Saturday, January 28, 2012

Sometimes It's Not You

One of the tenets of this blog is that a beginner skater needs to stop blaming the ice, the boots, the blades. Most of the time, whatever is wrong is my fault. My head position, my knee bend, ankle bend, posture.... you name it. It's my problem, not the ice's.

That's the motto of this blog: Don't blame the ice, because the ice doesn't care.

But there will come a point, where it will stop being you, and it actually will be the ice, the boots, the blades.

The issue with skating, is that every time you skate you degrade your equipment just a little. And because it's just a little at a time, you get acclimated to the condition of the boot and the blade. There's a point where the boots are just perfectly broken in, and then one day, they're too broken in. There's a point where the blades are fine; Then the next day they're completely flat and have no edge.

In my case, I kept feeling my blades were too dull. Dance Coach and Moves Coach took a look at them separately and both said, "They're fine." But my coaches aren't me. They're powerful skaters who have been skating since before they could read. The could probably skate on blades with no edges, but what they find skateable is not what I am comfortable with. I need a nice sharp edge.

I've been struggling along for the past 2 months, trying to get certain moves. But I'd skid. Or go on the flat. Or in the case of three turns, I'd really have to haul my upper body to get the turn. But I stuck with it.

Back in November, I had ordered a pair of Jackson Finesse ice dance boots with a new pair of Mirage recreational blades. Last Sunday, I took them out for the first time and skated with them. The new boots are like concrete blocks at first, but when I did a three turn, wow! it was a revelation. It was so easy. My mohawks were easy too.

I went home and compared my old blades with my new ones. My old ones were 4 years old with many sharpenings on them. They were just a tiny bit flatter than my new ones. Not flat enough so that the rocker was nonexistent (I have the world's best skate tech), but just enough so I could see it when they were side by side. I'm not a powerful skater who learned to skate as a child; I'm an adult learner, and my skills aren't strong enough to compensate for the change in the blade's rocker. I'd needed new blades for a while, but my lack of faith in my skate sense made me hold off from replacing them.

Today Dance Coach saw me skate in them for the first time. I'd had a total of two hours in the new boots. I'd do something and astonishment would light up his face.  At one point I was doing solid inside swing rolls and he said, "I never thought I'd ever say this, but you've got too much curve in your swing rolls. Skate them flatter."  Three turns in waltz hold; No skid.  Three turns to landing position; his jaw dropped. I was consistently hitting that outside edge on the glide which I hadn't been able to do in the old boots without a lot of effort. We did a shrunken Canasta Tango in what clear area we could find (mid-winter publics, after a hockey game, ugh!) and again he was happy. Last time we skated it, I skidded all over the ice; This time I was solid.

So I guess getting dance boots wasn't a vanity move after all. My skating's improved with the new blades and the extension and toe pointing has improved with the designed for dance boots.

It's not always the skater at fault. Sometimes it is the ice, the boots, the blades. Knowing when to make that distinction---that's the art of being a skater.


  1. Your post took me back in time to an equipment problem I had a while back. Is it tacky to leave a link to another blog? I thought you might relate to my experience (and it turns out we have the same blades!) If it's terribly rude and tacky to leave a link here, delete my comment. I don't want to be known as THAT blogger! :-)

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  3. I often wonder about this - whether I am skidding because I need sharper blades, or because I'm not balanced. And is it better to Not allow sharper blades to compensate for poor balance?