Work on your windup for scratch spins

I’m having trouble with my scratch spin. I keep traveling. My coach already told me to lean on my outside edge and to be on the ball of my foot. But I still travel. Do you have any advice?
Lexi
Work on your windup and look at some videos. I watch my competitions on tape as a way of video critiquing.

More information on the scratch spin:
The scratch spin, performed on either foot – left foot, scratch spin; right foot, back scratch spin – is similar to the standard upright spin. It is also now as a Blur Spin or a Corkscrew Spin.

The skater stands up straight with the legs crossed but rides a little bit more forward on the blade and pulls in tighter. Arms are either held overhead or in front of the body while the skater spins. The non-skating or free foot, usually gets a little closer or lower to the ice. This will create more of a centrifugal force that produces a much faster rate of spin. Skaters like to end their programs with a scratch spin because it is so dramatic.
Breaking in a new pair of skates

I got a new pair of skates and am trying to break them in fast because I have a competition soon. I can’t seem to do things right on the ice anymore and the toe pick seems to drag more now. If you have any info please let me know.
Joey
Get a pair of socks and make them damp and warm. Put them on your feet and then put on the skate boots. Walk around on a hard surface for a while. This will quicken the break-in. And don’t forget to put on the skate guards! You don’t want to walk in them too much (see below).

More Information
Sasha wears Klingbeil Skating Boots. For more information on Kleingbeil go to: http://www.klingbeilskatingboots.com/index.html. Tell them you learned about Klingbeil from Sasha’s Official Web site: www.sashacohen.com

Extra tips
The best way to break in new boots is to skate in them. Spend one or two sessions just stroking in all directions. Try doing some simple spins. Once the boots feel more comfortable you can try basic jumps that you land consistently.

There may be some adjustments that will make them more comfortable. When your boots are new you may have to relace them during your sessions to allow the lace to stretch. The leather will also be stretching during this time. It is suggested not to lace the top hook until you feel the need for more support for your jumps. Lacing the top hooks at the beginning may cause shin splints, tendinitis and bursitis. By lacing the boot to the top and not bending properly the crease may develop below the instep area instead of at the ankle.

When trying to break in new boots, skaters often walk in them while watching television or listening to music. But this does not allow the crease in the right place. Walking in skates is just that, like walking in shoes by the heel hitting the floor and then the weight being transferred to the ball and pushing off the first toe. This is not the same method as stroking. Walking will cause the crease to develop forward of the instep.

Finding a coach

Question: I’m 13 and am going to take up the sport in the fall. How do you
find a good coach?
Caitlin
The best thing to do is ask around for advice and try out different people. Then you will see who works with you the best.

More information:
Choosing the right coach is the first and perhaps most important step in your figure skating development. The coach should also be looked upon as a role model. Besides coaching and teaching the coach will be spending significant time with you. It should be a fun and positive learning experience.

You and your parents should get to know the coach and understand what the coach expects from the partnership. When the skater, parents and coach work together as a team is when the best results occur.

The best relationship between a skater and coach is when there is frequent communication. The skater and coach should decide on reasonable short and long-term goals and the skater needs to ask about equipment needs and concerns. If you’re a parent of a skater remember that positive feedback is important.

Fans, skaters learn Olympian’s skills

Do you have any tips on landing your axel like rotating faster and landing on your right side?
Jennifer from Indiana
Keep your hands by your belly button, head straight, push off well from your take off foot, and always fight for the landing.

I would like to know any tips or advice – on or off the ice – on how I can speed up my rotation in my loop. I rotate very late in my double loop but my eighth helps me get around. However I do need to speed up the beginning of my rotation because in a triple it is a problem.
Jenna
The right arm needs to snap in as your legs spring from the ice. Practice the take off over and over until you find your timing.

Are there any exercises that I could do to get more height on my jumps. I’m working on doubles and when I land on my right foot, my left foot just skims the ice.
Patricia
Remember that timing gives height. Play around with different timings until you find one that launches you.

I would like to know any little trick to do triple lutz and flip because I can’t do them very well.
Carla from Belgium
Contol, timing, a great double, and lots of practice.

Besides at 2000 Nationals exhibitions, did you ever skate to “Madame Butterfly” on TV? It is my favorite performance.
George from Ridgefield, Connecticut
Once or twice on tour.

When you train, do you have certain sessions for jumps and spins, or do you just train what needs the most work?
Stephanie from Indiana
I do a slower warm up with lots of exercises in the morning and usually focus on one program per session.

I noticed that Ekaterina Gordeeva helped with your ribbon program. What was it like working with her?
Sarah from Brookfield, Illinois
She was very helpful and it was a lot of fun to work with her.

I’m learning my sit spin, and I’m having trouble getting down low and staying in the spin. Do you have any advice?
Kellie from California
Make sure your weight is right over the foot you’re spinning on.

When you do your layback spins, how do you keep your leg in such a nice attitude position? And how do you stretch your back so that it’s so strong yet flexible?
Christine from China
Turn your foot out and flex it. For your back position you need to warm up well and gain flexibility in arching before you can take that to the actual spin.

I want to learn my layback spin safely and know you have a lot of knowledge of injury prevention. Any tips for learning a layback and also preventing back injuries?
Michelle from Lexington, Kentucky
Warm up your back very well beforehand, and pull in your stomach so that it supports your back before you bend over. Don’t just fall back into it.

I can’t seem to get a full revolution on my toe loop. Can you please give me some helpful hints.
Alyse from Wichita
Kathryn from Glen Ellyn, Illinois
Make sure your right arm is snapping in and helping you start the rotation. Practice the take off with a scratch spin for timing.

I’m only on my axel. I seem to try it and I freak out and never get in the air. Do you have any advice?
Katlyn from Simsbury, Conn.
Conquer yourself. Fear is natural, but it will take falls and mistakes to get it. Maybe try harness lessons to get over the intial fears.

I have been skating for 4 years and performed in a lot of ice shows but I always get so nervous. How will I be able to relax? I mess up so badly when I’m scared!
Rachel
Just remember that shows are nothing to be nervous about. No pressure. Shows are a chance for you to really enjoy your skating and entertain the crowd. Just have fun when you are out there and leave the getting nervous for competition.

How do you spring off the ice in a split jump? I am juvenile freestyle moving up to intermediate but already passed those moves.
Jocelynn
It’s really all timing. Get a lot of speed and just practice until you find the rhythm that sends you flying.

I love your leg lift spiral that you do (Sasha Spiral). I can lift my leg and grab it over my head, but how do you turn onto your inside edge so smoothly?
Stacy from Washington
It took about a month of practice. At first I couldn’t turn and glide. Just turn and stop. But I learned to really pull my balance up and really think of lifting as I glided. That way I have less resistance and have more speed coming out.

How do you keep yourself so focused on the ice during practice? Sometimes when I’m in practice right before I jump my mind tells me not to do it and it bugs me really bad.
Elle from Huntsville, Alabama
I go through the same things some time. This is where you need to find your inner strength. Test what you are made of. Remember that the more you circle and skip jumps the harder it is to do the next one. So if your brain is really telling you not to, at least do a single or double for technique. But basically it’s up to you to overcome yourself and become stronger. It’s hard, but that’s the only way.

A tip sheet of Sasha’s basics on jumps

Here are some questions from skaters requesting tips from Sasha for jumps. Sasha’s list of tips are below. You may want to print them out.

I can’t seem to get a full revolution on my toe loop. Can you please give me some helpful hints?
Alyse from Wichita and Kathryn from Glen Ellyn, Illinois

I’m only on my axel. I seem to try it and I freak out and never get in the air. Do you have any advice?
Katlyn from Simsbury, Conn.

Do you have any tips on landing your axel like rotating faster and landing on your right side?
Jennifer from Indiana

I would like to know any little trick to do triple lutz and flip because I can’t do them very well.
Carla from Belgium

For all the jumps I have a basic list of tips. They are the following:
1. The most important part is the landing, so make sure to really nail that position.
2. Practice lots of takeoffs and single jumps to give you a good timing and feeling for learning doubles or triples.
3. Practice reverse spins in jump position for feeling of rotation.
4. Your arms should be right underneath your ribcage when you rotate.
5. When learning jumps start slow and then add speed.
6. During the takeoff be over your feet and make sure that you stay alligned throughout the jump.
7. To help with control and combinations try adding a single loop to the landing of every jump.
I hope these help and would like to hear back from you with your success.
Good luck!
Sasha

More answers from fans’ questions

How long did it take you to become a professional figure skater?
Reshma from Wharton, Texas
I began skating when I was seven years old. I am an amateur skater so I can keep my eligibility for the 2006 Winter Olympics.

Do you still do pilates and ballet and for how long and how often?
Vanessa from Seattle
I unfortunately have not had the opportunity for either this summer. But I do daily back and stomach exercises.

I am having trouble with my layback spin. Do you have any tips for me?
Grace
Take a very controlled wind up, and limit yourself to 3 to 4 rotations before you go back. Then flex your foot while you spin (the one in attitude).

Do you have any tips that could help me with my brackets for the intermediate moves test? I can turn OK, but then lose my balance and fall.
Stephanie from Indiana
Pull in your stomach, take your time, and practice, practice, practice.

You’ve inspired me to become a better athlete. Do you have any really good stretching or muscle strengthening exercises that you could pass along?
Rachel from Vermont
Aly from Centennial, Colorado
Do lots of stomach crunches and back strengthening exercises. They’re key to balance and injury prevention.

Do you have any tips on learning spirals?
Sarah from Denver, Colorado
Lots of stretching, holding the position off ice and just old “practice”.

How do you do a double axel and was it hard for you when you were just learning it because I will start learning it soon!!
Amanda from Troy, Michigan
Meagan from Clinton Township, Michigan
Oh, it took me nearly a year of tears before I got it. It was my hardest jump to learn. But perseverance and hard work paid off.

I am a skater, myself. Do you have any advice for me, and of course other kids everywhere who hope to become a famous figure skater?
Briana
Focus, perseverance, love it and practice hard.

How did you ever get through the Basic levels of figure skating? (Moves in the field, basic skills).
Shane from Roanoke, Va.
Time patience and video lessons. You can do it. Keep it up!

Do you have any tips on getting more flexible?
Mandy from Sanger, Texas
Rachel from Canada
Stretch every day after a hot bath. Your muscles are much looser, then!

I can do great spirals in my basement but on the ice it’s just harder, heavier, tiring, painful and complicated. Could you tell me your workout and stretching plan?
Lauren from Colorado
Work on spirals off ice with your skates on because it has to hold up against centrifugal force. It’s part of the process – don’t worry.

What kind of skates do you wear?
Laura from Bradenton, Florida
I wear Klingbeils.