I’ve been feeling blah about skating since Friday when I skated at Winterhawks for likely the last time until fall. They don’t offer that morning session in the summer and they were not very forthcoming towards working with me on any other possibilities. (I mean, maybe there aren’t really any, which is fine, but it would be nice if my questions were answered.) That rink! It seems to have such a tense and no fun atmosphere and people tend to be really territorial. Its like no other rink I’ve skated at, which all have their little quirks. I haven’t really been there that much, so maybe if I went a different time it would be more lively, but WOW people don’t seem very friendly there. I mean, even if you think I am a lousy, non-serious skater that takes up space, my kid and I are still paying customers and could be brought in to take classes, find a coach, join the skating club, volunteer, etc. Its just night and day different from the atmosphere at Lloyd or the old Clackamas. I wonder how much of this has to do with the lack of ice in this town. People may just feel really pressured to make use of the ice when they have it? I mean, I don’t expect social hour, I’m there to work, too. But a friendly hello would go a long way. There have been a few people there who have been friendly, but there are some that go out of their way to avoid us.

Now, I’m not blaming the rink for this, but I was absolutely terrible on the ice that day. I figure I was about 30% worse than I am at Lloyd. I have a snippet of video that I don’t even want to put up because I look timid, awkward and SLOOOOW. So, so very slow. Part of it is that I think because of the cold it takes longer to warm up there for me (and in general it takes longer to warm up now that I’m old.) The ice is colder, hockey ice so it feels different, and also–and this is probably most to blame–I’m so intimidated there! I know that there are about 6 people there skating around at top speed who basically are going to do a triple on my face before they adjust course for me. I do, I really do try to stay out of their way. I try to stay to the outside, give them the right of way, etc. But its very difficult. Since they treat the public session like a freestyle session, they aren’t staying to the middle like I would have in my day. The coaches station themselves around the penalty boxes, and the students come and go to them. I’m more used to the coaches coming to the middle with you and not having this horizontal disruption in the flow of traffic. Back and forth, back and forth. I love the space there and the standard ice size, but its hard going for me. I feel like I”m constantly having to slow down or not even get started on anything because it is so intimidating.

In better news, I have a potential coach at Lloyd! We will call him A. I don’t start with him for another week yet but he was a senior national level ice dancer in the early 90s, so I am excited that I found someone with a dance background. The other person I was looking at, R, I knew from before a bit. I think she is a great coach, all business, goal oriented, and very talented, but I remember her not really knowing dance. She was a freestyle skater. So, I’d be happy with either one, but I am going to try A and see if it is a good fit. My Mondays at Lloyd were feeling a bit wasted, and I wanted to pick it up a notch. Although I have said many times that I don’t have delusions of grandeur, I also don’t plan to skate around in endless circles, either. I don’t know how far I ┬ácan really go, but I am going somewhere. I need goals to work toward…testing, skills, local competitions, something.

So, I did meet all of my goals this week. My total exercise time was 6 hours and 40 minutes. I skated two days and worked out the other days, did my outside walks, and 3 Daily Burns and also skating specific off-ice workouts. The only thing I did not accomplish was the renal dietitian because she doesn’t work there anymore and they don’t have a new one yet. So instead I went back to the DaVita site (I’m not the biggest fan of the for-profit DaVita. I always kind of feel like they might steer me wrong so that I get on dialysis sooner. But it is kind of the only game in town.) Anyway, DaVita has a lot of meal planning, recipes and health tracker for people with CKD, and its always good to review and refresh.

This made me happy: Midori Ito, 1992 Olympic silver medalist, skated at the ISU Adult International competition in Germany last month. I got my description of her performance via Dave Lease (from The Skating Lesson) and he was…not so complementary about her. Her spins traveled, no extension, no jumps, etc. But (except for the jumps) that was kind of how she always skated, wasn’t it? Anyway, She is a year older than me and Dave’s Co-host, Jonathan Beyer, complimented her on her obvious exuberance for the sport and her joy in being there. She always seemed like a nice, fun person. So, I’m happy to see that she skated in the Adult competition (Master Elite II, which is senior level skaters with past national and international medals who are between 40-50, I think??? The Adult categories are complex.) The camaraderie around adult skating has always been fun for me, as long as you are out there doing your best, people are happy for you, and so I’m happy for Midori.


Rink B Trial

One of the pictures of the back of me.

Another good day skating. I went to Valley today and skated for about an hour. This is a real rink that took less energy to figure out because the size and shape felt very familiar and its bigger so more forgiving.

Still I just skated around, did a bit of backwards skating, but that was about it. Just trying to acclimate and get familiar with the rink. I did not get a chance to talk to staff, because they seemed to all be out coaching skaters. They sort of use this public session as a freestyle session, so it isn’t busy but you have to watch for fast moving skaters doing doubles. I’m not ever going to do doubles, but I did see a lot of skaters working on stuff I used to work on, and there was even an older gentleman getting coached. I liked his coach, so I think I found out who she is and I emailed her. I kind of use coaches and private coaching as guides. Group lessons don’t work well for me anymore, and if I am going to have to pay someone to guide me, they might as well coach me while they are at it. I don’t really need a guide every second, but to practice some things, I think I will need a guide.

My son came with me, and I asked him to take some video of me just to get a beginning baseline. But I should have given him more direction because he just took a bunch of pictures of my backside and took a bit of video that I didn’t know he was taking (I tried to do some nice stroking but by the time he took video, I thought he was DONE taking video.!) Anyway, I felt good and skated longer today.

I still came home exhausted and slept for 2 hours. This is a weird side effect I hadn’t planned on. Its not like…taking a walk for an hour will make me that tired, or even going and taking a class at the gym. So I’m not sure what gives? Its a level of tired where I can’t function unless I just go to sleep for a while. I’m thinking it is more about the mental work more than the physical work. I’ll maybe try getting to bed earlier the night before skate days or hopefully when I get more comfortable it will get better. When I get off the ice it is more that I can’t think anymore than that my legs are tired or I’m out of breath or anything. Weird.

So, my tentative plan now is to try hooky club at Lloyd on Mondays and then skate Valley on Fridays and see how that works.

Some bad news I just heard today, though, is that a local rink (too far for me but in the metro area) is closing at the end of August. This is bad because all of those skaters will have to be redistributed around and it makes for busier, more crowded rinks. Its also sad, just because, even though I’d never been to that rink before, a lot of people I knew went there when my old rink closed and now its another shrinking of the available ice. There should always be LOTS of ICE!!!

Return to Skating 4/6/2018 from Lisa Ferris on Vimeo.

And, Finally…

…I went skating. By myself. Then came home and collapsed and slept for three hours.

I was too scared to try to take video out on the ice, so here is proof that I actually skated today. It shows my skates with the rink in the background.

But I feel pretty good about it. I went to Lloyd and skated for about 45 minutes. All I did was skate forward and try to get used to that weird-shaped rink. I talked to the staff and they are all good with me. They will stash my dog next time and were very friendly and encouraged me to try “hooky club” and they gave me info about that.

I got off about a half hour later than I had planned, but I had to get three kids out and going this morning, first. But I settled on the train with a book and the ride does not seem that long if I’m occupied. I travel without my dog and with a cane on occasion, its not as if I can’t do it, but it takes a lot more work and concentration. Just stuff like, it took me forever to find the thingy that scans your fare card at the train station. With my guide dog, I just tell her to find it and she walks over and stands next to it and “points” at it with her nose. So it was constant little stuff like that.

Concentration would be the word for today. A tremendous amount of energy and focus was needed. I haven’t been to Lloyd for….I’m going to say about 7 years. Its still a pretty active mall, its not dead. Its both the same and different as when I used to skate there often. I kept waiting for steps and fountains and other key things that I used to use as a guide that don’t seem to be there anymore. But it was also very familiar. I walked around the whole new skating area/benches/locker/restrooms for a bit, just to get used to it. All of this with my cane, before I went up and paid for my public session. When I got there, there was only about 3 or 4 people on the ice and they were all decent skaters, but soon, little kids and families came who could not skate. Always more trouble for me are little kids who can’t skate. They are so short and unpredictable! I guess for some districts, it is still Spring Break they said. So there were not a huge amount of people, but more than usual.

Skating in the oval was weird. At first, I just swizzled around the outside edge to get a feel for it while holding on to the rails. The boards are shorter and see-through. Its a challenge. I can’t really see the boards at all unless I am right next to them. I started using some of the things I could see and hear as guides. There was a red light, which I believe was the star logo for Macy’s. There was one of those island store carts with a blue light on it. There was a block off of light from where an escalator was. There was the zamboni garage thingy, which was not really a visual thing but an auditory or sensory one. It did not feel so open there. There was a speaker that was playing music, much louder on one side than the other. After a few times around holding the boards, I started to get the pattern and placement of these things to keep me oriented.

Once I got my speed up a bit, I really felt the smallness of the rink, though. You don’t get too far on the straightaway and there is no crossway to speak of. You go down the length of the ice and you pretty much have to come right back. The oval shape was somewhat disorienting. I kept trying to go backwards, but between the little kids (who won’t always be there) and the short width, it feels like you constantly have to think about turning and where you are on the ice.

Still, it felt like old times. The vibe there was familiar. The rink was warm and bright, like I remember. And I could run a lot of errands while there, or grab a bite to eat with someone. I ended up meeting my husband, Nik, downtown for lunch after I skated.

As for my skills, its hard to say where I am at because so much of today was just concentrating on orienting. My feet hurt the first 20 minutes as usual. I felt ok skating forward and doing a little slaloming, but not much else. I noticed that my left leg is much stronger than my right, probably because I always have a guide dog on my left. Nik says the same thing when he lifts weights with his legs. The left is much stronger and he also uses his guide dog on his left.

I’m a little sore, but that is also because I stepped up other training as well in the last three weeks. Right now, I feel like I could go to Valley on Friday, but I’ll have to see where everything is. I can go skating in the AM after setting the kids up, but sleeping for three hours when I come home makes skating take the whole day, and that will make me too behind on my job/kids/other responsibilities. So, the first item on the training agenda might be to improve my stamina.

However, much of this exhaustion is from having to mentally focus so hard on traveling with a cane, talking to people, and skating. I’m hoping after I acclimate a bit more (and take my dog next time!) that this level of energy will decrease and get easier.

About My Speed

I was right about spring break making it unlikely for me to skate yet again this week. The Valley rink (it will always be Valley to me, even thought it isn’t called that anymore) has no daytime public at all due to camps. I went to a far away rink the other day when I went to the pro shop everyone told me to go to and it was JAM PACKED. Like I had trouble getting through the lobby to the shop, packed. So, I’m out for this week, which, I figured. I will work on off ice, stuff, though. And still contemplate my equipment choices….hmm.

But I saw this online. I remember this group, although I don’t recognize many of the people in this story. It might be something to check out.

Lloyd Center Hooky Club. (Story from FOX 12 Local News)

Step One: Establish a Relationship with a Rink

When I skated as a kid, of course, my mom drove me to a rink that was about 20 minutes away. But my best set-up was in my 20s and I lived in an apartment complex right across the street from a mall with a full-sized rink in it. I loved going to this rink. They let me keep my dog (different guide dog than my current one) behind the rental skates counter. One of the coaches even knitted her a little blanket that they brought out. People knew me and worked with me about getting around the rink. I never went on really busy public sessions, but on freestyle or daytime public, they would watch out for me.

This is the only picture I could find online of my old rink. Do you recognize the skater? Its Tonya Harding. Yes, I skated in THAT rink.

Weirdly, when I became pregnant that rink closed and for a while it was exactly the same, but the cement oval where the ice used to be was filled with kid rides. That kid expansion, like my expanding belly, fit. It was like my old skating life was now taken over by all things kid. Then when I married my husband (yes, I did things out of order) they completely redid the mall and all remnants of the rink disappeared. In the approximate space where the rink sat is now a giant H&M, the Swedish clothing company. This seemed apropos, because my husband is Swedish by birth and my life now does not look anything like it did back in my rink rat mall days, and the mall is almost unrecognizable to me.

The rink population largely moved to another mall rink. This one had a rink that was not regulation size, but it was ok. I did skate there a few times, but then moved across town and lost touch with skating. Now, the only times I have been skating have been when a temporary rink is built outdoors in the winter just blocks from my house. Its great that its so close, it reminds me of the old days when I could just walk to skate. But its only there for a few weeks, its incredibly crowded and the most I can do is nervously skate forward and fear that I am going to crash into everyone, its small, and the ice quality is very poor. I have gone with my kids, but its not too fun. Although once i skated there in the very first session on a weekday, and we practically had the whole rink to ourselves for a bit.

Not counting that little outdoor rink, there are 4 rinks in the metro area. Two are so far away that it would take me about 2 hours to get to them. The other two are in contention to be “my new rink.” Here are the prose and cons:

Rink A:

  • This one the mall one that everyone moved to when my old rink closed. It has been further revamped, and now it is smaller and unregulation sized. Its an oval, apparently. I have not been there since the remodel so I don’t know how the oval or smallness will affect me.
  • It takes about 1:10 to get there by transit. But it is all one long train ride.
  • It is a figure and recreational skating rink only. No hockey (since its not the proper size and shape.)
  • Its warmer to skate in a mall.
  • It may have a better pro shop more oriented to figure skaters.
  • It has much more available open public skating times during the weekdays (when its less crowded.)
  • I have skated there a lot in the past, it has good memories, I possibly may still know some people there. Possibly. Its been awhile.

    Here is a pic I got online of Rink A. Its hard for me to tell how small or weird shaped it is. I’m just going to have to try it out. But I always loved skating there under the skylights in the sun in the past.

Rink B:

  • This rink has been in the area for a long time and is more of a traditional rink. It is currently owned by the minor league hockey team here and they practice there. It is also the home rink of the local USFSA skating club.
  • It takes about 45 minutes to get there. I go on a fairly short train ride and then take one bus. The bus is only every half hour to 45 minutes, so you have to plan well.
  • Its a regulation sized rink, in private (shoppers will not be staring at you.)
  • Its very hockey oriented. The ice is cold, hard hockey ice that I would have to get used to. Its cold there!
  • It seems to only have one daytime public session on Fridays. There are also freestyle sessions in the mornings, but I’m not sure how busy they are or when/if they would let me do them.
  • The one or two times I have been there before, they kind of treated me like crap. But its been a long time.
Here is a picture of rink B. Pretty traditional, pretty hockey infested. The shape and size would be easier for me to get used to, and it is closer.

But what it ultimately comes down to is whether they are willing to work with me. I need to stash my dog in a safe place. I need to be able to skate in low population sessions, and I need them to just be aware of my issues so I can work together with the other skaters to keep everyone safe. I know I’m a funny old deaf blind lady that currently can’t skate worth a crap and am 20 pounds over weight, but they need to not treat me like crap.

So, my plan is to go to both and try them out and hopefully get to talk to a manager or training director and see how they are with me. I’m going to take my white cane and my 13 year-old son. He likes to skate so its for him, too. But he can help to give me the lay of the land and find everything and get used to the rink dimensions. My plan is to hit Rink B on Friday and Rink A next week.

But, I’m really nervous. What if they kick me out? What if they treat me like crap? what if they refuse to communicate with me? What if they make everything a big deal or hassle me about skating? What if, after all this excitement over the last couple of weeks about starting to skate again, I can’t get a rink to let me skate? I know I can do it, but can I prove it to them?

I keep thinking that I’ve done it before and I will do it again.