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Figure Skating with Don Jackson
By:  Tom McCarthy   (2002/10/01)


XC Ottawa is becoming pretty notorious for its scooter training methods. We love the discussion it generates and we welcome anyone who is interested to come out to training with us one day. We'll lend you one of our fleet of shiny red "Kick Rocket" Zellers brand scooters and you too can look like a tool, pushing your way up some big hill while cyclists fly past with big smirks on their faces.

Last Sunday, we experimented with another sport. We all gathered at the Minto Skating Club to have a figure skating lesson from Don Jackson, one of the great pioneers of the sport. Don Jackson was the first man to ever land a triple jump in competition, and it took 12 years for the next competitor to manage one. He is a former World Champion and an Olympic medallist. As Karl said, from the face up he looks his age (62), but below the face he moves like someone half his age.

Why, you ask, did we go figure skating? Well, one of the theories of our coaching staff is that complementary activities can help develop essential skills for skiing, while at the same time reducing training monotony and helping to prevent overuse injuries. In the case of figure skating, there are a number of balance, coordination, skating kick, and weight shift issues which could transfer pretty easily over to skiing.

We started with skating around the rink (most of us had hockey skates, which was ok). We did all sorts of weight transfer and power exercises while skating, such as generating power from pushing the skate into the ice on one leg (dynamic knee-bends). We then moved on to things like balance and hip flexibility exercises. Much of the session was spent trying to gain maximum power out of the sideways leg- push of the skate. It got tricky when he tried teaching us tricks, like spins and jumps.

I was surprised at how direct the cross-over is to skiing. The leg position, in terms of weight shift and power transfer, is exactly the same as the skating technique. The knee-bends are great practice for preloading, and a lot of the other stuff transfers to balance needs.

One thing that doesn't transfer too well are the jumps. I'm planning on starting work on my triple axel on rollerskis as soon as I can, and by the end of the winter I should have a solid triple down on my boards. Whatever happened to ballet skiing? Bring it back!

Some information on Donald Jackson...

  • World Championships: Gold - 1962, Silver - 1959, 1960
  • Olympic Results: Bronze - 1960
  • Member of The Order of Canada
  • Member of Canada's Sports Hall of Fame
Don's International Results
Don's Skating Biography

Interesting Reading. . .
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