Some Musings on the Ice Follies.

Went to the ice rink for public skate.  For various reasons it was a relatively short session.  I didn’t get to do a lot of technique practice because the rink was a bit too crowded, with a lot of kids (at least one party) and since the big practice I’ve been doing is backward skating, I didn’t figure it would be safe.  If there was a collision and I landed on one of those kids, well, I’m not little so there would have been nothing left but a red spot.

So I mostly did the skating in circles bit.

Out of the about 50 minutes that my daughter and I were there I spent about forty of them on the ice and skating.  I needed a short break about ten minutes in to let my feet recover.  The arch issues I have aren’t going away and while my feet have adapted a bit (and the skates got broken in) it’s just going to be an issue.  A couple of other short breaks to catch my breath but I did most of that time actually skating.  And that’s a big thing.

You see, I can remember, not that long ago (earlier this year in fact) when circling the rink five times, with breaks every half-lap, was an accomplishment to be proud of.  I can remember when two were a breakthrough for me.  And now, just a few months later, I’m skating around for forty minutes with only a few short breaks (hey, got to cut this 58 year old body some slack).

I first learned to skate when I was 18.  For various reasons I was living in Phoenix Arizona, crashing with friends while I tried to find work while still attending my last year of High School.  That didn’t work out and I ended up having to go back to Ohio but that’s another story.  In any case there was an ice rink that the friends I was staying with went to regularly.  It was there that I learned to skate.  I was purely self taught.  I didn’t do too bad considering.  I learned to skate forward, two foot and one foot glides.  Most of the people at the rink didn’t do a proper stop.  Some did hockey stops (my friends did) but not many.  Mostly they just dragged the toe picks of one skate to stop, which is strongly frowned on most places I’ve skated since (not like there are a lot of them).  I started working on a T-stop:

I could do forward crossovers pretty well:


Indeed, my friends and I would sometimes play “tag” on the ice.  That was strictly against rink rules but…teenagers, what can I say.  My friends skated on hockey skates.  I used figure skates.  Now, they were faster than I was, with more acceleration, but using those crossovers, I could turn inside them.  I’d catch them at the ends where they were forced to turn.

But there were things I did not learn.  I didn’t learn the “swizzles” I discussed in early “Ice Follies” posts.  And I didn’t learn backward skating at all.

The real big gain in my skill came over the labor day weekend.  The rink hosted a 24 hour skating marathon for Muscular Dystrophy (this was back in the days of the Jerry Lewis Telethon fundraiser for Muscular Dystrophy and related diseases).  I started the session wobbly and barely able to keep upright.  I ended it smooth and well balanced.

When I had to return to Ohio, ice skating mostly ended.  The only “rink” we had was an outdoor basketball court that was flooded in the winter and allowed to freeze–provided weather got and stayed cold enough.  If that sounds horrid it’s because it was.

Another brief episode when I was in the Air Force and assigned to a base in England.  I discovered Queens Ice Club in London and would take the train down from time to time.  Actually bought a pair of skate there (long since lost).  Once I returned to the US, that was it.  No skating for the next 35 years until my daughter expressed an interest and we got her into classes.  I found that I’d essentially lost everything I had learned when younger.  I was having to start completely from scratch. (No, it’s not like riding a bike.)

Soon thereafter, I started taking classes myself.

And here we are.

But the big thing was, just a few months ago, a couple of times around the rink was a major accomplishment.  Now, forty minutes of skating before I’m too tired to continue safely.  I’m not even trying to count laps at this point.

Not bad for an old fart.


One thought on “Some Musings on the Ice Follies.”

  1. I grew up in Canada and skating was a rite of passage. Played a bit of hockey with friends, got to be a decent skater including crossovers moving backwards. Then went off to the Navy and lived in a variety of places where rinks were few and far between. Tried to go out again a few years ago when I moved back up to the Pacific NW and it was pure torture. Plus the one nearby rink is only open to the public at odd hours and is 25 minutes away because I live out in the county, after a while I decided that this wasn’t something I wanted to continue. I also should probably have bought new skates as my old ones (above average back in the day) probably aren’t any good any more. I don’t now how that works. Maybe it’s just another break in to get them back in shape but they hurt. A lot.


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