Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Frames Of Death!

 Technically they're called 'skating aids', those usually metal frames that are rented to families with little kids to push around on public ice.

I hates 'em.

First off, they hold up the kid and the kid having no sense goes as fast as he can. Can he stop? No. Does he care that he's in center ice? No. Do kids leave the frames on the ice next to the gate? Yes. Do teenagers get hold of them and fight 'ice wars' with them? Yes.

My worst experience. A kid picked one up at threw it at my head. It wasn't personal. He wanted to throw something, I happened to be in the way. I gave him the rough edge of my tongue.

Still, using a skating aid has a long, long history. The earliest pictures I've seen use a chair. This makes sense. Cheap stable, and on outdoor ice it gives you something to sit on after you get off the ice.
The original skating aid
Interestingly, in China there's a long history of outdoor chair skating. It's evolved into some elaborate equipment. I think you push yourself along with the sticks.

But people came up with other designs.
Yes, this is weird.
But there's many, many patented designs for frames around the world.

The Break Your Heart Version
The one with the modesty panel
(Actually, this seemed the safest)
This one screams "Nose Breaker"
The one that will roll over
These are adjustable and I've seen a lot of broken ones
There's also a polar bear version
 But there are skating frames that defy rationality.
The double banana version
I think the parent pushes
and the kids ride.
The buy your own, portable frame
Why, God, Why
Good idea having a metal bar at groin level.
It's from a rink in the U.S.

But just when you think it couldn't get any worse, someone comes up with the ultimate skating frame. A two seater.
Undergoing off ice trials now!
So, take heart, whatever frames are on ice at your rink, it could be worse!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

What Do Ice Tourists See?

Since there was no freestyle this weekend, and Miss Cheerleader let me know that Publics were still super crowded, I wasn't able to skate this weekend.
All the local rinks are like this right now
Why can't they put one in MY town.....
So I got to thinking about what it was like the first time I was an Ice Tourist. Since I started skating my idea about what is going on on the ice has completely changed. Today I want you to reach back into your memory about what it was like, 'the first time'.

First off, what's with all the screaming? 

Then, almost every one clings to the boards (I at least could do slaloms) and inches their way around the rink. But there are a few who have taken lessons, and these brave souls get away from the boards and stroke for all they're worth...
Yep, this is me
What the Ice Tourist sees.....
"OMG! Look at her!"
(I once zipped past an Ice Tourist and she called out "How do you DO that!" It was a very gratifying moment.)

And then there are the hockey boys who set out to scare people. They look something like this, short little 11 year olds, traveling in packs, usually of three.

What the Ice Tourist sees....
"Run, Run, Run from Ghidorah before it destroys us all!"
And what about the little girls in the center ice, doing their jumps that you can barely pass a credit card between the ice and the blade. 

What the girls are doing....
Look at me jump!
What the Ice Tourists sees....
"Look at her jump!"
Anyway, I can't wait until summer when public ice is like this....

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

My Grand Entrance---

We all have dreams.

My dream was that when I got back on the ice, I'd make a GRAND ENTRANCE....You know: style, sweep, smoooooooth.....

             I come in the rink and I'm welcomed with              
 love from staff and skaters
Then I get on the ice and I'm
strong and powerful

Meh, what I really looked like was wacky flailing inflatable tube guy..
Yeah, lookin' like a Basic 3 skater, sad....
And to top off the humiliation while standing still at the boards, with my hand on the boards, I caught a toepick and went down like wacky flailing inflatable tube guy when they turn off the fans...

How can I do a faceplant while I'm holding onto the boards?
Other than that, good day on ice!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Physical Therapy Begins!

My therapy involves low weight, high repetitions, all on the side of the body with the bad knee. Surprisingly, this is tiring. I was also told to ice my bad knee after I skate. So there's your little health tip for the day.

Still, I'm in much, much better shape than anyone else in the therapy gym except the cute guy in his 20's who's recovering from some sports injury.  One of his exercises was to stand on one foot, on a therapy cushion, throw a ball at a rebounder and catch it on the way back.  They're at least not starting me on that. I just have to stand on one foot on the therapy cushion and not fall over.

"You can touch the barre for balance," the technician told me, "if you feel you're going to fall over. Just don't use the barre to hold you up."

I stood on the cushion, took up my ice dance posture, and raised my left foot. 15 seconds, 3 times. I never touched the barre.

The technician was impressed.  "You're doing better than I could," she said.

Well, we all know the reason why, don't we.
I . am . a . figure . skater!

(We'll see if I'm this smug when they make me stand on one foot and throw that ball at the rebounder. I can't even catch a ball if I'm standing on two feet!)

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Thank you hockey!

I'm going to propose something that I've never seen discussed: Figure skating owes a big hug and a kiss to hockey.

Figure skaters compete individually, or part of a pair, or maybe part of a synchro team, but in the end most of us spend our skating life practicing alone....just sharing the ice.

I know the elites may have private ice but I'm writing about everybody else.

Even though we share the ice with each other, we usually don't have the power--even with a big figure skating club---to get priority for ice time.

What would figure skating do without hockey?

Yeah, hockey.  Believe me, they're not the enemy, Hockey keeps rinks open. While figure skating used to dominate rink time, it's been decades since figure skating alone kept ice rinks operating.

Hockey is really organized. When my old rink closed, the hockey organization went out  got someone to donate a bankrupt commercial facility and the hockey club built a new rink inside the building.

That's right, a hockey club built a rink and transferred the entire league to another town. I've been there. The facility may be a dump, but the ice is nice, and they're making money. People have tailgaters in the parking lot on weekends. It's an effective, useful rink with a small figure skating community.

What did the figure skaters from my old rink do? They slunk away to rinks around the area.

The figure skating club was much beloved (we even had a reunion) but for some reason figure skaters just don't  seem to think in the 'community spirit' way hockey organizations do.  We act as individuals, not a big league with lots of money.

So, here's to hockey! Thank you for keeping the rinks open!

Big Hugs to you Hockey!
Thanks for the guy on guy action BTW.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Skating Again after Kneemageddon!

I went to freestyle today at my old rink and skated for 30 minutes.  Honestly, that last minute was torture. I've lost so much muscle tone in my right leg, and my balance was all over the place, that when I cautiously got on the ice I looked like this....

Slip, Slidin' Away
 This is one of the things I anticipated. As you get older,  the body loses muscle and flexibility at a rate that's positively depressing. Even though I continued my weight lifting and stretching exercises over the last 3 months, there was nothing I could do to keep my legs strong. I had to let them rest and recover. Now I have to rebuild them.

I started out with some simple stroking, the lack of practice showed, It took me a few minutes to get my posture and upper body back in alignment. I knew I looked like a Basic 3 skater, but the kids knew me and avoided me (the sweethearts). I was able to do forward and backwards crossovers by the end of my half hour; three turns and mohawks were where I was a year ago.

So what's a good thing for an elderly  mature woman to do to recover?

I did some research and everyone agrees that the four fitness goals for a 'mature' adult are the following:

Endurance. What's a good exercise for this on ice? Swizzles. I found that swizzles were very demanding on my weaker leg, and I had to work hard to make the swizzles symmetric.  Also I wouldn't let myself do 'lazy swizzles'. I did them so I touched my feet together then out again which I find harder than 'lazy swizzles'.

I've been doing strength training of upper body during kneemageddon, and just started rebuilding my leg muscles. Pnysical Therapy starts Monday. When  I look at the strength exercises for the 'mature' online, the weights are at the 3 and 5 pound level. I'm using 15 and 20's and have a personal trainer. I guess I'm not the traditional little old lady.

Balance. Believe it or not I've been working on my off ice balance during Kneemageddon.  It's not the same as real skating. Cross fingers my skating balance comes back quickly. And what, you ask, is a balance exercise? Stand on one foot--working up to standing on one foot with eyes closed, on a Bosu Ball.  Still at standing on one foot with my eyes open. Man, the whole one foot on the Bosu ball, not happening.
I'm on the left....sigh.
Flexibility. Use it or lose it, baby. I do 30 minutes of flexibility work every weekday. My DVDs for this are here. I also have a knee rehabilitation DVD and a few others. My orthopedic surgeon was amazed. If I had one thing I would unreservedly recommend to 'mature' adult skaters, it's regular stretching training, and these DVD's are really good.

Now you're wondering how I was skating after the half hour of practice.

Ta Da!
(I am this cute!)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Back On The ICE Approval

So the surgeon approved me to go back on the ice--gently--and build up my leg strength. I was clutching my copy of this month's Skating magazine in my clammy little hand when I asked. He tilted his head to see the picture on the cover, and I think that was the first time he understood I meant "ice" skating. But, he said, "Sure."

Now since I haven't really skated for more than 30 minutes since this started, I've completely lost all memory of every freestyle session within an 80 mile radius. I mean it's a blank. I used to know every rink's schedule, and now I know nothing.
OMG, I feel so empty....

One of the things that came out of this whole kerfuffle (TM applied for) is that the doctor uncovered my right leg is much weaker than my left.  I now have to see a physical therapist to muscle up one leg. Maybe this explains my handedness issue and inability to do things in the clockwise direction and my total failure to do two foot snow plow stops; it's not just the 'handedness' thing. So, it's not me! Well, it IS me. Darn it. Just a different part of me.
What happens when you have one bad leg....
My dream though is to get a doctor to write me a "Letter of Medical Necessity" so I can use skating as an approved rehabilitative exercise. Then I can get reimbursement from my health savings account for ice time and be able to use my 40 years of accumulated sick leave to skate (for rehabilitation). That would be sweet.  But, haven't had that happen yet.

However, since the furlough thing looks like it's going to go ahead, I'll probably have plenty of free time to skate and build up that bad leg. Trying to be positive here. 
Yeah, whatever.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Too cute for words! Squeeee!!!

When you go to the ice rink don't you occasionally see things that are too cute for words? Things that just make you go 'Squeee!' inside like a fangrrrrl?

Here's some of my favorites.

Early 1930's, Netherlands, a child learns to skate--
and isn't to happy about it.
Don't you just want to hug him?

OMG! I don't know what the theme of this ice show is--
"The Godfather on Ice"? But I love it.
Central Iowa FSC

Oh the dedication of this coach!
Hats, and booties, and shirts and pants!
OMG!!! And they're staying in line!  Give this coach a hug!
source:Alfredo Camba

My favorite. Wonder Woman--representing
both the eyeglass wearing alter ego, Diana Prince,
and the powerful Amazonian princess--
See, she's circling her Lasso of Truth now.


Saturday, February 9, 2013

Knee Supports

I have chondromalacia, and osteoarthritis in my knees. Apparently when I was thrown from a horse back in the seventies, it took its time catching up with me.

One of the recommendations for the kind of injury I have is a compression or elastic knee brace. These are usually inexpensive  (although there's some with elaborate webbing, and gel inserts that cost up to a $100). Most of these seem to have been designed for men, and certainly everywhere I look, people complain of fit, wear, and loss of elasticity. Fortunately, they're mostly inexpensive, so buy a new one if the old one doesn't work.

I'm unlucky in that I'm exactly between a medium and a large, so I've had unique fitting problems.

First off, expense doesn't seem to be relevant. In looking at Amazon reviews I've seen no correlation between expense and usefulness. I'm just using the cheap ones from the drug stores. It's a good place to start. Based on Amazon reviews, picking a knee brace appears to involve a lot of hit or miss selection, or  you just get lucky on your first try.

Secondly, I picked ones that won't hurt me. Some braces involve tabs and gel and neoprene. The neoprene ones are just too hot and make your leg sweat, anything based on neoprene is dead to me.

I started with the closed knee brace from Futuro. This is little more than an elastic tube but it's more breathable than neoprene.
I found that in this one, I'm better off with a medium. Even though I'm in the range for a large, it just folds over and slowly slips down my leg. The medium seems to get tighter during the day, but it doesn't fold over *as much* as the large.  So if you're between sizes with this, you might consider trying the smaller one first. This knee brace is less noticeable than the other.

The other brace I tried has plastic boning along the sides and an opening over the knee. In this one the boning keeps it from rolling down from the top. I went with a large.

I liked this one more than the closed knee one, but it's too bulky for daily wear. I've come to think of this one as 'good enough to skate in'. The boning gives a little rigidity, but don't mistake it as supportive as those articulated knee braces you see some skaters wear. This design is mostly about keeping the kneecap from sliding around too much. The compression is just to keep it in place.

I've ordered a third one from Amazon. It's neoprene unfortunately, but it's called a shorty brace, so at least there's not much of it. It has a ridge of gel a the bottom of the patella and that looked promising.
Pro-Tec Knee Brace
Since I'm not jumping I don't 'kneed' elaborate or rigid braces. I need something just to add a little 'oomph' to get through the day. Right now these cheapies appear to be doing and adequate job, just don't expect them to last more than a fe weeks.

If you have a magic knee brace, I'd be interested in hearing about it.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Catastrophic Failure

You're probably wondering where I've been. As we all know, disasters (like celebrity deaths) come in threes. Today, my final disaster happened, and I'm now ready for my luck to turn.

First disaster? My knees went kablooey. (I'm thinking of trademarking 'kablooey' this has dragged on so long.)

Second disaster? My 13 year old clothes washer went kablooey. As the repairman told me today, the bearing seal failed 'catastrophically'.

Third disaster? The washing machine bearing ate my favorite skating shirt!  I mean for a 60 year old woman, I looked goooood in that shirt. Now alas, it's going to visit the dump...sad little shirt.

I'm in mourning. I loved to wear that shirt.

Those aren't shadows--those dark spots are bearing grease
You can see the wrinkles where the shirt was twisted
when it was caught between the wall of the washer
and the tub.
The last two items are non-recoverable. But my insurance company approved the injections for my right knee. These cost about the same as a mortgage payment, but my insurance covered all but an amount that's about the same as a dinner for two at Red Lobster (with drinks for one). Sometime, this week or next  I'll get the injections directly into the meniscus and at that point I'll probably be able to do some skating. Not fancy skating, just limited 'get back on the ice' skating.

What's the end going to be? The only solution is probably lose at least 20-30 lbs, so long, slow haul. I'm wearing an elastic knee brace, taking anti-inflammatories, and getting the injections, but really, those are just keeping me walking. Skating's going to require dedication to walk down the snack aisle and not buy anything. So far I'm down about 5 lbs. And it's hard when you really can't exercise much.  So, hoping the injection works out!

OOooh! But on the other hand, I ordered a new clothes washer today. Isn't it cute?

The adorable new clothes washer!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Unsung Heros of the Ice Rink: LTS Coaches

Imagine what it's like to be an LTS coach. The rink doesn't pay you much of anything, but the coach is held to professional standards. The hours are long, the work hard, and the coach represents the rink. Plus there's 'nightmare parents'! So, what does LTS possibly look like from the coach's point of view?

I thought you'd never ask.

First day, the booting up area looks like this...

Parents generally have no clue how to tie boots
 Then the buzzer sounds and the little monsters wonders pour onto the ice (blocking everyone getting off the ice from the previous class)....

Monsters vs wonders
Try to do a statistical analysis
"Hi, we're the adult learners' class!
We're going for beer after!
Wanna join us!"
For some reason a pre-Alpha kid has been put in a Delta class
And there's always a few kids that just want to skate--
really fast--that's all.
And the kid who cries for mommy
The little kid who just lies on the ice
and ignores the toys

The mother who watches from the boards--
The parent who distracts the kid the whole time
to take pictures--then complains she/he
never learns anything
Is it any wonder the coach has to put on a fake smile like this?