Column 21 - Skating

Original publication date: January 25, 1984

I got my first pair of new skates on Christmas day. Just the fact that they were new was enough of a thrill. My last pair of skates were a size five, and it seemed as though I had them since I was five. The secondhand skates were too big when I got them and I wore them far past the stage when they were too small. My recollection of getting_ the skates is of going in a small room at the back of a store downtown Georgetown and rummaging through tangled skates to find the right size which weren't too badly worn. (I'm sure my parents recall it in a much different manner, but regardless I always got used skates.)

Now that our children are the right age to start skating, we've decided to spend at least one day a week on the ice. Skating is one sport which can be done as a family because it can be enjoyed at any level of skill.

We went to Victoria Park last Saturday for our first outing. All the way there I kept telling myself that no matter how many times I fell, I would try again with renewed confidence. As I stepped onto the ice, all my fears disappeared. I was able to skate. (It had been four years since I last had skates on, even then it was only for a few minutes. It had been at least 10 years since I had skated regularly.) I was able to turn on the ice while still skating (an amazing feat).

My greatest surprise came when I discovered I could skate backwards. I pulled my daughter around the ice while skating backwards and had no trouble at all. The only way I could skate backwards before was to pick up speed while skating forward, then spin around and glide back. I think the fact that my new skates had enough leather to support my ankles and that they were just sharpened that day made a world of difference in my skating capability. (I don't recall sharpening my skates often, and I certainly don't remember owning blade protectors.) When I got of the ice however, _that old familiar pain down the front of my shins reminded me of the many times I had aching legs as a little girl after skating for hours.

Leg strength and endurance, particularly about the ankles are really important if you want to stay in an upright position. (A three or four year old doesn't have to worry about this yet, as they spend more time being pulled around in a sled.)

One technique which improves both your balance and leg strength is the use of a balance board. A three foot section of board balanced on a log is all you need. Tilting from side to side at increasing rates of speed can build up both strength and balance quickly. Ankle circles can be done any time and you don't have to go out in search of a log. Increase the speed of rotation and change the direction of rotation of the foot while keepmg the rest of the leg still.

If you are wobbly during your first few skating attempts, keep in mind that more serious injuries occur when someone panics while falling and tries to reach out to a friend (in which case two may be injured) or tries to grab the side boards at an arena. Relax with the fall and you'll come up only embarrassed.

Copyright 2021 K.L. McCluskey, all rights reserved.