One is not restricted by any set figures, and can flit here, there, and everywhere, and the delight of all this can hardly be described.
From the spectators' point of view, doubtless, the international style is the more attractive, for though to the performer good English combined skating is exhilarating, and replete with the sense of difficulties overcome, it appears somewhat monotonous to the onlooker. All the turns seem to be equally easy or difficult, appearing as mere incidents in a procession of gigantic curves.
On the other hand, really brilliant and graceful free skating is an appeal to the artistic and emotional perceptions of many people ; and the often heard exclamation, "How easy it looks!" is perhaps the highest compliment which can be paid to the skater in either style.
And now, after these digressions, to the practical consideration of the elements, briefly as regards English style skating, more fully as regards the international.
The first rule of English skating is that the employed leg must be kept absolutely straight, no bend of the knee is allowed, whether the skater is on an edge or making a turn. The beginner must also remember that the unemployed leg must touch the employed, and that the body and head must be erect. At first the unemployed leg will show a strong tendency to swing. This must be overcome. The best way to attain the correct position is to rest the side of the unemployed foot against the heel of the employed, the calves of the legs slightly touching. This position will keep the employed skate just clear of the ice, especially if the toe is turned slightly outwards and upwards, and at right angles to the employed foot.
The arms should hang by the side of the body, the elbows turned in. All turns in the English style are made by the twist of the shoulders, the arms moving with them. On no account should the turns be made with the spasmodic jerk of the arms so often seen.
No. 2. The forward inside eight. The swing of the free foot must be perfectly easy
To make a clean turn, the skater must first revolve the shoulders, and with them the upper part of the body; then with a rapid movement of the foot assume the correct position for the succeeding edge. In most of the forward turns the fact of revolving the shoulders strongly will bring the foot to its new edge without a conscious effort, but in the back turns an effort must be made, and the foot turned sharply from the ankle.
After the skater has mastered all the more difficult figures, such as rockers, counters, and brackets, then comes the desire for further fields to conquer, and the English skater turns to combined figures, the international to free or pair skating.
We will now proceed to consider the so-called compulsory figures of the international style.
The first figure to be attempted is the forward outside eight. This, and the succeeding figures up to and including No. 9, are to be regarded as the elements, and unless these are thoroughly mastered, all further' progress is at an end.
No. I. The Forward Outside Eight
To commence this figure the learner must stand firmly and easily on the inside edge of the left skate, and strike off in the direction of the first curve. (The foot which is on the ice is known as the tracing foot, that off the ice as the free foot.) The right shoulder must be well in front, and the whole body in a sideways position - vide photograph.
Towards the end of the curve, and as the centre of the figure is approached, the left shoulder is slowly brought to the front, and the left leg swung quietly and easily forward, in order that it may be ready to take up the stroke for the second half of the figure. The second half is similarly skated on the left foot.
The inside spiral, a graceful but not a difficult movement
No. 2. Inside Eight
When skating this figure, the contrary shoulder to the tracing foot is brought forward,until rather more than half the first edge is completed, the right shoulder is then brought forward, and the free leg swung to the front ready for the next edge.
Similarly skated on the left foot.
The swing of the free leg must always be easy, the free foot in its progress to the front passing close by the tracing foot.
No. 3. The Back Outside Eight
The back outside edge is one which requires much practice in order that the learner may acquire the necessary confidence to lean well over ; this leaning must not be from the waist, but the whole of the body and legs must be inclined, and a sideways position maintained throughout the figure.
The free foot must be held in front until half the circle is completed; it is then swung back into the position shown in the photograph.
The foregoing edges are the groundwork of all skating, and she who has mastered the simple edges will learn the more difficult figures more easily and speedily than one who hastens to threes and loops when unable to skate a plain edge well. A beginner usually falls into the error of practising too long; one and a half or two hours a day is ample, and it is better to divide such practice between the morning and afternoon. In this way the muscles are not fatigued, and the brain does not become dull. To be continued.
No. 3. The back outside eight. This movement requires much practice, in order that the pupil may acquire confidence to lean well over