Sunday, March 31, 2013

Rink Guards Get the Worst Jobs--Happy Easter

1. This is proof that no matter what words you type into google, something will pop up.
2. Inside that suit is a guy planning on how to get revenge on the rink manager.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Figure Skating Time Machine

Today, Madam Mim wanted me to work on three-turns. Apparently, my return to skating stroking, crossovers, stops, swingrolls, and edges/rolls are adequate. Even my back stroking was improved and that's  my bĂȘte noire.

I'd been practicing some single three turns and felt okay about them, so when she asked for a three turn, I did threes around the circle--successfully.
Of course it makes me dizzy
But in doing my 3 turns, I found I went back to habits from 4 years ago, I stuck my free leg out to the side. You know, a 'paddle turn', for when you're afraid to fall. It took a good ten minutes to fix that.

So, relearning skills is like a time machine. I seem to go back a couple of years in technique, then speed through all the changes I need to bring the skill back in a few minutes.
A week ago I was the guy on the left, now I'm the guy on the right.
Still, lots of stuff to work on. Haven't even started inside 3s. I'd only had them for a short while, might have to relearn tm completely.

"We'll have to work on your power next." Madam Mim said.

No,  Power is deep knee bend and strong push!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday Practice

I had a choice today. Do the Stations of the Cross or Tre Ore or go skating this afternoon.

I went skating.
"Go ahead, skate at that light
freestyle session on Good Friday."
But cut me some slack, I just got back from an hour and a half of evening service, so I'm good.

And skating was good today too. It was my 4th hour on ice since I started skating again since the injury, and skills are rapidly getting back to where they were in October.  It also gave me the opportunity to pull out all the stops in my "Learn to Skate" repertoire.

First, I armored up: Pad in the Hat, Wrist Guards, Knee Pads. And I warmed up. Then I did some alternating crossovers. And when I got to the part where I was relearning backward stroking (again!), I applied The Five Minute Rule. I paid particular attention to pre-positioning the blade on my stroking and crossovers, and my skating smoothed out.  I don't just write this stuff, I live it.

So, much, much better than last week. I hope Madam Mim appreciates my progress.  Except, if she's like every other coach I've had, it will be,

Madam Mim says, "Stop you're doin' it wrong!"
Yep, story of my life.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Skating At Work

Now that my knee is much improved I've started 'skating at work' again. Okay, I'm not actually 'skating', I'm squeezing some moments of off-Ice training.

a. Spirals practice in the handicapped stall in the bathroom

b. Getting to work 30 minutes before my work day begins to warm up my legs on the stationary bike, then do my first round of therapeutic stretching for the day.

c. Joining two other women at lunch for a 30 minute exercise DVD

d. Doing one foot balancing in the elevator as it goes between floors. Holding that balance while the elevator jolts to a stop takes some skill.

If you decide to do the elevator routine, just remember there's probably a camera in there. Don't do any spirals in a skirt.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


I was at physical therapy for the knee today, and I asked my physical therapist, Rapunzel the Cruel, why I was having knee pain when I skated backwards.

She had me stand and walk in various backwards skating-like positions until I was able to duplicate the pain. So there I am finally, balancing with the bulk of my weight on the ball of my right foot, with my left foot forward, and the inside of my right knee burning like fire.

"Oh," Rapunzel says, "I see the problem.  Your knee is buckling inwards because your hip isn't strong enough." When I balance going backwards, my right hip dips, making my right knee collapse sideways.

I now have exercises to strengthen my gluteus medius.
I have to strengthen the little muscle on the right
This explains my lousy right inside swing rolls, right three turns, and whatever else.

My total daily average workout requirement is now an hour and a half--off ice.

Much rather be ON ice.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

New Coach--First Lesson

"You don't toepick," Madam Mim said, "That's good."

On our first lesson, Madam Mim had been running me through my forward paces. Stroking, edges, crossovers. She made a couple of tweaks: arm position, leg position, and knee bend. This is the reason you have a coach; You can fall into bad habits unless you have a coach. I'd only skated in the last few weeks a total of about 2 hours. I was still unconsciously favoring my knees and had some sloppy habits. On the good side no one could fault my posture.

So my impression of her impression of my forward skating was that of the 'nice Madam Mim' in The Sword in the Stone.
"No toepicking--nice stroking! Good posture!"
(I takes good news where I can find it)
However, going backwards was another story. I just don't trust my knee yet in deep kneebend going backwards. My back crosses were weak, pathetic really. And my back stroking--let's just say I've been given homework to bring me up to speed.  The knee may be (mostly) pain free, but a ligament or a bone, or a muscle, or something else could snap at any moment. Yes, I am a wimp. And paranoid to boot.

So when she saw my back crosses, my coach was like evil Madame Mim.
I reject your back crossovers,
and substitute ones I like
I have to pretty much redevelop back crosses and back stroking.  I have backward skating homework, like a remedial student in summer school.

(On the other hand, FO3 and mohawks coming along!)

So summary of this first lesson:
This is a knee.
Bend it more.

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Great Skate Bag Debate

(The pictures in this post are scramble because of a 'thing' blogger has with tiffs snapped in Mac OS X. Don't have time right now to fix them. I'll do it when furlough starts--stupid Congress.)

Over on another round of "To Zuca or not to Zuca" is going on. This can be quite amusing as some people rant a bit pro or con.

I've decided to shift to the 'pro zuca' camp.

I don't carry one now, but I can see that in the future when I'll 'live' at the rink (do a freestyle, wait until noon public starts and haul my yoga gear plus a change of clothes) I may need one. So I went over to and tried to pick out one I liked. You can custom design your Zuca by matching bag and frame.

Then I decided I had a better idea.

Welcome to a game of Worst Zuca Combination!

First pick a frame. Then pick an insert that clashes.  Give it a name.

Some clashes can violate rules of color combinations. They're 'wrong' and they set your teeth on edge.
The Preppy Traffic Cone
Other combinations are okay in that they don't clash, but bring up awkward thoughts. Perhaps the fact that I'm descended from dairy farmers on one side and butchers on the other, led to this creation:
Slaughterhouse 5
Others match too well. There's not quite enough contrast. Memories of a summer doing ecological measurements in an urban forest brought about the subtle glories of:
Algae Filled Pond
Other combinations send mixed social signals:
Army Bimbo
As to what I would actually pick? Probably the understated combination of Gloss and Gray.

The Lady
As to why get a Zuca? Well, hauling a lot of stuff, in a rink where there's problem seating (such as comps),  or where you have to haul a long distance.

The why not? You hate them to the core of your very being, think they're over priced and have a good solution in a $10 bag from Target.  Or you just don't need one.

I was a person who didn't need one, didn't see the need for them, but as I said, I'm shifting to the 'need one' camp!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Magic Shot

My orthopedic surgeon says: "I have a magic injection for you"
I shouldn't call it a 'magic' injection, but it has success 70% of the people who get it. It involves injecting a replacement for synovial fluid in my knee.

My prescriptions are of the $3 variety normally. This time, however, my insurance company made me jump through paperwork hoops and they filled the prescription from a special pharmacy. The prescription costs a mortgage payment for a small house in a nice neighborhood in a big city, but I only had to pay the cost of a premium gas fill up for a Ford SUV. I had to wait for a month for the prescription to be delivered to my doctor's office. This thing was a "big deal".

The day finally came when it was obvious that physical therapy could only take me so far, so the doctor elected to inject the fluid.


My doctor spritzed my knee with some painkiller, then told me this long story about taking his son to the DMV to distract me while he put in the needle.

Yeah, it still hurt. However, it wasn't the worst I've ever had. I've had rabies shots and those were worse.  It was the kind of pain that makes you yelp a swear word or  "Hail Mary!". Fortunately, it didn't take very long.

My doctor told me I should see results anywhere between 2 days to 4 weeks.

By the next day 50% of the pain had gone, and what was left was diffuse rather than of the ice pick ti the joint variety. So, doing good!

This is not a permanent cure. It lasts from a few months to a year. But this will give me enough time to up my exercise and get back in shape.

Looking forward to seeing how it affects my skating knee bend!

"Bend ze knees, five dollars pleeze."

(This is either Frick or Frack)

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Figure Skating Culture

Figure skating culture is very entre nous. While the literal translation is "between you and me", the broader meaning is "only understood by insiders".

Outsiders see figure skating as

Insiders see figure skating as building skills and making the cut

Outsiders see skating as "entertainment"

Skaters see it as "a program"

Outsiders see skating "for little girls"
(Mike Kirby was one of the founders of ISI. 
A Manley woman podcast with his son David Kirby 
has some interesting US skating history)
Insiders see it "for everyone"

Ice tourists base their idea of skating on their experience of public skate:

Skaters see it as practice, practice, practice....and learn to live with pain.....

And finally, outsiders see skaters at "sparkly little princesses"

Vanessa James

Saturday, March 16, 2013


I have a new coach.

She specializes in Basic Skills, although she's taken adults through Moves. I was tempted to give her the blog nickname of Xanboni Jr. but that would be confusing and probably violate a trademark (love your blog Xan). Anyway....I'm at the stage now where I need to relearn my basic skills. I can do a FO3, and a mohawk, but I still have the fear of the 'bad' knee collapsing. Fortunately, my new coach (note to self, must work on blog nickname) went through an injury and had to rebuild her skills, so she has off-ice stuff for me to do to get back my confidence and strength.

We haven't had a lesson yet, but she saw me working on the  skills I still have and she said, "You're not as awful as you think you are."

How awful do I think I am right now?
Like a cow on ice. I don't feel like I belong yet.
Still, I'm improving. Three turns and mohawks away from the boards, solid stroking and crossovers with NO arm waving.  Good posture. Good head position. Back stroking and crosses coming along. Stamina and power--not so good. Still I see progress every freestyle. I'm relearning very fast.

Now, since I didn't really have any funny stories I thought I'd point you to some figure skating humor.

Here, just in the god awful pun level of humor:

And I'm going to point you to the blog of the cartoon strip, "Over The Hedge", which had a wonderful week of figure skating humor. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Picking a New Figure Skating Coach

So, I've recovered to the point where I'm coachable. Maybe not coachable in the sense of learning new skills, but coachable in the sense of recovering old skills.

I'm fortunate in that I know maybe 12 coaches personally; their strengths, styles, interests, locations, and student preferences. Some coaches are wonderful with kids, but have no interest in teaching adults. Other coaches will take adults, but aren't available for freestyles. (For me personally, that's an important point.) Others will take adults, but are more interested in students with higher skills. Not every coach can teach an adult basic skills. (Trust me on that one.) Individually, these are all wonderful coaches, but I'm looking for a coach who can take an adult with special 'kneeds', and teaches on freestyle.

This brought me down to three coaches of my acquaintance. What do I do next?

Which coach? Which coach?
Well, fortuitously I happened to see one of the coaches talking to one of her students in the booting up area on the bench across from me. I think she was 'firing' her. That sounds harsh doesn't it? It's the only way I can express it. Her student was a little girl of about 8 who wouldn't practice and just like to play around. So the coach and the father were counseling the daughter on how private lessons were a privilege and had to be earned through practice. Looks like there's an opening!

Geeze, I seem like  one of those New Yorkers who peruse the obituaries to find an apartment available for rent don't I?

Anyway, I'll approach the coach on Saturday to see if she has an opening, and see if she's willing to try me out for a couple of months.  Cross fingers I can get started learning again.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

My First Skating Test

I was cleaning out a notebook and I found a copy of my very first skating evaluation--Pre-Alpha I in June of 2007.

The last item on the test was for backwards wiggles. They taught us to wiggle our butts in order to go backwards. I did my backward wiggles like this:

Sadly not going anywhere

And my coach was like this (on the inside):

So my evaluation looked like this:

But at next practice I figured I was supposed to do this:
Oh, it's just backwards slaloms. (Facepalm)
And then I was all like this:

On to Pre-Alpha II  in July, 2007! 

Saturday, March 9, 2013


Last year, after canceling several lessons first for back pain, and then after the knee went 'kablooey' (TM applied for)  I gave my coaches notice. It's been several months since I skated regularly, and today I finally think I'm ready for a coach to get me back into shape.

Let me be frank, I'm a weak enough skater now with one bad knee, that  it's going to be a long, long time before I get on public again (unless it's a summer, noon public) so since both my old coaches could only coach me on public, I'm looking for a new coach.

Right now the thought that some slack-jawed jackass who thinks he's God's gift to hockey, but who can't stop without slamming into the boards, will run into me, makes my blood run cold. Ditto for little kids kneecapping me. Or a teenager who will grab me on their way down.  I don't want to go into injured status yet again.

The last lesson I skated on public was a nightmare. It was the rink where I skated with Cruella. Publics there had very few ice tourists. What it had were adults and kids practicing furiously, oblivious to other skaters.  Think of it as an overcrowded high level freestyle combined with a hockey game. Hockey learners practicing patterns,  15 people in the jump and spin area,  people jumping and spinning in the end zones,  hockey guys hogging the corner circles,  coaches on the boards with their little kids, little kids where little kids go which is everywhere. And the sessions were absolutely packed.  Aaaaaargh!

Cruella had me in fast crossovers on the center circle, and no one is paying any attention to the fact that I'm going fast. I have my eyes moving, keeping on top of what the 14 other people inside the cones are doing, when a little girl skates into the coned off zone, directly in front of me and










Ever have that moment where your brain has sent a signal to your leg, and your limb has started its action, then you need to change that action, and your. body. will. not. respond?  My brain is screaming to my leg "don't step down! don't step down!" but the "step down" message is first in the queue.  I can't override the "step down" message in time. We're talking fractions of a second here.  Fortunately, I was then strong enough that I was able to extend the crossover so that I didn't step on the little girl, but my blade did brush her jacket and I actually had to step over her in the cross!

When I think about it, I can still see that little pink jacket and feel the blade touch it. I don't think I could pull out of that step down now. And I'm not going to put myself back in that situation.

So freestyle skating only for me for now!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Blade Noise

Have you ever had the following happen? You get your blades sharpened and as you stroke across the ice your blades scrape no matter how you skate?

Before the knee went 'kablooey', I had my blades sharpened by a highly recommended sharpener. When I skated in them it sounded like a tiny, little chain saw.
I am badly sharpened skate, hear me scrape
What it actually sounds like is machining chatter, so I call it 'blade chatter'.  After that sharpening, even when I was skating well back on my rockers, and on two feet, I would get this horrible sound.

So, I posted the problem on and one of the coaches there suggested that my edges weren't  even. That is, even when I was supposedly on the flat, one edge was slightly higher off the ice, leading to the scraping sound.  When I was on an edge, the side with the edge that was slightly longer, could brush against the ice, causing scraping.

You can see the edges here, they're supposed to be even
I don't know if this is actually the cause of my blade chatter. It's certainly a reasonable solution. All I know is that after I skated a few times, it went away. Maybe I just had a small area of unevenness and it was worn down by skating, or maybe it was something else.

I guess I'll query the Amazing Coach and find out what her 40 years skating experience says. It's an interesting technical problem. There has to be some vibration in the blade somewhere, because you can hear it all across the rink. Over.The.Music!

Everyone hears my blades....the shame, the shame.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

I Love It When a Plan Comes Together

This week was totally what my skating excursion two weeks ago had not been: This was my grand entrance! The president of the skating club gave me a hug, the rink manager who was working the register asked where I'd been, and the skating director told me they'd missed me. People came up and complimented my outfit. Then I got on the ice and I was solid, smooth, and graceful.

Okay, let me rephrase that.

I was solid smooth and graceful--as long as I was going forward. Going backwards: Meh.

Back crossovers. No enough curve, but crosses okay. Back stroking....sigh.... I fell.
This kind of fall.
 And what happened?
1. I rolled on my hip.
2. I hit my wrist guard.
3. I got my arm up to block my head from bouncing on the ice.
4. I got up immediately.

(Pandering to my U.K. readers)
I love it when a plan comes together.