Edges and turns
I've been meaning to come back to this topic. Found some time tonight.
I didn't want to just continue on from the Identifying Turns and MITF from the Sine Qua Non thread thread because that started in the middle of the topic instead of starting with the basics. I thought it might be useful to organize the thread more systematically. I'll start by copying an edited version of my last post in that thread, which should really be the beginning of the discussion.
Other skaters: Please suggest edits if you think I got something wrong or didn't explain clearly.
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Blades are the basis
The sport of figure skating is based on all the different ways that the human body can manipulate a pair of narrow blades fastened lengthwise along the bottom of the foot.
Figure skating blades are sharpened with two edges, one toward the inside side of the foot (inside edge) and one toward the outside of the foot (outside edge) with a narrow groove running between the two edges. Most figure skating skills are based on gliding forward or backward on one edge at a time, which produces a curved movement over the ice. These curves, and the curved tracings that the blades carve into the ice itself, are also referred to as “edges.”
Gliding on two feet at the same time in most cases removes most of the challenge of maintaining balance that the sport is based on. Gliding forward or backward on both edges of the blade at the same time results in straight-line motion. Blades moving sideways across the ice act as brakes, slowing or stopping the gliding motion. Stepping or hopping on the serrated teeth (toepicks) at the front of the blade allows for staccato motions in contrast to the basic gliding motion. Such moves can all be used for choreographic variety. But the fundamental techniques of figure skating consist of gliding on one edge at a time and transitioning from one edge to another.
Balance Glide Flow Edges Curves are all words that describe the fundamentals of good skating that the sport has always held among its highest values.
Speed and centripetal and centrifugal forces allow skaters to control their balance on the thin blades in positions that often cannot be sustained while standing still, on or off the ice. Deep lean over the edges, usually with deep knee bend to control, is highly valued.
Two edges on each foot (inside and outside) times two feet (right and left) times two directions of travel (forward and backward) yields a total of eight different edges: right forward inside, right forward outside, left forward inside, left forward outside, right backward inside, right backward outside, left backward inside, left backward outside. These are often abbreviated RFI, LBO, etc.
Each curve travels in either a clockwise (RFO, LFI, LBO, RBI) or counterclockwise (LFO, RFI, RBO, LBI) direction.
If you change an odd number (one or three) of the three edge factors -- which foot you're on, whether you're on an inside or outside edge, or whether you're traveling forward or backward -- you'll change which direction you're curving (clockwise or counterclockwise). If you change an even number (zero or two) of those factors, you'll stay on the same curve.
A single sustained edge can curve all the way around to make a circle. Two of the same kind of circle, one on each foot, makes a figure eight. (sorry, I can't find video examples of how these were done in beginning school figures; these are from the current US Moves in the Field tests)
Or the same edge if held long enough might start to curl in with decreasing diameter as it decreases in speed, drawing a spiral design on the ice. Since this was often done in an extended sustained body position, the position with free foot at or above hip height came to be known as a spiral.
Starting with a small circle and pulling it in to become even smaller draws a loop on the ice.
in moves in the field
two loop circles on one foot
Nonturning transitions between edges/curves
Stroking from one foot to the other on the same kind of edge keeps you moving forward (or backward, as the case may be) with alternating clockwise and counterclockwise curves. The general direction of movement will be a straight line (called the "long axis" in technical terms), with shallower or deeper curves on either side of that line, depending on the type of move and the skill level of the skater.
alternating forward outside edges (and then forward inside, back outside, and back inside)
back inside edges on hockey skates
back outside cross rolls
Changing edge on the same foot, the same principles apply.
forward serpentine figure
forward and backward power pulls
Changing foot and changing character of edge, while maintaining backward or forward travel maintains the same curve:
back crossovers, beginner and advanced versions
Change between forward vs. backward and inside vs. outside, staying on the same foot, maintains the same direction of curve (CW or CCW).
Three turns rotate in the same direction that the edges are curving, drawing the shape of a 3 on the ice
how-to (start here for verbal introduction)
Forward and backward three turns in the field:
Forward outside-back inside
Forward inside-back outside
Dances based on forward outside three turns:
Twizzles, whether single or multiple rotations, can start from any edge, but the focus is on continuous quick rotation rather than on the larger curves of the entry or exit edges. Almost always the rotation is in the same direction as the entry and exit curves.
In Brackets, the body rotates in the opposite direction from the continuous curve of the entry and exit edges -- this is called counterrotation. The blade draws the shape of a } on the ice -- kind of like an inside-out 3.
moves in the field
Turning from backward to forward on the same foot while maintaining the same character of edge (outside or inside) changes the direction of the curve (CW or CCW), so they make an S shaped pattern on the ice with a turn between backward and forward at the point where the curve changes.
Counters go in like a bracket (rotating against the curve of the entry edge) and come out like a three turn (the exit edge continues the same direction as the turn rotation). The point of the turn points into the new circle.
counters (moves in the field; full pattern on outside edges then insides)
back outside counter into double axel
Rockers go in like a three turn (same direction as the entry curve) and come out like a bracket (counterrotated). The point of the turn points into the original circle.
rockers (moves in the field; full pattern on outside edges then insides)
Rocker Foxtrot solo starting shortly before the rocker turn
Mohawks change between forward vs. backward and change feet between right vs. left, maintaining character of edge (inside or outside), and maintain the same curve.
forward inside to back inside
dance mohawks, esp. forward outsides
open forward outside mohawk in solo Fourteenstep
closed forward outside mohawk in solo Rocker Foxtrot
Forward inside and back outside mohawks rotate in the same direction as the curve (natural rotation, like a three turn), whereas forward outside and back inside mohawks are counterrotated (like a bracket).
Back-to-forward mohawks are often just referred to as “step forward.”
Especially the back outside mohawk, which is usually just a transitional step, for instance from backward outside edge, stepping forward into a waltz jump
(If our toes could turn inward 180 degrees, we could do a natural-rotation turn on the ice from forward outside to back outside. Since human feet and hip joints don’t usually work that way, when we do make that natural-rotation transition from FO to BO, we do it in the air and call it a waltz jump, or an axel, if we add another rotation.)
backward inside step forward
Choctaws change all three factors (forward/backward, right/left, inside/outside), which changes the direction of the curve (clockwise/counterclockwise). The general pattern is an S shape.
in The Blues CD
back inside to forward outside spin entrance
Choctaws can be counterrotated either on the entry (like a counter) or on the exit (like a rocker)
(Back-to-forward choctaws are also often unhighlighted transitions that are just called step forward. But a back inside choctaw would also rotate like a counter and back outside like a rocker.)
It takes skill to reverse the rotation quickly or with deep edges between forward and backward choctaws
Last edited by gkelly; 12-17-2015 at 11:27 PM.
Wicked Yankee Girl
gkelly, Thank you for all your work on this!
Keepin' it real