Blade Usage and Drills for Turns (Karen Olson)

Moves in the field and skating skills expert Karen Olson talks at length about blade usage in turns, and she demonstrates drills to help skaters master the necessary rocking on the blade. Few skaters have complete mastery of their blades, and even improving this skill a small amount can have huge benefits for turns and edges. Karen starts this discussion by talking about the need to bend the ankles for turns, and she offers a way of thinking about it that helps many skaters get comfortable with bending correctly. As she notes, rocking from the toes to the heels and back is quite difficult on straight legs, but relatively easy on bent ankles. She shows how the skate needs to draw back slightly when bending the ankle so the weight is more over the toe (weight forward on the blade).

Karen recommends swizzles for everyone where skaters focus on bending first before the push. The bend should initiate at the ankles, and Karen suggests doing this exercise every time you skate. A great way to feel the correct bend and body alignment is to simply do small hops in place on two feet. Over time doing this exercise, skaters automatically develop a relaxed movement with correct blade usage.

To get even more comfortable with rocking on the blade, Karen suggests doing “3-turns” on two feet where the emphasis is on rocking on the blade. She demonstrates the forward weight placement for forward to backward turns and the rear weight placement for backward to forward turns. She notes that anything to exaggerate controlled rocking on the blade is helpful, including the simple rocking horse drill where skaters go to their toes after the forward movement and their heels after the backward movement.

Karen also shares some straight line 2-foot exercises she uses while turning the feet and rocking on the blades, both together and in opposition. These are relatively easy drills to master and can be very fun for skaters, and hugely beneficial.


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