Camel Spin for Low Level Skaters (Kim Ryan)

During a spin clinic, figure skating spin specialist Kim Ryan works with a low level class on camel spins.  Some of the information presented in this video is similar to her presentation to high level skaters here (Part 1) and here (Part 2).  But most of the focus of this presentation is different and applies more directly to the issues seen by skaters initially learning the camel spin.

Kim begins by teaching a stationary position on 2 feet.  She likes skaters to lead into the spin with BOTH hands and the initial focus is on the back and shoulder/arm positions.  To keep the shoulders open and parallel to the ice and the back strong, Kim has the class pretend they have cupcakes on their hands.  She does not want the arms to continue all the way back to the body, but rather remain well out to the sides.  Kim also uses the “magic table” concept to prevent dipping the arms or shoulders.

Obviously these concepts were largely foreign to these skaters and they did not do the camel the way Kim wanted.  She focuses initially on the exit where she likes a “skinny V.”  But then she changes the focus to straightening the legs in the camel position, particularly the free leg.

She takes the skaters to the wall and shares a valuable trick.  She has the skaters “flex” their free foot rather than point the free foot.  For many (if not most) skaters, this automatically locks the knee.  At the very least it makes feeling the bent leg much easier for all skaters.  After skaters have mastered the straight leg, Kim recommends going back to pointing the toe, although she notes it does not look funny to have the free foot partially flexed.  She notes that pulling up the knee caps is another trick to getting the leg straight.

Kim offers another insight that is particularly valuable for young skaters.  On the exit she likes the free leg to swing all the way around to the skinny V in front, rather than dropping straight down.  By learning early to bring the free leg around, skaters are preparing automatically to learn combination spins where they conserve the momentum and energy of the spin.


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