With 2 weeks off for Christmas and New Years - I decided to take on a 2nd coach for ice dancing.
I’m really lucky to be getting instruction from our two top ice dance coaches in Arizona: Todd Gilles and now Naomi Lang Strong. Most of my lessons with Todd are spent working on partnering and not on fundamentals. I think they both will have a lot to offer me. Whether or not I can take the information and put it into better skating ... is yet to be seen.
My first lesson 12/30/2020 .. my last skate of 2020 was with Naomi. We have wonderful dance sessions at this rink with hardly any skaters on it .. no excuses right? Our first lesson was my biggest problem. My sloppy three turns. Both coaches have told me about this “5 step” breakdown of a good dance three turn.
1. Bend and press into the ice
2. Stroke forward
3. Rise and feet in a T or together
4. Turn whilst keeping feet together (the hard part for me)
5. Bend and press into the ice before the back edge
Sounds simple .. but if you have seen me trying and trying and trying .... it’s not.
I think I need to think about turning on the rise and coach Naomi says to squeeze your legs together - then turn and hold the squeeze before releasing and sitting into the ice .. She makes it look effortless.
Strange day. I started my skating day with figure blades (aka patch blades) - I wanted to work on my edges and three turns without the ability of lurching forward !! No can do with figure blades !! Watch me almost fall.
Secondly I put my “regular” FS skates on and worked some more on the three turns .. not much progress and I felt a bit sore and tired .. so I left and headed home.
On my way home I decided to stop by a local farm/bakery/event center about a mile from my house that was supposed to have an outdoor rink. Turns out .. they did and it was open - so I just paid $8 for a 10 minute skate on a tiny holiday rink. I somehow drummed up enough energy to skate about 10-15 minutes. It was sooo hot out .. about 80º .. not even Sun Valley is that hot in the summer.
I was on a dance session but the other skater was off ice doing an adjustment to her skates with her coach...so I jumped at the opportunity to try my dances with overhead music. I don’t normally do that since I can’t yet keep up and haven’t been able to remember all the steps. Today was no different but it gave me a better idea of the tempo I need to catch up to.
These three turns are becoming my nemesis. My feet should not be a giant wide step every time and I am consciously trying my hardest to improve them. My coach reminds me to enter them almost in a T position but the urgency to complete the turn on time forces me to get them done any way possible.
I have to correct this before I will ever be able to test these dances.
Ice Cafe is always fun for me - plus it's a great warm up before a lesson. Grant always has a plan of edges and skating fundamentals but including expression of arms which is the hardest part for me.
On my lesson with Todd afterwards, we worked on three turns and all three Pre-Silver Dances. We both agree they are making progress. The sooner I can get comfortable with the steps the closer we will be able to skate together. I still tend to push him away if I fear I don't have the steps down or if I am not stroking efficiently enough to keep up with him.
So I have this beautiful ice. Only 1 other skater. Dance session - no Lutz corner or wild free stylers darting across the rink.... yet it seems nearly wasted.
Practicing ice dancing alone (when you are not a solo ice dancer) is really hard for me. I can’t seem to stroke with enough energy to bring the dance into the proper tempo - nor am I doing all the steps correctly. Of course it’s a learning process, but by now after testing 9 dances, I should have better skating posture.
My big areas of fault are;
1. Not skating through my hips. I lurch my upper body forward and the hips and feet are late to the party.
2. Not staying in dance hold posture and keeping my body underneath. See above.
3. Not sitting low enough in my knees. Partly due to bad knees and partly due to lack of quad strength.
4. Not keeping feet together - especially during three turns and back chassés.
What do I mean by all that ... this video is a prime example of it all
2nd lesson with Todd Gilles - These three turns are killing me. I know I need to keep my foot closer - and sometimes I feel as though I am ... but I see the video playback and I see I am still lurching vs skating through my hips and wide stepping vs having the feet together during the turn and before the step down onto the other foot.
Had my first lesson on Pre- Silver dances today. I’m going to need to acquire some strength and better glide ratio to keep up, The Fourteen Step is easy enough but it’s fast. The Foxtrot opens a whole new can of Mohawk worms for me plus some tricky cross behind steps. The European Waltz will be a huge challenge. Maybe it will force me into fixing my Three Turns!!! Time will tell.
We attacked 2 of 3 dances today and talked about the dance three turn.
My coach Todd Gilles is real easy going and gives me lots of space between runs to catch my breath!
Three turns are some of the very basic fundamentals of skating. Doing them correctly - not fighting imbalance, having extension, strong edges and flow are not so basic and hard to correct. For me - it’s knee pain and fear much of the time, but sometimes it’s just a lack of confidence. I seem to be losing it exponentially a time goes by. It’s so difficult to stay motivated to #GETUP when dealing with aging, fatigue, pain and loss of muscle memory. END GRIPE
On AZ Gilbert ice today for the adult session midday. Some familiar faces (some 😷).
Today was my last skate at coffee club for this year. We head south for the winter soon .. and not a moment too late. Woke up to a beautiful crisp sky and ended the day with a snow blower and having to leave my car at the dealership downtown because it’s not suitable to drive in winter conditions!
So my footage is short - the first 15 minutes of coffee club with Kim. I hope anyone who reads this blog from the area knows that Adult Drop In Coffee Club will continue even though I am not posting video. For current schedules and sign ups see the eaglesicearena.com website.
I got on the ice first and took advantage of the clean ice to do some figures. I sped them up because as we know .. this is why figures went away. THEY ARE SO BORING TO WATCH! (Unless you are a skater .. then you can feel the effort it takes to hold an edge or stay within the tracing.)
In a few weeks we will migrate south for the winter and I hope to get some regular coaching on everything from ice dancing to moves in the field to free style - maybe.
If you ask me if I can do a three turn. My response would be YES. But doing them correctly, with strong edges and good flow going in and coming out with speed and control and extension !!! That is the difficult part. Videos of myself show me how off base I am, but somehow don’t give me the insight I need to correct them. Words are easy - but execution of any element of skating thrown into the soup pot of 61 year old bones (some with spurs) and joints (minus the necessary cartilage) - slows me down to a crawl sometimes. Progress does come, but not quickly.
Talk about resting on your laurels… After returning from a fabulous week of skating in Sun Valley culminating in taking and passing all three bronze ice dance tests, I proceeded to hang up my skates for 30 days.
All the pressure was off and we set out to enjoy the remainder of the beautiful summer. It’s 2020 hadn’t given us enough already he gave us a horrific fire season followed by several weeks of air quality so poor I didn’t hardly leave the house.
When the smoke finally started to dissipate we packed up our trailer and headed to Yellowstone for some much-needed fresh air.
I signed up for this freestyle session at the spur the moment knowing I need really need to get back on the ice. And of course… As always… I did not properly stretch or warm up and when I launched into a camel spin I managed to pull my left hamstring. This has been happening lately as in when I was in Sun Valley it happened some thing about going up into the camel is pulling it.
I skated about 3/4 of the hour long session and decided to crack out my camera during the last 10 minutes. We had been told not to take photos or video when the rink first allowed us back on the ice after lockdown, but now I’m seeing other skaters doing it so… All bets are off.
Doing what I could today ending in trying out the 14 step the first of 3 pre-silver ice dances.
Finalizing my extraordinary week in Sun Valley for the adult skating week 2020 - was testing my three Bronze Ice Dances: The Hickory Hoedown, The Willow Waltz and the Ten Fox.
Back in 2017 the last time I came to Sun Valley during the solar eclipse - I took a lesson with Brent Bommentre and he reviewed the steps with me for the Hickory Hoedown. I took another lesson with Chris Obzansky and he attempted to teach me the steps of the Willow Waltz and the Ten Fox. After that I didn’t have any coaching for ice dance and I really didn’t put any practice in on the dances. I find practicing the dances solo quite difficult.
Toward the end of 2019 at my winter residence in Arizona, I found a new coach Sue Burdick who worked with me on all three dances. Maybe 3-4 lessons. I also went up to Scottsdale Ice Den once and took a long lesson with Todd Gilles so I could know what these dances felt like partnered. That was March 6, 2020 just before all the rinks closed during the COVID19 pandemic.
With no practice until July of 2020 - without a coach I attempted to recall what I learned from those few lessons and I showed up at Sun Valley determined to test at the end of the week. I signed up for a daily lesson with Brent Bommentre - Masked up due to COVID19 protocol we hammered out the dances as best as we could in 5 days. Skating at nearly 6,000 feet with a mask ... need I say more? It’s difficult to breathe and relax ..
During one of my tests he said .. BREATHE ... honestly I think I held my breath for the entire Hickory Hoedown!
Results are in: I passed all three even with some honors points by some of the judges. I am happy and of course also regretful that the errors I did make showed their ugly faces!
Thanks to all the coaches mentioned above - you were all part of my success this week.
It’s Saturday August 29, 2020. Sun Valley Adult Skating Week 2020 has come to and end. My week will be over this afternoon - after the test session. As always Sun Valley Adult Skating Week did not disappoint. All of the group classes were both fun and very helpful when returning home to continue practicing.
Due to COVID there are some changes this year. Smaller attendance obviously, but most people are wearing masks on and off the ice. It’s required on ice only if you are in a partnered pairs or dance lesson, but you will notice more skaters wear a mask than not in the group classes. I find it very difficult to skate with a mask on. It’s terribly uncomfortable, hot and humid. I know I am not being oxygen deprived, but it feels as though I am -so it affects my stamina... which is waning by the year anyway! Masks are also required on the benches outside the indoor rink - which is where we are putting on our skates and leaving our belongings. Outside we use the bleachers to lace up and we only pass through the chalet to check in for sessions and classes. If you take a private lesson you are also required to have your temperature taken just beforehand. For the record I was 95, 95, 96, 96, 96 !
This year I decided to try and test at the end of the week. I have been taking a daily lesson with Brent Bommentre on the indoor ice every day late in the afternoon. I never feel completely “ready” for a test, but having a professional skater and coach propping you should take off some of the pressure. I’ll be testing the Hickory Hoedown, Willow Waltz and the Ten Fox - the Bronze level ice dances.
Sorry the indoor videos - they are difficult to see - It’s impossible to capture ice dancing without someone following you with a camera.
In summary, COVID or not. Sun ValleyAdult Skating Week is worth the splurge. The energy, love, camaraderie and scenery are all icing on the cake to a great week of skating. Thank you Scott Irving and Pam Farr for putting it all together once again.
Patch 7:00 am Monday!
Coffee Club Monday with Frank Sweiding
Arms In Space with Stephanee Grosscup
Spin to Win with Craig Heath
Lesson 1 with Brent Bommentre
Advanced Edge Class with Erin Reed
Lesson #2 with Brent Bommentre
Group Photo during Wednesday Coffee Club
Edges and Extension with Erin Reed
Lesson #3 with Brent Bommentre
Wednesday morning patch 8:15
Program Dance Session
MIF with Anita Hartshorn
Lesson #4 with Brent Bommentre
Friday morning last patch of the week
Coffee Club Friday with Stephanee Grosscup
Edge Jumps with Jonathan Hunt
Lesson #5 - Last lesson with Brent Bommentre before my test!
I’ve been skating 2 to 3 times a week unlimited freestyle sessions at my rink and they are still discouraging anyone from taking pictures or video and posting them on social media. They don’t want any controversy surrounding the business as everyone knows ice rinks are hurting badly these days and we need to keep this rink open!
I just to prove that I’m still here.. my blades are full of ice and at one point I got my heart rate up to 167 bpm!
I skipped skating my pre-paid session on Monday because I had to wait for a service call at our home. So Tuesday I had to show up and give it my best. Each session has exactly 12 skaters on it. Today there were a few faces I didn’t recognize.
I skated on the 2nd of 2 sessions our club has right now. The high level skaters had just gotten off and the ice was a bit chewed up. That makes it harder for me to work on moves in the field. My back eights and double three turns are slow enough on fresh ice!
Im still struggling to maintain good edges on the double three turns. All of them. Some feet/edges are better than others but none of them show real control. If I get the edge right my body is fighting and has no composure or look relaxed. If I carry myself calmly - I usually lose the edge and get “subcurves”. All that is from years
of improper edging.
In the dance department - all 3 of the bronze ice dances are coming along. I am learning to get more comfortable doing backward chassee’s, backward progressives, backward swing rolls and just about every step on the Ten Fox is challenging either mentally or physically! The Hickory Hoedown, while not nearly perfect is probably testable.
In a direct email from our club - we were bold type told no filming or photography during freestyle sessions of any kind. I have no idea why. They stated it was Coronavirus related. Hmmm.
Now I will have to paint a picture with words. It was my 2nd skate since lockdown. Back at my home club rink in Spokane WA - Lilac City Figure Skating Club. 1 hour freestyle session with a limited number of skaters.
We entered through the back door
Minimal personal items allowed inside
No changing in the restrooms - locker rooms off limits (not that I used our locker room anyway)
A verbal questioning on entry about lack of exposure to Corona and a sanitizing of our kiss and cry bags.
No RinkMusic allowed yet., but they did allow an iphone to be plugged in for background music
Skates put on at the rink side bleachers
Kiss-and-cry bags on the rails must be 6’ apart
All dynamic warm ups in the parking lot. What? We are supposed to warm up before skating?
I have to say, for me .. skating a freestyle session is more productive than a public session where I can spend much of it skating round and round socializing, stretching at the wall and killing time. At a freestyle session everyone works hard so you feel guilty if you aren’t continually doing something constructive.
I spent my session stroking - trying to employ deeper knee bend into the ice and extension of my free leg - dance style. I did Chasse’s and Swing Rolls, forward Cross Rolls, Swizzles and Slalom pumps, Crossovers and Progressives. Then I spent 20 minutes doing 3 patterns of the Hickory Hoedown, Willow Waltz and Ten Fox and another 15 minutes attempting the Gold Moves in the Field .. repeating those that felt uneasy (Double Three Turns and Brackets). Near the end of the session I did a few Spirals, a few Scratch Spins, A Spread Eagle and after my Camel Spin fell apart I decided I had had enough. The last minutes were spent power stroking 3 laps. NO JUMPING whatsoever today. I just wasn’t ready.
Although the crisis of the pandemic is far from over many states are beginning to reopen and launch their phase 2 openings. Arizona is such a state. Today I was able to attend a freestyle session with limited skaters on the ice and take a lesson. The only requirement was that you come mostly prepared to skate and only spend time in the lobby putting your skates on and taking them off. They asked that you keep your tissues to yourself, obviously don’t share water bottles or touch anyone else’s stuff.
As my coach said you’re going to feel a bit like “Bambi“ first time out but it wasn’t too bad I just felt unsure of my edges and posture ... but truth be told ...that’s always the case ha ha.
This is my last lesson down in Arizona before heading back to Washington state for the summer. We worked on some fundamentals and the Hickory Hoedown as well as went over the steps of the 10 Fox.
I got to Gilbert AZ Ice today for a published public session from 9:45 to 11:45 but it had been swapped out for hockey. What to do - all dressed for skating and nowhere to go .. I search the area for sessions.... Scottsdale .. no ... Chandler .. no ... Peoria ... YES! I would be a little late for the start but they had a Coffee Club from 11:45 am to 1:30 pm.... Siri ... I need directions to ...
A quiet coffee club. No instruction, just adult skating. Good music playing .. (I muted it on the video however) - I didn’t really meet anyone except a nice girl named Rachel from Disney on Ice who is on hiatus from the show due to the COVD-19 ..
- These are crazy times.
I did a lot of ice dance practice and also MIF but if you follow my blog .. and videos you will notice how utterly BORING both of those things are to watch. Unless you have someone following you with a camera .. Ice dance practice just isn’t feasible.
Thursday I drove up to Scottsdale to attend an adult session called Ice Cafe. It’s 90 minutes of ice time with a lesson included by a coach de jour ... This week it was Grant Rorvick. Great fun. Nothing but edges with extension and arms to help us look like REAL skaters!
After that was my first lesson with head coach for ice dance, Todd Gilles. It was great having someone to hang onto! I wish I had more footage of us partnering but we had to break it down and work on some issues.
Friday I also skated at Gilbert Ice without a lesson and did 1 run of each of the dances without a partner. I feel like I am learning to skate all over again with ice dancing.
Well all good things come to an end. Today - out of respect for another skater who does not wish to be shown on YouTube or my blog - I chose not to record my practice session today. I worked on all my Bronze dances with music in my Bluetooth hat! I didn’t have enough stamina to bother putting on the real music and trying to skate them. I thought I would be getting stronger - skating more and working at it but I feel some killer fatigue - it’s probably the excess weight.
Anyway, after this camera shy - privacy seeking adult skater left the ice; it was business as usual for the remainder of the session. I was tired from my dance runs so I just did some turns practice on the short axis.
My current dance coach here in Arizona also requested that I do not post our lessons with audio or with subtitles explaining her coaching methods. I will have to abide by the rules, but I’ll still be posting my practice sessions.
I have been skating only once a week for a while now, taking a lesson on the day I skate. This is a really bad plan for learning anything - lessons without practice -
During my session today I practiced all three of the Bronze Ice Dances. I have probably said this before, but I must reiterate: Dancing solo is much harder than dancing with a partner. You really have to feel secure on your edges, especially the back edges.
It’s not the best video but you can see my trouble areas.
Wide stepping the three turn on the Hickory Hoedown
Going off pattern during the swing roll
Doing Chasses vs back progressives on the Willow Waltz
Wide stepping the three turn on the Willow Waltz
Messing up the steps on all dances especially the Ten Fox (It’s pretty new)
But I do feel progress is being made. Just not as quickly as I would like.
I had to reschedule another lesson due to company and that usually means an early morning skate. Today I also have a cold and I was SO OUT OF BREATH we didn’t even run a dance with music on.
I thought I felt good enough to skate till I got there and tried to stroke!
Today I had an early morning (for me) lesson as an early makeup lesson - due to company coming to visit. Sacrifices must be made! My new coach who I really adore is Sue Burdick. If anyone reading this blog skates in Arizona - she is available for coaching at Gilbert AZ Ice. We are just clicking and I am really enjoying her method of coaching. She is encouraging and explains things to me in a way that sinks in (most of the time!)
I didn’t think I was going to try to learn the Ten Fox but she thinks it’s something I can do. Practice time is my problem. There will be a test session in March sometime so I need to get more ice time if that is going to happen.
This morning I had a lesson - rescheduled due to a hockey tournament during my regular time. I am not a morning person! Of course I was late and it cut into 10 minutes of my lesson, but I still had 20 minutes of helpful coaching!
Big factors I need to work on is POSTURE, UPPER BODY CARRIAGE, SKATING INTO THE ICE AND THREE TURN CONTROL.
Today I finally had another chance to skate at Chandler Ice Den. This is the rink I thought I would skating at more often. It’s slightly farther away but considerably warmer - as you will see by my ability to strip down to a tee shirt after getting fully warmed up.
It was imperative that I skated today because I have another lesson tomorrow. I was pretty tired during practice but forced myself to really practice the Hickory Hoedown 4-5 times and I even got my RinkMusic fob to work so I could make a few runs with music.
Dance is really interesting. On the surface I will admit it sometimes seems boring, skating round and round in specific patterns. But trying to hold your upper body in dance frame and getting your edges right and proper extension and the correct steps is not easy. And to anyone who tests or competes in the solo dance series .. hats off to you. I think it’s really hard to dance alone. I prefer leaning on a partner!
Today’s video is a bit long. I tried going through my Moves in the Field and even spit out a few spirals, a waltz jump and a scratch spin at then end of the session.
My 2nd lesson with Sue Burdick. Going over the Hickory Hoedown steps and pattern as well as the Willow Waltz. I would much rather be learning these dances along with a dance partner but until I meet MR RIGHT - I will have to dance alone and test with a coach as a partner. I’m really not interested in the solo dance testing or competition. I just don’t think I will ever be able to carry myself well enough alone.
My takeaway from this lesson - especially after seeing the video is I really need to work on my extension and holding a frame position in my upper body.
Today I started lessons with a new coach in Arizona for ice dance and MIF; Sue Burdick. We touched on the Hickory Hoedown and she thinks I should test this dance in March! I think I have a long way to go.