Death Drop – Part 1 (Kim Ryan)

Spin specialist Kim Ryan teaches an advanced class of skaters her approach to the death drop. Even though this a class of advanced skaters, Kim teaches the skill “from the beginning,” initially focusing on fundamentals and exercises.  She explains that a death drop has “3 axises” or basic positions. She also contrasts the scissors-like motion of the death drop with the “around” motion of the flying camel.

Kim teaches an exercise at the wall, covering the 3 basic positions or axises she wants to see, as well as the transitions between them. The first position is a kick through with a straight axis leg (while holding onto the wall gently with the non-axis arm). As Kim teaches it, this kick goes forward and not to the side or around, and the toe points up to the ceiling (flexed foot, not pointed). Also, it’s important that the skater leaves from the toe pick and the body has forward pressure throughout the forward kick. Kim tells the class “feel like you have and anchor on your belly button.”

Next the skater turns toward the wall and steps down onto the axis foot while pressing the non-axis leg up and behind strongly. As the skater moves through this position, both hands are on the wall. The free leg at the end of this movement is up and parallel to the wall, and the heel is facing the ceiling and the toe is facing the ice (toe not turned out). The upper body comes down throughout this entire movement to a final flat position, and the axis arm finishes behind and the non-axis arm finishes in front.

To reach the final position at the wall, Kim again has the skater continue turning, this time away from the wall. She describes this motion as “dropping through the center” but she really wants the non-axis arm to drop but the axis arm to continue moving around in a big circle. She also describes this movement as a “snap” which suggests the necessary quickness when moving into the back sit position. A common error when moving from the final pose of position #2 into the back sit spin is pulling the body up. Instead Kim wants the body to stay down and forward as the snap happens.

After having many of the skaters demonstrate with corrections, Kim has the class move away from the wall and perform an “illusion exercise” which is just a continuous movement through the three positions described earlier. On the first part, she wants the skaters to kick the free foot through and actually touch it with their opposite hand which leads into the spin.  She doesn’t want the skaters to swing both arms through for this exercise. Notice that the non-axis arm is always in front on this exercise. Kim wants the thumb up on both hands as a way to open the shoulders and prevent rounding.

For the illusion exercise, some of the skaters actually reach down and touch the ice with the non-axis hand during the second part. This should be avoided as it creates massive problems when actually flying in a death drop. The free arm should be really high and the back should be arched to avoid doing a face plant.

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