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, April 8, 2011
- the first Axel
My daughter did her first Axel for me today. Well, I presume she has landed this a couple of times before. This is the first time though that she has ever done it with me watching.
Now this requires a long and involved backstory. On the surface, no big deal, an Axel. But this is what separates the amateurs from the gals with potential: this is the quantum step up in figure skating. Landing your Axel means that you are now ready to seriously compete. And it takes pretty much the full several years of building skills to get to the point where this executes.
The whole point of the initial spins is to make sure that the gal has her "center" and has mastery over it while in motion. The whole point of the first jumps is to make sure that the gal has her spring, her leg muscles, her balance while in the air, and her confidence and ankle strength to land on one skate.
Finally, after years of practice, put the two together. Jump, spin, land. Nothing could be simpler. Nothing takes a more arcane set of muscle control, timing, and coordination.
My daughter is back on the ice, and I turn on the camera and start filming her back-scratch spins. She has a couple that are quite fast, quick revolutions, and then a couple of nice check-outs. Then she lines up on the center-ice line, arms extended in front of her in preparation for her standing Axel. I watch on the two-inch viewfinder as she tries and two-foots, tries and throws out early, tries and lands awkward. She seems though to be doing just slightly better than last week.
Then after seven or eight near misses, she jumps, full spin, one foot landing, check back. Yeah! I say audibly, the camera recording my cheer. She turns up from the ice, smiles at me, and raises her arms over her head. I blink back a tear from the corner of my eye. She's got it. Yep, she's got it!
When my coworkers ask me tomorrow how my weekend was, I'm going to have to reply "bittersweet. My daughter landed her Axel." They will look at me somewhat unknowingly of course, and I will have to explain: "this is what separates the skaters from the novices. Watching her land an Axel is like watching your kid graduate from college."
It represents a watershed, there is no going back. I know now either that she will break my heart if she fails or break my bank if she succeeds. Of course, I pray for the latter, but there is no turning back now -- she has crossed over, she landed her Axel. I feel happy and proud and like I have given up control all at once.