After a considerable amount of goat-roping, I've managed to elevate my FI Mohawk turns from horrible to merely awful. Yes, they're still scratchy and need more knee bend but as long as my brain isn't wandering off-task they're no longer hazardous to my immediate health.
Speaking of turns, I have to admit that sometimes while concentrating hard on getting the entry edge just right, I find myself launched midway into either a FI-Mohawk or a FI3 and come to the sudden realization that I'm brain fading on which turn I had in mind at the onset. I just hate it when that happens. Reflexes quickly take over at that point and things always seem to work out in the end but there have been a couple of "iffy" moments filled with existential ennui and stuff; wordy stuff, not fit for a family oriented blogspot. Well, enough of that. Time for something different. Why not add Choctaw turns to my laundry list of poorly executed two-footed skating elements?
Last Thursday I asked coach M., my freestyle group lesson coach, to start me down the path towards Choctaw enlightenment but he said that those were more of a dance element and he didn't feel qualified to go there. Instead he attempted to sell me on forward inside brackets, a single-foot turn related to the better known 3-turn If you think forward 3s are a bother wait 'til you're introduced to these. I. Just. Could. Not. Make. The. Blade. Turn. That-a-Way.
It's OK, brackets. You've won this round but I'll be back.
Saturday rolled around and so did my next dance lesson. This past weekend Coach K. and I were relegated to the afternoon public session due to a hockey tournament which displaced the usual early Saturday morning freestyle sessions. As is the norm for this time of year, weekend afternoon publics are never a good option for ice dance lessons. This particular session was no exception. As I skated over to her, coach K. said "A little bird told me you wanted to learn Choctaws."
These little birds sure do talk a lot amongst themselves. Looking around at the swirling Maelstrom of birthday party kiddies darting all over the ice with no clue of anything remotely approaching rink etiquette or even herd instinct I quickly said "Yes! Let's find a "quiet" corner and work on Choctaws!"
In much the same way that brackets are related to 3-turns, Choctaws are the evil twins of Mohawk turns. For the sake of this blog post and my sanity I'll limit this description to forward inside Choctaws. Rest assured, just like all the other common figure skating turns, Choctaws constitute a large family depending on which foot and which direction the turn initiates and whether or not the hips are "open" or "closed".
While a forward inside Mohawk involves a change of feet and a change of direction (front to back), the edge stays the same (forward inside to back inside) as does the arc of the curve one is skating. The Choctaw turn involves not only the change of feet and direction (front to back) but adds in a change of edge (in this case, forward inside to back outside) which changes the arc of travel as well.
Here (to the best of my memory) are the steps involved for a RFI Choctaw:
1. Enter on the right FI edge; free foot behind and over the tracing.
2. Right arm in front, left arm behind.
3. Shoulders begin to rotate into a checked position before the left skate is placed on the ice.
4. Left foot is placed on the ice behind the heel of the right foot, on an outside edge.
5. Now things get interesting: Your body (some how) rocks on the right inside edge as the hips twist to change direction-- sort of like that Schafer Push
thing I was moaning about (and am still struggling with) a few posts earlier.
6. Final touch: the right arm leads, the left arm trails as you gracefully exit the turn on the back outside edge of the left skate.
Coach K. will no doubt tell me I've got it all or at least partially wrong, but until then this fuzzy logic model is what I'm running with as I go to an early evening public today. A concept vaguely grasped, a thing dimly perceived. Hopefully this won't be another example of me teaching myself a single evening full of bad habits which (of course) take weeks to unlearn...