Sunflower Skates

Tracking my goals and progress as an adult figure skater

April 2019 - A major breakthrough

I attended an all-day intensive Skate UK workshop, had a breakthrough with Backwards Stroking, and bought proper practice wear in April.

Monday 1st April
Skate UK - Level 4
Today was weird. I'm not used to feeling like one of the worst in the group, but I absolutely am when it comes to Backwards Stroking. I'm trying to get the technique right, but I can't seem to co-ordinate my feet properly, and when in a large group the coaches don't have time to individually talk me through it. Luckily I seemed to excel at Chasses, and I definitely made some progress with Inside/Outside Edges too. I'm starting to improve my balance on one foot a whole lot more too. My sister and fiance came to watch me tonight, and they both gave me some lovely praise about how graceful I looked etc. That really helps, as I always feel like I look so clumsy and heavy.

Wednesday 3rd April
Private Lesson
Had a really great lesson with Anthony today, I made a LOT of progress with Backwards Stroking. He took the time to teach me each little movement leading up to the push off (feet together, turn one, bend knees, push!) and it really helped. I ended up whizzing down the sides of the rink in no time. My technique still isn't great, I'm trying to focus really and on pointing my toes and extending the leg forwards. He also says I need to think about my arms more, as currently they're very tight and awkward. I have signed up to a 'ballet for skaters' class next Sunday in the hope it will help me with the positions and grace a bit more. He also thinks I should try and fit in an (uncoached) practice session each week, so I'm going to make myself go to The Dome on Saturday.

Saturday 6th April
Public Skate
Ella came with me to The Dome this morning, and we ended up having quite a lot of fun. I showed her how to push off correctly, and skate lemons. My Rio skates fit her nicely, so I hope she'll come with me again. It wasn't overwhelmingly busy, but there was still an annoying amount of teenagers pratting around and pushing each other over. I wasn't able to practice backwards as there was just so many people around that it didn't feel safe.

Monday 8th April
Skate UK - Level 4
I did not go to my lesson tonight as I had a doctors appointment. It was a horrible shame to miss it at such short notice, but it's for the best. Em says she will take me to her rink tomorrow to make up for time lost.

Tuesday 9th April
Public Skate
I went with Em to her rink and had a good practice session for just under an hour. I focused big time on Backwards Stroking but I still can't quite grasp the technique. Em makes me laugh my head off, stood at the side of the rink, yelling at me to try harder and do it again, just like a true Skate Mom. My legs absolutely kill!

Wednesday 10th April
Public Skate
I had an absolutely lovely practice session at The Dome today. I went to the Afternoon Skate slot, as the kids in Doncaster aren't on half term yet so it was lovely and quiet. It felt really good to be the most capable person on the ice, and I noticed quite a few people watching me as I practiced. Irritatingly, I STILL cannot do flaming Backwards Stroking. I did work out a little bit more of the technique involving weight shifting from each leg, but it's bringing my feet back together for the next push that I can't manage. Hopefully I'll be able to finally iron it out on Friday. I also did a lot of practice skating on one foot and holding different positions. I would love to build up to a proper arabesque! 

Friday 12th April
Skate UK Intensive Day
I have had a fabulous day!!! I've made so much progress and have thoroughly enjoyed myself. I also had a complete breakthrough when it comes to backwards stroking - I've only been tying my bloody skates too tight, resulting in numb (and cold) feet that I can't control. As soon as I loosened them before the third session, my feet felt snuggly and warm, and I was able to nail backwards stroking! Now I just need to focus on holding the outside edge longer, and building up my confidence with gliding on the left foot.
If the coach had more time to review my progress at the end of the session, I am 100% positive that I would have passed Level 4 today. Roll on Monday!
I have also ordered some proper practice wear from Decathlon. I would love to try some Chloe Noel or Jerry's skatewear, but I just can't afford it right now. Instead, I have bought some cheap skating leggings, jacket and a skirt and ordered some iron-on rhinestones to decorate them.

Sunday 14th April
Ballet For Skaters
This was not very enjoyable. I don't have any leggings, so I had to attend the session in a dress, unaware that there would be a lot of lying-on-the-floor-with-legs-in-air exercises. I felt really uncomfortable throughout, and absolutely exhausted. The coach is adorable, but I don't think it's for me.

Public Skate
I only spent half an hour on the public skate afterwards as I was so exhausted from the ballet class. I spent the majority of the time talking to another skater about her experience of Skate UK, and she gave me a few tips for edges and the like. Overall quite a wasted day. I ended up having a nap from being so tired out. I did notice how nice and quiet the public session is here, compared to The Dome. I may have to make the effort to get to Sheffield more often on a Sunday.

Monday 15th April
Skate UK - Level 4
I am absolutely furious at myself, and so frustrated! I could have easily passed Level 4 tonight if it wasn't for my calves hurting like hell from yesterday's ballet class. I'm so annoyed and disappointed. I can barely walk today, let alone skate. Trying to be a little more positive, I have passed my I/O Edges and Chasses, it's just Slaloms and Backwards that I need to focus on polishing (I didn't fail them as such, they're marked as 'good', just not quite  there yet.) Ugh. I CAN do this!!! (And I will not be returning to the ballet class.)

Wednesday 17th April
Private Lesson
I had an absolutely fantastic lesson with Anthony. I was so proud of myself afterwards that I even cried, especially when I asked him if he thought I was too big to learn jumps, and he said I could probably even manage doubles. I finally nailed Backwards Stroking, and learned how to do Forwards Crossovers almost straight away, despite having never done them before. He's going to have a word with the coaches on Monday to move me into Level 5, which he teaches for Skate UK. My legs are finally feeling a little bit better too! My Decathlon outfit has been dispatched, and I'm so excited for it to arrive and to make it all pretty. I feel like I'm finally starting to get somewhere, even after last Monday's blip. I've also been thinking quite a lot about what my goals are for figure skating, and I may write up a separate post to detail them.

Sunday 21st April
No Skating
No actual skating today, but just a quick update to say that my Decathlon outfit arrived and it fits lovely! Feels really warm and comfy, even if the band is a little stiff on my tummy. I have ironed on the rhinestones that I bought from eBay and it looks absolutely ace, I have added a picture on my new skating Instagram account.

Monday 22nd April
Skate UK - Level 4 & 5
I couldn't get to a public skate session to practice this weekend, as I went over on my ankle Thursday night and have been resting it all of the long weekend, so I was a little nervous for tonight. Turns out there was no reason to be, because as soon as we had finished the warm-up, Backwards Stroking and Slaloms, I was sent over to join Level 5! Finally!! It was very difficult though, we were learning 3 Turns (which apparently everyone hates) and I was too frightened to even try and turn on my foot. But I totally have Crossovers nailed!
Also tonight, Adi came with me and took secret videos of me skating when I wasn't looking - watching those videos back is so amazing to see how far I've progressed. Only in my first Level 4 lesson on the 1st March I felt so useless and the worst in the group, however now I'm miles ahead of everyone else when it comes to speed and technique. I'm very proud of myself, and of all my hard work.

Thursday 24th April
Public Skate
I forced myself to drive in the storm to The Dome tonight, but I'm really glad that I did. I made friends with a young girl there who showed me how to do my Outside 3 Turns, and I feel like I made a lot of progress with them on my right foot. I won't even try and attempt the left just yet though! Basically spent a hour hour practicing them, and managed to get over my initial fear of turning on just one foot. I can't quite stay on the inside edge when finishing without putting my foot down, but it's a good start in preparation for Monday's lesson.

Monday 29th April
Skate UK - Level 5
A non-descript first Level 5 lesson. Parts of it were incredibly dull, as we spent the first half an hour of a 45-minute lesson practicing Backwards Chasses on the circle. I'm noticing more and more how much stronger I am on my right foot than on my left, so practicing balance on my left side will be a top priority in practice sessions from now on. The last 15 minutes were the best part, as I somehow nailed an absolutely beautiful Outside 3 Turn. I bent at the knees, twisted my upper body, turned and straightened effortlessly, then glided back on my inside edge. I have absolutely no idea how I did it, but now I've done it once, I'm certain I can do it again!

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