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, May 25, 2013
When done right, the negative-space artistic perspective of the sport is exactly concordant with the positive-space version. More than just a balance between physical agility and artistic expression, there is the baseline point that the act itself, the expression of lacing up leather attached to steel and stepping onto frozen water in specialized attire to move the ether with your music and balance both defines the purpose of art and makes a mockery of it at the same time. It is as abstract as abstract can be while at the same time being as physically concrete as is physically possible. Everything about it should be impossible, and yet it happens anyway.
Saturday, May 18, 2013
When you saunter into any rink right off the bat you field the sliding scale of personalities. Some gals are clearly here for socializing and team spirit. They hang out by the boards, frequently skate adjacent to their friends, and even when skating alone seem to always have an eye on what somebody else is doing. They are the gals that are here to "perform," glittered up and in costume. They grab your love. These are the skaters that attend all the weekend show scrimmages, the group practice sessions. If they get really good they may end up in a traveling ice show and even make a little money in the process. They are the ice entertainers.
On the other end of the spectrum you'll catch the gals that skate alone. They occasionally chat at the dashers but mostly they focus on personal achievement. Instead of weekend group scrimmages, they spend the early part of every weekday morning at a freestyle session with half a dozen of their peers in shared isolation. They gladly accept your love and adore you for it. These are the athletes. If they get really good they may travel with a parent to distant competitions, but aside from the very top one or two national skaters, nobody makes any money at competitive skating. These are the soul inspirers.
Saturday, May 11, 2013
I went to the LA FSC open today; it's been about a decade since I last went. And you know, outside of the judging technology not much has changed in ten years. Perhaps a paucity of vendors, but that may just be an economy thing.
While perched up high behind the judges jungle, my critical aesthetic eye was drawn to that initial schmooz of impression, that initial flash of professionalism that each skater exhibits as they take the ice. You know the routine.
The next event will be the ladies intermediate short program. Skaters you make take the ice for your warm up. Skating in the intermediates is...
and as the announcer reads your names your heart jumps a little as you step on the ice behind a couple of the skaters, make a few nice long strokes, and then a waltz jump. So here then comes the first bit of amateurism: as they all break apart into their own warm up routines, I watch with dismay as a couple of skaters press themselves to see if they are ready for their double, triple, or whatever the most challenging part of their program will be...
...and, nope, they are not ready, and they clunk on the ice. So what did that accomplish? Professional rule number 1, use the warmup for warming up, not for testing yourself.
Skaters you have one minute left in the warm up.
This is where you should begin to seat your soul into the feeling of the rink, smile at the judges, and relax.
Skaters this concludes the warm up, please leave the ice. Now skating representing the L.A. Figure Skating club, and they announce a name.
A professional gracefully skates out to center ice with her arms up, perhaps passing to acknowledge one side of the rink and then the other, and then she gracefully takes her position. Second bit of amateurism: now, with all eyes on you, is not the right time to adjust your costume. Don't pull down your skirt or adjust your shoulder straps.
Put on your game face, get into character, pose. Let the show begin!