Axel is palpitating subject for many skaters. I sincerely wish them to conquer this element without injuries or major troubles. What I can tell about myself is that “want an axel” is not about me or, at least, not in foreseeable future. I am not very jumpy and agile and that’s probably why I am indifferent to jumping.
Spinning is another matter. First, spins are not as dangerous. Second, moving on ice is much more controllable than moving in the air. Third, even a simple spin can be very expressive with a bit of fantasy. But even good old seemingly failproof spin eventually gets boring. What’s then?
We all belong to the same world of figure skating and keep track of big and small events. And what do we see? Almost all skaters do Biellmann. And what was considered rarity even among professionals before doesn’t look so scary and unmanageable now.
The element is named after Swiss figure skater Denise Biellmann.
If you are competitive and eager to win even perfect upspin will be absolutely not enough for you. When you start your “silver” story a combospin becomes compulsory element. So if you can’t sit and then stand up for a sitspin or you can’t lift your leg for a camelspin you should think hard – what to do? Maybe laybackspin or maybe even Biellmann? Biellmann is a complicated base position of upspin. And it can be added to combospin. It also can be performed solo. It’s great and so motivating! But…
One should take a thought before trying to start Biellmann. It’s not only harder to learn it in adult age but also more dangerous because of great pressure towards the spine, especially when you perform a spin and not a spiral.
I caught fire to learn Biellmann last year and started to practice a lot. I could be doing it for an hour straight. The result? My back was starting to ache soon after every such marathon. Those signs I could not ignore. But at the same time I was not going to give up.
All my desperate attempts were monitored with disapproval by the well-known among adult skaters doctor Ira Malinina. And it was a perilous sight to see indeed because my every attempt to grab a blade was followed with harsh spine bend.
My back pain kept getting more and more intense over time and when I eventually turned to Irina with my problem she tried to make me give up on my tryings first. Spine is not something to mess with.
Though throwing some stones at my eagerness she advised me to start with one simple yet effective back exercise. One should lie on his stomach onto flat surface and start lifting his legs from the ground. Muscles should be tensed while doing this and one should lift his legs again after touching the ground. One should start with 10-15 reps and gradually increase this amount over time.
I started to feel the effect of this exercise the very next day. The pain didn’t go away but it became different. It was muscles now instead of spine. After a week the pain almost completely gone and it got much easier to lift a leg into Biellmann than before.
Of course, one should start learning Biellmann off-ice first. You will need a good split and flexible back. It is possible for adults to achieve good results in practice but no hurry. One should stretch his legs and back very carefully without sharp moves, minding body reaction. It won’t be fast, it will take some time!
And if only stretching would matter, it wouldn’t be so complicated. Besides that one should have well-centered spin, manage to grab the blade, keep the spinspeed- so one should keep total control.
Who knows better about Biellmann? Ladies-skaters who can do it.
“Biellmann is one of the most complicated spins in figure skating. One shouldn’t do it without special off-ice warm-up. As for me I usually practice backbends but smoothly. When you are ready to learn Bielmann on ice start with basic laybackspin, then learn to grab the leg, then try to lift your leg upper every time you practice. But don’t pull too sharply it is not good for your back. The most perfect Biellmann spins nowadays Radionova and Kostornaya have.
Performing Bielmann you should remember – spin on the middle part of the blade, don’t bend too much backwards, try to hold your free leg closer to the knee of the supporting leg, it will help you to grab the free leg more easily”.
“There are small professional tricks everywhere, but I can say there are no top secrets in Biellmann. It is enough to have flexible back (don’t forget about warm-ups). I do Biellmann from usual laybackspin grabbing the right foot with one hand. If you bend supporting leg a little to grab the blade will be easier”.
I saw adult skaters doing Biellmann, some of them were doing well. And I know that there are adult skaters who have learnt it not in their childhoods. So it is really possible. But before you start think twice: Do you REALLY want Biellmann? A lot of professional skaters suffer from backpain, some of them stop doing this spin because of it.
I want Biellmann and hope that it will become faster, more stable and beautiful. Maybe some of you want Biellmann too. Be very careful and patient!