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.

Thursday, September 22, 2022

- novice spectators

Yay, I am once again attending occasional local competitions, now that Covid has sufficiently subsided (although I'm still masking). Since returning however I'm dismayed to find that audience attendance is still rather dismal, just the mom's and some local skating club members, as usual. So in a effort to boost the sport, I wrote an essay titled:

How to Watch, Enjoy and Understand a Skating Competition

Yeah yeah I know this doesn't apply to my regular blog readers (who are mostly skaters and their moms) but consider for a moment how nice it would be to have a full audience that might help pay for the rink time. So if you would, kindly consider sharing the above link with your friends and acquaintances... let's ramp up the excitement!

Thursday, December 24, 2020

- blogging

Just so you're not worried, L.A. SkateDad is still here in the sunshine doing fine. Semi-retirement dispenses plenty of boredom and traipse; under normal circumstances I'd be watching more skating. With the pandemic raging though, skate watchings seem to be out of the question. It's certainly one of the tougher things I've missed.

It's difficult for me to write about skating though without frequently seeing it in person. An occasional YouTube videos is a drop of glycerin I suppose, but a video doesn't hold my interest nearly as much as in-person spectating. So for now my blogging is quiescing.

I have a lot of respect for those athletes and their coaches who continue along in their training regimen. Arts and athletics doesn't stop. But as far as I can tell local competitions have vanished, which I suppose is perfectly understandable, as safety comes first.

Before the pandemic struck, my viewing interests were changing (or rather widening) to include synchro and non-competitive small ensemble groups. It'll be pleasant to post about these once skating competitions resume.

I remember reading when this whole thing started that most pandemics burn out after about two years. Hopefully then in about another year or so things will calm down and once again local events will host spectators. Until then I'm afraid L.A. SkateDad is in hiatus taking a brief respite for now. Everyone stay safe, healthy, and in shape.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

- stroking

Although it would seem to be one of the most basic aspects of skating, the mechanics of stroking -- progressing forward and backward across the ice between moves -- shows a lot about your polish, and also has a sublime influence on your elements.

Plus it's a pleasure to watch. When you see a skater with smooth gentle strokes it is like chinchilla fur on silk. Every push kisses the ice with such gentleness you can hardly tell exactly when the blade makes contact. It is soundless, rhythmic, and magical. It is fully controlled all the way down.

Just like specialty jump classes, some rinks do have a coach who can offer stroking classes. From what I recall the training is fairly brutal, as physical as running an hour of wind sprints but concentrated on those specific sets of muscles in your legs that position and push.

The immediate influence of this quality is that those who are accomplished at stroking have extra speed to help with balance and stored momentum when approaching jumps. The more sublime influence however is those accomplished at stroking gain this additional velocity without a gain in energy expenditure. Or the other way to look at it is: a skater who strokes smoothly and efficiently can get the same ice coverage as one with rough strokes, yet will be 25% less tired at the end of her routine.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

- dedication

When I'm in the general vicinity of one of my rink hangouts the sense of skating is palpable, although I have a tough time explaining why my heart quickens. Nearby skaters are constantly working very hard and seriously with perceivable bodily risk. It's a similar flavor to hanging out near a hospital: it's the sense that extraordinary people are doing incredible things to make the world better, in small ordinary ways. Part of it is the aura from the class of people, some of it is the relief and change they make in the world.

The reason a gal becomes a figure skater feels obtusely parallel to the reason a guy becomes a doctor, along with its accompanying misdirections, temptations, and sorrows. They all have immense concentration to start with, but it takes a very strongly focused personality to be top-level successful in either occupation (a maniacal and extraordinary sort of driven being). I never witnessed this level of total dedication with my friends in other sports -- they were more just very serious jocks, like those of us who were deeply into science.

Skaters are much more than that. They are the doctors of athletes.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

- meaning

I like to see skaters who understand and imbue the sport with more than just "it's a contest to get a trophy medal." I want to see something much grander. In your own mind, what's the highest spiritual purpose you could possibly ascribe to your skating?

Make your skating about that.