jo skates

Skating in the key of life

Patience and ordinary things


Here’s the opening of a poem that I really like. It’s by Pat Schneider, called “The Patience of Ordinary Things“:

It is a kind of love, is it not?
How the cup holds the tea,
How the chair stands sturdy and foursquare,
How the floor receives the bottoms of shoes
Or toes. How soles of feet know
Where they’re supposed to be.

Translated into skating terms:

It is a kind of love, is it not?
How my blade holds my foot,
How the ice easily makes its way to water, then turns back to ice
Right underneath me. How perfect circles form
Just by standing still.

I have been been putting a lot of effort into what really should be ordinary aspects of skating. Like making sure I am always on edges, on the right part of my blade, and with the correct muscles engaged. It’s remarkable how much those things matter, and how hard they are to do.

Sometimes I worry whether at some point these things will ever just be there, mundane like the ordinary things that Schneider describes. Someday will I be able to just stop thinking about them? Will they just be there for me, like my chair or the floor?

If and when that happens, will I be grateful? Will I pause to marvel about how good and right everything feels? Or I will just skate?

Skating demands a lot of the body and the brain. But it also demands other things: trust that things will get better, and patience until they do. Fortunately patience in this case is not just a waiting game–it’s a skating game!

My bruise is healing up slowly. Today was the first day I skated without painkillers. Tough day.

Some lesson notes:

New exercises:

  • Alternating inside mohawk, change of edge inside-outside. Free foot in after mohawk, then extend out of the outside. Make sure you do the change with your knee and ankle, not by pulling your shoulders over.
  • Variation: do this same with a three turn instead of a mohawk.
  • 3 turn, back crossover, change edge widestep, step forward other way (make sure you are looking the right way)
  • Forward outside, back cross behind: get your new foot in the correct position (angled in), get on back of blade on old foot, don’t pitch forwards
  • Inside edge little spread eagle positions, keep turnout in same position and step forward on outside edge, repeat in other direction.

Check placement and positions:

  • inside mohawk
  • placement of curves on alternating chasses
  • swing rolls practice rising and falling on a straight line, watch alignment of standing leg
  • three turns, hips need to come around

Author: Joskates

Don't see me on the ice? I may be in the classroom or at the theater, or hanging out with my family and friends.

6 thoughts on “Patience and ordinary things

  1. I was thinking about your tip the other day when my training partner told me something she had learned from one of our dance coaches: always place your blade on an edge. It’s amazing how many (most?) of us start off on a flat and then try to change our edge. We’re making it harder on ourselves, but it seems so much more stable. 🙂


  2. Ah yes, the deceptive flat! Having a true edge throughout makes a huge difference in both feel and overall quality! I agree that that tip is a keeper–thanks, Eva!


  3. I doubt if my skating will ever become so natural that I just do it without having to think about edge placement, where I am on the blade, looking into the circle, checking properly, etc. Occasionally I go on auto-pilot for a brief spell but soon a scratchy Mohawk or a dropped left 3-turn reminds me that I need to concentrate on the task at hand (foot?) but ah, those all too few moments when I just feel the ice under my blades and move well without thinking too deeply–how I relish them!


  4. Ahhh, those beautiful moments…. sigh! They will have to do a documentary on adult skaters, and call it “Easy Glider” (harharhar). I’m sure, though, that very few advanced skaters ever really go on auto-pilot. Though they make it look easy, I know they must be concentrating hard.


  5. It would be nice if somehow skating was (at least a little bit) instinctual–like flying is for birds. Birds probably don’t spend much time thinking about the complex technical aspects of flight, they just do it while keeping an eye peeled for lunch–that and a convertible with the top down.


  6. Funny, George! I do admire how some of the best skating makes it look like instinct. Maybe for some of these folks who’ve started young and have spent more time on the ice than off, it is. Even birds have to learn to fly, though. And then there are those of us chickens… cluck!


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