Try Skating and get Scotland rolling

Melissa Garvey joins the Naomi Grigg Freestyle Course in London

Freestyle Skate? YES you can!


Naomi Grigg

Naomi Grigg

It was, in short, amazing. It might sound incredibly cheesy, but the best way I can describe it is that song from Aladdin (you know, the one Katie and Peter did a -not very good- cover of) 'A Whole New World'. I had my first introduction to the world of slalom and I think I'm hooked. One of the other girls on the course agreed with me so I'm not alone in my cheesy opinions! And to think I almost cancelled going on the course, worrying that I might have let myself in for too much... I'm SO glad i didn't do that! I never really understood what the big deal was about slalom, all those funny names of tricks and people just going back and forward in a straight line thinking of how many different ways you can skate around a plastic cup... But I guess this weekend I realised how much fun it can be and how good it can feel to accomplish a new trick and feel it all come together. Here s how it started:

At 10am Saturday morning (having just gotten off the night train from Glasgow at 9am!), we had a nice relaxed informal start with introductions and everyone going through what they could or couldn't do so far, and what they were hoping to get out of the course. With a real mix of abilities, from people who had never really tried slalom before, to people who could do lots of tricks and wanted to perfect them... Naomi somehow catered for all of our abilities and ensured the course was really fun and challenging for everyone. She taught us all at the level we were at, whatever that might be, learning new tricks or improving old ones. It was very easygoing, everyone was friendly, and she spent a good amount of time with each of us, so it almost felt like a private lesson as well as a group one.

We started off with the basics- going through cones backwards and forwards, doing crossovers, and putting all our weight on one foot. It feels like so long ago now, and I've learned so much in such a short space of time that I actually cant remember what else we started with! But at lunchtime, Naomi gave her theory speech about form, posture, fluidity, smoothness and power. In short, you want to not only be able to do the tricks, but look beautiful doing them. Ah, perfection... good to know we're off the hook, as we can never attain it. But we can still try. Long as its fun!


Freestyle at GG

Cones, Guess Where?

After lunch the real learning began! We learned the Sun, Mabrook, and some of the class learned the Grapejuice, a variation on the classic grapevine. Naomi showed us each new trick (one at a time!), then broke it down and described it in detail, and got us all to go off and try it for a while. Then she pointed out 3 or 4 key things that helped make it easier, and we had a second go, usually much more successful than the previous one, and pretty soon, we had it down and were on to the next one! Some of the key issues I will remember most and found really helpful were:
-Stay on your outside edges at (almost) all times
-Weight distribution: your weight is (almost) always on one leg only... 'freestyle is the art of falling', as someone said... always falling from one foot onto the other- in new and interesting ways!-
-for the crazy- which was my big project of the weekend- keep your centre of gravity over the cones, going in a straight line. And imagine your legs are like a pendulum, swinging back and forth underneath this steady centre of gravity.
-keep arms down! do not flail arms! it may help balance but it looks silly! finding balance is all about your center of gravity.



Seba High

Seba FR1, click for details

After 3 and a half hours, I was ready to call it a day. I had planned to buy new skates after class and wear them to the next days class - my skates being CRAP!- but was wary of getting ones and then feeling like I got the wrong ones, for some reason. Naomi kindly let me try out her Seba Highs the next day and they were beautiful! I didn't want to take them off! Wearing them for the day really helped me to lose the attachment and sense of loyalty I had for my old skates and I'm thoroughly ready to hang them up and trade them in for a newer model! Cant wait! In fact, I bought a pair of Highs and am going to test them out tomorrow! Day two we recapped what we'd learned the day before, and then went swiftly on to do the Crazy, the Vault, and the Nelson and then spent the afternoon putting them all together and finding a 'soup base' move to link them all together. Before I knew it, the class was over, and some of us stayed an extra hour to practice and hang out.

So this weekend, I went from being a slalom virgin to having 6 tricks up my sleeve!!! I cant wait to get back to Glasgow and show anyone who's interested!

Don, you better have the cones ready!!!