Friday, June 9, 2017

A matter of alignment

Long suffering readers of this blog may recall that my skate tech and I have invested a fair amount of energy over the years tweaking the geometry of my left skate blade in an attempt to get me and my aged spine/hip/carcass in an alignment that had some hope of me being able to do things with my left leg that could be identified by the casual observer as "figure skating".  That all worked well until I climbed high enough up the ice dance ladder to need a decently controlled CC inside front Mohawk and solid, confidence inspiring left inside and outside edges.  Edges for back swing rolls, back progressives, back chassés; you get the point--anything requiring a solid back left edge. My blade alignment was not optimized for these new demands.  I was like an old car that had been driven carelessly down one too many pothole-filled roads.  After struggling with limited progress I decided that it was time for a change.  Perhaps as a skater, my left side was now strong enough to get by without the crutch of an abnormal blade setting.

Nearly useless factoid:  chasse, without the accent aigu, means casket or reliquary in French.  Hopefully an improving back chassé will keep me out of a "box" and if any "elevation" is required, then perhaps it will be up on the podium...

So, let us look at some before and after pictures of what transpired.

Before repositioning.  Note how far the front of the blade is "toed in".  Two years ago I complained that I couldn't hold a single-foot straight line flat on my left side without veering off on one edge or the other.  This extreme positioning cured that but did so at a terrible cost to my left foot elements.

It's hard to see, but the heel of the blade was also positioned well inboard.

After repositioning, the toe of the blade is now in a more "neutral" orientation.  Compare this photo with the first pix.  It might not seem like much of a change but trust me, this is big.

The heel of the blade was also moved more towards the center of the boot's heel.

He also added a shim under the outside edge of the front stanchion.  One can just see the white cross weave of the shim material peaking through the unoccupied screw holes.  After all these changes I expected my skates to feel rather alien but much to my relief, when he put me out on the ice for a test skate, they actually felt reassuring and familiar rather than evil and back-bitey.  And I could still skate a single foot flat as well as get over the outside edge on the left skate. After a brief consultation at the boards, the decision was made to stop where we were.  I got off the ice and he gave the blades a sharpening, which also they needed.  There was a FS session on the rink's schedule starting a half hour after I paid my bill.  I decided to stick around and get some ice time on my newly adjusted and sharpened blades.  It seemed like a better bet than launching into the thicket of cars which is homeward bound rush hour traffic on route 301.  Besides, with Coach A. off visiting relatives in another state, coupled with various rink maintenance closures I hadn't had any ice time in two weeks.   By the end of the session I knew that my left forward outside 3 and my CC forward inside Mohawk, while not perfect were much better controlled.  I even got a compliment from a coach with a free style pupil on the ice; she leaned in as I went by and said  "It's nice to see an ice dancer out  here for a change."  I was instantly gratified to hear that whatever it was that I was doing, when she happened to watch, was recognizable as "dance"!  How good is that?!  By the time I left, the rush hour traffic had rushed away and the drive home was peaceful.  Hopefully I'll be able to find some more ice time somewhere before my rink reopens on the 8th of July.