...so it turns out that axels are like the last jump you're supposed to learn on skates. Whoops. Chalk this up as another thing I've taught myself  mainly because I'm too stupid to know I can't really do that.

Apparently you start with less ambitious things like waltz jumps and salchows. All righty then. A waltz jump is essentially a flying jump starting and ending in opposing arabesques. It's been a while since I tried hopping around with my foot way the hell up there, but it's doable. Easier clockwise, but entirely possible in both directions. All four directions, if you count variations in what way your skating foot is going.

A salchow is a toe-assisted jump that takes off straight out of a 3-turn -- skating forward along the wall on your inside foot, you turn towards the center of the rink, and then put your other foot (previously the wall foot) down going backwards instead, and curve back out along the wall. This generally preserves your momentum while changing direction. You plant the toe pick of your now-free foot behind you, wind back with your torso, jump off your front blade, and swing the toe-pick foot and your arms like hell to make yourself spin. You land on the foot you didn't launch with after going through 360 degrees.

The Wikipedia instructions are, again, not particularly good. It tells you what your various limbs are doing, but not how to accomplish that. (Plus the default assumption is that you spin counterclockwise, so I have to reverse all the feet.) It's actually a whole lot of springs and redirection. The 3-turn puts your weight over your front foot, with a bent knee, facing away from your direction of travel. Whacking your pick into the ice behind you -- in your direction of travel -- turns that leg into a compression spring. You were going that way, the pick stops you from going any further that way, and it acts as an elastic collision. The recoil throws you back onto your front foot, so that you can jump up off the blade, just before you swing your pick foot around in an arc, ideally fast enough to replace your launch foot under you so you can land on it.

The instructions always warn you not to pre-rotate the jump. This is because if you start the spin before your blade leaves the ice, one of two things will happen: If you rotate you but not your skate, you wrench your ankle, or if you rotate both you and the skate, you fall the fuck down. Ice skates don't like being yanked out of their groove, and unless you're doing it with a lot of force and your whole weight centered on that boot, are going to respond by tipping over and making you eat snow. It seems like kind of an unnecessary warning to me, but apparently I work weird.

Launching a pick-assisted jump is actually harder on the floor than it would be on skates. They all seem to use the pick leg as a spring, converting the kinetic energy of momentum into potential energy to be released in the spin. The only way to simulate that without being able to actually go very fast backwards -- which you really can't do in a dance studio -- is to throw yourself back onto the pick foot with your front foot before starting, which means coming out of check on that leg, which you wouldn't need to do if the stored energy was from you already having built up speed instead. Although I suppose it's good exercise, so whatever.

I can do the salchows with more or less equal (i.e., minimal) coordination in either direction, although clockwise is still more comfortable. I two-foot the landing a lot, but practice, practice, practice. You cannot go through any of these things in slow-motion; you need the rotational velocity or they don't work. So I end up making a few attempts, then doing a lot of thinking, then making a few more, etc. This was another hour or so in the studio, and I still don't know if that's good or bad or average.


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