Monday, July 2, 2012

Backwards Skating, the Riddle of a thousand years

I can skate backwards. Kinda. And it was a long, treacherous road to say "I can skate backwards kinda."

When I see the kids on the ice, struggling to comprehend the bodily mechanics of a backwards wiggle for the first time, oh, how I ache for them. Because I understand. I understand so heartily.

The Brain Stem, he doesn't like to go backwards. Your body doesn't like it, either. No one can see where they're going, the knees and ankles don't bend that way, and your butt is hanging out there screaming at you, "Do you not like sitting? I know you and I don't get along, but is this really necessary?"

I hated going backwards. I hated it so much I made myself do it for entire public sessions. An hour at a time, backwards. Swizzling or wiggling, it didn't matter. I'd just go backwards, to feel the motion, to get used to the sensation of not really knowing where the hell I was going. Eventually I got pretty good at it, toepick scraping and all, so I decided to try to pick up one foot.

Of course, I did it crazy wrong. I'd straddle some imaginary horse and try and lift up a foot at random, leading to a loss of balance and a general awkwardness. It was so bad, I started thinking, "Well, no one really skates on one foot backwards for any length of time anyway..."

Then I remembered this, and sighed, and went back to work.

Eventually I picked up the right idea. Half swizzle backwards, pick up one foot. As with the FO edge, I did this forever. I still do this. (As with FO edges. Or any F edge.) Rink Pal noted me doing it for the bazillionth time and said, "Gee, you sure are getting comfortable going backwards."

"I'm so glad it looks that way," I clipped back.

I still find the sensation of going backwards disconcerting. Even today, after I was done frustrating myself with turns, I polished off the session with some backwards half swizzles. Fast, while listening and feeling to toepicks. And holding out my arms. And being aware of my posture. And solving some algebra equations in my head while I was at it. I solved the riddle by just heading out there, sighing greatly and doing it.

Because I know that one of a Coach's favorite things to say is, "Oh, so you can do that? Great. Now do it backwards."


  1. If no one else is on the ice, I feel much safer going backwards than going forwards. I am way more apt to toe pick and fall over going forwards. Backwards, I'm more likely to drag the toepicks and come to a halt.

    However, all those other people ruin it, because it is hard to see where you are going when skating backwards. I need a rear view mirror.

  2. " Because I know that one of a Coach's favorite things to say is, "Oh, so you can do that? Great. Now do it backwards." "

    Truer words were never spoken... good luck, it does get easier!