Sunday, June 27, 2010

Golden Waltz

I have to learn the Golden Waltz. No, not the Golden Skaters Waltz - a very nice dance for sure, and one I couldn't do 3 months ago. I am talking about THE Golden Waltz, a la Klimova and Ponomarenko, arguably the most difficult compulsory dance known to man.

Now that I can stand up on skates without holding on to the wall I figure I'm ready for a challenge. Foolish, yes, I agree, but I've already walked through the solo, doing the difficult parts on two feet. (Remember, all of the steps are difficult, so you can picture how great that was.) And of course certain parts of the dance can't be done solo, yada yada yada, but that isn't going to stop me. I already know that twizzles are going to be some of the easiest turns for me and this dance is just full of them.

So why am I doing this crazy thing, you ask. I have to judge this dance as part of the new "Short Dance." While I've judged it before, this time I have to be very on top of things, and the best way to learn something is to do it. I've even lined up someone to dance it with me so I'll experience the partnering. This and the Finnstep are the only international dances I've never actually done on the ice. So, I'm going to do it. Slowly, on two feet, whatever it takes. I don't intend to test it or compete it or even do it well, just do it. How's that for jumping into the deep end? Yee haw!

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Best Lesson Ever/Motivation

I have a game going with a skating friend of mine to keep us both motivated. He said he'll attend yoga class at least twice per month if I will skate at least twice per month. This little game was invented by L. when I let him know that I was feeling a bit down and frustrated with my (lack of) skating progress. As a good friend, he took the necessary steps to help increase the level of motivation.

I am happy to say that today was my fourth time on the ice in the month of June. I've been busy traveling coast-to-coast both for business and to judge, so doubling my promised number of skate adventures shows some increase in my level of motivation. I'll probably skate again at Sunday's social session, so that makes 5. This is nothing compared to my pre-diagnosis 5 or 6 days per week skating habit, but I can't handle that kind of schedule right now. I need at least one day of rest after any strenuous activity.

Improvement breeds motivation, as any obsessive-compulsive skating addict knows, and I've had plenty of that lately. As I look back to the social session at Adult Nationals just over two months ago, where I hugged the wall and had to be held up to do the forward dances at a snail's pace, I am very, very happy with my progress.

This morning I had a lesson with Coach R, who works with me on moves in the field. We hadn't worked together in a few weeks due to my travel schedule, and the last time she saw me I was struggling to do three turns on one foot and couldn't check them at all. This morning she came in to see me working on the new Junior MITF straight line footwork sequence. "What's that?" she said, because of course my turns are not yet recognizeable and some are on two feet. But she had a smile on her face and made me do the entire sequence again, and said, "wow." Quite an accomplishment for someone who was holding on to the barrier a couple of months ago.

I am also more confident now that I'm more agile and can move out of the way quicker. In addition, I am finally able to stop. Stopping was almost impossible at first due to muscle weakness, but I can do a snowplow, T stop, and (shaky) tango stop on my left, and snowplow on my right.

Today we worked on one-foot turns (easier for me than two-foot turns):
~Double 3s in the field (FI/BO and FO/BI) on one foot - As of today I can do all 3 turns but the LFI 3 is still a bit difficult. It's better if I do the BO turn first and then go into the FI turn. Today was the first time I've done all of the back turns primarily on one foot instead of two.
~Brackets on two feet and occasionally on one.
~Rockers on two feet and occasionally on one
~Counters on two feet - I did the last RFO counter on one foot and lost my balance, so I put my foot down. I glanced over at Coach R. who looked concerned, and said, "hey, you know that I'm going to fall at some point ..." and she answered, "yeah, but I'm not ready for it yet!"
~FI double twizzles - these were "impressive" she said. Of course, twizzles are and always have been easy because they require no turnout
~FO double twizzles
~Alternating 3 turns to the center (the stepforward is still really difficult)

Overall I need to work on "glute involvement." Lazy glutes, go figure!

As I was taking off my skates I was smiling, and told Coach R. that this was "the best lesson ever." She had pushed me to do things I hadn't really tried yet (twizzles, back three turns on one foot), and I was able to do them. Now I'm motivated to do them better.

I am confident that I will get all of my one-foot turns (threes, twizzles, rockers, counters, brackets, loops) back. Two-foot turns (choctaws, mohawks) will be an ongoing challenge as they were before surgery. I learned to compensate before, and now I need to learn to compensate differently. It might take some time.

And now, some motivation for fellow hippies - my post-bilateral PAO Paso Doble solo video (6/15/2010):

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Small Correction to SKATING Magazine's Article

I was honored that HipSk8 was featured in SKATING magazine's "Adult Corner" this month. I need to make one slight correction though; the article reads, "Before her diagnosis, Levine was unaware faulty anatomy was the cause of her inability to perform "easy" moves such as mohawks and twizzles."

Before my diagnosis I had a lot of difficulty with easy moves such as mohawks which require hip involvement. However, twizzles, which are not considered easy, were easy for me since they do not require hip involvement. So in actuality, I always wondered why I couldn't do the "easy" moves without a lot of pain and difficulty, but had no problem with some of the really difficult moves, such as twizzles. Finding out that my hips were faulty cleared up the mystery.

Thanks Lexi for including me in the article!


Saturday, June 5, 2010

T'nT Sk8

Today was a rare opportunity to skate with Tim. We don't have any goals right now and so we don't always have an agenda, or know what to work on. Considering everything we should work on basics, but we always seem to start with difficult things. Like today, the first thing we did was the Viennese Waltz. Followed by the Starlight. Followed by the Samba. Sloooooooooowly. Followed by parts of our free dance and some dance spins. Then we improvised some new choreography. All things way above my current ability level considering I still can't walk without limping, and yet I did them and he didn't complain.

I am always amazed at what we can do together. The whole is much greater than the sum of the parts. We somehow give each other stability and fearlessness so that we are better skaters together than we are alone.

I am weak enough technically right now that I have to trust him to lead and that's been good for us as a team. I've always back-led since I taught him to skate from the ground up. Now he has to do it, and I have to let him, and that's as it should be and should have always been. So that's the silver lining. Not to mention how much fun we have.

After we got off the ice we decided a goal would be helpful. Compete? I don't think I'm ready for that yet. Work on his remaining pre-gold dances to test? Maybe. Work on the Midnight Blues so we can skate at the Portland Adult High Dance Camp in August? Probably. Pick some music and play with some of our own choreography? Definitely.

Friday, June 4, 2010


Just a quick update on last night's yoga class:

~I can now sit crosslegged for about 3 minutes before I can't take the pain any more. This is better than a month ago, when I couldn't do it at all. My left leg is still sticking up but it's better.
~I can do tree pose with my knees turned sort of out, instead of pointing forward. This means my turnout is slowly improving.
~My balance while standing on one foot is much better I've found when I stand on the floor and not on my cushy (but unstable) mat. I was having so much trouble balancing on one foot which for a skater is, um, embarrassing. It's much better when I am standing on a stable wood floor and not on half an inch of foam. And it took me how long to figure this out??? Duh.
~My teacher comments on my "great turn-in" when I sit or lie in hero's pose.
~I am working on doing a full backbend because my back is still very flexible. Now it's just a question of strength in my arms and shoulders. I'm almost there.
~Crane pose is still my big "aha moment" in class.
~Lunges on my right leg are pretty good; on the left leg I only do modified since it is still weak and thus painful.
~Warrior 2 poses are difficult since my hips twist forward vs. to the side; I am better with the right leg in front than the left leg in front due to better turnout on that side. Lack of turnout really does make these positions painful and unnatural. The undysplastic have no idea what this is like. I look very awkward doing these with my butt sticking out but persevere I must.
~I can bring my left leg somewhat closer to my chest, but it is still not flexing like it should (due to ectopic bone growth, I think). Right has full flex in this direction.
~Stretching every night, in addition to twice weekly yoga, is starting to make some small difference in my flexibility. I'm still miles away from where I was.

All in all I've made noticeable progress.