Tuesday, March 29, 2011

What's the Buzz

The past three Saturdays, I've been up in the stands wondering what the objectives are to Pre-Freestyle. I have a pretty good understanding of the ISI curriculum, but this level isn't on it and I couldn't really place what the kids were doing. I get that there needs to be a "bridge" level and I support that, but it would help me as a good and supportive skating parent to know exactly what's up. No one seemed too interested in telling me.

Last night Coach was saying that Gordon needed to skate more, practice more. Ms V relayed the frustration of getting a small boy to practice independently, so I showed Ms V "The List" of moves, which I knew I'd have to revamp. Coach looked it over and then got me the testing sheet for the freestyle levels, circling the Pre-FS and FS1 lists. "Do that," she said.

Ah HA! I stuffed that paper in my pocket, my own map to lost pirate treasure! NOW I know what's going on! When I got home, how disappointed I was when I didn't have a clue what a backwards "Dogbone" crossover was.

The old testing sheets through the Alphabet levels grades kids on a black and white, pass or fail ("needs improvement" to be nice about it) basis. The Freestyle testing sheets are different in that you get a number grade, with 0 being "Suck" and 10 being "Medal Material." To pass a level, you have to get at least a score of 5 on each element.

This sheet also makes plain that the test you get at the end of each level isn't the real deal, that you need to hold membership in ISI, and talk to the Skating Director to schedule and pay for a formal test. Any tests over FS7 get done through the District. Again, why this can't be explained in the Alphabet levels is beyond me.

The stated objectives of Pre-Freestyle are as follows:

Entrance for Spin
Entrance for Jumps
Check Out Position
Backwards 1 Foot Glide on a Circle
Waltz 3 Turns
Power 3 Turns
Backward "dogbone" Crossover

All this makes perfect sense. Except the Dogbone part, WTF is that? I think I know, but then again I thought the Half Flip was a Ballet Jump for awhile.

Objectives for FS1 are:

Forward Inside Pivot (Stick your toe in the ice and spin around)
One Half Flip (that dig/hop/turn thing)
Forward Spiral
Two Foot Spin
Waltz Jump
Backwards Edges, outside and inside

Stitch is doing a lot of moves from FS1, so much so that Two Foot Spins are nearing my list of "things that if I see many more of, I will puke." Swizzle still tops this list. Backwards edges have their good days and bad days, much like forward spirals which can either be graceful as a boy can get or resemble an albatross struggling for lift off. The basics are still with us, with Stitch of the belief he's already good at forward crossovers so he doesn't need do them at all during warmups. (You try telling a stubborn little boy that there's always room for improvement. Let me know how far you get. In the meantime, I'll be in the stands, mortified.)

Power 3's I anticipate being a hurdle. There's just a lot of coordination going on that I think is hard for a little boy brain to process. Gordon's much better at the turns than Stitch is, and he's just as flummoxed. But that's okay. Summer is coming, and when he's not in the woods up north or camping with me, he'll be in the rink with Coach and they can work on it.

If all else fails, throw them into a program and he'll figure them out.


  1. Just think, doing two foot spins is even more nauseating!

    Power 3's are hard. I think I've said that before. They are in preliminary in USFS.


  2. I tried one once. I got around twice and fell. I think the impact of the ice on my hip negated the dizziness and I got some hot chocolate.

    In respect to age I think the deck is stacked against little boys in figure skating, but that's another post.

  3. What's a dogbone crossover? I've never heard that before. Is that where you don't lift the crossing foot off the ice?

  4. I think the crossover where you don't pick up your feet is a cutback. A dogbone, I think, is back crossovers in tight curves, but don't quote me on that.

  5. Pre Freestyle servees a number of functions at Robert Crown. It serves as a brake on kids who have been pushed through too fast-- it's a place where coaches can fix basic skating--toe pushing, poor turning ability, etc. It also is supposed to teach them the our standard warm up, which always makes me wonder why they throw the kids INTO the warm up on the first day, and then yell at them for not knowing it. Learning the jump entries and exits, and the basic spin pattern also facilitate faster success at FS 1. It's also the first place that the skaters get to use their skills "in the field" instead of just in isolation, which is a major drawback of the ISI curriculum.

    Of course, if you end up with a coach that thinks the curriculum is bullshit, you don't get any of these benefits and it looks like a stupid level. But it's really quite useful. A well-run PF level can help a kid legitimately skip FS 1.