Spins are fun if you don't get dizzy and no fun at all if you do. Dizziness, however, can be overcome in almost all cases; in reality few people get really dizzy once they learn a handful of spinners' tricks. Most novices look down or look up when they start to spin; either one guarantees giddiness. Look straight out at eye level as you go round and let your eyes focus as normally as they can. Most novices also unwittingly rock their bodies forward or backward, or sideways, or all three when they first spin, and this is like deep-sea fishing in a ground swell—you feel a funny motion and you don't like it. Once you learn how to center a spin, you must concentrate on keeping your shoulders level and both your body and your head perfectly still as you revolve. A most effective finishing trick is to stop your spin with a jerk, jabbing one toe point in the ice and giving your head a definite toss to clear away the cobwebs.
The plainest, most unvarnished spin and the best one to teach you how to revolve is the "double flat-foot." This is a two-foot spin which traces big ringlets on the ice. On the assumption that you are right-handed and that you feel most comfortable revolving to the left, I shall describe the spin in this direction. But as soon as you know how to center, you must do some experimenting on your own to find out whether this is your natural direction of rotation. Almost everyone turns more easily one way than the other, and when you come to turning in the air in any jump that requires more than a half-revolution, the question becomes vitally important. Learn to spin and jump in the same direction from the beginning and your whole free skating life will be easier. I have had pupils come to me who had learned spins in one direction and simple jumps in the other, who could never learn to master double-revolution jumps or the complicated jump spins. Of course there are a lucky few who are ambilateral and find it equally easy to jump and spin in both directions. If you are among this number, cultivate your good fortune right from the start.
To enter the double flat-foot, turn a ROF three, put down a short LOB, and crossover wide to a deep RIB, allowing your free arm to go way forward and your free foot back across the print. Now bring your turned out left heel way inside the circle and step onto a very deep LOF edge with a well-bent knee and a strong body lean to the center. Keep your balance on the center of your blade and hard over a pressed-in skating hip. Start to draw your left arm back as you step in, and lean until you feel you must make a three. At this point (your edge should at least have come around to face the point where you stroked into it), quickly straighten your body up and allow your free leg to swing out wide to the side. As your left skate catches the IB edge after a small turn, bring your right skate down beside the left, about 6 inches away, toed in, and also on a very slight inside edge. This whole straightening move is a matter of split seconds. Properly placed, your feet feel as if they were chasing each other around a little tub, the right foot on the IF chasing the left foot on the IB edge! Your body weight should be absolutely evenly divided between your two feet, and once you begin to spin, there must not be the slightest movement of your feet, nor any movement of the trunk of the body above them.
By winding up to the right on your preparation and then snapping up straight from a deep lean after starting a windup action to the left, plus the wide swinging of the free leg before it draws quickly down into place, you create so much spinning momentum that your body will turn a few times without further movement. As you feel your original momentum diminishing, your arms start their job of keeping you going.
On the "centering up," the arms stretch out, shoulder high, to each side. (It is well to clench your fists right then to prevent a subsequent rush of blood to the fingers, a common malady that feels like "pins and needles.") After a few turns curve the elbows and draw your fists together in front of you in a circular movement. This should be a gradual "fighting" move, with one set of muscles pulling and another set of muscles resisting the pull. Once met, your hands should draw in to your chest, your elbows bent out, and from there they slowly push straight and close down your body. As your arms push down, your shoulders should push down, too, and your head should push back up against them. Pull your abdominal muscles in and your diaphragm up. This is the only body movement that won't throw you off balance; when done right, it will give you a long, fast spin. This method of maintaining speed is common to all fast standing spins.
If you find the entry described above too difficult at first, you may start from a single push onto a deep RIF edge and snap up straight from there, allowing your left foot to toe in to place. Actually any description of how to snap into a spin is useless unless you practice sufficiently yourself to get the "feel" of it.
The "single flat-foot" spin is the basic one-foot spin and is beautiful when well done. There is something very satisfying about seeing a skater revolve smoothly on one foot in the same place, with a frictionless ease that works up greater and greater speed. I feel it important to learn flat spins before toe spins, as spinning on the flat of the blade is basic to so many other types of spin (cross-foot, sit spin, arabesque, etc.); a skater who learns to spin on the toe first often finds it difficult to center on the flat. On all spins do not scratch on the preparation edges.
The preparation is the same as the first method for the double flat-foot, except that, when you come to the point where you want to turn, you straighten up sharply and center your balance on the ball of your foot on the absolute flat of your skate. This time you do not allow your skate to turn at all, but center up while your body is still going forward. There should be no edge of any sort while you spin, neither slight outer nor slight inner. As you center from a strong OF edge, swing your well-turned out free leg forward wide and high, keeping it straight out from your hip to the right side as you begin the spin. Bend your free knee, with your foot straight down at right-angles from the knee. As you draw your arms in for speed, bend the free knee farther so that the free foot is placed directly behind your spinning knee. This is a resistance move and will give you tremendous speed. If your balance holds steady, you will be able to add still more speed and length by dropping this free foot slowly down the back of your spinning leg until both feet are closed in together. Keep pressure back on the spinning shoulder blade, but do not turn the upper body at all.
The last absolute essential for a good spin—and in many ways this is the most important of all—is a straight spinning knee (or knees if it's a two-foot spin). Learning to spin with a bent knee is the most common fault of beginners, and one of the most disastrous, for it is difficult to break. All spins should revolve on one spot, but if you learn to spin with a bent skating knee you will always "travel" and you will find it exceedingly difficult to keep from rocking back and forth. Here my continual admonition to bend the skating knee must be put into complete reverse: Straighten it as much as possible, even to springing it back in "locked" position. Have your friends tell you whether your knee is really straight, for there is nothing so hard to determine yourself (I get a spinning knee checkup regularly, for my knee, even today, is often slightly bent although I feel perfectly sure it is like a ramrod!)
Toe spins, both fast and slow, are highly effective. The preparation and principles for the fast "scratch spin" are the same as for the single flatfoot; instead of centering on the flat, you raise onto the first
toe point of your skate (Illus. 38). You will scratch out little circles on the ice—hence the name. This time you do not bring your free foot behind
your spinning knee to increase speed, but in front of it,
gradually lowering your leg until your feet are crossed at the ankle. To do a slow scratch spin, keep your arms away from the body with the free arm forward and the skating arm back in spiral position, extend your turned out free leg as high as possible behind, keep your shoulders level, arch your back, and hold your head erect. If this position is maintained with an unwavering free leg and arms until you are turning very slowly, it can be a most effective spin for both men and women.
The "sit spin," or "Jackson Haynes"—as it should properly be called in honor of the father of modern skating who invented it—is a more athletic form of spinning, which increases in difficulty in direct ratio to the age of the skater who is trying to learn it (although I have found many children too stiff to do it at all and many adults who could do it right away). The correct position of the spin is a squat, with the free leg extended straight out in front and the rest of the body doubled over a completely bent skating leg. (The model in Illus. 39 is spinning on her right foot, so all directions must be transposed.) The revolutions are made on the flat of the skate, which means that, to maintain balance, the spinning ankle must be bent way forward, the knee bent to the maximum, and the hip jackknifed. The upper part of the spinning leg should actually rest against the calf of the same leg. To hold this position, the weight of the body has to be balanced forward to the absolute limit.
The preparation is essentially the same as for the single flat-foot. On the LOF entry edge you must lean way forward (39-1), straightening your knee very slightly as you start to center (39-2), and then bending at once quickly into the deep-knee squat position, as you simultaneously whip your free leg from back to front wide around to the side (39-3). This free leg must end its swing directly in front of your spinning foot (39-4); if it stops at all to the side, you will topple over.
Point your free toe down, turning it well out, too, so that the outside of your free foot is toward the ice; hold your free skate with both hands or with your skating hand while the free hand either rests on the free knee or is held out for balance; make sure that your backbone is straight, not hooped over; keep your head in line with your back (39-4); do all that and you will have a good Jackson Haynes position. If you hit dead center on the flat of your blade at the ball of your foot, you can spin fast and almost interminably like this.
To be a versatile spinner, you must also learn to spin in the same rotation on the other foot. These are called "back spins," although the preparation is from a deep IF edge and there is no turn to the back edge at all. The basic back flat spin is done in the exact position of the IF edge. Wind up first by doing a strong LIF, rotating the shoulders hard as you bring the free foot forward, and then step into a deep RIF with your skating hip way in under you. Keep your free arm in front and your whole body square as your edge curves sharply in. At the point of centering, straighten up quickly. Your free knee remains bent almost beside your straight spinning knee, and your free hip muscles contract hard to keep the pressure on this side forward against the rotation. Turn out your free leg from the knee down. Now consciously pull back on your free thigh muscles against the muscles that are holding the hip forward. This internal resistance pressure of the free leg added to your original momentum will produce good speed even without pulling in the arms.
Back toe spins (with the free leg closing in in front) and back sit spins should be learned by all those expecting to go on to advanced free skating. A "camel spin" (which should be called an arabesque spin, since there should be no
hump in the back!) may be tried by all those with a good arched arabesque position. Preparation is the same as for the standing flat foot, except that the edges are even deeper. Centering is on the toe point with a bent knee for one turn,
before dropping the skate to the flat and stiffening the spinning knee. The body must be well forward on the entry edge and stay there as you center the spin.
Draw the skating arm and shoulder back as you hit the center and contract all the muscles of your back, at the same time pressing your free leg back as hard as possible. This spin takes a good deal of practice to perfect and should not be tried at all if your spiral position is poor, as all errors of form become compounded in the spin.
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