Our guest columnist is Rikki Rendich Samuels, an instructor at Rockefeller Rink in NYC for over 25 years. As a four-time USFSA national competitor, Rikki received her gold medals in figures and freestyle, and is a former two-time Middle Atlantic Senior Ladies Champion. As a professional, she has been awarded the highest awards from the Professional Skaters Association (PSA), a master's rating in figures and freestyle, and a master's rating in program administration.
Tracings left on the ice make figure skating unique. Only figure skaters can study a written record of every move they make by looking at the tracings they leave. Your tracings will tell you exactly what you did right what went wrong. No other sport makes it so easy for the student and the coach to work together.
When compulsory figure eights were a part of competition, judges would get down on their hands and knees, studying the ice to see if an edge was clean. Skaters lost points if they were skating on the flat of a blade. The blade is only 1/8 of an inch wide. Just as the judges used tracings to study the precision of a move, you can use your tracings to improve your skating skills. The ice always tells the truth clearly and objectively.
An expression used often by instructors, professionals, and television commentators is the "quality of a skater's edges." When they say this, they are talking about how well the edges glide over the ice. There should be no scraping. Scraping is the sound of a skate sliding sideways on the ice; it will leave a little pile of snow on one side of the tracing as a sign that something wasn't quite right. In freestyle skating competitions, both in singles and in pairs, judges today still look closely to see if there is a scrape before a turn, lift or a jump.
As a skater, you will develop several very acute senses. The first will be the sense of balance. Second is the sense of feeling a lean. Next comes your sense of hearing. You will learn to listen to the sound of your blade gliding over the ice and you will become able to analyze that sound. Good quality edges are quiet. Silent skating means that the skater's body is aligned over the blade's edge and the skater is moving at a good speed. When you find yourself using these senses, you can pat yourself on the back and say, "I'm a skater now."
In ice dancing, tracings have extra importance. The steps of each dance follow a pattern of tracings on the ice. There are about 20 different ice dance patterns, and each one has it own set of required tracings.
Throughout your skating you will look for your tracings. By studying them, you will learn to recognize the shapes that are made by the various skating moves. Look for consistency in shape, size and curvature. With practice, you will train your eye to learn the lessons of tracings at a glance. When you can do that, you will learn the skill of reading your tracings and be very grateful that they are there for you. Without tracings you would not be able to see your mistakes. Get in the habit of reading your tracings to analyze and improve your skating moves.
|With practice, you will hone your sense of balance, sense of feeling a lean, and sense of hearing. You will learn to listen to the sound of your blade gliding over the ice and you will become able to analyze that sound. Good quality edges are quiet. Silent skating means that the skater's body is aligned over the blade's edge and the skater is moving at a good speed.|
[Rikki has also written a book called Kids' Book Of Figure Skating: Skills, Strategies, and Techniques which contains information on: proper technique, how to purchase skates, warm-up exercises, rink rules and skating etiquette, how to be an informed fan, skating clubs and associations, and many other relevant topics. You can also check out her website at RikkiSamuels.com.]