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The double toe walley is slightly more challenging than the double Salchow for a few reasons. First, the jump's preparation, and therefore its meter, is longer and is a bit more involved. But what contributes most to the difficulty is the need for the skater to check the body from one count to the next. Checking is a figure-skating term (not the same as "checking" in ice hockey when you ungracefully slam your opponent into the boards) that means stopping any particular motion at any given time. (editor's note: When we do "stopping practice" at the piano, we are using the same strategy in order to build control. As pianists, we bolster our control in a piece by having many starting and stopping points. Physiologists call this the development of inhibition, which is the counterbalance of excitation. For more detailed information, see George Kochevitsky's The Art of Piano Playing, Summy-Birchard Music, pp. 25-26.)
Detailed description of a double toe walley:
(editor's note: I had an opportunity to watch the author teach some of these jumps. After the rink sessions, Rick told me that if proper body-weight transfer does not take place in the air, skaters do a maneuver that is unofficially known as a "lip-skid"; i.e., they fall flat on their face and slide! This certainly has a way of training skaters very quickly how to coordinate their body weight onto their skates! As pianists, for better or for worse, we do not get the same rude and abrupt result when we fail to properly balance arm weight onto fingers on the keyboard. Instead, the results are more insidious, because they still interfere with the development of artistic playing-physical tension, wrong notes, possibly even damage to muscles and tendons over the long run-but without such an obvious warning that something basic is wrong in the technique. Perhaps an occasional "lip-skid" is actually a fortunate event for a young skater!)
I notate the rhythm for the student like this:
To teach the rhythm of this jump, I subdivide the preparation into two parts. First, at the side of the rink, the student walks through the 3-turn with the body going through all the checked positions while I clap out the rhythm. After a half dozen or so successful repetitions, I allow the student to add the remainder of the preparation.
It is extremely important that the student practice walking through these gestures successfully many times so that the body will begin to develop the correct muscle memory of the entire sequence. When this occurs, it becomes less of a thought process and more of an automated physical reflex, as if on autopilot. But even with this subconscious response, the skater must still count the rhythm out loud to make sure each gesture coincides with the beat.
Below you can see the pattern on the ice, along with the meter:
One other important aspect in figure skating involving rhythm is the program. The above jumps and a host of others are ultimately sequenced and performed to music as a complete program. In competitions, senior men and women are required to skate a program which is four minutes or more in duration. That is a long time to jump and skate! There is an extremely important yet very natural aspect of the rhythm of the program, and that is the rhythm of breathing. I cannot imagine making it successfully through an entire program without breathing rhythmically. Stamina and endurance do take a while to acquire with each new program, but breathing rhythmically according to the overriding meters that frame each maneuver is essential. I have my students breathe in through the nose, and exhale out through the mouth for every two beats in the meter. By doing this throughout the program, and also by strategically placing a long and welcome catch-breath into the slow section of the music, the skater can perform an entire program and come through with flying colors.
Aren't you ready now to lace up your skates?
has been skating for over twenty-five years, and is a former national competitor
and double gold medalist of the United States Figure Skating Association.
He has been teaching leisure and competitive skaters since 1990. He is also
a vocal performance major at the Chicago Musical College of Roosevelt University.
As a professional bass baritone, he has performed in many of the regional
opera companies throughout the Chicago area. This past summer, he sang the
role of Don Giovanni at the Teatro del Giglio in Lucca, Italy.