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.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

- statement

What are your opinions when watching a skater use her craft to present a political statement? Unless you go to the local club shows you're unlikely to see such a thing, but once or twice a year most clubs take a break from the rigors of official scoring to offer a free-form exhibition.

Several times during such shows I've watched skaters (usually young adults) present a protest program. It might be a skate to protest discrimination, or inequality, or women's rights, or even a memorial to somebody.

When I watch a protest skate I harbor mixed emotions. On the one hand an artist is certainly free to express whatever she chooses. If in doing so it moves her soul along a positive path toward a better direction, then more power to her.

On the other hand I sense a bit of resentment in myself and the other audience members. It's not so much that we disagree with the content of the protested expression per se. Perhaps it's more that the aesthetics of skating accustomizes us to its appeal to grace and beauty, rather than a sense of worldly purpose. We enjoy watching skating because it allows us a bit of escape from the hard issues of humanity. To smack us in the face with them directly seems somewhat discourteous.

At the same time though, maybe that's the whole point.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

- amazing

Skating elements change over time: inventive folks create new moves, while other moves fall out of fashion. And then a basic element grows into something more complicated (a double Axel eventually becomes a quad). Yet despite the wide variety of evolving elements, from my humble audience view as a seasoned observer I would only consider a small handful of moves as amazingly elegant (when done properly). So here are my favorites, in no particular order.

Flying Sit

Every time I see this my jaw drops. How does a skater manage the physics to go from upright jump to seated extended leg without breaking a knee?

Graceful Spiral

Hands expressively moving while mostly leading up, back leg perfectly frozen in place, smiling, full speed across the ice, partially open. Beautiful.

Expressive arm Layback

Slowly into the layback, arms holding a beach ball, but than floating or gently transforming into an expression of a colorful flower or a springtime shower.

"Flat" catch-foot Camel

Oh I've only seen this done well but a couple of times. When a skater can catch her bent back foot in a side flat spin without dropping her head below waistline (with a bit of an arm flourish) it's a beautiful thing.

Slow Bielman

The difference between doing a Bielman and a thing of beauty has everything to do with the slow deliberate management of consistent movement. Add a coordinated flowing free-hand flourish for the whip cream and cherry on top.

I don't mind a graceful jump or two, and these are especially nice if you can perform them differently with interesting arms in flight. In my book though this handful of non-jump moves done with graceful athleticism will impress me more than your jumps every time.