This blog is a collection of my thoughts and experiences from ten years as a skate dad. For those of you sitting with your jackets in the bleachers, first I salute you, but second I want to give you an honest sense of what you are in for and what to expect. Ice skating is both a trying and a glorious sport, but it doesn't happen without the special group of folks who cheer, support, and console the participants. This is dedicated to you.

Friday, March 18, 2011

- repeat repetitively

One thing that stultifies the participants (and the spectators as well) is that the artform enforces itself through relentless repetition. More than anything the repetitive practice, demanding in its tedium, separates the pros from the pretenders.

To seriously critique the sport you have to spend entire days ... in a row ... watching. Mostly this is due to the unusual competitive dynamic that you don't find in any other sport: since the skaters compete one at a time over the couple minutes of each program, the whole competition stretches for days.

This tends to incur a "live, breath, and eat" mentality in both the participants, the skatemoms, and to some extent the fans.

One big side effect of the repetitive nature of the sport is that, for the serious fans, it induces a sublimely entranced pattern of imagination. It is almost as if the sensory deprivation of the enforced attention to music and whitebooted skating feet creates a meta framework for using your imagination to visually enhance the music.

Sit for a couple of hours with a hot coffee and your jacket and the sklish of white boots on ice, colors and patterns, swirling and sparkling to the music. Repeat repetitively.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

- a pleasant surprise

I suppose a lot of the practice gets dedicated to the standard and expected competitive moves, but the more amazing things for a parent are the individually unique endeavors. I suppose a good deal of the creativity of the skaters happens under the radar, behind the scenes during practice.

Sometimes they see and get ideas from one another, and a lot of times they just experiment around, either individually or in small groups. Once in a while my daughter will practice a move that catches me completely off-guard. I'll see her go through a three turn, enter into a standard spin, and then gracefully catch her foot and move into a position that I've never seen before. Wow, where did she get that?