I can’t believe I couldn’t think of anything to write for the letter I, and here I spent an hour and an half this morning at the rink!
Following Saturday’s tradition of writing about anything I like, today’s topic is ice skating, figure skating in particular. I’m no expert and I’m not great at it, but I enjoy it. I must, to spend all the money on lessons and every weekend at the rink busting my ass!
The Olympians and other skaters you see on TV all started very young, and they train obsessively, several hours a day. Skating is not an intuitive sport; it’s very technical, and you must ask a great deal of your body in order to do it at that level. Pro athletes have very short careers, because their sports are so punishing, and skating is no exception. All that jumping is very hard on their joints. Many of them end up with cumulative hip, back and knee injuries that plague them lifelong.
However, people can skate well into their old age, and in fact, many skaters don’t even take up the sport until they are adults. Injuries do happen, but since most adult skaters aren’t training at the intensity elite skaters are, they tend not to be as serious. I fall all the time, and I’ve only gotten actually hurt twice in eight years.
The United States Figure Skating Association has an entire division just for adults. There are tests and levels designed for adult skaters. There is even a National competition. It’s a dream of mine to attend. Another adult skating friend has gone, and she reports it is great fun. There is a lot less pressure on adults to be competitive and it’s mostly camaraderie.
Skating is creative as well as technical. For those interested in dance, studying ballet is very helpful in skating. Programs (not routines) may be simple or very elaborate, depending on the music and the skater’s skill level. Most higher-level skaters perform multi-rotation jumps, but single rotation jumps, when executed properly, are very beautiful.
As I learn, I choose more sophisticated music. For example, when I began skating, I chose very slow music, because I couldn’t move very fast or stop well at all. Now I’ve gotten MUCH faster, and I can do my elements at a higher speed, and better. A lot of younger skaters let their coaches choose their music, but I choose my own. I only pick music that I truly love or that speaks to me in some way. Right now, I’m skating to music from Hans Zimmer’s score for The Dark Knight, because it is my favorite movie. I believe that skaters should be very familiar with the themes and emotions in their music so their interpretations will be more expressive.
I’ve been skating for about eight years, but I’m not very good because I only get to do it on weekends. Also, I’m not the most coordinated person in the world, ha ha. When I began, I really just messed around and skated in our rink’s ice shows, but lately I’ve gotten more serious about it.
My singles skating, or freeskate as it’s more commonly known, level is Adult Bronze, because that’s the level of testing I’ve passed. In moves in the field, which has replaced figures for learning edges and turns, I am working on Silver. I can do the following elements:
- Waltz – this jump is only a half rotation.
- Toe loop
- Salchow – named for Ulrich Salchow, who invented it.
- ½ Lutz
- ½ Flip
The Flip and Lutz are the same jump, but the entrance and the takeoff edge are different. I can only do a half on those because they are hard.
- Loop – but it’s two-footed; instead of landing on one foot, I galumph down on two.
- Spiral – this one I OWN!!! The skater glides bent over on one leg, with the other leg exended behind her. There are many variations. I can do a spiral all down the rink where I change my edge and make a big S shape. I can also do a catch-foot spiral, where I grab my foot up behind me.
- 3-turns – called that because they make a 3 on the ice.
- Counter – a turn that is like a reverse 3-turn.
- I just learned a twizzle! It’s a little spin turn. You see ice dancers do them all the time.
- Mohawks – I hate these. I’m having a hard time with them.
- Forward scratch spin – aka one-foot spin.
- Sit spin. For my Dark Knight program, I have a variation where I hold my arms out one in front of me and one behind, so the wings I sewed on my costume will flap out as I spin. It’s really cool.
- Layback spin – this is the one where the skater leans backward with her leg tucked up behind her. Men almost never do this spin.
A camel spin, in which the skater spins leaning forward with one leg extended out behind in a spiral position, is actually HARDER for me than a layback. I have not quite got the hang of that one yet, nor the back spin, which is on the opposite foot from the one I normally spin on, in the same direction.
I love skating, but I’ll shut up now, because I could go on about it forever. I’d like to put a skater in a book someday. I wish more adults would do it at our rink. It keeps me healthy and keeps my creative juices flowing. If you have a rink near you, schlep on down there and check it out.
See Wikipedia’s entry here for more about the sport.