No, this is not about the old touring company of ice skaters. It’s about…well, you’ll see shortly.
My daughter a couple months ago expressed an interest in ice skating. Part of her thinking was that the ice skating might help her ballet and ballet would help ice skating. Reasonable.
So I signed her up for ice skating lessons and she got started. As luck would have it, rehearsals for the upcoming competition and performance for ballet came in to overlap the lessons and that was that for the ice skating lessons for the time being. We spoke to the instructor and she said they’d already introduced all the elements they were going to go over in that block of classes the rest was just going to be practice of those elements so Athena can practice that on her own and we can start her on the next block of classes after the ballet competitions are over for this year.
Now, we haven’t gotten to the “follies” part yet. This is just background.
Back in the late summer of ’79 I was, for various reasons, staying in Arizona. While there a friend of mine took me to an ice rink and there I learned to ice skate. Strictly self taught. I have reasonably good “kinesthetic sense” so I could, with some effort, transfer “book learning” of how things were supposed to work I could figure out at least the basics on my own. Come labor day, I gathered up some pledges and participated in a 24 hour marathon for Muscular Dystrophy. This long, concentrated effort smoothed out my technique quite a bit.
Then I returned home from Arizona back to Ohio and that pretty much put an end to my ice skating. Briefly, I had a chance to go back to ice skating while I was in the Air Force and stationed in England–“Queens Ice Club” in London. Even bought a pair of skates. Rotate back to the United States and…no more ice skating until…
Fast forward to when Athena wanted to start skating. I thought “Oh, I can get back into it too. Okay, it’s been thirty-five years but surely it’s just like riding a bicycle.”
First time out, an “introduction” where Athena and I went out on our own in public skate time before we even signed her up for the class just to try it out. Talk about embarassing. I ended up hugging the wall all the way around and ended up on my rear end a good half dozen times. You know, Judo is supposed to have taught me to take a fall without getting hurt but it looks like that’s not like riding a bicycle either. Didn’t help that I guessed wrong on boot size. I could get my feet into the boots but they squeezed so badly that…it was just misery.
One lap and I was done. So was Athena that time.
Still, she was interested enough to sign up for classes. And after classes, we’d do the public skate. I’d do one lap. Athena would skate until she was done. I still had trouble with fit. My feet have changed so much since I was younger and with the plantar fasciitis, I think the only way it’s going to work is to have my own boots with arch supports and and custom inserts. Still, I’m game to make the effort, you know.
So that brings us to yesterday. Athena has her ballet rehearsal and afterward asks if we can go ice skating. Sure. We go. She has her skates and I rent a pair, as usual. This time I find that I can lace them so they’re not too horribly uncomfortable on my feet and away we go. I get one lap done and am still feeling pretty good so I go for a second.
Now, there was apparently some damage to the rink so they had a cut off shortly before one end marked with cones. We had to divert across there rather than going all the way around along the wall. So I’m nearing the end of that section, feeling pretty good because I haven’t fallen too many times.
Before I even realize what’s happened I land flat on my back with a resounding thud. My head snaps back “whack” against the ice and I lay stunned for a moment. This was apparently an impressive enough wipeout that people, including at least one employee of the rink came over to see if I was okay. I was. As it happened the gather where I have my hair tied back in a ponytail actually provided substantial cushioning to the impact. I was just a little sore where I might otherwise have had a knot.
It actually takes several attempts for me to get back to my feet but I manage and get back to the wall. I then totter my way the rest of the way to the exit and, yeah, I’m done for the day.
In retrospect, I suspect part of the problem was that “more comfortable lacing” meant that my foot had too much play in the boot, so that I wasn’t as stable as I should have been. Added evidence in that I had difficulty walking in the skates on the matted area outside the ring (a yielding material to prevent damage to the blades–never walk on a hard surface in ice skates without wearing blade guards). The boots kept trying to roll my ankle.
In all honesty, I’m finding it harder to re-learn skating than it was to learn it the first time around. And, this being the next day, I’m a mass of soreness. I don’t…bounce…as well as I used to. This means that I can only weather so much, and much less than when I was younger, before “I’m done.”
Still, I made it around that rink twice on my own. Painfully, but on my own.