Sunday, June 29, 2014

When I fall at the rink

Because I'm pushing myself to gain skills, I have the occasional fall.

Today I did a hip fall and was up in flash, but the rink guard was right there with a look of concern. "Are you alright?" 

"Sure, sure, I'm fine."

This is not the first time I've had rink guards come over to me, almost in a panic.

Once I fell on freestyle and the rink went silent. I mean, people stopped skating talking until I told my coach I was 'okay'. Then she announced it to the entire rink and they restarted skating.

I used to think this was because I was a 'beloved adult skater'.  Then one day I realized, they're worried I've had a heart attack or a stroke!

I'm NOT having a heart attack!
It's just a dramatic pose!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Friday Night Disco Public Skate

After I got back on the ice, the only option for me to get some skating in was Friday Night Disco Public Skate.

I know what you're thinking; it was a drunk filled fight scene. I've seen videos on youTube.

In reality, except for the loud music, and the flashing seizure inducing lights, it was quite fun and just pleasantly crowded. Not too many, not too few, and a few people with kids.

My rink's 'laser show' was pretty pathetic. Mostly it was some flashing lights. It was nothing like they do in Dundee.

Nope, my rink was no where near this
 And the music was loud. Really loud. But at least they didn't play "Superman a 'ho" which I once heard at a Saturday afternoon public filled with kids. 

Next time I skate at disco night, I'll just wear earplugs.

In the winter, disco night is reputedly a drunk filled skatefest, complete with off duty cops. But in the summer, they even put out the cones!

And you know what? The skaters OBEY THE CONES!

OMG! They're staying out of the center!
So I did an hour of lap skating and some practice. Nice Guy Rink Guard kept an eye on me (I think he's afraid I'm going to have a heart attack).

Anyway, the only thing that can't be fixed is I'm at least 40 years older than the next oldest person on the ice!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Remember Wanda Beazel!

(First off, thanks to EVA of EvaBakes for covering for me while I was out!   I'm back on the ice as of Friday, and your regularly scheduled blather about adult beginner skating will begin again!)

Back in the 80s and early 90s, World Champion Debi Thomas used to do an exhibition program of a beginning skater called "Wanda Beazel".

If you haven't seen it, here's a version (one of many, it was a very popular program) of it:

At 1:10 there's my spin.

At 2:18 there's my back crossovers!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

A Real Skater (Trademark Applied For)

You know you're a "Real Skater" when:

You have a preferred brand of skate laces because they don't slip during practice.

It annoys you when an ice tourist skates the wrong direction during public.

When you talk to your non-skating friends about your skating, they react like this:

You have a really good story about the time you stepped on the ice with your guards on

When you fail a test for the third time get your third "retry" you feel like this:

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Guest Blogger: "Testing" by Eva of EvaBakes

Hi everyone! My name is Eva, and I blog over at Eva Bakes ( I’m also a figure skater and have a weekly feature called Skating Fridays where I talk about my figure skating adventures. Babbette asked me to guest post for her today, so I’ll attempt to bring you the same wit and charisma that she normally does with her anecdotes.  Today’s topic: Testing. Ready? Here we go!

Maybe you’ve tried testing, and maybe you haven’t. Either way, testing is one of those nerve-wracking situations where the fate of your figure skating career is left to the judges on the panel. A skater practices for countless hours on end, only to have ~10 minutes to convince the parka-wearing judges that you are worthy of moving on to the next level.

On test day, you start getting ready about 2 hours ahead of time. You put on your testing dress, and then proceed with your hair and makeup. Pack extra tights, laces, bobby pins, hair spray, and anything else that can break or tear before your test. You’re ready to head to the rink, when all of a sudden:

Once you get to the rink, you realize that the test session is running 30 minutes behind. Now you have an extra half hour to kill. Must. Calm. Nerves. So you drink some caffeine to stay awake and then realize, yet again:

After you visit the restroom, it’s finally your turn to take the ice for your 5-minute warmup. However, you can barely move because it’s colder than Antarctica. Regardless, you have to break the icicles off your nose and convince everyone that you are warm and comfortable.
The announcer calls your name to step onto the ice, and you march over to the judges’ table to introduce yourself. Once you reach the judges’ area, you realize that one of the judges is known as the Toughest Judge Ever.
Dang. You have to bring your A-game today. Toughest Judge Ever is not going to cut you any slack.  You skate over to your starting position and your legs are like Jell-O. You channel your inner Gracie Gold and put on a show.

After you’re done with your test, you head back to see your coach, who is standing by the boards. You anxiously await to see if the judges want you to reskate any element.  After you receive the “all clear” signal from the main judge, you head to the bench and take off your skates.

And now you wait for your testing papers. After what seems like an eternity, the test chair comes by with a stack of papers for you and your coach. You immediately flip through each paper to see if you passed.

If you’re lucky, you get passing grades from all judges. If not, you’re all:

Then you and your coach review each of the judges’ comments on your test. You want to see where your strengths and weaknesses are so you can improve. However, you can’t read one of the judges’ remarks. It looks like it’s written in Farsi, which you aren’t fluent in yet. For all you know, the judge wrote this:

After the test is done, you head home and either breathe a sigh of relief or fume away with anger. You desperately need a drink. At least the test is done.

Now here’s the million dollar question: you crazy enough to do it again?

Sunday, June 15, 2014

"I feel the need for Speed!"

For my lesson Saturday, my coach wants me to start with perimeter stroking then outside and inside edges down the rink.

Not kidding, both were beautiful. Every edge started from a smooth t-push, my half circles were well shaped and balanced, I had nice posture. The edges  were strong, and consistent. No bobbling.

My coach, Miss Bianca said, "That was very nice, except for one thing."

I can feel it coming. 

"You need more..."

Almost here.

Want me to go faster? You'll have to push me. 'Cause otherwise, I'm goin' as fast as I can.
I guess I drive my coach crazy
 There are power skating drills, but they're not appropriate for freestyle or public. I guess I'll have to take up hockey!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Insole Trick with too large Figure Skating Boots

Boots a little too wide? Maybe just a tiny bit tool long? There's a trick to fixing that.

How do you end up with a situation like this? Usually it's when you have feet of slightly different sizes. My guess is less than a half size difference. This actually is pretty common. In that case, the usual solution is to buy boots that fit the larger foot. (No one recommends buying boots to fit the smaller foot).

The other issue might be when you have one boot that stretches out a little faster than the other and feels a little too large. This isn't uncommon either. Maybe a skater uses one boot more heavily than the other due to sidedness or being a landing foot.

The third condition might be when buying boots you find that one size is too small and the half size up is too big.

There's no reason in these circumstances that you have to buy custom boots. In many cases, stock boots can be made to fit by a simple trick. 

Put two insoles in the too large boots. This will push your foot up into the curve of the boot, and usually your boot will then fit (provided the 'too bigness' is limited).

You don't have to use thick insoles, in fact I don't think that's a good idea. I prefer doubling thin ones. You can then experiment with foam vs gel or even the nice leather ones.

Also don't waste your money on the expensive insoles. You can get thin insoles at the dollar store. These ought to do for your base insole, and you can put your superfeet or other expensive insoles on top.

The other advantage of using cheap thin insoles is you can cut them up and adjust the layering front and back to get just the right feel you want.

So there's your handy skating tip for the day.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Skating with your Dream Coach

Okay, I love the way my coach, Miss Bianca, teaches. She holds me to high standards, doesn't let me get away with whining, and my skating has really improved.
I'm sure Miss Bianca toasts my improved skating after every lesson...
Or she just knocks one back to kill the memory of my back crossovers
But really, in your fantasies, doesn't everyone have a dream coach or coaches?  I mean, you know you'll never meet them, but isn't it just fun to make a list?

Aleksander Fadeyev   World Champion, European Champion, 6 time Soviet Champion. 4th at the 88 Olympics behind Boitano, Orser and Petrenko. He coaches at the Chicago at Robert C. Crown Ice Complex.

My lesson?  Blade Sharpening! Apparently when he competed he did his own blades and had a lot of 'little techniques'. I love the engineering side of skating. That could be fun!

 Dan Hollander Dan isn't famous for his amateur career, but for his career as a professional comic skater. And as additional positive, he appears to be knowledgeable about ISI!

My lesson? Selling a program. Performance skills! Costumes! Props!

 Frank Carroll  Probably one of the greatest coaches in the world. His list of elite competitors is long and distinguished. His most recent star is Evan Lysacek. And though Frank stopped competing in the 60's I have video of him in Ice Follies.

I know what you're thinking. What can a low level beginner skater learn from Frank Carroll? Well, in the Manleywoman Skatecast interview with Frank Carroll, he said:
" I have some of the most dreadful skaters the world has ever seen,..."

Monday, June 9, 2014

Coaching From the Boards

You've all seen them, the coach who coaches from the boards. There's two kinds.

The first kind is usually an older coach of elite skaters in the national or international competitive ranks. Their students get their instructions at the board, then use as much ice as they need to build up speed, demonstrate flow and perform their element. These skaters are getting tweaks to already high level techniques. Their skill in avoiding other skaters is superb and when they skate back to their coach, they are aware of traffic.

When I see a coach-skater pair like this on ice, I am filled with humility. I will never skate that good, that coach will never look at me as any thing other than slow traffic, but the fact that I know where the coach is, I can easily avoid the much, much, much better and much much much faster skater. My job is to stay out of their way. ... so far, so good.

The second kind of coach who coaches from the boards:
This coach leans against the boards, frequently positions herself at the end of harness alley, and her little student skate no more that 6 feet away to do their hoppy little jumps. Her little students don't look for traffic, and since they're barely away from the boards, they block anyone going along the boards to stay away from a skater in a MITF, dance or program.

Sometimes there's three of these coaches lined up against the hockey boxes, their little students forming a beehive of activity concentrated along harness alley. 

Some of these coaches are so lazy, they draw their 3 turn and mohawk patterns with their Marker of Doom no more than a couple of feet away from the boards;  their little students will camp out there all through freestyle and sometimes public after, blocking traffic long after the coach is gone.

I think I've heard all the rationales coaches have for this; their feet hurt, they're pregnant/recovering from a pregnancy/had a kid ten years ago and OMG she's still tired, they don't want to move their student out in the middle because it might interfere with patterns, there's too many skaters on the ice and adding another coach would make it worse.

Yes, I hates this.  I've noticed most of their students have hoppy little jumps, limited flow, and don't build up speed because they're never more than 10 feet from their coach and they're learning jumps in a high traffic area.  It's gotta take a long time to learn technique that way.

And you, you coach from the boards coach, you scare the daylights out of everyone when you have one of your little skaters do a lutz in the lutz corner during public.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Boot Report

I went to my skate fitter to try on my new semi-custom boots.

Harlicks X-line (narrow heel, wide forefoot), with extra wide tongue, and ankle notch.

Oh, baby, that extra wide tongue was nice.

Hated the Harlicks nylon laces (which hurt my hands), and substituted the Reidell laces ...which were too thick for the Harlicks eyelets. Either way, I'm going to have to use a lace puller unless I can get some Jackson laces.  Love me some Jackson laces, but they only sell them in boxes of 36.

The left boot was a dream. If the left boot was a man our relationship would look like this.
We were made for each other
The right foot was just a leeetle too wide all over. When I skated on it, I could feel my right foot slopping around in it.
Slide around on the insole then hit the side of the boot
When I put a second insole in, that pushed my foot up into the boot, and I thought that would be the end of it.  My fitter told me he would send it back to Harlicks to 'tighten it up'. That makes sense, since someday I may need to use the second insole trick when the boot gets broken in.

I also tried some 8 foot rocker blades and decided against them. I really need that pronounced  7 foot rocker of the MK Pro, to feel where I am on the blade. My attitude towards the MK PRO is this:

So, the boots went back to Harlicks and I decided to stick with the MKPros when they come back.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Friday Funnies

When I skate through the lutz corner and spot a divot

The first time I contemplate a rocker turn

When I do my one foot back spin

When I'm working on my flexibility

What it feels like when I'm breaking in new boots!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Advantages of Figure Skating...and Other Exercise

A couple of things popped up today that I want to comment on.

In Golden Skate forums someone posted a question that went "I'm 20, is it too late to learn to figure skate?"

Honey, if you're reading this, I didn't start until I was 55. Why there is this perception that no one over the age of 6 can learn to figure skate, I don't know. Right, you can't compete internationally at the elite level, but really you can learn to skate and compete as an adult.

And the why it's important to skate and do exercise, rather than giving up is the following story.

A friend and I do some hard exercise videos 3 days a week. They're 60 minute vids that we squeeze into lunch. They're hard enough that we start them at the beginning of the week knowing we can't do all the exercises, so we repeat them throughout the week until we can do all the exercises.

So, today a woman at work asked if she could join us next week. She said she'd been falling, and her doctor had told her to get some exercise.

I'm going to use a picture as an illustration of the age she looks. This is not a picture of her:
This is a picture to illustrate the age I look (it's not a picture of me):
If I have my make up on, and the light's behind me, I can pass for 40.

She's 63, I'm 62.

So, really, don't let anyone tell you you can't skate because you're over 20.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Finding the Perfect Spot To Practice at the Rink

Above you see the ice layout from my rink, I'm going to explain the areas that  are perfect for practice for beginners.

A. This is the ice resurfacer gate. It's awful. There's a dip along the boards and chunks of buildup.  Don't skate there.
B. This is the entry gate for the skater. People going in and out. And they aren't looking out for other people. Don't skate there.
C.  This is the circle in front of the resurfacer gate. It's not as bad as the ice in front of the gate, but it's pretty torn up. Don't skate there.
D and F. Lutz corners. Don't skate there.
E. Center circle. Someone's always spinning, or starting their program or zipping through as part of their program. Don't skate there.
G. Harness alley OR where the coaches who coach from the boards hang out. Don't skate there..
H. The space behind the goal and the space in front of the goal at the resurfacer end of the rink are always torn up. Don't skate there.
I. The only place in the rink where the ice is nice and is not reserved for anything else. Don't skate there! It's too crowded with beginners!

Okay, really, move around. Practice all over the rink. Just don't get locked in your own little world. Keep your head up, and be aware of other skaters.


Sunday, June 1, 2014

Figure Skating Coordination Conversion

I occasionally work with maps and charts at work and they're not all the same. Some are in degree:minutes:seconds, and the Army has its own system, and occasionally someone put out stuff in arbitrary x,y coordinates. So if you're working on a map in one system and you need to plot the point on a map with a different system, you have to convert coordinate systems. It's easy (now) that there's software for it.

In figure skating though there's multiple coordinate systems. There's the surface of the rink whose coordinates are the lines, dots and circles. Then there's the boards whose coordinates are the gates, the hockey boxes and any ads painted on the boards. There's the skater who has a 3 dimensional coordinate system. Then finally there's the coach who has a system in her head.

Today my coach put me in the center dot of a hockey circle (coordinate system 1) and had me do a half circle edge (coordinate system 2). She wanted me to do a 3 turn at the top of the half circle.

It turns out, I have no clue where I am on the circle once I start, so after several tries she marked each turn and said, "Look where you're turning."

It turns out I was turning 'early' by about 15 degrees.

"Your problem," she said, "Is that you turn when your boobs are pointed at the hockey boxes. Delay your turn until your boobs are pointing to the boards." (coordinate system 4!)

Yes ladies, your boobs have a coordinate system all their own!

 So I turn when my boobs are pointing to the boards.

I am now turning late.