I plunked down my seventy bucks for the next adult's beginner class which was scheduled to kick off on the 2nd of December. I told my instructor, Mike, a little about my background and said I'd like start over a the beginning because although I retained some of the fundamental skills, I'd certainly lost many others and I'm a firm believer that any endeavor is only as good as it's foundation. At the first lesson, of the four tottery adults signed up, I was the class prima donna--meaning I was the only one with prior ice skating experience. There was one woman who had a background in quad roller skating and she and I were the only ones not holding onto the boards for dear life. By lesson six the adult class had basically winnowed down to a private lesson for me as the others dropped out. A private one-on-one lesson for ten bucks! How sweet is that? I had indicated to Mike at the first lesson that my minimum goal was to test out at the ISI beta level at the end of that seven lesson session. He watched me skate and agreed as how that very modest goal was achievable. Now you're probably thinking: OK, hot shot why not test out at delta and jump back into first level free style? My honest answer is that I can't get my head around inside edges just yet. Other skills like forward and backward crossovers, FO3 turns, t-stops, etc. returned quickly but I just can't seem to reclaim FI3s or FI Mohawks. So, I'll be happy with my beta and in the meantime I'll practice edges and those basic forward inside edge turns. After repeat falls on my left hip I have a bright purple bruise about the size of the state of Montana. It extends from the hip bone projection to my knee. But I well knew that falls were the price one pays and so far I'm proving to be less brittle than my age suggests...
Part of the problem is that I'm skating in rental skates, and yes, those skates are horrible! The last pair were so dull that I could just barely stay on an inside edge while on a half circle. As I'd square to the line on the ice just prior to releasing and dropping to the opposite foot's inside edge I could feel the blade start to chatter and skid. I'm sure a large part this problem was me performing the element in poor form but part of the blame also goes to the blade. I think the previous renter of that pair must have skated across concrete.
Mike, like all good instructors/coaches is part analyst and part cheerleader. He'll watch as I attempt some element he's asked me to perform and say "well, that skill's coming along, now lets move along and try this." I know that whatever he's just looked at absolutely sucked and he probably should have said "Whisky-Tango-Foxtrot???" Mercifully he never does--at least up to our last session! However, our interaction is not a one-way street. At the end of our last lesson I asked Mike what brand of boots and blades he was skating on and after a bit of hesitation he indicated that his boots were custom made by Klingbeil and that they were twenty years old and he really ought to get a new pair. I was able to add a bit of useful info to that conversation: the ice dance email group which I lurk on was recently abuzz with the announcement from Don Klingbeil that due to the current economic conditions he was going to get out of the skate boot business and that if anyone wanted one last pair of boots they'd need to put their hands up by mid January. Now, I'd love a pair of Klingbeils myself but I just don't have the better part of $700 to punk down--that's just boots, blades are bought separately and are another $200 minimum and more likely $400 to $500 for top figure or dance blades. I'm sure to regret this after the opportunity is gone but right now I just can't justify the expense. Since Mike is a past customer, no doubt Don still has molds and lasts of Mike's feet on a shelf in his shop. Hopefully Mike will make the cut before Don K. ceases business.
Part of the charm of the lesson package is the mixed blessing of seven "free" public sessions. Basically, at this time of year, public sessions are very crowded. The only skills that can be refined at a PS are survival skills and maybe forward stroking. One does backward stroking, back crossovers, any sort of single or two foot turn at one's peril. The counter-clockwise mob does have the right of way. I still have one last hole to punch in my ticket before it expires. Free-style (FS) skate sessions are available a couple times during the week that are compatible with work day schedules but of course those sessions command a higher price: $15/ 45 minutes of ice time vs $5/2hour public session. The selling point for a FS pick up session is a better quality population of skaters and fewer of them. I've gotta convince myself that quality ice time is worth both the price and the getting out of bed early for--God, how I miss those free and breezy UDEL days!