Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Sky is Falling! The Sky is Falling!



Well, yes, like most statements here on the Thin Ice blogspot, the title of this post is a bit of an overstatement.  More correctly, "the sun is cooling!" "the sun is cooling!";  But Chicken Little didn't say that so I'm using a small pinch of poetic license.  Our sun is approaching the end of an eleven year sun spot cycle.  Fewer spots apparently mean less solar flux and distinctly cooler temperatures in North America and Western Europe.  Maybe not enough to cause the Thames to freeze hard enough for Londoners to hold ice fairs, as was the case a few hundred years ago, but maybe enough to provide an up-tick in outdoor skating opportunities at a pond near you.  But don't take my word for it, I'm no expert.  Read about it here or it you prefer a more sensational version, read this one .

OK, enough science for one post.  More to the point--what's been happening with your old diarist since the last posting of blather?  For one thing I've been hard at work practicing the Cha-Cha and perfecting my wonky CC forward inside Mohawk. For another, ice dance Coach A. and I finally had an alignment of stars and respective schedules/agendas such that miracle of miracles--a coached lesson took place.  It was the first since the 25th of July and the first on my newly reopened home ice for the new skating season.

I soloed the Cha-Cha for her and she said that it looked pretty good.  I was more or less on the expected pattern and the end of the dance (a forward outside swing roll immediately followed by a tuck behind step and a forward inside swing roll) looked smoother and less hesitant than when we last worked on it.  So--practice does lead to improvement!

We then looked at my CC forward inside Mohawk.  It's still a work in progress but at least it is progressing.  And that's a good thing as we next worked on the Swing dance, which requires that tidy CC Mohawk.  After yesterday's lesson I now have a better understanding of pattern placement leading to that Mohawk and also where the immediate back edge and back swing roll which follow the turn should be.  Next we practiced with me skating the backwards skating steps of the dance and also the hand change that occurs at the Mohawk (see video above).  In the "guys rarely skate backwards department", I need to remember to open my shoulders during those back swing rolls so that they really swing around, rather than to make the upper body adjustment by bending my elbows when in partnered mode--that and a lot of other things!  My goal is to be as smooth as the guy in the video (some year).

Ice dance coach and her sister are zooming off to follow the eclipse next Monday and whether she'll be back in time for a Tuesday lesson is uncertain.  As for me I'm staying home and practicing all this stuff and maybe it's a good thing that the next lesson is up in the air--more time to digest yesterday's lesson and work on stuff.  Besides, you want totality?  Just get outta bed at 3 in the morning and look outside--same thing.  Dark is dark.  No, really, it is.  Don't argue with me.  Put your skates on and get to work. 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

And so it begins

The 2017/18 skating season at Bowie Ice Arena finally got underway this past Saturday after replacing one compressor and repairing the cooling tower.  Better late than never.  As per usual, I was otherwise engaged on Saturday and so the beginning of my new season had to wait a day.  Better late than never.  At the start of a new season I like to look back, one last time, at the old year.  How many times did I skate?  What, if anything, was achieved for the money spent and time invested?  The number of times I skated is easy because I keep track of each session I skate by sticking the ice pass to the wall of my cube at work:

NB: my desk is rarely this tidy.  Thirteen columns x 9 rows = 117 times on the ice.  The lion's share took place on home ice, the remainder were at two other rinks  My high water mark is the 2014/15 season.
The last time I posted this picture was at the end of the 2014/15 season. I managed to skate 128 times that year.  The 2015/16 season was the one that included my recovery from a bad fall and so wasn't even half the total of the benchmark skating season.  In hindsight I should have posted that year's sticker wall.  Just returning to the ice was the major accomplishment.  But, as impressive (at least to me) as my great wall of ice passes may seem, if one divides the totals from either "good" year by 52 it comes out to less than three times per week.  Three times per week would require 156 outings on the ice. Three times a week for a guy who has to cram skating into his work schedule--can I sustain it?  Don't know, but something to aim at.
The 2017/18 season begins.  Will this little fellow find 155 friends before they melt the ice in June?
Along with "quantity" one must include "quality", i.e. whatever "progress" was made.  In my case, last season's major milestone was that I managed to stagger past a USFS judge well enough to complete my Prelim ice dances.  Goals for this year?  I keep them modest.  I'd like to pass the Cha Cha, which seems like a reasonable goal.  But what about the Swing Dance and the Fiesta Tango?  The goal here is to finally conquer my wonky CC forward inside Mohawk required of both dances and clean up my back edges so that the back chasse and back swing roll steps are good enough to at least practice those dances in their entirety.  If Coach A. thinks that they're test worthy by spring that will be icing on the cake.