Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Blast from the past

Skating on the canal in Ottawa in 2000. It was about -5 degrees Fahrenheit that day!

Friday, February 17, 2012


The Argentine Twizzle appears to be here to stay. I did several succesfully today and they seem to be pretty consistent and I can almost do them at speed in the dance. In honor of my accomplishment, I treated myself to a few pieces of my favorite candy, thankfully fat-free which I know does not mean calorie-free, that I keep in my desk drawer for just such occasions.

My rhumba choctaws were also much improved since Monday's lesson with Coach John in the Bay Area. He is the best coach ever, period.

Now back to my candy.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Off-Ice Edge Trainer

I've had a few comments on the Off-Ice Edge training device. I'd like to provide some information. First, a caveat ...I have no connection to this company other than owning and using their product. I do feel that this training device helps simulate some of the core training taught by figures/patch in years past. While actually skating figures would accomplish the same thing better and faster, most skaters don't have access to regular and frequent patch ice and instruction.

I wrote the following about my experience with the OIE for the Oregon Skating Council.

When my husband presented me with an OIE unit for my birthday I was skeptical, and didn’t “find the time” to try it out. It sat in my basement gathering dust.

Meanwhile I was struggling to rehab and re-learn how to skate after surgery. On the ice I no longer had the muscle strength or fine motor coordination to hold decent edges. I was frustrated and considered quitting skating.

Finally, I hauled out the OIE unit and DVD and decided to give it a try. I put on my skates, climbed on the OIE, and watched myself “skate” in the mirror.

I am a visual learner and had no idea what I looked like on the ice. It was kind of gruesome the first time I looked at my posture and alignment in the mirror. I could clearly see where I was out of alignment and what was causing me to have problems on the ice. I was able to experiment with different ways to make the corrections in my body and instantly see what happened in the mirror. I could feel the edge happening on the OIE platform. I got on the ice the next day and although I was still weak and uncoordinated, I could actually hold a true forward outside edge for the first time since my surgery.

I started using the platform a couple of times a week. Within a month, my coach (who I didn’t tell about my off-ice activities) noticed much improvement. I wasn’t spending more time on the ice but the time I did spend was much more productive since I was training off the ice and using visual reinforcement of correct alignment which translated to muscle memory on the ice. Off the ice I was training my core, hips and pelvis (the parts that were damaged by my surgery) to work correctly so that they responded more automatically on the ice.

I still have a long way to go, but I will continue to use the off ice trainer to speed my improvement. I see the changes in the mirror and I feel them on the ice. I am bringing this to OSC because if it can help an out of shape grandmother to regain some function, it can certainly help take our young athletes to the next level.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Did I or didn't I?

I know that all of my loyal readers, that is to say, both of you, have been anxiously waiting to find out whether today was a repeat of "twizzle" or back to "fizzle." Happily I twizzled today (about half of my 20 attempts were good). I could almost call this a "trend." I would like to think this means I'm on the road to permanent twizzlehood.

I've been trying to con my husband into meeting me at the mall for "lunch," which means I could also sweet talk him into doing some videotaping since there is coincidentally a rink at the mall. I'd like to document the twizzle before it disappears again. So far he's seen right through my ploy and he keeps turning me down, claiming that he is on a diet or busy or some other excuse that I'm just not buying. Look for video here as soon as he does something that really pisses me off and needs to somehow apologize.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

It's back ...

My on again, off again relationship with the Argentine twizzle continues. I am obsessed with the damn thing and not in a good way. I tell myself each session that I am going to try a few and then move on to other things, but I sometimes spend the entire hour mentally and physically flogging myself with it as it continues to coyly elude me.

Today's lesson broke the destructive cycle as Coach R, genius that she is, realized that I am starting the lobe with my arms already in counter position. When she switched it so that I started the lobe normally and went into counter position at the twizzle point, I twizzled. Magic. I still touched my toe down ever so briefly on about 90% of them but the 10% I did well felt very much like they did back in the day. Almost like a real skater.

And let's be sure to laugh at my experience with the fishing pole harness today. This genius idea was all mine, not Coach R's. I thought if she put me on the harness and I didn't have any fear of falling and smashing my pelvis and having to explain this to my surgeon, Dr. Mayo, my muscle memory might just kick in. She was game to try, so out I went strapped in to the harness to work on my quad, ... uh, ... twizzles. I am sure those watching were expecting something far more exciting, like a move that actually leaves the ice, to merit so much protective gear. I am sure it was very disapointing for the mall audience when they realized they weren't going to see Michelle Kwan today. No, the fishing pole lasted about 5 minutes until we figured out it wasn't tricking me mentally into thinking anything other than OMG, my hair is going to get caught in this thing, which caused me to duck my head every time I came out of the twizzle.

Interestingly, I can do the Arge twizzle consistently well on my right foot (always the stronger side now as that was the hip operated most successfully). If only the dance were done clockwise, but no. Then it would be the Enitnegra Tango and what with the Cha Cha Congelado and the Finnstep, we don't need any more silly dance names.

We then moved on to the tough step on the Westminster Waltz (no, not the one you think, I rock at that one). The step I struggle with is the step from RFI to LFI. Sounds easy, no? No. But easier after today's lesson.

Stay tuned to see if the twizzle sticks around for tomorrow's practice or whether it's a no show again.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Deliberate practice ... is not inherently enjoyable

“The important thing is not just practice but deliberate practice, a constant sense of self-evaluation, of focusing on one’s weaknesses, rather than simply fooling around and playing to one’s strengths. Studies show that practice aimed at remedying weaknesses is a better predictor of expertise than raw number of hours; playing for fun and repeating what you already know is not necessarily the same as efficiently reaching a new level. Most of the practice that most people do, most of the time, be it in the pursuit of learning the guitar or improving their golf game, yields almost no effect.”

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