Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Decisions, decisions...

My last few outings to the rink have been fought with a number of "crash and burn" incidents.  Some of the falls have been minor annoyances but others have left their marks.  No new broken bones (yet) but some mornings, apres-skating, find your old diarist feeling every bit his age.  Most of the falls have come from biffed jump landings but one particularly nasty fall was the result of clicking blades together while doing alternating back crossovers down the long axis of the rink at speed.  All this has your diarist searching the archived posts on the skating forum for hip, knee, and tailbone crash pad recommendations.  It appears the best choices fall (haha) between Skating Safe's "Ultracrash" gel pad technology and the D3O pads marketed by Se_Ku.

Ultracrash pads seem to use the same gel technology that one sees with Silopad ankle protectorsD3O appears to be sterner stuff with typical applications being bullet proof vests for law enforcement officers, protective gear for moto-cross riders, etc.  One of the drawbacks for male skaters attempting to use Ultracrash pads is that we generally don't wear tights and tights are important for holding the pads in place.

Ultracrash pads must be correctly placed and once positioned must be held in place for maximum protection.

Female skaters rely on tights to  keep the pads from moving.

The D3O pads on the other hand are available both as separate pads like the Ultracrash products or sewn into a pair of shorts.  Se_Ku lists men's extreme training shorts that have D3O pads sewn in to protect both sides of the hip trochanter region and a separate butt pad for protection of the coccyx..

Se_Ku's training shorts for men.
Neither product line is inexpensive (the training shorts are $205!) but both are cheaper than a hip replacement.  Both companies also offer knee pads at eye watering prices.  But, again, compared to the cost of a preventable injury they've got to be worth it.  So don't be too surprised if you see an old male geezer skater who looks like he's got a butt the size of a Metro bus .  This may not be the chicest look to go out on the rink but it has to be better than stuffing vast quantities of bubble-wrap down my shorts--and much better than an injury.  Does anyone have any other ideas or feedback on these products?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Trying to answer ice skating's persistant mysteries.

There are a couple of things I may never understand about this ice skating lark.  First off, why do Zamboni machines have headlights?  What's up with that?  Does it ever get dark 'n stormy inside your rink?  Mine neither.  And nope, no on-coming traffic either.  I may never figure it out.

Your basic Zamboni Model 540.  Why the headlights???  (I've discovered that the Wells Ice Rink in College Park offers Zamboni driving lessons--I may be unable to resist!)

The other thing, and I've got to come to grips with this one soon, is whether I'm destined to jump and spin CCW like 90% of the skating population or be one of those weirdos that go CW.  Right now I'm in that unenviable situation of jumping CCW but preferring to spin CW.   Both my first grade teacher (the Sainted Miss Monaghan) and Kelly, my current free style instructor very much want me to be a "righty".  Thanks to Miss Monaghan's insistance I write with my right hand rather than my left, which was my first choice as a primary schooler.  At about that time I also acquired the tendency to kick a ball with my right foot.  So, at age 66, with a dominant right arm and leg you would think that it's a forgone conclusion that I'm fully programed to go best in the CCW direction.  Not so!  My natural tendency seems to mark me as a CW kinda guy; for example both my CW forward outside and inside 3 turns as well as my CW Mohawk are much tidier than my CCW counterparts.   Kelly tried and tried to get me to do two-foot spins CCW and I can't get two clean revs try as I might.  However, in the meantime I've started doing Waltz jumps to the left and when I attempted one to the right it just didn't want to happen.  Being stubborn I tried another one to the right only to biff the landing.  My reward for that effort was a knot on my right knee about the size of a golf ball--almost as effective as Miss Monaghan's ruler.  The swelling has gone down but it still wakes me up at night.  Last Thursday Kelly watched my pathetic attempted spin and said "Well, maybe you should try it to the right after all."  I did and was immediately rewarded with a clean spin of 3 revs (6 revs are required to pass this little element).  For the moment it appears that I'm stuck in "confused and conflicted" mode. I hope my left and right brain hemispheres kiss and make up...I need a decision!  Soon!

Headlamps!  Really!

On other news fronts, diaristdaughter successfully passed her Pre-Alpha, Alpha and Beta ISI tests the other night.  She's on the road to Gamma--Woo Hoo!

Friday, November 2, 2012

"Some day, Orville, man too will fly"--in which your diarist reacquaints himself with aviation.

Last night was lesson night for your diarist and diaristdaughter.  Oh, and one other young fem about the same age as dd joined us.  Interestingly, adults other than the pair of us tend to come and go and to my way of thinking don't get their money's worth from a series of lessons.  But I guess that's their business and when they don't show dd and I get a semi-private lesson at a deep discount. 

Anyway, while Kelly was working with the two young lassies, your diarist was assigned to continue working on his consecutive back inside edges.  That quickly got boring and so I started thinking about the remaining unexplored elements in freestyle-one that need mastering to pass the test: specifically the waltz and the half-flip jumps.  For the non-skaters in the audience, both of these jumps are half rotational jumps.  The waltz jump is initiated from a forward outside edge like the related, but much more difficult Axel jump and lands on a back outside edge, while the half-flip takes off from a back inside edge, is toe-pick assisted and lands on a forward inside edge.

I have past experience with the waltz jump.  It was part of this level back in my early days on skates.  Envision for a moment one of those old cartoons on tv where the hero is contemplating a sinfully tempting act and has his angle-self on one shoulder and his devil-self on the other: 

Angel-self--You need to keep working on those back edges to the line.

Devil-self--Those are strictly bores-ville man!

AS--You should wait until Kelly can guide you; it's been a long time since you've jumped.

DS--What is this? The nanny state?! Go on--just do it, you've been there before.

AS--If you "biff" the landing this is gonna hurt.

DS--it's just like a bunny hop with just a little rotation.

AS--Well, that and there is the small matter of landing and controlling that back outside edge...

DS--Aaaa, Shad-Uppp!

Now, I'm basically my momma's good boy but I'm always open to suggestion, so I went and tried a little exploratory jump; here's the drill--get up a bit of forward speed, head up, back straight, skating knee bent, nice outside forward edge, arms and free leg back; then swing through with the arms and free leg while at the same time springing up from the skating leg's bent knee. The rotational momentum set up by the forward outside edge should carry you around for the rotational part of the jump.  The landing demands a good checked position to control the rotation as one sets down on the free leg's back outside edge.  Got all that?  Good!

I was gratified that (1) I cleared the ice (by oh, maybe a couple inches--the take off is always the easy part) and (2) controlled the landing (the part that can get a bit fraught with bother).  Encouraged by my initial success I quickly did a half dozen more at ever increasing heights off the ice.  Kelly looked up in time to watch the last few and said "Well then, since you've got the waltz jump under control why not try the half flip?"  Why not indeed?  She talked me through the set up (my choice of entries, the back inside edge from either a left forward outside 3 or from a right forward inside Mohawk).  Since my left 3 is unreliable I opted for the Mohawk entry for this toe-pick assisted jump.  Long story short, I didn't like the feel of flow between making the turn and planting the toe pick and before I could resolve that the half hour of lesson time was up.  So the half-flip will have to wait until next week--or maybe the next public session when no one is looking (at least no one with a clip board).

AS:  if you'd continued to refine those back inside edges (or at least worked on your wonky left 3 turn) you could have probably pulled off that half-flip.  After all, it lands on an inside forward edge which you have under control.

DS: Aaaa, Shad-Uppp!

Although I got away with the waltz jump I think I'd better invest in some gel hip pads--it could be a long winter if I bust something (again)...