When I was a kid I used to take figure skating lessons and I was OK. I was never daring but I was a pretty good skater. The thing I hated, though, was falling on my knees. My knees are really sensitive and I still remember the shooting pain when I fell on them on hard ice. Band, swimming, and other activities took over and I just never skated anymore. This held me back a bit because people would invite me to go skating on a lake, or other events. I never had skates and I didn’t feel confident – my knees throbbed at the thought of it.
Finally, I realized I was missing out on a lot of fun with my friends by turning down any and all skating invitations. I knew I had to get back on the blades and I knew it would be a crazy thing.
One of my best friends, Michelle, is a single mom to an awesome 4-year-old who was taking skating lessons. The Logan Lake Recreation Centre had free skating for parents and tots on Friday afternoons. I’m off every other Friday. Most of the time there is just Michelle and her daughter there, occasionally someone else will show up. I knew this was the perfect opportunity because I could get my feet under me without a billion people running into me. And the public humiliation factor was non-existent.
I went to consignor sports and got a pair of used hockey skates. I thought they would be more functional for general recreation skating. There are lots of things I didn’t know about hockey skates, even though my brother played for so many years. I never knew that hockey skates are sharpened in a curve so you actually rock back and forth. Figure skates are flat. I knew hockey skates didn’t have the pick – obviously, but I didn’t realize that my body, after all these years, would have such a strong memory of using the pick to stop, start, etc. Also, hockey skates don’t come up as high on the ankle as figure skates do. This meant they felt less secure and my ankles had to work a lot harder. Now my ankles were flopping from side to side and I was rocking on the blades from front to back. My shins got a workout! Hockey skate blades are also much shorter in length than figure skates – it’s a whole new motion. I was not expecting this!
I started out going up and down the boards, trying to get my balance and get used to the sensations. Michelle’s daughter and the other little boy we had with us were under strict instructions not to go near me since I was still learning. She was whipping around with one of those cages for a while, and then without. Did you know they make those cages in adult sizes? I REFUSED to go there. I used the boards instead. Another thing I noticed is that my ankles are so used to being in cross country ski boots where they have a lot of movement. It was hard getting my head and body adjusted to the new sensations.
It took about 20 mins and I was feeling a lot more confident so I ventured away from the boards and across the centre of the ice. The 4-year-old was thrilled and was desperate to skate with me. “Miss Vesta, did you know I can do this?” – she does a camel with one leg stuck out behind her – still in the cage though so I don’t think it counted. “Miss Vesta, wanna see how fast I can go?”… No! and you’re still in the cage so it still doesn’t count! “Miss Vesta do you want to borrow this? You could have it!” She motions to the cage.. No!!!!!!
Still vertical. Then I started doing laps and I knew I was getting my groove back and getting used to the skates. Next time I work on going backwards and employing stopping techniques that don’t involve running straight into the boards. I skated for a full 90 minutes and my hips and shins were dead.
Why was this crazy?
Fear of death, knee mutilation, and public humiliation. Duh!
Would I do it again?
Absolutely! I’m a skating fool now… but the kids still aren’t allowed to come near me.