PSA 2000 Adults, Axel Troubleshooting, Basic Spins

Today the PSA conference moved from the hotel to the RDV Sportsplex, a shiny fairly new extensive facility featuring two rinks, snack bar, restaurant area, big gym area, and who knows what else. Yes, I did lace them up to join people who can actually skate to attend Cindy Stuart's on-ice choreography seminar. Nobody pointed and laughed at me.

My first session was on teaching adults, by Ann Margreth Frei and Erika Amundsen. They were enthusiastic about the very different approaches required for adult skaters. They recommended that coaches go ahead and start adult sessions whether or not enough skaters were enrolled for them, because adult skaters network rapidly and as soon as they are made to feel welcome, their numbers will increase.

Adults' major fears are falling, and ridicule. (Yup! says Lorrie...) So coaches of adults must address them, and must be mature enough to take satisfaction in the very small triumphs that mean so very much to older skaters. Adults must have every move explained and broken down for us. Frei and Amundsen encouraged coaches to use their imaginations to utilize every possible prop to encourage creative, fun learning -- noodles and therabands for posture, cut-down 23-inch diameter hula hoops (the right size to fit over shoulders) to hold above your head or before you or to wave for choreography, frisbees to simulate a steering wheel.

Frei stressed that the way to connect with adults is to "get into the map of who they are as people." Every adult skater has a story; many skate for therapy. The skating is almost secondary. She says as soon as she teaches adults even the most rudimentary skills, she connects them with music into mini-programs, and that way the adults feel they are "really skating" right away.

The axel troubleshooting seminar with Don Laws was packed. He had a bevy of girls, some quite small, demonstrating their axel techniques. Such pressure, to land jumps before the coaches of the world! It was a bit disconcerting; their humanity was a bit subjugated to the demands of modeling. Their errors, of course, were all great learning opportunities for the spectators, but while Laws was saying things about why the jumps went wrong, the girls were comforting each other on the embarrassment. Laws is very much against scraping on the axel takeoff, and he said teaching the skid as basic technique will curve the skater's approach too much. He recommend an exercise having the skater do waltz, single axel and double axel in succession, aiming for the same feel in the later two jumps that they achieved in the waltz.

Janet Champion did a spin basics class, with yummy Damon Allen as demonstrator. It was above my head, since all spins are equally impossible for me. I did understand that she doesn't believe carrying speed into a spin helps the spin speed very much; it just creates more difficulty for centering, and gives you more momentum that you must convert to the spin.

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