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.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

- duck

Many things happen at the ice rink that are a private experience for the skaters: activities the general public never sees. Skate parents are privileged however with a glimpse of the inside occasionally.

One early memory that still comes freely to mind is when, around the third year of skating school, the kids learn to "shoot the duck." This is skating forward while crouching down in a position nearly sitting on one foot, with the other leg extended straight out in front. It's hard to drop down to, looks ridiculous, and is pretty much impossible to rise up from.

Shooting the duck always seems like such an odd maneuver. You never see it performed in competition but that is not its point. Skating teachers use it to weed out who actually has potential: the posture requires a combination of both the finest sense of balance and considerable strength.

Once my daughter got into competing more seriously she would still occasionally during practice -- and just to goof around -- drop into a shoot the duck and ride it out all the way to a complete standstill. It's a bit of a nod to the coaches and the other skaters at the rink: hey, remember this?


Saturday, July 2, 2016

- unchoreoed

As a parent I was vaguely aware that once skaters got up to a certain level of seriousness (or if they had particularly wealthy or hard-driving parents) they retained an actual skating choreographer. Everyone had a ballet instructor and several had an off-ice personal trainer. But only a very select few managed to land a choreographer. I was left with the impression that hiring a choreo was difficult due to scarcity or expense.

Ahhh, but those lucky few who -did- have a choreographer skated to a whole 'nother level. Naturally it didn't make them any more proficient athletically: they couldn't land more jumps or hold a firmer spiral. It did however change their artistic mien: they were more connected to the audience, they had way better ice coverage and pattern, and tons more expressiveness.

I full well realize that for most skaters their coach also does their choreo. This leaves quite a bit to be desired. I think it's a little much to ask a coach to also be an expert choreographer: choreo takes a different focus and a special kind of creativity. I get the impression that choreographers are more "out there" on the artistic edge, whereas coaches deal a lot more with the day to day routine wonkiness of the ice rink and the skating parents.

It does seem though that there's a wide gap between demand and supply at the levels below national. Or to phrase it another way: there should be some superb opportunities for a professional group to offer less expensive (albeit less artistically advanced) choreo to half the skaters at the rink.

I'm miffed that I can't just log into something like the National Assn. of Ice Choreographers or the Ice Choreography Guild and find certified practitioners in my area. You would think in this day and age it would be simple enough. Given the other professional skating groups it seems choreographers don't, as an organizational infrastructure, have their act together.