Friday, April 18, 2014

Freeskate Friday

Torvill and Dean's 1984 Bolero.

I've been doing a lot of reading as to why Figure Skating is in such decline. There's been much said about the constant drive for points and the loss of artistry. An essay I read this morning had not much flattering to say about Davis and White, and instead lamented for the days of performances like these.

I listen a lot, and at one point I overheard and Theatre Patron say that she didn't go to the theatre to "feel bad things." Well, feeling bad things is a part of being a person. We all have bad days, deaths in the family, a personal crisis, emotional upheavals, complete breakdowns. Theatre is an insight and exploration of these things, an inroad to our shared humanity. The best of comedies will strike a chord somewhere in the soul. (Ghostbusters, for example.) I wanted to turn and ask her, "Why are you even here?"

I had to agree with the author of the skating essay. Davis and White, while striking in their ability, perform much like a circus act. Go in, do the motions, smile, wave, win. Again, I'm left feeling not much more than awe at their ability, and nothing deeper. Their smiles and longing looks feel like an applique slapped onto a utlitarian piece to try and give it some humanity. I have similar experiences when I get tickets to the "big shows" that tour through town. At the end of "Shrek the Musical" I was thinking about kneepads rather than whatever message I was supposed to have taken home. The movie had been more, well, moving. (I consistently cry at the end of Shrek.)

So, don't throw things at me because I am just kinda "meh" on Davis and White. Something just seemed kinda "off" with me when I was listening to everyone rave about them, and all this reading has helped clarify for me why I was feeling that way. Sure, they're great skaters. But I wouldn't cast them.



Thursday, April 17, 2014

Sort Of Historical Thursday: Dick Button

In an effort to educate myself about the art, science, sport and cult of figure skating, I bought Dick Button's book, "Push Dick's Button." I downloaded it after my morning practice session, between changing clothes, wolfing down some breakfast and running for my commuter train. I finally got to tap it open once I was settled into my seat, and I spent the entire twenty five minute ride in a fit of giggles.

This guy is hilarious. He has a bit of a love affair with parenthesis, but once you overlook that, it's funny beyond belief. Dick goes into Performance, Costumes, Music, "Wilting" (or choking, however you phrase it) and the nitty gritty of skating. He talks about his own performance history, even daring to show us a picture of himself in a tuxedo jacket and black tights. Tights.

This is one of those books I'm going to plow through within a day or two, and then have to go back to re-read and fully digest. Books, unlike desserts, allow for some re-enjoyment while you fully taste them. I'm halfway through it now and just getting to the part about scoring, which is where everyone is getting their tights in a twist. Apparently South Korea filed some kind of complaint to the ISU to strip Sotnikova of the gold medal and give it to Yuna, and this isn't the first time I've read of strange scoring results. Like I said, I'm trying to learn, here.

So far this book is a wonderful view into skating history from a first hand perspective. How does one skate figures on an outdoor rink? I can't find my tracing in the halogens in the studio, I can't even imagine trying to see them in a sunny glare. And what about ice that goes mushy during the day, and you're supposed to compete on that? And how does the music play out there? Dick talks about his experiences with all these wonderfully terrible things and then some, all with the kind of humor that keeps one alive during the most difficult of circumstances.

My response after the tragic fall during last year's Spring Show.

He also goes into some detail about good skating. Now, remember what Charlotte said about good skating; it's difficult undertaking. Dick talks about what makes a good Three Turn:

"When doing a three turn, the skater changes from the forward outside edge to the back inside edge precisely at the center of the three, leaving an open space the width of the blade. The change of edge should not occur before the exact tip of the three, nor after."

I kept this in mind and gave it a few shots this morning on an Edge/Figure/Turn session. Sadly the best images I got are mostly whited out, but here's one you can see:

How am I doing, sir?

Aside from looking like I took a butcher knife to the ice, not too shabby. Coach is showing me how to better control the Inside Edge Check Out. Note that I did not photograph my Inside Threes, nor my attempts at Backwards Threes (which are still wallbound but progress is happening.)

Dick Button reads like someone I'd love to skate with and then go out for burgers and beer afterwards, just to hear him talk Skating. Fortunately, this book is just that. It's written conversationally. I might just have to get a cheeseburger this weekend while I re-read and notate. So, while I have no Full On History post today, I am thoroughly enjoying Dick talk to me about his past experiences in Skating. Should you get this book? Absolutely.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Adult Skating Wear; Again

Yes, we're on this again. I was talking with a fellow adult skater who is in the Spring Ice Show, and she was wondering where to get a skating dress. I sent her a link to Discount Dance Supply, where they have a nice line of adult dance dresses that can be just fine for skating in. But of course, that ubiquitous adult color, Black, is what's being brought up.


The subject of Testing for me is coming up more and more frequently, and while no date has been set, we're working more on specifics of how the test will run down; start here, end there, pose this way, and so on. So, I'm guessing I will need to start work on a suitable testing dress relatively soon.

When I'm in class with fellow adults, none of them are in "Skating Clothes." It's all a mishmash of workout clothes, stretch pants, and running jackets. But I get it. The first time you see yourself in a Skating Dress, it's disturbing.


The first time I put on a true skating dress was at a Halloween Party with a bunch of kids. Kids are brutally honest, and so I got a vague compliment (I think) from one of the girls, "You look awkwardly pretty."

And that sums up how I feel in a skating dress. Awkward. So, in an effort to get over feeling awkward, I just decided to wear skating clothes and damn anyone who doesn't like it. Just go for it. Besides, when checking out your reflection in the glass or reviewing video, it's easier to see your line in things that fit.

I've been trolling Pintrest for ideas on a testing dress. I know testing dresses are supposed to be very simple and straightforward, with minimal decoration and glitz, but there's nothing about avoiding a flattering cut. I can tell you it will not be black. Perhaps a deep burgundy or purple, but wearing black all the time is just getting tiring.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Motivation Monday

Today I got my formal introduction to Backwards 3 Turns. While these may be much like Mohawks where I did them on the wall for three months, I just have to remember that process and know that now I do Mohawks with some proficiency now.

So, while I do not feel wholly ready for these turns, I'm going to have faith. I did manage one on my right foot, and even though Coach was holding my hand, it was something. I'm sure that before too long I'll be doing these turns and worrying about brackets and counters.
Right? ....

Sunday, April 13, 2014

New Skates, Round 4

My first pair of skates was a pair I bought when I first moved into town. I had moved from the South where ice skating was not really a thing, to the North where outdoor public rinks were an attraction. My boyfriend (husband a few years later) bought hockey skates and I bought "figure" skates at a sporting goods store. I don't even know what brand they are, but I still have them. I'm thinking of using them as decoration for the holidays, Pintrest has a lot of ideas for old ice skates.

I actually did skate in these for awhile, but once I was doing crossovers and actually skating, I decided I needed something better. So I bought a pair of Riedell Blue Ribbons on consignment for $70.00.

Ignorant of such things as Rockers, I fell over backwards a lot in a 7' rocker for about a year in my Blue Ribbons. What precipitated me getting new skates was not the rocker issue, but rather me feeling loose in the boot and having to re-tie a lot. As in, every ten minutes.

i didnt get a lot of help with buying skates as I graduated into my first pair of "real skates." I managed to measure myself and find a pair of Jackson Competitors on eBay at a great price. Dumb luck. I got Aspire blades with a 8' rocker and the rate at which I fell off the back of the blade dropped. I've liked my Competitors. They've been great skates for the past two years, seeing me through three ice shows and far, far too much drama.

Well, I got loose in the boot at the heel, and started having to re-tie again (and again, and again.) More than that, I got pinched in the toe. My right foot developed an on-again, off-again corn problem that worsened to where it was more of an open sore than a corn. Aspirin before I skated and Anbesol on the sore spot is what made things tolerable. I also had a great variety of pads and gel cushions, which were annoying and variable in their effectiveness. Get them in the wrong spot and I'd be worse off than before.

As it came time to buy new skates, I really wanted some guidance to avoid the problems I had: heel slip, open wounds on my feet, and foot pain in the mornings that left me hobbling. I also wanted to avoid future problems, knowing I'd just be doing more, not less. But when I asked, I got told very little. When I pushed, I was told I wouldnt get any help at all. How nice.

Did I mention my foot really hurt?

I brought it up to my new coach, and he agreed with my internet researched choices; between a Riedell 910 or 1310 or Jackson Premiere. He mentioned the possible need for a new blade if I switched brands. An all-around freestyle blade would be fine, just longer if I went Riedell.

The Teri's were more dumb luck. I spent an hour this morning doing edge work, testing blade position, and everything feels as good as it can right now. My hands are bearing the brunt of things, with new laces and tight tying giving me three burst blisters on my fingers in less than 24 hours. My right foot pain is abating. I was Anbesol and gel pad free this morning. I was able to take off my right skate all at once, rather than in small painful stages, and I walked, not limped, all around and out of the rink. I think the Teri's will be just fine. Another few hours doing knee bendy things and I should be back in business.

That's the story of my skates. Sports store skates, to Riedell Blue Ribbon boot and blade combo, to Jackson Competitors with Aspire blades, and now SP Teri Dance Boots with the same Aspire blade. Now I'm actually looking forward to a blade upgrade! Who knows, maybe I'll be ready for some big scary picks by winter.