Watching kids get back on the ice after a long, hot, skating-free summer gives you a whole new perspective on the concept of "slip 'n' slide."
For the elite, competitive kids, it's simple, because in fact summer isn't vacation time. Quite the opposite. Summer is preseason and one of the busiest training periods of the year. A lot of serious, competitive kids, but not in the elite or near-elite ranks, also spent a good part of the summer training several hours a day. But even they may have taken the last couple of weeks, or even month, before school on family vacation, or just hanging out in the sun.
And the "class" kids? The class kids have completely forgotten where the ice rink is.
This is not to say they don't want to skate again. Now that school has started, it's a place to hang with friends, and a fun thing to do after school. They're starting to remember about the Christmas ice shows for which you have to be enrolled. Their new best friend at school skates too, and now they want to skate together.
So off they go to class, and it's slip 'n' slide time, for the kid who had just about figured out crossovers. What to do.
Skate at your level
Did your skater barely pass Alpha and then stop skating for two and a half months? Take Alpha again. It won't kill her, and it'll be a good lesson in retaining knowledge, and the work that entails. There's nothing worse than a supposed Beta class full of Alpha skaters who can no longer hold a one foot glide, and their parents, standing in the door and complaining that "he already learned crossovers LAST year."
Skate at your level, part two
Did your skater not pass Alpha, but since she took it, you decide you're just going to pass her on your own? Please don't do this. It's unfair to the skater, the coach, and everyone else in the class. Skate at your level. I promise on my solemn honor that taking Alpha twice (or three times, or four), will not affect her ability to get into Harvard.
If you're going to wimp out and have Princess move up a level because she stomps her little feet, or her best friend is in the more advanced class, or the time is more convenient, or you like the coach (what excuses have I missed) you need to start going to the rink just to skate. After school, on the weekends, on your days off, if you have any. Doesn't have to be a lesson, and she doesn't have to "practice." Just get her back on the ice, a lot.
If your skater really did pass that level, and you really think she'll be fine in the more advanced class, don't leave it to chance. Do lessons for a month, or a couple a week for a couple of weeks. Tell the coach that you are doing this specifically to make sure she's ready for the class you want her to take.
Freestyle skaters who are not in serious training (serious training = 10+ hours per week, where even during your down time you're skating a couple times a week), have a special obligation, because jumping is dangerous when you're not in shape or in practice. If you're a serious, but not competitively training skater, then you need not only to follow the advice above, you also need to get back into shape. Even when you're spending a month at the beach, you need to continue your off-ice regimen of strength, cardio and off-ice jumping. Otherwise you're going to be learning that axel all over again.
Don't forget the practical stuff
Make sure the skates still fit, and that the blades are clean, sharp and rust-free. Ditto the skating clothes. Scrounge up the gloves, the leggings, and the skating jacket, and put them in a skating bag so it's always ready. (Please don't send your skater to class outfitted for Everest. It's not that cold in a rink.) If you're going to spend a lot of time at the rink, see if there are any available lockers so you don't have to haul the skates around. Renew the annual pass for public ice. Renew your Basic Skills or ISI membership.
I guess I should have posted this 2 weeks ago, but I was too busy wringing the last of the summer out of the slip 'n' slide.