Tuesday, November 10, 2009

That Stupid Axel


Ice Girl has been working on her stupid axel since the end of February. The day Ice Coach gave her the walk through, Ice Girl cleared all of my furniture away in my living room and has been terrifying the dog with her stupid axel ever since.

Over the summer she had a problem with her hamstring and her pelvis was twisted – overuse. Finally, finally she’s landed the puppy. It’s been a little over eight months and she finally has it consistent. For now.

For those of you parents who have been through the stupid axel, maybe twice or three times, you know what I’m talking about. For those of you parents who haven’t been through it, let me tell you what to expect.

  • Crazy obsession. When she first started the stupid axel walk through back in February, Ice Girl was obsessed. She was determined to land that jump and move on with her life. She cleared out my living room. She jumped everywhere, but still, no stupid axel.
  • The grocery store. Once I got over the embarrassment factor, I supported Ice Girl’s weird habit of practicing off-ice axels in the soup aisle. Hey, at least she’s practicing and I’m not paying for the ice time. The grocery store is one of her favorite off-ice jumping venues because the floors are so slick. Of course, I can’t move on to the pasta aisle until I watch just one more jump, please, Mom.
  • Fear of falling. Ice Girl doesn’t like to fall. As a parent and a non-skater, I don’t blame her. However, falling is a part of the process. There are ways to minimize the pain, but it’s my understanding that rotating the jump and landing on the correct foot are pretty tough. Most skaters can do one or the other at first, but not both at once. That's why skaters fall.
  • Crash pad drama. I bought Ice Girl crash pads. Two sets of crash pads. Did she use them? No. She thought they made her rear end look enormous. She changed her tune when a coach showed her the dent in her thigh she created from trying to learn the double axel without crash pads. I will say that there’s some debate about crash pads. You can find people who dislike them because they worry a skater won’t perform a jump without them. For Ice Girl, they really helped her with her fear of falling, so I like them.
  • Waltz-jump-itis. For months, Ice Girl swung her right leg wide like a waltz jump instead of forward like an axel. She had some wicked pain in her hip from that. She also overworked her hamstrings and twisted her pelvis. Stupid axel.
  • Anything but the stupid axel. The stupid axel’s hard. Ice Girl had some pain from muscle overuse and was discouraged because that stupid axel was taking so long. She’d practice all kinds of things – neat spins, combination jumps, and moves in the field – rather than that stupid axel. Aw, darn. The practice hour is over and no stupid axel attempts.
  • Bejewell that harness and call it a day. Ice Girl has landed many fine axels in the harness only to land many lousy ones off of it. I swore that I would make her a fake harness and put crystals all over it just so she’d land that stupid axel without ropes and pulleys.
  • Two feet. Geez. She’s so close to landing that stupid axel and it’s always on two feet. For months it’s on two feet. Two feet really aren’t that bad, are they? I mean, it’s just one more than one foot. It’s not like two feet and a hand. Really, how bad can two feet be?
  • Ankle weights? Really? When Ice Coach requested I purchase ankle weights, I did, but I thought it was weird. The weights I bought have long Velcro straps so they fit over both Ice Girls’ boots. I’m not a coach, but the weights force Ice Girl to use more power for her rotation, so without the weights she really rotates that jump. That’s what Ice Girl told me, anyway.
  • Core strength. It takes a lot of core strength to spin around in the air like that. Ice Girl does regular off-ice with Ice Coach once a week. She does it sporadically otherwise. This is definitely an area for improvement.
  • Many, many hours. Ugh. I thought the sit spin was bad. The stupid axel takes many, many hours off-ice and on. Bring a book. Or a library. Me, I steal others' crossword puzzles (I'm cheap. And pushy.)
  • Where did you put your Lutz? Ice Girl has her stupid axel pretty solid today. Her Lutz? Where did that go? Honestly. She’s had a Lutz for over a year, but today she didn’t have it. I understand that this is the same with the stupid axel. I’m anticipating the day that she misplaces it, too.
  • Honoring the occasion. It’s not uncommon for parents to give their skater a nice gift to honor the hard work the skater has put in on the stupid axel. You know me, though. I’m cheap. But, I also know how much work went in on that stupid jump. I got her an iPod. O.K., technically it was a re-gift, but it was still new in the box and she loves it, so there.
You might have noticed that I pretty much hate that stupid axel. Don’t get me wrong, that stupid axel is a pretty thing and I was near tears this morning when Ice Girl was just popping them off. I might grow to like it, but over these past eight months, I’ve really harbored resentment toward that stupid jump.

Another gal in the rink was so nice and congratulated Ice Girl this morning. But the mom warned me: here come the doubles.

Update: From reader Helicopter Mom:  But.... now we're stuck in the double salchow zone!!! I keep hoping it won't take as long as the axel did but so far it's looking eerily familiar... Sigh...

Update: From reader Anonymous: as a skating coach and mom, that stupid axel is gonna be the biggest accomplishment in her skating career [...]Falling is a must and until you are daring enough to do that, the axel will elude you, so I say be bold, be daring and have enough courage to just fall on your tush!

Update: From reader Anonymous: For me [the stupid axel] was more difficult than the doubles I mentioned above because I thought the forward takeoff was scary.

Update: From reader Ateam on the Edge: Okay - Axels are a half revolution more than any other jump. It is also the only one that takes off forward (meaning that ALL other parts of skating are "backwards"). We went through agony with double Axel. If you follow skating, you KNOW the triple axel saga. [...] Axel Paulsen was the person who "invented" the Axel jump. I don't think he did any of us a favor, do you??

Update: From reader Jillybean:  My daughter preferred the frozen section of the grocery store, I guess it felt more like the rink. [...] The axel is a HUGE accomplishment! I've known skaters who work on the jump for many years and still never land it.

Update: From reader Anonymous:  If I had a blog of my own, my topic would be 'That Stupid Loop Jump'. I'm an adult skater who does not even want to attempt the stupid axel - I just want to master the stupid loop jump!

Update: From skate coach and reader Xan: Hang in there everyone! My skating princess holds a rink record for learning the axel-- 2 1/2 years. Worst time of my life, lol. And she eventually managed a trip to Junior Nats and now skates professionally. I tell my students that if they aren't falling, they're not trying to learn an axel, they're trying not to fall!

Update: From reader Jozet: Gain an axel, lose a lutz. Double Salchow is axel's sister? She must chop off her sister's pigtails at night, because we weren't feeling the family love.

When people ask me what's the big deal with learning an axel, I use this analogy: going from leaning single backward jump to learning an axel is like going from driving an automatic car all your life to suddenly being put in a car with a stick-shift manual transmission and clutch and then trying to pull-out on a steep hill. There's just that much more you have to coordinate to make the car go without stalling. Or falling.

Update: From reader Anonymous: Well, I thought offering a "reward" would be a good incentive for my daughter to practice her axel...backfire! She became consumed with what she would get when she lands the axel that she got frustrated each time she tried and didn't land it!
 
How about you? Have a stupid axel tale to tell? Share your stories in the comments!

23 comments:

Helicopter Mom said...

Oh yes, I hear you!!! There were times this summer where I thought I would go crazy watching my poor daughter fall and fall and fall and fall and fall... all in an attempt to land that darned axel! Well, it finally happened and it went into the program (twice!) and after the first competition where she fell on them both, came the competition where she landed them both. Hurray!!!! But.... now we're stuck in the double salchow zone!!! I keep hoping it won't take as long as the axel did but so far it's looking eerily familiar... Sigh...

Anonymous said...

as a skating coach and mom, that stupid axel is gonna be the biggest accomplishment in her skating career. An I-pod is what is on the table for my 8 year old also and when she lands it I will happily take her to target and get her one and then a family dinner at her favorite restaurant to follow! Falling is a must and until you are daring enough to do that, the axel will elude you, so I say be bold, be daring and have enough courage to just fall on your tush!

Anonymous said...

My axel seemed to take me ages. From what I remember, it took me about 8 months. I had a double loop, double flip, and double lutz before my axel was consistent. Now that I've come back into skating after taking my college years off, I've done a decent job with it. I still consider it to be the "stupid axel" because one day it will be consistent and the next I will not even be close. For me it was more difficult than the doubles I mentioned above because I thought the forward takeoff was scary. Actually, I still struggle with the forward takeoff.

It's definitely a great skating milestone when your skater lands it! The other moms are right though - doubles are next!

Anonymous said...

3 of my nieces went through the same thing with that stupid axel. It is a major accomplishment and people have said the axel is harder then a lot of double jumps. Congratulations to Ice Girl.

Ateam On The Edge said...

Okay - Axels are a half revolution more than any other jump. It is also the only one that takes off forward (meaning that ALL other parts of skating are "backwards"). We went through agony with double Axel. If you follow skating, you KNOW the triple axel saga.

Axel Paulsen was the person who "invented" the Axel jump. I don't think he did any of us a favor, do you??

Jillybean said...

First of all CONGRATULATIONS ICE GIRL!!!

My daughter just informed me that it isn't a stupid axel, it's a stupid, stupid axel, however, I think that for the time being we will just refer to it as "The jump which shall not be named"

She was landing it beautifully this summer. I even took her out to IHOP for celebration pancakes. The fun part was that she landed it the same week as her friend did. (they've skated together since they were 4) Unfortunately, since then the stupid axel has been misplaced.

My daughter hasn't been able to work on it for a while due to a case of the flu, outgrowing her skates, and extreme fear.
The new skates should be ready this weekend, then let the landing begin!

I had to chuckle about the grocery store. My daughter preferred the frozen section of the grocery store, I guess it felt more like the rink.

Jillybean said...

Also, I have to agree with Anonymous. The axel is a HUGE accomplishment!
I've known skaters who work on the jump for many years and still never land it.

Ethelapple said...

My daughter is younger and I felt that way when she started working on her scratch spin ...felt like it took forever until she wasn't travelling all over the place, and could pull her arms in to go faster. Looking forward to the axel *eye roll*...:)

Anonymous said...

If I had a blog of my own, my topic would be 'That Stupid Loop Jump'. I'm an adult skater who does not even want to attempt the stupid axel - I just want to master the stupid loop jump! (It's better - but I am not going to post how many years it is taking).

Ice Charades said...

Congrats Ice Girl! To me, the axel is what separates the men from the boys.

Anonymous said...

Hi Ice Mom,
I know your pain!!! My daughter's stupid jump was the double toeloop. She kept doing a toe axle not at double toeloop. She is now working on a double lutz and has even gone through "axel rehab" to make sure that she is properly doing the axel so that when she accomplishes the double lutz she can go on to the double axel without too many problems. Axel rehab was actually fun for my daughter but I'm scared to start watching her work on the double axel.

Be prepared your daughter will lose her axel when she starts working on her doubles because she will start over rotating the axel when she starts getting used to doing a double rotation. It will come back with less practice time than learning the axel.

Tell ice girl congradulations on landing her axel consistantly it is a real skaing accomplishment and good luck learning her double jumps. Have fun! Season

Anonymous said...

I hear you about clearing out the living room furniture! My 9 year old has been working on her axel for a short time and she is jumping all over the house in the process! I've gotten used to her off-ice, livingroom practices but the rest of the family (especially the dogs when she makes them move from their comfy spots) can get a bit annoyed! I know it will be amazing when she lands it more than once on ice and look forward to that day!
By the way, I love your blogs! Thanks for taking us all on your journey as "Ice Mom"!

Xan said...

Hang in there everyone! My skating princess holds a rink record for learning the axel-- 2 1/2 years. Worst time of my life, lol. And she eventually managed a trip to Junior Nats and now skates professionally. I tell my students that if they aren't falling, they're not trying to learn an axel, they're trying not to fall!

ChelleDG said...

We just got over months and months of the "horrible, terrible, no good, very bad" loop, flip, and lutz. Since those are now consistent, her coach is now dangeling the Axel carrot. Tentatively, they're planning on starting after the first of the year. Oh boy - this is going to be painful - for both of us!

Jozet at Halushki said...

Yes, yes...same here. Gain an axel, lose a lutz. Double Salchow is axel's sister? She must chop off her sister's pigtails at night, because we weren't feeling the family love.

When people ask me what's the big deal with learning an axel, I use this analogy: going from leaning single backward jump to learning an axel is like going from driving an automatic car all your life to suddenly being put in a car with a stick-shift manual transmission and clutch and then trying to pull-out on a steep hill. There's just that much more you have to coordinate to make the car go without stalling.

Or falling.

Angie said...

Ahhh yes... we are bearly beginning this journey! My daughter has landed them a few times in the harness, but is no where near ready to land them on the ice! She jumps them off ice too. Sometimes they are pretty and sometimes not so much! I am also familar with the grocery isle jumping. My daughter does that too! She does it anywhere she has the space to do so. :) Congrats to ice girl!! What an accomplishment! Oh and about jumps taking vacations... we've been through that with my daughter's loop jump! It went bye-bye for a couple of months and drove me(and her!) nuts! Every once in awhile it would make an appearance, but not consistantly! Boy was dd glad when it finally showed up again! I have heard losing a jump is not uncommon and when they get them back, they are usually better then before the jump went on vacation! :)

bethalice said...

And I thought my daughter was the only one who practices her jumps in public - grocery store, mart store, auto shop (put a nice show on for the mechanics), etc. She recently started off-ice axel training. She got it the first day, but has been unable since, though she is consistently close. I think her biggest problem is a fear of falling. I really like what the skate coach said on that subject.

Sk8nLane said...

My daughter's journey with the axel is just beginning. Lands it off-ice beautifully in her newly create off-ice room - right in front of the TV when her brother is watching. She started on the harness about a week ago and can land it also, but..... She has a long way to go before landing it on her own. Now for off-ice it is the doubles and I am thinking a helmet might be a good piece of equipment:-) She just can't get there quite yet.

Anonymous said...

Well, I thought offering a "reward" would be a good incentive for my daughter to practice her axel...backfire! She became consumed with what she would get when she lands the axel that she got frustrated each time she tried and didn't land it! Thankfully Christmas is coming so what she was going to get for the axel she will now get for Christmas (I told her this and now she's content to work without frustration on her axel).

owlreader said...

haha, not as much stupid axel as stupid hockey player. Almost passed into freestyle 5, and my coach started on axels last week. Twas all good fun off ice, and then on ice even better (actually got all the way around once or twice) until BLAM!!!!! Stupid hockey player in the way! (My ice rink doesn't have freestyle ice because they hate figure skaters). Then my coach made me stop because she said I was going to hurt someone on accident. Then she glared down the hockey player until he backed away, tail between his legs. :)
Tell Ice Girl good luck with her axel, though. I totally understand how hard it is.

Jane @ seo consultant said...

stupid but a great accomplishment!

Anonymous said...

That stupid axel! I feel like I'm never going to land it.
Must go practice it now in fact.......

Ice Mom said...

Good luck, Anony! I'm sure you'll get that stupid Axel someday! :)

Ice Mom