Monday, October 31, 2011

Things I'd Rather Not See--Wrap music

Who talks female skaters into costumes like these? Because if I had their powers of persuasion I'd be President of the United States. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, Exhibit 1. Nathalie Pechalet, SkateAmerica.  I'm sorry. This doesn't remind me of ancient Egypt. I don't think of mummies.  I think something else.  

Somewhere along the road women's costume in ice dance became mostly about getting the girl as close to nekkid as possible. (I could do an entire month of blogs about the Russians psychic deafness in costume design alone. But I digress) This costume is almost repellent. If you look at it in a larger photo, you'll see actual threads coming out of the bandages. Nothing about it says "you're looking at an athlete that is also a beautiful, intelligent woman."  This costume says "accident victim."

I'm not thinking about mummies

Exhibit 2: Carolina Kostner is a multitalented athlete. But she's had some costumes that I think are clunkers. Today let's just look at her....wrappings. 

The pink color makes one think of blood. Another victim of a crash I guess. Even though these costumes are supposed to be designed to be seen from the bleachers, I can't imagine any situation in which this costume would be attractive, except one, standing in a dark room in front of a mirror.

My heart bleeds for you

On the plus side she's got her talent, her beauty, and her string of medals. 

I don't know how much input skaters have into their costumes.  So let's look at the master of costumery: Johnny Wier.

Exhibit 3: The Wierster. If his TV show is to be believed, he had a lot of input into his costumes. And he has one 'wrapping' costume that he competed in.

Nope. Not even His Highness, Master of Style can make the wrap look look good.

Let's kill this costume style

Sunday, October 30, 2011

New Boots! A Halloween Scarefest!

Today I went to my skate tech to pick up a pair of new boots. I presently skate in very low end freestyle boots, but in a year they'll be trashed. Since it will take me a year to break in a new pair of boots I bought a pair of  dance boots to replace them. A year from now dance boots will be appropriate for me to take lessons in, and it will take me that long to break them in.

So I put on the new boots and my skate tech walked me to the ice. I got on.

Scary. New boots, new blades of a different length, new sharpening. I didn't fall, but it wasn't as comfortable as my old freestyle boots.

Dance boots are low cut in the back, since the shaft is lower there's only 3 hooks.  First time out I just laced up the first two hooks since for freestyle you leave the top hook undone in new boots. That was a tactical error. It was like skating on blades on sandals--no control at all.  I retied them all the way to the top and did some edges and crossovers. Then I tried some 3 turns.

Ooops! That's not gonna happen!

The new blades are the same model as my present blades but they're a quarter inch longer. I couldn't believe that made such a difference.  It felt like the rocker was too far back. My skate tech showed me how my old blades had not a much rocker left (they're 4 years old) so that may have some impact too. He offered to move the blades but I decided to get used to the skates first and let my coach comment on them. I've made the mistake before of messing with my blade position when it was ME not the skates. I've learned my lesson not to mistake my lack of skill for equipment error.

I guess I've got a year of using these boots for warmup while I break them in.   I'll be like a skater in the sixties hauling two pairs of boots to the rink: one for patch and one for freestyle. It will build up my shoulder muscles :-).

Still if any of you do ice dance and can give me suggestions on getting used to dance boots, I'm all ears.

Friday, October 28, 2011

"There's no crying in baseball!"

But there's a lot of whining in figure skating.

Like any sport there's a lot that can go wrong. Sometimes it seems there's more that can go wrong in figure skating than any other sport.  The ice, the blades, the boots, the laces, your ankle, knee, arm position, your head.....there is seemingly no end.

That's how this blog got its name, it's because I am was a whiner.  I was complaining to my fellow ice skater, the Big Guy, how my skating would be better 'if only' the ice was better. He grabbed me by the shoulders and said, "The ice doesn't care!'

So after that incident, I 'manned up'. I do what my coach tells me. I don't complain about the ice, the boots, the blades, the laces.....unless it's a real problem, not an excuse.

 Remember, the ice at most rinks will never be good enough for you. And it doesn't care either.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


There is a serious syndrome in the world today. It forces people to exercise, to improve their flexibility and endurance, and to achieve physical and inner balance. It occurs when an adult enters an ice rink and has a good time, followed by dreams of gliding expertly across the ice. Soon comes Learn to Skate group lessons, private lessons,  meeting other adult skaters, participating in Christmas ice shows, skating club participation, muttering darkly at judges' decisions during National, World and Olympic championships, and having your doctor comment "You're amazingly graceful. What have you been doing?" This is called "Adult Onset Skating Syndrome." (AOSS)

I am a victim.

Because of AOSS, I lift weights, do Pilates,  do endurance exercises, and know the schedule of every ice rink in a 50 mile radius. Fortunately, I've not advanced to AOSS Stage IV: "Swarovski Crystal Stoning Compulsion" (SCSC). I'm only at Stage I: Ecto-Endous Edge-opexy (EEE--outside inside edge fixation) with Stage 1a Torvil-Dean Dance Disease (TDDD) and Stage 1b Moves in the Field Morphology  (MM). I've been told this is incurable and will get worse. Eventually I will be in Stage V: Gold Test Tension Grumbling (GTTG). 

I can't wait.

Fortunately, I am an engineer by trade with 40 years of  experience analyzing complex physical systems.  I've approached my skating like an engineering problem.   I'll share some simple tips that have worked for me, and some stories of how I learned to improve my skating.  It's a big scary frozen world out there. We adult skaters need to hang together. Join me in the glide across the ice.