Friday, November 28, 2014

When Your Blades Guards go Missing at the Rink

I've never lost a pair of blade guards at the rink--but I have lost them in my own home-- but I hear from people who have.  There's a kind of general agreement that kids pick them up from the boards and just take them. They don't know what they're for, but they're laying there and kids with a certain kind of parent (ones that let them get away with theft) just take them.

I think though that guard manufacturers are complicit in this. Guard manufacturers should put a smooth area on them where a skater can write their name. Even ROCKERZ which merely has a kind of decorative scrolling doesn't do this. These things cost $40, at that price yeah, I'm not worried about aesthetics, I want my name on them.

Theft doesn't appear to be much of a problem on freestyle, but even freestyle skaters go on public where the trouble is with theft. (There's a certain superior kind of skater that will say: "But I wouldn't be caught dead on public, I only skate freestyle." Well, goody for you sweetheart.  I skate publics and it's my blog, so I can bitch about what I want.)

Moving on.

Anyway, first option is to search for the guards. Did they fall behind something? Did someone turn them into lost and found? Did someone move them into the hockey boxes? Bad places to put them
  1. Next to the gate on the outside
  2. On the boards on the inside
 If you put them in the hockey box, it lowers the risk, but it still happens.

I've come to think of guard theft as inevitable.  There's really no way to get around it. Even with your name on it, and hiding them in the hockey boxes, there are weaseley little kids, with inattentive parents. There's no place weaseley kids won't stick their nasty thieving hands.

So you've got 3 options:


Make a Scene

Say something under your breat

None of these work. So, just go to the lost and found and ask. And keep an extra pair in the car!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Laying Down the Law for Freestyle Rules

My club just came up with a list of freestyle rules that must be signed to skate on freestyle. There's nothing extraordinary about the rules, they appear to be standard at every other rink I've skated at. However, my rink (the most expensive per hour in the region) has always taken a rather relaxed attitude towards rules.

Now the silent glare of stricture is about kick some ass at  what frankly has been pretty loosey-goosey freestyles.

Obey the rules or the ice monitor will throw you off!
 Here are the Rules Summarized

1. You have to sign in AND PAY before you step on the ice....
I've heard a rumor that some people weren't paying.  So, it's about time that this got enforced.

2 . No bridging.
Bridging is where you could skate across sessions--say 15 min in one session, then finish the hour in the next. This was always a nice privilege, but I guess it got abused. You now have to get off the ice at the end of the session.

3.  Skaters must have an etiquette lesson before they are allowed to solo--and must sign the freestyle rules.
This is a relief. It will be nice if the coaches also enforce the rules. 
4.  Must wear vests when in program--And skater in program has right of way--except for ice dancers
Yeah, right.  Last year enforcement of vest wearing lasted a couple of weeks, then it was 'Guess who's in program'. I don't expect this to last unless the coaches enforce it. And I'm pretty sure the violation of right of way will continue.
But Doggy has the vest on!

5.  Limited number of times an individual's program music can be played in session
I think we may be the only rink I've ever skated at that has this rule, but I've seen it enforced. 
 6. Parents cannot coach from the gates.
I've never seen this at my rink. I mean, every other rink I've ever skated at even for a single session,  there's some parent hanging inside the gate yelling at their kid, but not this one. So there must be one annoying parent I've never run into that has everyone's hackles up.
7. No swearing or bad language.
No guarantees if I fall on my ass. Usually it's just one know which one.
 8. Be nice. Especially to coaches.
In Russia, students used to have to bow or curtsey to their coach at the end of a lesson. I'd pay to see today's kids do that!


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Strange Ice Rink

A couple of times a month I skate at a rink with an evening public. This is rare around here. But this is a dedicated hockey rink with all of two hours of freestyle a week. Apparently, there's so many hockey sessions the rest of the week they don't have anyone to buy the ice and we get mid-week evening public.

I mean, it's a straaannnngggge rink. The staff knows *nothing* about ice rinks. They pass out tickets and skates. There's never any rink guard. There's no cones! There's no music!

[I've actually run into the no music thing before. It was explained to me that rinks have to pay a fee to play music, so some rinks don't play music. Or, as one rink I skated at in Texas, plays the radio. Yes, I've skated to "Achy Breaky Heart" and listened to beer ads in the rink.]

So this rink has no music. I don't mind that. I have my lap skate music playing in one ear, and I keep my eyes open.

Then the coaches show up with boomboxes and start running kids through programs.

It's an awkward mix. The coaches appear to expect all the other skaters to obey freestyle rules, but it's a PUBLIC. Aside from me and the couple of girls who look like Freestyle 1, nobody on the ice knows freestyle rules. Thank goodness there's only a handful.

I'm polite and stay out of everyone's way. It's not my rink, and I totally get it that coaches need more than two hours a week freestyle. I do my shtick and I leave without talking to anyone.

Still, it creeps me out. This place is public in the sense that a frozen pond is public. Anyone can show up and do anything. I'm half expected a couple of hockey guys in full gear and sticks show up and hit the puck around.And to be frank, the staff is so dead eyed, I don't think they'd know how to handle it.

No music, no birthday parties, almost empty ice. It's like skating at a haunted rink. If I showed up and found the doors unlocked with no one there, the desk and skate booth unmanned, I would not be surprised.

Still, like the dumb blonde in a horror movie, who is a doomed character that walks right into the killer's lair, I'd probably go skate. Mid-week evening public is nothing to be sneezed at!

"No,no, I need the mid week practice ice!"

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

When Figure Skating All Falls Apart

I have had a bad couple of weeks.
Or two!
 Last week a tooth broke off and took a bridge with it.  That got me an emergency visit to the oral surgeon.  I'll just say in the worst case it's going to cost the price of a low end 5 year old car to fix everything.

This week hip pain got me an emergency visit to the orthopedic surgeon.  Diagnosis is.....

Absolutely dead give away on this? Pain in the hip walking up stairs. If you feel this, don't wait for it to go away. Get it treated early.

My doctor manipulated my leg with every possible motion as a demonstration for his new assistant. Then he told me to lay on my side and raise my 'bad' leg up. "Hold it up against my pressing down," he said to me. Then he said to his new assistant, "She's a figure skater, she has abductors of steel."

Damn right.

Anyway, nothing happened all with all the manipulation testing, then  he pressed his "Thumb of Pain" onto my hip bone.

Yeah, that hurt like a son of a bitch.

Prescription: powerful anti-inflammatory drugs, ultrasound, and PT guidance for stretching.

"Can I skate?" I asked.

"Sure," he said, "Just don't fall."

I never plan to. Does anyone?

Sunday, November 16, 2014

2015 New Year's Skating Resolutions-Start Now

I'm not waiting to the new year to work on my resolutions, I'm doing them now.

1. Building up the strength in my right hip and leg. There's something going on in my right hip and sacrum and knee. It may be an old injury I need to work around because I've had that leg buckle a few times unexpectedly lately. Fixing this is fundamental to everything else. If I can't hold a back edge on the right leg, I can't move forward. Yeah, there's a mixed metaphor isn't there?

2. FI3 and BO3. Working on them now. The BO3 is more likely that FI3. I've had 'issues' with FI3 for years. 

3. Improve my back edges and strength of my back stroking. I can do these, I just can't do them 'pretty'.

4. Improve my power.  Well, this isn't my goal, this is my coach's goal for me. Therefore, it is my goal, whether I want it or not.

5. Start working on my 2016 resolutions: Waltz jump and maybe a couple of half jumps.

What are my long term goals? Nope, not an axel. I don't think I have the reflexes to do that anymore.  My goal is to do all the half jumps (except the split jumps).   I think I could do some really cute programs with half jumps.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Trifecta of Evil in Figure Skating

Do you know what a trifecta is? It's either: A bet in which the bettor must select the first three placegetters of a race in the order in which they finish, OR, a set of three related things, often things that cause problems.

Guess which one I'm talking about? Yep, THREE related things that CAUSE PROBLEMS.

New Boots
New blades
New sharpening.
Every body know what it's like to skate with a fresh sharpening. It's like tying bricks to your feet and trying to skate on wet sand. Once I start going it's impossible to do a snow plow stop. Instead, if I'm not careful, I just plow into whatever is ahead of me.
Thank god I had a decent T-stop

And if you want to make it a quadfecta, you can add WINTER PUBLIC HELL FILLED WITH ICE TOURISTS!
Ice tourists on winter public
 OMG, the souls of the damned ice tourists were everywhere, and apparently all seemed to be in my way.

"Let's see your back crossovers in these new skates," Miss Bianca said cheerfully. Of course.

Back crossovers, great. Back stops....non-existent. Any little kid that gets in my way is going to get squashed because I have no ability to stop going backwards. And frankly, if you can't be bothered to stay out of my way in the center, while I'm in lesson, you deserve to be squashed...

This is the part of new skates/blades/sharpening I hate. The 3 hours of skating it takes be to get used to having a rocker, wear down the new sharpening, and get the boots to fit are just the beginning of a month from hell to get comfortable with everything, then I NEED ANOTHER SHARPENING!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

You're a REAL SKATER (TM Applied For) When....

You can tie nylon boot laces with your (heavily calloused) bare hands

Your skate technician trial mounts your new blades then tells you to make adjustments on your own before he makes it permanent

You're thinking of buying your own blade sharpening machine

When you tell your non-skating friends all this, and they react like this:

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Boot Whisperer Jr. and the Best Blister Solution

Remember the Gold Level skater at my rink that consulted me about a blister on her heel?  I didn't have the right stuff available, but I made some suggestions, and sent her on her merry way. Well this week she came back to me with the results of her blister protection experiments. Let's think of her  as Boot Whisperer Jr.

That's what I want to see; real science applied to figure skating! Gold Skater did a fractional factorial experiment using the following protection devices:


Gel Blister pad

Doughnut Callus pad

Medical Tape

Gold Skater's Report
1. Band aid only. Pretty worthless. Band aid comes off while skating.
2. Band aid plus medical tape. Keeps the band aid in place but blister still hurts.
3. Gel blister pad only. Same as #1. It feels good to start but the pad moves after skating and then is worthless after it migrates from the blister. 
4. Gel blister pad, with callus pad on top. Worthless. Everything moves while skating. 
5. Callus pad (ones with the cut out hole) on its own. Worthless. It moves around when skating.
6. Callus pad plus medical tape. It stays in place but the blister still rubs against the boot so it hurts.
In summary for the above

7. Gel blister pad plus medical tape. Now we are getting somewhere. This only works well when the band aid has formed an air bubble over the band aid (it takes 1-2 days of wearing the blister pad for the air bubble to form). This feels good and prevents the blister from hurting. Without the air bubble, the combo is worthless.   
But maybe it could be still better?

8. Gel blister pad with corn pad plus medical tape. This is the winning combination and is even better when the gel blister pad has the air bubble.

So, thanks to Gold Skater for her tireless research and contributions to skating science backed up by experiment and testing. 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Someone to Watch Over Me....

Miss Bianca started me on back 3's today.

Don't get your hopes up. Those things are notoriously difficult for adult learners to master, so I'll be bitching about them for some time to come.

Anyway, she had me doing them two footed on the semi-circle where the hockey guys put their net thingy, right on the centerline of the rink. It was a light session, a last minute change to the schedule , so there were only 6 people (including coaches on the ice). She and I are focused, then we hear the sound of blades coming at us.

Dance Coach and a woman skater were doing twizzles along the centerline, straight at us. We slide to one side, and when they're gone we go back to back 3s.
A couple of minutes later, Dance Coach and his student are skating along the long boards, doing some tango thing. They come around the corner and pass through the goal crease.

Miss Bianca and I gave them a long stare as they came up the side. They had two options as they rounded the corner: pass behind us into the privileged area, or pass right through us. They chose the "through" option. We moved aside.

Ice dancers always have the right of way. They're a black clad train that will mow you down without a care in the world. Give them their space.

So Miss Bianca and I yielded as Dance Coach and his student started working on a program. Sometimes it was twizzles, other tiems foot work; sometimes behind us, sometimes through, sometimes to once side.  Still Miss Bianca and I weren't bothered, they weren't a constant annoyance. Have I told you my perception of ice dance practice? Thirty seconds of skating followed by five minutes of bickering about edge placement. We had plenty of time between passes.

Then as the session is close to the end, Dance Coach and student come along the board, do a turn and go into a lift.
Sorry, not this one, But it is pretty.
Miss Bianca and I stare thoughtfully. Will they go into the privileged area or right through us?

I'm between Miss Bianca and the team.  She's directly behind me, and we just stand there, because we've never seen this program before, any way we go has a probability of being wrong. They know we're here; sometimes it's better to stay still.

They pass behind us and then into a diagonal foot work sequence.

I turned to Miss Bianca. "Hey," I say, "I was between you and Dance Coach. You're the coach. Aren't you supposed to protect me in case they crashed into us?"

"You were juuusssst where I wanted you." Miss Bianca said.

Really? Cause I expect the coach to take the bullet:

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Welcome to Public Session

This is what the music was like at the rink today.
Yeah, up to 11.

This was my lesson.

I'm still recovering.