Dec 27, 2012

What's wrong with adult skaters?

There is no single group of skaters more vulnerable to dislike than what I call Adult Onset Skaters. Please note that I don't endorse, or share, these opinions. Just giving you the low down on the haters. So what is it that annoys people so much?

Out of place 
Girls Rule at ice rinks. Adults, especially at the lower levels, just look out of place, especially on freestyle sessions. In a universe largely populated by pre-adolescent girls and skinny superstars, standing out is the original sin. And there's this giant on our pretty ice. And it isn't only, or even mostly, the kids who resent us-- a lot of coaches are extremely resentful of adults on "their" ice. You'll find people don't resent you, and in fact don't notice you, if you learn how to fit in-- don't show up in a parka and snow pants; keep moving, follow the standard ice patterns, don't yell at people for "getting in your way" (they aren't).

Personally, I like slow ice. Find me ice full of skaters moving at a lumbering gait, and I'm a happy camper. Freestyle ice moves FAST. On a typical freestyle session, in fact, slow-moving (or worse, unmoving) skaters are a hazard. If you've got to skate on a fast session, learn the rules of the road. Don't hog one spot--move around the rink.  KEEP MOVING! The worst thing you can do is stop in the middle of the ice. Understand the patterns (no circles of cross overs in the lutz corner), etc.

We startle easily. A lot of adults freak if someone skates within a couple of body lengths, especially if they're going fast. But if you watch practice sessions, you'll notice that collisions are relatively rare (spectacular mishaps at the Olympics, Grand Prix and other elite competitions notwithstanding). This can be extremely annoying to other skaters, especially if you make a big deal out of it. If someone is outside the reach of your arm, they aren't close.

I can't work if anyone else is on the ice. I'm worried about where they are, what they're doing, whether they are judging me. This makes me skittish, and slow.

Adults, unlike most kids, are not at the rink to meet people. We do, of course, meet people at the rink. But the kinds of adults you find working on skating (as opposed to recreating), are usually extremely focused and can come off as unfriendly or even rude. Mostly I think, though, they're just shell-shocked from all the hate and have retreated into their happy place and screw you anyway.

We aren't, actually. But it's one of the criticisms you hear from coaches about why they don't like to work with adults.

So what do you do with the haters? Well, happily, you're not a pre-adolescent girl anymore, so who cares what they think. Get out there and skate!


  1. I've often wondered why so many have a problem with adult skaters. We are trying so hard to fit in and work on our skills. But, it doesn't really matter. The young girls quit because of school and boys, but we adults just keep coming back for more torture.

  2. I would have to say much of this is dead-on.

    I would say that a lot of adult skaters don't like to skate on FS ice (or just flatly refuse). That's too bad for a couple of reasons -- 1) it would help their skating by being around better skaters (my first coach said it would "make you feisty!") and 2) it would get the other skaters used to sharing the ice with adults.

    My experience has been that if you show that you know how to behave properly on FS ice (follow the rules) you rarely get attitude from other skaters; occasionally from coaches. The mostly likely area you will get opposition is from skater moms; but if you are friendly and demonstrate you know what you are doing they are generally okay.

    It makes me sad that so many adult skaters are scared to skate on FS ice. It is a little daunting at first but IMHO it's something you need to get used to if you want to make progress.

  3. I guess I've just been really lucky. Since I started skating, everyone has been really, really nice. The coaches are nice in a sort of slightly condescending "isn't that cute, that skate mom is trying to skate" kind of way. The other skate parents are nice in a "you're nuts but that's ok" kind of way. And the skater kids are mostly just plain nice.

    Of course, as an adult-onset skater who is also a skate mom, I know the rules. I stay out of the lutz corner. I avoid anyone on program or on lesson. Actually, I just plain yield to everyone, since they are mostly all better than me, and let's face it, I'm just having fun. Plus I smile a lot. That never hurts.

  4. It's not just the "adult-onset" skaters who are treated like second-class citizens, it's all of us who are old enough to be parents of half the kids on our sessions, regardless of when we started. I'm in my early 30s, fairly high in tests (junior moves, 3/4 pre gold dances, adult gold free, and was an internationally competitive synchro skater as a teen/college student). I can hold my own on freestyle sessions, and am usually the one yielding to younger skaters for all our safety. I grew up skating in the area I live, and have known many of the local coaches for years (they were either peers of mine on the ice when we were younger, or were coaching back then). Even despite all that, I find that I have a hard time being taken seriously by ice monitors, board members, parents, coaches, etc at some of the rinks I skate at. I'm told that at some rinks I can't skate on "high" sessions where pre-juv free(which I have) is required because adults have to skate on low or adult ice. Parents of skaters talk to me like I know absolutely nothing about skating (never mind I've beens skating longer than their kids have been alive). Just last week, I asked a coach (who is occasionally at one of the rinks I sate at) how she liked her new Edea boots, since I'm thinking of switching...she told me she loved them but I shouldn't get them, they aren't good for adults because adult skaters aren't stable on their feet. Seriously!? Now, luckily, I know what rinks to avoid. I'm President of my home club and (although it took a few years) I am taken seriously. I'm constantly praised by parents at another rink where I skate--they wish they could be out there too. But sometimes, the last thing I need after a long day at work when I just want to blow off steam at a rink and find a session that fits my schedule, the last thing I want is to be told by an ice monitor who thinks her kid who has never made the final round of juv ladies at regionals is the next big thing that I cant skate on a session because I'm an adult.

  5. You need to come visit me sometime! There are a ton of adult skaters (I hear the local club has an unusually high number of adult skaters, but I don't know that for sure) and everyone I've met has been so nice and supportive. The coaches are great and they always make me feel welcome, respected and motivated. Even the kid/highly-competitive skaters are a ton of fun and have made me feel welcome. I'll admit, I don't skate on FS ice, my bunny hops don't belong there. But there are several adults-only sessions and I'll skate on dance ice with my coach. I've been skating here for a while now, on both the figure skating and hockey side of things, and it's been a great and very adult-friendly experience. So much fun!

  6. I have had great fun at beginner classes, but there is sort of a "mean girl" feeling about the ice rink, and I often get the feeling of being judged by the more experienced skaters, there is a lot less pressure during public skateing sessions, and there, I get to be the "better one" LOL. Even still, I have met some fantastic people at my skating classes and I wouldn't trade them for anything, and the ice will always hold a special place in my heart.

  7. I skated as both a child and an adult. Most of this is bang on and the thing is... the reasons are bang on. Most adults are slow moving, stand in the middle of the ice, jump when someone gets close... But I'm not saying the right response is to be rude to the skater. No way. And by the way... most beginner KIDS act the same way. What I think happens is that the grace that is given to a six year old is rarely given to a beginner who is older.

    My advice? Just keep learning. Like that beginner six year old, you'll learn the lay of the land. Even though I skated as a kid, when I came back to the rink as an adult, it was a bit scary for me but I settled into the FS sessions eventually.

    Be aware on the ice. But being mindful doesn't have to mean hiding in a corner. Maybe spend some time watching how the session moves if it's busy, but once you get out there, get moving. Or, be like me and find some nice, quiet ice. Try a club that has a less competitive mindset.

    Another tip... find a coach who genuinely likes coaching adults. Ask around. They're worth their weight in gold and they do exist. You might be surprised at who they are, too. One of our coaches with a hoard of competitive skaters enjoys teaching adults. Sometimes it's a nice break from the snotty children, you know?

  8. I've been lucky in that almost everyone is always nice to me on Freestyle--but in the beginning I had residual horse show reflexes and could stay out of the way even when I didn't know the patterns. Now I know the patterns but I keep my head on a swivel--don't get lost in your own world. The only people who were consistently rude were a couple of coaches who were my age or older, /shrug/ you can't make everyone happy.
    If you want to be accepted, then join the local club and show up to support comps even if you aren't competing. I've decorated judges' rooms, sorted paperwork, etc. People notice.

  9. Eh, what MER mentioned: adults-only Freestyle sessions are the way to go. Problem solved.

    1. Not necessarily. Many of the problems that Xan reports as problematic are going to be problematic on any crowded FS session, even if it's adult-only.

      For example a friend was very intimidated when she got to her warmup ice at PCAS and found there were 20 skaters on it. If you are not used to skating on crowded ice, then adults-only isn't much help.

      Anyway while I appreciate the availability of adult skate (I use it to work on school figures about 3 hours a week) I'm a bit leery of forming an "adult ghetto."

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. Now having said that, I do wish adult *accomplished* skaters would show up more often at random freestyles. Even if they're no longer that active, it's still nice and motivational to see them grace the ice. The sport should encourage retired national champs to skate their local rink with the eleven year-olds, seriously.

  10. Great comments from everyone. I just remembered this post I wrote about finding a program that is "adult friendly"

  11. I think no one should be on freestyle unless they are with a coach or fs3 and up level. Other wise there is no way they can stay in the flow and will just be a hazard. Notice, I don't care about the skaters age.