32. Backward Change of Edge
ROIB-LIOB and LOIB-RIOB, Factor 2

This figure's formation is identical to that of the forward ser­pentine, except that where the outside and inside edges were forward there, they are backward here. The placing is the same (Diagram 9). Again let me warn you not to attempt it unless your two backward eights are really secure; if you have the slightest doubt, go back and take one more lick at the back edges by themselves. The combination figure is admittedly dif­ficult at this stage of skating, so don't hurry on to it. A hasty start now will mean much wasted effort later on.

If you feel confident of your control, make the ROB pushoff (Illus. 32) exactly as for the ROB eight and hold this first posi­tion for a quarter-circle without movement (32-1). Now pass your free leg back in a steady, smooth "draw" that finds your free foot brushing your skate on its way backward (32-2, 3). Turn in this free foot slightly and watch inside the curve for it to reach the long axis (32-3) (the point where you have been looking since the start). At this juncture quickly move the free foot close forward (32-4) and change to the inside backward edge. Timed exactly, your two feet will be opposite each other at the split second of changing (32-4).

Note that there is no shoulder movement whatsoever through­out this first half-circle, and there will be almost none during the next half-circle. The change should be so quiet as to be hardly felt. From a strong lean to center on the OB edge (32-1, 2, 3) it is a matter of leveling off with even shoulders and a "hollowed" hip as the new circle is started (32-5). The IB circle is completed just as in the corresponding eight (32-6).

At the change center push to LIB with vigor. After watching your skate hit the middle of the change line and travel on a firm curve a few feet farther (32-7), turn your head (without disturbing the rest of your body—remember?) and look for your original push off mark. Slightly before the quarter-circle re­verse your shoulders and pass your free foot close back (32-8) in movements identical to those for the IB eight change-of-position, so that you are looking along the curve in a firmly parallel position as you near your first start.

When you see your free foot reach this starting edge, pass it quickly forward (32-9) and sink into a deep, "sitting" outside backward position identical to that used before the OB three (32-10). Make certain you keep your body weight on your skating shoulder both entering and leaving the change center (32-8, 9, 10); a drop of the free shoulder here can pitch you back­ward with disastrous results. Maintain this strong rotated shoul­ders versus square hip position for the first half of the OB circle, sitting balanced over the ball of the foot on a well-bent knee (32-11). From the half to the three-quarter circle, move the free foot slowly and closely back (32-12), making sure you tighten the buttocks to keep the necessary forward pressure on the free hip to maintain a square position as the free leg passes back. Hold this second position and close the circles just as in the plain OB eight.

All the general rules for smooth skating of the entire diagram may be transferred from the forward serpentine. The knee ac­tion is similar throughout. Looking from one radius to the next radius beyond the long axis to make sure you hold your curves out after each change, looking along the entire sideline from each end lobe to check the line-up, and sighting the long axis for the exact timing of each change, are all even more important here. It is easy to cut in one lobe, especially the OB.

Once you are set to change edge, make the transition quickly. A hesitation will give you an unsteady line between the two circles and an unfirm position on the new edge. This does not mean rush; it merely means to move with precision. As you come through each change, think of keeping the skating hip firmly in under you. From the OB to the IB edge, think first of pulling down on the base of the spine and tighten both buttocks as you pass your free leg back (32-2, 3), then con­sciously relax the free hip as you strike the IB edge (32-5). From the IB to the OB edge you must have constant pressure on the free leg and hip, first back along the curve before the change (32-8), then hard forward as the free foot passes at the long axis (32-10). Any mistiming here, especially of the body lean to the new circle, will result in a weak, wandering, uncom­fortable position which I call "no man's land." It is one of the worst sensations in school skating; if you feel it, make sure you are keeping your skating side firmly in under you while you lean decisively from the center to the end circle, and check the timing of your free leg. There is very little sensation of chang­ing from outside to inside; there is a lot from inside to outside. After this latter change, due to your lean your free hip will look higher because of its square position, but actually you must neither raise nor lower it inside your body. Remember: One of the tenets of my system (contrary to much teaching) is that the hips are always level.

One more three turn to learn and we will have completed the foundation of our skating structure. Be sure to spend equal practice time on your left foot diagram; if you have worked on your standing start from right to left, as recommended earlier, you will be all set in both directions.

Many skaters become so intrigued trying to perfect the right foot figures during a given practice session that they forget to go on to the left foot diagram—and the next time they repeat the process. These are the ones who become "right-foot skaters," and you must make sure you are not among their number.


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