So today was a treat. I mis-read the time for public and thought I was getting there 45 minutes late when in fact I was early. And I was the only one on the ice for 30 minutes.
I tried to break up the video today into segments.
Part one is just me enjoying a warm up on private ice.
Part two is me running all the Adult Gold Moves in the Field in REAL TIME with no cuts, no comments and not retakes. If I had to submit this for a “virtual test session” I would imagine it would be something like this. I just skated all the elements .. come what may during each one and completed them in about 13 minutes with some gliding into position breathing breaks along the way… imagining my coach at the wall telling me ok .. they have taken their notes and are ready for the next element.
I know it’s not a passing test, but it was a good exercise for me to run them start to finish without stopping. I think … I may have passed the Power Circles and the Back Eight but I think the Double Three Turns and Brackets would have failed. Oh sorry… we don’t fail in figure skating. A RETRY!
Part three is me attempting one go at each of my Pre-Silver Dances with my music FOB playing the music in the background and a run of my Free Dance … (by then the hockey players got on and kind of messed me up at the end … it’s supposed to be a sit spin.)
After a fun little road trip from Arizona to Washington state … with a pit stop in California to get fitted for new dance boots and blades - I’m back in the Inland NW for the summer.
I have been without a coach up here for a few years. Since I stopped skating pairs in 2017 I haven’t had anyone helping me with and pushing me toward my goals on the ice.
What are my goals? Hmmm 🤔 Good question. There are probably two lists. One is kind of like keeping your skinny jeans in the dresser for next year when you might fit back in them …. They will eventually go to the Goodwill, but having them in the drawer leaves a little hope.
#1. Realistically my goal is to keep skating and to enjoy it. The latter part of that means not putting too much pressure on myself to rush into testing or to compete again ~ although like the skinny jeans.. I won’t rule it out quite yet.
#2. This summer my plan is to spend most of my time focusing on my Gold Moves in the Field. I would be really happy with myself for accomplishing this. It’s been almost 5 years since I tested Moves in the Field.
#3. Keep working on ice dances and techniques. I’d like to work on more advance turns like rockers and counters and get more comfortable with twizzles. I don’t want to return to Arizona in November and have to start over with my coaches there.
So today I had my first lesson with my new coach John Saitta. I have been waiting several years to acquire some coaching time with him. His schedule has been full for quite a while. “So what do you want to work on?” ….. I shared goal #2 with him and we got right to it.
Today’s focus was on my inside three turns. I feel ok on the RFI but not the LFI so he gave me a great exercise and tips on how to enjoy the ride! Secondly we worked on brackets. Again the left side is the weaker side without full control and flow and he gave me great tips for that.
First was my last Ice Cafe in Scottsdale at the Ice Den. My phone got knocked over so there’s only a few moments of Ice Cafe with coach Doug.
My last lesson with Todd Gilles was fun. We ran all the dances and picked a few things apart. I wish I had pushed harder and been able to test before heading up north for the summer - I doubt I will find any dance coaching/partnering that will enable me to test before I return.
2nd Was my Wednesday skate at Ice Den Chandler on the Ice Café session there. I had my last lesson with beautiful Naomi Lang. As Dorothy said in the Wizard of Oz “I’ll miss you most of all” ... We looked at my Free Dance program - which I can use to test Juvenile Solo Free Dance .. at some point.
Lastly was my Thursday skate at Ice Den Chandler with Vitali Vakunov. I really enjoy lessons with him because he always warms us up with stroking exercises and step exercises that practice components of the dances we are working on. We get a lot of skating done during our lessons.
Today I had the chance to try a partnering lesson with Vitali Vakunov. Honestly I don’t know much about him but he’s from Belarus and he coaches at Arcadia normally. My coach Naomi recommended I try a partner lesson with him. Right now I travel to Scottsdale for my partnering lesson and Chandler Ice is closer. Vitali comes to Chandler on Thursdays.
This lesson was such a workout as he likes to incorporate stroking and warmups into all his lessons both before and after you work on your pattern dances. I like that a lot. I really miss skating pairs with Hank. Maybe we’ll be able to get back to some partnering on easy freestyle this summer... fingers crossed.
Wednesdays are starting to be my fav. This is an adult session. Usually it’s just figure skaters but today we had a hockey guy out there. I was motivated to try a few long lost jumps and spins.... including a Flip jump which I have not done in ..um 2 years or longer. I didn’t land it .. it’s two footed but I’m happy I didn’t “pop” out into a 1/2 Flip.
At the end of the session I had my dance lesson. I just love working with Naomi Lang. She is so patient. She put this Freedance together for me which I won’t be able to use for a while. Hopefully this summer I can keep working on it - and somehow improve the edges and turns.
So Tuesday I had my partnering lesson with Todd Gilles. We did some warm up stroking exercises before working on the Fourteen Step and the Foxtrot. Tick tock ....I’m feeling sad that my weekly dance lessons are ending soon as it is nearly time to migrate north for the summer where I don’t have a coach.
I just got lucky. People no-showed. I went to adult skate and had a lesson . We worked on my free dance changing some of the steps at the end of the program. On the following session - a dance session - I was the only one on the ice. My music didn’t play very loud so I have the volume turned up - but it also turned up the volume of my blades grinding into the ice. Sounds pretty crude!
I decided to try the Tuesday Ice Cafe Sessions for my last month in Arizona. It’s been 11 days since I skated as we had the grandkids here visiting.
I felt wobbly at first but was pleased to get through at least one pattern of each dance and even a full run of my free dance (missing a few steps and not quite doing some of the edges and turns properly ...) but a good walk through.
After taking 5 days off ice - it’s that Bambi feeling again. Trying to get my legs under me with confidence. My lesson today was to pick up where we left off and make a few changes to what was previously choreographed. I’m skating too slow to put the right EM-PHA-SIS on the right SYL-LAB-LE.
I got to have my Wednesday lesson on Monday this week so today was just practice. Badly needed practice however skating 3 days in a row... soon to be 4 tomorrow... is taking it’s toll on my 61 year old joints and muscles.
Today I tried to mostly focus on skating elements. Stroking, edges, foot work, twizzles and I spent a few minutes attempting some spins as a need one for the end of my Free Dance... whew. Those spins did me in. I am out of practice. I was not centered and really dizzy following the first one. Once you get spin sick .. there is no recovering!
Monday I had a lesson instead of Wed due to a cancellation. We did part IV of our choreography on the Free Dance. As frustrating as it is to not be able to execute these moves to perfection.. it is the most fun process of learning a new program. My coach Naomi is AMAZING. She just thinks of these steps right off the top of her head.
Tuesday - is my normal golf day but my thumb sprain is keeping me from any sports with clubs or racquets in my left hand.
Turns out I am getting extra ice time since I injured my thumb. While lacing up is difficult - skating itself doesn’t require much use of my left thumb. I’m using added caution so I can try to avoid the falls.
This video is kind of long. The new choreo starts about 6:50 into it! The rest is me trying to cautiously skate after a fall yesterday on the golf course - led to a sprained thumb - Im in a brace and lacing up is very difficult if not impossible to do correctly.
So since my last post was Thursday... I’ve played a few rounds of golf, a round of pickle ball and even attempted to pick up an old tennis racket. That was probably the worst choice. Sunday my husband and I were trying to volley a few balls when our club tennis pro came out with the basket of balls and decided to give us an impromptu private lesson. Oh are we ever sore.
I keep thinking of the mantra if you don’t use it you lose it however I’m starting to feel like I need to set some boundaries.
I booked an hour of ice on Monday and didn’t put out 100% of effort as my right knee… The one with little to no cartilage was really aching from tennis. So most of my session was just warming up to the idea of making some turns.
Yep. I succumbed. Today I had my first lesson toward working on a Solo Free Dance. I don’t know what level it will be. The rules are confusing. It will either be Bronze or Silver in an adult competitive event - or Adult Juvenille. As of now we are programming 1:40 +/- 10 sec ..... if it’s Silver I’ll need to be able to do Twizzles on both feet 😧- otherwise I can get away with just one foot!
We had a bunch of songs in contention but we decided pretty quick today. I loved all the choices but thought this one resonated with me. It’s slow enough and I think I can handle the emotion required for it!
Besides .. Walking After Midnight .. is perrrrrfect for a SOLO free dance! My amazing coach Naomi Lang whipped out the first 22 seconds of this without hesitation. She just listened to it for 30 seconds and started out ... Yep... I see this.. and this and this. How do they do it? I’m grateful she not only showed me the steps but let me record it.. I started to write it all down but I am so SLOW to learn choreography-
What else would you expect from a 5 time National Dance Champion and International and Olympic competitor? I only wish I had the skating chops to do it justice.
Today went better than yesterday, but I was more warmed up for my lesson having just completed Ice Cafe’s group lesson with Grant. We focused on the Fourteen Step and the Foxtrot today and worked on fixing my Mohawk so the heel of my right foot hits the instep of my left foot and I transfer the weight.
Is it really mid February of 2021? Where does the time go? When I got to Arizona and started getting regular ice time and coaching (2x a week now) I thought I’d be turning those corners faster. But only skating 3 days per week - 4 on occasion I cannot put in the hours of practice and repetition necessary to learn new skills with much noticeable progress on a day to day basis.
I’m pretty frustrated with my three turns. I just can’t seem to find the balance to hang onto the turn in the dance form:
Posture: head - shoulders underneath - hips under shoulders - feet under hips and legs extended ....
Which I just learned (or it just clicked) YESTERDAY that my free leg should not be bent or coupe like in ballet or how we did it in figures. In order to do this you have to really feel yourself stretching tall on the turn and squeeze the ever-loving you-know-what out of your legs together while still keeping your feet in a T position ... which after the turn needs to be right next to your skating foot - STILL TOUCHING boot-to-boot! I can do this at a very slow pace, but add a little speed and poof.. wide stepping and lurching body! Grrrrrr.
I could get a lot from doing more compulsory figures where you have to train yourself to stay under your head and shoulders. And lurching or over rotating of the arms will cause you to go off your circle - but the speed of ice dancing will never come out in figures.
Anyway - todays footage is what I took after my lesson (which did not record) on the subsequent session. I worked on the things mentioned above and did a few runs alone of my 3 Pre Silver Dances. All were skated without music so when I dub over .. I am not at the right tempo. Yeah!
I was so excited when I started getting regular partnering lessons with Todd Gilles. Since my last batch of Bronze tests were also not up to par leading into the test session after Adult Week in Sun Valley last year .. I thought .. oh 5 or 6 lessons with Todd and I’ll be nearly ready with these Pre-Silver Dances. Not so.
I don’t know if the steps are that much harder or if I just find them more difficult. I can punch out a vague pattern on tempo of all three dances at this point - but executing the steps correctly, with good posture and extension whilst staying connected to my partner .. so much harder than the last set of dances.
On the plus side:
My stamina is increasing
I’m having to think less about the actual steps of the dance and more about placement of my feet
Coach says I am improving in my hold although I still need work on not rounding my shoulders and giving adequate resistance in our frame
He says my three turns are improving - although to be honest he can’t really see my feet - the video doesn’t lie.
On the frustrating side:
I can see that I am fighting to keep up with him and doing so causes my three turns to go wild
All dances need more work on the end patterns
Prior to the lesson I did a full run of my Gold MIF for the first time in months. First run - lots of mistakes as you will see.
Busy week - and I didn’t have time to do much editing. Skated Monday for 2 hours on ice dance sessions practicing mostly Twizzles and Chocktaws. That’s a lot of Twizzle and chocktaw practice!
On Wednesday my lesson was cancelled so I showed up late for the adult session and after a bit of dance element practice I popped out a couple of jumps and spins. I’d love to get back into freestyle but my knee tells me otherwise.
What a frustrating lesson. Some days it’s like that. No matter what you do you cannot translate the coaches words into your body’s actions. Primarily the reason I started this video journal of my skating. I will get to relive this lesson over and over and hopefully on another session some of it will come together.
Yes it rains in Arizona! This morning it was raining quite hard and inside the rink - it was super foggy and wet. The ceiling was dripping on us! I managed to squeeze out a few runs on the pre-silver dances with music in the rink to see if I could keep up and/or complete the dances. See for yourself.
Normally I am playing golf on Fridays but not today. I woke up thinking ... I wonder how my skating friends at Gilbert Ice are? When I got there I quickly got motivated to try a little freestyle as there were so many adults skating their hearts out. My friend Jose Hinojos was there from Tuscon who I haven’t seen in ages as well as my friend Melissa. I spent much of the session talking and not much skating .. but sometimes that’s fun too.
My freestyle has taken a back seat and boy were those spins hard to find centers for. I spared you the outtakes of the the misses.
I had yucky oral surgery the day before yesterday. I’m not on narcotic pain pills but I think I may have come back to skate too soon. I felt sick during Ice Café class and got off the ice to rest until my lesson.... too bad it was a good class today.
Here’s a few minutes of my lesson. It’s difficult to capture the opposite end of the rink with my camera setup - when I zoom that much it’s pretty blurry... If I leave it as the whole rink you can’t really see the steps and I am putting others in a video that might not want to be there. Respectfully, I try not to publish anyone who specifically requests that I don’t show them on the ice.
Wow - what a week of figure skating. I was glued to Peacock watching nearly every program from all the senior disciplines. I love our talent pool. I have always been a freestyler at heart, but lately I am finding much more enjoyment out of Ice Dance vs Pairs or Singles. There are hardly any falls and the mistakes are often hidden. The innovative programs, holds, lifts, pair spins, tricks.. if you will are just stunning - not to mention the costuming and expression of the skaters. Just wow.
All that wow motivated me on Monday to try a little harder, but I am still so far behind the dance curve. I have so many fundamentals of dance and skating that won’t come to fruition - despite my visualization and knowing where my errors lie. It comes down to balance, core strength and solid edges .. all 8 of them. I think that is why figures played such an important role years ago. Nevertheless there are plenty of young skaters who don’t even know what a scribe is.
Enough said. Here’s my warm up, drill practice and 3 stabs at the pre-silver dances on Monday.
That’s never a productive session. No time to practice in between lessons. My Thursday coach couldn’t make it last week and golf kept me off the ice Monday - so I hadn’t skated since last Wednesday.
Nevertheless - I think some repetition and some of the words are beginning to sink in. I think I am making a little progress on those nasty three turns. At least while I practice them outside the context of the dance pattern. Once I go back into trying a full scale pattern - the wide step rears it’s ugly head while I try to keep up the tempo of the dance.