19 Aug 2005 04:10:07
RSSIR FAQ maintainer
Recreational Figure Skating FAQ - Basic Skills

Archive-name: sports/skating/ice/rec-skate/basics
Disclaimer: Approval for *.answers is based on form, not content
Posting-Frequency: monthly
URL: http://home.pacbell.net/anamga
Last-modified: Jul 25 2005
Version: 1.03





2. Basic Skating

It is tempting for the eager skater to advance quickly through learning the
basics, and it's a temptation that's worth resisting. If you want to
progress, it is time well invested to learn the basics thoroughly, even if
the moves are a little uncomfortable for you. Like a pyramid, everything
else you do as a skater will be built on these first skills.

2.1 First time out

1. Don't wear multiple or thick socks, and don't tuck your pants into your
boot tops. It won't help you stay warm and you don't want any compressible
padding between the boot and your foot, since in the extreme, this makes the
fit sloppy.

2. Don't chew gum, carry knives or key rings in your pockets etc. while
skating.

3. Get skates that are at least as small as your shoe size, and if you have
to take a pair a half-size off, go smaller.

4. Lace your skates up all the way, and snugly. If your toes go numb within
a few minutes, you've laced them too tightly. If, when you stand up on dry
land, your ankles flop to the inside, you haven't laced them tightly enough
(or else the skates are too big, or possibly are just worn out). Don't let
your laces flop around loosely. If there is extra lace, do something such as
double knotting them to keep them from tripping you!

5. Wear gloves. They protect your hands in falls

6. Don't use your toe-picks to stop or start. In fact, try to keep off of
your toe-picks.

7. Start out by just "marching" on the ice,lifting your knees and putting
your feet back down flat in the same place. Do not try to step ahead heel
and toe as if you were walking on land.

8. Stand up straight (don't bend forward, it will make you fall forward),
and hold your hands/arms out slightly to your sides. (Don't feel silly ....
look around ... everyone else has their arms out). Your body will THINK that
it's safer with you hunched over ... because you are closer to the ground,
but believe me, it's a lot safer to be standing up straight.

9. Bend your knees. All the time. Maybe "bend your knees" doesn't convey all
it should. Try this. Stand on dry land in shoes. Bend your knees AND ankles,

O

/

-

so you look like this from the side. Your feet are FLAT on the ground. Your
weight is behind the ball of your foot. In fact, the flex of your foot
should put pressure backward from the ball of your foot. Your hips are
directly over your heels. Your back is upright. You are looking straight
ahead (not down). Bounce a bit up and down in this position. Your knees and
ankles will bend more, and your hips and upper body rise and fall, but your
hips are ALWAYS right above your heels, and your back and head are always
upright. And your feet remain flat on the ground, with the weight no farther
forward than the balls of your feet, and probably more nearly under your
arch. If you ski, you should be familiar with this "sitting" position.

10. Think about how you walk, stand, stand on one foot, etc. You can't stand
on one foot if you don't center your weight over that foot. Exactly the same
thing applies to skating.

11. Skate WITH traffic. Don't go into the center of the rink where there are
people practicing jumps, spins, and footwork. They are staying out of your
way. You stay out of theirs. Don't stand around next to the boards or in the
middle of traffic. Don't hook up with more than one other person.

12. Watch where you are going. If you get brave enough to go backwards, look
BEHIND you to see where you are going. Watch where other people are going,
and try to get a sense of where they WILL BE.

13. Experiment with your arms. Glide forward on 2 feet, with your arms out
to your sides. Turn your shoulders/arms to the left and notice that you turn
to the left without doing anything at all with your feet. This is an
illustration of the degree to which the upper body controls what happens
with your feet.

14. Remember that everything in skating (well, almost) is done on a curve.
If you are trying to turn around, do it on a curve, not in a straight line,
and it will be much easier.

15. Ask for help. Most people will be happy to provide it. You can get some
really good advice sometimes from kids who are flattered to be asked. While
you are watching the explanation, stand with your skates in a T shape, not
parallel. They're less likely to slip out from under you this way.

16. When you fall, roll over onto your side, get onto your knees, then bring
one leg up so that one skate is on the ice. Help yourself up with your
hands, and stand up on the skate that's on the ice. Don't try to stand up
with both blades touching the ice. They'll just slide out from under you.
Don't stay down on the ice. It's not safe for you or anyone else. Exception:
If you fall really hard, and really hurt, stay put for a minute to let the
shock wash over you before you get up. Then skate to the side and get off
the ice for a few minutes.

2.2 Falling and protective equipment

The "bad falls" are often the ones that you are least prepared for, while
the falls resulting from various failed or incomplete moves are usually
fairly predictable and are softened to some degree as a result. If you feel
like you are going to fall, go ahead and do it. Fighting it often makes the
fall harder and more awkward. We all know some of those falls are painful
and others are very scary. However after falling a few times, you will learn
techniques for falling. The basic principles are:

a) Keep your head up. If falling backwards tuck your chin into your chest so
you don't hit your head.
b) Get your arms out of the way so you won't land on them.
c) Try not to fall on your tailbone, knees or elbows. The best "landing
gear" are the muscle masses of the thigh/hips and arms/shoulders.

Beginners should wear helmets, and experienced skaters wear protective gear
(mostly knee pads) when learning a new jump. If you wear eyeglasses, use a
retainer or "croakie". Ski or sporting goods stores usually have an
assortment.

It is extremely important for you to understand that you can fall and not
hurt yourself. When you realize that you are losing your balance "get down"
and then roll off to either side. You want to avoid going over forward,
since your toe picks will catch. Bend those knees and get your body mass as
close to the ice as you can so you don't have much further to "fall".

Better still, practice falling. It is a skill like any other in skating and
it needs practice.

When you do hit, you want to translate the force of hitting the ice from a
direct impact to a sliding or rolling movement. It is conventional wisdom to
take the brunt of a backwards fall with one of the cheeks of your butt. Roll
the fall if you can to spread the impact. Slow down a forwards fall with
your outstretched arms, and absorb the fall with your chest (and don't hit
your knees or your chin). Remember that wrists are fragile -- it's better to
land on the muscle mass of the upper arm and shoulder. If you are worried
about hurting your wrists, wearing wrist guards will provide adequate
protection.

The fear/timidity factor is often what holds a skater at a given level of
performance. They may learn a move on ice/floor, but lack the confidence to
balance on one foot, required for any real skating. They can get stuck with
trying to skate backwards, which prevents getting past turns. They may
manage a mohawk, but after a few thumps find a 3-turn daunting.

The view is widely held that if you don't fall during a practice session,
you are skating too defensively and thus are not pushing yourself hard
enough to make real progress. Many skaters will tell you they don't feel
"loose" until they have fallen once to get rid of the fear.

If you do fall...

1) Don't worry if you're still afraid the first few times out. As long as
you keep getting back out there, eventually you *will* get over it.
2) Try wearing hip, knee and butt pads. Even if you don't fall it will give
you a sense of security.
3) Never, repeat never, skate with your hands in your pockets!
4) Think about why you fell and what you can do to prevent it from happening
again.
5) Take it easy the first couple times back out on the ice. No need to rush
back into doing dangerous things. Do it when you feel you're ready.

2.3 Stopping

2.3.1 Snowplow stops

The easiest stop is a snowplow, in which you turn your toes toward each
other in a V, then put pressure on one of the blades (the right will
probably feel better) so that it skids sideways along the ice (instead of
gliding ahead), and slows you down. Try not to lean forward or tip onto your
toes when doing this. It may help if you first bend your knees and think in
terms of pushing your heel out, rather than turning your toe in.

2.3.2 Hockey stops

See about down-up-down. Hockey stops involve an up-down movement and a
slight forward shift of weight to the part of the blade under the balls of
your feet. With both skates together and on the ice, rise up , which will
cause your weight to rock forward a bit. Quickly turn your skates 90 degrees
to the side which will cause them to skid, and then sink down again, leaning
slightly away from the direction of travel, which will press the edges into
the ice.

After you have completed a hockey stop, your upper body -- head, shoulders
and torso -- will STILL be facing in the original direction of motion. Your
arms may not be exactly perpendicular to that direction; in fact, the "back"
arm (the one that corresponds to the trailing skate) may be slightly forward
to assist in the twist and help maintain balance.

BUT

Your lower body will be facing at 90 degrees from the original direction of
motion. Your knees and toes will be pointing toward the side, and your hips
will also be facing toward the side. This position, in which the upper body
is twisted at (approx.) 90 degrees from the lower body is VERY COMMON in
various skating moves, so you might as well get used to it.

2.3.3 T-stops

While gliding forward on one skate, bring the free skate in toward the heel
and turn the skate perpendicular to the one on the ice all in one smooth
motion without lifting the free skate more than an inch or so from the ice.
Firstly, remember that it is the outside edge of the braking skate that
touches the ice. The braking skate should be placed so that the middle of
the blade intersects with the skating foot's blade, that is you are forming
a perfect T. You want your foot far enough back so that you do not step on
the blade of the skating foot (disastrous results will ensue if you do), but
close enough so that you can comfortably gradually shift your weight onto
that braking skate's outside edge.

Don't forget to practice with the other foot as well. Do them going quite
slowly until you get a feel for the balance, then pick up speed gradually.

2.4 Posture

The most frequent cause of balance problems is posture. It is imperative
that you keep your knees bent, torso upright and head up. Keep you eyes at
least over the top of the boards. There seems to be a natural defensive
tendency to crouch down, bend forward and look down at the ice. If
uncorrected, this leads to a recurring problem which manifests itself as
poor balance - it will show up every time your are uncertain or let your
mind wander.

The problem is that you need to keep your weight over the "center" of your
skates. Any time you lean forward or let your head drop, you tend to shift
your weight towards the toes of the skates. The way skates are designed, the
rear of the skate has a large curvature and is relatively stable, while the
front has a smaller curvature and is relatively unstable or eager to turn,
not to mention the toe picks in figure skates.

As far as improving balance -- start with posture. Get an instructor or more
experienced skater to watch you both as you skate and as you prepare for the
moves you're having trouble with. Have them tell you the instant you start
to lean, or your head/eyes drop. Ask them to help you correct the position -
saying "that's good" or perhaps a little press upwards on the chin when you
slip...

You can also do some exercises during your normal skating. Make a point of
going around the rink with your eyes fixed on the top of the railing, the
top of the hockey barrier, the intersection of the walls and roof or even
the lights! Get a feel for how your weight sits on the skates as you shift
your balance and how much more stable and "in the groove" they are when
you're weight is on the rear of the blade and what happens when you let it
shift forward again. You can try to follow another skater, and keep your
eyes on their head while you let your body match their stroke and body
position.

Some lean problems seem to stem from having your arms dangling with no clear
idea of what to do with them. A good start is to hold the "dance/figure
skating" position, with your arms out to the side and down at about a
45-degree angle, palms down and hands open. Imagine you're trying to
levitate off the ice with palm-power. Then move your hands around - from
back to front and at different angles to feel how your balance shifts as the
arms, shoulders and head move around. The natural tendency is to
"compensate" by shifting one part to offset the movement of another.

If your "balance problem" does have a posture component, the sooner you
correct it the better. Bad habits die hard, especially so when they're
linked with early feelings of insecurity.

It really is important when skating to keep your head erect and your eyes
looking ahead at all times. You cannot skate well with your body leaning
forward and your head down. The more you allow yourself to do this as a
beginner, the more it will rear it's ugly head later on each new thing you
do, or whenever you are uncertain or insecure. BELIEVE ME, I'M GUILTY, I
KNOW!!!

Admittedly, it will feel insecure at the first, but that will pass with a
bit of practice. You'll find that there is a happy stance with your knees
somewhat bent, back a bit arched (aka chest out) and your head erect, and
your weight poised just aft of the center of the blade. It will feel and
look good and your skates will seem to glide and move with a minimum of fuss
and energy.

2.5 Stroking

"Stroking isn't forward or backward, it's side to side." You don't push
forward with the toe picks, you push forward with the side of the blade. To
get a feel for stroking, stand with your feet together, then slip one of
your feet behind the other, and angled so the toe points out. Push with the
side of the "behind" foot, and transfer all your weight to the "front" foot.
Bring your feet together again, and do the same with the other foot. This
will have you traveling forward on one foot, then the other, on the inside
edge.

Your arms should be out to the sides, relaxed, and your hands should be
palms down and about waist level. Later on, to add finesse, extend the
pushing leg behind you as much as possible at the finish of each stroke. You
should extend your leg with the entire edge in contact with the ice and
don't pick your foot up. Just let the leg extend until it's no longer on the
ice. You should feel the strain in your buttocks muscles. Once the leg is
lifted, the free leg should be straight and the toe of the free skate should
be pointed.

2.6 Skating backwards

When you first start skating backwards it is very difficult to watch where
you are going. Get a friend to skate beside you and watch for you. Later on,
when you don't have that escort, ALWAYS watch where you are going!

1) Start by pushing off the boards. Just a gentle shove, then coast until
you feel secure with the general idea. A helmet isn't a bad idea, by the
way!

2) Get your posture/balance right - your body should be upright, chin up,
with your knees bent - if you normally lean forward while skating, this will
seem like leaning backwards. If you do lean forward or let your head/eyes
drop you'll find yourself scraping your toe picks.

3) Get your feet at a normal track width - not necessarily clicking heels,
but less than shoulder width. Many skaters let their legs spread out when
they feel insecure, but you can't "stroke" from that position.

4) At this point try to keep yourself moving with a "sculling" motion --
moving both feet out-in-out-in as if tracing coke-bottle curves.

5) Next, you need to get comfortable with gliding on one foot, so that you
can be pushing with the other. Just pick up one foot - half an inch is fine
- and glide on the other. This will require that you get the gliding foot
centered under your weight! (see 2 above).

6) Finally, you are ready to stroke - just push one leg out and to the side
while you glide on the other, then at the end of the stroke, pick up that
skate and set it back alongside the other. Alternate feet, and as you get
the hang of it, you'll find that you can maintain and build speed.

7) Expect it to take a while for you to get comfortable, just try a little
backwards action each time you go out to skate. You also want to get in the
habit of looking over your shoulder to see where you're going. Looking only
at where you've been leads to surprises.

2.7 Forwards and backwards cross-overs

Cross-overs are much like walking sideways up a set of stairs. They are done
on a circle and since you are moving, you will be leaning into the circle
and will be stepping "up" into the circle. For both forward and backward
crossovers, the skate on the outside of the circle crosses in front of your
other skate.

If you are doing it correctly, like climbing stairs, you are sequentially
transferring your weight to the inward (upward) skate, and then balancing on
it as you swing the other foot into position for the next step. If your
weight is not balanced on your skating leg then yes, you will lose your
balance (but this isn't how it's supposed to work).

Try thinking of it this way: All of your body's weight should be balanced
over the tracing. What you are doing in crossovers is changing which foot is
carrying your weight. You place the "new" foot under the center of gravity,
and push the other foot out of the way.

Suggestions for cross-overs are:

1) DO lean into the circle

2) shoulders are NOT square to the trace or arc, they are turned INWARD
towards the center of the circle and the arms should extend along the line
of the shoulders.

3) knees should be well bent the entire time

4) don't raise up between strokes, stay down

5) for freestyle, a good crossover is deep with legs crossing above the
knees; for dance, crossovers should be more shallow.

6) strokes on both feet are power strokes, done with a clean edge leaving
the ice. (On forward cross-overs it may be helpful to think of pushing with
the heel of the inside foot in order to alleviate the common problem of
scraping your toe pick.)

7) definitely all strokes are with edges.

2.8 Forward 3-turns

BASIC RULE: You don't turn a 3. You get everything into the right position,
and the 3 TURNS ITSELF. YOU are not the agent. Physics is.

Posture is a key element in 3-turns. Your body must be upright and centered
over your skating foot. Looking down during the turn spells trouble. Your
head is heavy, and if you look down or lean forward, you are putting weight
into the circle, which will pull you off balance and into the circle.

If the 3-turn scrapes, it usually means you are forcing the turn with your
hip.

How-to for forward 3-turns (turn from forward to backward):

1) A 3-turn is always done on the arc of a circle. At the beginning of the
turn, rotate the upper body so that your shoulders and chest are parallel to
the arc of the circle and facing toward the center of the circle, and your
arms are extended along the arc of the circle itself. Your head faces the
direction of motion. Your free foot is close to the skating foot and over
the tracing. Keep your legs in this position relative to each other
throughout the turn (if they are touching as you start the turn, they should
be touching in exactly the same way at the end).

2) Remember the pre-check. And remember that the check consists of BOTH
having the forward arm forward AND having the back arm BACK. The back arm
should be rotated to the point where you can feel the pinch between your
spine and your shoulder-blade. The check isn't strong enough if it doesn't
hurt a little.

3) Remember down-up-down. It is absolutely critical. Before the 3-turn your
weight should be back on your blade (not on the tail, but at the back of
your instep. When you lift UP on the knee, your weight rocks toward the toe.
When you finish your 3, the weight rocks back again. Step into the turn on a
deeply bent knee, lift UP at the point you want to turn, and sink down again
after the turn. The UP does 2 things: It reduces the weight on your blade,
making the turn possible, and it rocks your weight from under/behind your
instep to closer to the toe, reducing the amount of the blade that is on the
ice

4) Don't think about turning at all. Get your upper body into position
(rotated) and hold the lower body, complete with feet) unrotated. Your body
is like a spring, in which the upper end is twisted, but you haven't let the
lower end follow. Then release the spring by releasing the lower
body/feet/legs (while rising UP) to allow the lower body to rotate to match
the upper body. The lower body will do this ON ITS OWN without your turning
anything. If you think about turning, you will force the turn and it will
scrape. Try this: Step into a FO edge for a 3 turn. Skating knee bent.
Rotate your upper body to a strong position. Rise UP on the skating knee.
Don't think about turning at all. MAGIC! You turned anyway! AND, because you
weren't thinking about turning, the 3 was not over-rotated.

5) After the turn keep the free arm over the tracing.

Don't fall into the bad habit of looking at your tracing after the turn!

How do ice dancers do those lightning fast three turns? Actually, dancers'
threes are supposed to be done with as little body motion as possible. The
shoulders are rotated into position and held still through the turn. The
hips rotate 180 degrees in a flash if the shoulders are rotated adequately.
The hard part isn't holding the edges or checking the turn, but ensuring
that the body posture and foot location is perfect. If they are, then all
that moves is the hips and the skate, causing very little check to be needed
and very little recovery at all. If posture is not correct, the turn
requires more energy.

The thing to keep in mind is that the skater moves their body, and as long
as the skates are on an edge, the ice moves the skates -- therefore as you
move faster on the ice, the skates just kind of follow along. Turn your body
and your skates will follow!

2.9 Backward 3-turns

In forward three turns, you do the "up" part of your down-up-down at the
cusp of the turn on the toe (or just before the toe) of your blade. In
backward threes the weight starts off forward, then is rocked back, and then
forward again. It doesn't take much. Just consciously touch the top of your
boot with your toes.

While you don't want to be so far back on the heel that you fall backwards
(really unpleasant), you cannot accomplish back threes with your weight on
the forward part of your blade. If you are sitting back appropriately on a
nice edge, this will sort of make itself happen.

For backward 3-turns:

-- Hold the free foot in front of and over the skating foot, so that the
blade is right over the seam of your skating boot. This keeps your weight
over the skating foot instead of somewhere out to the side, and will thus
make you less likely to have to put your foot down after the turn.

-- BEND YOUR KNEE (the skating knee) and sit on it.

-- Get solid on a good back edge, from crossovers, or swizzles, or whatever,
then turn your entire upper body outside the circle (back faces the center
of the circle), and look back over your shoulder to where you will be going.
The object of this is to get all those extraneous body parts ALREADY into
the position they will be in following the turn, so that when you turn, you
only have to worry about the stuff below your waist.

-- before the turn, make sure your thighs are touching. Feel the
relationship between them. During and after the turn, don't let that
relationship change. They should remain touching through the turn, and at
the end of the turn, they should still be touching, and your free blade
should still be suspended above the seam of the toe of the skating boot.

-- deepen the edge, by remembering the down-up-down. the first "down"
deepens the edge, and aims your heel into the circle. The "up" lightens the
blade and lets the turn happen. the second "down" settles you onto your
forward edge.

-- do it to music -- a waltz may be best, but whatever is on the PA system
is better than nothing. this helps you even out the mechanics, and not wait
too long on one stage, or hurry any other stage too much.

-- don't bend at the waist. Keep your abs under control and your torso
upright.

-- CHECK following the turn. Remember that in the turn, your lower body just
turns under the upper body, and the upper body should be almost unaffected
by what happened below your waist. Keep your arms along the tracing, and
don't let them swing around following the turn. You may found that the
easiest approach when learning BO3s is to do swizzles in a circle, then pick
up the outside foot, get into position, then turn. For BI3s, you may find it
easier to do a FO3, then step/push to the other BI edge, as if you were
doing consecutive BI edges, and do the 3 from there. The sort of push you
get to the edge brings the free foot into the proper position all by itself.

2.10 Mohawks

A mohawk is a turn done on the arc of a circle with a change of foot but no
change of edge. Outside mohawks begin on an outside edge and end on the
outside edge of the opposite foot (eg. RFO to LBO). Inside mohawks begin on
an inside edge and end on the inside edge of the oposite foot (eg. RFI to
LBI). On inside mohawks, the skater is facing toward the center of the
circle. On outside mohawks, the skater is facing towards the outside of the
circle.

2.10.1 Open and closed mohawks

A mohawk is either open or closed, depending on the position of the free
skate just before the turn. For an open mohawk, the heel of the free foot is
placed on the ice at the inner side of the skating foot. For a closed
mohawk, the free foot is placed on the ice behind the heel of the skating
foot.

Although people with closed hips often have an easier time with the closed
(i.e. step-behind) mohawks than with the open ones (i.e. free foot at
instep), the terms "open" and "close" have nothing to do with the position
of the hips before or after the turn. Originally, the terms related to the
trace on the ice: On a mohawk done with the feet close together close to 90
degrees the traces left by the starting and the finishing foot cross in an
"x" shaped, i.e., the arc described by the skater is "closed". On a change
of feet with feet apart turned out close to 180 degrees the traces do not
cross and the arc is "open". This turn was known as an open mohawk. Later
on, the name mohawk became applied only to the kind where the traces cross
(the formerly open mohawk is nowadays usually referred to as a "step from
forwards to backwards" or "step from backwards to forwards") and the terms
"open" and "close" adquired their current meaning given above.

There are other variations of the basic mohawks, used mainly in the context
of ice dancing. They are often based on the position of the free leg after
the turn. These variations are often named after a dance where they are
executed (for example, the "Fiesta tango mohawk" or the "Foxtrot mohawk").

2.10.2 Where does the name "mohawk" come from?

(posted by Saki Hasnal)

In the book "Figure Skating History: The Evolution of Dance on Ice" by Lynn
Copley-Graves she says:

In the 1800's the British were fascinated by stories of American Indians.
A few American Indians had been brought to England to entertain the
British with war dances. Some skaters who saw them thought the
spread-eagle pose done in Indian ceremonies resembled the turned-out
position of a turn they did on ice. The tracing made by that turn
resembled an Indian bow, so they named the turn the "mohawk" after the
visiting tribe from New York State. This analogy fits the inside-to-inside
mohawk. Skaters practiced mohawks in repetition on a circle 8. Maxwell
Witham and H. E. Vandervell compiled the rules of English style in the
first comprehensive study of figure skating in any language in their book,
A System of Figure Skating, first published in 1869 and revised in 1880.
In the 1880 version, they illustrated and described the outside-to-outside
mohawk, as done in the Foxtrot today: "A very pretty combination of the
outside forward with the outside backwards has lately come into vogue, and
it can be skated by every one who is capable of turning out his toes
sufficiently, so as to get into the 'Spread-eagle' position. This figure
was last year introduced into the Club figures on ice and christened by
the name of Mohawk." According to Earnest Jones, writing in The Elements
of Skating in 1931, the name "mohawk" for this turn was derived from a
cut-like step used by the Mohawk indians in ther war dances. Two editions
later Max Witham described the choctaw, named for another Indian tribe: "A
variation of the Mohawk has lately been introduced, and is called a
'Choctaw' ... the skater goes from the outside foward of one foot to the
inside back of the other."

2.10.3.Tips to learn a mohawk

Learning to do graceful mohawks can take years. Here is a list of things to
make the turn easier, explained for forward mohawks:
1. You begin a mohawk with your free skate at your instep turned out 90
degrees, your hips open and your arms and shoulders extended along the
circle. Your head faces the direction of motion. Practice the entrance
until you can sustain it comfortably.
2. Down up down. Start on a deeply bent skating knee. rise up on the knee
to allow the free foot to draw close under your body, and as you push
the skating foot out of the way (by straightening the knee and pointing
your toe so the foot simply slides off the ice), sink down onto the new
skating knee.
3. POINT THE TOE of the free foot, and let the toe of the free foot touch
down (just behind the toepick) first.
4. Don't think about your heel (or the free foot). It is a common tendency
to think so hard about the placement of the heel of the free foot
against the instep of the skating foot that you place the heel/back of
the free blade on the ice first. Wrong. This will cause a bad scrape, a
near-stop, or a fall, because when you place the heel/back on the ice
first, the skate will not be on an edge. THINK ABOUT YOUR TOE (and point
it).
5. DON'T LOOK DOWN. Getting your free foot in the right place is a trial,
but try to do it by feel. Your head weighs a lot, and if you look down
at where your free foot is, it pulls you off balance to the inside of
the circle.
6. The change of feet is a process, not an instantaneous action. The free
foot touches the ice and is drawn in under the center of gravity of the
body BEFORE the skating foot leaves the ice. It does not require open
hips because your lower body is rotating through the turn. As the free
foot is pulled along (after it first touches the ice) it is pulled into
a backward position. As the free foot is pulled closer in under the
body, more and more of its blade will be in contact with the ice. BOTH
FEET ARE ON THE ICE at the same time during the turn.
7. The tracing of a mohawk is a shallow curved X (it looks like crossed
swords). This means that the free foot first touches the ice INSIDE the
tracing. It doesn't touch down ON the tracing. The skating foot comes
off the ice pointed INTO the circle. It slides off INSIDE the tracing,
and doesn't leave the ice until it has moved inside the tracing.
8. Try to NOT move anything in your upper body. You check the turn by
facing into the circle, with your arms extended along the tracing
before, during, and after the turn. Your hips swivel, and your legs
change UNDERNEATH the upper body.
9. The skating foot is slid off the ice by pointing the toe toward the
inside of the circle and straightening the knee, so that at the
conclusion of the mohawk, the new free leg is straight and extended
(though not in a dance-closed mohawk which begins open (free foot to
instep) and ends with the feet side-by-side and touching.

Although having a good hip/leg turnout will make learning mohawks easier,
especially open mohawks, it is possible to to mohawks with only about 90
degrees turnout; make sure that you keep you free shoulder pressing back
before and through the turn.

2.11 Chassés

Chassés are step combinations, commonly used in ice dancing, during which
the free foot is placed side to side with the skating foot; the new free
foot then leaves the ice, usually beside the new skating foot. Unlike normal
stroking , there is no push involved in chassés: the free foot is just
lifted off the ice. The chassés are named according to the edge on which the
free foot is set on the ice. For example, on a RFI chassé, the right foot is
set on the ice on an inside edge and the left foot leaves the ice.

There are the following variations:
1. Crossed Chassé: A chassé in which the free foot is placed on the ice
crossed behind the skating foot when skating forwards or crossed in
front when skating backwards.
2. Slide Chassé: A chassé in which the free foot slides off the ice in
front when the skater is skating forwards and behind when the skater is
skating backwards. Also known as slip chassé.
_________________________________________________________________

Back to the Table of Contents