31. Inside Forward Outside Backward Threes
RIF-LOB and LIF-ROB, Factor 1

In general outline, this figure is the same as threes-to-center —that is, a three turn facing straight down the long axis occurs at the apex of each circle. I feel the inside forward three is the easiest turn in skating—it practically makes itself—but the outside backward turn presents a few interesting problems of rotation control in both the upper and lower body (Diagram 8).

Push off on the RIF with the skating shoulder forward and the free shoulder blade drawn into your backbone (Illus. 31-1). This is the position you have been using for your inside mo-hawk, not the position of the spiral where, of course, the free shoulder is forward. In other words, it should be clear by now that, as a fairly general rule in skating, when you want to turn your body around toward the center of the circle, you twist your shoulders in the rotation of the circle against your hips; when you want to maintain an edge without turning, you hold your shoulders against the rotation of the circle. (An exception, however, is the starting position of the inside backward eight!) Observe all the regular rules for square hips, straight back, free foot inside the circle, etc., of the IF eight and keep a steady shoulder pressure right to the turn (Illus. 31-1, 2, 3).

I find the best balance when I have the skating shoulder just slightly higher in a sort of "banking" position on the curve (31-2). As this right shoulder leads you into the three, you are going to shift your weight from the back center to the ball of the foot and turn naturally onto your right outside backward edge (31-4). If you have started off with a strong inward lean, you hardly need any extra tightening of the left shoulder to motivate the turn. Some skaters lower the free foot to the heel of the skating foot with good results, but I prefer to keep my free foot per­fectly still and just turn around (31-4). My free foot thus moves from slightly inside the circle before the turn to slightly outside the circle after it (31-5). As always, the turn itself is lightning fast.

As your skate feels the OB edge, reverse your shoulders and look in toward the three-quarters mark (also take a quick peek back to your start from here) (31-5). Once at the three-quarter, turn your head to the outside but do not change your shoulders (31-6). Hold thus to your center (31-7) and push off to LOB with your shoulders still in this reverse position (31-8). Keep the skating shoulder lower on the OB edge out of the forward turn and the weight steadily on it until you make the back push (31-5, 6, 7, 8).

After this reverse-shoulder back pushoff (31-8, 9) (which may seem strange at first, but after a few times will feel quite natu­ral), look in toward the quarter-circle mark for a few feet (31-9) while you are consolidating a strong square body posi­tion; then turn your head to the outside of the circle as the whole upper body twists around for the turn (31-10, 11). Re­member that this twist is against the hips, while the body lean remains always strongly to the center of the circle and the weight is on the ball of the skating foot (31-11). It stands to reason that to keep the weight thus, you must keep your skating shoulder lower with your weight firmly on it. Rotation pres­sure is, of course, on the free shoulder blade which is drawn firmly to the backbone (31-11).

The crux of control lies in getting the free leg in firm posi­tion as soon as it lifts from the push off (31-10). Place it immedi­ately over the print (turned out so that the tracing shows under the arch of your foot); squeeze the upper thighs together but make sure that your knees do not touch (31-11). Keep a strong constant forward pressure on the whole free hip and leg so that as your upper body rotates to the outside, your free leg will not fly out of the circle (31-11), thereby ruining control of the curve before the turn and the turn itself.

The only movement from the quarter-circle to the turn should be the gradual straightening of the skating knee (31-10, 11). The straightening pressure here is particularly useful in helping hold out the curve of the circle. At the point of the long axis, repeat the usual weight-shifting and shoulder-tight­ening as, without any other movement, your whole body turns quickly toward the center of the circle (31-12). Bend your knee and reverse your shoulders as you feel your skate on the new IF edge (31-13). Ride back to your start in this completely checked position, with your body sideways to the center of the circle and your skating hip strongly "hollowed" under you (31-14). (Throughout this entire circle and turn I like to feel that my lower body is one solid block, first traveling backward and then traveling forward.) On the theory that the least move­ment necessary produces the best results, I do not move my free leg or foot for either three. However, if closing in for a turn produces less disturbance of the hips, then do it by all means.

This method that I have finally adopted as the most satisfac­tory after years of experimentation with many other techniques means that there is only one shoulder change per circle—that is, the checking movement after each turn. Placing the forward three is easy (look at the long axis opposite the pushoff and keep looking at it), but placing the backward three presents a new problem. This is essentially a "blind" turn, and you must, in the final analysis, feel when your skate has reached the top of the curve. However, planning the whole diagram ahead and looking at the long axis at the moment of the back start (31-9) and again giving it a quick glance just before turning the head to the outside will help. Do not make the mistake of trying so frantically to see that you lean out of the circle (if you lean strongly in, you will see more easily). Remember that here, just as in the IB eight, the head turns on the neck and can make a quick revolving movement without disturbing the shoulders or the upper body at all. (When I watch some of my pupils, I am wont to ask them if they turn their heads with their stomachs! Test yourself on any back circle and see if you can turn your head first one way and then the other without moving your shoulders at all—another useful co-ordination exercise).

Presupposing that by this time you have your backward in­side eight in satisfactory shape, we will now proceed with the study of the all-important backward serpentine.


Are You Ready To Move Onto The Next Lesson? Click Here...

COPYRIGHT (C) 2006 WWW.WORLDFIGURESKATING.NET