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.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

- balance

It's a curiously entrancing dynamic, watching a coach teach the seven year old gals to skate backward along the center ice circle. The coach already has years upon years of her customary sense of centering and balance, but the seven year olds are cronked between their desire for the same grace as the coach and responding to their own internal millisecond body signals of muscular imbalance.

The coach focuses on teaching them arm position and yet their natural instinct is to use their arms (rather than their trunk muscles) for balance. Maybe that's the first unusual thing to observe when the skaters are just starting out: the sport generally requires arms out, or arms posed, whereas from infancy the natural inclination is to lift your right arm in immediate response to an unexpected body tilt to the left.

As if keeping balanced on one foot over an eighth inch wide blade of steel isn't already hard enough, we ask the young skaters to furthermore ignore using their natural tendency for having their arms help them balance!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

- jumps

One of the things a parent rather quickly gets an education on is the terminology for the individual figure skating moves. Many are quite distinct in appearance and once you know their names they are easy to spot: a split jump, a sit spin, a spiral, a camel, a layback; all of these you will know right away. I found however that I was always getting confused over the standard jumps. My daughter sat down with me one day and we came up with this (for a right handed skater):

* Skate Dad's Guide to Jumps *

Waltz Jump -- used for warm ups, a simple half rotation, taking off forward

Toe Loop -- turns going in, pick and jump with left, land on right

Salchow (pronounced sow-cow) -- turn going in, jump with left (no pick), land on right

Loop -- turn going in, jumps with both feet, makes "shuush" sound, land on right

Flip -- turn going in, pick and jump with right, land on right

Lutz -- no turns going in, straight back with big trigger and kick on right pick, land on right

Axel -- forward takeoff, one-and-a-half rotation before landing

:: With a pick kick to jump ::
-- Left foot jumps: Toe Loop
-- Right foot jumps: Flip (turns into), Lutz (straight bkwd into)

:: No pick to the ice ::
-- Left foot jumps: Waltz (in forward), Salchow (in bkwd), Axel (in fwd, one-and-a-half spin)
-- Both feet jump: Loop (shuush)

Well it helps a bit, but I still don't have the eye to get them correct completely.