only have 20 hours on them, and I haven't been skidding on anything else. Better not happen again!

Practicing basic skills is actually very tiring, because to do them well, you need to be in control of every muscle in your body. I'm all weak now from getting up too early and tensing all my muscles for almost an hour. Hope I won't be sore tomorrow!

Friday, 26 October 2012

Flips are back too

Yeah! Now I have my flip jump back again! And it actually feels better than before, since I used to do a LFO-3 entry, but had trouble doing it on a straight line, and now I'm doing a mohawk entry so it's much smoother.

Not as many tips and bad habits to overcome on this compared to that loop jump. Pre-rotation is a problem as always. And the other thing was to remember not to wait to long between getting on the LBI edge and picking the right foot. Practicing a lot of picking and jumping straight up without the rotation helped with the pre-rotation problem. It also helped with jumping off both the picking right foot and the left foot. I used to only jump off the pick, the left foot was really lazy.

Still a long way to go before it looks big and pretty, but it's happening again : )

Neither loop nor flip jumps are very stable yet (darn pre-rotation!), so I did a lot of falling in class yesterday. I repeatedly fell on the same place - my right butt, and it really hurts now. After a particular hard fall, I decided I didn't want to jump again and fall on the same place again, so I started spinning. Managed to make progress on my camel spin: 1.5 revolutions! But after a few more tries, I fell hard on my left side. Then both sides of my butt hurt and I gave up. It's really time to buy those crash pads...

Friday, 19 October 2012

Loops are BACK

I hope saying this out loud won't jinx it, but... my loop jumps are BACK!!! Tonight's loops had a success rate of about 80% once they started happening again.

It took a combination of three coaches (two class coaches and my private coach) trying to correct my bad habits to finally get it back.

1. Do not pre-rotate upper body
This was the hardest thing to fix, and I still sometimes slip back into the old bad habit. All three coaches said the same thing to me, made me try it again and again, and still I would pre-rotate my upper body. I knew it but I just couldn't control it! Right now, I try to not do this by telling myself to pull in my arms as I jump so that my hands are clasped on my right side (just below the collar bone), instead of just dead centre. Because when I think to pull it to the middle, what I'm actually doing is pre-rotating and pulling in to the left side. So far, this has helped, let's hope it will continue to be fixed.

2. Curve the take-off edge more
That whole thing about how all jumps actually take off forward. I do my loops from backward crossovers, and the take-off edge should be a sudden back outside edge curve into the circle, that basically looks like a hook. I started to be afraid of the loop because I'd sometimes feel like I was skidding/slipping sideways on my take-off. With my old skates, I blamed it on the need-to-be-sharpened blades. With my nice new blades, the problem persisted, and coach J pointed out my tracings on the ice and said if I curve more, I shouldn't be skidding. It works. I just need to figure out how to consistently curve more.

3. Don't drop either shoulder on take-off and landing
I drop my left shoulder on take-off (so I pre-rotate), and I drop my right shoulder on landing, so I can't hold up the landing. Not much to say here - need to keep shoulders square.

4. Don't bend knee until right before jump
Since I go into the loop from backward crossovers, the entry is a RBO edge gliding backwards with left foot in front of right foot (as close together as possible, was another thing I had to fix). During this gliding, I used to have my right knee bent the entire glide. Coach J told me to only bend just as I'm about to jump. When a person does a normal jump upwards motion, they don't start in the bent position and jump; they start upright, suddenly dip down, then immediately jump up. Exactly the same here. So I tried keeping my right leg straight on the backwards glide (left foot still close in front!), and voila! There was my loop. This last change actually killed two birds with one stone: 1) it gave me the power for the jump and 2) as I bend that right knee, the motion actually created that deep curve that I'm supposed to do!

So many bad habits, and I'm sure I have more. But at least these have improved and now I can happily say I can do loop jumps again. Hope I will soon be able to say that I can do flip jumps again!

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Four minutes in heaven

Saturday night, I was deliriously happy for four minutes. I had the ENTIRE rink to myself! It was at the end of a light public session, and everybody had left the ice. Four short, precious minutes before the Zamboni came on. I loved it.

I have never, ever skated on a full sheet of ice all to myself before. The best was maybe four people on the ice. I know in some skating-is-less-than-popular places, and at strange hours of the day, it might be quite common. But for me, this was a first.

It's really hard to describe the feeling I had. A mixture of elation and freedom and joy at being able to do whatever I want, wherever I want. I did all the elements I could do (which unfortunately does not include loop jumps and flip jumps any more), without stopping in between like I would normally do when just practicing. It was as if I was running through a program. I only wish I knew more transition things like footwork, instead, all I could do were stroking, crossovers, three-turns, mohawks, spirals and that was about it. I did have fun trying out backward spirals for the first time (I've been afraid to try in fear of killing someone).

Four minutes was so short... but to be honest, I was exhausted (albeit very fulfilled) after skating continuously like that. I can't imagine doing a long program!

The session overall was pretty light, even though it was Saturday night. Met two of my skating friends and chatted way too much. Fooled around with some different things and even tried a hydroblade for the first time. I've never understood the attraction that a few teenage girls at our rink had for this, but it was really fun! Don't know how much of the fun factor was because I'd always end up collapsed on the floor and giggling from the fall though. 

All in all, a great skate day. Oh, and I had a few itsy bitsy loops come back for a visit too! Hope they will stay and grow bigger!

Wednesday, 10 October 2012


Ouch! I got my first (hopefully last?) blister from skating.

I had no knee/ankle bending problems with the new boots, so I assumed they were not too stiff. So when I felt the back of the left boot digging into the back of my leg, I convinced myself that I would just need to get used to it.

That is, until I became obsessed with practicing sit spins, a position that has the top back of the left boot digging in even more. So there I was, happily (trying) spinning away in my "squat" position, when the back of my leg started hurting more and more. Eventually I couldn't stand it any longer, went to take off my skate, peel off my sock, and lo and behold, there was a blister! It was actually already popped, so I'm not too sure if it even was a blister or if it was just rubbed raw. Anyway, it hurt quite a bit.

The very next day I went to the pro shop and got myself those silipose gel sleeves.

Tried them on Tuesday morning, they felt really comfortable! Definitely recommend them to any one with boot-digging-into-leg problems!

And now I can go back to practicing sit spins! It's becoming my favourite spin (which is not hard considering that I just don't like spins in general). Hopefully when my muscles are stronger I will be able to hold myself up and stop falling out of it every time. I like camel spins too except that I'm afraid that I'm going to a) topple forward and face plant; or b) kill someone with my blade stuck out swinging around in uneven circles. Nevertheless, I still have fun trying them out : )

Friday, 5 October 2012

Too close to the ice

I've spent an inordinate amount of time on the ice recently. By that, I don't just mean my feet and skates are on the ice, I mean that I fall down way too much.

Ever since I got back from my 3-week break, I've lost my jumps. The simplest ones, the waltz and toe loop are still okay, but the Salchow is iffy, and the loop is luck, but even when I do manage to jump, I don't land properly. I've been blaming it on the inadequate support and need-to-be-sharpened blades of the old skates, but now that I have new boots and fresh new blades, I've lost my excuse. Yet last night, I still could not jump. Now for someone who's first love in figure skating is jumping, that's devastating.

So I went for help the second we started jumping in class. Assis. coach A, as always, was tremendously helpful and after many disgruntling tries, she fixed my loop take off, and it felt like I was jumping again. So I went off to practice but found that even though I could jump now, I could not land, so I fell again and again and again. And again. I tried Salchows and flips and still fell, toe loop was the only safe one. Coach C came along to find out why I was spending so much time on the floor and what I kept falling on. I told her, everything. After watching me try again and fall yet again, she discovered the problem. I wasn't using my muscles, my core strength, to hold myself up. She said I was landing fine on one foot and even though I was leaning like the Tower of Pisa to the right, I could have totally held it up and not fall.

Well that explains everything. I have no core strength anymore, is the problem. For the past ten months that I've been skating for, my muscles have been building up to always match the level I'm jumping at. But not exercising for 3 weeks has killed them all, they are now almost non-existent. Coach C said that muscles deactivate (?) if you don't use them in as quickly as 72 hours. I didn't use them for 3 weeks. It's no surprise I can no longer hold up a landing if there's the slightest incorrect posture (ie. leaning), nor can I hold myself up in a sit spin and not just crash to the ice instead of lifting elegantly out of it.

Well, lesson learnt. Now it's time to do crunches and sit-ups and planks.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012


My first time on the new Ultima Legacy blades, I felt my spins improved a lot. Today in private lesson during freestyle session, I was back to square one of spinning. Can't spin. Not even a simple upright one-foot spin. Reason being - I scratched with the toe pick so much that I was completely put off and could not spin any more because I kept trying to not scratch.

Last time I skated was on a public session, so I couldn't hear myself over the crowd and the music. On the very quiet morning freestyle though (all the kids are gone, yay!), I'm sure the entire rink heard me trying to spin.

This is definitely a good thing as it's going to help me spin the correct way, ie. on the sweet spot, as opposed to having the toe pick drag on the ice the whole time as I used to. I scratch as I wind up, and I scraaaaaatch in the spin (I don't scratch crossovers though!). The larger and sharper toe picks on the new blades amplify this bad habit like ten times louder, so I can ignore it no longer.

It was awful. I was trying so hard to balance on the rocker that I could not balance myself to spin. Good thing I didn't know about this beforehand, so the very first spin I showed coach was very nice and centered, albeit loud, so coach knows that I do know how to spin. I was mortified with the deafening scratch and subsequently failed every attempt after that. I know it's necessary to do things correctly, but not being able to spin again after making some progress is so frustrating!