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Recreational Figure Skating FAQ - Basic Skills

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                        Recreational Figure Skating FAQ

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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

   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,


   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

   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

   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
   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.


   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

   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

   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

   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

   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

   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

   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

   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

   -- 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

    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

   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
    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

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Last Update March 27 2014 @ 02:12 PM