Friday, January 29, 2016

Blade Guards/Hard Guards for Figure Skates

If you've just bought your first skates there are 3 things you will need: Soakers, blade rags, and blade guards. So to that bill for your first skates, you'll need to add another $40.

Blade guards come in two type: centipede and 'universal'.

My first blade guards were the centipede type. The advantage to these is you don't have to cut them to size them. If you look carefully, you can see that little plastic loop that goes over the heel of the blade makes it adjustable. That was the down fall of these guards for me. The little plastic loop went flying the second time I put them on and the guards went into the trash.

I just want to add that I have never seen a figure skater wearing these guards. This might be a local thing, but I only see the 'universal' type.

The 'universal' type is made of two pieces of plastic guards connected by springs that are screwed into the plastic.  They generally have to be cut to size them to your skats. I've bought different brands and one brand (nameless) didn't have very good springs or screws. After a few wears the screw would fly off taking the spring with it.   Anyway, always remember the brand of guards you buy and if the springs go flying, don't buy that brand again. I learned my lesson.

 Let's just say, that if you want to use the kinds of guards, you can find them that light up, that smell (fruity or minty), pearl finish, gel finish, glitterfied, crystalized, and ones that change color based on the temperature!
The Rockerz are a variation of the universal type; in that they've changed the outline and offer a sizing service along with custom color selections.
Rockerz--heavier than the regular universal type
There are some one-offs too. The Kootzu (which looks fantastic, but requires a hacksaw to put together), and Skaboots (designed for hockey but works for figure skates). If you frequently need to hike through the parking lot with your skates on because you left something in the car, these would be worth looking at. I understand some coaches drive in their skates--skaboots might work for that.

I gotta say, I'd love to try a bunch of these out (especially the skaboots and Kootzu and the chameleon universal) but I just bought some Rockerz (pink and orange) so I'm done for now.

Thursday, January 28, 2016


This could only be better if Johnny Weir would narrate it like it was a Program at Nationals.

Johnny?  Johnny? 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Ice Rink is Closed for Snow

I'd have a better title with "The Ice Rink is Closed for Ice," but there's so much snow there isn't any ice yet.

Just FYI, here's a story of another closed ice rink to make you smile in a grim sort of knowledgeable way.

What someone needed to do to those contractors.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Revenge of the Faceplant

"Does this hurt?" my orthopedic surgeon asked as he jammed the 'Thumb of Pain' in my knee.

" there damn!"

Saturday morning I found I couldn't walk downstairs without pain in my right knee. Tuesday morning I had an emergency appointment with my ortho.

I have a compression fracture of the knee, probably from my faceplant last week. This is what I get for wearing slimline kneepads for kids that weigh about 60 lbs.

The interesting thing is my ortho said , "I've never seen a fracture there. I don't even know how that can happen."

It's small, and getting better quick.

I can  skate but....

 The doctor also said 'don't fall'.

I said, "Figure skater...." in that insufferable way, but I agreed to wear double adult  knee pads until the knee completely heals.

Well, it's not important. This weekend it's going to be like this around here:
I'll be healed before I skate again.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Ice Skate Soakers:

One of the fun accessories of skating is soakers. A folded piece of cloth and a half hour and you can have a workable individual cover for your blades. However, the home sewer will be unable to deliver the delightful insouciance of the mustachio of this Jerry's fruit soaker. (They're cute in person too)

Unfortunately, for me to do make my own,  I would have to haul the sewing machine up from the basement where its 40 - enameled - steel - 1970 manufactured - pounds have been since 2001. It would be easier  to buy a new one than move boxes to clear the way to the old machine, lift it up step by step to the second floor, wrench my back and make an appointment with my orthopedic surgeon. . . . Moving on.

So I'm limited by my own laziness to purchasing pre-made soakers. Here's the major players in the game.

Reinforced soakers: (edit) Although widely believed to be strong enough for walking in on the matting, this isn't a use approved of by the manufacturer (end edit) These soakers have terry cloth bodies and a polyester grosgrain ribbon along the bottom. The main ones I've seen are Tuff Terry's. Another brand is Xtreme Blade Covers which I like the looks of since they not only vary the body color, but have a contrasting color for the reinforcement; Terry's only uses black on the bottom, but they've got a variety of colors and patterns for the body.

Tuff Terry's are only for Walking on the Mat
 I want to comment that I saw a girl wearing Tuff Terry's walking in her skates on concrete. These aren't protective enough for that. Only blade guards are approved for walking in on the matting or other surfaces.

Jerry's seems to have dived deeply into the end of the soaker pool, they've got lots of choices. And they've been darn successful at developing soaker styles. But every time I see a little girl metaphorically crushing the spine of a helpless stuffed terry frog, puppy, cat, elephant, monkey or dolphin soaker with her blades, I have to wonder "Who Thinks Up This Stuff?" Then I think,  "ODG, I'm Getting OLD! It's Just A TOY! Stop Being So Judgmental!" And, then I discovered Chole Noel had animal soakers too but made with fake fur. Furry, crushed toy animals...And there's Zookerz animal soakers that squeak.

As I researched for this post, I realized, I wish I had the Chloe Noel soaker Guernsey. I grew up on a dairy farm; I love cattle.
OMG, isn't this adorable!
My inner 5 year old wants one!
Adult Styles of Soakers:  Okay, I need to calm down after the excitement of realizing I can be tempted by a stuffed  cow. If you want to have adult soakers, that is, soakers that don't squeak, and soakers that don't look like pets, or soakers that look boring mature there's always Terry's and Softpawz and Jerry's.

Softpawz label matches the inner lining (a nice touch)
And are fully lined. Bunches of color combos and materials.
Then there's puffy soakers, fuzzy soakers, flannel soakers, satin, glitter, sequined and many more commercially made ones from the three big soaker makers.

And if you can't find something you like? There's always ETSY. I've seen some really nice soaker sets on there that look every bit as good if not superior to the commercial ones. It's certainly worth a trip.

Now that I've finished with my soaker review, I want to nominate the butt ugliest soaker I've ever seen. I can't imagine anyone, anywhere buying this soaker unless it was the only one left on the shelf, or the buyer was actively toking up. Ladies and gentlemen, I present Terry's Lava Lamp.

Friday, January 15, 2016

The Faceplant...on ice

In group last night Dance Coach asked me if I could do 'any' jumps.

"Sure, a Waltz Jump....well more of a hop."

He gives me the coachy wave of the hand indicating "Go ahead."

Stroke onto the forward edge, push up/off/whatever, turn in the air.... and the next thing I know... FACEPLANT!

I'm lying face down on the ice, my hands braced under my shoulders...and fortunately uninjured.

Apparently, not only did I miss the toepick, I may have missed the blade and the whole skate. It happened so fast that my lizard brain took hold of my body and arranged my arms and legs so I didn't get killed, then let my conscious brain take over once I was lying on the ice.

This may not be far off.

Dance Coach skates up to me and I see a look of horror on his face as he bends down to check on me.

I say the only thing I could think of, "Boh'-zhe moy!"*

I got up and finished the lesson. No injuries, felt fine.

Today, I was trying to demonstrate the Waltz Jump at work, wrenched my knee and from that I hurt worse than the fall!  I'll never demonstrate skating stuff on a carpeted floor again!

Boh'-zhe moy! 

*Russian for "Oh, my god!"


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

When New Skate Blades are Defective

Let's say that you've bought new blades. Your tech mounts them, sharpens them and you go home. The first day you skate you have no control; your jumps are crap,  you fall out of your spins. The reaction of the average skater is one of the following:
  1.  "My old rocker must have been flat. I'll adjust to this rocker in time."  
  2.  "This is a new type of blade. I'll adjust to this rocker in time."
  3.  "I need to get the blade position adjusted."
All of those might work, but there's another possibility; the blades are defective.

Oh, yes it happens.  Two skaters of my acquaintance both had defective blades in the last month from two different manufacturers.

One skater had a blade with a rocker that varied from 7 to 12 ' along the blade.

The other skater had a blade that was slightly curved in an 'S' (not straight along the length).

The luck in this  event was that both skaters had the same skate technician who caught the defects in the blades before he mounted them because he inspects all the blades before he mounts them.

In the first case he measured the rocker with  a rocker gauge; in the second case it may have been just visual inspection or simply comparing the blade to a straightedge.

If you are lucky your skate technician will check the blades before they are mounted. If you are not lucky....

Because once you've got them sharpened and mounted, good luck proving to the manufacturer it was their error.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Back in Freeskate

Now that the Christmas show is over, the Adult Freeskate group has gone back to its 5 regulars, so the skating director put me back in.

So the 5 of us were hanging around waiting for the group coach to show up. Usually it's one of two women coaches, but now it's Dance Coach.

He gives me a funny look. The last time he saw me weeks ago was in Basic 8.  "Are you in freeskate?" I can't tell if he's asking in disbelief or disappointment. I tell him it's where the skating director puts me (probably because they need 5 to hold the class, so there!)

For warm-up he has us do forward cross-rolls.

Last week I asked my coach, Miss Bianca, if she wanted to see my forward cross rolls and she actually rolled her eyes! "No," she says, "Your cross rolls are perfectly fine. I don't want to see stuff you can do well." (Of course this means my lessons are filled with stuff I suck at, but hey! it's figure skating.)

So we 5 skaters do forward cross rolls across the ice. I'm layin' 'em down like Gregory Hines lays down a shuffle ball change.

After we finish, Dance Coach looks at me in 'concern'. "Can you do forward crossrolls?"

"I just did them. I'm wearing a coat the color of a caution sign, How could you miss me!" This is true. I have on a bright yellow coat that almost glows in the dark.

I swear, the other skaters giggle. And two say, "She just did them."

Dance Coach is undeterred. "Okey, we do them again. This time I look at you."

So we repeat, and Dance Coach says to me, "Very nice." Then he goes, "Next, we do back crossrolls. Can you do back crossrolls?"

Well, no. Dammit. Dance Coach wins this round.

Well played Dance Coach.

You Know You Skate Too Much #7

You see someone in new skates

And you instantly know the brand.

Double points if you know the model!

Half points if they're Edeas (too easy).

Thursday, January 7, 2016

1001th Post

People Who Carry Their Kids on Ice

They're the bane of figure skaters, rink guards, and knowledgeable adult skaters; those adults who carry their kids on ice. 

I once saw a woman drop her kid from her arms, trip on her toepick and fall on the kid! 

If I can get the rink guard's eye, I point it out. Rink guard takes care of it.

But sometimes there's no guard, or the guard is inattentive, or isn't looking in my direction.

What to do?

The other day, right in front of me, I saw a dad holding his daughter in one arm and taking a selfie while standing on the ice.

I skated casually up and said, "You and your kid look so great together.  I can take a picture of you together." Dad puts kid down, hands me phone, I take picture. When I hand the phone back I said, "I just want to mention it's dangerous to carry a kid on ice."

A variation of this could work on almost every situation. Offer to take a picture, the adult will put the kid down to find the phone.  I mean, GENIUS! and it ought to work!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Winter has Finally Arrived

I used to live in Minnesota, and I know real winter. I know about snow arriving on Easter Sunday. I know about digging myself out snow drifts that are as high as the top of my car's wheels. I know that I can back uphill, on a snow covered driveway for a quarter of a mile to get to get to the main highway.

But now that I'm old?

Last week it was  Summer Outside-
And Inside the rink It Felt Like SUMMER!

Today It was Below Freezing Outside And With
Two Shirts, a thick jacket below my hips, 
double layer skate pants
Inside the rink It Felt Like.....

 Next Week I'm Skating at an Outdoor Rink

I'm getting wussy in my old age!  

Saturday, January 2, 2016

The Slow Fall

Every coach I've ever had has at one time or another said, "You're a slow faller."

Most people fall like this. But not me.
I get to a point where I'm going to fall and then there is a...pause.

At first, I hang on an edge.  There's no struggle to right myself, no arm waving, I just reach a point where I can't recover  and then gravity seems to stop its pull. It's like it's waiting for an audience for my disaster.

People begin to gather around me and stare.

I  hang. 

My coach stares. 
I  hang.

The rink guard comes over and stares.

I  hang.

Then the little girl doing spins in the center stops and stares.
Finally, when I have gathered a sufficient number of people to observe the fall, gravity resumes its inevitable pull, and I hit the ice.

TA -- DA!

And when I hit the ice, people exclaim, "You're a slow faller!"

Friday, January 1, 2016

The Curse of the FI3

As you can tell, one of the reasons I love figure skating is not just for the beauty of the performance, or the glow of success when I conquer a new element, but the fact that I can treat figure skating as an engineering problem.

Let me give you an example.

Today I was working on my FI3 (my never ending bĂȘte noire.)

I warmed up about 4 feet from the boards to so I could look into the glass and keep my eyes focused on the wall.  And also to keep away from the multitude of speedy little rug rats skating every which way.

Stroke. Extend the free leg to 'set' my posture. bring the free leg to the active heel. Turn.

Works fine.

Try the other side.

Works fine.

Go out in the middle.


I struggle through a few. Unable to Solve the problem.

Leave the middle, back to the boards. Stare at the glass. Stroke. Extend. Set. Turn. Works Fine.

Out  to the middle. Nope.

I went back and forth 3 or four times. Then as I'm standing in the middle, I think, "What am I doing at the boards that I'm not doing here?"

Then this is the engineering trick; I reversed the question. "What am I doing here that I'm not doing at the boards?"

And you know what it was? I was glancing down during the turn.

And why?

Because out in the middle, there's a horde of tiny little speedsters below my eyeline and it's an unconscious habit to glance down to check to make sure no one's in my way. When I glance down to my direction of travel, I disrupt the flow of the turn. At this stage of my learning the turn, it doesn't take much to disrupt the flow.

It's these unconscious little habits that are the hardest to find, and equally hard to break.