Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Merry Christmas everyone!

Well, the day is finally upon us: Christmas Day is here and I hope all my lovely readers and followers are having a wonderful day, whatever you might be doing.

I'd like to take the time, if I may, to reflect on the last couple of months. Two months ago exactly, my rink opened its doors for the first time, and although I wasn't there that day, I went down there as soon as I heard about it. Since then, the number of skaters has started to increase and there is now a really nice atmosphere amongst the regular skaters. I started taking lessons after my first visit, and my skating has improved dramatically. So, here's to 2013 and more skating successes for me and my new skating friends.

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and I'll be back with my usual lesson blog at some point in the new year.

Merry Christmas everyone x 

Monday, 17 December 2012

Another Level Passed

Well, I had my last lesson til after the New Year today, and it was a good one!

I have officially passed Skate UK Level 3, and have now gotten further through the program than I did as a child - so I'm very happy. 

I had no falls today, which was nice, and am starting to make friends with some of the other adults who regularly visit the rink, which is even better.

I have some visual impairments that mean my balance and co-ordination have never been great, so every success on the ice is something I am very proud of, and so is my coach. We made another video today, this time of me doing forward chasses. These look very simple, and I admit, I do find them easy, but they're a starting point for crossovers, so very useful, in that they get you used to the feeling of lifting one foot off the ice, something that can be quite daunting at first.

So, here's the video

I've posted the link on a couple of skating related sites, and have had a few comments about how I'm smiling at the end of the video. I don't normally smile during pictures/videos! I prefer to be the photographer rather than the photographed, if you get what I mean. So the fact I'm smiling like that shows just how much I enjoy skating.

I love it, because it's hard sometimes, and some days you have a real nightmare time on the ice, like I did last week, 3 falls in 2 sessions. But it's all worth it when that move you've been working on for what seems like eternity, finally clicks. And some of the stuff I'm learning is scary at first, and sometimes I fall, and that makes me more scared. But I have a lovely coach who helps me push through the fear and when I overcome it, it's a real sense of accomplishment. 

I also shy away from wearing skirts, and tight fitting clothing, so for me to have the confidence to do that on the ice is great. You just wait, one of these days I'll post a video where I'm wearing a full on practice dress/tights combo! 

So yeah, there's lots of progress, and I'm kinda sad that I'm now not skating til after the festive period. 

Oh, and I love my rink - when I walked in today, everyone who saw me fall and bruise my elbow was lovely, asking how my arm was and if I was OK, and it felt good, I knew I was somewhere I belonged. I love that the rink has been open less than 2 months, and we've already got a nice little group of adult skaters who all hang out and practice together.

Yep, I love skating, I really do. 

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Time for my first Skating Rant

Right, I'm sorry it's come to this, but I need to rant a little bit. 

I went for a practice yesterday, because apparently there are a fair few adults who go on a Friday for lessons, and I want to make some skating friends. 

So, I get to the rink, pay my money, and the lady on the desk says, "Oh, by the way, there's a party of 20 school kids coming in a bit".

Oh joy. If they were 5, all cute and tottering about on the ice, that'd be fine, because I could avoid them easily.

No, dear reader, they weren't 5, they were teenagers. They were out of control, skating at warp speed without a care in the world, showing off and generally being annoying. But, you learn to live with these things and I practiced what I could.

All good, til one of them crashed into me. He was going backwards, I was going forwards in front of him, or is that behind him, I dunno, but we couldn't see each other. He bumped into me, and knocked me off my feet, I landed hard on my right elbow.

It really hurt, I seriously thought I'd broken it, but I could move it, and after a poke about by my  first aid trained coach, I went home to soak in a nice bath.

So, my rant is this, can we PLEASE have some order on the ice?! My rules for the rink:

1. Skate anti-clockwise, and don't skate against the flow of traffic.
2. Don't skate backwards, even if you are following the flow of traffic, unless it's quiet. You can't see people, they can't see you, it's a bad plan.
3. Control is everything - don't go tearing round the ice if you can't stop.
4. If you're a skater who can do a bit more on the ice, do take care. A busy session is not the time to go spinning and jumping, especially, if like me, your rink is tiny.
5. Just, take care in general. Look out for each other, don't do anything stupid and everyone will have a great time. 
6. Accidents do happen, I understand that. If you do take someone out, make sure they're OK, offer them a hand up, and apologize. The lad who hit me, did do this, so for that I am grateful. 

So yeah, please, please, please can everyone look out for each other? I nearly had 6 weeks minimum no skating, was so lucky my elbow is just bruised. 

Take care and skate safe, everyone!

Thursday, 13 December 2012

The Art of Falling Over

Yes, there is an art to falling over, and it's one I'm now starting to have a appreciation for, however, before we get to that, there's the small matter of yesterday's lesson to talk about.

I headed down to the rink yesterday, to see if I could have my lesson a day early, as today, I'm being taken out for a belated birthday lunch by two friends. Fortunately, there was no problem with me doing this, so we began.

I now have an on ice warm up as well as the one I do off ice. The new on ice one consists of:

Moving round the rink by use of two foot slaloms, this is to help warm up the back muscles, the twisting motion helps with this, and prepares the back for doing turns, twists etc. Do this for 2 circuits of the ice. 

Moving round the rink using forwards sculling, or lemons. Now, a slight pause, just to explain what a lemon is: you start with your feet together, push outwards, and then bring your feet back in, and it looks similar to this: (). Anyway, I have to do 2 circuits of the ice doing these continuously. This warms up the legs.

Then I have to do 2 circuits of forward stroking, again, warming up the legs.

Finally, I have to do a couple of 2 foot glides on a curve, to get a feel for the edges and as a last bit of stretching.

See, it's serious business, this skating lark!

So, after that, we started with 1 foot glides on a curve, on the inside edge. These are nearly ready to be signed off, just need a little bit more practice. Then we did the same but on the outside edges, and this was a lot harder. I think it's just a case of me needing to get comfortable on my outside edges, so will definitely be practicing these when I go back to the rink tomorrow. 

Then it was onto chasses, which again, are very near passing standard, I just need to get some speed going with them, and practice the other direction a bit more, as well as remembering to straighten my free leg after I do the initial push. Must remember to bend before I push, as well. Anyway, they'll be practiced tomorrow, too. 

Then we did backwards skating, and this has progressed, which is good, so we incorporated a 2 foot glide once I'd got some momentum, and this was signed off, which is good. 

Now we get onto the cause of fall number one for the day. 

Backwards lemons - the same procedure I described earlier, but in reverse. I've got them signed off, as they're passable, but both my coach and I want them to improve a little bit. Anyway, I was practicing them, coach was giving me pointers, to which I was listening to, then BANG!

I'd not been paying attention, and basically skated backwards into the rink barrier, which had the effect of knocking my feet from under me, and I landed on my rear end! I burst out laughing, so did my coach, and so did the other coach and her skater, who were also on the ice.

So, the art of falling. Well, the main thing, is to protect as much of yourself as you can. I wear wrist guards, which do help, and I'm considering wearing my knee pads tomorrow, I'll explain why in a second. So, I take reasonable precautions. 

The other thing, is to not take yourself too seriously. When you fall, after you check you're not injured, laugh it off. Easier said than done, I know, but some falls are just plain funny, like mine was yesterday. Some hurt, but after the initial pain goes away, try and have a little joke with yourself, like "Oh, only I could fall on a totally smooth, empty rink". It happens to us all, and it just means you're pushing your boundaries (or not looking behind you, in my case!).

Now, after my lesson, I always stay on and practice a bit, and yesterday I had the ice to myself to do this - I am so lucky I can go in the middle of the day! I was doing a few inside and outside edges, and after a while, it happened. I was practicing an outside edge, and I'm not really sure what happened, but I fell again. BOOM! Straight onto my knees, and fortunately protected, wrists. I got up, smiled, skated for a minute or two, then decided to quit while I was ahead, and go and get some food. 

I'm going back tomorrow, so no doubt I'm going to be adding to my collection of bruises, but hey, I'll get there in the end! 

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Thinking about the Future...

So, had another lesson on Wednesday, and finished Level 2 of Skate UK. Very pleased, as I'm also halfway through Level 3, and that should get signed off this week :)

In my lesson, we did the following:

Started with basic forward skating
Then did forward chasses
Then did forward crossovers - getting better, although dreading having to learn the other direction at some point! I can now do anti-clockwise ones without my coach holding my hand, which is progress in the right direction.
Then we did moving backwards - much easier to get a glide with sharp skates. This has been signed off now!
Then we did forward one foot glides - also signed off!
Then it was 2 foot glides on a curve - signed off too! 
Then we did a 2 foot jump while skating forwards - scary, but signed off now! 
Then we did one foot glides on a curve (inside edges) - these took some practice but I'm getting them now.

So, things are progressing really well, and it's got me thinking about the future - where will I go after Skate UK? Skate UK Star is the next step, but it has 4 tracks, free skating, ice dance, synchronized skating or speed skating. Well, I'm not really into the idea of speed skating, and I'm not sure our rink has enough skaters for synchro, so that leaves me with free or ice dance.

It's a weird one, this choice. I could do both, and that would give me more options later, but the thing I can see holding me back will be a lack of partners for Dance, and my ability to jump and spin for Free. I think for now I'll keep plodding along with Skate UK, and then try both, to see if any of these problems come to light. 

The more prominent thinking I've been doing is; I think I'd like to try a skating competition, probably as a free skater. In theory, there are a couple I could potentially do in March/April 2013, if I can get to the level I need to; which just seems to be that you need a couple of jumps and spins, but no official minimum, although for the lower levels there are maximum standards. 

I want to do something with this hobby, and I think at least trying one competition would be really cool, just to say I'd done it. I've never competed in anything in my life apart from school sports days, so this could be my time to shine. Or make a complete fool of myself. 

So, do I? Don't I? I guess I'll need to speak to my coach, see how far we could get by March, but I reckon a competition in 2013 should be an achievable goal for me. 

Would love to know your thoughts on this, so please comment :) 

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Skate Sharpening, Skirts, and Some other Stuff

Well, this week, I've had an enforced break from skating. I'm doing a college course, mostly by distance learning, but this past week, I had to go in for 2 days, one of those was Thursday, when I normally have a skating lesson.

This was slightly annoying, as I do enjoy my weekly escape to the ice rink, but in other ways, it was A Good Thing. I wrote in a previous post, that the factory grind on my new skates, was just starting to become blunt, and that I didn't fully trust my edges anymore. So, this week, I got my skates sharpened.

This in itself, was a bit of a mission. The rink doesn't currently have someone who is trained to use the skate sharpening machine, so they can't do it. The next nearest rink requires you to leave your skates with them, as they don't do on the day sharpening. There's another shop that does, but that's even further away than Rink No 2, so was a last resort. Then there was a man who would turn the job round in 3 days: pick up skates by courier on Monday, sharpen them on Tuesday, return to me by courier on Wednesday - but that cost around £26.

In the end, with my week off ahead, I dropped them off at Rink No 2 last Sunday. I pick them up tomorrow. The good thing is, because I got the skates at Rink No. 2, the first sharpening was free :)

So, this Thursday, I will be back on the ice, with nice sharp skates, and a new addition to my skating wardrobe.

When I learnt to skate as a child, after a couple of levels had been passed, I got my own skates, and then a lovely practice dress. I was looking at getting something similar if things worked out with taking lessons, as I loved how I used to feel on the ice, but, I'm a 22 year old, slightly overweight woman now, it would not look good! And my skating isn't that good, so I'd feel weird wearing the full on dress and tights look on a public session even if it is empty apart from me and my coach

So, I began looking at skating skirts on the internet, but I wasn't sure of sizing, and didn't really want to pay £20 plus for a skirt, plus delivery charges, for it to not fit. So, today, while out Christmas shopping, I called into a local dance shop, because essentially, I'm after a similar thing.

I now love this shop. The lady in there was very interested in my skating, and showed me various types of skirts, at various prices, and I decided I'd try on a simple circular skirt. I chose light purple, as it's my favourite colour and all my skating stuff seems to be purple, haha. The skirt fits great, and on me (5 foot 2) it comes to just above my knees. With black leggings, it looks ace. It cost £19, which I think is pretty good, and they've said when the time comes for a dress, they have a supplier who can make me something, again, great to know.

So, I can't wait to get back onto the ice. When I started skating in my leggings, I realized it made me feel good, and I think my skating improved, so we'll see what the skirt does.

Because I've not skated this week, I've been watching lots of skating on Eurosport. Wow. The skaters in these competitions are amazing, and make everything look so easy! It also reinforced the number one thing my coach tells me, that getting the basics right, is very important. None of the jumps, spins or lifts can happen without good solid basic skating skills.

It also got me thinking: when I complete Skate UK, what do I want to do next? Jumping, at the moment, seems very scary, so don't know if free skating is for me. I watched some ice dance on TV this week and I think that's where I'll go next, assuming we get some more skaters at the rink, and some of those are male dancers. I would like to do free skating as well, but jumps are a big mental hurdle at the moment, so we shall see!

Right, that's enough from me for one post, I'll be back soon, probably after my next lesson.