Friday, December 28, 2018

Still listening for that magic word.

Merry Xmas.  I think just about every local rink in my neck o' the woods has one of these this year.  Another missed merch. opportunity for your old diarist. 
I'm still working on that wonky Mohawk.  I'm still listening for the magic word from my coach that suddenly transforms my RFI Mohawk from hell on blades into a thing of beauty or at least a thing that can be successfully run past the judges.  At Thurday's lesson, coach A. watched my feeble attempts and said "you need to keep your weight, (for the entry edge), back further on the heel."  So I tried that and the turn became marginally more controllable.  Controllable but not great.  When we skate partnered, that Mohawk is still a disaster waiting for the right opportunity to bring me low as I stagger through the back progressive and cross in front steps which follow it.  Anyway, keeping my weight back on the entry edge is something new for me to experiment with.

Yesterday afternoon diaristwoman and I went down to the National Gallery of Art to gawk at impressionists.  Although my lab is closed by the fed gov shutdown, the NGA and other national museums in DC are open through the 2nd of January.  Although they have enough funding to finish out the calendar year, operations are questionable beyond that. 

NB: if you are planning to take advantage of this unexpected opening in the face of the partial shutdown, recall that all of the fed government funded museums in DC are always closed on the 1st of January in observance of New Year's Day.

Afterwards as we walked to Paul's for a bowl of soup and a sandwich, we passed by the sculpture garden fountain.  In winter the fountain is transformed into a small and at times very crowded ice rink.

It was a pleasantly warm, for December, day with little wind.  The ice was quite crowded before the Zamboni came out for a much needed ice cut.

The Zamboni driver laid on a generous layer of water to the heavily rutted ice. This mercifully was given a chance to freeze, filling in most of the deep ruts, with only a few ruts requiring hand filling/hockey puck smoothing before the skating public was allowed back on.

The skaters give an idea of the size of the rink.  This photo was taken just after the rink reopened.  Within a few minutes the rink was once again heaving with people.  I was glad I didn't bother to bring my skates.  Soon after this photo was taken the ice was so crowded that skaters could barely perimeter skate.  Like Rockefeller Center, the idea in the mind's eye is better than reality.
And so, gentle reader, with that I leave you 'til the ball drops.  Smooth Skating and Happy New Year!

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Sometimes a few words suddenly make all the difference.

Not much to report.  Still working on foundation skills.  This past Tuesday night coach A., after watching me demo a few Mohawks said "try to close your free hip more."  I tried that and, to our joint surprise, I whipped off two Mohawks in a row that I could hang onto the exit edge for more than the Fiesta Tango's required one beat duration.  Of course after the excitement of thinking I was actually on to something, reality settled in and I was back to "immediately put the free foot down" territory again.  Ah, but those two good Mohawks in the required direction are what I hope is the beginning of me being able to test this dance before the end of the decade.  A breakthrough, sort of. 

We skated the dance's end pattern partnered so that I could get the feel for the changes of partnering that occur during the turn as well as the steps which come after the Mohawk.  I won't claim that we're still friends but we didn't crash and burn and we are still on speaking terms.

After my microsecond of success, coach A then said that I need to flatten out the exit edge a bit.  By that I think she means that I need to check more.  I currently check Mohawks by pulling my free arm back and looking over my free shoulder.  I'm not sure how likely that technique will work if I'm hanging on to another skater, but one thing at a time.  Hopefully the exit edge control will become routine as I practice the turn, remembering her coaching tip.  And who knows-- in time it may eventually mirror the well controlled Mohawk that I have in my strong direction--at least well enough to fool the judges.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Warm up vs muscle memory: Physical, Mental or Neurological?

The title of this post brings to mind the old question: Animal, Mineral or Vegetable?  As I circulated around the perimeter of the rink during the first half of last night's Free Style session I experienced the usual frustration of trying to find a patch of ice that didn't have a coach and/or their skater parked smack dab in the middle of it.  Coach A. generally rigs my lesson so that I have thirty minutes to "warm up" while she coaches another skater.  Most of the time I wind up blowing that time advantage just perimeter stroking and taking evasive action to avoid other skaters. There's very little opportunity to attempt working on elements which I know are going to be part of my upcoming lesson.  Out of the corner of my eye I watch the digital hockey clock count away my precious warm up minutes without really finding an opportunity to explore any of my weak side elements.  If I do get a gap I usually attempt something in my strong direction, at least for the first few times.

After my lesson, which focused unsuccessfully on my list of usual suspect elements, I started to wonder what part of a warm up is physical vs mental?  It occurred to me that things like 3-turns and Mohawks in my strong direction require very little in the way of "warm up" before attempting them. Further, they require very little thinking on my part.  The same elements taken from my weak side don't happen at all during the first ten or fifteen minutes on ice.  After that if they do happen, a lot of thinking has to occur before and during their execution.

Even though I've been doing the weak side stuff for the same length of time as the ones from the strong side (actually more so, since I double up the practice on the weak side) they just refuse to enter into muscle memory. Why is that?   I have to think the whole process through: remember to bend the knee, pre-rotate, don't wide step, lean either into or out of the circle, etc. etc.  The amount of "admin" required is soul destroying.  And even with all this mindfulness going on in the background, sometimes (most times) the best laid Mohawks o' mice an' men gang aft a-gley.

Over and over, I come back to the same realization:  I don't have to think much about the strong side.  Those just happen.

Now before I go much further, I have tried different types of physical warm ups, (brisk walks, jumping jacks, etc.) followed by stretching regimes recommended by various skating gurus, and have come to the conclusion that the best warm up for a specific activity is probably the activity itself.  I've also come to the conclusion that muscles are at least "blood-heat" warm 24/7, so little if any further "warm up" is required.  Think about it:  if you suddenly had to jump up and run away from danger would you want a system that required a long and careful warm up plus stretching before making your escape?   Short answer: not unless you're bucking for a Darwin award.  You'd want a system that puts the pedal to the metal and gets the hell outta Dodge tout suite.

Then again, maybe what's not happening is precise muscle function, which is in turn controlled by the nervous system--ya know, maybe what I need is to have an acupuncturist chase me around on the ice and stick needles into various meridians until the correct muscles fire on my weak side.  Instead of Ice Capades I could have a debut role in "Acupuncture on Ice". One of those "spotlight" kinda things I suppose.

Or maybe since I have to think so much about the weak side elements, a therapist is in order; one who speaks with a heavy Viennese accent:  "Vie do you hate so much this forvard right inside Mohawk?" 

I don't know; I just don't know.

Meanwhile, those who have Face Book can watch this short video of a young fellow doing a wonderfully graceful double axel on in-line roller skates--something I'll never do regardless of which side I might try it from.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

The future looks bright for Canadian ice dancing.

Dear faithful reader:  Not much to report here at diarist central.  Still chipping away at the dreaded Mohawk. Making glacial progress. Coach A. and I have added other foundation skills to work on to break up the monotony.  After all, one can only do so many Mohawks during a 30 minute lesson.  To that end we've been working on back chasses in waltz hold (makes my lower back and Achilles tendons ache in v. short order!), two foot turns (much to my embarrassment I still can't do back-to-front two foot turns without losing all momentum), forward cross rolls with an emphases on making them more progressive-like  (seems like everything is supposed to become more progressive-like, i.e. skimming the ice with the advancing foot rather than lifting the blade), back cross rolls with deeper edges and stronger push, etc. etc.  Anyway, that's life at present.

What's more fun to talk about is the  state of ice dance, particularly in Canada.  There's been a lot of gnashing of teeth over the prospect of Tessa and Scott retiring in between Olympic cycles.  I say, not to worry:  Marjorie Lajoie & Zachery Lagha are the ticket.  I've been watching them for the past three years and they get better each year.  Above is a video from a novice competition in  2015.Click on full screen for the best view.


Here is a pair of videos from the current competition at the Junior GP at Richmond: 

 By 2022 this will be the pair to beat.  See if you don't agree.  If I watch these videos a hundred times I won't see everything.  The foot work and edges happen much too fast for this old geezer.  Thank God I'm not a technical analyst or a judge.  How do they keep the choreo in their heads?  I struggle to remember a 14 step pattern dance.

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.  

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Givin' the old man the "stick".

After racing one of my boats down in Florida during a Mid-Winter Regatta last month (first time back in the boat since mid October) I was greeted by the familiar three-day thigh burn which is common after a lengthy lay off from dinghy sailing.  After returning to the ice rink I noticed one of my skater friends working her legs with what looked like a nouveau version of my grandma's rolling pin.  As the light bulb slowly went on in my head, I asked her to educate me about the gizmo.  It's called "The Stick" and you can read about it 

Wine isn't required for leg massage but can't hurt.  I bought the 18 inch long "travel" sized Stick.  If one shops around a bit, prices cheaper than those on the manufacturer's web site can be found.  I've been taking mine to the rink in my skate bag.  According to my skate-buddy, the best time to use the stick is immediately after getting off the ice, i.e. post activity.  According to her if one waits until getting home a lot of the benefit is lost.  Since my next regatta isn't until late May I will be very interested in seeing whether or not "the stick" helps me avoid or at least cut down the duration of muscle soreness which I always experience post regatta after a lengthy time away from the boats.  Gone are the days when as a teenager I'd feel the burn first time in the spring but then quickly sail myself into shape after a winter of not sailing.  Back then I sailed constantly all summer with a big regatta each weekend.  Now days, I sail maybe once a month during the summer/fall and then at the Mid-Winter event. Will the stick work on an old geezer's legs?   We shall see.  Who knows--it might even help my skating and give me a two sports benefit/single gizmo result.  Fingers (and legs) crossed!

Saturday, March 3, 2018


No automatic alt text available.
I think cartoonist Roz Chast sums up Mirai Nagasu's Olympic accomplishment for 99.9% of us!

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Slowly improving

Yes, I'm still working with my old friend--the right forward inside Mohawk.  The good news is that if I'm warmed up and if my brain is awake I remember (at least some of) the following during the split second that the turn occupies:  to bend my skating leg, to bring the free skate as close to the instep of the skating foot as possible, to keep my arms up (need to do this eventually when partnered), to rotate my hips during the edge transition and to check after the foot change.  If I remember all that and don't spend a lot of time looking down at the ice then the turn actually works well enough for me to hold on for the required two beats per edge.  Of course if I try this while partnered with coach A. everything goes out the window: I wide step, break at the waist, fail to check properly--oh, the agony!  But at least I can now hold the entry and exit edges for two beats each while skating solo, so that's progress to built on.  Slow improvement is better than slow degradation.

During our last lesson she brought out the dreaded coach's marking pen and drew curves on and slightly beyond one of the face-off circles, marking off where (a). she wanted the Mohawk to happen and (b). the placement of the tracing for the curves that make up the RBO edge (two beats) and the LBO swing roll (four beats) which follow the turn.  I worked on this with mixed success.  The free-style session during which my weekly lesson occurs, while not as busy as in previous weeks, still had enough skaters to make moving backwards a trifle hazardous.  I need eyes in the back of my head. 

Say--maybe the Ice Halo company could introduce a new model with a blind spot monitoring system.  I'd be first in line for that.

That and ooh, maybe an air bag instead of the current ungainly foam stuff.  Just think of those times when you get just that tiny, little bit too far back on your blades and the next thing you know you're falling backwards over the ends of the tails.  Rather than falling heavily and coming away with a bad headache or worse, if your Ice Halo had the all new ABS ("Aire Bagg Systemet", patents pending) instead of allowing you to crash, the bag would sense the unintended backward/downward acceleration and then, after carefully constructing next week's grocery list, deploy the bag a micro-second before ice and head make painful contact.  The falling skater would bounce and be instantly catapulted back to their feet--how cool would that be?!  And a lot less damaging to the ice as well I should think.  What?  Your favorite hat and artificially intelligent refrigerator can't cross talk and inventory each other's status?  Ha, you don't know the half of it.

 Image result for air bag hat


Wednesday, January 31, 2018

So many bad habits, so little time

Last night's lesson with Coach A. was devoted to breaking down just about every poor excuse for a turn which I have in my tool box: FO3s, FI3s, Mohawks, even two foot turns were dragged kicking and screaming from their dark hiding places.  At one point she threatened to add Bracket turns to the party and I don't even know how to do those--badly yet!  Then she said something about Counters and Rockers.  Yow!  By the end of the lesson I was so self-conscious I could barely stand up let alone turn!  All those erstwhile things that I use as crutches to get me turned from one direction to the other and from one edge to another are being righteously heaved onto the bonfire of the vanities.  I can't say whether or not my various attempts at turning qualify as "occasions of sin" but they all stand condemned under the unflinching glare of Coach A!

Turns out (HA-HA) that me and my ankles (not to be confused with me and my shadow) need to get better acquainted.  Apparently I've been relying on knee bend and "forcing the turn" to get the job done way too long.  Now I've gotta tidy things up and get "hip" with the feeling of rolling back and forth on the rocker of my blades (without engaging the toe picks, of course).  Oh, that plus winding up with my weight on the correct leg after completing the turn in question rather than collapsing and being forced to put the free skate down--can I say "check, please"?   Additionally, my turns all tend to have way too much edge for ice dance, meaning that they curve more than they should.  Coach A. wants to see turns that somehow start off flat (but without skidding) and exit more or less on a straight line.

 After a bit of experimentation with rocking around on my blades she asked if I could feel the muscles in my ankles.  The only sensation I could report was that of the tongues of my boots cutting into my shins--maybe that counts for something?  Meh, probably not the answer she was looking for.  I'm having a steadying glass of rum as I type this.  As Zippy might say "am I making progress yet?"

Thursday, January 25, 2018

The History of Figure Skating Dresses

A breezy look at figure skating fashion:  Hopefully the link will open properly.  Couldn't figure out how to post the actual video. 

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Tag Team Coaching

Coach A. and I have been chipping away at my wonky CC forward inside Mohawk.  It's improving but at a glacial pace.  Last night she had a little surprise waiting for me.  Her brother, Coach B. is also an ice dancer and after his final student for the evening had departed she had me attempt the turn while he watched.  He suggestion was that I wasn't pre-rotated enough to allow me to control the exit edge.  As a consequence I'm breaking at the waist and then collapsing to my right side as my weight falls into the circle.

Jo commented on my last post that she finds success with this particular turn by mindfully leading with her entry side hip which is another way of saying that I need to rotate more prior to establishing the entry edge for the turn.

I tried it several times under the combined glare of the brother-sister coaching pair and had limited but promising success.  I'll need to try this on my own when I get a chance to skate again later in the week.

Another benefit of having a second coach is that there was a second pair of eyes watching as Coach A. and I practiced chasses and back swing rolls.  Coach B. pointed out that I was wide stepping most of the time--something that his sister can't see while we're partnered.  So, lots to think about and tidy up.

After my lesson was over the brother-sister pair practiced several dances together during the remaining ice time.  A treat to watch! 

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Wake Up!

Good Morning, Campers! Up with the lark!  It's a new year.
A new year, filled with left over problems from last year, but also the promise of new challenges.  Of course there are those pesky resolutions, generally put forth by perky people with way more enthusiasm than I can muster after a long night with the widow Clicquot; let's deal with all that right up front:  I hereby solemnly vow to make better bad choices this year compared to last.

Not wanting to be part of the slacker brigade, your old diarist went skating on the achingly beautiful first day of the new year.  I knew I had a lesson with Coach A. on the 2nd and figured if I could stand up on skates New Year's day, (actually my hair didn't hurt all that badly) that the lesson wouldn't be a complete waste of our time.

Come the 2nd, we dealt with an old problem--my poor excuse for a  CC inside Mohawk and a new challenge--my poor excuse for back outside edges.  Both of these foundation elements are key to my progress with the remaining two pre-bronze dances which I've left untested.  Doesn't matter if I remember the steps.  Doesn't matter if I remember to smile occasionally.  Without a good foundation this show ain't goin' anywhere.

So, on the 2nd of Jan. I found myself going backwards in both open and waltz hold doing outside swing rolls at dance speed during a busy FS session.  To say that we terrified a lot of inattentive free-style pixies would be a fair statement but no blood was shed.  The good news is that all this concentration on swing rolls left almost no time for Mohawks!

Scrolling on to last night's lesson, the focus was the dreaded Mohawk.  Coach A. had me over at the boards pivoting on my right foot.  Why is this turn such a stumbling block?  After what seemed to be a mind-numbing length of time (must have been at least ten minutes) we switched to back outside edges, but this time performed on the red line at the end of the rink.  There were no great breakthroughs in either department but I now have a couple more practice drills for homework.

So, that's my start to the new year.  Future posts will probably get v. monotonous and whiny, so feel free to tune out for a couple months!