All About Forward Crossovers (Kate Charbonneau)

Figure skating coach Kate Charbonneau offers insights and exercises for forward crossover development. She starts with how she teaches beginners. The classic “step over” non-gliding sideways walk  is very helpful for beginner skaters to learn balance and the basic weight transfer of a crossover. The focus is simply on balance and lifting the knee to step over.

Once a skater masters this in both direction, Kate has the skaters pump on a circle to get some speed, glide briefly on two feet before picking up the outside foot and stepping over. The crossed foot position is uncomfortable for most beginners so Kate holds their hands at this stage. This is also a good time to teach the body twist into the circle as well as the correct arm and shoulder position. Kate uses a “thumbs up” hand position to open the shoulders and keep arms up, as it is a “memorable” position.

In the next phase, Kate adds the initial stroke of the crossover, by repeating a “scooter push”  around a circle using only the outside leg (rather than pumps). Then she has them do a single scooter push, pick up the outside foot, and step over. By doing this exercise over and over skaters will automatically begin to do the “undercut” part of the crossover. Because shoulder twist into the circle is so important, Kate allows her skaters to even turn their heads into the circle at this level.

Next, Kate does a basic repeating chassé on a circle to strengthen the outside leg push and work on correct movement and “look.” This exercise is meant to “stay low” so the skater maintains a strong knee bend throughout. This exercise offers an opportunity to work on proper posture, which is critical both for aesthetics as well as power generation. Pushing the hips back and leaning the body forward is comfortable, but it’s not correct. Pushing the “knees over the toes” is helpful for proper posture. Kate teaches that the push starts in the middle of the blade and eventually presses through the toe as the skater reaches the final extension position. She does not endorse pushing with the toe pick at the end of the push, but simply pushing through the toe part of the blade and pointing the toe in the air.

Finally, Kate discusses the more correct and more advanced version of “sliding” the outside foot in front to execute the crossover, rather than stepping over. She has skaters turn the skate inward to do this sliding movement. She says, “It still has that extension and turn out (after the initial push) and then as you cross it turns in. It helps point the toe and prepare for the next push.” Kate wants the feet to come together before every initial push for crossovers.


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