Thursday, January 31, 2013

Hernando's Hut of Skating Requirements--Adult Skater Party

If we go to Hernando's Hut of Skating Requirements, we find everything arranged perfectly for the adult skater: perfect ice, select coaches, masseuses, warming rooms, and also the perfect adult skating party.

So, earlier the adult skating party came up in the post on Birthday Parties at the Rink. This resulted in some discussion in the comments, and I've had time to think about it. Today I'm going to lay out what I think a perfect skating party would be like.

1. Saturday. Right before public. I have my reasons.

2. Lots of male figure skaters. So shoot me, I like watching men figure skate. Towards me, away from me, jumping, ice dancing. Whatever. I have a friend, the Big Guy, 6'3", 280 lbs. Beautiful edges. Skating backwards into a jump entrance, he's the sexiest thing alive. So must have guys at party.

3. Complete control of the music box by party members. No manager in some office somewhere running it like a public.

4. Ice resurfaced immediately before party time.

5. Large sign on the gate: "Private Party. No Kids Allowed." The gate will be closed. Hockey boys entering the ice will be picked up by male figure skaters and unceremoniously dropped back on the matting and the gate slammed in their face.

6. Guest Coach. This is tricky, as many of my skating friends are coaches already. So, figuring out how to hold a fun group class when some of the partiers are coaches, well, the only thing I can think of is make it a dance coach and let the other coaches be partners to the uninitiated.

7. Guess Coach must be happy and cheerful.

So, happy coach
NOT,  grumpy coach

8. Brunch after skating

9. Drinkies!
Not this kind of drunken revelry
More like, sophisticated revelry

And why do I want the party to be right before public? Because I want all the public skaters to see adults skating, having classy food, and sophisticated fun! They will ENVY us!

"Mary, I think we need to take skating lessons
so we can have fun like that!"

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Invisible Toepick!

Remember "The Cutting Edge"?  If people have seen only one figure skating movie, that was it. And I know a respectable number of grown men who saw it. Any non-skater who's seen it all ask,

"How do you keep from tripping off those toepicks?"

Excuse me? Do forward falls not happen in other places? Other sports? Or is it always due to invisible toepicks?
Skateboarding: Invisible Toepick!
Biking: Invisible Toepick! 
Walking on the Beach: INvisible Toe Pick!
Soccer: Toepick!
Even the animal kingdom--that is not know for wearing skates:
I meet men women who skate in hockey skates because "I'm afraid of tripping on the toepicks."  I guess they think they're safer.
The great Bobby Hull does NOT catch a toepick.
Hockey skates must be safe!

Ditto: No toepicks here either
Complete safety.

No toepick here either--
Nothing to see here--move along
Strangely, I could not find one single picture outside of "The Cutting Edge" of someone tripping on a toepick!

Friday, January 25, 2013


I don't know what rink started the genius idea of birthday parties at the rink. Brilliant! Money! Maker! Supply a cake costing $20, but charge $50, an empty room, and a coach that costs $20 a half hour and charge $50! Who thought this up! OMG! the money just rolls in!
Rink Manager  counting up the birthday party profits
Some weekends the birthday parties are so numerous that the rink has to stagger them so they can get the maximum profit out of each party room (on in the case of one rink, each party table).

I don't mind birthday parties on public. Let's face it, the kids are just adorable....
"Hello, I'm 5, and here's all my friends.
Where's my cake?"
It's up to the poor coach to herd the party together and get some teaching in. This forces the coach to being happy, smiling, sweet to the kids, but really all grumbly underneath. The coaches I've talked to do not like Birthday Parties. I see a lot of eye rolling, and frowns when coaches tell me about party coaching.
How the party skaters see the coach
What the coach is thinking!

But what I hate are party parents. You know who I mean. The adults who hang out in the gate, taking pictures. I can't get on the ice; I can't get off the ice. The parents are blocking the gate.

I don't blame them for wanting to take pictures, it's really very sweet. But they're just oblivious. There's 200 people getting off an on the ice and the parent just hangs there, pointing the camera desperately at their kid and yelling at them to 'Come over here!'

So in the spirit of being a good rink citizen, if they're that desperate for pictures I offer to take them for them. The parent will usually hand me their camera or phone, and I'll spent 4 minutes taking pictures of the party while I skate around. Give the phone back and miracle of miracles, the parent goes and sits down in the bleachers leaving the gate open.

And I build up karma points!

Guys with $800 cameras and no skating skills on the ice trying to take pictures of the party? I just let them alone.  I can never figure out expensive cameras, and I don't want to be the one to drop it! Let the guy who owns it catch a toepick and drop it.
Bummer about the camera man....
(Someday though, I want to rent the rink for a private party, invite all my skating buddies, then have some famous coach show up and give a group drinkies after!)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Welcome to the Pros Room

So your coach mysteriously appears on the ice or in the booting up area. Boots on, ready to skate.

You're puzzled.

You didn't see the coach come in and put on boots. Where did the coach come from?

The pro's room.

It where coaches go to change, store their gear, and ....well, get away from students. That means you.

It's the ice rink version of the Teacher's Lounge. You know, the place where students Do.Not.Go.

I was invited inside one once, to pick up some stuff I'd left in someone's car.

You know, I expected this:
I thought coaches would get treated with respect by management

But really it's more like this!
Except, it was more stinky!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

First Time on Freestyle?

One day you'll pass all your group lessons, or maybe your coach will say, "I think you're ready for freestyle."

Serious stuff up front:

If you are on freestyle for the first time and don't know the rules, it would be polite to skate around the perimeter until you figure them out. Different rinks have different rules. Your coach should give you a quick run down.  There's lutz corners and harness alley, and so on. I'm not going to summarize them here 'cause every rink is different.

Freestyles are usually assigned a specific time period. Freestyles are not like public, you don't play a flat fee for the hours you skate. You pay in chunks of time. Each rink is different. I've seen by the 1 hour, 45 minutes, and by 15 minutes. You pay for your chunk of time, and if you get off early, you don't get your money back Some rinks allow 'bridging'. With that, effectively  you can get on the ice at any time and skate until your time is up. .

Just like taking lessons on public, don't interrupt someone in lesson.

And now for fun....

Sign in with the ice monitor
Know the rules for paying the ice monitor.
Some rinks, you pay the monitor, others the desk.
If you're paying cash, it's nice to have exact change.
First time freestyle? May be too early to buy a bunch of tickets for the discount
You'll be tempted to 'dress up'. It's not
 necessary. Dress how you're comfortable.

Assuming you're there for a lesson, say 'hi' to your coach, but don't interrupt a lesson.
Catch their eye, and wave to let her/him know you're there is all that's needed.
Skate around and warm up.
If you haven't passed Basic Skills you may only be allowed on ice
with your coach. Ask.
There will probably be overdressed little girls. 
And some scary teenagers who resent you on 'their' ice.
But mostly people will be there to skate, not judge you

You'll feel enormous next to the other skaters
Don't worry, that will fade

On some rinks you'll see pairs or ice dancers working on new lifts.

Or maybe you'll be lucky to have an elite skater zip right past you and you'll feel the wind brush your face.
Wow, who was THAT!

There will be people doing things through the center of the rink. These people are probably practicing a program, or working on Moves Tests. At first you'll feel like a cat with a rubik's cube, but after a few weeks you'll learn to recognize what they're doing and where they're heading. They have the right of way (generally).
Don't worry, you'll learn what the Moves Patterns look like
and who has the right of way
I hope you enjoy your first time on freestyle. After you get off, there's just one thing to do.....
Say hello to Mr. Nap!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

What Kind of Skater Are YOU!

[Thanks to posters on for this idea.]

Here's how I rack and stack skaters.

"ice tourists" Show up a couple of times a year, usually between November and March, for fun. Never take lessons.

"beginner skaters" People in basic skills class, who may be regulars, but don't own their own skates.

"casual skaters" Committed skaters who regularly show up  year round in their own skates, but don't take private lessons.

"recreational skaters" Own their own skates, take private lessons. Don't test.

"test skaters"   These skaters are like recreational skaters, but are involved in a test program.

"competitive recreational skaters" Not only do these skaters test, but they work on programs, and go to competions.

"competitive skaters" These are the skaters (usually younger) who are on the track for passing the required tests for entering qualifying competitions.

"elite skaters" These are the 1000 or so skaters who compete in international competitions.

"synchro" Amazingly talented skaters at all levels who love to compete as a team.

So in October I was a "test skater". Now I'm a "casual skater".

Lo, how the mighty have fallen.

Stupid knees...
Rudolph, I share your pain.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Snap Crackle Pop!

The right knee is getting scary.

The exercise routines I'm using are doing some good. Although I'm pain free for 30 minutes to an hour after my exercise, and I can feel that my knee is improving, it's too slow. I've got immediate problems.

Today while I was standing in line, I turned to speak to someone and my right knee buckled. Fortunately, my left leg is almost back to normal, so using 'figure skater reflexes' I was able to stay upright, otherwise I would have had to grab a complete stranger.

And he wasn't cute.

My knee made a really obvious 'snap' when it happened. People turned and stared.
Usually the 'snapping' sound is harmless; it's a ligament slipping over a bone, but combined with the buckling, I don't think it's harmless. Today I felt I'd given the knee enough of a chance. I'm making an appointment and getting the Synvisc injections. It will only last a few months, but that may give me enough of a 'fix' to get my weight down a few pounds and give the exercises time to build up my knee strength.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Don't go all Tokyo on me....

Oh, Godzy sweetheart, EVERYONE has a
problem with the closed outside mohawk

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Types of Coaches

I skate freestyle at several rinks. I've observed a lot of coaches, here are some of the more common types I've seen.

The Skating Director
The Cute Male Dance Coach
His harem of adult female ice dancers

The Screamer

The Coach who knows how to comfort a skater,
who just failed a test 
The Coach who holds the skater's attention 

The young, cute coach who's really, really good with kids in group

The coach who hates having anyone on the ice,
except his skater
Your Coach Showing You How

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Unsung Ice Rink Heros: Skating Moms

I skate at a rink that is a 'no drama rink'. Based on TV shows, and horror stories from other rinks, you'd think there would be at least some kind of fireworks, but no. Other than the fact we have amazing ice, it's just like any other minor league rink in the boondocks. Oh, except we have three skaters going to Nationals (one in another country).

Today I went to this low-key, middle of no where, dinky little Nationals skater producing rink, to skate on the same freestyle ice as a senior skater doing triples. In a freestyle that was mostly adults.  And we were all polite, observed skating etiquette and kept our eye on the senior skater and he kept his eye on us.

I handed my $9 for a half hour to the ice monitor and got straight on the ice since she didn't have the book out yet.

I know what you're thinking:
Where are you skating? Fort Knox?
So I skated for a half hour, starting with swizzles, and other two foot skating to warm up my bad knees, then proceeded to forward stroking, alternating forward and backward crossovers, some hesitant FO3 and mohawks, and basic edges. Let's just say, I've lost a year of skating with the collapse of my knees.   I can't do dance 3's anymore, just freestyle 3's. My inside edges are marginal, can't straighten my legs for extension---oh, and no power. Sad.

So, I get off the ice and the ice monitor grabs me on the way out. She hasn't seen me in almost two months and has forgotten my name for the book. As I fill out the book I mention I heard her skater had done really well at Regionals.

"First place," she said proudly,"And now Nationals."

That shows how disconnected from the rink I'd become since my knees went kablooey. I had no idea. So I congratulated her and we talked briefly about the skater's travails with a certain jump, coaching changes, and the rest of her skating kids (three now, the littlest just got skates and is in LTS).

I said, "You know, you're a rock. Everyone depends on you, I hope they appreciate how hard you work to make them successful."

And a funny thing happened. The ice monitor leaped up from her chair and hugged me around the shoulders. When she stepped back, there were tears in her eyes.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Ice Ice Baby!

Back on the ICE!

For 15 minutes.

But I was doing forward stroking, crossovers, two foot turns.

Tried some 3 turns and a couple of mohawks. Weak and scary, but still I was back on ice. Fell once. Badly.

So, after 6 weeks off, I had trouble finding my edges, and finding the edges was really important. If I'm not on a good edge and perfectly on the right place on the blade, I don't have enough strength in my calf and knee to recover gracefully if I'm even a little bit out of position. For this reason, I'm not skating on public yet, just freestyle. The effort needed to avoid some kid who skates straight at me, terrifies me.

Even when I have a good edge and balance, I look a bit like a newborn bird flapping its wings. I'm all over the place.

Grumpy Coach, who was an elite skater from decades ago, glared at me. I greeted him as always in the Little Old Lady Way with a cheery, "Good afternoon, dearie."

He sort of grunted at me in an Eastern European language, then turned his back on me. There's just no making some people smile.

I blame communism.

Still, we have a suddenly open Saturday freestyle tomorrow (game cancelled). I'm aiming for 30 minutes on the Ice. Ice, Baby! On, the Ice!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

I Blame Hurricane Sandy

You know you're old when you have to do stretching every day to keep from falling apart.
I need to exercise every day!
I restarted exercising a couple of days ago after I realized that I had stopped my stretching sessions when Hurricane Sandy hit. Right after that my back went out for a week, followed a week later by my knees going 'kablooey'.

All my misery is due to Hurricane Sandy throwing off my exercise schedule. Maybe I should sue NOAA .

Then this evening I got a new fitness video in the mail. Quick Fix Knee Rehab with Jen Miller. It requires two small balls in a net bag to self-massage your joints.  I did the 11 minute Pre-Hab section where you lie on and roll over the balls in the little net bag; First the hip joints, then muscles of the thigh, then the knee. This is to get you warmed up for more difficult exercises. It was a pleasant experience, not too difficult.  The instructor mention this 'weird heat' that people would get when the muscles were responding but I didn't get that while doing the pre-hab exercises. (There are two additional sets of exercises on the DVD, I just haven't done them yet.)

However, as I was seated cross legged on the floor, reading the New York Times, I started absently massaging my knee where it hurt with the massage balls. And you know, my knee felt better. I started doing the massage more purposefully. I massaged the knee with the ball until it stopped hurting, then changed the leg position, found a new pain and massaged that. So, that took another 10 minutes before I quit.

A half hour later this 'weird heat' flooded through my knee as if someone had put a space heater in my knee and plugged me in. For 10 minutes my knee was without pain.


I'm going to keep up with this!

How it works, what it's doing; No idea. Just feels great--for a few minutes at a time.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Youngling Works on His Axel (Updated)

Back in October, my coach, his young male student (Youngling) working on his axel and I were the only people on the ice during the last freestyle of the day.

I had put this dramatic movie music on my iPhone on the speakers for the kid because he. must. skate. with. music. I guess his life needs a sound track.

The music fit perfectly with his lesson, building and falling with each attempt and failure. I wondered if it affected his skating from an emotional perspective. He just couldn't land his axel off harness.  

A hockey boy stepped in tennis shoes onto the ice, and the student snapped at him "Get off the ice!" So tension was high and building--just as the music was at a tense and profound moment. I skated over and shut the gate so no one else would come in.

I know this kid, I really want him to get his axel. So for the last 5 minutes I sat in the music box, so he wouldn't even have me on the ice to distract him out of the corner of his eye. It was just him and the coach.

And while I was waiting, I glanced across the ice. There must have been 20 people in the stands and others clustered against the glass, staring at him as if they were watching a movie. I could see the music affecting their expressions, and posture. He would go up, they would take a breath; and he would fall, their shoulders would slump.

Too bad the student never got his axel. It would have made a great movie--music and all.

(Youngling got his axel March 2013)

Monday, January 7, 2013

Results of the MRI

I'm going to  make this straightforward.

My knees are crap.

According to my doctor, they are so bad (both of them) they should have started hurting years ago.

So there are two non-surgical medical treatments that could be tried. My research shows both are only marginally better than a placebo.

Anyway, I'm going for a second opinion, to see if I can find someone who will recommend physical therapy rather than shots and pills.

Fortunately, the knees feel enough better after a month plus of rest and anti-inflammatory pills that I'm going to try going on ice again, one more time. I've done some research and I need to apply some ice packs and that might help.  Also, getting back in the habit of doing leg exercises may help me as well.

So, I'll try and keep you amused until I'm back on ice!

Happy skating!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Who's That Girl?

She's everywhere.

I'm sure you've seen her on webpages for various rinks, it's Figure Skating Stock Photo Girl!
Figure Skating Stock Photo Girl
 I admit the first time I saw her, I couldn't help but give out a sigh of envy. If only I was that slim, that athletic, that tall, that pretty.....that young.

And that sweater? Isn't it giving out the whole "Cutting Edge" Practice outfit vibe?
I love this practice outfit, so classy. And the little silver brooch, Swoon!
So, the first time I saw Figure Skating Stock Image Girl, I just saw the look, the hair cut, the sweater. Then years later I chanced across the picture again, and something about the boots struck me as...odd. Isn't the boot shaft a little too tall? And, why are there 6 hooks on the shaft? I don't think I've ever seen a modern boot with more than 4.

Uh, what's going on here?

Let's look at that blade.

No drop pick, just a toe rake!

She's got 20 year old boots and patch blades!

Oh, and when I looked up stock photos of people carrying their boots, every single one had the boots slung over the shoulder or around the neck.

In real life, who does that?

Okay, who does that except people posing for slack jawed ignoramus photographers?