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, March 17, 2013

- intensity


I experience quite a flux of emotions while I watch skaters: my feelings overflow. Pondering how these feeling arrive it occurs to me that most of this intensity results from an identification with what the skater herself is experiencing. Although certainly I am moved by the spirit of her music or the expressiveness of her arms, deeper down I am watching what she is thinking.

In anticipation of her jump landing I will connect to the space between her thoughts and her muscle memory -- that spot that is constantly adjusting -- and watch as she reacts to anticipate physics. While she glides a spiral I see the tension between her stillness and her balance over microscopic bumps. As she spins I observe the nanosecond center of gravity battles she fights with the torque.

Naturally much of this derives from my daughter having skated, so I know what too look for: I know where to focus. So it's rather a sublime intensity. I feel every sigh and held breath, every victorious and disappointing moment. I feel the skipped heartbeat on a spiral that almost face plants, or a jump that rotates way too far. I feel the inner pride when a skater skates her entire program without a serious fault.

Somewhat frustratingly I often find a few folks seated adjacent who don't quite share my involvement. Perhaps they got dragged along to drive or chaperone a small child. Without a mental connection to the skater they seem lost by the ooohs, ahhhs, applause and sharp inhalations from the rest of the audience.

I think a lot of the pleasure of watching skating stems from these feelings. For me though it's actually so intense that after a couple of hours I can't watch anymore as I become too emotionally drained. All the skaters' ups and downs become my own.

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