Sunday, August 31, 2014

Lake Placid Adult Skate Camp 2014 Review

I know some of you are waiting for the 2014 Adult Skate Camp review, but I've hesitated putting it out because I didn't have a very good time this year.

Okay, here's the good stuff.
1. Ice was nice. Probably the best I've seen there.
2. I took a lesson with Paul Wiley because I thought I was this > < close to getting my edge pulls. I wasn't. He was very sweet. In desperation, trying to end the lesson on a high note, he said my left mohawk was 'very good'.
"Woohoo! LEFT mohawk!"
3. I took some group lessons with Natalia Dubova. More later.
4. I learned tomohawks and iroquois, two new pieces of footwork. Post later on these.
5. Rave reviews of coaching by Melisssa Gregory and Denis Petukhov. I saw some ice dance teams of the silver/gold level improve measurably every day after lessons with them. One dance team told me "They tell you different stuff, but it doesn't conflict, it complements."
6.  Schedule changes were posted prominently on the dressing room doors. I still think they should send us emails, but meh, at least it's posted.


Remember, last year there was no clock in the 1980 rink? There is one now. One of those freebie Coca Cola clocks that belongs on the back wall of a sports bar. It's mounted high on the wall of the 1980 rink that seats several thousand. It's almost impossible to read. You'll still need a slap watch.

Now, the bad stuff.

First off, I caught a bug and just wanted to stay in bed. Also, my right boot gave me some trouble, so I never skated more than 90 minutes a day. Between the two of these I didn't skate a couple of days.

I'm sorry I have to mention the 'bug' but that's important to the review. There were times I really, really, really needed to go to the can while resting in the Figure Skating Ladies Dressing Room. For most, if not all, of the  week, one of the two toilets was blocked and the room stank of a backed up cesspool--I grew up on a farm, I know what those smell like.
I sent a complaint, and other skaters reported it, but  facilities maintenance never fixed it.

So, coaches, great. Ice, great. Go have a good time. Just don't expect any support from the rink staff or management.

Saturday, August 30, 2014


An adult skater comes up to me on public and says, "You're my inspiration. I saw you skate and thought, 'If *she* can do it, *I* can do it!"

Different people have said almost the exact same wording to me.


This is sort of the compliment that happens when a man says, "You sure dance good/hardly sweat much for a fat girl."

Maybe rinks should hire me to skate around at public to encourage adults to take Learn to Skate. I should have a sign on my back that says:

"Look, look!" they'll cry. "That woman is as old as my grandmother and SHE CAN SKATE! I need to learn how to skate. Maybe she has brochures!"

And not only do I skate, I dance pretty good for a fat girl (and hardly sweat at all)!

But to tell you the truth, almost every time  I skate on public someone comes up to me to talk about skating. I think it's because I'm small and older and safe looking. The freestyle girls in the middle usually usually won't give people the time of day, or they're so fast they intimidate the ice tourist.  I on the other hand look like a grandmother. More than once I'd wished I had  brochures in my pockets. Usually though I tell them to ask their parents to sign them up for skating lessons, and that it's cheap.

 Still, that backhanded compliment in the words, "If *she* can skate, *I* can skate," rankles a bit. It's hard to keep my face under control

I feel like this:
But all they see is this!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Public Skate for Absolute Beginners

Everyone starts out skating on public skate. When I did, I didn't know the rules. There are some actual safety rules

1. Don't get on the ice when the Zamboni is on the ice.

No, it's not this bad, but it's a rule.
Insurance policies may be involved.
Don't distract the driver either!

2. When the ice resurfacer is finished, don't get on the ice until the driver has swept the ice at the zamboni gate and shut the gate.

Your sweeper will not look like this
 3.  The little kids will hog the gate, most adults stand back and wait, OR sneak down to a closed gate and pop right on the ice rather than wait. This is usually my solution if there's a birthday party at the gate and all of them afraid to get on the ice, so there's a pile up. I'm impatient inside but I'm always nice.

No, you can't boot the kids onto the ice.
 4. Now you can get on the ice and have some fun!

5. Until you want to get off the ice and there's a parent blocking the gate with a camera in hand. I offer to take their camera on ice and take pictures of their kids for them or pictures of them with their kids. This is building karma. Usually the parent is happy after I return the camera and they go sit in the stands. Sometimes though there's a parent who will stand in the gate and block the way for minutes. I usually go to a second gate unless is blocked off, so I'll mutter "You're blocking the gate."

But ooooh I'm tempted!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Own the Sparkle

I just attended an all adult ice show. Lots of fun programs ("Hello" from the "Book of Mormon" was a standout)  and many, many ice dance couples.

There was testing on Sunday, so 4 or 5 ice dance couples used the adult show to try out their dances in front of their audience. Except for one husband-wife team who went "full bling", the ice dance couples consisted of a woman in a pretty dress and a man in a black cotton shirt, belt, and slacks.

So, let me be blunt. Under the bright lights of a rink, the plain black shirts look dull and faded.
I know the theory behind the ice dance pro in black, he's supposed to show off the lady and be 'invisible'. But this wasn't a test, it was a show. What's wrong with a little sparkle?

It doesn't have to be much sparkle, either. With the husband-wife "full bling" team, the man's shirt just had a line of crystals about an inch apart, over the breadth of his chest, and two vertical lines to emphasis the width of his chest. It just gave a little more definition to the male skater, without being cheesy. What's wrong with that? I mean, a black cotton shirt is just going to look dull....and to me, unprofessional. I'd even be happy with a nice fitted shirt with some shine to it.
Bernard Cumberbatch Tom Hiddleston shows how it's done/
Oh, I know. Right now I can hear the cries of my male readers. "But I don't want to look like that. I just want to look like a regular guy." Who came in off the street doing a choctaw and that high leg sweep and outside mohawks. Dudes, give it up, puhleeeeze.

You are a male ice dancer. OWN THE SPARKLE!
(And I'm not too thrilled with loose shirts either. Get the damn things tailored to fit, otherwise it distracts from the line.)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

You're a Real Skater (Trademark Applied For) Ver. 2

When someone shows you video of a comp from TWENTY YEARS AGO and you recognize the rink.

"Oh, I know that rink!"

When there are three pairs of silver/gold level ice dancers practicing on freestyle and you manage to avoid all of them.

 When  someone's program music starts on freestyle and you and a friend begin improvising a routine.

 When you begin your funny little interp program on freestyle and everyone, including the high level skaters, goes to the boards and applauds you when you finish!

Monday, August 18, 2014

When Your Coach Plans Your New Program...

The first thing your coach thinks about the new program is this....

Then the coach thinks: "My student needs to improve something she hates doing!

And when the student sees the choreography.....there's shock!

"I can't possibly do that!" the student wails. This goes on for weeks.

Then your coach give a motivational speech!

This almost makes the outside mohawks facing out the circle. . . at speed seem possible!

Until I try them!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Super-fitting Your Boot (Updated Dec 2015)

I just got a pair of full custom Harlicks boots, based on the X-Line model. Like every other figure skater I wanted my boots to be a perfect fit out of the box. I know some people have this experience, but I never have. I believe Harlicks did the absolute professional best possible, and 99% of the boot fit is wonderful, but for me there's always some little niggling thing, just a little out of reach of perfection. After 4 pairs of boots I've acquired a lot of little techniques to reach that status of perfection. I'm here to give you tricks I've learned. There are things you can do on your own, and things maybe best left to your fitter. If it's in red, leave it to your fitter unless you really know what you're doing. in which case why are you reading this post?

So let me say, when it comes to my boots, I'm a drama  queen. I'm not proud of this. If my feet hurt I'm a pissy little whiner. Crushed vetebrae-drove myself to the emergency room. Got cold cocked-drove myself to the emergency room (when I woke up). Broken ankle-walked on it for three days before seeing the doc. Knee pain-waited 3 months for treatment. Boot too tight --I pitch a fit!

Anyway, here is every trick I know for making my boots fit.
Handy tip finder

1. The heel is too wide/large-- Gel Tubes (but there's also a tying trick if the gel tube is too thick).  I also found that heat molding to make the heel smaller never worked for me, but some people do. Also, a different lace tying technique.

2.  Pain over your arch---try tying in a different way. I had this problem on my dance boots and while I was breaking them in I skipped the pair of lace holes over the painful area.

3.  The boot is just slightly too wide--the double insole trick (although I now have triple insoles in one boot')

4. The forefoot is too narrow--heat molding the boots (there are people who will do this on their own, I don't think it's that hard, so more power to them) Or you can build your own boot stretcher out of a C-Clamp.

5. The forefoot is too narrow and heat molding isn't enough--(this is last ditch) bring out the knife!
6.  The heel is too harrow--heat molding (although I never found this to work for me, but it's worth a try)

7.  Your toes are pinched by the top of the toebox--cut out the insole under the toes that are pinched and see if that gives you enough room.

8.  The boot is too narrow or too short-- (I mark this solution as a temporary only, desperation, may not work trick) take out the insole and skate on bare the inner sole (cheaper boots will have tacks in there, you could always cover those with bandaids or gel tabs)

9. You have trouble lacing your boots--I've found lace hooks to be annoying. I took some old sports gloves, cut off the tips of the forefingers to give me dexterity sorting the laces, and use the 3rd and 4th fingers as my 'tugglers'.

10.  The shaft of the boot is too large OR you want support for a weak or injured ankle. There's the magic circle.

11. Breaking boots in. Some people leave the top hook unlaced, but I  use Katstrapz over the unlaced top two hooks to give some support. Also, do back crossovers.

This then, is every boot fitting trick I know, except one, I had a pair of boots I almost took a dremel tool too, but figured out a better solution. But tip 7 worked out and I'm good to go. Although, to tell you the truth, I would not have hesitated one instant to drill a hole in a boot and slap skate tape over it. If it fits, I don't care how I get it to fit!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Great Moments in Coaching

I emailed my coach, Miss Bianca, the other day about how I was pleased with my skill development.


"I think I’m showing some improvement! Hooray to you!"

Her reply back to me:

"It’s all you, Babbette. I’m just helping you find it."

It made me feel like this.
Then I felt like rounding up all her other students and giving them a lecture about how they had the best coach in the rink, and they need to be nice to her.

However, since most of them are under 8, this probably wouldn't go down very well. ;-)

Sunday, August 10, 2014

When You have Half a Skill

I've been working on my edge pushes for about 6 months.

I started out with the 'wiggle like a snake on its belly'  on my flats phase like everyone else, then I passed to an intermediate stage where I could get an edge occasionally (the 'get lucky' phase). Sadly, I had to put some hip action in there, so it's not really an edge push. Real edge pushes don't use the hips, but the knee.
It is hypnotic. Go, Tom, go!
But you still don't have an edge push
But after watching the Dubrova tape, where there's slow motion video of edge pushes at the end, I finally was able to put the whole thing together and practice it.

Today my coach, Miss Bianca, said "You're much , much better!"
 Have you ever heard of the "sandwich method"? You tell someone something nice, then something bad, then something good? So, your boss comes up to you and says, "You got your work in on time, but there were errors in the spreadsheet, still management is impressed by your responsiveness."

Coaches use the "sandwich method" too. Miss Bianca says "Your edge pushes are much much better,"

Layin' down the bread.

"You've got the outside edges!"

So, there's the meat AND lettuce!

I wait for the other slice of bread, but apparently this is going to be an open face sandwich and we go off to do a slide chasse' drill to improve my inside edges.

However, when I get home I realize that if I treat this mathematically,  that there are four edges, and I have two of them, ON AVERAGE I have an edge pull!

Math is useless in skating!

Monday, August 4, 2014

When People Are Weird at the Rink

A few weeks ago, my coach, Miss Bianca, and I were working at one end of the rink. At the other end of the rink another coach and his student were the only other skaters on the ice.

Four people. ~16,500 square feet of rink.

You figure we'd be able to stay out of each others' way, right?

Miss Bianca and I are working in the Leftie Lutz corner when the other coach and his student skate into the circle and start working on some waltz jumps. Miss Bianca cheerfully tells me to move to center ice.

At center ice Miss Bianca has me working on my back crossovers. The other coach brings his student to center ice and has her start doing forward crossovers so she keeps coming up behind me. I swap directions; he has her swap directions. The girl is always coming up behind me and she won't yield! I have to stop or try to skate around her or sometimes to avoid him.

I stop next to Miss Bianca and ask, "Does he bully your students like this often?"

"Oh," she says cheerfully, "It's just a thing he does."

I ask, "Is he aware he's doing it?" Because I've seen people do some stuff like this and be totally unconscious of it.

Miss Bianca gives me a thoughtful stare but makes no comment.

"Let's go back to the corner," I say. I want to see if it happens again. Honestly, it might be fun. We could work our way around every corner circle.

"No, you should work here."

I assume this is to get me used to managing my skating backwards in a crowd, but it still creeps me out that anywhere we go on the empty rink, the other coach is there.

Well, next time it happens, I'll just skate into him if he doesn't move. It's not like I go that fast and he's a big guy, he can take care of himself.

Or reach up and give him a big wet one on the cheek, that never fails to drive men away!



Sunday, August 3, 2014

Why They Don't Serve Beer at the Rink

When people get drunk, they act stupid and lose their reflexes. Thank goodness rinks don't serve beer or we'd be seeing stuff like this!

Skating Mom Fight Fests!


Multiple Person Wipeouts!

And some people drink so much they believe they're superheros!

Superhero Hallucinations!
(ooh, tan boots!)
Nope, I'll stick to 'dry' rinks!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Freestyle at an ISI Rink

There are things you'll see on ISI Freestyle you won't see on USFSA Freestyle

Similar Pairs
Programs With Fans
Programs with Hoops
Family programs
Man, I love ISI!