Monday, June 18, 2012

The Elegant Coach

There are people who have a riveting presence on ice, and there's a male coach at one rink who has it in spades. I'm occasionally at the rink early, and I'll glance in to see who's on the ice. Sometimes I'll see this coach. At that point I'm like a slack jawed yokel, who's seeing 'them fancy moving pitchers' for the first time.  I hate to tear my eyes away from his skating. I don't have sophisticated enough skating smarts to figure out how he does it, but even just stroking around he seems to be orders of magnitude above every one else.

I once chanced to see him coaching a student. At one point he demonstrated something, and my brain went, "OMG. Look at that toepoint." Yes, I stared at his boots, as if 'toepoint skills' could feed by osmosis into my brain.

He's Elegant. Effortless. He puts on posture, edge, and style like he puts on his clothes. Even when he's just leaning against the boards, he has perfect line.

The best word to describe this coach is soigne'.  But that doesn't work into a moniker, does it? So I'll just call him Coach Dreamboat, because his skating is dreamy.

The couple of  times I've seen this coach on the ice, he distinguishes himself not only by his skating, but by the way he dresses. He's the only coach I can remember seeing, who skates in regular clothes. And therein, I think, lies some of his visual appeal. Why? Because in regular clothes it's much, much easier to see line, knee bend, posture, and all the aspects of skating finesse, than when a coach is bundled up.

I'm old enough to remember when men skated in tweed trousers, or just comfortable slacks, and a very nice look it is. Perhaps I'm nostalgic for the customs of my youth, but I have to say that regular slacks have an advantage in that it's easier to see knee and ankle bend than it is in the insulated and padded coach slacks that are worn today. It's almost impossible to see line and body angles when a coach is dressed like the Michelin man.

To demonstrate how this works, below is an action shot of Dick Button from the 50's. Even though he's not wearing form fitting clothing, I think you can see line, bend, posture, attitude much better than you can see from a coach wearing a sleeping bag disguised as a jacket. And these pictures are over 60 years old, of poor resolution and in black and white.
Dick Button

And what it looks like in action? The late, great Robert Waggenhoffer in Crying. 
So Coach Dreamboat's lucky students; a fantastic skater for a coach, and they can actually see the line, bend and posture when he demonstrates a skill.

1 comment:

  1. Hmmm, sounds like my coach, too. First, he's tall, which Is an immediate attention-getter. Then, he pays attention to all the details of line and body position, toe and finger point, and carriage of neck and head. You can't help but feel "Ugly Duckling" next to this guy, especially when he's trying to coax all your non-cooperative, non-flexible, and all-so-aging body parts into some semblance of style and grace.