Thursday, October 31, 2013

The SLOWEST Person on Ice

Last weekend I was heading to a blue hockey line where I saw Skate Dad working on his 60 revolution 2 foot spins. When he headed off to the far end of the rink, I started doing my forward edges. Before I  could get even one finished, he was back at the blue line, and nearly ran into me.

I might as well, be standing still, I'm so slow.

But classy. Like a fine wine….or cheese….or  a double wide trailer with a gas fireplace. (wink, wink)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

I Turn Five Again

Poor Miss Bianca. I must be the biggest five year old she's ever had as a student.

She has a plan for my lesson. A well thought out, professional plan where she builds on my skills and corrects my errors with guidance and thoughtful corrections.

And then I start talking:
"See my edges! See my lunge!
See my two foot spin! See my crossovers!
See my under push and extension!
Look at my bad side mohawks!"
Poor Miss Bianca. When I'm on an enthusiasm tear, I'm like a five year old, I want to do everything at once. I want to jump ahead in the lesson.   Miss Bianca has to work her coach magic...

Now I'm finally ready to receive her instruction!
Hi! I'm ready for my lesson!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

A Typical Lesson

So, like most skaters, I'm needy. When my coach starts my lesson, I expect to be the center of attention.

Then she'll start teaching something new. "Hold your wrist so, don't twist your shoulder, bend that knee, get your head up, don't look down, don't be so nervous. Okay. That was a….start."

I feel like this.
I'm overwhelmed when I learn new stuff!
But recently I've started getting skating skills where they're second nature and I don't have to think about every single bit and piece of my body. Then I feel like this:

Sometimes, while I'm trying something new, my coach will demonstrate it for me.

I'm certain I'll never be that good.
Then, the lesson is over, and I pay up! You have to pay up!
By the time I get an axel, this is what it will cost….

Friday, October 25, 2013

Things I hate on ice: 4

People in love.

Oh, God, this gets worse the closer we get to Christmas. They snuggle, they hold hands, they grab each other, they stop and kiss…
Sharing a romantic kiss?
Don't Block Traffic!
Take a fall/
Stop Blocking Traffic!

Young lovers, hold hands, skate together--
You youngsters spoiling my skating
with your young love and happiness and
all that. Get off my lawn..err…rink!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Things I Hate on Ice. 3


Who thought this up and why? No idea.

Results? Predictable.

First guy goes over the tiny ramp….
Split second later….
(Catch the flailing foot on the right!
That handlebar in the crotch's gotta hurt!)
Now, do you think biker number 2 went over the little ramp?

My only thought is in a rink that so insane they have motorcycles on ice, it can't have much of an ice resurfacing program.

When skaters hit the ice later, it will be like this:

My God! I hit SAND!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Mohawk Turn Resurrection

Despite all the things I've done to get 'lesson ready' again, I've lost the ability to do my counter clockwise mohawks. During my lesson, Miss Bianca takes me to her mohawk teaching set up left from her previous lesson with Amy the 8 year old. She's drawn a mohawk on the ice:
"This is your mohawk," Miss Bianca says.
Miss Bianca then points at a smiley face 10 feet away.
Miss Bianca says, "This is Amy's Friend."
"As you do the turn, you're going to get your foot in the correct position, then wave at Amy's Friend," she says, "So you'll stop waving your right arm around." (I have arm waving disease.)

Let's call Amy's Friend....Craig.  Here's my mohawk.

Well, at least my arms are in the right position now.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

String Theory for Figure Skaters

Today was my first lesson with Miss Bianca after my shingles recovery. She was glad to see me back.

Before my lesson, I was watching her teach her student (a girl of about 8) how to do lunges. Miss Bianca thinks lunges are "a cute little element".  She took the girl's hand to help her balance going down and coming up. "You're next!" she said cheerfully. I eyeballed the hand holding assistance. "You know I can take you down in a heartbeat don't you?" 
Miss Bianca thinks,
"I will get my revenge..."
Ten minutes later, when my lesson started, I laid down a competent lunge right off and said, "That's it for today!"  We both laughed. I was better than the eight year old too!

After reviewing my basic skills,  I did a two foot spin. After Lake Placid and my 10 minutes in Evelyn Kramer's spin class, I can do a two foot spin. I never thought that would happen. It's not a great spin, it's a slow, ladylike spin. Just two revolutions.
Slow but steady...
Miss Bianca told me to pretend I had a string attached to the top of my head and pretend it was pulling me up to the ceiling. This was to keep me from looking down when I did a spin.
Here I am in the appropriate upright position
while Miss Bianca instructs and an
ice tourist stares.
So I did a 3-turn entry and got an extra revolution...not any extra speed though.  Conservation of angular momentum's got me down....

The string theory works though. I don't get dizzy and I get an extra revolution.

Good head position in a back spin!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

When I'm the Tallest Skater on the Ice

There I am, at 5'2" towering over everyone. That's a good feeling. It doesn't happen often

Then it sinks in how I must look to all the young skaters

Meh, I feel better though knowing that if I of them will break my fall.


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Falling....while back stroking

How I feel, when I start to fall backwards while back stroking, catch myself, do a turn forwards during the fall....and stay upright.

(Sorry for the bad language, but I felt like this Monday)

Monday, October 14, 2013

Lap Skating Revisited

Back in July after my recovery from my knee problem, I wrote about lap skating.  I know what you're thinking:
(Is she going on about this again?)
So, I'll cut to the chase--it works, and it doesn't take a lot of time. It takes months for me to build my upper body strength, but I can see a difference in my skating from day to day.

Due to my enforced vacation *cough* furlough *cough*, I skated every other day. I started out only able to do 30 minutes on the first day two weeks ago, and after a week, I was able to do an hour plus with stamina and control. (My feet stopped hurting too.) My speed also went back to its old value and my edges improved. I developed a lot more confidence and stamina in my back skating (two consecutive laps today! I could have done more.)

It was boring at the beginning because I hadn't discovered my secret weapon: bluetooth headphones.
Yeah, I know, most rinks ban headphones on ice. But, I only use one earplug and I'm careful to be alert as I go around the rink so I'm always looking for traffic. Also, since these headphones don't have a long cord flapping around they don't attract attention. I start out with slow rhythmic music then alternate fast with slow songs for the hour. The time just flies by with Kanye West and some English Club Music (weren't expecting that were you?)

As I built up my stamina and leg strength, I restarted my turns, edges and spins. They're actually better than before. Speed has not got any better than my old speed. Sadly, I'm just a little too 'fluffy' to get the speed up to something suitable for jumps.
So, since I can't improve my power any further, due to my 'fluffiness', I finally have to come to grips with my weight. I'm back 'on Plan' with Weight Watchers. Right. At Halloween. Good planning.....sigh.
None of this for me, this year...
I'm a figure skater!
(With all the issues that entails)
If I write about it, I'll keep myself on track. In the next week I'll start another blog about my diet and off ice fitness. I'm searching for a title now.

You all have fun this week, see you soon!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Winter's First Public Skate

Today should have had an empty rink for public. It was raining. It was Columbus day weekend and the sales were on. Everyone should have been at the mall or at home playing XBox. Instead they went to the rink.

I can't describe how crowded the rink was. There may have been a hundred people out there. Adults, kids, .....toddlers...., teens. Let's just assume there were a hundred people on the ice. Three hockey players, 8 figure skaters, and 89 ice tourists.

This is what the adult regulars looked like
when they saw the crush at the gate.
It was skateable. Okay, let me rephrase that. It was skateable if you were going forwards or had someone spotting for you backwards. It's not that the crowd was rough, it was just that there were so.many.people!  And so much RANDOMNESS in their skating!

At one point, one of the other adult skaters came up to me and said, "Be careful out here." I nodded, then as he and I parted ways, I dodged a random kid and skated right into him. Yeah, it was that kind of session, there were no escape routes.

As the session went on, all the figure skaters gradually slid into the center circle. Maybe it was the fact that there were so many of us in there, doing spins, small jumps, footwork, that the public stayed out. Not even the annoying aggressive sub-teen boys in hockey skates went in the center. First there was just a coach with a student, then other figure skaters passed through for a few seconds of skating--careful to stay clear of the lesson-- but as the crush of the ice tourists increased, the figure skaters stayed in the circle a bit longer each pass through. I worked on my two foot spin and edges. Skater Guy practiced his outside to inside  spread eagles. Teen girls did tiny jumps. The coach picked up her next student and the first one stayed to practice. The tension was building.

At the end of the first session, a solid wall of ice tourists swirled around the center. All the figure skaters were now confined inside the square, each concentrating on staying out of the others' way. Now there were 12 skaters in the center area guarding the center circle from the storm of rental skates. It felt like this:

 Heavy public sessions are now in season. Don't let a five year old take you down!

Friday, October 11, 2013

The White Jacket on Freestyle Post

I never know when I'm going to hear a tidbit that makes a good post, this one comes from a dinner I was having with a couple of coaches and some higher level skaters.

I don't remember what started it, but the coach was ranting about how dangerous white jackets (or shirts) were on freestyle.

Apparently, as all skaters who are much faster than I am probably know, as you're practicing on a crowded freestyle you don't want to stop and check everyone's movement and path prediction out. You want to glance across the ice and start your pattern, yielding as necessary and others yielding to you as well. So when you glance across the ice,  you don't predict the exact position everyone's going to be at, you estimate their future positions and start to skate, relying on your mental and physical skills to refine the other skater's positions as you skate, turn, jump and spin.

Because you're mentally updating the other skaters' future positions with only a fraction of a second of visual contact, this coach maintains that a white jacket delays recognition that another skater is headed your way.

A stealth skater so to speak.

Invisible Skater
On the other hand, this imprecise mental update can work in certain skaters' favor. This coach recalled a skater who wore an orange shirt under her jacket, so when she wanted to practice without interference, she would slip the shirt hem down below the hem of her jacket. Other skaters would see the orange out of the corner of their eyes and, thinking it was the 'in program' belt, yield, even though the skater wasn't in program.
Maybe I have right of way,
Maybe I don't!

Sneaky Skater.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Games Kids Play on Ice

Since I'm in recovery mode, I'm saving money by skating on public rather than the $18 and hour freestyle. I'd forgotten the games kids play on ice.  Here's a selection:

The Little One That Camps out in the Corner

The pre-teen that Will Run over You if

The Kid in Hockey Skates who Skates agains the Flow

(And they can keep it up for an hour.
How? No idea.)

 Still, nothing spoils my hour on the ice.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Public Skating Bench Hogs

We had a couple of days where it was in the 60's and I thought, "Ooooh, winter is coming. Time to break out my good coat."

Really, it's only 15 feet to the door to the rink.. I don't need a coat.
But I look good.......

And the bad part about winter is ice tourist bench hogs. You know them, people  who walk in the rink with coats suitable for a trip to the North Pole, which they take off inside the door,  then dump on the benches while they go to purchase a ticket and get rental skates.

Which takes 20 minutes. They're always surprised their stuff is jammed under the benches when they get back and every spot is taken by someone putting on their skates.

Or, the bench hog with their own skates who sees me alone on a bench, poised at one end, who then comes, opens up her skate bag and begins to spread out every article of clothing, skate accessory, skates, soakers whatever, in a semicircle 10 feet in diameter.

I"M The only person in the booting up area. WHY DOES THIS PERSON SIT NEXT TO ME!

Yeah, not too thrilled with the adults who take up space in the booting up area reading their kindles. Look, if you're so worried about your kid that you have to sit right next to the rink door so no one can kidnap them, go sit on the bleachers and WATCH YOUR KID SKATE or find someplace else to sit, or learn to skate and get out there.  Stop acting like taking your kid to skate is some kind of obligation you hate doing.

This is a cute bench hog.
Maybe this will get the human ones to move
someplace else.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Buying Your First Figure Skating Boots

Ready to buy your first pair of boots? Consult your skating friends, your group coach, maybe even the skating director or the LTS director. If you're lucky you'll get the name of a recommended skate fitter who has experience with figure skaters.You need to know that boot sizes are not the same as shoe sizes and vary by manufacturer. A fitter is very useful if not essential for your first pair.

What brand of boots to buy? Friends, coaches, fitter will all have recommendations. But you can also post questions on  We get questions over there about wide feet, skater weight, narrow feet, split widths (narrow heels-wide forefoot) all the time. Lots of people eager to share their experiences in answer to your questions.

You'll probably get recommendations for 'beginner boots' from one of the big companies: Jackson and Reidell are widely respected for their beginner skates (with attached beginner blades); these are costly but not expensive. Their ads say they can be used up to single jumps. They will last longer than  'play skates'. Play skates may look like figure skates, but they can also look like tennis shoes. Some people start out with these, but they won't carry you very far if you're serious. I've never heard anyone recommend buying skates from a sporting goods store. If all you want to do is stroke around a few times a year, play skates should be fine. If you want to work towards jumps and spins, then beginner skates is a better bet.

Unless you're really lucky, your first pair of boots will hurt like the devil. Since you have no experience, you won't know what's an acceptable level of discomfort.  If the boots fit so badly they actually damage your feet (I had a pair of boots that split a toenail) take them back right away and work with your fitter to get them replaced by a better size.

Your heel should not rise out of the heel of the boot. If the heel is loose but the forefoot of the boot fits fine, you can try a silipos gel tube around the heel. I found heat molding the heel of the boot to make it narrower, never worked for me.  I never had a boot heel that was too narrow. I think that can be stretched out with heat molding.

If the forefoot crushes your feet (blistered toes, the forefoot is so narrow you walk in pain after you skate), the skate fitter can help with heat molding. You might be able to return the boots and get better fitting ones if the problem is actually a bad fit on the fitter's part (e.g. having to skate with toes curled to get your feet in the boots). Get advice from a coach about your fit problems if you decide to take this route. (Note: you have to do this right away after you get the boots, don't wait 6 months and expect a refund or a swap). If you can't return the boots and the forefoot pain is crippling, there's an absolutely last ditch desperation (semi-destructive) solution if the forefoot of the boot is too narrow (NOT RECOMMENDED FOR BEGINNERS TO DO ON THEIR OWN). You'll never be able to sell or return your boots if you do this. But if you're thinking of buying new boots because the ones you have now are tearing up your forefeet, hey, it's worth considering. See if you can find a coach to help you out.

Here's the thing about your first pair of boots, it helps to think of them as 'throwaways'. There doesn't seem to be an aftermarket for used adult beginner skates, so you probably can't sell them. Enjoy them, and when you feel you want to move on to new boots, move on.  Don't let badly fitting boots destroy your feet because 'the boots still have wear in them'. If you're skating at a higher level than your boots can support, time for new ones. Don't end up with an injury because the boot can't support your ankle on a landing or the blade breaks. Boots are your most important tool from both a safety and health perspective.

Ready to skate more, but your boots are holding you back? Move on.

Well, you'll go through similar steps in picking boot 2 and maybe boot 3. But by the time you get to boots 4 (!!) you'll have enough knowledge to pick them (and the blades) out yourself. Good Luck!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Types of Group Numbers for the Holiday Show

Christmas is coming the goose is getting fat, time for the rink to do a skating show with hats.

Honestly, I always see a lot of hats at Christmas  Winter Solstice  Snowy Holiday  Winterval   Festivus Saturnalia  okay, at the rink show in December.

Also, Hats rhymes with fat, so call me doggerel lazy.

Anyway, I went skating today (45 minutes! 2 1/2 laps backwards!) and saw people out working on their programs with 3 foot long candy canes and decided to present a universal Holiday Show on Ice!

The Coaches Group Number
The Group number of a bunch of weak skaters and a star skater

The Group Number with the best costumes

The Basic Skills 1 class...
They get the biggest round of applause....
But the adults steal the show with a classic Adult Swizzle Train Number
Adults know how to shake it baby!

Also, adults know how to 'shake it' after the show too!