34. Basic Theory  

Now seems a logical time to review the basic theory, those axioms of technique, which I mentioned earlier. You have enough mastery of the four eights, the two serpentines, and the four three turns to realize that certain principles run through all the figures studied so far. Those same principles will apply to all your future skating, no matter how advanced it may be­come or how elaborate some of the turns and movements:

1. The weight of the body must be as much as possible over the skating foot.
2. The skating hip must be pressed in toward the center of the body and held motionless at all times.

The hips must not be allowed to rotate in the direction of the circle rotation. To effect this, since the skating hip is im­mobile, muscular pressure must be exerted through the pelvic area in general and the free side of the body in particular to counteract and control the natural desire of the lower body to turn with the circle.

This means specifically that, in the system of skating deline­ated here, the free hip is pressed back on the OF and IB edges (hips in line with skate in "parallel" position as much as pos­sible); on the IF and OB edges the pressure on the free hip is forward (hips at a 90 degree angle to the line of the skate, with the free hip inside the circumference of the circle on the IF, outside the circumference on the OB). These positions will en­sure that the skating hip is constantly being pressed against the rotation of the circle that is being skated.


The lean of the body is always to the center of the circle from the side of the blade.


The body weight rides on the back center of the blade on forward edges, on the ball of the skating foot on backward edges.

As a corollary to rule 5—the body weight must never travel out ahead of the skate either forward or backward.


The hips remain level inside the body.


The skating knee is in general flexible and "working." Pressing the knee slowly up (hence, the weight down) increases the run of the blade.


For all three turns, the shoulders rotate against the hips be­ forehand, the body leans strongly to the circle center, and the weight shifts from back to front of the skate for a forward turn, from front to back for a backward one. The turn is a quick pivot of the whole body with the skating side as the pivoting axis, made not by a conscious effort of the foot but by the twist, or "torque," of the body before the turn.

As you continue practicing, it becomes increasingly impor­tant for you to pay strict attention to the matching size of your circles, to maintaining an absolutely straight long axis for each diagram, and to the close retracing of your lines. The general shape of the figure—that is, the evenness of its lobes and the placing according to axis—must be attended to during the first tracing. If this tracing is accurate, you have merely to worry about putting the next lines on top of the first. Do not make the common mistake of trying to "steer" your skate around the retracing diagrams. This is the cause of more bad school figures than any other. Skate your repetition figures. Skate them the same as the first figure each time. In other words, repeat your lean and your movements and your timing exactly.

A useful hint is this: It is easier to retrace with a good eye if you always make your first circles as large as you want the finished figure to be and then aim to place the retracing lines just inside the original tracing. In this way you always have a line to aim for and run less danger of wandering far afield from your first diagram.

Another useful hint: In practice never retrace an incorrect print. This does you more harm than good. Make sure your original figure is correct first, and then retrace. When skating before judges, for whatever purpose, it is better to correct a first tracing error in the second tracing and then place the third over the second than it is to retrace an incorrect line closely each time. If you correct an error and then retrace the cor­rected line, it shows that you know what is right and can do it. You will get more credit than for closely traced incorrect lines. Good judges demonstrate that they judge this way over and over again, but it is hard for a teacher to convince pupils that they do. Slavish retracing of faults is the worst tendency in modern figure skating. It is up to all judges and all officials to demonstrate by their judging at all times all over the world that correct print and good style are the most important factors in good school figures.

From here on in you can dance or free skate like mad. You have all the basic control needed for either or both. Remember the same edge principles apply, whether you are jumping or dancing the blues. Just as all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, so all school figures and no free skating will make you a dull skater. (After all, it's because you really want to dance and free skate that you've spent the time mastering the edges, isn't it?) There is an endless amount of fun in store for you. But don't go overboard. Whether or not you learn more figures and go on with tests and competitions (in which case you must keep up with your figures), these basic figures should always be part of your schedule. They are always the ultimate test of your control.

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