This week's tip:
There's nothing like a little freestyle skating to tune up your technique and get you in touch with your edges. So how about learning one of the basic moves: "the crazy."
The crazy is a 2-cone move, which is repeated over the length of a slalom course (a row of cones, 80 centimeters apart). The two halves of the crazy mirror each other.
Here's how it's done:
1.) Stand on the right side of the first cone. (If you find it more comfortable, start from the left side. But in that case, reverse the feet used in the following sequence.)
2.) Balance your body forward and cross the first cone with your feet crossed, left foot leading. (In this position, your left foot will be on the right side of the cone and your right foot on the left side.)
3.) After passing over the cone, uncross your feet and drive them in opposite directions: left foot going left, right foot going right, heel wheels pointing toward each other.
4.) Balance your weight backward in the direction of the second cone. (The second cone is behind you now.)
5.) Roll backwards and, as you do this, again cross your feet with the left foot leading. Cross over the second cone with your left foot on the right side of the cone and your right foot on the left side of the cone.
6.) Again uncross your feet: left foot going left backward, right foot going right. But this time with the toe wheels facing.
7.) That puts you in the position to start all over again at the third cone.
8.) Keep skating. You may find the crazy difficult at first but after a few weeks of practice, you'll be cone weaving!
The best skates for slalom have hard boots, short frames and rockered wheels (smaller wheels at toe and heel; larger wheels in the middle). Frames should be no more than 250mm. Popular wheel arrangements are: 76mm, 80, 80, 76 (front to back) and 72, 76, 76, 72.
The first time time you rocker, skate on a flat surface away from traffic — and mind your balance, forward and back. With your wheels rockered, it will be much easier to do tricks, like the "crazy" or "grapevine." And eventually, you may find you prefer rockered wheels for all your skating.
Vincent Vuvankha is one of the world's top freestyle skaters. He won last year's IFSA World Cup and has been the French national freestyle champion for the past five years. He is also active in the organization of the sport and was one of the founders of the International Freestyle Skating Association, which organizers competitions in Europe. A resident of Paris, he travels worldwide giving freestyle seminars and demonstrations.
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