Monday, February 25, 2013

A visit to the Flyers Skate Zone

Your diarist played ice tourist back on the Sunday after St. Valentine's Day.  We were at the Jersey shore and my home ice at Bowie was off limits due to a hockey tournament.  As is the case of most busy Sunday afternoon publics, this session was fully loaded with the usual cast of players:  hockey boyz skating fast, against the grain of traffic, and well beyond their skill levels; parents carrying (!) small children while attempting to skate with their running mates careening about unsteadily taking pix with a cell phone; teens alternating between skating arm in arm, 6 abreast or standing 6 abreast stopped in traffic; peeps insistent on cutting through the center circle just as you are winding up for a jump; and finally, other teens pretending to be ice monitors with about the same disdain that Claude Rains musters in Casablanca .  Diaristdaughter and I took that all in stride and got in two hours of mostly forward skating without killing anyone.  For me the part I disliked the most was that after the mites hockey game, which preceded the public session, the rink management shut down two of the three banks of lighting, leaving just the center string on.  This created odd shadows and dark areas through out the rink.  Kinda reminded me of pond skating at dusk but without the rustic charm.  But beggars can't be choosers and even at $8.00 (roughly double the price of a similar public at home) it was better than not skating at all.  Why so costly you might ask?  Basically because they can get away with it.  Since the Skate Zone opened back in 2000, several older nearby rinks in Ventnor City, Vineland, etc. have closed leaving the Skate Zone as the only game in town.  No doubt they have frequent skater options and quieter mid-week public sessions that would reduce both the cost and the roar of the crowd but one wonders if they turn off even more lights when the skating population is just a handful.  Perhaps I'll answer that question this summer when I'm on vacation back in this area.  My next bit of ice tourism takes place towards the end of this month when I go down to St. Pete, Florida for a boat race.  My motel is only a few blocks from Clearwater Ice Arena and although they've done away with the 6am free style session that I dropped in on last year, they do have a Friday night public session that agrees with my timetable.  How can I resist?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Notes from my St. Valentine's Day lesson

Do you take notes after a lesson?  I've started.  I went to Office Depot and bought a little spiral bound note book to jot down nuggets of coach wisdom.  Tonight's lesson focused on my poor wandering Waltz jump.  As I recall, coach Mike emphasized the following points:

1. I need more follow through with the free leg during the take off stage.

2. Upon landing I need to be mindful of keeping my left shoulder and arm forward.

3. Upon landing I need to point my free leg toe more to keep things tidy.

Beyond that, he showed me a refined way to set up for the jump:  enter via a LFO3 then into a couple back XOs, then step around and jump.  Yes, yes, I know.  All this is fairly cut and dried for the aviators in the audience but for a geezer skater it's worth revisiting all this and freshly re-ploughing this particular furrow.  I wonder how much practice I'll need to actually have an elegant Waltz jump in the tool box rather than the one that looks like a drunk jumping out a saloon window two steps ahead of the law?

After I had enough of that we next looked at my inside pivot and two foot spin.  The main focus was for me to make a conscious effort to keep my weight on the heel of my right skate for the push part of the inside pivot.  Beyond that it's all a blur.  Although I go out on boats frequently, I can only do a couple of spins before things get a bit swarmy and I need to do something else--so note taking was a bit lax on this element. 

So, that's tonight's report.  For the up coming three day weekend I'll be over on the Jersey shore.  I'll take my skates and hopefully get to be an ice tourist at the Flyer's Skate Zone in Atlantic City.  Until then, don't eat too much Valentine's Day chocolate--it kills those jump take offs...


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Wiggle room and misc.reports from the ice.

When I last checked in, I was moaning about how my laces go slack after 30 minutes or less of ice time.  At that point I tried waxing the laces to see if they'd hold better.  The short answer is "No", at least the way I did it--dragging the laces around the stump of a Christmas candle several times.  That didn't do diddly squat.  Additionally I've tried replacing the stock Jackson insoles with yellow Super Feet brand insoles; I've swapped out the stock Jackson laces for Riedell laces; I've tried different socks and combinations of socks; I've had the boots remolded; tried different lacing techniques; tried skating with and without the silipos gel tubes I usually wear to prevent ankle chaff.  I may have done other stuff but with so many variables I've probably forgotten some.  The bottom line is that I still have to come off the ice after skating briefly and adjust the tension of the laces.

Super Feet insoles.  Did they make a difference?  Maybe a small improvement, or maybe it's just wishful thinking after spending money.  At any rate Super Feet didn't entirely fix the problem.

Now, while I was trying different socks and combinations of single vs double socks I realized how limited the choices are for male skaters in a sport which is top heavy with female participation.  Women figure skaters have a number of options from which to choose--tights, trouser socks, knee socks, short socks etc. of varying thickness, materials and texture.  Men on the other hand do not have that range of foot coverings to pick from.  Even thin dress socks are too thick and squishy and also tend to roll up the malleolar ankle sleeves which I put on before socks.  While sorting through my alternatives during the loose lace trouble-shooting period I noticed my wife's thin trouser socks and stole a pair.  They worked so well going over the silipos malleolar ankle sleeves that I had diaristwoman go and buy me several pairs of my own.  I've since been told that many male skaters raid their wives hosiery department to obtain skate appropriate sockage!  When getting my boots remolded I wore a pair of these without the maleolar sleeves to get the tightest fit possible.

I wonder what all the other manly men are wearing this season?  Diaristwoman says she's good with this as long as my adoption of women's underwear begins and ends with trouser socks.

So where does this leave me?  I've become resigned to my fate and I simply need to be disciplined to show up at the rink early enough to put on the skates, do squats and stomp around in them for 15 minutes and then untie/retie the laces once more before stepping out on the ice.  I suspect that my feet warm up the boots which causes them to expand and in turn that stretches the laces to the point where I'm aware of a sloppy fit and reduced "blade feel". After the second session of tugging on the laces I always have more lace to deal with after tying the bow knots so I know it's not my imagination. 

Final thought:  I think when I go to buy the next pair of boots I'm going to insist that the boots are sized to my left (smaller) foot, with the notion that if that size pinches my right foot then I can have the right boot stretched.  It's probably easier to stretch a tight boot than it is to get a loose one to behave.