|27. Forward Change of Edge
|ROIF-LIOF and LOIF-RIOF, Factor1
This figure, far less difficult for the beginner than the preceding one, is merely a combination of the first two edges you learned, namely the outside forward and the inside forward. It is made in the form of a three-lobe eight (see Diagram 5). "Change of edge" means that at the halfway mark of the first circle (d3) you come up on the flat of your skate from your right outside forward edge and then shift to the right inside forward edge (d4), starting a new circle which you then hold steadily back to the point where you made the change of edge. Here you push off on the left inside forward (d6) for a half-circle, completing the circle of the middle lobe as you reach your original starting point where, instead of stopping, you come again onto the flat (d9) and change edge to the left outside forward (dl0). This you hold around a full circle to finish out the end lobe (dll, 12), coming back once more to your original start. Both changes of edge cut the long axis at right angles.
Thus you see that the middle lobe is comprised of half an outside circle on the right foot for one side and half an inside circle on the left foot for the other. This means that in order to do both changes of edge (that is, from outside to inside and from inside to outside, on both feet) you will have to make another whole diagram, starting with the left outside forward changing to left inside, and completing the figure with the right inside changing to right outside. Many of the combination figures from now on will have to be started first to the right and then to the left in two separate diagrams in order to ensure that all the changes and all turns are made on both feet. The instructions I give will be only for the first diagram, starting right, and will merely have to be transposed and repeated for the same figure started to the left.
Stand as you would for an outside forward eight pushoff with your hips on the line of the short axis, but this time ease your shoulders around until they are almost square to your right skate. Look up along the long axis and decide just where you are going to make your change of edge, and then carefully plan your three circles accordingly—before you start. On a three-lobe figure it is particularly important that you judge your space and examine the quality of all the ice you are going to cover ahead of time.
After the pushoff hold a deep knee bend and a motionless position until the quarter-circle (Illus. 28-1); at this point start a slow upward pressure of the skating knee and an equally slow forward movement of the free leg and the skating shoulder (28-2, 3). Make sure you keep a strong inward lean to the center of this half-circle all during the passing movements (28-3), which should be timed so exactly that your free leg reaches its maximum forward swing right at the point of the long axis. When the free foot thus is at the apex of the half-circle, move it quickly back so that, as your skating foot reaches the long axis, the free foot is brushing past it in a backward movement. At this exact split second change your edge to the inside forward (28-4) by first bringing your body up straight into "neutral" and then over to the new circle with another strong knee bend and a "hollowed" skating hip. As your skate catches the inside edge, change your shoulders to the standard inside forward eight position and make sure your hips are also square. Take care that, with the added momentum of the change, your free foot does not swing back across the print behind, but takes its correct place just inside the circle. Complete this IF circle back to the change center just as in the plain eight (28-5).
As your skate closes in to the change of edge line, push in standard LIF position (28-6), making sure that your left skate takes the ice exactly on the change. Look up at once to your original start and, again from the quarter-circle, time a passing movement of the free leg and a straightening of the skating knee to this exact point (28-7, 8). Allow your free arm and shoulder to press gradually more forward as you draw toward your change, and this time, as you make the change (28-9) onto the LOF edge with a decided lean of the body to the left, leave your shoulders just as they are with the left shoulder of course lower (28-10). Meanwhile your free foot has passed back close and quickly as it reaches the long axis (28-9) and your free hip has pressed back with it, so that as your skate grips the OF edge, the hips are parallel, the shoulders square (28-10, 11). Complete the OF circle back to place without further movement
of the arms but with the usual passing movement of the free leg (28-12), observing all the previous rules for skating this edge.
On analyzing the description above, you will realize that the actual lower body position changes as your skate changes edge and you enter a new circle with a new rotation. This change of position can only be effected through the free side of the body, as one of the cardinal rules of skating says that the skating hip must remain pressed in and completely motionless at all times. To change pressure on the free hip from forward in the square position of the IF edges to backward in the parallel position of the OF edges requires definite limberness. That is why I insist upon practice of the spread eagle and other stretching exercises.
The change of edge itself occurs in the space of approximately half the length of your skate, as your skate shows two edges, or a flat, on the ice for a few inches while it is changing lean from one edge to the other. This flat place should occur right at the top of a true half-circle without any bulging or flattening of the edge before it. An improper S change is produced by the first error, a diagonal change by the second. Rotating the hips along the half-circle, leaning in too much, or jutting out the skating hip are the common reasons for an S change; changing body lean to the new circle before the long axis is reached results in a diagonal line. Smooth movement of the free leg and exact timing of the change itself are the absolute essentials of a fine serpentine figure. As for the forward eights, the entire space of transition between circles should be only 2 feet on an expert figure. A little more leeway is allowed beginners.
The three circles should be perfectly evenly laid along the same long axis. In order to ensure equal size and uniformity of side line of the three circles, you must always look ahead to the key points—that is, the change point from each start, and the quarter-circle, the half-circle, and the three-quarters circle in that order around the end lobes. As you pass the halfway mark on each end circle, be sure that you raise your eyes to check that the sides of your three circles are all in a straight line. From the three-quarters mark I always look over to the quarter mark of the next center lobe before looking back to the change point to watch the circle closing.
There! I have given you in a few pages the accumulated lore of my skating life, on these figures. I can only say that too much emphasis cannot be put on the acquisition of a refined change of edge technique.
Changes forward or backward are an integral part of a large number of figures in the skating curriculum and they are the essence of every one of the Gold Medal figures. Properly done, they impart a lovely rhythm to school figure skating; due to the rise and bend of the skating knee they help maintain an even flow throughout the circles.
Because it is admittedly easier to control the hips above a stiff skating knee, changes have all too often been taught that way, with very restricted movement of the free leg and without the free flowing use of the skating knee which in my opinion, because it is the essence of beauty in free skating, should be learned and faithfully practiced in figures. The official rules require it, but rules are all too often bypassed, even by the officials who create them. If this particular rule were insisted upon in test and competition skating, there would be more great school skating and less boredom with figures among our young skaters all over the world. Stiff skating is dull, and a stiff slow figure is no fun for either the skater or the onlooker. A beautiful flowing school figure can be just as pleasing to watch as a fine free skating program, as the great school skaters of the world, from Gillis Grafstrom to the present, have proved. Rhythmic figures in turn produce more truly rhythmic free skating.
Of course jerky or off-time movements will raise even more havoc with serpentine figures than stiff restricted ones. There must be no compromise with the split second timing and real muscle control that are needed to skate a successful change by the methods described above. Swinging too soon or too late, using the knee spasmodically, bending from the waist or from the hips so that the upper body anticipates either the pushoff or the change, all are mistakes guaranteed to ruin your diagram. So stand erect, pass your free foot always close with an exact turnout before and after, move your arms easily, and have fun with rhythmic changes. Skating them to waltz music or to your own counting will give automatically good timing. Try counting three slow beats per quarter-circle of skating and see how well it works. You will find all your major movements start on a strong beat—1-6 for the starts to the change, 1-6 from the change to the top of the end circles, 6 more back to center. If your speed diminishes, of course it will take a few more beats for the end lobes, but try to achieve the even speed and lovely rhythm of the steady count.
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