It's harder than you might think. One of my many, many, many unrealistic expectations getting into figure skating was that I would quickly reach a point where I felt super comfortable on the ice and would be able to try little tricks. I'm pretty sure I was thinking, "I bet eventually I'll just try a twizzle and see what happens." Ha. (Ha.) In non-skating terms, this would probably be the equivalent of a four year old thinking that as soon as he gets his hands on a stove he's going to be Emeril Lagasse. Shortly thereafter the toddler discovers that the stove is hot and burns are no fun. To put it back into skating terms, shortly after getting into figure skating I discovered that falling and bruises are not fun. Seems obvious that it might take a long (really long) time to get the basics down before improvisation can happen, but hey, I'm only four years old.
It's not that I'm afraid to try things. There's no way to be on the ice for an hour and a half without trying things. But they're all things I'd had taught to me. A professional showed me a waltz jump, now I try it each time I go to the ice. My coach and I spent weeks on inside and outside three turns. The USFSA Basic Skills Program says my first footwork combination should be:
- 2 forward crossovers
- into a forward inside mohawk
- 2 backwards crossovers
- Step into a forward inside edge
As I said in my previous post about footwork, these moves are meant to be done on a circle. You move your feet, change feet, and the direction you're facing, but you never break away from the path of the circle. I talked about how I was doing this combination, slowly and with much terror, but there's not a day that I've been on the ice where I didn't try to get better. Just the same four skills, because it was what I was told to do, had to do in order to progress to the next (basic) level of (shaky) skating.
Challenging? Yes. Rewarding. Sure. Boring. Sometimes. Inspiring and creative? No.
I can't quite recall what made me think I could noodle around and improvise on the ice, but on Sunday for some reason I found myself thinking, "Man. Fuck circles," and decided to do the elements in what's essentially a straight line. Suddenly four elements became seven:
- A counter clockwise forward crossover
- into a clockwise forward inside mohawk
- a counter clockwise backwards crossover
- step into a forward outside edge
- outside three turn on the right foot
- step into a forward outside edge (repeated element)
- outside three turn on the left foot (repeated element)
- a counter clockwise backwards crossover (repeated element)
- step into a waltz jump
- stop on a backwards pivot
Changes in speed, edge, and direction, punks. These ten element, three of them repeated are executed with varying levels of skill. Some like the outside three turn on the right are awful, some like the clockwise forward inside mohawk make me feel gleefully capable. In my previous post wrote that every time I completed a successful run of the baby, four part footwork that I felt like I was closer to being able to express myself on the ice.
How do I feel now? Well. Smashing literally everything I know how to do together and pinwheeling my arms around in an effort to maintain balance isn't exactly expressing myself on the ice. It wasn't informed by how I was feeling or by music or by anything other than my desire to see what I could do with the basic skills I've learned. But it's a start. It took me a month and a half to feel comfortable to try something that was never shown to me nor prompted.
In another month and a half, who knows what I'll be trying to do.