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Slalom Cone Skating Forum Discussions about slalom cone skating, high-jump, and other freestyle trick skating. (Note that vert, street, and park skating discussions should be posted in our aggressive skating forum.)

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Old April 13th, 2014, 03:06 PM   #1
Shaw
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Default Slalom requires patience

This is a rough translation from a skater in China.

Slalom is cool, right?
Slalomers are awesome, right?
Passerbys will often stop and watch slalomers, right?
Slalomers often get asked how to skate as well, right?
It's all true, right?

Then, why is it that slalomers are declining in number?
I often have people ask me: wow, that trick is really cool, how do you do it?
Okay, I'll teach you. I slowly go over the details, and let them start practicing.
Then I go back to practicing my own tricks.
Ten minutes later, I turn my head, and find that that person isn't practicing the trick I just taught them.
Question: Why aren't you practicing that trick anymore?
Answer: I tried. Ten or so attempts, I didn't seem to be getting it, so I'm back to practicing this easier trick.
Me, I'm speechless.
Another day comes, another person comes to ask me: Bro, can you teach me this trick? Sure
After explaining how to do the trick, he dilligently practices it. This guy's alright, he's willing to stick with it.
The next day I see him again, but he's practicing slides and speed slalom instead.
Question: Why aren't you practicing slalom today?
Answer: I practiced for a full day yesterday, it's too boring. Today I'm mixing it up, I usually practice this way.
Again, I'm speechless.

When you're at the park and you meet this kind of person, can you still patiently teach people time and time again? I cannot, I have neither the time nor the patience to teach people who don't have the discipline to learn what I teach them. If I'm going to take my time to patiently explain things, but you're not going to stick with what I teach you, then why should I waste my time? If I had that sort of time, I would've long ago learned how to pull off wheeling shifts, sewing machines, and toe footguns.
The first time someone asks me to teach them a trick I'll patiently explain it, the second time I'll still patiently teach, the third time... I'll put on my headphones and pretend not to hear, or just demonstrate it once and run off to practice.
These kinds of people, are a dime a dozen.

Actually, I know, I shouldn't be blaming other people. What they say is correct: Slalom, is actually very boring!

Slalom, isn't the same as slides, speed slalom, or aggressive skating where you can quickly see results.
Slalom, to progress from the basics to intermediate to advanced to the top levels, requires time, experience, passion, and lots of practice.
There are so many videos online. The skating that is so impressive, so fluid, so cool, is all the result of many hours of practice. Repeating the same steps over and over again until they reach perfection.
Take the trick Crazy for instance. Why is it when different people do it, they have their own style? Why is it that some people look awful doing it, while others look great?
It's simple, when a book is read a hundred times, its meaning becomes clear.

When you've practiced a trick 5000 or more times, when that trick is ingrained into your muscle memory, then I am sure that your version of the trick will be different from other people's!
During June this year something happened which gave me a very deep impression. At the time I've been practicing slalom for nearly a year, and I thought although I wasn't great at it, I wasn't bad either.
One day, I was practicing with an expert.
I saw a trick that was very impressive, so I asked the expert to teach me. He was very passionate, and explained it to me. What posture I should be holding, how my leg should be moving. His explanation was very passionate, but also very impatient, because to me what looked like good fundamentals to him were actually very poor, so even after an hour I was unable to learn the trick.
The expert then decided: alright, let's start from the basics.
Okay, basics then, how do I start?
The expert then says: tonight, just do 2000 iterations of crazy... go home and rest after that.
I almost fainted. 2000 crazy? 4000 iterations of cross?
My heart skipped a beat. I debated it for a bit, then decided on 1000 crazies.
I started practicing, it was very difficult.
After practicing for 3 hours, I finally finished 1000 crazies... it was the first time I so fanatically practiced a single trick.
Then the expert told me: In the future, you should practice every trick 5000 times, individually...
I kneeled...
After spending about two weeks, I finally had crazy practiced over 5000 times. While practicing, I could clearly feel myself improving, even though it was only a little bit every day. It was enough though, small improvements can lead towards big improvements.

Since then, every time I encountered a trick I didn't know, or a trick that looked ugly when I did it, I'd just keep practicing that single trick until I've really understood it and can cleanly pull it off before I attempt to learn anything else. Every time I'd spend about an hour working on just one trick, until I'm completely bored of it and practice something else to let off steam.
June, July, these two months have seen my skating improve the greatest. You can say that I didn't improve as much in the previous year as I did in this two month period. Of course, you can't say the basics I learned in the previous year was wasted either, there is still a difference between having learned something and not having learned it at all.

August, September of this year, my improvement seemed to be slowing down, and I reached a roadblock. Being able to pull of many tricks felt nice, but not being able to get through the cones with certain tricks was frustrating, and I was especially having trouble with wheeling tricks.
These two months, I've been numbly practicing. Many of the friends I practiced with have gone on to do other things as well, so mostly I just practiced the tricks I could pull off, and neglected the ones I could not.
In the middle of September, I had a bet with someone. Whoever can't pass 20 cones backwards wheeling within the next month has to treat the other to dinner.
The middle of October came, and I still couldn't do it. I'd practice a little every day, chat with the other skaters, and the days just went by.

Then, a couple of days ago, my passion was rekindled.There was someone practicing backwards wheelings, and I don't know why but somehow that motivated me to really practice.
Before that day, I could get at most 5 cones wheeling backwards, never more than that. That day however, I got a feel for it, and I was able to get through at least 10 cones, and I practiced until I had at least a 20% success rate for passing 20 cones.
Using the first few cones for speed meant I'd only get 17, 18 cones, so I put down 26 cones, and could still pass them.
I was very happy, and very excited, despite constantly practicing a single trick, to find the balance for it and have my body memorize it.
Without noticing, about four hours had passed, and I had only practiced this one trick. The other skaters even asked me: Aren't you tired? All these hours you've just been practicing this one trick, isn't that boring?
It really is boring, that guy is right. However, if I don't keep at it, I'm afraid that my body wouldn't remember the feeling, the balance, and that the next day I might forget how to keep it. So I keep practicing the one trick.
Before I went home that day, I was able to fully pass 20 cones at least once in every three attempts. I hope I can remember this feeling, and focus on retaining that balance. I don't want today's efforts to go to waste.
After I got home, I suddenly understood. It's not that my improvement slowed down, but that my attitude had changed in the previous months. I lost my focus, and I wasn't as passionate. With that sort of attitude, it's impossible to progress quickly so it's no wonder that I was stuck in a rut for those months.
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Old April 13th, 2014, 03:12 PM   #2
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I don't agree with everything he said, but the core ideas of attitude and passion, or lack thereof, should resonate with many US skaters.

To me, skating is just a hobby. I do it because it's fun, and a good way to meet new people. I don't learn new tricks for the sake of competition, I don't take my practice time all too seriously.

And that's why I'm still mediocre.

I've been practicing slalom since 2007, and this guy who's been practicing for less than two years is probably better than me. Three years ago I could occasionally clear 20 cones wheeling forward, two years ago I could clear 5-6 cones wheeling backwards, but then... I stopped practicing wheelings so much because they're difficult and boring, so my body forgot them. When I went back to them, I found that I was lucky to get 10 going forwards, and maybe 3 going backwards.

This isn't uncommon either. If you want to learn wheelings, you really need to commit to them otherwise any progress you make can be quickly and easily forgotten.

Slalom is indeed very boring if you want to progress into the advanced levels. Learning a trick a day isn't difficult when you begin, but later on you could spend months listlessly trying to learn a new trick without really making any progress, and just become complacent with the tricks you already know. There's nothing wrong with that either, but for those who really want to get good at slalom, there's no substitute for hard work, diligent practice, and a passionate will to improve.
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Old April 13th, 2014, 06:11 PM   #3
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A very motivational text
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Old April 14th, 2014, 03:59 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shaw View Post
I was practicing with an expert.
I saw a trick that was very impressive, so I asked the expert to teach me. He was very passionate, and explained it to me. What posture I should be holding, how my leg should be moving. His explanation was very passionate, but also very impatient, because to me what looked like good fundamentals to him were actually very poor, so even after an hour I was unable to learn the trick.
The expert then decided: alright, let's start from the basics.
Okay, basics then, how do I start?
This exact thing happened to me. When I was told back to basics I was like WTF! He tried to teach me the "NELSON". I just could not get it. It just did not feel natural to be all twisted up in my knees. I consider myself a good skater. ( I have all edges) After this day with this nice guy trying to help me it really humbled me. It hurt me really bad. I took 2 weeks off after that. I was like I suck!

I came back after 2 weeks and felt brand new and did 2 new things that day.

I'm ready to give it another shot. These moves are very hard. I did get frustrated because I was not able to follow his direction which took all of the fun out of it for me.

Shaw, Thank you for posting this. I really needed this. I know I'm not alone. I was never so humbled by this skating moment. It hit me harder than all my hardest falls combined over 20 years. I will continue to have fun and not put so much pressure on myself in the future.
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Old April 14th, 2014, 08:43 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by SVT CAMR View Post
This exact thing happened to me. When I was told back to basics I was like WTF! He tried to teach me the "NELSON". I just could not get it. It just did not feel natural to be all twisted up in my knees. I consider myself a good skater. ( I have all edges) After this day with this nice guy trying to help me it really humbled me. It hurt me really bad. I took 2 weeks off after that. I was like I suck!

I came back after 2 weeks and felt brand new and did 2 new things that day.

I'm ready to give it another shot. These moves are very hard. I did get frustrated because I was not able to follow his direction which took all of the fun out of it for me.

Shaw, Thank you for posting this. I really needed this. I know I'm not alone. I was never so humbled by this skating moment. It hit me harder than all my hardest falls combined over 20 years. I will continue to have fun and not put so much pressure on myself in the future.
I've asked a lot of experts how to do certain tricks, and I've been the guy who goes off and practices something else because what they taught was too difficult on more than one occasion as well. It's been my experience that a good skater will help by explaining a trick, but a great skater would just tell me what basic tricks I should be working on instead. It's humbling, but in the end, it's also the better advice. You'll learn a new trick faster and better by going back and working on your fundamentals than you would banging your head against it until you get it right. If your fundamentals are strong enough, no trick should late longer than a week to learn.

Learning slalom in general should be a pretty humbling experience. The more you learn, the more you realize just how much room for improvement there still is. Shifts and sevens are where difficult tricks begin, not where they end.
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Old April 16th, 2014, 10:54 AM   #6
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Great post. I hope that if I ever met a professional that they would not mind teaching me. I think I'd probably be intimidated. It is strange being the only freestyle skater in town. I'd love to learn from an actual person. I now feel inclined to practise my moves more repetitively (this will work fantasically with my OCD, I'll try the crazy 5000 times).

I found that skating through cones was fun in the 90's when I lived in the city. The fun was being around all the people. Cone skating is still fun, but it's a very solitary sport where I'm living now. I prefer doing these slalom moves freestyle, where there are a lot of people.

The only hope around here is that I can inspire a few kids to become freestyle skaters. It may be working. I noticed that the number of inline skaters out on the walkway over the Hudson has doubled since last year (and it's only april). I don't want to come across as intimidating, I would adore the oportunity to help anyone learn. Soooo.... If you're in Po-Town......I'm the only one on the bridge with the black SEBA's and silver frames. I'm super friendly, I just have my I-Pod turned all the way up. Stop by.
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Old April 16th, 2014, 04:58 PM   #7
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Since you're in New York, you should look up Eriald, Gerbert, and other slalomers in NYC, I'm sure they'd be happy to teach you.
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Old April 16th, 2014, 06:48 PM   #8
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I think I may do that at some point this summer. It's a 2 hour train ride, so it will be a long day. I'd like to check out the NYC dance skaters too while I'm down there. Those guys are nuts. It's so much fun skating in Central Park. I really hope that upstate skating will gain that kind of momentum.
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Old April 20th, 2014, 07:19 AM   #9
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Yeah, I think it was Xuan Le that said he never wanted to learn more than 6 tricks in a year.

Now, that may sound like a lot of tricks, but it's not really considering the tremendous amount of time he dedicated to practice every week. Through all that repetition and concentration, he was able to achieve a "natural" style that I think everyone can appreciate.

I've had the same frustration Shaw, as people ask me to teach them some slalom, only to give up in a few hours/weeks/months after reaching the conclusion that, damn, this is hard. People look for silver bullets and don't realize that success in slalom is just hard work and a lot of time.

I wonder if a return to "freestyle" slalom might make cones more fun for those new to the sport. It frustrates me to see newbies work on wheelings when their backcross or crazy looks like ass. I think its bad for the quality of their skating, and also bad for their chances of continuing with slalom.

A while back, I reached a point in my freestyle where it was probably "time" to start learning more advanced tricks. But, even though I didn't mind practice, the difficulty, repetition, and slow progress did suck a lot of fun out of my skating. I would compete, but really just to support slalom and to hang out with friends in the community. I'm not a natural competitor, and I get so nervous having people watch my skating and being judged that I can't pull off any tricks and even my basic freestyle would abandon me.

Not sure how much I'll compete this year. I've not really been skating much lately. But I do think I'll start practicing again when it warms up/drys out. Probably only freestyle though. Even if I don't feel like competing or skating in public or whatever. I reeeeeaaally love the isolation and freedom and release of putting down some cones at midnight in the dark of the basketball court down the street, shoving in the earphones tight, and letting my feet do what they will. I hope I keep up with slalom for a very long time - at least as long as I need an escape from life or the world or whatever, and some time alone.
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Old April 20th, 2014, 04:46 PM   #10
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How about teaching combos instead of tricks? Like telling people they shouldn't bother learning anything beyond volte/stroll until they can pull off the full Kukmin Combo first. Set combos kind of go against the spirit of freestyle, but being able to pull off a full 20 cone combo is definitely more rewarding and impressive than being able to wheel forward for 5 feet.

I totally get what you mean about competitions though. They seem necessary to keep the scene alive, but actually being judged while skating is pretty nerve-wracking. To this end I think Naomi has the right idea with rinks. Not everybody wants to improve so that they can win competitions, a lot of people just want a regular place to hang out and practice with other skaters.
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Old April 21st, 2014, 04:52 AM   #11
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I gave up on slalom, early on, for a lot of the reasons mentioned, not the least of which is that it's boring. Even watching videos of the experts, once you get past the awe, after a while it becomes repetitious. And you end up thinking, "Wow, that's very cool, but so what?"

The analogy I'd use is that people who are great at slalom are like jazz musicians: highly skilled technically and, often, very soulful and creative. But for the mere mortals among us, playing rock-'n-roll or r&b is good enough to experience the joy of music. So we don't aspire to become jazz musicians. We learn some chords, riffs, cover tunes, and enjoy ourselves.

Incorporating a few slalom moves into my overall rhythm style was enough. I decided life is way too short to become obsessive/compulsive about things that are just hobbies.
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Old April 21st, 2014, 09:42 AM   #12
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I gave up on slalom, early on, for a lot of the reasons mentioned, not the least of which is that it's boring. Even watching videos of the experts, once you get past the awe, after a while it becomes repetitious. And you end up thinking, "Wow, that's very cool, but so what?"

The analogy I'd use is that people who are great at slalom are like jazz musicians: highly skilled technically and, often, very soulful and creative. But for the mere mortals among us, playing rock-'n-roll or r&b is good enough to experience the joy of music. So we don't aspire to become jazz musicians. We learn some chords, riffs, cover tunes, and enjoy ourselves.

Incorporating a few slalom moves into my overall rhythm style was enough. I decided life is way too short to become obsessive/compulsive about things that are just hobbies.
The analogy I usually think of is with snowboarding. Starting out it isn't actually all that interesting, but the novelty of learning something new will keep you going. After that though, it doesn't really get fun until you learn how to slalom (no pun intended) down the mountain instead of having to stop-and-go slowly brake your way down.

With slalom skating, learning new tricks is exciting for a bit, but after that, it isn't until you start experimenting with freestyle that it really gets interesting. Practicing a single trick gets dull pretty quickly, but freely skating through the cones never gets old. When you start seeing the cones as a pathway instead of as obstacles is where the fun actually starts.
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Old April 21st, 2014, 10:27 AM   #13
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You couldn't have said it better. Seeing the cones as a pathway is how I see the sticks, rocks, holes and cracks in the pavement. Once again the original post really got me here. I have a 13yo son that is easily intimidated by cone skating, but after reading this post he is happily practising his Fish over and over. He's aiming for 1000, and despite sounding crazy the kid's shown improvement in just 5 days. I'm not kidding. And like GregT said theres nothing quite like putting down cones at midnight with some music. SPRING IS OFFICIALLY HERE!
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Old April 22nd, 2014, 01:50 PM   #14
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Sometimes slalom might seem a bit pointless, but I do think it an effective gateway to awesome. It makes you suuuuch a better skater, in all disciplines. In particular, I found it really helped me in speed skating, as the constant low knee bend during freestyle builds all the micro-muscles (if that is a term) up that normally atrophy due to people using momentum to get past that part of the leg movement. Also, I no longer get lactic acid cramping when in a low position, and get a much more effective lateral push.

Keep up the slalom, but then take it out on a street skate, or the skate park or any ramp-like surface you can find. Once you are good on cones, you'll be amazed at how impressed even long-time rollerbladers will be with how natural your aggressive tricks look. And always skate rockered - it's so much more rewarding that flat. Don't worry, you'll keep up.

I think the most important thing is to keep learning, to keep growing as a skater. And I do think slalom is one of the best ways to do that, even if you have no interest in competitions or skating with other people or in front of other people.

And if you do have a competitive streak, I highly recommend competitions. They help the sport and, even though being judged is nerve-racking, comps are the best way to meet other slalomers, have a good time, and learn some great tricks or style moves. Everyone is always very nice and helpful, regardless of your or their level.

And, if being judged makes you queasy, be comforted that its waaay harder for the judges. I know from the experience that being a slalom judge can make you feel quite dirty and like an awful person. That's probably what keeps me competing when I show up for an event to hang it - its the lesser (or less nerve-racking) of two evils .
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Old May 10th, 2014, 10:18 AM   #15
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Okay, here's the progress. So far have gone through a line of cones doing the crazy over 300 times. I had to start with the cones at 120cm's. Yesterday finally managed cones at 80cm's. I have to admit I'm a little disappointed because I'm just not seeing progress yet. I'll keep trying though. I'm slow. Do you guys go really fast?
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Old May 18th, 2014, 08:40 PM   #16
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i emphasise with the part about learning slalom.

i started slalom in 2009 as a side hobby on top of speed skating, but i made the full transition somewhere around 2010-2011, quitting speed skating for good. when i started off freestyle skating with a few friends, we were amongst the first slalom skaters in the scene in melbourne, with only two other skaters who were more senior (regular) skaters. now in 2014, i believe my brother and i are the most senior skaters, with the others skaters who we have known when we have started to have either quit from interest or other reasons.

over the years, i have seen many people come and go, the average time a new skater would stay with us would be under a year. saying that, i have also noticed that there is an inverse correlation to proficiency on skates in general to how long the skater would remain in the sport. over the last few years, the number of slalomers in melbourne remains relatively static due to the sheer difficulty of the learning curve which puts off newer skaters.

i love slalom, and my passion for the sport has grown even more since i begun taking on-cone training more seriously. i understand that it is frustrating to not improve and i have experienced session after session of not improving. but the real highlight is going home one training session and feeling that you have inched a TINY bit closer to your goal. to convince yourself even though you did not notice any improvement today, your body will figure it out next time. in fact, seven's (single toe/heel spins across cones) was a trick i had spent well over a year alone. now, i can do relatively consistent 3 cone toe sevens (60%), and less consistent 3 cone heel sevens (30%). learning these tricks require patience and i know that you really need a love for the sport to push through.

that being said. i also cannot practice a single trick for an entire session. i have a few tricks that i work on at a time and i set goals for each of these tricks. i devote most of my session to freestyle and working on my fluency. as shaw has mentioned, learning combos can be equally satisfying to learning new tricks. what i do usually is pick select combination of tricks from skaters and learn those. (example 18-21 seconds: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature...GdhQIRY2M#t=17). i am also hesitant to revisit tricks i am not fond of using. my screw frequently knocks cones, and my swan does not feel smooth. my heel wheeling for 20cones is maybe 10% and toe wheeling i can average maybe 10 cones.

i wish more people would try to stay in the sport, and i can guarantee that the better you get at slalom, the more you will enjoy it. don't get put down of 1-2 sessions of not making a trick. don't get put down of 1-2 months of not making a trick. if not managing one trick is getting incredibly frustrating, then i highly suggest you pick up more tricks to play with. hell, there are hundreds of style tricks that do not have names (you just have to watch the videos) which you can try. linking tricks can also be part of your training - from the video i referenced above, it is actually composed of low technical tricks (left foot reaching back snake -> right foot crazy -> strange turn (don't complete the back crazy) -> one back double crazy right foot lead -> right foot volte) and looks very very good when done fast!
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Old June 1st, 2014, 06:18 AM   #17
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Kept trying crazy and fell and put my tooth through my lip. So took a week break from cones (also scraped knee) and just skated regular. Anyway, today I went to central park to skate with the central park dance skaters (fun time with a DJ), and found some slalom skaters a few feet away. It made my whole day. They were SO nice and taught me new tricks. One guy went slow and let me follow him through the cones about 10 times until I finally got the trick. Nothing compares to actually skating with people. I'm currently trying to recruit kids at the local roller rinks to skate freestyle so that in a few years there will be some people to skate with in my area. A few of them are definitely catching on. I'll keep practicing crazy until I hit 1000, but have decided to add a few other tricks to my sessions (thanks kevO), it was becoming a little redundant, especially because there is no one else to skate with up here in the country. There's just something so deeply satisfying about skating cones, even if you're not that good.
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Old June 1st, 2014, 08:24 PM   #18
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Sorry to hear about your fall, but good to know you found the NY slalomers. It's hard to stay motivated practicing solo, and videos and message boards are really no substitute for an actual teacher.

Speed doesn't matter, and oftentimes being able to slowly perform a trick demonstrates a greater level of mastery than doing the trick quickly. Having a really solid grasp of crazy for example, means that you can perform the trick in four individual movements instead of two, keeping one leg stationary when the other is moving. This may not sound difficult, but it's something that even the best US skaters would have trouble doing well. Keep at it, after 1000 iterations you're sure to see a difference in terms of how fluid and familiar the trick will feel. There are also many variations on crazy that you can practice, such as one-cone crazy, anti-crazy, or learning the trick with your off foot.
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Old June 3rd, 2014, 01:51 AM   #19
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If you are interested, I think Naomi Grigg's new slalom book (just released this weekend) could really help your slalom progress.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Art-Fallin...ds=NAOMI+GRIGG
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Old June 8th, 2014, 06:28 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by GregT View Post
If you are interested, I think Naomi Grigg's new slalom book (just released this weekend) could really help your slalom progress.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Art-Fallin...ds=NAOMI+GRIGG
Do you really think its worth buying? Im just wondering if maybe a compilation of videos would be more practical.
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