Placating the God of Skating

by Mary on July 14, 2017

“The skating edge is the god of skating, everything else has to follow that. It’s a gentle god, so if the shoulders (or some other part) want to overrule it, they can. But then things don’t work so well.”

That’s an always relevant quote from Kim, who teaches me the footwork patterns called ‘moves.’ Last year Kim quit coaching, I injured my back, and I wasn’t able to work with her for over a year. Now we’re both back and I’m on her schedule again, for which I’m very grateful. With Kim on my side and some work on the ice I’m sure I’ll get my juvenile moves before long.

The juvenile moves are a footwork test usually taken by young figure skaters. I’ve gone through all the footwork tests designed for adult skaters and am now working on the tests that the young skaters take.

I’d thought it might take me a few months to bust out these moves after passing adult gold moves, but it’s been three years and counting. The trickiest move for me is the back power three turn pattern.

skating around the littlest skate camper

One problem is that my left side is not yet as strong as the right. You can see this when my left side is free, that is, held up in the air while the other foot skates. On the first circle the free left hip starts to drop by the third turn and really sags on the fourth.

Another problem relevant to all of my skating is that I use my shoulders and arms too much to force myself around turns instead of working from my feet and using the power of the skating edge. If I were putting my body awareness and power more into my feet and lower body, you’d see a much more powerful push on these turns. My arms would be quieter and you wouldn’t see any flailing. Here’s a stronger skater testing this move so you can see what I’m talking about:

You can see that before her turns Jenya brings one arm– it’s actually her skating arm at that point in the move– toward her free arm while keeping her free arm still. That’s called “working from the skating side,” and it’s what I need to do. By contrast I tend to crank my free side ahead of me into the turn.

Not only does that not work well, the extra torque is hell on my knees. I need to follow, and not try to overrule, that all important edge of the blade that Kim has christened “the god of skating.”

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Wendy July 14, 2017 at 11:31 pm

Looks like you mastered the move very well! Of course, I’m no expert and I’m certainly not graceful.
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Mary July 15, 2017 at 1:19 am

It’s come a long way! Still working on the details and as one of my coaches has said, “Skating is all details!”


Jo July 15, 2017 at 12:12 am

Mary, I love that you can do these moves around those little kids (the one in blue was just too cute for words!) You are getting some good flow and it looks like you have a good sense of timing, even on the weaker left side. I will be thinking about “the god of skating” this week–what a great idea!
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Mary July 15, 2017 at 1:25 am

Ha ha yes, summer skating school is a challenge! Luckily I can often find sessions that are less crowded than this one. Thanks for the compliment on the flow and timing, those tend to be my strong points and it’s nice to be reminded of that. That “god of skating” comment stuck in my head and I wrote it down as verbatim as I could in my skating notes. I searched on ‘god’ to find it and it popped right up– the one and only use of ‘god’ in my 11 years of skating notes! She said it four years ago, I guess it really did stick in my mind!


Eva at Eva Bakes July 15, 2017 at 12:37 am

You are way too hard on yourself, Mary. Those are looking very nice! Keep thinking about sitting on your heels before you do the 3-turn. Before long, you’ll be flying by those juvenile skaters!
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Mary July 15, 2017 at 1:27 am

I’m glad you think they are coming along. After three years off and on it’s hard for me to know where I am on these. Getting toward that back of the blade on back turns is always a good idea!


Kimberly Hatting July 15, 2017 at 1:08 am

Congrats! I admire those who can do these kinds of things with such grace 😉


Mary July 15, 2017 at 1:29 am

Thanks Kimberly! Trying to make it look graceful is one of the hard parts!


Deborah July 15, 2017 at 1:40 am

I have not skated in so long but this makes me want to!
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Mary July 16, 2017 at 5:29 am

Might be a good cross-train on a hot summer day. Pad up though!


Michelle July 15, 2017 at 2:22 am

Looks like you’ve got those moves down! Kudos to you!
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Mary July 15, 2017 at 1:24 pm

Not yet– skating tests are really picky– but I’ve made a lot of progress!


The Accidental Marathoner July 15, 2017 at 5:08 am

Your posts are always so interesting to me! I am not a skater, but do appreciate what a beautiful sport it is!
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Mary July 15, 2017 at 1:26 pm

Thanks, I’m glad to hear that I’m keeping your interest!


Lindsay July 15, 2017 at 6:18 am

Your moves look great to me! Your photos and video make me want to go skating. I haven’t been in years.
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Mary July 15, 2017 at 1:28 pm

Thanks Lindsay! There are a number of other moves on the test, too, perhaps I will share more in another post. Skating tests are very picky so I have lots still to keep working on, in fact I’m off to the rink now!


Nicole July 17, 2017 at 1:57 pm

Looks like you’re doing great to me! I always wanted to learn to ice skate, but I have zero grace haha.
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Mary July 18, 2017 at 4:02 am

Thanks Nicole! I don’t think of myself as naturally graceful though I have put a fair amount of time into working on my arm movements and posture in skating.


Jamie July 17, 2017 at 2:29 pm

You are making me miss skating, not that I was ever as good as you are! Great job! You are doing amazing!
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Mary July 19, 2017 at 4:28 pm

You were a skater Jamie? That’s cool! Maybe sometime (when you are done with all the craziness of grad school?) you will skate again! There’s a fun adult skating community out there.


Susie July 17, 2017 at 2:55 pm

I think there is a “God of skating” in all sports. That aspect that you have to respect but you cannot fear. Looks like you are really improving!
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Mary July 18, 2017 at 4:01 am

That’s exactly right, Suzy! Thanks!


Mary August 30, 2017 at 5:49 pm

OMG this is so inspiring! I took lessons on and off for about a year when I was younger, and unfortunately was also never able to pass the test you’re talking about here. But my coach wasn’t quite as good as yours, so I never knew exactly why I couldn’t pass it. Maybe I should retry as an adult with a better coach!


Mary September 9, 2017 at 4:25 am

There’s a fun community of adult skaters, so if you inspired, come on back to the ice!


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