23. Outside Forward Eight, Factor 1

Before you start, visualize the circles on both sides of you (Diagram 2). Look along the long axis and determine the top of each lobe. Planning the radius and diameter of both circles ahead of time is a powerful influence in determining the speed and the angle of lean with which you will skate them. (In gen­eral the diameter of each circle should be approximately three times your height.)

Now stand in the position of the right outside forward spiral, hips and shoulders on the short axis, with your back to the center of the right circle you are about to skate and with your head turned over your right shoulder, eyes looking in the direc­tion of travel. Be sure you are standing with all your weight on your left leg and with your left ankle turned in for a strong starting anchor. Now bend both knees and push away from this left skate with a powerful thrust against the ice. Every direction previously given for an accurate push off and start should be followed to the letter here.

As your weight shifts to your right leg (Illus. 25), your left skate will automatically rise a few inches from the ice directly over the print.

Point your toe and keep this free leg absolutely straight turned out from the hip with the inside of the knee to the ice just as the push left it (25-1). This free leg should remain thus, without any moving or wavering, for the first half-circle (25-2). In fact the whole body, once the initial lean and balance is established, should remain motionless until the skate reaches the point of the long axis opposite the start. I call this the "parallel position," as the skating foot, the hips, and the shoul­ders form three parallel lines (25-1) directly over the circle but on a sideways lean from it. In this first position, even though the weight is firmly on the skating  hip and shoulder, the hip and the shoulderline are level. A definite lowering of the skat­ing shoulder or raising of the free hip will pitch you forward off balance.

At the halfway mark, the skating knee, which of course has remained well bent from the pushoff, gradually begins to straighten, and at the same time you pass your free foot and leg forward and change your arms and shoulders, just as in the OF rolls (25-8). This change into the number 2 position should be complete by the three-quarters circle, and from there, almost to the center, you ride again motionless (25-3, 4, 5, 11). To maintain the weight on the exact same spot back of the center of the blade from start to finish, be sure to lean slightly back to counterbalance the weight of the free leg as it moves forward. Make every movement unhurried and smooth, so that you can keep your body on the exact same lean to the right all the way around. In order to "feel" this lean accurately I pass my arms so close that they actually touch my body and my free foot so close and parallel that it brushes my skating foot (25-8, 9). In the second position the skating shoulder will be definitely lower.

Aside from an unchanging lean and blade balance, the other most important factor in holding a true circle is an unchanging hip position. In other words, on any given circle as the hips start they must finish. They must not be allowed to rotate in the direction of the curve. Hence on this OF eight the free hip is pressed back throughout even though the free leg and foot move forward. To ensure this stability of the free hip it is im­portant to turn out the free foot not only in the back but the instant it passes the skate in front. Only the heel of the free skate will be on the line of the circle in front. Do not allow the free foot to cross inside the circle either behind in the first position or in front in the second position. The first error will cause your skating hip to jut out, the second will in most cases force your free hip forward and cut in the radius of your circle. Remember: The best skating has the least movement necessary to the desired result.

As you are completing the circle, approximately 2 feet from the start, bring your free foot back beside your skate and at the same time bend both knees preparatory to the next pushoff (25-6). As your skate reaches the first pushoff mark, turn it sideways a full 90 degrees and make a firm instantaneous start from the back of the right skate onto the left outside edge, which should take the ice exactly on top of the original right starting line (25-6). As your right hip leads throughout the right circle and the left hip will lead on the left one, it is vital that the pushing foot turns completely sideways to allow for this full body change at the center. Keep the same speed and the same lean on the left circle as the right and merely transpose all directions to this side. As you ride back to center on the left edge, look at the finishing curve of the right circle opposite. If you have kept an exact lean and balance your left skate will meet this right edge less than a foot from the pushoff marks, just in time for the actual circles to touch before you again turn your skating foot to push off exactly on the same spot. Thus from the place where your circles meet in closing to the place where they separate in starting is, in advanced skating, approxi­mately 2 feet. Beginners are allowed a bit more space, or a wider center of 21/£ to 3 feet.

Among the admitted ambiguities of skating language the word "center" ranks high. On this one figure the exact center of the eight is the place where the long and short axes cross, each circle has its own center and the whole diagram is said to have a 2-foot center made by the meeting of the edges before the pushoffs and their separation after the starts. Thus, if you overlap these curves or don't close the circles or start at different points you will be said to have skated a "sloppy center." Good form in school figure skating consists of upright posture without any bending or breaking at the waist or hips, controlled bend and rise of the skating knee, arms, and hands which are carried at approximately waist height in the easy unstrained positions designated for the spirals, a free foot al­ways turned out and pointed, a free leg under constant control, and a head held erect except for the split second needed to look down at a center or a turn. Anything either stiff or jerky is a fault in style. All the movement should be graceful and even in flow and tempo.


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