Mar 22, 2012

My name is Xan and I'm an adult skater

Some people have flying dreams.

I have skating dreams. In these dreams I sail across the ice with marvelous ease; I can do fast, competent turns and perfect flowing spirals. I skate without hesitation; in fact, they are flying dreams.

In reality, I pop mohawks. Yep. That skating phenomenon where your body says "nope!" and refuses to obey your wishes. My brain thinks it knows how to do perfectly lovely mohawks, and I have the test credentials to prove it. But there are days when my body simply refuses to understand the concept of "rotate, step, check."

My right hip is also extremely uncooperative. It knows better than to drop and point forwards. I've told it many many times. And yet it absolutely insists on staying in the "closed" position at the most awkward times. I really wonder who is in charge here.

It's hard to admit these things in public, especially because I can teach them perfectly beautifully--in fact when teaching, I execute perfectly beautifully, in lovely slow motion (I love slow motion). But put me in a skating situation and my lizard brain takes over and tells me that what I am asking it to do is unacceptable at best, impossible at worst, and dangerous in all situations.

But adult skaters, fear not. There is power in admitting your failure. For one thing, if you just avoid attempting certain moves out of embarrassment, you'll never learn them. Plus, the coaches I know who "get" adults find a lot of inspiration in working with us--they feel especially proud when a skittish adult skater finally masters something, and they feel proud when a talented one is really good, and they feel proud when a beginner dares to try!

I've come to terms with the things I'll never do, because I'll never try them, like axels. I know what I've already accomplished that I can't (or won't) do anymore, like the skills in the second figures test. I know the skater that I want to be now, and how far it's safe to push myself. I really know, in my heart of hearts, when it's me and when it's my beat-up old skates holding me back.

I haven't trained in almost four years. I've been on the ice a lot, teaching, but not actually skating. The first day back on the ice was a horrible let down, because I had lost a lot of skills while gaining a lot of years (and weight). But the really solid stuff came back, and the nerves diminished, and my mantra took over, with a caveat:

"If someone can do it, it's possible, and if it's possible I can do it"

Oh, the caveat? "But only if I want to."


  1. Thank you for this beautiful post. It sums up perfectly what I feel as an adult skater. I just got back from one of the Sectionals and I was so inspired by the performances from the barely beginners up to the Championship events. One of the judges even commented to our group how she loves adult skating and how supportive we are of each other. Adult skaters are the best!

  2. Very nice post.

    I'm not sure I agree with "if it's possible, I can do it". But maybe "if it's possible, I can try it" (unless it is on the list of things I'm not allowed to do because the neurosurgeon says they'll kill me).

    There are just somethings I'll never be able to do. I honestly believe that. Some things will never come to me, no matter how much I practice. And that's fine. But I'm perfectly willing to try the things I should be able to do, even though they are hard.

    Also- any adults who need a good bit of motivation, I highly recommend the book "As Good As Gold" by (former figure skater) Kathryn Bertine. She is a young adult- although now she is still on her Olympic quest, and not so young for an athlete - but her trials through different sports really made me think "man, I need to get off my butt and DO SOMETHING."

  3. I just looked at the 2nd Figures test, and I'm very impressed:

    Second Test (2)
    Figure No. Foot Figure
    4a RBI — LBI Circle Eight
    8a RFO — LBI Three
    8b LFO — RBI Three
    9a RFI — LBO Three
    9b LFI — RBO Three
    6a RBOI — LBIO Serpentine
    6b LBOI — RBIO Serpentine

    I hope to get there one day but right now I'm just struggling w/forward serpentines, and can't even do a back-3.

    1. Second figure test.... that brings back memories! But to be honest for the most part I don't miss figures.

  4. Well, I was working on them, but they weren't very good. And when I tried to do back 3s the other day, it was just NOPE! THAT's not happening anymore! The Serpentines were pretty good though!

  5. Great post Xan!

    I agree with Jessim that AS GOOD AS GOLD is a great book for motivation, very snarky too.

    My question is - where do you practice figures? Do they still test them?

  6. You can sometimes get rinks to reserve their second sheets at 5:30 or even as late as 6:30 a.m. When I had my rink job the maintenance guys used to sneak in an extra cut for me at 10:30 a.m. after the tot classes and before noon skate. Now I go to a 10:30 public that I found and just pray that there haven't been too many people there. No one knows what I'm doing--I get a lot of scoffs "Oh that's so EAsy" until I suggest they try it (okay, now do it again, with no wobbles, oh, and trace the first line).

    USFS will still test figures, but. They are not certifying judges anymore, and it's very very difficult to find a club that will reserve test ice for you, since you need 20 minutes for a figures test. For my First Figures (which I did not pass) I had to arrange and pay for my own panel (fortunately I found a gold-certified judge, so I only needed the one), and do it on public ice. Which is, I believe, why I didn't pass.

    1. I practice figures at coffee club. There are several adult skaters there who are at least familiar with figures, the ice is cut right before, and it's generally quiet enough that it's not a problem.