Sunday, March 4, 2012

Wear the Vest Willya!

My home rink does not have reliable weekend freestyles. Sometimes there will be  a couple of hours when the hockey team is off someplace playing, but it's not something I can count on. So I bop around to other rinks' freestyle sessions on Sunday. They have widely varying customs.

The closest rink to my house (but it's not my home rink) has a power class followed by an hour of freestyle. And it's the cheapest freestyle around. The skaters in program wear a ribbon around their waist to indicate they're in program. It looks like a piece of cop tape, but when I hear program music I glance around and I can usually spot the skater. The skaters at this session seem to be small. So maybe this ribbon is a nice compromise as it fits both the adult and the child skaters. It can be hard to see, but it's something.

The freestyle session at Big City Rink has the skaters wear a full up florescent vest. There's some high level skaters here (no elites, but you see some occasional triples), a strong ice dance program, and a lot of skater traffic. As I said, full up vest. Most of the skaters at this session are either adults in ice dance or teens. I've only seen a rare child skater. So the vest is the norm.

My home rink.

No Vest.

Zip. Nada. Zed.

I guess you're supposed to use psychic powers if you're a visiting skater.
Madame Zelda senses GLENDA is in program!

My previous home rink (the one that closed) had no vests either. The skating director told me:
1. Hockey boys steal them (my comment--because coaches leave them lying around)
2. Everyone knows everyone else's music so they know who's in program

As a visiting skater, I hear music and I look around for someone in pose. But, there will sometimes be  more than one skater practicing a pose, or I'll look around too late and miss it. I lose a lot of time guessing. If Dance Coach is with me, he'll just tell me to move to the boards if it's necessary. Otherwise we keep going in lesson.  If I'm at a rink and EVERYONE skates to the boards, I know to follow. Someone fast with big jumps is out there.

Strangely enough, in a sport with all sorts of custom tchotchkes and custom costumes, I'm rather surprised no one's come up with something that will work for skaters.

Anyway, I need to work on my psychic powers, for next week's freestyle. I sense.... I sense.....that girl over there is in progam! (I hope).


  1. Our rink doesn't have a vest either, we rely on psychic powers (because some kids have like 15 ISI programs and it is just hard to track!)

    Apparently our club is considering getting a vest though.

    1. AFter writing this I decided that a good idea is for a rink to supply something for the kids. The ribbon at the one rink seems to work. Adults should supply their own vest. Adults vary so widely (big guys for pairs to skinny litle women in singles) that I don't see how any one vest can do it. And adults are responsible enough to keep track of their own equipment.

    2. Even something like a bright yellow scrunchie to wear on your wrist would be better than nothing.

    3. What about an armband? Even guys would wear that.

      Or flashing lights like they put on dog collars...and a beeper when the skater's going backwards. -)

    4. So at Big City Rink, do you and Dance Coach ever don the vest and skate to your music (with right of way)? Or do you always practice without your music, yielding to others? For a dance pair, any custom for which one wears the vest - man vs. woman? Just curious.

    5. Anoynymous 10:26
      Dance Coach and I don't skate at Big City Rink, we skate at Hockeytown Rink. He's the only male coach and the only dance coach in a town of over 250,000 (1M+ for the metropolitan area). Apparently when he puts a student in dance hold all the other skaters and coaches make way for him and his student. He can also bump other skater's music twice. He's what my mother would call a "privileged character". So I've never had to wear the vest. I assume it would be the student wearing the vest.

  2. We have fluoro hi-vis vests at my rink. But wearing the vest doesn't necessarily mean people will get out of the way. It's meant to mean you have right of way, but that assumes people are looking.
    I don't think there's a protocol for whether coach or student wears the vest. Mostly I do, but sometimes coach does.
    Regarding the sizing, yes, that's an issue. The young kids have to tie them up in the front. On the other hand, I'm lucky if I can get the fronts to meet across my fat stomach.
    We had armbands before the vests, but they were a lot more difficult to spot from the other end of the rink, and were also a lot easier for people to ignore if they chose to do so.