Today was my first class in a group lesson series billed "Free Style Program". Basically this is a 45 minute Saturday class, spread out over the next four weeks that follows my power stroke session, so for once in my life I ought to arrive at a lesson warmed up! The idea is to take skaters of similar free style abilities and for the first 30 minutes work on the skill elements that are part and parcel of whatever free style level they are attempting to pass. The last 15 minutes of this class is devoted to stringing those isolated elements together in a pleasing-to-watch array set to music.
Now this class is a bit different from the Adult group lessons diaristdaughter and I've been taking on Thursday evenings. The class density is roughly the same but instead of having a broad spectrum of skill levels typically ranging from nervous board-huggers to free-stylers, this class was subdivided into skaters all at about the same level. It was more like a true lesson rather than like being in a one room school house. Our instructor didn't have to split attention between folks attempting vastly different skills. Instead he could focus on specific elements within a given ISI free-style level and work all of us through a specific skill and after watching each of us attempt the skill have the luxury of time to break a given element, say the half-flip jump, into pieces for us to practice, according to our individual weaknesses. As a result, my forward inside pivot greatly improved with the very first lesson and I now have a piece of the half-flip to practice the next time I'm at a public session. I suspect this is why young, competitively driven skaters have private coaches!
Oh, and the other major difference between this class and my regular adult class is that my three classmates were "perky" and on average about three feet tall--the kind of skaters adults usually worry about tripping over. Fortunately, for the sake of my ego, they weren't too much beyond me skill-wise! The young ladies could all do pivots and two-foot spins more gracefully than I but my Waltz jump and back edges were better than theirs. As the thirty minutes progressed we all worked through the half dozen required FS-1 elements: forward inside pivot, two-foot spin, half-flip, Waltz jump, forward spiral and back inside and outside edges.
For the last 15 minutes of this 45 minute class our instructor told us we now needed to knit these skills together to form an interesting program. We quickly ran out of time but so far our "program" is as follows: we start off facing the long axis of the ice and do an inside pivot (two turns, then freeze facing the original direction) we then take a couple of forward strokes, do a couple left forward cross-overs into a left forward outside 3 turn which provides the entry edge for the half-flip jump. The jump is followed by a couple more forward strokes and cross-overs to bring us into position for a forward spiral. The spiral is followed by a lunge. Time ran out and we still have to figure out how to incorporate a Waltz jump, the two-foot spin and the required FS-1 back edges. That will be work for next Saturday. After we have the basic program figured out the next step is to make it work to music. Ah yes, the music. I'm a little antsy about this. Will the music be something classy or will it be something dripping with teeny-blopper angst?
Now it's one thing for a grown man to attempt to do something "graceful" in the arm gesture department and something else again to do so while skating to music from the discography of, oh I don't know, maybe Miley Cyrus--oh the humanity! The risk in all this is that some smart-aleck will capture the moment with a smart phone and with my luck the resulting video will go viral on youtube. It's so true--one must suffer for one's art! Programs, Programs, get yer Program!