Let’s Keep Making History…

by: Kathy Hurd Carrillo

April 1, 2015

   In The Loop Extended Articles

We are all aware of how any language can follow basic rules, with odd exceptions of course! Skating is no different in that respect, most likely because elements were discovered and named in a different order than they would be later taught.

For example, the half flip jump is very helpful as a fundamental to teaching split jumps and stag jumps.  However, if a skater has directly associated the action of “switching feet in air” with the words “half flip jump”, they have an ingrained habit that is tough to change for a full flip jump later! As if skating isn’t hard enough…

This is why I am not alone in introducing the half flip as the “mini split jump”.
The mazurka becomes the “half toe loop”. The half loop jump becomes the “change-foot loop jump”, etc. Blasphemy, right? Since “forward landing” jumps at higher levels traditionally involve a split to gain credit, the rest are really great as stepping-stones, training tools, and choreography. The downside is that there has to be a lot of “double-talk” to make sure students know what the rulebook says versus what helps them skate well.

The half flip and half loop jumps many of us now teach to our students are great training tools to be used as building blocks. They take off and land on the same toe before gliding forward on the other foot. When it is time to do a full flip or loop jump, the skater can continue to safely rotate farther and farther until enough rotation is achieved to no longer need the front free foot.  But the landing foot is always coming down first. The same training tool can be used for the double, etc.

These are just a few examples of our many challenges as coaches to keep things safe, settled, and clear in the minds of our athletes. If the customer is always right, I think this is a great time to reveal that ALL of my students would appreciate some sensible changes in those areas for their potential futures as coaches!

Thankfully some elements follow clearly set simple rules of logic and understanding. A shining example is seen in the four basic one-footed turns that allow us an amazing total of 32 options for turning on one foot!

All hail the three-turns, brackets, rockers, and counters!

A skater can read a list of these elements and know exactly what must be executed. Without a drawing! Absolute brilliance! Simply by definition, naming the entry edge and the turn itself tells the skater which direction to rotate and on which edge to finish. So clear, so consistent.

Mohawks and choctaws extend the same courtesy…or they used to...
I was disappointed to see that the “toe-to-toe mohawk” was labeled a “closed mohawk”. That designation also exists in the mohawk with the feet turned out. The direction of rotation is no longer obvious by definition when the toe-to-toe version is thrown in with it. An “open” or “closed” designation just dictates placement of the new foot on the ice without specifying heel or toe version. And this goes deeper…

I actually discovered another challenge of sorting through these with my power hockey students. They need every variety of transition possible for the sake of agility. They are learning figures, moves, and dance elements. If it is not clearly defined, it is not clearly understood. They are not scored on the aesthetics of their turns, but if the transitions are not clean and efficient they will be scored against in the game! It’s time to adopt Nick Perna’s “Orphaned Turns”, give them suitable names, and welcome them into our skating family of fundamentals.

With every pun intended, I have nicknamed the “toe-mohawk”. In keeping with the theme set forth by our skating forefathers, our little corner of the skating world is calling it the “tomahawk”.

Now we can simply call out the entry edge and the element, and the skaters can respond immediately and accurately. Would you want open and closed versions? I haven’t found any skaters yet that would prefer a closed version, but I imagine they are out there somewhere!

Fun facts…
   The first mohawk turn was named in the 1800’s out of respect for a similar step done in a tribal war dance of the Mohawk Indians. The tracing on the ice was even thought to resemble their hunting bow. When it was discovered that the mohawk turn could be altered to finish on a different circle, the name “choctaw” was chosen to honor the American Indian theme. So what shall we call its pigeon-toed sister??
(In fact it was once thought that all American Indians were pigeon-toed because when walking in stealth mode, they would walk toe first, giving the appearance of being a pigeon-toed people. Seriously, I couldn’t make that up if I wanted to!)

Figure and hockey skating are of the few athletic activities that use equal amounts of turning in and turning out at the foot, and therefore lend much more well-rounded muscle development throughout the body when used properly. Let’s not discourage this because “pigeon-toed isn’t pretty”. With contemporary dance styles gaining great popularity among the masses, our opinions regarding acceptable lines has also been redefined. Plenty of our edgework, camels, backward pushes, etc. have always been pigeon-toed, so why hold back?

Let’s open it to the floor! I think PSA should Survey Monkey all of the member coaches to suggest names for the “toe-choctaw”. Then we could vote on the top ten! Let’s continue to contribute to our own skating history, as one big tribe!

Aahh…the light at the end of the toe-pick!