Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Motown Tango Part 4: Spins
Today was the BIG draw for me. I have to admit- the main reason I went to this seminar was to get a chance to meet Alissa Czisny. I've only ever had two favorite skaters- and she is one of them, Kristi Yamiguchi being the other. Her name is what attracted me to the seminar, the time I spent skating with other adults is probably what will pull me back.
I was quite nervous how Sunday would go, as I was INCREDIBLY sore from jumping so much Saturday. My left quad- a muscle I was pretty sure I didn't have was killing me. My left hip flexor was the worst. My feet weren't nearly as sore as I expected them to be- still, I was worried I wouldn't be able to do my best or get the most out of this day.
We met at the rink and started with off ice with Debbie Pitsos. Debbie did a fantastic off-ice class that was similar to Jonathan's, but not quite the same. Both warm ups had me exhausted by the time I got on the ice, however, my knees didn't bother me at all this weekend, which leads me to believe I need the warm up! While we were warming up upstairs we could see one of the Czisny's taking advantage of the empty ice by doing some figures. We assumed it was Amber, as Alissa was driving in from a show and we expected her to be late- later we found out it was indeed Alissa, who also mentioned her figures are not as good as Ambers. (Alissa would not trace out the circle 8s for us to practice on, instead having Amber do them all.)
So finally the time came to get our skates on. I have to admit I rushed just so I could get out to the ice quicker. Not everyone had that idea, so we did have a bit of wait time, but we filled that time talking to Alissa and Amber, and skating a little bit. (I tried to warm up on ice as well as stop and say hello, but really really tried not to be fan-girly). Alissa and Amber were both very nice, with Alissa being much more reserved, though I think she warmed up to the group quite a bit by the end.
We started with spins. Amber talked about the things you need in a spin entrance- stepping into the circle, bending the knee, PUSH, and keeping the weight to your heel. Then we went out and tried a few. I did 2 really bad ones, 2 pretty normal ones, and 1 PERFECT spin. I was very pleased with myself. Then we come back to the group. Amber asks if anyone did a nice one they want to show, and I said I had a good one, but also some bad ones. Thinking we'd look at the tracings we'd already done. Nope- she wants to demo the spin. Now, I'm nervous! I have to do the first demo of the day in front of my skating idol. I wind up for a spin, and start a spin that travels, but not a ton. Amber points out that my entrance was exactly what they asked for (thank you!), showing how I stepped close together, directly into the circle... and that if I held a bit longer before 3-turning I would have centered better. She also tells me Alissa was excited to see an opposite spin. Of course, Alissa doesn't say this.
So we break out again, and do some more. While working on these spins, Amber and Alissa make their way around, and this was the only time I think I worked with Alissa during the spin section of the seminar. She watches a few spins (Nervous!) and then works with me on ATTACK in the entry, and tells me I have good knee bend in the wind up, but I need to stay down and not come up before the push. I incorporate her comments, and after a few tries center a really nice spin with her watching. That made me feel really good- one, she saw it, and two, she knows her comments helped.
Then we group back together and talk about camels, and seperate again. My camels are not going well. My legs are so tired at this point I'm shaking (and I take a few seconds to go eat some almonds to see if food will help). I never had to deal with dizzy, but physically exhausted was an issue. Amber and Alissa again help around the rink, and when both were at the person on either side of me, Amber calls us all back together- oh well. Then we talked about the difference between a flat camel and a bow and arrow camel. I think I've been doing a bow and arrow, as my shoulders are usually perpendicular (well, they should be) to the ice- though my arms tend to be all over the place. Alissa demonstrates a gorgeous camel, which Amber tells us is not a true flat camel but is not a bow and arrow. A bow and arrow offers me control, a flat camel more speed, Amber says.
So I give both variations a try and find that neither offers me speed :) But I can hold my edge better with the flat camel. Amber comes over and works with me a bit, and I tell her I feel a bit like an airplane. She suggests I really concentrate on getting my upper body parallel to the ice, because my leg is fine. We try a few, and she says they are looking better. There were some really nice camels on the ice, and one of the men had a very fast back camel (he demonstrated for bow and arrow).
We group back together and are split into groups for sit spin and layback variations. Alissa takes the high group and Amber the low group. I was a little sad to not get to work with Alissa, but Amber is really what I needed. Watching the two coach these groups, it seemed Alissa worked the way her coaches probably do- she stayed at the wall and skaters would come back to her and then go back out. Amber skated among us, and was hands on if she wanted a position change. Amber is the style of coach I needed to be with for this part. We started with a Y-spin variation. (Um- this was supposed to be the easy group...) Amber showed us how from a sit spin we should grab our calf, then our ankle with the other hand, then the boot with the first hand and pull up into an upright spin. Because of my flexibility issues, I realize I'll have to do this from a back-sit, something I can't do! So I work on back sit, and Amber tells me to really think about being straight and back on my blade, unlike the forward sit where you lean front more. I do this and slowly progress to attempting to pull my leg up. This gets me to about a dog/fire hydrant position. HAHA.
Next we do a twisted sit spin position (I can't remember what she called it, but she said there were 1,000 different names for it.) This is the sit spin where you take your opposite arm and set it on the thigh of your free leg, and then lift the same arm as your free leg into an open position and look at it. My issues here: 1)I think I lost the sitting position 2) this makes you spin SO much faster it was terrifying, and 3) I have no nerve connections when I skate. I knew my head wasn't looking at my arm, but I couldn't make my brain fire the things that tell the head to turn, or my hand would be flipped the wrong way, but I couldn't get my brain to communicate with it to turn around. Yes- I am that disconnected. But it was fun to try.
Then we moved into laybacks (or head tilt ups, really). Amber talked to us about holding our hands on our hips, and how anyone can do this turn even without much back flexibility. One man said men don't do this turn, and the other man in the group argued that now many many do. The first man still did not attempt it. I was really pleased with my attempts, mostly because Andy had put so much work into my attitude spin ahead of time. Even after looking up at the ceiling, I was able to maintain balance (though not leg position) and remain spinning. Amber told me it was the best one she'd seen thus far (recall, however, I'm in the low group)- which really made me smile. Then she talked about rungs of the ladder- get an upright spin first, then move the leg, then the hips, than the head/back.
After this, we took a zamboni break.
I asked Alissa to sign my skate and she did, commenting that purple was her favorite color, the sharpie color I handed to her. Alissa also told us that she had her new short program choreographed, and that she was keeping her long program, but changing the dress (although it was very pretty, probably wise since the skirt kept getting caught on the back sequins.)