Tuesday, November 12, 2013

It don't mean a thing (if it ain't got that swing).

Have you ever had that foreboding premonition that you've forgotten something or that something wasn't quite right, but for the life of you, you just can't put a finger on it?  That happened to your diarist as he drove over to the rink yesterday afternoon all set to work on the Canasta Tango.  No, I didn't forget my skates.  Haven't done that yet.

I drove to the rink and wondered if the noon to 2 pm public would be crowded since many, like me, had off for Veteran's Day.  To my surprise the place was empty.  I laced up my boots and got out on the ice and took my customary four laps of the rink to warm up my legs.  When I arrived at the far end of the rink after the fourth circuit, I reached into my jacket pocket to pull out the Canasta Tango diagram only to find pocket lint.  It was then that the penny dropped.  I'd left my little map, home, on the computer table!  I exited the ice and clomped into the rink office hoping to find a coach with a rulebook so to make a quick photocopy of the required page.  Not a single coach was to be found.  What to do?  I decided I wasn't going to waste valuable ice time by going home to retrieve the diagram.  After all, I told myself, there are plenty of other things in my skating repertoire that need work.

I decided to work on back skating elements since the rink population seemed manageable--just one quality skater working on a moves pattern and a family of ice tourists who were enjoying a rare day off for both parents and small fry. I decided that the elements du jour would be cutbacks and back outside swing rolls.  My goal was to get to the point where I wasn't hesitant to circuit the rink doing alternating cutbacks down one side of the ice and back swing rolls up the other.  My cutbacks are OK but nothing to write home about, especially the clock-wise one.  This is odd because clock-wise is my easy direction for most other elements like 3-turns and Mohawks.

Back swing rolls on the other hand are relatively new to me and swinging the free leg back while facing outside of the circle and not feeling like I'm losing the respective back outside edge is a little spooky.  Sometimes it works and other times not so much.  It was one of those deals where I couldn't define why the element worked when it did.  So I started experimenting with arm and free leg positions.  I soon worked out that if I looked over my skating arm while keeping my free leg close to my skating leg, during the swing, that the roll was controllable.  In a short period of time I was able knit together successive, smooth swing rolls much to the entertainment of the ice tourist mother who had the mildly distracting habit of following me at close quarters--all the while grinning like a Cheshire cat.  I could see her wobbling in an alarming way, out of the corner of my eye, but decided that so long as I could keep track of her position and the varying locations of her brood, things would probably remain copacetic.  As the session wore on, I was able to swing my way around the rink and the rolls felt fairly comfortable.  We'll see if I still have them under control when Kelly and I have our next lesson.  Just as importantly, I'll get feedback on whether my technique is OK or if I have another batch of bad habits to unlearn. As for my cutbacks, they seemed to have benefited from my earlier work with those swing rolls.  A lot less scritchy-scratchy stuff was going on and I felt more confident while doing the clock-wise swizzle push into my shaky direction.

And so the session went.  I alternated between cutbacks and back outside swing rolls, with an occasional Dutch Waltz thrown in (casual observation: ever notice how kids tend to congregate at the middle or end of a lobe in your pattern?  Corollary question: how do they know where those places are if they don't dance?) and marveled at how quickly the two hours evaporated.  Glad I only wasted ten minutes trying to find a rule book!

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