The other day I worked out that if I pass all the skills I’m reasonably acceptable at, that I’ll be more or less 50% skills passed. It’s an optimistic goal, but it’s given me a slight reassurance.

On that note, I had an absolutely brilliant skate yesterday. Yet more skills testing, though in between free skating so I got to practice a lot of other cool stuff too.

I let myself get egged on to trying out the infamous 27/5 for reals. I’ve only ever tried 27 laps at maximum power once before, in a practice last week when there was no-one around to time me or count my laps.

I was shitting bricks about it, because I hear so many horror stories about skaters who just can’t make the 5 minute time. To make me feel oh-so much better, everyone cleared the track and lined up to watch me. Thanks guys…

My crossovers aren’t too bad, and my cardio fitness is okay, so I was hoping I wouldn’t mess it up too bad. Ha ha, so naive…

After about 24 laps my legs were like “HOLD ON what’s happening STOP HURTING US” and just before lap 25, they magically transformed into noodles. Noodles aren’t very supportive unfortunately, and so I did a magnificent spread-eagle nose-dive onto the track.

I wanted to curl up in the foetal position and cry for the remainder of the 5 minutes, but everyone was screaming at me to get up and continue. After crawling back up and finishing my last 2 laps, the captain tells me I scored 05:06. Then I really did want to curl up and cry.

One good thing came out of it all though because I got some great advice on my crossovers. One of the skaters who had been watching me realised that basically my form is all messed up. Apparently one of the common issues is that people don’t push with their left leg enough and just use their right leg to do all the work.

Ever one to shrug convention, I wasn’t doing that, but in fact the exact opposite: not pushing out enough with my right. After some patient tutoring, I think I have it better now. I can feel the extra power coming from my right leg when I push. If anything, it’s more power than I can control – it’s too fast and scary.

I also practiced a fair few other areas:

  • Plow stops – I know they still need work. My success:fail ratio is improving, but I’m conscious that I heavily favour my right leg stops, and once I feel I’m proficient enough, I’m gonna have to try build up my left. Just towards the end of training yesterday I managed a really good one – it made a horrid screeching sound on the floor which made me such a proud momma.
  • Hops – I guess you could call hops the “Harry” to my “Voldemort”. I know they’re there and they’re dangerous, and I want to kill them, but I’ve been ignoring them while I regain my following of evil wizards. Uh, anyway, in this case, I feel like my procrastinating doing them has been justifiable, because I’m much more stable on skates now and therefore less likely to just fall on my face. I did a couple hops as a test yesterday and the world didn’t implode. So I did a few more and a few more. I actually got a fair bit of practising done on them, in various iterations. I’m not getting much height (though enough for the 6″ required to pass my test… If I didn’t fall on my butt so often), but I think I can get better if I keep trying it at faster speeds. I also tried a few 180′ jumps. I can 180 and land on my toe-stops no-problemo, but landing on my wheels is hit and miss, and I certainly don’t dare try it with much speed.
  • Grapevines/stepping/shuffling – I sucked so much at this last week, but it seemed much easier yesterday(??) Which is interesting, because I have very much not been practicing it like I promised I would. Lateral movement and being able to switch weight and jump around is kind of, sort of, very very important in derby. I don’t practice it enough because it’s scary… because I don’t fricken practice it (great logic, I know).
  • Backwards – Didn’t beat my PB and got another 48 seconds for 3 laps, but at least I’m not getting worse. I tend to only crossover at the apexes of the oval track, rather than skate in a circle as I do going forwards. It’s hard to see where the outer edge of the track is when you’re backwards, but this is the key to getting faster. I’m told there’s a special gold star if you get under 45s, so that’s my goal.
  • Clockwise skating – Much to everyone’s amusement, I practiced clockwise (i.e. non-derby direction) and reverse crossovers for about 20 minutes solid before everyone else got on track. Because I don’t get chance to do it as much, I feel less stable and I have a habit of ‘lurching’ into the crossover, rather than managing a smooth lean and cross. It is a bit of a vicious cycle, because it’s easier to lean in when you’re going fast… But I can’t speed up without being able to crossover. It’s getting there anyway.
  • Transitions – Much improved, but still a bit flaky. I’ve evened out so that turning in either direction is easy when going from forwards-to-backwards. However I still must work on my backwards-to-forwards, as well as transitioning while skating faster.
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