Blades and lacing
Skate plate shown at left is set off center so that blade is closer to inside of foot where weight of body is greatest. Teeth at blade point are used only by advanced skaters for pivots, spins and jumps. Drawing at right shows proper way to lace boot. Lace first four holes fairly loosely, then very tightly through circled area and tie at this point with surgeon's knot (hold one lace and wrap the other around it twice). Above knot, tie the boots very loosely (to avoid leg cramps), hooking the laces through the eyelet hooks above the ankle bones to top of boot. Test looseness at top by slipping finger between shin bone and tongue of boot.
Take it easy. Don't rush
Step out on ice using rail or friend's hand, or both, for support, as shown above. Balance first on one blade and then the other, trying hard to keep ankles upright and knees flexible. Pick up feet gently, keeping them close to ice. Propel yourself along rail by hand, gliding first on one skate and then the other. Then push off parallel to rail and attempt short forward glides on your own. Once you feel secure, go ahead with the forward scull sequence as shown at right. Point toes out (1), then slide feet out diagonally (2), keeping your weight evenly divided and on the back of the blades. Straighten knees, force toes in (3 and large figure) and slide feet together (4). Glide along for a moment, then repeat the maneuver, counting rhythmically from one to four until you work up continuity and a fair amount of speed. Ten such sequences should carry you about 100 feet or more down the ice.
Stretch that tendon!
Did sculling make your legs ache? Probably a rebellious tendon. Exercise it by bracing toes against rink barrier, as above, or use rungs of a sturdy chair. Pull up slowly.
Limber up those hips!
Ability to turn legs out is vital in most skating maneuvers. Spread feet, secure blades against barrier (above), straighten knees and pull up, keeping derrière tucked in.
AND NOW, ONE FOOT AT A TIME
First, get in position
With the sculls mastered, you're ready to start stroking off onto one foot. Always keep in mind the fundamental position of skating, shown at left. Actually, it's a position of walking, except for the exaggerated forward bend of the ankles, which place the knees just ahead of the point of the skates. Arms are relaxed and kept low. As you move along, swing them naturally as in walking. The back is straight and the weight of the body is directly over the skates. To avoid tripping on skate teeth and pitching forward, keep weight slightly to back of blade (black dot, above right) when you try your first strokes. Conversely, when you learn to skate backward you will want to keep the weight toward front (above left). Begin to skate with the push-off shown in detail drawings on the opposite page. The force of the push is what makes you go, so start out with as strong a thrust as possible.
Next, the cycle of forward stroking
So far, we've been practicing "flat-footed," i.e., with each blade's two edges in contact with the ice. Now we must learn how to get on one edge or the other so that we can transcribe circles and more complicated patterns, which are what make figure skating different and more fascinating than just plain skating. The sequence above shows you how to skate on two of the primary edges and also how to change feet by mastering the stroking combinations. As you push off (figures 1 and 2), you will find that you can get on the outside edge of the skating foot by leaning the whole body to the right. Keep the free leg straight out behind until you are ready to make the next stroke. Then bring free foot forward smoothly (3 and 4) until it is parallel to and touching the skating foot but not the ice (5 and inset A). Now, to prepare for next push, turn toe of skating foot out to 45° angle (B) and shift skate to inside edge. At the same time start moving body from a right lean to a left lean. Straighten right knee (6 and 7), at same instant complete shifting of weight to outside edge of left skate. When you finish the sequence (8), you'll discover that you are in the same position as in figure 2 except that you're now on the opposite foot.
Now, try the push-off
With knees nearly straight and body erect (1), place heel of right foot at 90° angle to instep of left. Put weight on left foot and turn the ankle strongly inward for anchorage. Bend knees deeply with weight still on left foot (2). Push hard by quickly straightening left knee, and at the same time shift weight from left foot to right foot (3). Glide as far as you can on right foot with left leg fully extended and skate held about four inches off the ice. Also practice same maneuver using right foot as anchor and pushing on to the left foot. You should be able to start equally well on either foot.
The stroking cycle is now complete, and you just keep going left, right, left, right, until you begin to tire and your strokes get ragged. Then stop and rest. Note that at all times the arms change smoothly with the change of the feet, just as they would if you were walking. Try to keep each right and left stroke the same length so that you do not unconsciously favor one foot or the other. To stop, turn both feet sideways by swinging your heels evenly to the right, bend both knees, skid against the blades and throw your left shoulder forward as seen in the three figures at the right. As you slide to a stop, straighten your knees and body to standing position.