Thursday, May 17, 2012

Why skaters should pole dance for cross training...

Wednesday is lesson day.  Carson is out of town for a month, and coincidentally, my test is in a month!  So I am now taking lessons with Taylor.  (When Carson told me he'd be gone, I immediately asked "would you be okay if I asked Taylor for lessons" and he replied "Oh good, that is exactly what I was going to suggest." so that works out nicely.)
Anyhow, Taylor has a student during my normal lesson time, so now I have the 6:15 slot. (She takes lessons herself during the freestyle ice, so I can't go earlier.)

To be honest, this isn't ideal.  With the 5:45 lesson, I would usually get on the ice around 4:45 and skate for half an hour or forty-five minutes, then take the zamboni break to rest, and then be good to go for my lesson.  Sometimes I would skate the full half hour after my lesson, other times I would be too tired and go.

So yesterday I got to skating around 4:30, put my skates on slowly and got on the ice.  I then had the laziest practice ice ever.  I did do all my jumps and spin, and program pieces, but while I got hot doing it (just fall! The ice will cool you down...) I didn't really ever break a sweat.  Then after the zamboni break, I did another 30 minutes like that and had my lesson.  Now, I think lazy practice time is better than no practice, but I'm not really that happy with the set up.  After work I'm already exhausted, so it makes for a long evening.

So the lesson: I'm really pleased.  Taylor seems to be a good match for me, and it is good continuity that she is doing LTS for us right now.  I started with my program (where I totally botched my loop) and then we went into loop practice.

I know that Taylor has struggled with her loop (well, double loop), so she has had a lot of time to think about what works and what doesn't work.  It results in her being a really good coach, honestly a freaking loop doctor.  We started just with backspin drills. Enter like your doing a loop, and do a backspin.  I enter my jump and my spin the same way, so doing the spin wasn't an issue.  What we focused on is how with the spin I can get away with bending my upper body and 'sweeping', where with the jump, I need to focus on being upright and over the outside edge.  Taylor suggests thinking about it like you are wrapping your body around a pole on the left side, and honestly the imagery works well. I was able to cross my foot and hold it in the spin. 

Next, we moved onto doing the loop, jumping, but landing in a backspin.  Again, it was all about wrapping around the pole.  At first I thought it was ridiculous to think I'd be able to land in the spin, but I ended up being able to do it most of the time, and again, crossing in the backspin.

Finally, we moved onto jumping, and as soon as I start thinking about checking out, I leave my body position too open, not wrapped around a pole.  So for now, Taylor wants me to land crossed (as if I was going to spin) and THEN to check out.

So after loop drills, we moved to backspin.  Having been able to cross my leg on the loop, Taylor isn't letting me get away with not crossing it in the spin.  To be fair, I spin a lot faster than I loop, so it really isn't the same thing. However, if I spin really slowly, I can get crossed for 3 or 4 revolutions (then I freak out and uncross, then I realize I shouldn't be uncrossed and kick my leg back to crossed, then uncross, so I probably look pretty darn funny as I try to fight my leg.)  However, I am crossing like a number 4, not in the closed hip position Carson wants me to have (Taylor seems to think that getting it crossed is most important, and we can close it for speed later.)  The good news is my backspin is now strong enough that I can fiddle with it without losing it, so even if I don't cross in my program, I can have a strong multi-revolution spin there, and work on this outside of the program.
Then we did the rest of the jumps and spin, and another round of program.  This time I didn't botch anything, just traveled really bad on my final scratch spin.  She had me "reskate" that while I was tired, and I hit a really good one :)  It's just ending the program I'm exhausted, and the entry is from a lot of speed.  Still, I can always get it spinning, so I don't think it should be the problem.

I am really happy with my loop progress.  The test is in about a month.  I'm confident I'll skate well, and we'll just see what the judges say.

Post 1 of 2: Learn to Skate

I had two excellent lessons this week.  I'm very happy with myself.  Practice on the other hand, well I don't know how to handle that with my new lessons schedule.

First, LTS.  It is kind of refreshing to have a new LTS coach.  I really like Carson, but we'd kind of gotten into a rut with LTS, to the point I was thinking about not doing it anymore (which is crazy because the lessons are super cheap once you factor in the free ice time.)  So I'm glad to be working with Taylor for awhile.  I should tell the director this, and maybe she will rotate the coaches more often. 

Anyhow- Taylor started us on Tuesday with jumps.  Just a quick run through of the jumps we do, and then we worked on flip.  Unlike Carson, she prefers to do flip from a mohawk (which is how I was introduced to them in Detroit), so I went with that.  We started just with exercises on how to pick and pull in.  This was really useful to me because I tend to pull in on the right side, leaving myself in a very open position that can't rotate.  This helped me understand better how to pull in to the left of my picking foot.  (Not that I can do it when I'm skating at a speed, but still, good practice.) 

Next, we did the pick, pull in, and she wanted us to go to a backspin.  This was downright hysterical.  Taylor's main comment was "at least the two of your are smiling".  I kept thinking "We are smiling AT you, not with you." except the line doesn't work so well when you aren't laughing, so I didn't say it.   It was very clearly a "you have got to be crazy smile".  I managed to do a few backspins, but totally missing the point of the exercise- I'd have to pull my right leg around and pivot to get into it, which reinforces the open position you shouldn't have.  Finally it dawned on me- this is all about rocking back off the toe pick to start the spin, just like in a change foot spin.  I asked Taylor, and she said "yes! It is exactly the same thing."  To which I laughed and said, "Oh, well I can't do that either!" and just laughed.

Then after a few good efforts, she had me go ahead and jump.  When skating faster I'm about 30% for pulling in to the correct side.  Most of my jumps are between 1/2 and 3/4 rotated, so I have a long way to go on flips.

Then we moved onto spins.  We did all the usual spins, then she asked me if I had worked on camel yet.  I have, so I started doing those. And I have to tell you: I did a few spins that STRONGLY resembled camels.  I think I have moved on from the "bless her heart, she's trying a camel" stage.  I'm still falling inside, but I've figured out how to hit that sweet spot and actually spin (maybe a 60% success rate?) and then it is all about pulling the body up to hold the camel position.  I still feel more like a slash (/) than a camel, but Taylor tells me the position is decent and not nearly as tilted as I think it is.  Woo!

I was really happy to leave the lesson with a real smile, and not a sarcastic "okay, I'll try!" smile.

I hurt my shoulder (no idea how) earlier this week, so after lessons I went home not wanting to aggrevate it.  I probably should have stayed and practiced, but since it feels like my arm is trying to rip itself out of the socket, I didn't want to push too hard.  If I get focused on skating, I mostly don't feel it, but it needs to be in good enough condition that I can test.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Back to Lessons

I had a good lesson yesterday.  Kind of a lazy practice before hand though.  I just don't have the drive I did leading up to the last test.  Now it seems unlikely, then it seemed like I was just on the verge.  Blech.

Anyhow- my lesson.  It was good.  I miss working with Carson in privates.  In group lessons he isn't very strict, and the flow is really slow.  In privates, well, he still isn't really strict (how can you be with an adult), but they are high paced lessons.  I end the 30 minutes TIRED and I work hard.  Hopefully Taylor will have the same lesson style (she can be a yeller with one of her kids working on moves, so I don't think she'll be easy on me- but she is in groups.  So we'll have to see if she has the same transformation.)

We started the lesson with jumps.  I got minor fixes to work on height, but I have to say, my technique is pretty solid on all my jumps.  I just need to stop the toe pick dragging in the salchow (which is oddly my 'best' jump. I don't get that. It feels so silly. Maybe salchows just are silly- like you are hoping from one foot to the other.)

We worked on loop in the harness, and I'd say 80% of them freaking rocked.  The difference is that I skate FAST in the harness, and really push myself.  I do the entry 3-turn with a ton of speed, and don't drag my toe.  (Because I put my weight further back, knowing that Carson will catch me if I'm falling onto my head!)  Carson swears he doesn't pull me up in the jumps- but he has too.  I'm jumping higher than my waltz jump or my toe loop on these.  Is it really all just the speed?  And how the heck do I get that outside of the harness?  Because there is no way I can have that kind of attack without knowing that I can't fall.

Carson joked about padding me up in bubble wrap, but the thing is, I'd have to be totally covered.  I told him that as irrational as it is, because I know figure skaters don't have this happen to them (except in maybe the absolute rarest of cases) but once you are in a hospital bed and you hear a Doctor tell your Mom you might not walk again- well, the fear is stuck.  I don't know how to make it go away.  One of my few regrets in life is refusing the psychologist in the hospital. I told him I was really sorry, but while I know the hospital says he has to come here every few days, I had no interest in it.  It was a physical injury, not a mental one.  He should have fought a little harder to let me know what a mental one if may end up becoming!  I had gone to psychologists before, so it wasn't like I was anti-shrink. I just had no idea, as a 17 year old, why I would need one when the problem was a spinal cord injury, and not a mental problem.

But I digress.  Anyhow- my loops rocked.  Maybe I just need to come up with a harness for my costume to trick myself into feeling safe.  What program music goes with a harness?

After that we moved onto spins.  My spins were actually pretty good (my backspin especially is getting fast and is almost always well centered), but my entry edge to my scratch spin sucks.  When I have awesome centered spins, it is a fluke.  (A fairly common fluke though...)  I hold the edge for like half an inch.  My left arm and leg creep around and force me to spin.  How do I fix this?     It isn't a problem in practice. I can eek out a great spin 60% of the time, and a decent one 90% of the time.  The problem is the 10% where it travels halfway across the rink. And since I enter my scratch spin with A TON of speed, and a TON of fatigue in my program, I get that 10%.  That's not good.  (Of course, stupid USFS took the spin out of the test.  WTF? Even my cruddy traveling spin is better than my jumps.)  Carson does say one good thing about me is that for the most part no matter how bad the spin is, I can keep it spinning.  And I guess that is true.

Finally, we ran my program.  And the scratch spin was awful, but otherwise it felt okay.  Carson was not happy though.  He said it was just sloppy.  The elements weren't bad, but the program was- if that makes sense.  It looks like I was on a vacation recently. Well yeah!  I had a single lesson in April!  I am not skating this Saturday, but hopefully I can work back up to not looking sloppy.

I guess I need to send my test papers in.  I can't believe how expensive this test is going to be.  Twice the price of the last one.  I wish our club had more than one test each year.  The out of club fees are killer.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

I skated.

LTS last night.  Taylor is our coach now, Carson is gone for the session.  Taylor is the coach who will be taking over my private lessons this month, so it is good continuity.

I've been really down about skating lately.  I just don't see the Bronze test as doable, so it is frustrating.  It is too expensive to compete more than once a year, so what am I working towards?  I actually skipped LTS last week.  I don't think I've done that before.  (And then the rink closed for a week after Tuesday LTS, so I had a whole week off.)

To be honest, I missed it.  I really LIKE skating.   I'm just bored of LTS- the same stuff all the time.  That said, it is $63 for 7 weeks (would have been lower if I remember to register early...)  That includes 7 practice sessions. Those 7 freestyle sessions- well they cost 9 dollars each (I think, maybe $7? I've never paid).  LTS is essentially free...  (Has the rink ever done this math? Please don't...)

So I'm trying to find another way I can be athletic.  I have got it in my head that I want to learn to row.  Kevin doesn't think I can do it.  He's probably right- I am really weak.  But rowing is more fully body that kayaking, so maybe I have more of a chance...   Here is the problem.  The Learn to Row class you had to register by May 3.  I decided on May 6 I wanted to learn to row.  And they don't seem to have a June class at all!  So now I have to cross my fingers and hope I can do it in July.  Why does the world not want me to exercise?

I have a private lesson tonight.  We'll decide whether or not I should test in June.