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.

Friday, December 22, 2017

- vapor

After your kid has been competing for a while you get a pretty good sense of the variety of ice rinks. Aside from the big mix in amenities and heating for the parents in the stands, you soon recognize that all rinks share a sublime difference that has more of an impact on how your kid skates. At first you may think it has to do with the Zamboni or the rink's temperature. Somehow they must be affecting the ice's surface. But after years of sitting in a wide variety of rinks I suspect the difference is something deeper, more sublime, and environmentally holistic.

Consider this: over the lifetime of an ice surface, in between complete melts, a couple years of running the Zamboni a couple dozen times over the ice daily, probably deposits a good 20 feet of additional vertical surface above the freezer pipes. Yeah it also scrapes off a bit of the snow on top. Still, how come the ice doesn't rise right up out of the building? The answer my friend, is that ice evaporates.

Natural ice sources, like a lake, have a resupply of water from underneath. The rink however has to always add water on the top. So what influences how the ice evaporates? I am sure there must be some lengthy technical article about this in some trade publication (is there such a thing as Rink Maintenance Monthly?), but my guess is that rinks strike a balance between four variables: temperature, humidity, dehydration rates from the mechanical air conditioning, and the quality of the rink enclosure's "vapor barrier."

Although I can never quite come up with a simple rule that ties them all together, I am quite confident that the vapor barrier is the key determinant to good skating. Compared to a building that has been "repurposed," modern rinks specifically designed for the sport are hence both fifty times more comfortable and have much better ice conditions. It's all about the vapor.


ed note: After writing this I did a bit of research and found this PDF, which explains a lot.

Friday, December 8, 2017

- tipped

It doesn't take a lot of sitting on the sidelines to realize a damning fact about ice skaters: even though they spend 98 per cent of the time standing upright, you could pretty much determine everything about how they are going to skate by laying them flat on a sturdy board and placing a pivot wedge underneath it at the geometric center.

If the skater tips down to their feet, oooh you got lucky and managed to clear all future challenges with grace.

God bless and peaceably pray however for those that tip down to their head; they will not have a particularly easy time competing on the ice. I suppose this happens either because the good lord (or genes if you prefer) conferred upon the skater skinny legs, or a lengthy or busty torso.

A top-loaded skater is constantly battling the counter-tilt of gravity, the difficulties of centering spins, the stability of holding a spiral, and especially the battle to prevent a spin from precessing. You start to feel deep sympathy for the top-heavy gals after a while, and there's not a darn thing you can do about it.