Forward Perimeter Stroking: Pre-Preliminary Moves Pattern (Karen Olson)

Skating skills and moves in the field specialist Karen Olson discusses and demonstrates important insights related to the Forward Perimeter Stroking pattern of the US Figure Skating Pre-Preliminary Moves in the Field test. This is the very first pattern of the very first moves test, and Karen explains that it represents an opportunity to teach skaters important skills and movements that apply to much more advanced aspects of figure skating, including jumping. She says, “I think that sometimes we forget that this is the first chance where you get to teach a kid how to jump, like how to really use their legs, their feet, and their glutes to get a really good push.”

Karen encourages full extension through the toes and activation of the glutes. To get skaters to feel this, she has them walk on their toes, first at the boards and then around the ice as a way to learn to balance and fire their muscles properly. She says, “You’d be surprised how many kids can’t fully extend.” Karen also wants skaters to use the full blade and finish each stroke with a pointed toe, with the calf and thigh fully engaged. She indicates that skaters who do not extend through the legs typically don’t fire their glute muscles, which causes problems with proper skating development.

Free leg movement from the extended position to the glide is one area where coaches seem to disagree, with some teaching a pause as the feet come together. Karen prefers not to have a pause as she believes it reduces flow and power and “natural momentum” for the strokes. She demonstrates her preferred movement, with the free foot passing close to the skating foot but not stopping or pausing.

In terms of the pattern itself, Karen wants most skaters to take 6 strokes down the sides and 3 crossovers around the end. More powerful skaters can take 4 strokes and 3 crossovers, and Karen uses this pattern again and again as skaters progress, not just as part of this particular test. She explains the need to set up the end pattern from the forward strokes so it can be skated with quality edges and so the crossovers do not end up being shallow or “flat.”


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