15. Outside Forward Three

Now for a one-foot turn, the outside forward three (Illus. 18 and Illus. 29-1, 2, 3, 4), during which you turn from an outside forward edge to an inside backward edge, rotating in the direc­tion of travel. The pattern your skate leaves on the ice will look remarkably like the numeral 3. This is at once the most famous and infamous turn in skating—famous because it is the essence of the ice waltz, infamous because, when badly learned or learned too soon, it can produce more skids, scrapes, and un­controlled "whip" than any other figure. Wags have quipped that "only God can make a three," but with detailed understanding of the technique involved and painstaking practice, anyone can cut a fine figure of this turn.

Standing in T-position, right foot leading, place your left arm and shoulder forward, your right arm back. Push off onto a strong leaning outside forward edge, back straight, weight on the back center of the blade. With your skating hip held in tight underneath you so that you feel your body weight pressing down through it to your skating ankle and foot, press your free hip and leg back so that they are in line with the circle. If you maintain this hip pressure and stand erect, you will find that you can rotate your shoulders against your hips until the shoul­der line is approximately square to the skating foot (29-1). With this amount of rotation plus a strong sideways lean, very little effort is needed to make the turn.

Merely lower your free leg and foot until they are in T-position behind your skate (18-1, 2) and, as you feel your feet touch each other (18-3), shift your weight to the ball of your skating foot and increase the backward pressure on your skating shoulder (29-2). These movements will allow your body to pivot with your skating side as the axis, while the back of your skate lifts from the ice and swings through a 180 degree arc (18-3). As soon as you feel your skate grip the inside backward edge at the apex of the turn, reverse your shoulder pressure and ride away in the position of the IB spiral, free hip and shoulder pressed strongly back, weight on the ball of the foot, and body leaning inward in one straight line. Keep your head facing in the direction of travel (29-3, 4).

Controlled use of the skating knee is most important. Push off with a strong forward bend but gradually straighten as you approach the turn. As the feet come together and you start the pivoting action, both knees will be quite straight (18-3). When you feel the IB edge, again bend the skating knee and ankle (without bending at the hips) in a flexible movement that gives a smooth and easy run to the blade. Volumes could be written about this one turn and its uses and abuses. Suffice it to say at this juncture that you must avoid breaking at the hips, either backward or sideways, you must guard against leaning your upper body ahead of your skate, you must not allow your free leg to swing out to the side in a wide arc, and most important of all, you must keep your free hip from rotating forward either before or after the turn. On further analysis, you will see that your lower body does not change position at all from start to finish. You enter the turn with your skating side leading, you pivot completely around and come out backward with your free side leading. Simple, isn't it?

The turn itself must be done, as my first instructor used to say, "in the twinkling of an eye." The cusp of the turn should take no more than 12 to 18 inches of space (depending on the depth of your lean and the size of your foot) and no more than a fraction of a second (18-2, 3, 4). Don't forget to shift weight on your skate. Half the skate must "lift" in any ice turn; a weighted whole blade will always produce a scrape. Keep your skating shoulder a trifle lower throughout, with your body weight con­stantly on it (29-1, 4).


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