Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Skool Daz

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?


  1. Thanks for the feedback on how the wrist protectors held up during a fall. It's easy to go for hours when the adrenaline is up isn"t it? Did you finally nail the mohawk crossover thing? You do realize she's started you on a footwork sequence :).

    My big challenge this week is getting rid of "hamster arms" when I jump. It's a bad habit and I've been doing it for years, coach says it's not helping me get airborne at all.

    I use the ankle gels that go all the way around my ankle, I find I get different tender areas as my skates break in so these coever a larger area.

    Enjoy the rest of summer school!

    1. My pleasure! Hopefully I won't soon have to report on how the wrist guards do during a high(er) speed fall.

      We haven't revisited the mohawk with a crossover. I'm little more goal oriented than Christine and at our last session we concentrated on the elements required to pass the test. Besides, the fancy stuff will look a tad classier once the foundation is firm!

      And yes, I came to the same conclusion re: tube gels. I've started wearing both sets. I put on the bunga pads, which have the ankle gel disks, first and then slip the tube gel pads over them, positioning as best I can. So far this has kept the abrasions from increasing in size but as you no doubt know, it takes an age for nackered ankle skin to heal--particularly if you continuously skate, and especially so during the humid summer months. As an aside, one thing I've learned about my new Jackson composite boots is that heat moldable plastic doesn't breathe like my old leather Riedells. My feet tend to get sweaty while skating and so I'm continuously putting baking soda and talc in the boots after a session of ice time. Don't know if the baking soda is good or bad for the interior foam of the boots, but I don't care! So far I'm keeping ahead of the dreaded funk and my feet are much happier going into dry-ish boots than stinky ones.

  2. To avoid this pain, take a pain killer (usually an advil) ONE HOUR BEFORE you step on the ice, and One Immediately Before you get on the ice. I skate without pain, and don't wake up with pain either.

    Prophylaxis in pain management is seldom taught, but is still very effective.

    1. Thanks Babbette. I'll try that strategy. I usually self medicate with Rum (afterwards) but I'm thinking your prescription might be better.

    2. George, I just had an inspirational flash based on your response to Babette for your first interpretive program: you should skate to the "Pirate King" song from Pirates of Penzance!!

      PS My significant other usually self medicates with beer following his soccer games but he thought your choice of painkiller was equally acceptable.

    3. "I am the Monarch of the Sea, the ruler of the Queen's Navvvvvy..." Don't know Lori, I might be able to summon my inter-pirate. Probably better as Popeye the sailorman. All depends on whether or not Babbette is up for the part of Miss Oyl... I've just come in after mowing the lawn and am "rehydrating" with a Ranger IPA from New Belgium Brewing as I type this.