Joey Mantia stays low and keeps his ankles firm as he rounds a corner during the 2006 Miss and Out Criterium in St. Paul.
Photo: Darlene Prois
By Joey Mantia
I always tell people that skating is 90 percent technical. If you have strong legs but weak technique, you're like a powerful car without wheels.
That's why it's so important to work on technique.
Even after years of training, there are still a few technical challenges I try to work on every time I skate.
1) Arm Swing
Your legs follow what your arms do, so practice bringing your hand up in front of your face on each forward swing and fully extending your arm on each back swing.
2) Knee Bend
The lower you are, the farther you can extend your legs.
When skating indoors or on a small track, pretend that you're sitting in a chair as you move down the straightaway. Then try as hard as you can not to lift up as you go around the corner.
3) Ankle Support
I always try to focus on keeping my ankles nice and firm when I skate. If your ankles aren't firm, and give as you push, you lose power.
There are several ways to practice good ankle support. Here are four of them:
My coach Renee Hildebrand used to always tell me, "Practice doesn't make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect."
This is especially important when you are working on technique. If you don't focus all your attention on it, you won't get the results you are looking for.
(originally published: Jan. 18, 2008)
Joey Mantia has been the world's top men's inline speed skater for the last five years. At the 2010 World Championships, the Ocala, FL, native won two gold, two silver and one bronze medal. That would have been a career peak for any other skater. But for "Super Mantia," it was the worst showing in years. Among his career highlights are two years in a row in which he won seven gold medals at Worlds and three years in a row in which he won the marathon. Recently, the 24-year-old announced he was moving to Salt Lake City to train on ice. He hopes to continue his winning ways in the 2014 Winter Games in Russia.
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