Specialty Figures – Crosscuts or Fishtails (Kirsten Olson)

Specialty figures expert Kirsten Olson teaches the “crosscuts” used in the Maltese Cross specialty figure.  Compulsory or school figures are making a resurgence and even historical specialty figures are growing in popularity.  One such figure is the Maltese Cross.  The benefits of working on these kinds are figures are immense in terms of edge and blade control, and power generation.

“Crosscuts” or “fishtails” are a important component of the Maltese Cross and Kirsten begins by describing and teaching these.  Typically she teaches crosscuts from a forward inside edge.  A strong shoulder check creates the stop at the “top” and there’s only a very slight backward pull on the top edge before pushing “back to that check” forward to finish the crosscut.  Kirsten notes the movement is related to a “rocker beak” which is the start of a rocker turn but with a pull back rather than continuing through the turn.  (The image on the ice looks like a bird’s beak.)  The common error of skidding to the top of the crosscut is a result of turning the hips too quickly in preparation to “stop” at the top.  Note that the skater should not use the toe pick at any time during these movements.

The movements are quick and small, or the pattern tends to become too large and asymmetrical.  Kirsten draws common error patterns and explains why they occur.  She notes that body and head alignment are critical to doing the pattern correctly.  Free foot position is also important as the control needed requires the free foot to remain close to the skating foot.

Kirsten notes that many specialty figures use the crosscut, and it is necessary to learn the forward outside edge crosscut as well.  She demonstrates the forward outside crosscut and notes that it is more difficult than the forward inside because it requires better hip control.  Kirsten also discusses the idea of where to work on specialty figures like this.  Using markers, lines, circles, etc is very helpful for skaters to remain aware of the pattern and shape and keep the figure symmetrical.

Note that some of the movements here are similar to those of Nick Perna’s C-cuts and one foot banana drills.


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