Choctaw Development – USFS Junior Choctaw Sequence Part 1 (Karen Olson)

Moves in the field and skating skills expert Karen Olson begins a presentation on choctaws and in particular, the Junior USFS Moves in the Field Choctaw Sequence. As we’ve come to expect from Karen, she begins by breaking down more basic skills to build up the basic choctaws themselves and then the moves pattern. As she notes, “This pattern is super challenging.”

To start, Karen teaches an exercise consisting of 2 forward inside edges (slide chassés from Intermediate level) followed by a choctaw and then immediately crossing over the top to a back outside edge on the other foot. This is followed immediately by a back outside choctaw onto a forward inside edge and the entire exercise can then be repeated over and over. Karen teaches this exercise as soon as skaters develop some comfort with the inside chassés (at Intermediate), just so they have a head start on the Junior pattern later on.

Karen says, “I really like to exaggerate on the slide chassés how the free leg rotates [open] inside it’s hip socket and sort of pulls the edge around.” At this point, speed is reduced and the focus is on edge quality and proper shoulder twist. Karen then shows a number of more fundamental drills to improve the exercise above. She begins with repeated forward power pulls with the free foot extended and turned out, and good shoulder twist and rhythm. Next she does repeated backward power pulls with the free foot open and tucked behind the skating foot. (That isn’t how she teaches power pulls, but it’s a valuable exercise for choctaw development.) Another basic drill that is surprisingly difficult is repeated back outside edges stepping over the top. Skaters will naturally gravitate towards stepping onto inside edges, but the exercise is then worthless for choctaw development. Notice the need to twist the body prior to switching the feet. This is critical in all choctaw work.

Karen takes a moment to talk about shoulder twist and how she teaches shoulder twist from the beginning on basic power pulls and slide chassés. Some coaches don’t and leave the shoulders neutral when teaching those skills, but Karen wants this twist as it is critical later for rockers and choctaws. She also shows how the forward outside rocker exits onto a back outside edge that is the same position needed for a back outside choctaw. She compares the rocker and choctaw, and discusses the necessary knee action as well as the “release” to do the turn/step.

Finally, when developing the back outside choctaw, Karen recommends adding a couple of forward power pulls to the exit. She also shows backward power pulls after the forward choctaw.


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