by Cécile DÄNIKER RÜSCH
Cecile Deniker is a former skater who now coaches and lives in France, and is a teacher and chorographer in classic ballet.
Every movement on the ice is related to the circle. The spin is the essence of the use of the circle. The mastery of the circle can only attain is apotheosis with a blade made to imitate the use of the human foot.
Understanding the blade makes the art of the edge possible. After years of experimentation, two skaters of very different styles at the beginning of the 20th century, Gillis Grafstrom and Phil Taylor, combined their diverse experience and with the help of the Sheffield steel company in England developed the blade which to this day is the most facile blade every used. It was named the "Taylor Special". It was from this blade that Pierre Brunet developed the "Gold Seal Blade". All blades however have a curve which is what makes skating on ice possible.
The physical dynamic of a spin on the ice or a pirouette on the floor is an upwards movement done through the foot. For the body to turn rapidly the weight must thus move to the front of the foot. On the floor it is on the "half-toe" or for women in classical ballet on the point. Corresponding to the floor the highest point on the blade other than the pick is the small part of the curve just under the pick. When the balance of the skater is centered in this area on a surface of less than 1 inch or 2 cm the skater can gain tremendous speed witness the fabulous skater Ronnie Robertson whose spins left an image of a blur due to the speed.
On the ice, all movements on the front of the blade are done going backwards (with the exception forward loops where there is a slow rock to the front of the blade at the top of the loop with a transfer to the back of the blade to exit the loop). Maintaining this principal of balance, the spin is a backward edge either inside or outside on the front of the blade. In both cases the momentum for the spin is created by a sharp forward edge touching the pick of the blade creating a three turn via the winding edge and rockets the skater on to a sharp back edge which if correctly controlled starts a series of tiny loops directly over the entry three thus "centering the spin".
The recent trend to "change edge" during the spin is a misnomer since to change the edge of a spin means to change the balance from being on the front of the blade to the back of the blade. This should be considered "fast loops" since it is impossible to keep the speed or increase the speed of a spin moving the weight of the body on to the back of the foot and this corrupts the aim of the spin which at its best should increase in speed. It is impossible to increase the speed of a spin which has changed the edge to the back of the blade because the initial impetuous of the spin comes from the entry three. Thus taking a standard standing "scratch spin" on the back inside edge which then changes to the forward outside edge (weight moving to the center back of the blade) and then returns to the back inside edge the speed of the spin is totally diminished. This is now becomes a spin with forward loops and a spin.
The concept to judge a skater’s quality with this change of edge in the spin is not one of technical quality of skating. The quality of a spin should be its speed, centering and the position or the positions during the spin. This then disqualifies the change during the spin of edge as a technical asset since loops in the middle of a spin are not a spin anymore than "twizzels" (which are a chain of threes) can be considered a spin.
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