This blog is a collection of my thoughts and experiences from ten years as a skate dad. For those of you sitting with your jackets in the bleachers, first I salute you, but second I want to give you an honest sense of what you are in for and what to expect. Ice skating is both a trying and a glorious sport, but it doesn't happen without the special group of folks who cheer, support, and console the participants. This is dedicated to you.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

- camel

One of the more interesting elements is the camel, straight up or flying. I'm always intrigued by the entry, keenly critical of raised leg stability, absorbent of expressiveness, and watchful for a graceful exit. There's room for playfulness both mid-spin and at the exit.

Technically speaking though the camel is fully self-judging: its pose and mechanical physics are so strictly limiting a 5 year-old can tell if you nailed it or not. It's easy to see if your raised orbiting leg stays level or if your pivot foot precesses. I have no great clues for you here about how to achieve a stable rotation and avoid technical sins: outside of a good coach I think you're on your own with your awareness and a videographer. I do have plenty to say though from an audience member's perspective.

On entry I want to see your pivot foot immediately pinned to the ice without further movement, hops, or spiraled in circling. Your raised leg should be to full up position without wobble or further adjustments. Your first rotation should be in a plane perfectly flat and parallel to the ice. I tend to be more accommodating if your entry was flying (so your second rotation is pivot foot pinned and raised leg parallel).

If you flew into your camel then I absorbed all of that hocus pocus of upper body balance and arm artistry. Some gals "signal" here with a large arm wave whereas others fly in so smoothly and gently that suddenly they're cameled. I don't mind the flailing about if it has grace to it, but sometimes it shows signs of struggle.

Once your cameled my eyes saccade across your body as you rotate to my full visual width: what's up with your head, shoulders, arms, and hands? Are you happy to be here or are you wrestling? Some skaters tilt to a more "open" position with one shoulder up toward the ceiling, others are more tummy down with shoulders at the same elevation flat to the ice. I don't care in either case as long as your neck is straight aligned with your body (no slumping head, please).

Standard arm position seems to be one arm down the leg, and one alongside your trunk, but I've seen tons of variants so this is an excellent place to experiment with drama. I get a sense once you've decided on arms there isn't much latitude for change: since the constraints of the physics are so severe, if you move your arms you will bosh your spin.

Rotational velocity now rises forefront. I don't care so much if you're fast or more deliberate as long as you're not losing angular momentum and slowing down terribly. It's sad to watch a skater with beautiful positioning and attitude get so sluggish they have to break form.

Now that you're locked in how about interesting psychics? What are you imagining as you spin about the audience? Are you sprinkling sparklets of love about? Are you entwining ribbons of color? Are you slaying dragons of woe?

Ready to de-camel? Probably half of skaters choose to swing the upright leg down into a sit spin. Catching the back leg into donut seems to be getting more popular, and then if you want to truly amaze me pull that donut up into a Biellmann. What's more important is your head doesn't drop in either case: your posture should be deliberately and precisely controlled during the transition.

From an observational perspective the camel has more interesting subcomponents than any other element -- it's multi-textured with loads of room for expressiveness.

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