I don't know if I quite understand the question, but I'll try to give my input. My "coach" when I first started skating kept telling me "It's up and down, it's all up and down." He said I basically needed to "pump" more with my leg that I'm skating on. He also told me my biggest problem with 3 turns is I basically "kung fu" them, and try just jamming my whole body through the turn instead of going up and down in the "pumping" motion with my leg to get through the turn gracefully.
What struck me about the up and down was, there was this Asian skater, who was faster than me on one leg than I was on two, just doing 3 turns or power pulls, because what she'd do is, she'd be able to drop down to almost 90 degrees and go back up with power coming out of the squat. It was pretty amazing to see, she was a pretty high level skater, but yeah.
So as far as your original question, I use the ankle, and not just the ankle, but the foot muscles, to keep balance on one leg. Then the balance "chain" goes up from ankles to your core and to a point your arms and shoulders. My biggest balance issue, though, is I have my weight too far forward, and balance off the balls of my feet, and this hurts me skating as I can't get as deep as I want for pistol squats. So I have to learn to be able to balance back off my heels more, and less off the balls of my feet. One way I've learned to sorta solve it is looking up, but it's gonna take a lot of time to solve this balance issue.
I am pretty OK at one foot glides, I managed to do some 2/3 of the length of the rink before losing momentum. Olympic sized rink, too.