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.


  1. Weird- I wore a white jacket for years, and never had anyone complain (or hit me, or appear to be yielding last minute.)

    I would have never thought about it.

    1. I'm so slow--and predictable-- I don't really think it applies to me. The coach may have been talking about her experiences on freestyle with a bunch of high level skaters on the ice.

  2. There was a girl on club ice who always found out what the color of the "in program" belt was and purchased a shirt that matched it exactly. As a result, everyone stayed out of her way. Then we changed to a safety vest. Still waiting for her reaction to that.