Another truism in skating is that once you have something pretty good forwards, you have to then do it backwards. But the challenge is why we're here, right? Keep telling yourself that.
Two things I've nailed pretty good lately are 3 Turns (which are always getting improved upon) and Lunges. I've always had a fairly solid lunge where my right leg is trailing. Coach of course wants me to lunge both ways, so after a lot of work and a sore hip, I can now lunge with the left leg trailing pretty good, too.
Now he wants me to lunge backwards.
The problem with lunging backwards is if you hit that blade anywhere but correct, it's a death wish. We tried lowering right down into it backwards, with mixed results. Of course I was nailing the edge and toepick before hitting the boot, so he had me lunge forward and then do a FO3 to wind up backwards.
Again, mixed results but better. Not bad for a first attempt.
Then we started on Twizzles.
A Twizzle, as it was explained to me (and your mileage may vary) is just a series of 3 turns all strung together. Stated that way, it doesn't seem so bad. But then you realize that some of those 3 turns will be going backward to forward, and all you've been doing is forward to backward.
So, I now struggle with BO and BI3's. Back Outside 3's actually are coming pretty well. They are slow, but steady. Back Inside 3's are another story. I cannot do them. I rotate my shoulders, but my hips flat refuse. And when I say "flat," I mean it. I am squarely on the flat of my blade, which I know since I can feel that Inside Edge when I'm doing a BI8 figure.
Is everyone getting this?
So, backwards is my current challenge, and the increasing technical details are a reason why I've just stopped discussing skating with my friends and family. They get terms like "crossover" and "jump," but when I say "change edge into the second lobe of the serpentine," they kind of glaze over.
It's okay, sometimes I do, too. But I feel good. Skating in general feels very, very good these days. Figures have helped my Freeskating immensely, as I was told they would, and the intensity of the Freeskating instruction keeps me on my literal toes. I am loving every second of it! So, can you progress while going backwards? Absolutely!