“After you’ve got the basic skills down, skating is all mental.” An adult skater at the rink said that to me a couple weeks ago, and while I believed him in a general sense, today was the first time I really felt it.

Went in for a nice long practice on a fairly empty public session. Usually I’m one of the lower-level figure skaters and I tend to stay toward the ends of the rink; not at the boards, just out of the way on my own patch of ice practicing moves, while the higher level skaters spin and jump toward the center. Today, though, there was a speed skater who really cut up the ice pretty severely around the perimeter, and those razor sharp blades made it a trial to practice any moves, so I ended up taking the center of the ice for the first time. I felt a bit self-conscious there, but at least there were no higher-level skaters around so I wasn’t in anyone’s way, and I got smooth ice.

Warmed up with stroking and slaloms, and made my first real breakthrough in power pulls. I’ve been faithfully doing what Coach A showed me weeks ago—slaloms on two feet, lifting one foot into the power pull—but with little progress. Today I finally got the hang of going from edge to edge several times on one push. I have to remind myself it’s all in the rise and fall of the knees, when instinct has me trying to yank the foot from side to side. Nope, all about the knees. Ain’t that the cardinal rule of skating or what?

Did FXO and BXOs on the hockey circles, mohawks, 3-turns. I’ve been looking up moves tests on youtube and felt like I might be ready to try power 3s or at least a waltz 8, only to find that it’s a lot harder to link those durned 3s with other moves than it is to do them in the field. An obvious statement, but one I had to feel for myself to really “get.”

Made a little headway with the 2-foot spin, although it’s probably my weakest skill. I figured out how to get to the sweet spot so that I can hit it almost every time I attempt the spin, but I still have little control over the spin and can barely get any revolutions. I know it’s just a matter of practicing more, but unlike the other moves where I can just keep hammering away at them, with spins I’m limited by my dizziness so I can’t practice them as much as I’d like. I try to space them out and sprinkle them throughout practice so I at least get multiple attempts at it.

Then, the waltz jump. I was saving this for the end of practice, to make sure I was all warmed up and also as a “reward” for going through everything else. I know if I just started with the fun stuff I’d probably not get as good a practice in with the basics, which I still need to work on.

There’s a mental sweet spot I have to hit with waltz jumps; if I don’t focus enough, the whole thing gets away from me. But if I focus TOO much, I psych myself out. At a certain point I just have to DO IT. I fell on an early attempt when I was just walking through the motions, and it shook me up enough that I started to overthink everything, and suddenly everything fell apart. My legs started to feel shaky and I was feeling almost spooked. I had to go away, do something else for a few minutes, and when I got back to them they were so much better. I had to force the negative thoughts back and just do what I was doing. You hear that so much from the commentators when watching competitions on TV, but now I totally understand how that feels.

I’m not getting much air and my landing tends to scratch the toe pick a lot, but the basic mechanics of the jump are there. I even hit a groove and knocked out several in succession. All tiny, most scratchy, but suddenly the waltz jump became fun and exciting again, instead of nervewracking.

All in the head.