Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Practice makes perfect

...and if you don't practice, you'll suck. Yeah that was me yesterday morning at my private lesson. I had a busy week last week and got in only one hour of skating between my previous private lesson and yesterday. Definitely was not enough.

First half of the program is definitely doable and can be on time. I just need to practice a whole lot more to make it consistent and nice. The second half however, is a totally different matter. I currently end about maybe 10 seconds (?) after the music ends. My last element is a spin (hopefully it will be a sit spin, still working on that), then ending pose. I hadn't even started on the spin when the music ended! I'll have to practice much more and it will definitely speed up a bit, but I have a feeling that it'll just not be enough, and we might have to take something out.

We also spent some time going over my spins (just a one foot spin). My spins still travel a lot most of the time. Coach J told me to hold the entrance LFO edge for a lot longer (I've actually seen this on an iCoach/MySk8Coach video too!), and apparently, I managed to get one or two really good and centered spins! But it's really difficult for me and I promptly lost it again...

Oh there's just still so much to practice, but not enough time to practice because I don't manage to get up early enough to go to the rink. (This seems to be a recurring theme and getting old...) I'm still very far from practice makes perfect!

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Learning from a program

When I first started out doing a program, or even back when I was just thinking about it, I thought that doing a program involved piecing the elements you already know together and skate them to music expressively. That's all. I didn't realize that having a new program actually forces me to find out what I cannot do and pushes the limits of what I can do, learning new things with every step.

From the very first element of my choreography, the opening pose, my abilities were tested. An opening pose requiring good turnout that I do not possess, going into a forward and backward "pivot" required a lot of practice. Then there was the toe-push/pivot after a 3-turn into another 3-turn, at speed. I fell a lot the first few practices. At speed was another problem. Sure, I can skate laps around the rink and do crossovers pretty fast, but to do three-turns and mohawks and other what-nots at speed is frightening.

Along the way of choreographing, coach J discovered what I can and cannot do. She wanted to put in a spread eagle, even if it was curved and not nice on a straight line. With my bad turnout, the "spread eagle" (if one could even call it such) I showed her was in a super tight little circle that couldn't go anywhere. Seriously,  my travelling spin tracings are bigger circles than my "spread eagles". Well then how about a little Ina Bauer? I couldn't even manage to try. Coach J obviously realized that this was mission impossible and promptly had to dream up something else, getting a little exasperated that the list of options that she wants to use but I can't do was getting rather long. In the end, we settled for a sequence of LFO3, wide step, back mohawk, step behind, RFI3 and back attitude glide on the RB edge. The evil step behind! The nightmarish term that I hear from ice dancers on skatingforum! So far, I have managed to not step on the back of the blade and kill myself. Yet. Back attitude glide was another problem. I've ever only tried a forward attitude glide on flats, and that on my left foot. To do it on my not-so-good side, backwards and on an outside edge, brrrrrr. I feel super self-conscious trying it too because I'm sure I look like a monkey waving same-arm-same-leg.

Then came the worst as I learned my last section of my program this week (yay I'm done learning it!). So a few days ago, I read on alejeather's blog about having a back-3-turn entry into a loop in her program. I was in awe and at the same time relieved that I'd escaped any back-3's in my program. I rejoiced too early, coach had it waiting for me. At least it's a RBO3, since I can't do BI3's at all. But even so, my BO3's generally come to a stop or at least a crawl after the turn, so you can imagine it doesn't work quite well going into a loop right now. Currently coach J has allowed me to stick ONE back crossover between the 3-turn and the actual loop jump, if I have time, meaning I have to manage to do everything previous at speed! Eventually with practice though, I hope I can go straight into the BI3-mohawk-loop jump without any crossover help. But I foresee a lot of falling down in my future practices.

So besides all these new elements, I've also learnt (or am in the process of learning) some "skating skills". I have to skate faster so I can fit inside the music, something coach J is very happy about lol. I supposedly have to skate "pretty", thought goodness knows what I look like now. I'm also learning to use my arms and be expressive, and something that goes with that, is to be confident. I was certainly not confident at first, I was ready to run away when coach J first made me run the first portion of the program to music on the speaker. Now, I've even managed to request my program music in my own practice time : ) Hopefully, by the time recital day comes in a month, I will be confident enough to go out there, be expressive, elegant, artistic, pretty and above all, smiling.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Aha moment

Oh those wonderful times when something just suddenly makes so much sense and all of a sudden, that elusive element just suddenly works. I had two of those AHA! moments this week. Not without good advice from my great coaches of course.

Waltz-loop combo jump
I've practiced and practiced but it just doesn't feel right. I have to put so much strength into trying to jump up into the loop jump after the waltz, and even so, the tempo isn't right and I spend too much time on the ground losing my momentum. I've tried it slow, I've tried it fast, it's just not there. Then coach J told me something which group coach A has actually told me before, but now it finally clicks. I need to curve my waltz jump more! I tend to step out my waltz jump on a very shallow curve, for fear of over-rotating the waltz, but then I have no rotational momentum to get into the loop jump. So I tried it on a deeper curve, and voila! As I land the waltz jump, my foot naturally made the fishhook curve and I instantly went into a loop jump. Compared to my old feeling of being heavy and unjumpable, now I felt as light as a feather. It's such a good feeling!

Sit spin
Something else that I've practiced again and again. My biggest problem seem to be that I would go up on my toepick (not just at the entrance, but continually) and so I would fall out of spinning. To counteract this, I tried to not lean my body forward (ie. lean back a little). During my group class, coach C told me that I should be bending my knee and ankle more instead. I certainly do bend my knee, but I realized that the problem was bending (or lack thereof) my ankle! I consciously told myself to bend my ankle and it works! I started spinning round and round in my sit spin.

Both of these were good, along with all my other jumps (toe-loop, salchow, flip) on Thursday and Friday, so hopefully, it's something that I've finally learnt and not just a mere fluke! I felt like a bouncing bean jumping here and there and everywhere, and was so happy : ) Can't wait till my next skate!