Blogging and Skating: Work and Dreams

by Mary on November 29, 2013

Ina Bauer with a rose

Ina Bauer with a rose

Two years now of blogging at Fit and Fed and eight of figure skating as an adult. No fame and fortune expected from either, only satisfactions along the way. Thanks so much to everyone who’s out there reading and especially to my faithful commenters, you are keeping this blog alive. I write because I know that that you are getting use from my words.

Both the blogging and the skating have been way bigger projects than I could have imagined at the start and progress has been slow. Fit and Fed lost readership starting in June, thanks I believe to the new Google algorithm (‘Hummingbird’). And in my skating, by the end of December I will have been working on the same footwork test, the adult gold moves, for three years.

After many lessons and hundreds of hours of practice, I tested them in June but did not pass. Coach Kim told me last week that I’m still not ready to re-test. Maybe in March. Which given my busy March schedule means it will actually be after that. Meanwhile my knees are rebelling at doing the same turns over and over and I may need to ramp it all down for a while. Take more rest days. Ice. Stretch.

Time to think about what I have been able to do, like blog, ice dance, skate freestyle programs to music I love. And this: at the beginning of October coach Lisa started me on exercises toward learning the axel jump. Over these years of skating, I’ve been wondering. And I’ve been hoping. Would I ever be ready to learn the axel? Am I too old? The fact that Lisa has started me on exercises toward the axel, that she thinks it’s a possibility for me, makes me very happy.

As you can see, these skating projects can be very long. Even a young skater can take a year to learn the axel. For me, it may take several years, or it may not be possible. But I’m working on it. I hope I have a lot more to tell you about it as time goes on. For now, here’s a clip from my very first day of pre-axel practice in October. Coach Lisa started me on several exercises including this one, called the bell jump. It’s a once-around jump from forward to forward, a pre-cursor to the one-and-a-half revolution axel.

Here’s the first time I tried it.

In the video Lisa says, “Did you articulate through your foot? Well you didn’t.” She was trying to teach me that I need to get my toe pick into the ice, dig in, and push up strongly through the foot as I take off. That gives essential power and control of the takeoff. Takeoff without control, well, as you can imagine it’s not a good thing (it’s called a ‘waxel’ and it’s pretty scary) and she’s making sure that I learn to take off correctly from the start. The first of many important details, the beginning of another journey toward a faraway goal.

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Stacie December 3, 2013 at 12:17 pm

Congrats on your accomplishments in both skating and blogging! One of my good friends was a ice skater and coach. She just moved to somewhere that does not have a ice rink, and she is going crazy. I’m always amazed by ice skaters. Even you video was impressive to me! I just know I would fall on my butt!


mary December 3, 2013 at 4:33 pm

Thank you, Stacie. Living somewhere with no ice rink would make me crazy, too. I just hope my body holds out so I can keep skating.


Eva December 3, 2013 at 1:39 pm

So exciting that you are working on the bell jump! Your coach is right – the take off is the most important part of the axel. It took me about a year to land one, and I’m still a quarter turn short. I have faith in you and know that if you put your mind to it, you can land it. Same with the Gold moves – tell yourself that you will pass (push any doubts or negative thoughts away), and you will pass. Your body knows how to perform these moves – just let it overtake your brain and you’ll do great! 🙂
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mary December 3, 2013 at 4:39 pm

Oh I hope so. And I hope my knees settle down so they can take all the jumping that getting there would require. For you, the quarter turn is so, so close, enough for the judges to let it go on the right day. I hope your axel gets even more solid so they have to pass you no matter what.


Patricia December 3, 2013 at 10:02 pm

Wow. Waxwill I call it. Good work. It’s like Feldenkrais in a way. Intentional axel ! Nice exploration.


mary December 5, 2013 at 1:01 am

Thanks, Patricia! I suppose it is like Feldenkrais, definitely involves a great deal of figuring out how you are moving your body.


Jill December 4, 2013 at 10:17 am

I just think it is so cool that you ice skate!! Congrats on the jump!
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mary December 5, 2013 at 12:59 am

Thanks, Jill!


Davida December 4, 2013 at 7:46 pm

So inspiring Mary! I was a figure skater for many years and after 3 years of trying to land an axel I finally did. It just clicked. Be patient. Practice and stay positive 🙂
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mary December 4, 2013 at 8:19 pm

Hi Davida! I had no idea you were a skater, too, I’m glad to know that! And thanks for sharing your story about the axel, if it takes me three years I can now feel like that’s totally normal even for a younger skater.


GiGi Eats Celebrities December 11, 2013 at 5:58 am

You couldn’t even GET ME IN A PAIR OF SKATES and you’re attempting jumps! You amaze me! 🙂
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mary December 11, 2013 at 6:28 am

And you couldn’t keep me out of them! It’s all a matter of what you love.


Jules December 12, 2013 at 8:59 pm

You are doing a fantastic job, I love reading your blog and that’s awesome you’re working on the axel!
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mary December 13, 2013 at 4:43 am

Thanks for the vote of confidence, Jules, I appreciate it. This week I’m not even jumping at all, I’m skating but I’m resting my knees a little, hope I will get back to it soon.


Cristina December 13, 2013 at 1:48 pm

Wow, I love that picture! Stay positive, you have gotten this far, I am sure you will accomplish the rest of your goals 🙂


mary December 13, 2013 at 5:30 pm

Thanks, Cristina! The photo is from the program I skated last summer in memory of my dad. There’s an adult skater at my rink who does photography and she took pictures of the whole show, very nice of her. And thanks for the encouragement, I will keep trying on the sore knees, the skating, and the blogging.


Cristina December 13, 2013 at 6:20 pm

That is such a beautiful idea, I would love to do something like that (my dad passed away almost 10 years ago) but I probably would cry the whole time -I get really emotional.
How lucky that you have your own photographer 🙂


Joe December 14, 2013 at 8:07 pm

Thanks for sharing your story. Your commitment is impressive. It makes me appreciate how easy the professional athletes make it look.


mary December 16, 2013 at 5:58 am

Thanks Joe. The thing about figure skating (and ballet) is that you have to do really hard stuff with a smile on your face and make it look easy. In the gym you can frown, pant, or even grunt all you want.


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