Little known fact: I gave figure skating a try as an adult skater before I got into inline speed skating.
Back in February 2002, like many people, I rushed home every evening and stayed up late to follow the Winter Olympics. Of all the sports featured on the broadcast, I was most interested in figure skating which of course occupied lots of airtime. In fact, I was so inspired that I ran out immediately and signed up for the adult learn-to-skate program at my local figure skating club. Figure skating has strong roots in my community with world-class skaters such as Elvis Stojko and Emanuel Sandhu hailing from Richmond Hill. I'm lucky to have easy access to some great facilities right in my neck of the woods.
As Canadian, of course I already knew how to skate on ice. I always had a good time goofing around at public sessions but what I really wanted was something more. I set my sight on being able to do one jump and one spin. If you are not aware, figure skating is a very youth-oriented sport. When I showed up to class on my first day, I quickly found out the adult program consisted of either new immigrants who cannot skate at all or ex-figure skaters who used to compete when they were kids. Grown-up with aspiration to learn some figure skating moves was indeed a rare breed. Over the course of three winters, I progressed through the CanSkate program and received my badges. Terms such as 3-turn, mohawk, bracket turned from meaningless words to things that I could do on ice. And yes, I learned to jump (single revolution only heh) and spin.
It had been years since I last took to indoor ice on my figure skates. On Monday night, a string of scheduling coincidence gave me a chance to revisit the arena for an atypical recovery workout. My blades! They were so short! And that rocker! Argh toe pick! Hey my ankles were locked in place! My shins were not happy while I shuffled around and gingerly adjusted to the feel of figure skates. Slowly but surely, I got more comfortable with better posture and more powerful pushes. Before I knew it, the crosscuts (I guess that's figure skating lingo for crossovers except the blades do not leave the ice) were smooth and I was gliding across the ice with some decent speed. I was smiling ear to ear from the sheer enjoyment.
Of course, public session has the unspoken rule of changing direction at the half-way mark. When the skate patrol ushered everyone to skate clockwise, I was once again tentative with my crossovers. Actually, "tentative" is too forgiving of a description. I barely pushed anything...oh the embarrassment. However, with nothing else better to do in those 45 minutes, I forged ahead and muscle memory eventually returned. I was so unbelievably happy when I finally regained my ability to crossover "the other direction"! Just goofing around, I even managed to do a tiny waltz jump.
Getting back on my figure skates was a fun recovery workout. At the same time, I have a new-found appreciation of how much I sucked back in the days. Knowing what I know now, I realize I never had good command of my edges before. Nor did I know how to cover the ice with few strides. And how incredibly slow I used to be. Perhaps there is some truth to MW's advice: taking up a different sport will help with my inline skating abilities in unexpected ways.