Thursday, February 13, 2014

Skating words (Puzzle No. 3,314)

Link to puzzle

Degree of difficulty (by standards of this weekly puzzle): hard.  I found the bottom easier than the top.

Hozom’s comment: “Contraindication” in which Hot and Trazom discuss the kinds of clues that don’t have an explicit indicator--double definitions, charades (both very common), and rebus clues (the kind I call “inverted” (hope it won’t spoil things if I let you know Hot and Trazom put one of those in this week’s puzzle).

What do crossword constructors and solvers do during the Olympics?  They look out for new and useful words.  Figure skating has plenty of them. 

Axel” is probably the most frequently seen skating word in puzzles.  It’s handy with the common letters where they are.  Now here’s a way to impress your friends—call a figure skating jump before the TV commentators do.  The axel is the only jump that takes off forwards.  That makes it harder than all the rest because it requires an extra half revolution; a single axel is one and a half times around. 

Lutz jump” is another good one, especially if you’re working on a puzzle that requires all the letters of the alphabet.  The lutz is a toe jump, meaning the toe of the inside foot is tapped down into the ice as a pivot point before the skater goes in the air. 

Flutz” is a beauty for crosswords, though in skating it’ll cost you points.  A flutz happens when you have planned to do a lutz but you anticipate the jump by changing from the outside edge of your skate and leaning in on the inside edge before takeoff.

Toe loop” uses lots of common letters, so it’s easy for crosswords as well as for skating.  Skate forward, pivot into a three-turn, tap your opposite foot into the ice, and lift up and around with your free leg.  Up, around, and land on the same skate: outside edge taking off and landing. 

Twizzle” is another fun word, though with the Zs, you’re not likely to see it outside of a themed puzzle.  Twizzles are frequently seen in pairs and ice dance: they’re the move where skaters spin around on one foot while they’re gliding down the ice, and when two skaters do them in unison, they look great. 

More jumps: Mazurka (a half jump where the legs are kicked in the air), Salchow, Walley

Spins: layback, Biellmann (two hands reaching back to hold the skate blade), catch-camel, attitude spin, death drop (kind of jumping into a spin), scratch spin (one leg crossed over the other)

Other moves: Ina Bauer (gliding with one skate facing forward and the other back), Walley, waltz jump (effectively a half-axel), hydroblade (gliding crouched down over one skate with the other held out to the side—Bangle had one of these in her surfer program at State Games in 2009), shoot the duck (like a sit-spin, but gliding along the ice)

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