Tuesday, February 28, 2012

There Will Be Blood ...

Just yesterday a gal I skate with most days was asking me how my new skates were doing. She had noticed I had begun doing a few small jumps and attempting some spins lately and she wondered how my new boots were treating me.

I told her I really love my skates, but I am still not one-with-my-skates ... in other words they still feel like they are attachment to my feet.  Once a good pair of skates is properly broken in, you don't notice they are there unless they get too loose or you lace them incorrectly.  I further rambled on to tell her how amazing it was that I was so comfortable in them, that I had no blisters or pain of any kind, except that my left ankle was a little swollen from skating without enough support the first few days.  I had laced the boot so loose my ankle had to do all the work itself.

That was yesterday.  Today I laced up and immediately felt this sore, burning sensation on my left ankle.  I returned to the bench to re lace and/or move the tongue into proper position and this is what I found.

My beautiful new boots are blood stained!

I believe the edge of the tongue is rubbing my ankle.

I tried skating afterwards with a glove inside my boot.  It hurt and was getting worse so I decided to cut my practice short today.  Next stop - the pharmacy for some bandaids and wraps for my ankle.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Monday Practice ...Ugh

Today is Monday, or what I like to affectionately call, "What the hell I am doing this for?" day.  I don't understand it.  I skated 4 days last week and I also skied 3 days last week.  I should feel pumped and raring to go, but instead I felt wobbly and weak - and cold.

My rink is really cold.  How cold?  I don't know, but my fingers will go numb if I don't keep skating and pumping blood into my fingers.  My medical chart actually says I have Raynaud's Disease, but I don't think I do.  Perfect disease for an ice skater!

I warmed up today with a few laps, then did my entire run through of the Pre Bronze Moves In The Field and then the Pre Bronze Free Skate.  I specifically wanted to try the jumps while I was less than warmed up to see the result.  Result:  I nearly fell.

I will have to wake up really early the morning of my test and be sure I am fully stretched and warm from off ice warm ups before I go out there.  I got a few suggestions from my skating friends on Skatingforums.com   Alas.. having a suggestion only works if you do it!

Raw video from the end of practice today just before my lesson.   Waltz Jump (of course)
Salchow and a few Spirals.

Lesson Today:

  • Complete run through of Pre Bronze Moves In The Field
  • Coach Berkley's comments "passing", need more control on back inside edges, need to remember to hold for 3 on the waltz 3 and no two foot transition, started spiral sequence late 
  • Complete run through of the Pre Bronze Free Skate
  • Coach Berkley's comments "passing", stamina getting better
Next week she wants to see what I plan to wear.  I have prematurely acquired a collection of dresses in my closet, but they all seem too formal or have too much "bling" for a Pre Bronze test.  On the other hand, who knows how long my AARP skating "career"  will last.  Maybe I should wear a little bling while I have the chance.  I think I will go with the lavender sleeveless dress and put a black sweater over it for the MIF with white gloves.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

PINK ICE night @ Spokane Chiefs Hockey

No skating for me today, but I am headed to PINK ICE night at the Spokane Chiefs Hockey game vs Tri-City.  They will wear pink jerseys and donate a portion of all the proceeds from each ticket to raise money for breast cancer awareness and a cure.

Previous years they have colored the ice pink, but when I called for tickets today they told me they haven't done that for 2 years.  I guess it's pretty costly to color the ice pink for a 1 night event.  Melt-color-refreeze ....

Chiefs lost.  Didn't take any photos of the game, but I bought this tee shirt.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Skiing or Skating? I couldn't decide.

So I did both today.  The webcam looked good for skiing today and frankly, I thought I would burn more calories skiing than skating!  The snow was ok.  Some new snow fell a few days ago over churned up packed powder.  It was a bit icy in places.  After skiing about 5 runs I used up my freshly burned calories on a cold beer, then headed home.

Once I got home I felt bad about not skating today, so I headed to our downtown outdoor seasonal rink, Ice Palace at Riverfront Park.  I had to circle the city twice for a parking place, put a few bucks in the meter and paid $4.50 to skate on really bad ice with a moderate sized crowd.  I made the most of it and just worked on stroking, 3 turns, 5 step mow hawk sequence.  Things I could do without bumping into anyone.

Basically it was a waste of time and money.  The rink closes in 2 days for the season.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Short Practice

Based on a suggestion from another skater I decided to try a run through of the Pre Bronze Free Skate Test after a very quick warm up.  It wasn't bad.  Of course 30 minutes later, after I was fully warmed up and stretched out, it was a much better result.

Today I worked on all the elements of both my Moves in the Field and Free Test.  I also worked on my spiral.  Specifically getting my leg up there faster.  I think I have a passing spiral, but I would like to confidently transition into one on either foot, any edge, frontward or backward and with more speed.  I know I will never have a "Sasha Cohen" spiral.

Photo by Diane Rudnick at Pandora Unforgettable Moments of Love On Ice

5. Forward right and left foot spirals
The skater will perform right foot and left foot spirals down the length of the rink maintaining a spiral position on each foot for approximately four seconds with extended leg held at the hip level or higher. The skater may be on flats and may start on either foot. Introductory steps are optional. Focus: Extension 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Breaking News

Just by chance I looked at the Lilac Figure Skating Club website today.  This is what I saw:

Upcoming Tests and FormsNote:  Testing dates are subject to change, please check this page for date changes and updated forms as they become available.
Due Date
Feb 20, 2012Feb 10, 2012Special Session (FULL)
March 27, 2012March 9, 2012

My test date just got moved from March 30 to March 27.
No big deal right?  Wrong.  I'll be on a cruise ship until March 26.  Flying home that evening.  Late.  Jet Lag.  I will have to get up early the next morning and attempt this test after 11 days off the ice, sipping drinks with umbrellas and eating gourmet meals 3 X day for 10 days.   This should be interesting.

I really did have breaking news today.....

Due to the grace of my right elbow in the kitchen this morning, I was late for practice.
I somehow knocked a glass candy dish off my counter top and flung it onto the floor, shattering it into a million pieces.  

I arrived with only about 45 minutes left to skate.  I wasn't up to a long practice today after skiing yesterday.  I laced up once without using the glove under my laces and quickly realized how much it was making a difference.  After a re-lace I worked on the sequence of my two upcoming tests: 

Adult Pre-Bronze Moves in the Field
Adult Pre-Bronze Free Skate

My skates are feeling more and more like my own as they break in.  I am trying to stop and re-lace 3-4 times per session for now to keep the laces spread out over the tongue.

Things I am currently working on:

  • Better edge control
  • Stamina
  • Clockwise crossovers I can do these, but they need work
  • More balanced three turns I need to lower my free leg hip more
  • Waltz jumps Need more height and more control on landing
  • Salchows Need more height and more control on landing
  • Toe Loops Need more height and more control on landing (confidence)
  • 1/2 Flip jumps I still have not attempted a full flip
  • Two foot spins I really hate doing these.  Once the Pre-Bronze test is over so will the two foot spins.  It's a requirement for the Pre Bronze Test.
  • One foot scratch spins I'm getting less dizzy and more revolutions.
  • Power 3 turns Need more work on the RFO
  • 5 Step Mohawk Need more flow

Monday, February 20, 2012

Mounting - Stage 2

I had a few more screws added to my mounting this weekend.  We are pretty sure they are set correctly for the permanent mount.  The two top holes are left empty until the plate conforms to the sole of the boot.  Not sure if you can see from the photo that they do not touch yet.

I had a lesson today at the end of the public session.  Since today was a holiday the kids were out of school. The rink was pretty crowded and the ice got chewed up pretty fast. There was even a lady skating out there PUSHING A STROLLER with a toddler in it.  Don't they have rules about things like that?  Another pair of young boys were playing fetch with a skate guard, tossing it down the ice to each other.  So I bobbed and weaved my way around the rink trying to get whatever practice and exercise I could amid the chaos.

The lesson plan today was to go over my Adult Bronze Free Skate elements and sequence them together.  Pre Bronze does not require a choreographed program or steps that artistically link the required elements together, but the elements are supposed to be done in this order:

TR 32.09 Adult Pre-Bronze Free Skate Test

Jumps:  Two different jumps, either one-half or one full revolution I am planning a Waltz Jump and a Salchow or a Toe Loop.

  1. A one-foot upright spin (minimum three revolutions in position)
  2. A two-foot upright spin (minimum three revolutions in position)
  1. Forward and backward crossovers (either direction) Really happy I can pick counter-clockwise forward crossovers and clockwise backward crossovers!  (The other directions need more work)
  2. Lunge or spiral I am planning a spiral vs a lunge (because I don't want to scrape my new boots on the ice yet!)
The biggest thing I learned today was that putting all these unremarkable elements together with not much time in between is much more tiring than I expected.  I really need to work on my stamina.  Hence forth I will practice them all in sequence.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Day 3 New Boots and Blades

Today I used paper napkins under my laces and over my tongue to ward off lace bite and to keep my laces disbursed over the ankle evenly.  It worked out pretty good.  When I was done skating I had something to blow my nose into!

Still felt a little wiggly today and discovered at the end of my session that my temporary mount is loose.  Hmmmm.  Maybe I should not have attempted the little jumps quite yet.
Tomorrow I will tighten them up before I skate and take it easy.

Today I braved wearing a skirt and leggings.  I was really lucky as there weren't many people at the rink and I found myself alone for the last 20 minutes.  I hope I didn't scare them off!

I have been capturing my videos on my DroidX phone which is HD.  Here's one from today.  I was practicing the jumps for my upcoming test.  Everything needs a lot of work.  I need to get used to my skates before I can launch any higher or spin any faster.  Right now I am just grateful not to be in traction!

I still get dizzy when I spin, but I can see my hip is too high which is throwing me off center.  My jumps all lack confidence, but overall I am pretty happy after just 1 1/2 months of being back on the ice.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Avoiding Lace Bite


I gave my ankle a rest yesterday.  Instead of skating for 90 minutes I went skiing for 3 1/2 hours!  My legs were tired and shaky today.

Day 2 on new skates.

I laced up and skated for an hour before my lesson.  While doing back crossovers I somehow managed to tangle up my blades and I went down like a building being demolished by dynamite.  I came to rest (after sliding a ways) on my side with snow up and down my entire right leg and right arm.  I guess that's why my shoulder hurt so bad!  There is nothing fun about falling when you least expect it.  There is nothing fun about falling anytime, but in skating falls are inevitable as you learn new elements, jumps and spins.  The accidental klutzy falls seem to hurt much worse.

My coach Berkley came out for my lesson at 12:30 and was anxious to see my new boots and blades.  She recently got herself a new pair from the same manufacturer, Harlick.
She watched me lace up my boots and discovered that I had already put a healthy crease in the tongue of my boots from the manner I was lacing up.  I guess I had a tendency to lay the laces from both the 1st and 2nd hooks into the same part of the tongue, one on top of the other instead of separating them and giving them space in between.  She recommended that I always try to give space in between and cross them a bit less uniform.  She warned me I might get "lace bite".  It sounds terrible.  I already have an inflamed tendon in my left ankle.  I thought it was from my boots being too loose and my ankles compensating to keep me balanced.  

Below was the .99 cent cure.  They sell "lace bite" gel pads online for $29.99 or...
you can stick gloves between the laces and the tongue for the final hook lacing to help aid in spreading the laces over the area and preventing a permanent crease in my tongue in one place.

Last week I found out that the next TEST DATE is March 30, 2012.  I didn't think I should try to do 2 tests on one day.  I could probably pass the Bronze Moves in the Field, but I would have to apply to test on the Bronze Moves on a contingency basis.  If I did not pass the Pre Bronze for some reason,  I would lose the opportunity to test Bronze and lose the $40 test fee.  Better to go out there confident and pass my first two tests at the same level.
After all.... I did totally chicken out (see paragraph 7) the last time I tried to free skate a test 41 years ago!  I hope to rectify that next time.

Today my coach wanted to see if I could do the elements required in the free skate.

TR 32.09 Adult Pre-Bronze Free Skate Test

The purpose of this test is to encourage beginning adult skaters to learn the fundamentals of free skating. No great deal of technical ability, carriage or flow is expected. The candidate must show knowledge of the elements, fairly good edges and some evidence of good form. The following technical elements are to be skated individually, without music.
Jumps:Two different jumps, either one-half or one full revolution Spins:
  1. A one-foot upright spin (minimum three revolutions in position)
  2. A two-foot upright spin (minimum three revolutions in position)
  1. Forward and backward crossovers (either direction)
  2. Lunge or spiral
The entire test will be marked on a “pass” or “retry” basis and individual marks will not be awarded. The “pass” or “retry” will be arrived at by consideration of the composite of each element in relation to the whole. The judge-in-charge may request a retry of two different elements, if necessary, upon the request of a member of the judging panel, should it potentially change the overall evaluation of the test from a “retry” to a “pass.”
Judging panel required: One or three bronze or higher rank singles/pairs judges. 

My lesson is only 15 minutes, so she wasted no time.  As soon as my skates were laced up with Lilac gloves under the laces, we took to the ice and she said, "let's work on jumps".

This surprised the heck out of me because my blades are only temporarily mounted and I have only skated on them twice.  I think she figured that the level of my jumping was not going to knock the blades off.  She was probably right!

We worked on 3 jumps today:

  1. Waltz Jump 
    WALTZ JUMP - The easiest jump, which takes off from the forward outside edge and is landed on the back outside edge of the opposite foot. A Waltz jump consists of .5 revolution.  If you add a revolution, for 1.5 it becomes a single Axel jump.   It is easily recognizable as it is the only jump that takes off from a forward position.
  2. Salchow 
    SALCHOW - Another edge jump taken off from the back inside edge of one foot and landed on the back outside edge of the opposite foot. Created by Ulrich Salchow.
  3. Toe Loop 
    TOE LOOP - A toe-pick-assisted jump that takes off and lands on the same back outside edge.

Next we tackled 2 spins:

  1. Two Foot Spin 
    TWO FOOT SPIN -  The basic first spin you learn.  Entering from a stand still or from a controlled forward outside edge, the spin begins and remains on two feet.  Gradual acceleration begins by drawing the arms close to the body. The spin exits into a backward outside edge.
  2. One Foot Scratch Spin 
    SCRATCH SPIN - Also known as an upright spin. After entering from a controlled forward outside edge, the spin begins on a back inside edge. Gradual acceleration begins by moving and placing the free foot toward the top of the skating knee and drawing the arms close to the body. The spin exits into a backward outside edge.

Normally when I practice I put my "notes to self" in red next to the description of what I am attempting, but today I was just happy to get through it all without falling on my head!

So today it's official.  I filled out my test application and paid my fees.

  • Adult Pre Bronze Moves in the Field
  • Adult Pre Bronze Free Skate 

Monday, February 13, 2012

Breaking In New Boots (and Blades)

Step 1.  Temporary Mounting of the Blades

I will skate for the rest of the week on this temporary mount.
No jumps. No spins.  No Problem! I wasn't planning on it anyway.

The reason for the temporary mounting is to be certain that the blades are properly aligned. Also, as the boot breaks in a little the mounting plates will also give a little so that they will sit flat on the sole and the heel of the boot before the permanent screws go it.  One would think accurate measuring ahead of time would ensure this, but each skater has tendencies and this could alter the alignment.  I will watch the screws closely, tighten if necessary and at the end of the week send them back for permanent mounting.

Everything I read says I should have the permanent screws put it with epoxy for strength and/or silicone for water resistance.  The person mounting my blades thinks neither of these is necessary, but he did insist on using better, stronger screws than those that MK sent with the blades.  I notice he put washers on as well.  I have a feeling if I find a skating forum on this subject there will be much difference of opinion.

Here they are mounted and sitting nice and cozy by the fire after their first test drive.
My laces are nylon vs cotton.  The jury is still out on whether or not I want to switch.  I am told wider cotton is easier on your fingers when lacing up.

They are officially now "used" as you can see I have my first crease in my tongue.

This is the best part.  My feet are going to be so much happier.  I was expecting a lot of pain today on my first outing.  I didn't lace up tight and I didn't lace up past the 2nd hook, so the only pain I had came from swimming around in the boot too much and making my ankle do all the work to keep me balanced.  I did go home with a swollen left ankle.
A small price to pay.  No crushed bunions, no blisters.  My apologies for the ugly feet.  I  purposely cropped out the toes as I desperately need a pedicure!

The only question now is what to do with my old skates.  Should they R.I.P.? Should I sell them to a beginning recreational skater?  The MK Professional blades still have wear on them, but the boots are really broken down for anyone wanting any real support.  Maybe I will just keep them for a friend who might want to skate with me sometime who also has large feet!  It has to beat a rental skate, right?

Reidell Royal size 7 1/2 + MK Professional Blades size 10 1/3

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Trying On New Boots

Finally home from the Windy City. First thing on my list of "to do" after saying hello to my Beagle Buddy was to try on my new boots.

I can't get over how wide and large my new boots look. Obviously my feet needed a lot more room than my old boots provided.

After wearing them about 45 minutes I re-laced them and wore them another hour or so.  My coach recommended someone in town to have my blades mounted and sharpened.   I was able to drop the boots and blades off today and tomorrow I will get to try them out on the ice 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Day Two Chicago

Still bumpy. Still cold. Still windy. Less crowded.

This is etched on the building of the ice rink.

 Here's an on ice tour of the rink.  

Monday, February 6, 2012

Midway Plaisance Ice Rink - Hyde Park - Chicago

Arrived in Chicago yesterday on the train from Spokane after 37 hours of chugging along the tracks.  The ride out was relaxing and fun, but after a day and a half I was aching for some exercise.

We're here in Chicago for a few days visiting family who live in Hyde Park and work at the University of Chicago.  Walking to work.  What a concept! 

Chicago Parks and Rec Department has 10 outdoor winter rinks that are open to the public daily from 12:00 noon to 7:00 pm (some hours vary).  Skating is FREE if you have your own skates and they scrape the ice every 3 hours or so.  The nearest ice to our location in Hyde Park is Midway Plaisance Park, about a 20 minute walk from where we are staying.

It's very picturesque with the University surrounding the Midway Plaisance Park.  The ice felt soft to me.  It's also not a clean scrape.  There were a lot of lumps and bumps on the ice which is not conducive to holding an edge, especially for me.  I am still trying to get my skating legs back under me on perfectly clean ice.

It's about 30 degrees out today.  Not much wind, but while I was skating the "windy city"  breezes that come off Lake Michigan came up.  It was so unusual skating against the wind.  The outdoor rink in Spokane is covered and protected from the wind.  I skated for about an hour, but did not accomplish much in the way of practicing.  Today there was a field trip of young children there who did not know the counter-clockwise rules of the rink.  There was no session "ref" on the ice.  Kids were everywhere. 

I didn't bring my own camera today, so I borrowed this from the internet.  Tomorrow I may try again if it's not snowing too hard.

P.S.  My new boots and blades arrived on Friday afternoon just before we left.  I have not tried them on or anything yet. They look enormously wide (as they told me they would) and very stiff.  I am so nervous about putting them on for the first time.  I'll post a whole chapter on that when I get home. 

Saturday, February 4, 2012

New Skates Arrive !

Look what came today.  I didn't have a chance to do much more than look at them before we left town for Chicago.  Phil from Harlick was right.  I am shocked at how WIDE they look in comparison to my old boots.  The last time I owned a pair of Harlick's my feet were 18 years old, not 52.

Wow are these really for me?

All packed in one box

These blades are going to kick my @#$$ 

Here's the whole kit and caboodle plus extra laces, boot polish, a boot lace hook and a pair of Mondor knee highs

My new Harlick boot next to my old Reidell boot.  My feet should be happier (in theory)

Friday, February 3, 2012

Skiing With Hubby Today. No Skating.

Took the day off to go skiing with my husband.  I got on the chair too fast and we had to ride up separately!
The skiing was ok.  The snow was heavy and slow to me and took some extra work.  Leaving tonight for Chicago after midnight .....

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Last Practice of the Week

Practice today was on a quiet public session.  I worked on my Adult Bronze Moves In The Field. This is the description from USFSA.

1. Forward and backward perimeter power stroking
The skater will perform four alternating forward crossovers separated by strong forward inside edge transitions. The end pattern consists of two forward crossovers followed by a LFO open stroke; then a RFI open mohawk followed by one or two backward crossovers. All end pattern steps should be performed with an even cadence except the LFO open stroke, which should be held for two counts. The second side of the pattern resumes with four backward crossovers separated by two-foot transitions, also known as a power push. Skaters should take care to perform the transitions on two solid inside edges. The second end pattern consists of three to five backward crossovers. Introductory steps are optional.
Focus: Continuous flow and strength
2. Forward power three-turns
The skater will perform forward outside three-turns to a balance position followed by a backward crossover. Three to six sets of three-turns will be skated depending on the length of the ice surface. Skaters may begin this move with either right
or left foot three-turns. On the second length of the rink, the three-turns will be skated on the opposite foot. Introductory steps and backward crossovers around the end of the rink are optional. Focus: Continuous flow and strength

3. Alternating backward crossovers to backward outside edges I forgot to do these.
The skater will perform alternating backward crossovers to backward outside
edges in consecutive half circles for one length of the rink. Four or five lobes
should be skated. Introductory steps are optional. Focus: Continuous flow and strength

4 Forward circle eight
The skater will push from a standing start onto a forward outside edge and complete one forward outside figure eight. Upon returning to center at the completion of the second circle, the skater will perform a forward inside figure eight by pushing onto a forward inside edge, thereby repeating the previously skated circle. The circles should be equal in size with each circle approximately three times the skater’s height. The skater may mark the center. This move may start on either foot.Focus: Edge quality and continuous flow
5. Five-step mohawk sequence
The skater will perform alternating forward inside mohawks, skated in consecutive half circles. Each series consists of a five-step sequence. The skater will skate one length of the ice with four or five lobes. Introductory steps are optional.
Focus: Edge quality and extension 

As you will see in my first video I took a graceful fall on the second element.  I completely forgot to skate the 3rd element.

After that I decided to be brave and actually film myself attempting a few small freestyle elements:

  • Waltz 3's
  • Waltz Jumps
  • 2 foot spin
  • 1 foot scratch spin - leg bent at side - arms extended out (slow spin)
  • 1 foot scratch spin - leg brought in and crossed - arms drawn in (a little faster)
  • More back crossovers and another waltz jump
  • Sit spin attempt (or in my case it's a squat spin)
  • L and R back spirals (need lots of work)

And that's a wrap for this week.  Tomorrow we jump on a train to visit relatives in Chicago, but I am bringing my skates along.  There is supposed to be a big outdoor rink near the University of Chicago campus where I can walk and practice a little each day.
New skates will be here TOMORROW .... they will have to stay in the box for a week.

Happy Landings.... 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Cart Before The Horse

Look what arrived today.  This is one of two dresses I have bought in anticipation of testing freestyle someday.  I am not sure when that will be because my freestyle is in no way, shape or form ready for a freestyle test.

I found out today that my skates are definitely on their way.
I also found out that our next "test session" will be on March 30, 2012 !!!  Yikes !!!

I don't think I will be testing freestyle.  I think I could probably do my Adult Pre-Bronze Freestyle test, but I don't think I would be able to put a program together.  I am still really getting back to basics.   In addition ... those new skates are going to take some getting used to.

Practice today was short, uninspiring and  a bit frustrating.  I had such a good lesson and practice afterwards yesterday.  Today I was achey and hesitant, even on the Pre-Bronze moves.  If my skate was loose, I didn't do them well.  When I tightened them up, I could not do my 3 turns or hold my edges.

In skating, practice NEVER makes perfect, but practice eventually (usually) leads to improvement over time.  Including days of plateau and even of set backs.

I'll try again tomorrow.


 I didn’t skate at all since last Thursday so I guess I get what I deserve in the lack of progress department.  I am just so frustrated over...