Friday, February 10, 2012

Ice Bullies

So you're an adult and you're learning to skate. You're hunched over (even though I warned you not to), and your knees are stiff, and although you're not clinging to the boards, you're moving slowly.

If you're like every adult in the first few months of skating (me! me!) your arms are spread like wings as you push off onto your brave attempt at a one foot glide.

You know what you are? You're a target.

There are predators out there on public sessions. 90% of them are male and between 11-14. These are 'hockey boys'.

(EDIT: I want to emphasize that of the ice bullies I'm talking about on public sessions, there's usually only one or two per rink. The inattentive skater, the careless skater, the self-centered skater. Oh, there's plenty of those. The Bully is the skater that skates directly at you with the intent of scaring you.)

This is their technique. The boy will circle the ice, looking for a victim. He'll spot you. Then he'll skate directly at you as fast as he can then he'll do a hockey stop and dust you with snow. The picture below shows the effect that he's attempting to achieve.

Jeff Friesen demonstrating a hockey stop.
He's tough guy cute.
The first time this happens, you'll be terrified. You may even fall.

Now that you've got that out of your system it's time to toughen up, Babycakes.

You're being bullied by a child. You don't have to suck it up. You can fight back. My experience is sarcasm and irony work best. 

Option 1: You're elderly and female look at the boy and say "Dearie, you're such a good skater. Would you show me how to do that?"  You must say 'dearie'. Also, you may have to yell it to be heard over the music. 
Option 2: You're a guy of any age. Look at the boy and yell, "Calm down, willya!" 

Option 3: General technique (I used this one) Look at the kid and with great annoyance yell, "IN A PATTERN HERE!" 

Option 4: Look at the kid, roll your eyes blow out your breath, and say nothing, just start skating again.

Don't explain to the kid about 'respecting others', or 'I'm a beginner'. He doesn't care squat about that. He wants to annoy a helpless adult. You're not his skating equal, but you're an adult, your verbal skills are better than his. Keep it short and sweet.

If the kid does it to you more than once, you'll have to complain to the rink guard (who is probably one of their friends). Don't get huffy about it, just tell the guard, "That kid's pestering me.  Willya tell him to back off or something?" If THAT doesn't work. You're on your own. I've never had to take it past the sarcasm stage. Once they figured out I wasn't going to fall and I wasn't going to flinch, they went off and pestered someone else. 

Note, the age spread of the boys doing this. Eleven to fourteen. Thee are boys who are hockey player wannabes. I don't know if they're actual players. The real league players that are older are usually very nice. I think they have behavior rules on ice. It's the boys under 15 that are the brats. 

Now we shift to the girl bully. You may see her in the center of the ice. This was my initial encounter. My coach had told me to go practice my baby crossovers in the center circle. Every time I did this girl would spin directly in my path and I would go off to skate somewhere else on the ice. This happened over and over. She would stand in the center with her friends talking (a rink no-no), I would come in to the center to practice and she'd spin at me. 

My coach chanced to see this happening. She signaled me over and grabbed me by the arm. Shaking my arm she stormed at me, "You do not let that girl do that to you. You go out and you OWN the ice." (As an adult skater, I learned early that most coaches despise girl bullies.)

So I did. I put my bossy hat on and when it happened again I just stopped and told her "Don't hog the ice." And then continued on. She never did it to me again.

This hasn't happened to me in a long time. Eventually your stroking gets smooth enough that no one bothers you anymore, or you become accepted like the rink furniture.

Remember, no matter what you say, keep it short. We're talking about teenagers here. 


  1. The last hockey boy that did that to me I loudly told that if he ever did that to me again he was going to get smacked (with appropriate hand motion). I fleetingly thought I might get kicked off the ice for threatening him but the kid did leave me alone.

    1. I've never had to go that far, and it's not a solution I'd recommend.
      Although I have this fantasy to go to a rink where I'm not known, and play the victim, only to scare the kid by turning into them and skating at them with power.
      My friend the Big Guy (6'3") would be skated at by hockey boys because he was in figure skates; He'd just stick out his arms and 3 turn into them. It was fun to watch them back pedal.

  2. I'm 16, started in October, but pretty much skate everyday. I hold myself really well on the ice and an adult once told me that I look intimidating. Since I'm homeschooled, I skate during the day, so I mostly skate with adults. Ever since that comment was made to me, I decided to introduce myself to every new adult skater and compliment what they are working on. I want to make sure they know I'm not like the teens you described (:

    1. That's very nice of you. Adult learners, especially adults over 40, can be a little spooked in the beginning because younger skaters are so fast and the adults don't know how much control the younger skater has. As a beginner skater gets some experience, they can tell by looking at a skater if they're in control or not. I stopped flinching years ago when someone passed inches from me, if I was confident in their control.