Tom Dickson, on whether skaters’ skills have changed after the end of compulsory figures:
I’ve worked with both [skaters with and without figures experience]. People like Matt Savoie and Ryan Jahnke did figures all the way up to about novice, and there is a difference. If you’ve learned [figures] loops you know how to pull a tight edge, whereas now, I train people daily who need to know how to do that
. I make them do paragraph loop pulls, back change loop pulls, because those are skills [these people] haven’t learned, and it’s incredibly useful as a movement tool to be able to do tight loops. Jeremy Abbott, my first lesson with him was an outside eight. He’s done some figures, I think he passed his second test, but he didn’t remember how difficult an outside eight was [laughs]. He had a great run of his blade, but he had some issues like — I call it balancing your head on your spine, and we went back to the outside eight as a way of learning that. And he was like, wow, I didn’t realize how difficult this is. And he still does stuff like that. In the past I’d given him some very simple exercises to do very slowly, like doing a forward inside choctaw to a back outside counter, and he still does those. Often he’ll pick one and do it before they call his name to go out and skate. He likes the calming balancing influence on his skating. And I think that’s an element that skaters don’t have in their repertoire these days, is that calming sort of concentrated feeling that figures give you. I call it yoga on ice, it’s how to get into difficult positions and relax and sustain it, which is what you do in yoga [laughs].
We have a figures session at our rink once a week
. And people like Ryan Bradley
, I’ve made them do it [laughs]. He also passed his third test, but it’s been years since he did figures. But he says when he gets on the ice after doing figures, he actually jumps better. And I’m like, that’s because everything you’re doing in a jump is based on compulsory figures
. Every position you take, the way you rotate with a curve or against a curve, all those are the foundation for shifting your weight off the ice and jumping. And that part’s been forgotten...