Flying Camel – Part 1 (Kim Ryan)

Spin specialist Kim Ryan teaches flying camel spin in a class at a seminar. She begins by explaining that a skater really needs to have a good camel spin and a good back camel spin before they’ll create a good flying camel.  She demonstrates and explains what happens throughout the entry and fly part of the spin. The skating side arm starts in front and free side arm is back, and both legs need to arc over an imaginary “fence” one after the other. Kim explains, “The arms are not going to be the thing that whips you. You’re going to try to do this with your legs.” The trajectory of the leg is like a rainbow so Kim describes it either as going over a fence or over a rainbow. One helpful tip is to point the free toe up (by flexing the foot) toward the ceiling while going up over the fence.

In the air after sending the first leg up over the fence, the hips and bellybutton should be square before the second leg flies over too. Kim explains what she means by “cupcakes on the hands” and why it’s so important. The open hands help keep the shoulders open and the head up, resulting in a stronger spin position including an arched back. Kim recommends landing in a neutral back camel position where the arms are both out and the body is relatively flat. It is easier to learn to transition from this position to difficult variations such as layover or twisted camels, and it also helps ensure a skater does not have a weakness on one side.

In terms of the spin exit, Kim wants what she describes as “basically a (jump) landing position” with the free side arm slightly forward and the head turned slightly to the axis or skating side. A common error in flying camels is not “fanning” the second leg movement after lifting off. Just after jumping the non-axis leg needs to go both up and around, not just up and back. Another valuable tip for camel spin is thinking of “lifting the (axis) butt cheek” during the initial fly. This takes the axis hip up and over the fence as well as the leg.

A common error with flying camel is what is often termed a “flying salchow” and it occurs when the skater does a three turn on the rocker and glides backward before lifting into the air, much like a salchow jump. When done correctly, a flying camel rides the forward outside edge to the toe pick, pivots on the toe pick, and then flies. Kim says the error happens because skaters typically default to something they know already, in this case a salchow take-off. When properly executed, a flying camel lands on the “inside of the toe” and the non-axis leg lifts to the side before fanning around behind.

Kim takes the class to the wall to work body position in the back camel. She has them put both hands on the wall with straight arms (keeping the shoulder blades down and together) while arching the back. She has the skaters start on bent knees to set the upper body position. Kim jokes that some of her skaters refer to this as the “ouch position.” Once this position is  set, she has the skaters straighten their knees. Done correctly, the head remains up and it creates a “nice stretch.” Finally she has the skaters remain in this position but take their hands off the wall open the arms, turning the head slightly toward the axis shoulder.


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