First Lesson of the Second “Learn to Skate” Session

Saturday, March 25 was the first lesson of my second Learn to Skate group session. I decided to sign up for one more set of group lessons because there are only six lessons for the Saturday session. I will be out of town for three weeks, so I thought I could double up while I am here and make the six lessons and start private lessons in mid-May.

My second session will be tonight, so I thought I better catch up on my progress before I get too far behind.

Unfortunately, I have no videos, but honestly, they wouldn’t have been pretty. I’ll be quick here…

I think I am to a point where I am going to need a lot of practice to get through the skills I am struggling with. They all involve backwards, and many of them require inside edges. This seems to be my weakness…

I was able to get the left back outside three-turn that I couldn’t do in my testing. I would say I keep my balance on one foot about 40-50% of the time. That is significant progress from being completely unstable and unable to do it during the testing. I need to practice both sides, but they felt a lot stronger during my practice on Saturday.

Back inside three-turns did not go according to plan. Since I was the only Freeskate adult, I asked for help with these. We started with back inside edges, and of course, that’s the problem. I worked on my back inside edges for over half the class, and then tried the three-turns. Neither went particularly well. I did great when the coach was holding my hands!! I wonder if we can do that for the testing?!?

I then decided I wanted to learn a back scratch spin and a loop jump. It seemed logical that the spin should come first and that will help me prepare for the loop. We worked on the spin, but I was not comfortable enough to try the loop.

The spin only requires two revolutions for Freeskate 2, and technically, I learned how to do that, but I still have a long way to go to call it a back scratch spin (Freeskate 3). I think I know how to practice, or rather I did on Saturday….

Now that I am thinking about it, I’m not so sure… I guess I will find out this evening. This is why having videos helps me. I’m not sure I remember how to do any of the skills we worked on Saturday.

By the way, I know my struggles here are a result of weak inner thigh muscles, as my legs were sore on Sunday. I definitely favor the forward moves over the backwards moves, and that is likely why.

My mom told me that when I was younger, we started every practice with a forward and backward warm-up. Maybe I need to find a conditioning algorithm to strengthen my legs. I can start all of my practices with that. I can also start some off-ice conditioning that focuses on my inner thighs.

I suspect once my inner thighs get stronger, these back inner moves will get easier!

I did some jumps at the end of my lesson on Saturday. I was able to get my waltz jump higher. I felt like my salchow was continuing to improve, but I learned it still needed some tweaking. I was surprised to hear that the coach thought my toe-loop was better than my salchow!

I’m thinking tonight might be a repeat of my practice/lesson from Saturday…

 

Last Group Lesson – What a Surprise!

Last night was the last group lesson of the session. I thought it would just be like a regular class, but boy was I wrong. Each group of kids skated together to music for their parents. I was afraid the adults would have to do that, but thankfully that didn’t happen!!

I was excited to have my parents there to watch me skate. It was kind of like old times and reminiscing on how things used to be. My mom came to the practice session and got on ice with a walker and would tell me what to do, just like she used to. She would also tell me how to make things better, which is pretty funny, considering she’s never done any of these tricks. Her “muscle memory” must have also kicked in and she remembered what my coaches used to say. She was surprisingly on-target with her comments.

She was also my videographer for the evening. She only took one video of me during practice, but I have decided that this is going to be my new signature move, as an adult. Sure, I know this is nothing for kids, but for a woman in her 40s, it could be quite impressive. It’s a shoot-the-duck. I don’t get low enough down, but in my CrossFit days, I learned how to do pistols (one-legged full squats, going all the way down) with both legs, so I think I can do these!!

Shoot the Duck

I was the only “advanced” adult present for the lesson, and my instructor had a clipboard of papers for testing. I had no idea I was going to be evaluated, but I am excited to finally know what level I am. We started going through some of the Adult Beginner program, but the instructor didn’t even fill out a sheet on those, as she decided I could do everything. Then she pulled out the “Freeskate Report Card” and started filling it out.

I passed Pre-Freeskate, by demonstrating the following skills, many of which I learned for the first time during the testing (only some were videoed, and the videos I present might not be my best attempt at the move, it was hard for my mom to try and video everything, while navigating other people):

Forward inside open Mohawk

Backward crossovers to a backward outside edge glide

Backward outside edge to a forward outside edge transition

Combination move

One-foot upright spin (minimum three revolutions)

Mazurka

Waltz Jump
Bonus skill: Backward inside pivots

Then, we went onto Freeskate 1, and I was able to pass that as well, although my backward outside three-turn on my left foot was technically not good enough. I definitely need to practice those, but since last night was the first time I’ve tried them, I think I’ll get it quickly. These are the skills (same comment on the video):

Forward power stroking

Basic Forward Outside and Forward Inside consecutive edges

Backward outside three-turns, RightLeft

Upright spin, entry from back crossovers

Half-flip

Toe Loop

Bonus skill: Waltz jump, side toe hop, waltz jump

Finally, we started Freeskate 2. We didn’t have time to finish it, but I know I would not have been able to pass it. The ones we did were:

Half-lutz

Salchow

Given extra time, I could have also completed the alternating forward outside and inside spirals, and maybe she would have given me enough grace on my backward inside edges to be okay with my backward outside and inside consecutive edges. But, my back inside edges are pretty weak, so maybe not…. But, I could not have passed the backward inside three-turns, beginning back spin, and bonus skill of a spiral variation without a little instruction, as I have not attempted any of these since I started skating again.

I went home from skating super-excited, as I have progressed so much in nine weeks. I never would have expected to be considered Freeskate 2 this quickly! Now, I know USFSA levels don’t necessarily line up to ISIA levels, but just considering that I was in Freestyle 4 of ISIA when I was in 4th grade and now I am in Freeskate 2 of USFSA gives me so much encouragement.

I also think I am ready for private lessons. I learned that I had been practicing certain skills completely wrong and I want to minimize issues such as that and not being corrected for poor technique. For example, I was doing my salchow from the wrong direction of crossovers, which made it look all swingy – because it was. Once the instructor told me this tonight and showed me how to properly do it, it felt like a completely different jump.

A similar thing is true for the half-flip; I previously tried doing it from a three-turn, and learned it should be done from a Mohawk. Huge difference!! Because tonight was a one-on-one lesson, I also was able to learn so many skills, like the half-lutz, all of the footwork patterns I’ve never seen before, the back outside three-turns, and the mazurka. I only passed as much as I did last night because it was just me and the instructor seemed to believe that I could do all of these skills without much practice.

Here’s my score sheet:


That gives me the confidence that I need to go forward!!

 

Lesson 8 – It’s Starting to Click

I took off of work today to attend the “home school” lesson, as I couldn’t make this evening or Saturday. I’m so glad I did, because this may change my perspective on lessons. 

When I arrived at the rink, the 10:15 ice time was finishing up. Granted, this is ice that you pay for per each 30-minutes, but there were only a few people on the ice, most of whom were taking lessons and one person was practicing. The “Learn to Skate” practice sessions may only be $5 for an hour, but they are so much more crowded, making it hard to practice. 

I saw the public session after the group lesson is also pretty empty. I understand it’s a bit more crowded directly after the group lesson, but it thins out quickly. And other days are even less crowded (provided it’s not a holiday, of course). I wish my boss would allow me to work an hour later, so I could come skate in middle of the day. But, even if he continues to say no, it may be worth paying for practice/lesson ice.

I was also able to talk to the coach I am interested in and it seems promising. I figure if I take a lesson every other week to start, it may not be too much of a financial or time burden. I’ll have to figure out when and include ice costs and practice times to see if everything makes sense.

The lesson was good. I don’t have any fancy videos because there was only one coach for the four adults and everyone was working on different skills. 

I started working on my spins and I better understand the approach to the scratch spin and now know that your arms go out before they come in to speed it up. 

I asked about back inside edges and the coach’s first question to me was whether I had done them before. I guess she wanted to know if muscle memory would kick back in, and it seemed to! She had me just skate backwards in a line and get on the inside edge as I did that. Then she showed me how to push out and pidgeon toe my other foot to come back in. Then, we added basic arms. Those drills helped so much and I went from having no grasp on what to do to somewhat respectable edges! At least now I know how to practice. 

One of the other adults was working on her mohawks. I do sloppy mohawks, mostly because I haven’t stopped to consider the technique. I was able to work on that today and made them a lot more precise on the foot placement. 

Finally, the other adult was working on Waltz jumps, so I did some of those too. At the end of class, the coach encouraged me to be patient on the take-off. I’ve never really considered that before. I tried it once before it was time to go, but didn’t notice if it made a difference, other than I was more balanced in my landing. I need to think about this and try it on some other jumps too. Chances are I rush more things than not.

Next week is the last group lesson of this session. I hope to finish strong and have some answers for what I want to do next!!