Friday, August 30, 2013

Road Testing Pingi: Beating the summer munge.

Babbette first blogged about these dehumidifiers on her blogspot a month or so ago here.  She reports that her feet are dry and so she doesn't put the Pingi bags directly into her boots but just drops one into her skate bag.  Your diarist, on the other hand has sweaty feet and the confines of my Jackson free-style boots with their soft, heat moldable linings get quite moist with as little as a 30 minute lesson.  A two hour public session?  Soaked!  Skate four or five times a week during the summer?  You can image.

My attempts to deal with the smell have included trying those deodorizing balls one finds at sports shops.  Other skaters have recommended putting drier fabric softener sheets in the boots.  Those strategies basically just hide the problem with a weird smell which reminds me of old hiking boots abandoned in a pine forest.  Worse, the boots remain damp inside.  Nothing is more fun than sticking your feet back into clammy boots the next day--kinda like wearing wet diapers on your feet.  I'll save that sensation for when I put on my dinghy boots for the second day of a sailing regatta. 

I thought about getting those little heater/fan thingies that campers use to dry their wet boots but was concerned that the heat from the driers would ruin the inside shape of my heat-moldable boots.  I already have a love/hate relationship with the fit of these boots and since the boots and I currently have declared an uneasy truce, I don't want to rock that particular boat.   My best solution up 'til now was a home made one: put either kitty litter or Drierite desiccant into old socks and put the socks into the boots.  That actually works well but it's hard to get the right amount of desiccant into a sock without the sock getting too big to fit into the boot.  After reading about Pingi desiccant bags I decided to give them a try.

Pingi bags come in three sizes:  150g, 250g and 450g.  I ordered the smallest size but perhaps the 250g size would still fit inside a skate boot.

I suspect the ingredient inside the bag is my old friend Drierite.  The penguin changes color from blue (dry) to pink (water saturated) just like Drierite does.

To recharge the saturated Pingi one places the bag in a microwave for 3 minutes or until the indicator Penguin goes from pink back to blue.  This is a lot easier than removing the Drierite from old socks and baking it dry in an oven and then returning it to the socks (which by now have little holes in them...).

Here's a 150g Pingi nestled inside one of my boots.  The next day the interior of the boot was dry and Pingi was still blue so the 150g size appears to have sufficient capacity to dry out a very sweaty boot.  I bought two; one for each boot.  Dry, odor-free boots are happy boots!  I ordered my Pingi bags from Amazon but perhaps they can also be found at a big box store near you.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Yin and Yang: автоФигурное Катание. Танец машин и фигуристов на льду

This is a cute little video that's making the rounds in ice dance circles.  I'll post it for those who might not have seen it yet.  Too bad the skaters don't do a lift...  Enjoy!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Hey! Ba-Ba-Re-Bop!

While driving to the beach this morning I tuned in to one of my fav programs on the radio: Even Stephen's "Bop Time" on WDUV, the campus radio station of my Alma Mater, the University of Delaware.  The theme of today's program was the year 1946. That is, all the music played in today's show came out in that year.  Now 1946 was the year I "came out" so I was very attentive.  The best song played, in my opinion, was Lionel Hampton's release of "Hey! Ba-Ba-Re-Bop".  Lionel is better known for playing the vibes, but this tune is a wonderful example of  "call and response" vocals mixed with skat.  The icing on the cake are the great trumpet and clarinet solos towards the end.  I could so solo-skate to this!  Granted I'll probably face plant, but I'll be so stylin' on my way down to that "up close and personal" encounter with the uncaring ice.  Somehow I gotta work out some choreography for my very limited skill set and get it into a program.  Put on some good earphones and see if you don't agree--get your MO-JO workin'!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Working on fundamentals

Whenever (make that most of the time) I'm struggling with a new skill, I tend to back away from it after a while and shift gears a bit by working on something else.  I have a seemingly endless array of fundamental skills to choose from which all need work, so no worries about finding something to work on.  The last two publics which I skated where for the most part devoted to refining the forward inside Mohawk turn that I use as the entry element for the half-flip jump.  It's getting better but at a glacial pace.

Sunday I gave myself a break from that and worked on another weak foundation skill: forward and back crossovers.  My forward crossovers are OK but those in the CCW direction could be better.  My back crossovers are the reverse:  I'm comfortable going CCW but very shaky if transitioning to the left back outside edge for the CW crossover.  Last Thursday night I talked to the coach who was substituting for our regular group lesson instructor about this and she indicated that my half swivel pump for sliding the cross foot ahead of the inside foot could be stronger/smoother.  I went home, thought about her comments and watched a couple youtube videos (and actually got something useful out of youtube for a change).  Yesterday, back on the ice, I focused on the pump phase of the back crossover and was immediately rewarded on my strong side.  Even the back crossover in the shaky direction got a little better.  Additionally, I worked hard to consciously deepen my knee bend   With more knee bend my forward crossovers not only became stronger and flowed better but also started to produce much more power and speed.  The rink suddenly became much smaller!   I might become halfway stylish if I keep this up...