Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Name that tune!

 Ever been at the rink and suddenly another skater's music comes over the PA system and the music is so glorious that you want to hear more of it--but you don't know the name of the piece or the composer?  What? No never? (well,  hardly ever?)  Meh, it happens to me all the time.  Coach A.  introduced me to a phone app called SoundHound a few weeks ago.  Of course I never have my little celery fone in my pocket while skating, but that may have to change--at least for Free Style sessions where good, unknown to me, music is lurking behind almost each program run-through.

SoundHound works on iPhones and I'll bet there's an android version as well.  You can learn about it here .

So, last night I was at the rink, as is my usual Tuesday evening wont, when a fetching waltz suddenly came out of the overhead speakers.  Of course my phone was locked safely away in the car.  This was during my warm up while my coach was busy with another skater, so I tracked down the coach who's skater was going through her program and asked him what the music was.  He smiled and in a thick accent said "Is Don Quixote by Minki."  Minki?  never heard of him.

 After getting home I started snooping.   First thing I learned was that there was a ballet, composed by Ludwig Minkus, named Don Quixote.  I found the entire ballet on YouTube and after a bit of searching narrowed the music I was looking for down to Act I:  Entrada de Quiteria (Kitri)

Once I had narrowed things down, I decided to test SoundHound:  I played both the entire ballet and also just the Kitri parts over the load speakers to see if the app would ID them correctly.  It locked on to the entire ballet in a flash, even correctly identifying the Sofia National Orchestra.  The actual song I was after took a couple of stabs (I had to crank up the volume a little) but the app got it right in the end.  Not bad for a free app.

I really must be more daring with my little phone.  One never knows when a snippet of great music will present itself.



Thursday, March 31, 2022

Staggering towards the end of the 2022 skating season

Bowie Ice Arena shuts down at the end of April for two months of maintenance; the facility is now over 50 years old and needs a complete rehab--when something breaks in the refrigeration plant, the system is so old that the part has to be custom made.  The current city council is not particularly ice friendly, so the rink staggers on as best it can.  Having said that, we still have above average ice and full sessions, both public and free style, plus lots of hockey action. Full marks to the dedicated rink staff who work hard to keep an old system up and running.  Come to think of it, both the rink and your old diarist need an overhaul--but enough of that.

 The impending shut down means that coach A. and I have just four more Tuesday evenings to get to some sort of goal for the year.  As long suffering readers know, we've been working on the remaining two dances in the pre bronze level since like, forever.  The main hold up is my inability to deal with the "Mohawk of death" that each of these dances contain within their respective end patterns.  My counter clockwise Mohawks are getting more controlled, but at a maddening glacial pace.  Part of the improvement is due to persistence and part due to PT sessions I've been enduring for the past month and a half in an attempt to address lower back issues.

Just to spice things up a bit, Coach A. has introduced me to the Hickory Hoedown.  I think she  was getting a bit bored with grinding through the Fiesta Tango and the Swing Dance.  That, and I secretly think she like country/western swing tunes.  So, in addition to the death Mohawk, I now am addressing the "3-turn of death". 

 Additional goals include working on my back edges (from the Moves test) plus working on inside and outside figure 8s--which I had mastered before the  pandemic shutdown and lost (along with my much needed CC FO 3-turn).  


I have videos showing me doing these figures, pre-pandemic--yes folks, I have proof that I was a much better skater then than now:


These videos are not things of beauty, but at least I could hold the required edge long enough to complete the figure.  With lots of coaching (and PT--Lordy! how I hate doing all those stretches) I have now recovered my inside figure 8.  The outside 8 is still a work in progress but just this afternoon I experienced a slight improvement--I could hold the edge almost all the way back to the origin of the first lobe--might be wishful thinking--we'll see what Coach A. thinks, assuming I can replicate this "progress" at our next lesson.

 So, there we are.  I'm still skating. Yes, the pandemic has taken away some of my skills (such as they are--or were) and I'm dealing with an ever ageing body that works against me rather than with me--I'm jealous of 10 year old girls who are more powerful and flexible than myself.  And I'm crankier than two years ago--but I'm no quitter! One thing I have noticed is that in past, I could comfortably skate a two hour public and then complain to the rink staff that it just couldn't be over already.  Now it hurries me to skate for an hour and a half.  Will I get my stamina back?  Stay tuned and we'll both know.