I-Spin Tips (Sheila Thelen)

Figure skating specialist coach Sheila Thelen shares helpful tips for learning and teaching I-spins. Sheila notes that skaters need a very strong upright backspin before working on I-spins.

Next she discusses the preferred foot grab, which automatically creates the desired internal rotation of the raised leg. Skaters should  grab the free foot with the opposite hand, with the hand across or “over the top” of the front of the free skate. Sheila cautions against using a heel grab. Then she talks about placement options for the free hand and arm, with some helping pull up the leg into the I-spin position and others used for artistic effect.

The initial catch for the I-spin is typically done in an “intermediate” position which is halfway between a full upright and a sit spin. The demonstrator shows a transition from back camel to the intermediate position for the grab. There are many position variations for the final I-spin position, with some skaters getting the free leg essentially vertical and pressed against the body. But more commonly, like the demonstrator, the free leg will create a deep V with the body. From this position Sheila recommends leaning the head back a little bit to help balance the position.

One of the most important aspects of the spin is keeping the weight in the correct balance spot on the blade during the entire spin. Getting back on the blade is dangerous, but skaters rarely take massive falls on I-spins because they tend to be extra cautious since they typically feel very vulnerable, particularly during the learning process.

A common problem is too much knee bend in the skating leg in the final position. This is sometimes due to flexibility issues, but more often due to fear and caution. Sheila has the skater show a great off-ice stretch for mastering the I-spin position. She notes that although this spin looks like it would require an astonishing level of flexibility, it can be performed well by many skaters who cannot do the splits.


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