Improving Figure Skating: Learn To Skate – Part 2 (Chris Conte)

Chris Conte continues with Part 2 of his discussion of suggested improvements to basic skills instruction.  In Part 1, Chris discussed marching, swizzles, rocking horses, and rotating swizzles with some discussion of arm positions and posture.

In this video, Chris begins by noting that rotating swizzles are a perfect way to teach basic spinning.  He notes that it is more difficult than the typical forward pivot approach to learning a basic spin, but if a skater is reasonably proficient at rotating swizzles, the 2 foot spin becomes just a rotating swizzle followed by a rest or a pause.

To progress towards drills for jump rotation, Chris discusses the need to internally rotate the hips.  He calls it “basically a monkeyed out 2-toe position.”  [Here he’s referring to a classic G2C drill called “toes” or “2-toes” where a skater spins in a backspin with internal rotation of the hips and the two big toes next to each other and the heels apart.  It’s basically an extreme pigeon toe position.]  He notes that from this position it is easy to get proper hip placement for correct h-position, d-position, and 2-toes.

By accelerating the rotational side (in the skater’s rotational jump direction) forward on the circle, the pigeon toe position is attained.  Here Chris refers back to his “Cat and Mouse” presentation.  The idea is that the body winds up into itself rather than remaining neutral or opening.  (For skaters that rotate to the left, the right side comes to meet the left side but the left side is not allowed to open.)  It may be difficult to see in the video, but Chris demonstrates that when the skater does this movement of closing the toes, it causes a rotational speed increase.

Chris prefers this method of teaching jump rotation compared to the standard backspin because so many skaters drop their hip to do the backspin while skaters rotating on a forward inside edge usually get locked in perfect alignment right over their hip.

Chris refers to this as the “Tornado.”

The idea of teaching rotation and air position using these methods is certainly unorthodox, but Chris has had a lot of success and we should all take some time to see if it will work for us or our skaters.  Try these drills and try them on your skaters.  If nothing else, they are a lot of fun.  And they do create proper alignment as Chris notes.

Please leave Chris a comment.  It would be great to start a conversation about these ideas because they are largely unknown but have shown a lot of promise.


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