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.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

- school


One of the big decisions for a skate parent is what to do about school. Not skating school: every parent recognizes their kid will go through several years of skate school followed by many more years of the more expensive lessons with a personal coach and off ice specialists. That's all just part of the sport.

But what the heck do you do about the "three R's" the regular boring state-mandated curriculum? If your kid is at all a serious skater she will be spending three or four hours every day at the rink or an off-ice session, and it is simply impossible for a parent to juggle this around a regular school schedule, public or private.

Inevitably then, the serious skaters also home-school. My second daughter skated, and as we had already done a bit of home schooling of the first, for us it was no big deal. For many parents though this can be a deal breaker.

Here in L.A., the district runs a parallel institution (www.cityofangelsschoolk12.com) for home schoolers where the kids check in with a teacher once a week and do the rest as independent study. Around half of this happens at home, but my daughter found the best strategy was to lug a couple books to the rink every day and study during session breaks, in between coaching and class times.

This also has some social implications for how your child is raised: it means skate parties instead of football games. And it's a big part of what causes the sport to be so clique.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

- windy


One thing my daughter told me that should have been obvious: skating is windy. You are moving at fifteen miles an hour or so, therefore the effect is of a moderate-speed cold wind blowing upon you. You can see this in the frillier costumes as the edges flutter.

This makes for peculiar body heat dynamics: you are fine when you're exercising and moving, but the moment you stop you get suddenly hot and sweaty, then cold as you start up again. Plus this happens to different body parts on different time scales.

Nose, ears, body, hands, and feet, each going from one temperature to another on their own cycles staggered from your efforts. When you get off the ice it takes a full half hour to feel like a normal person again.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

- tipped


It doesn't take a lot of sitting on the sidelines to realize a damning fact about ice skaters: even though they spend 98 per cent of the time standing upright, you could pretty much determine everything about how they are going to skate by laying them flat on a sturdy board and placing a pivot wedge underneath it at the geometric center.

If the skater tips down to their feet, oooh you got lucky and managed to clear all future challenges with grace.

God bless and peaceably pray however for those that tip down to their head; they will not have a particularly easy time competing on the ice. I suppose this happens either because the good lord (or genes if you prefer) conferred upon the skater skinny legs, or a lengthy or busty torso.

A top loaded skater is constantly battling the counter-tilt of gravity, the difficulties of centering spins, the stability of holding a spiral, and especially the battle to prevent a spin from precessing. You start to feel deep sympathy for the top-heavy gals after a while, and there's not a darn thing you can do about it.