After six exploratory sessions on the ice your diarist is back in class. My coach, Mike, is on a summer vacation so I have a new instructor, Christine, at least for the duration of this compressed six lesson (two per week for three weeks) summer session. Ah, summer session--the dreaded nightmare of every school kid. I did one summer of purgatory back in the day, and after missing my summer of lazy fun decided never to fall behind my studies again. This summer session is a bit different. There's no one forcing me to get a passing mark other than myself, and the unpopulated summer time rink is a refreshing change from the crowded public and free style sessions which will once again be the norm in a few short weeks.
So, where do I stand after four months off the ice nursing a busted flipper? Actually, not too bad. If anything the time away from the glare of instruction has permitted me to practice and solidify a few things so I'm still on track with my original goal of clawing myself back to a credible skater inside a calendar year. The goal for this session is to test and pass the gamma requirements. My FO3s are for the most part testable and the 7 step mohawk combo is getting there. The only element that has disappeared is my hockey stop which to be honest was a bit on the pathetic side on a good day. We shall see.
One of the GREAT things about this summer session is that lessons are combined with a lightly attended public session, starting at 5 pm. The adult lesson doesn't start until 5:30 but we can still go on the ice and warm up! This, at least for me, is BIG! After 30 minutes my legs were warmed up enough to not be a total klutz in the lesson. Christine was a bit distracted in as much as she'd just returned from the beach that day and no doubt wished she was still there! But distracted or not she got us doing different things, some of which I cottoned onto fairly quickly and others that I'm still trying to get my head around. One of the maneuvers was a collision avoidance skill that rings a distance bell in my head and suspiciously appears to be the introduction for learning two foot spins. You skate along and pretend that a kid with an EZ-skater suddenly darts in front of you. Your reaction is to not mow him down (which he nodoubt richly deserves) but instead join your hands over your head and do a sharp two foot turn (your choice of direction). The combination of the sharp turn and linking your hands and then pulling them in the direction of the turn causes the skater to immediately round up and spin, more or less in place, for a revolution or two.
The rest of the time she had us practicing forward three turns but with a preliminary forward stroke before the turn. This I was OK with. Then she introduced a Mohawk with a back crossover step that seemed easy enough but totally baffled me. The lesson ended before I could figure it out. Our lesson was over at 6 pm but the public session went on until 6:30 and they didn't chase us off so we got a bonus 60 minutes of skating time before the Zamboni came out and the session ended. Now this session was immediately followed by another 2 hour public starting at 6:45. I had earlier promised my daughter that I'd stick around so that she and I could skate together. This meant that the total ice time for me last night was three and a half hours. I practiced edges and turns at ever increasing speeds and left the ice feeling good, tired and more that ready for a steadying glass of red wine. However, this extended time on the ice came back to haunt me when I woke up about 2 am with throbbing shoulders. I'd noticed over the past few sessions on the ice that my left shoulder in particular was waking me up at night and I vaguely wondered if I'd pinched a nerve or something. Last night the light bulb in my brain finally went on and I realized that the pain which I was experiencing was more likely due to the increasingly forceful upper body checking I'd been doing while practicing those turns over and over. Hopefully this will go away before the next lesson on Thursday. The other thing I noticed after last night's session was that even with bunga pads on my ankles, my boots had figured out a new way to bless me with annoying skin abrasions on the outside of both ankles just above the ankle bone. And here I'd thought I'd had the boot fit thing checked off the list. I'll have to come up with a solution before Thursday 'cause I doubt that I'll grow new skin in time.
Lastly, I tested my fancy wrist guards last night during a fall at low speed and can report that they seem to do the job. The small plastic pads in the palm area of the guards do in fact permit you to scrub off energy by sliding along the ice rather than to concentrate that momentum with a more abrupt halt. Am I smiling or what?