Stationary Off-Ice Harness for Jump Training – Part 2 (Sheila Thelen)

Figure skating specialist coach Sheila Thelen continues her series on using a stationary off-ice harness for air position and rotation training for figure skating jumps. In Part 1, Sheila discussed basic setup and safety issues. [NOTE: Sheila is the President of Champion Skating Harness which offers some of the best on-ice and off-ice harness systems available anywhere in the world today, including replacement parts for pole harnesses. She also has a tremendous amount of experience using harnesses of all kinds, as well as extensive experience with installation and maintenance of these systems.]

Sheila starts by having the skater stand in a backspin or air position while “floxing” or flexing the axis/landing foot and locking out the axis/landing leg. A high percentage of elite skaters use this position naturally in their jumps, and the off-ice harness is one the easiest ways for skaters to learn and feel this position. Sheila also notes that it’s easier to fix air position issues in the harness like when skaters close their eyes in the air or are “super flinchy.”

When using the harness, Sheila demonstrates how she mostly uses her body weight to suspend the skater in the air. When done correctly, it doesn’t take a lot of arm strength, especially since the Champion Skating Harness uses a 3 to 1 pulley system so the coach is only “lifting” one third of the weight of the skater. Sheila notes that it is not necessary or desirable when doing simple air position training to raise the skater more than a few inches off the ground. (Note however, that it may be necessary to suspend the skater from a higher height if working on other skills such as the Chris Conte double axel drills.)

The skater used in this part of the demonstration is very experienced in the off-ice harness, and you can tell by the strong axis position and the ability to keep rotating essentially forever. Sheila changes it up by asking the skater to do a “fast axel” while rotating, as well as a “starfish” which is typically used to reset or “rebalance” a skater who is still rotating but has lost axis. Late in the video, Sheila explains the “fast axel” in detail.


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