Friday, June 7, 2013

Skating Fridays

Lessons Learned

Disclaimer: I am not a coach and don't play one on TV or on the internet.  Please consult your figure skating coach(es) for their advice and expertise. The information below is simply a compilation of what I have learned as I skated through these moves.

I thought it might be helpful to provide some of the lessons I've learned in Adult Moves-In-The-Field. Moves were definitely difficult for me, and other than consulting this Common Errors document, I had to learn a lot of it on my own and through my coach. Prior to this spring, my rink did not have an Adult Gold level skater for me (or other adult skaters) to get advice from.

I wanted to share the things I've learned, since I had to learn them the hard way. I failed my Adult Bronze and Adult Silver MIF tests the first time I took them, so the judges' papers gave me good insights on what I needed to work on. I'd love to help someone avoid the mistakes I made. I'll be as candid as I can and hope to reveal things that you may not have heard yet.

Adult Bronze MIF
  1. Forward and backward perimeter power stroking: They call these power stroking for a reason - the judges are looking for smooth, continuous flow and lots of power. For forward power stroking, the FI edge needs to be sustained and balanced. On the backward power strokes, make sure that the two-footed transitions are done on both inside edges - this is crucial! Judges will also watch to make sure your lobes are even.
  2. Forward power three-turns: Make sure that the edge coming out of the 3-turns are controlled and that the 3-turn is properly placed at the top of the lobe. The two-foot glides need to be done on both inside edges. Judges will be watching closely for this two-footed inside edge transition (I got dinged on it). Watch for toe scraping and make sure you come back to the long axis before starting the next set.
  3. Alternating backward crossovers to backwards outside edges: You need to have a strong push/stroke onto the backward edge (no cheating by faking a push).  This move should flow effortlessly, or at close to it as possible. Watch for toe scraping and make sure you come back to the long axis before starting the next set. Also, be sure that you don't create subcurves and regress before hitting the long axis.
  4. Forward circle eight: The rulebook states that these circles need to be at least 3 times the skater's height in diameter (for each circle). And yes, this is what they are looking for. Err on the conservative side and make your circle as big as you can, but with control. I wish I was kidding. Make sure the start of each circle is on an edge and not a diagonal. Nice arms and posture can result in bonus points, as can returning to the same center axis after each circle (I'm not sure why judges don't expect this already, but whatever).
  5. Five-step mohawk sequence: Judges did not like it when I skated on a flat, and I got called out on it a few times (on my test papers). Make sure each edge is nicely sustained and on the correct edge. Watch toe scraping and keep an even cadence. The judges will also be checking to see if all lobes are the same size.
Adult Silver MIF
  1. Eight-step mohawk sequence:The cadence for each of the steps is crucial. Every step is one beat and needs to be clean and skated on the correct edge. Timing is essential. The faster (and cleaner) this is skated, the better. If you're familiar with musical terms and metronome speeds, you'll want to aim for a quarter note (each stroke) equaling mm=120. For those who aren't knowledgeable with metronome speeds, think about doing two strokes per second (steps 1 and 2 should be in done in one second; 3 and 4 in another second, 5 and 6 in another second and 7 and 8 in another second; the entire 8-step should be completed in 4 seconds). The lobes should be even, and there should be no toe scraping - especially after the mohawk. The transition between the two circles should be two beats (2 seconds).
  2. Forward and backward free skate cross strokes: Watch the toe picks on these! There should not be any toe pushes or scraping going either forward or backward. Make sure each stroke starts on the outside edge. Judges will be listening for the "rip" sound (a plus).
  3. FO-BI three-turns in the field: 3-turn placement is key (at the top of the lobes), and watch out for sub-curves (the edge should not regress and look like a comma at the end). The edge coming back to the long axis needs to be on an edge and not on a flat. I failed this move on my first attempt because I was going too slow. My edges were fine, but the judges said I wasn't fast enough. So don't do what I did and pick up the pace.
  4. FI-BO three-turns in the field: Ditto #3 above.
  5. Consecutive inside and outside edge spirals: I have no advice here since this is a new element that I did not have to skate.
  6. Forward and backward power change of edge pulls: Judges are looking for that "edge" sound, which is the sound of gold. The deeper your edges are, the louder the "rip" (a plus). For forward power pulls: watch for extraneous upper body movement. For backward power pulls: don't lean too far forward or you'll end up scraping on your toe pick.
Adult Gold MIF
  1. Stroking: Forward power circle: The pattern should resemble one of those fancy sea shells that spirals out from the center (or one from a snail). It should start off small and tight, then slowly "unwind" and get larger and larger. Cadence/timing is big on this move. If you're familiar with musical terms and metronome speeds, you'll want to start off with a quarter note (each stroke) starting off around mm=36-40.  At your top speed, you should be going at least mm=120-144, if not faster. Counterclockwise is going to be most people's stronger side, so make sure your weaker side doesn't appear to be too weak. Judges will listen for the "edge" or "rip" of your blades since this denotes strong, correct edge pushes. You'll also want to make sure you push off both feet - one on the initial push, and one on the underpush for the actual crossover.
  2. Stroking: Backward power circle: Ditto #1 above. Watch your center of gravity on this one though. Most adults (myself included) lean too far forward on these and start scraping. Like above, judges will be listening for your edges to "rip." Same timing as above.
  3. Forward double three-turns: Placement of the 3-turns is crucial. The 3s should be done at 10:00 and 2:00 (if the lobes looked like the face of a clock). The top of the lobes and the exiting edge that comes back to the long axis cannot be on flats. Speed is huge here. Judges want to see this skated with power, but in control. It's actually better to be quick and slightly sloppy than slow with more accuracy. Seriously, don't get dinged for skating too slowly. My skating friend and I used to joke that we were practicing "kamikaze threes" because we were going so fast.
  4. Backward double three-turns: Again, placement of the 3-turns is critical. This time, the 3s are placed at 12:00 and 2:00 (or 10:00). Judges are looking for extension and speed/flow. Similar to the forward double-threes, you should not skate on any flats throughout this move. Judges are listening for scraping on the 3s, so try to avoid those. Skate these fast!
  5. Backward circle eight: Similar to the forward circle-eight in the Bronze Moves, you want to make these circles as large as you can while staying controlled. If you think your circle is large, try again and make it even larger. Even though I passed this move, one judge dinged me and said that my circles weren't large enough (they were pretty ginormous). The hardest transition will be from the backward outside to the backward inside edge. Make sure the start of each circle is on an edge and not a diagonal. Nice arms and posture (and a nicely controlled free leg) can result in bonus points, as can returning to the center axis.
  6. Brackets in the field: Judges are watching to see if your lobes are even and if the brackets are placed at the 12:00 position. They will be watching to see if you are "hopping" the edge and cheating the bracket. This move tends to result in subcurves, so be on the lookout for those. Each bracket should start and end on true edges (not flats or a diagonal). I got bonus points for correct bracket placement, even lobes and speed. This move is one of the hardest to do with speed, but the judges will reward you if you can attain it!

Let me know if this was helpful (or not) and if there's anything that I left off!

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