This year a group of my wife's female relatives came over to take part. I occasionally get pressed into service as a chauffeur when more than one car is required to haul the number of people involved. But it's not all work. Each time we get visiting relatives from the old country I usually have at least one visitor interested in joining me at the rink for a public session. This year it was one of my wife's cousin's daughters that bit on the hook. I think that makes Agnes my wife's second cousin but I easily become confused by the nomenclature of extended family relationships.
|Cousin Agnes--she did fine!|
Now Agnes, as one might expect of a girl from the north land, has skated many times before but has never taken any formal lessons. Her main interest is horseback riding. With that in mind, I figured she would have a reasonable sense of balance and generally good muscle tone. A day or so before we went to the rink I asked her what she was interested in learning. She immediately replied "backwards skating".
I have yet to figure out what it is about skating backwards that seems to be a touchstone for almost every novice skater I've talked to. I guess skating backwards is some sort of major divider between those who can and those who can not. If you can skate backwards then you're "in with the in crowd". No one every mentions acquiring the ability to stop safely. To me that would be up towards the top of my list! I guess, excluding the somewhat showy hockey stop, there's nothing flashy about the ability to slow down...
Anyway, before we went, I wrote down a short list of skills to review. Simple things like explaining that skate blades have an inside and outside edge, the use of the proper part of the blade when stroking forward, good posture while skating, how to do forward swizzles and slaloms, how to snow plow stop and yes, finally, how to do back wiggles and C-pushes to go backwards.
I would introduce a skill, watch her do it, make a comment or two and then tell her to practice while I worked on my back tuck behinds. After a while I'd return and introduce another skill. She turned out to be a quick learner! By mid-way through the session she had absorbed all the topics I had introduced and indeed was skating backwards. She did fall a time or two but nothing serious. I'm hopeful that now that she's back home she'll look into lessons. She didn't know if lessons for adults were offered at the various rinks near her home town. It would surprise me if the Swedish rink system only has lessons for small kids, but having never skated over there I can't say. I'm hoping that the next time we meet she'll be breezing around the rink like a pro--hopefully I've planted a little seed!