Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Chipping away

Not much to blog about these days.  Coach A. claims that my dodgy RFI Mohawk is improving.  I'm not sure I buy into that.  Even if it is, it's improving at a  snail's pace.

We moved my weekly lesson to last night's public session rather that the more frantic Thursday evening Free Style session.  It turned out the the public was also most as nutty as the FS session but like my weak direction Mohawk, swapping one session for another is a game of modest percentages.

We worked a bit on the Mohawk steps in the Fiesta Tango, ran through the dance a few times partnered (I only had brain fade once) and then just for something different we worked on my forward and back cross rolls in an attempt to (a). keep the blades on the ice--more like a progressive, and (b). get a proper push, especially for the back X-rolls.  We also worked briefly on power pulls in the hope that refining that element on the left leg will provide future dividends for the Mohawk.  We might have talked about other stuff but if we did I've already forgotten.  If I don't write it down or make a short video, lesson content tends to evaporate!  I'll bring my phone next week and maybe I'll be able to document a little progress.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

New blades, new season, same old skater

My new blades, Ultima Legacy 7 (the 7 indicates a 7 foot rocker as opposed to my old blades which have an 8 foot rocker) arrived and so I hiked down to my skate tech to have them mounted on my current boots.

My boots upside down on the cobbler's stands.  Good bye old blades.

New blades going on.
 My tech skate, M, kept the relative blade position and the shims that we had worked with several times before getting things dialed in with the old blades in the same positions.  He told me to go out on the ice and see how they felt.  He brought a drill-driver down to the penalty box, ready to make changes as required. 

I wondered if I'd be able to stand up let alone skate.  I cautiously stepped onto the ice and stroked around the perimeter.  At least the new blades didn't feel completely weird.  I was relieved to learn that this little experiment was maybe not a $200 plus dollar mistake.  Of course the new blades are a bit different--but not radically so.  I told M that no immediate changes were required.  I bought an ice pass and stayed for the next public to continue getting acquainted.

 So for the big question:  do the blades with a 7 foot rocker make it any easier to cleanly execute my RFI Mohawk?  Quick answer--no, at least not with that initial foray.  However, turns and back skating did seem quieter.  I think the extra bit of rocker tended to force me further back on the blade and thus away from the toe picks.  I'll have my first lesson of the new season tonight with coach A and perhaps that will be a bit more enlightening.  

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Last dance at Piney

Due to scheduling issues, yesterday was my final ice dance lesson until home ice comes back on line the 8th of July.  Don't get me wrong, I like Piney Orchard but home ice is home ice.

Coach A. and I have been chugging along with the Fiesta Tango.  The dreaded Mohawk is slowly getting better but just when I though that it was semi-under control, we tried it pardnered.  Yow! Are our feet/blades ever so close together during that little maneuver! Kinda freaks me out.  I can tell--we'll be swapping more boot polish before this gets better.

The rest of the dance is heading in the right direction.  I'm still wide stepping during the cross in front/tuck behind steps but at least I'm beginning to be aware of that.  The back progressive/cross in front steps are also a bit wild at times--but not every time.  So, progress.

On the equipment front, my skate tech has placed an order for Jackson's new Legacy 7 blades for me.  I'm currently skating on blades with an 8 foot rocker and decided to see if a 7 foot rocker would make turns a bit easier.  In theory it should. In practice--we shall see.  I was hoping he could get me the Matrix version of the Legacy 7, which features a stainless steel blade mounted in an aluminum chassis but it seems that Jackson isn't making that particular blade in my size.  So no stainless steel for me.  The advantages of stainless over chromed steel are that the blades hold their sharpness longer and don't rust as easily.

Like with everything else in skating I expect a learning curve as I transition from 8 foot rocker blades to the 7 footer.  Hopefully these blades won't be an expensive mistake.  The new season with new blades should be interesting!


    Jackson Ultima Legacy 7 Blade UB70 Figure Skating Blades

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Laszlo Gombos

Adult skater buddy, S. sent me the video link below.  I have a new hero: Laszlo Gombos,  a guy roughly my age who ice dances on hockey blades.  He lives in Hungary and started ice dancing 17 years ago to take his mind off of cancer treatments.  He learns a new dance each winter.  Maybe some day I'll be half as smooth as he is---rock on, Laszlo!  Maybe my renegade RFI Mohawk would be less wonky if I went over to the dark side and tried hockey blades.  Na, I think I'll try free style blades but ones with a 7 foot rocker rather than the 8 foot rocker blades on which I'm currently skating.

He has many more short videos on Face Book.

You can read more about Laszlo here:

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Figaro! Figaro! Fi-gaaa-row!

Diaristwoman and I haven't been to the opera in 20 years, funny--back before children we had season tickets to the orchestra, but that was then.  A month or so ago I saw that the National Opera Company was going to stage a short run of Rossini's well known opera, The Barber of Seville at the Kennedy Center  

We discussed going for, oh maybe an microsecond and went on-line and pulled the trigger for tickets.  Our showing is tomorrow evening. Personally, I prefer Italian Opera over German Opera.  Italian Opera is filled with sex and shenanigans and laughter.  German Opera is filled with angst, dark brooding, anger and regret.    

Besides warming up by listening to great baritones , of course I looked for great skating programs using the same music.  Hop aboard the Way-Back Machine and go back all the way to 2015 and enjoy Javi Fernandez as he skates to first place in that year's World Championship in Shanghai.  Buckle up, Javi gives us a wild ride, falling out of a triple Salchow and doubling another jump which should have been a triple but never the less our hero pulled off the win.  Coach Brian Orser gets caught up in the spirit of things on the side lines.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Switching Gears

Yesterday Coach A. and I got together for the first time in the two weeks since my home ice shut down for annual maintenance.  We were at the Piney Orchard rink--which is much improved since last year when I skated here during our maintenance shut down.  Rumor has it that Piney is finally going to build its long promised second sheet of ice.  We shall see.

I always like to schedule a lesson late in a session to give myself some time to  warm up my aged legs.  After a few exploratory attempts at the dreaded  RFI Mohawk, I came to the conclusion that while I was no better than last time neither was I any worse.  Coach A., attempting to put a positive spin on things, tried to sell that as a good thing.  I countered by saying "let's park the Swing Dance for awhile and work on something different."

My basic take on life as an ice dancer is--why suck at just one pattern dance when with just the tiniest bit of extra effort on your part you can easily suck at two or more?  After reflecting on that thought for a moment we dusted off the Fiesta Tango.

The choreographers of pattern ice dances all seem to start off their productions calmly enough:  a couple of  outside edges, a progressive, etc., thus saving the buttocks clinching moments for the end pattern of the dance.  The FT is no different.  After the progressive, things heat up a tiny bit with a cross in front/tuck behind step sequence followed by a swing roll forward and then aft (which generates an edge sway) and then onto an outside edge which two musical beats later is followed by my fav maneuver--a RFI Mohawk.  The saving grace here is that the two edges of the FT's Mohawk only have to be held for one beat each rather than two as required by the Swing Dance.  I'm hoping that this one beat vs two beat edge thing will help mask my pityful incompetence from the judges...

Hot on the heels of that Mohawk is a back progressive (push! push! push!) followed by a left over right cross-in -front which leads to opening your right hip to enable one to step forward onto a right outside edge in preparation of either exiting or restarting the dance.

The description above outlines the 16 steps your feet should be doing.  But in order to capture the "essence" of the Tango, while your feet are doing their thing your upper body has its own assignment.  The dancing couple starts off the dance in reverse killian position (both skaters facing forward, lady to the left) but during that busy end pattern with that Mohawk, the back progressive thing and the cross-in-front step, your partner slides in front of you (ever so gracefully) going from reverse killian, briefly to killian, and then back to the reverse killian position in anticipation of the restart of the pattern.  Oh, did I mention that along with holding on to another skater you also need to be mindful of the music's time signature?  With luck, practice and from that intense concentration which is driven mostly by fear, you might actually get around the rink without maiming each other.

I can tell you one thing: there's dancing and then there's dancing at 20 mph on ice skates.   During what turned into a fairly crowded Free Style session (only got yelled at once by another coach while blocking his on-coming skater), my brain's processor was much too busy trying to remember what happens in the next couple of seconds beyond my current place in time to think much about anything else.  But don't take my word for it.  Instead watch this video of Kseniya and Oleg as they take you through the dance:

Didn't get enough?  Here's a video of K & O doing a killian to reverse killian drill while skating forward--not applicable to the FT but a good skill drill:

Friday, May 4, 2018

"It's not a gang, man--it's a cluuuub!"

My home club, as is the case of many clubs, is experiencing something of a low point with dwindling membership and a lack of visibility.  Other than the occasional test session there's not a lot of promotion of the BFSC.  At our rink's free-style sessions I routinely see skaters wearing club jackets from other surrounding rinks but never one from our home club.  I mentioned this to S., another adult skater, and before I knew quite what was happening, we managed to egg each other into getting fleece jackets with our club's logo on the back.  Mine arrived first and so I wore to the final free style session before the rink closed for annual maintenance.  In a vague kinda way wearing the jacket makes me feel like I'm wearing motorcycle gang "colors" (hopefully I won't get beaten up by teen-age girls wearing jackets from  rival teams the next time I skate at different rinks during our down time).   I told S. that she'd better follow through--I'm not about to be a club of one!  Hopefully as younger club skaters see these club jackets they will also get them and it will instill a bit of pride, group cohesion, and confidence that they can carry with them to tests and competitions next season.