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.
Monday, June 10, 2013
- a ghost of continuity
One component to any sport that seems sublimely lurking to the new initiate is its sense of history. Naturally when you start out you know of people who have gone before and made certain achievements. Arguably this is one of the draws: you wish to emulate somebody whom you admire. As you start out you may know about some currently famous skaters, for example those you've seen on TV.
Visiting Pickwick for their annual Showcase reminds me that rinks and skating clubs have their own histories as well. This is Pickwick's 40th year of Showcase, and it's quite a production with four spotlights, dimmed rink overheads, dasher thread LED's, an on ice walled-off warm up area, and a show by one of the premier ice theatres in the nation. LAFSC is strong on tradition; it has its regular cycle of annual competitions and shows and a certain pattern of how they raise their skaters.
After several years you recognize that the coaches are in touch with this longer and broader history: they seem to have connections to how the sport "runs." The ghost of figure skating whispers through their unseen chats and backroom staff meetings.
After long enough you sense the slide and the gradual shift in how a tradition expands and its flavor changes. New instructors lend their personality, people move on, skate clubs change their shape or perhaps even switch home rinks altogether. Rinks flip ownership or modify their focus and occasionally even a new rink pops up out of nowhere.
Something vaguely more historical however still lingers. A sport has a past containing venues and skaters yet also has something independent of its places and participants. Maybe this is what it means to soak up the "culture" of a sport: you begin to attach to its history, you merge your flow with a larger continuity.