1. Your First Time on the Ice

At last you are quite ready for your first skate. Step onto the ice with the aid of a rail or a friend's hand and stand still in a relaxed position, your feet parallel about 6 inches apart, with both ankles upright and your weight evenly distributed. Now bend both knees and both ankles forward, making sure that your pelvis stays forward over your feet and the rest of the body upright with your back straight but not arched, your shoulders easy, and head erect. This is the basic posture of skating (Illus. 3-A) and ensures that the weight of the body is directly over the skates. It is essentially the posture of walking plus an exaggerated forward bend of the ankles which puts the points of your knees so far ahead of the points of your skates that if you look down in this position, without "dropping" your head or shoulders over, you should not be able to see your feet at all. Flex your knees and ankles gently a few times to get used to the feel of so much bending. If you are a skier, this won't feel strange to you; if a non-skier, you may feel a tightness at the back of your heels. In that case there are stretching exercises which I shall prescribe for you shortly.

Illustration 2

With your feet still parallel and your knees still bent, but without moving your feet at all, turn your right ankle first in, then out. Do the same with your left. As you turn each one in, you have automatically turned over onto the edge of the blade nearer the center of the body, or onto the "inside edge."

Illustration 3

As you turn each ankle out, or away from the center of your body, you are on the "outside edge" of your skate. Be sure to memorize these terms, for everything we do in figure skating is named from them. When your ankle is perfectly upright, you are then on both edges evenly, or the "flat" of your skate.

Still with the assistance of the rail or the kind friend's hand, try moving gently forward, balancing first on one blade and then the other. Be sure to try hard to keep your ankles per­fectly upright and straight underneath you. Remember the only ankle-bending in skating is forward. This is so vitally im­portant that I shall reiterate it many times before our lessons are completed. As you balance on your right foot, lift the left a short way straight up beside it. Then put the left straight down close beside the right in a sort of "mark time" movement, shifting all your body weight to the left and gently lifting the right foot straight up as you make the change. I call these "baby steps," (Illus. 4) and they are very useful in teaching you the feel of one-skate balance. They also teach you the important fundamental that it is easier to catch an accurate balance each time you change feet if your new stroke starts directly beside and close to the old one.

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