Stretching for Figure Skaters – and my Russian Split attempts
This post is probably long overdue, but I wanted to share how I am staying active throughout this social isolation period. A friend introduced me to a coach in California who was offering free stretching videos for figure skaters. Because my rink has been closed since mid-March, I needed to find some way to stay fit and flexible. Coach Michelle Hong’s stretching videos have been my go-to.
My skating friend S created a stretching schedule for the two of us to follow. She and I have been doing 3 of Michelle’s videos each day. Because we’ve maintained the same stretching schedule for over a month, both S and I have gained strength and flexibility.
S has always wanted to do a haircutter spin. After about week 2 of the videos, she was able to get into a legit haircutter position (ow!!). It was a thing of beauty.
I’ve always had dreams of doing a few things, but my lack of flexibility had prevented me from doing so. I wanted to do a real layback spin, an outside edge Ina Bauer, and a real spread eagle. Since I started Michelle’s stretching regiment, I have felt more flexible in my hips and think that I might be able to attempt both the Ina Bauer and the spread eagle once rinks re-open. And I feel like my lower back has re-gained some flexibility as well (I used to be a competitive gymnast and was SUPER flexible but lost it as I got older). As a result, I think I might be able to do a real layback spin some day.
One surprising thing that I am close to be able to do on land is a Russian split jump. This is an element where a skater is in the middle split position and touches his/her toes mid-jump. Jason Brown is famous for his gorgeous Russian splits. After week 3 of stretching, I was pretty close to a real Russian split! Take a look:
Granted, my legs are super bent on the way down, but they are fairly straight and in a full split position on the way up. WOW – I never thought I’d be close to doing a real one off-ice!
And here is how the Russian split jump attempt looked after week 4. My legs were straighter on the way down but the jump itself is a bit crooked in the air.
And week 5… the jump itself is more parallel to the ground and I don’t look like I’m going to keel over on the landing. It’s been neat to watch myself progress on this!
How are you staying active?
Love those Russian splits! You are going to be so ready to get back on the ice–those videos sound amazing!
I hope that I can do a real one on the ice once the rinks re-open!