VI. COMPLETING THE FUNDAMENTAL FIGURES
30. Inside Backward Eight RBI-LBI, Factor 2

The very fact that this eight has a factor of 2 indicates that the authorities consider it a more difficult edge to form into matching contiguous circles than the preceding three. It is—and no doubt about it. The difficulty lies primarily in achieving a powerful, accurate start and a firm finishing curve that closes in to the center without straightening, sub-curving, or changing edge before the pushoff (Diagram 7).

As for the corresponding roll, you stand with your back to the first circle at the pushoff. Now with the bend-together, pivot, and push rhythm you have already learned, thrust power­fully away from your left skate, consciously using the leg muscles above your left knee. As you pivot a quarter-turn left, allow the right side of your body to come as far forward over the short axis line as possible. You should feel your skating hip "hollowed" hard in toward your stomach the split second your right foot makes contact with the IB edge. If you make this pivoting movement accurately, you will be able to turn your body so far that, as your left skate rises from the ice at the finish of the push off, your free hip will be able to relax back in such a fashion that it is actually leading on the line of the circle. The push off mark itself will be a curlicue, often called a "rat's tail," which should end approximately at the long axis. "Dragging" this push off line is not only a fault of print but it actually means that your body weight and body position are not accurately placed over your skating foot as the edge starts.

The arms and shoulders meanwhile, after a slight movement to the left (Illus. 30-1) as your feet close in for the push off, move to the right so that at the moment of contact they are on the line of the edge, skating shoulder pressed back and free shoulder forward (30-2, 3). The shoulder line is level with the weight on the skating shoulder. The head also turns to the right (30-3), enabling you to watch first your start and then a few feet of the arc of the circle. When this is well done, you will feel that the heel of your right foot has swung way out to catch the edge straight on the short axis while your toes turn in. In fact, the whole body position of the start is hard for a beginner to under­stand. Nothing seems to look the way it is. I like to explain it as a "kitty-corner" position. The skating hip is forward and the skating shoulder back; the free shoulder is forward and the free hip is back as far as is physically possible, with the free leg in front and the shoulders in a rotating position. To maintain a firm edge with no tendency to rotate the hips on the first half-circle, it is necessary to bend the ankle hard forward right from the start (30-3), with the trunk of the body in a straight forward sitting posture, while the thigh of the free leg closes in to the thigh of the skating leg (30-3) and the whole free leg turns out from the hip, straight of knee and pointed of toe. Great care must be exercised that this free hip does not "drop" and that the free leg does not swing out into the circle, thereby pulling your weight off your skating hip. Conversely, the free foot must not be allowed to swing across the print in front to the outside of the circle, thus causing uncontrollable rotation of the hips.

After riding a few feet in the starting position, turn your head over your free shoulder back inside the curve (30-6) so that your eyes can look up to the top of the circle at the long axis. This is the one eight where I permit movement of the body before the halfway mark. Some skaters find it easier to let the free shoulder start back and the skating shoulder forward before the free leg commences passing. It also seems to help occasionally to let the skating knee begin to rise at about the one-third mark.

But by no means should any movement (except the head's) start before this. Firm control of the first half of the circle is, as always, the secret of a controlled finish, even more so on this eight than any other.

Once at the apex of the curve, move the free foot so close back that it scrapes past the heel of your skating foot (30-4) and continues straight along the projected line of the rest of the circle (30-5, 7). After the leg is at full extension, turn it out from the hip again and make sure you maintain an even back­ward pressure. Pointing your free toe hard helps you to be constantly conscious of this pressure. Keep your back straight and tighten your buttocks so that you feel your body in one leaning line to the center of the circle with your skating shoul­der lower and your weight as always on the ball of your foot (30-5, 7). (Try putting your free foot down in an inside spread eagle at the three-quarters mark. It's a good exercise.)

Now have the patience to hold this completely parallel posi­tion without moving until your whole skating foot closes in onto the short axis opposite your push off mark. At this point bend your knees again and bring your free foot in. As the heel of your skate rides past your original push off mark, "drop" the skating ankle way over to the inside and, with the weight on the ball of the skating foot, at the same instant swing your heel out in a forced-edge hooking movement from which you may produce another powerful thrust. This pushoff requires one of the few forced edges in skating. Meanwhile the free toe has come in to touch the pushing toe just before the hook begins. With heel pressed out as far as possible in this pigeon-toed fashion, you begin the new edge cleanly right on top of the first one. Scraping the starts or slurring over from an outside edge to the inside edge are considered major errors on one side of the center, just as are sprawling flattened lines which trail off into a formless finish on the other side. To close in properly and thrust cleanly with real power takes fine timing, which is acquired only by a lot of diligent practice. Even after competing for years, I used to spend a few minutes practicing this eight for speed and power almost daily.

As with all eights, the finishing position on one foot is the starting position of the other foot, so try to move your arms and shoulders as little as possible on each push off while concen­trating on bending your knees and turning your lower body only. Just as with the outside forward eight, a complete change of body position occurs with each new thrust. If you can actually turn so that your free hip is leading at the start of each circle, you will find that if you shift your weight completely, you cannot "drag" your push off lines—your pushing foot has to lift from the ice. Before even trying the backward change of edge or the out­side-forward-inside backward threes, it is imperative that you have the inside backward eights under real control. (Many teachers believe that this edge comes too late in the curriculum and should be taught along with the outside backward eight. No harm will be done by starting it earlier.) So while you are practicing faithfully, we will go on to turns that do not involve this edge.


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