"Good, Michelle, good," Dmytri said as we finished warming up the end of Dutch Waltz, the part with the wicked tight swingroll. It's not often that I get such unadulterated praise during my skating lesson, especially 10 minutes in. Dmytri suggested I quit while I was ahead.
"Okay, do a left outside 3-turn, then we go backward," Dmytri directed. I wanted to jump up and down with joy, but that's not really an option given I would just end up on my ass. I'm super-excited that Dmytri is putting backward skating and turns on the priority list.
In my on-again-off-again figure skating journey, backward skating and turns have been huge hurdles. At first both scared me so I never practiced them. (God was I lame.) Then I got hurt and was off the ice. When I returned I had to relearn everything and by the time I got back to backward skating and turns, my leg functioned in ways that made it impossible to do either. My injury got worse and I was banned from the ice again. And now I'm back, relearning everything, again.
I really do think this time will be different. I've conquered the fear aspect and I could kick myself for wasting all that time being terrified when I should have just skated for god's sake. I was such an idiot. I now have a much better understanding of how I need to move to be able to execute skating skills. And I have acquired the knowledge and ability to rebuild my body properly. Now, if only all of this could happen over night, because I'm impatient.
Summer is the perfect time to work on turns. The ice is crowded with camp kids, so I set up shop at center ice and trip through mohawk and 3-turn attempts. I sometimes can crank out a few good attempts holding on to Dmytri, but on my own I got nuthin'. Part of it is a strength issue, which I'm working on, but I've just got some really bad positioning and timing going on that I need to work out.
Backward skating is getting better. Or at least I thought so. I'm strong enough that I can mostly shift my weight, but I'm leaning forward. Apparently a lot. Dmytri had me warm up with some backward swizzles, then he changed what he wanted, but I wasn't understanding the change.
"So, like a backward c-cut? Like the Kid does in hockey?" I asked.
"I don't know what this is," he answered, clearly not interested in reliving our recent hockey experiment. Mostly he was yapping at me to get deeper before I pushed.
Then he laughed at me.
"Oh! You think you're going to impress your coach by getting really low," he teased. "No! You were just bending over!" He was using the same tone I use when I tease the Kid for being a dork and he mimicked me bending at the waist instead of sitting back deeper into my hips (which, by the way, is remarkably hard to do when your ass sticks out as much as mine does when I skate. Dmytri diplomatically reminds me to "pull hips forward.")
I really, really wanted to stay and practice. I was feeling strong and optimistic, despite my inability to impress my coach. And I was on dance ice which was beautifully empty. But I'm a grown up with real-life responsibilities, including a kid who has expectations of being picked up from camp on time. I reluctantly got off the ice.
Patience, Michelle, patience.