ice skates

Rediscovering Forgotten Skills

A few years back daughter no 2 fell in love with ice skating. Turned out she was quite good at it. The lesson scheme she first started on involved early weekend mornings at the ice rink followed by 2 hours of a mix of fun skating and practice in a session open to the public. 4 hours hanging out on the ice rink!  Now we all love our kids and don’t really mind taking them to and from their activities and waiting around in between but come on, it was 4 hours! Every week! In an ice rink! Those places are cold and there isn’t much else to do. Except ice skate of course!

So I started to join her on the ice during that public session. I could a manage to stand up upright and move forwards but that was the limit of my ability. Most importantly I was incapable of stopping! Or even changing direction in anything less than a 15 foot circle. So while my daughter learnt the early stages of spinning and jumping I took a few basic lessons, mainly to learn how turn and stop. I was never going to be brilliant but I did master an on the spot turn, gliding on one foot confidently (upright, with foot raised by bending knee, none of that leg in the air stuff!), going backwards, lemons, a basic slalom and some other stuff I can’t remember the names of (if you know anything about skate Uk I got to grade 4!). And I learnt how to stop without having to head for the barrier and crash into it 🙂 That was my proudest achievement because frankly I found all stopping methods terrifying. My daughter digs her toe picks in and stops instantly even at speed. Not a recommended method and many a coach has told her not to do it but she has been doing it since the day she first put skates on and has never, ever, fallen doing it!

Her ability on the ice soon outgrew not only mine but the skate UK lesson system and so not only did she move onto to having a coach and 1 to 1 lessons but she also couldn’t practice on the ice that the public were let loose on which meant I also stopped skating. We went occasionally as a family just for fun still though but every time she complained that she was being stiffed, couldn’t do her spins or jumps safely and the ice was both too damn crowded and way too scratched up! So gradually we just stopped going.

ice skating

She’s the blurry blob in the middle!

I hadn’t put my ice skates on for over a year until the other weekend! In the last few weeks she’s been preparing for tests and her lessons have been very intense and focused on specific moves and she’s lost some of the fun in it so took a week off and asked to return to the public ice session as a family and just have fun.

It was what she needed, to just be able to skate around at leisure, no fancy moves, no need to do anything specific, no pressure to get it right! Just to skate and talk and laugh. Me, I couldn’t remember a flipping thing!

We got off to a bad start because of my skates. I was sure my skates were very blunt as I remember them being that way last time I’d worn them. I hate blunt skates, get no control with them. Only when I got them out there was a sharpening slip in them – I’d obviously put them in after last time I’d used them. So I had freshly sharpened not used since blades. I hate freshly sharpened blades, get no control with them.  So I didn’t step onto the ice with the best confidence levels but even so, I expected to at least be able to lift my foot off the ice to push and so achieve forwards movement. I couldn’t, I froze, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it, couldn’t work out how to stand up straight (skater straight, with knees bent of course!) and couldn’t make myself move forwards by pushing. I could just about manage a teeny little lemon movement but that was all at first! It took me a full, and very slow, circuit of the rink to lift a foot up and push!

It actually took the best part of an hour for me to start feeling comfortable and as if I even kind of knew what I was doing with just skating forwards again. After 90 minutes I was gliding forwards, lemons and slalom fine and with some speed. but by then my legs hurt! Jeez I’d forgotten how it makes your legs hurt especially I’d started tense! I couldn’t stop though, just couldn’t bring myself to make the movement necessary to bring my blades to a standstill.

So does this mean I can longer Ice skate? Of course not. I could do it before so I must still be able to do it now. What I have learned is that once you learn a skill you need to keep practicing it not only to get better but to maintain the levels you have!

I won’t be leaving it another year before I don my skates and hit the ice again! Expect to see me down the ice rink every few weeks from now if only so I don’t forget how to skate forwards again. Perhaps next time I’ll try backwards and/or remember how to stop!