Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Getting reacquainted with an old friend

While perusing the titles of ice skating books on Amazon I stumbled across a familiar sounding title.  I clicked on the link and up popped the image below:  Robert S. Ogilvie's classic figure skating book Basic Ice Skating Skills.  Ogilvie, an instructor at the Ice Club of Baltimore wrote this book in the mid-1960s at the urging of the United States Figure Skating Association.  This book is perhaps the earliest example of a modern era "how to skate" book aimed at adults and marks the beginning of an outreach attempt that continues to this day.  The USFSA wisely recognized that figure skating was not the exclusive domain of competitive youth skaters but instead is a life sport that many ages can enjoy.  This is the very same book which was the assigned reading material for students taking figure skating classes back when I skated at the University of Delaware.  I’d lost (loaned and never got back) my copy from my student days and as soon as I saw this picture of the cover slob sentimentality kicked in and I clicked the "buy" button.  My “new” old book arrived yesterday and a quick turn of the pages reveals that while the hair and clothing styles have changed over the years, the ice and the elements executed upon it haven’t changed much.  All the basic stuff is there: how to get a good boot fit, how to get up from a fall, descriptions of all the common elements such as edges, spins, turns, and jumps.  There are even a couple of short chapters on compulsory figures (this was after all, back in the day) and ice dance.  All this for a cover price of $2.50!  Text books were much cheaper back when I was a boy.  OK, I paid $7.99 for my second copy of Ogilvie’s book, which included shipping from South Dakota, but even so I consider it a bargain and anticipate a good read over several evenings.  Maybe Ogilvie can do a better job of explaining how to get a good initial push for those pesky back inside edges I'm working on. The two current books I've been reading just aren't providing the mind spark that permits that leap from written word to performance on the ice. I wonder if he's still around?  A quick internet search suggests that the Ice Club of Baltimore is long gone, but perhaps it reinvented itself as the Figure Skating Club of Baltimore, which does have a web presence.  Does anyone in the blogosphere know the rest of the story?  If so, please chime in with a comment!

$2.50 for a large format paperback text book.  What price would you pay to buy back your youth?

Friday, October 12, 2012

"We've arrived at the Delta Quadrant, Captain..."

The ISI's delta patch
But I wanna tell ya, getting through that last spacial anomaly was hell...  I actually passed this little landmark a week ago but the rink office didn't have a patch on hand so I decided to wait until I could post a pix.  When I arrived for last night's lesson Kelly, the young woman currently stuck with being the instructor for the small collection of Thursday night adult groupies, handed it to me as I was going out on the ice.  Since delta level is the final level of the beginner series I suppose I should pause and take stock of the last few months.  Basically, after being away from the ice since the late 1970s and discounting the five months lost to a broken arm, your old diarist has gone from near zero charisma to delta level skating in roughly six months.  At this point I'm back to where I was in my University of Delaware days--working on Freestyle 1.  If I can stagger ahead and pass FS-1 I'll actually be a tad better than I was back then since I didn't get the chance to test out before leaving UDEL.  In some ways I think I'm already better now than then.  I may not be as flexible and have less strength now but I'm more attentive to instruction and am smoother on my blades compared to then.

So, what's plan?  How far up the freestyle ladder do I want to go?  Probably not very far.  I'm guessing that I'll top out at FS-1 or perhaps FS-2.  There are valuable skills in those levels to acquire such as inside pivots, cleaning up my back edges and learning the simpler dance step sequences.  The half rotational jumps encountered in the low level freestyle classes are probably about as much "aviation" as this old geezer needs to explore--I can't afford too many more broken bones and my initial goal was not to get to the point where I can throw down double Axels but rather to rejoin the ranks of creditable, graceful skaters who enjoy the ice and don't pose a hazard to others out for a bit of fun.

And to a degree I've achieved that goal: a few weeks ago I came off the ice during a busy weekend public session to tighten the laces on my skates.  The rink was heaving with several birthday party loads of small unpredicable kids, many pushing EZ-skater contraptions.  While I was busy with my laces one of the moms watching the kids (but not skating herself) said to me "I've been watching you--you're a good skater".  I looked up from my skates and replied "thanks, but you're confusing good with entertaining"--my skating is probably very entertaining to watch, particularly when I'm flirting with the ragged edge of disaster, which is oh, about 90% of the time.  Kinda like watching NASCAR and waiting for the next fiery crash.  I went on to point out that there were some ten year old girls currently out on the ice who indeed are good skaters and my goal, if I live long enough, is to maybe get almost as good as that!  Struggling to extract herself from what was probably becoming an awkward conversion, she said "well, you're, hmm, very stylish".  I thanked her and returned to the ice. Stylish! Me? Really?!  Having conquered my initial goal of being good enough not to do bodily harm to others out on the ice, let's see if I can "style" my way towards the next goal which is to get over FS-1 and then attempt to learn a few of the simpler ice dances.  It remains to be seen whether I'm musical enough to skate in time to music.  I hope so!  Anyway,  I've got a hell of a lot of patching, smoothing and cleaning up to do before that.  Seeya out there.