Skating Fridays

Stretching for Figure Skaters – and my Russian Split attempts

Russian split jump

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?


  1. May 22, 2020 / 6:28 pm

    Love those Russian splits! You are going to be so ready to get back on the ice–those videos sound amazing!

    • evabakes
      May 25, 2020 / 1:08 pm

      I hope that I can do a real one on the ice once the rinks re-open!

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