Getting edgy

Since I got back from the Gold Coast, I’ve managed to hit the ice a few times. I had a morning skate, which I always love because a) the ice is practically empty and b) those who are there are usually interesting.

On Tuesday, there were a few figure skaters doing their thing and one older dude speed skating, but in third gear. As in, sort of lazily doing laps but in full speed-skate position, one arm behind back, crouched, long strides.

I was down on the goal line at the far end of the rink, entertaining the hockey Gods with my attempts

Cossack dancing: Not so good on the ice, or on new edges.

to skate only on my outside edges along the line, or doing the tight-turn drill Army had us doing a few weeks ago, stepping over the line and trying to turn as tightly as possible on one foot, either inside or outside edge.

Like I said, the key word here is attempting.

While I was getting up off the deck from one such attempt, another hockey player hit the ice. Tall, dark, dashing. Name of Tom, once we’d introduced ourselves. He skated like a dream, with powerful confident strides, broken only by the occasional flawless one-foot hockey stop, snow flying. Or to pivot effortlessly, to either side. Or to skate backwards, with the occasional backward crossover to mix things up.

“Wow,” I said. “What level are you at? Dev league?”

“Intro,” he said.

Motherfucker.

But one thing I liked about him: he fell over a lot. As in, I’d be doing my thing on that far goal line and I’d hear the crash as Tom bodily hit the boards at speed at the other end (figure skaters, not so happy). Tom was fully prepared to push himself and his ability beyond comfortable, which I liked him for. It was apparently his first time in armour, so he figured he may as well as crash and get used to it.

Falling is the only way to get better, as they keep telling us in class, and as I keep proving … but without getting better. (Ok, maybe a bit, at glacier pace.) Another friend was skating last night as we finished class and was proud and/or relieved to get through the skate with a dry butt, which is reasonable. I looked down at my hockey kit, covered in snow from repeated falls. Maybe that’s the key: to know that by wearing the kit, you’re padded and able to get wet and icy without worrying?

At class last night, Melbourne Ice player Tommy Powell joined Shona and Scuba in putting us through lots of drills. Heaps of skating, which was good, involving puck handling, one-on-two, attack-and-defence. Fun.

Well, eventually fun. To start things off, they had us doing all sorts of skating drills, such as skating and crouching while trying to put one leg forward and then the other, like a Russian Cossack dancer jogging. Nuts. In fact, here’s video of our class trying it. (I’m the one in the traditional Red Wings colours). See for yourself.

I had just had my skates re-edged and to a different, deeper cut. Having new edges always makes me skate like a drunkard (ok, even more so), and I was not loving these drills to push your skating ability. My feet felt wrong all night and I was wobbly, but not so badly that I didn’t enjoy the class.

Talking to Josh, a classmate, between drills, he said that it usually takes him three skates before new edges feel okay. So I had better try to somehow skate between now and Saturday’s next official Intermediate outing. Or maybe I should just wear the skates to the supermarket, or for a day at work … that should blunt the edge, huh?

In other news: Our big USA trip is close to booked and looks like including four Red Wings games. One in Washington (four rows back from the glass: booked!), three at the Joe Louis Arena, plus a tour of the facility by the Wings, who seem genuinely pleased we’re making the trip from Melbourne. And, for a change-up, we are also ticketed for Harry Potter World in Florida.

Life is about diversity. Write that down.

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