Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Species of Skaters on Public Skate Sessions

The Newbie:

This person has either never skated before or doesn't skate very often. Either singularly, in Couple/Cute Date or Nice Family form, The Newbie is in Rentals, sticks to the wall, doesn't do anything too daring, and generally enjoys their time on the ice.

The Hockey Dad:

This guy is in jeans and a Team Jersey, and of course hockey skates. These skates typically show little sign of wear, even though he's skating like a maniac chasing after his kids. He will sometimes get out his phone to text his wife or "check in" with the office even though it's Sunday, because he wants it clear he's an Important Person spending time with his kids. If you dare tell him that his kids need to slow down, prepare yourself for the caustic, "I can't help it if my kids are good skaters," remark.

Hockey Kid, Larval Stage:

Usually no more the three feet tall, this one is shuffling along as best he can while his dad is encouraging him to "Pick your feet up!" or "Move! Just move!" This is the best case scenario. The worst case scenario is when Hockey Dad gets overzealous about his potential Hockey Star and outfits his tot in full on gear and helmet, in which case the overburdened child collapses into a wailing heap on the ice, begging for help, while Dad skates backwards screaming, "Skate to me! Skate to me! He's fine, don't help him!"

Hockey Kid, Pupae Stage:

Having survived the Larval Stage, Hockey Kid now sports a Team Jersey and Gloves. He will sometimes cast off these gloves in a wild display, as a show of prowess for potential mates, (See Queen Bee, below.) He darts all over the rink forward and back, but ask him to do a mohawk and he gives you a puzzled expression before skating off thinking mohawks are for Girls and Girl Skates. Should Pupae Stage Hockey Kid fall and cry, Hockey Dad shows less sympathy than before, sometimes even chasing off Guards who come to help.

Hockey Kid, "Mature" Stage:

Fully Grown, Hockey Kid may or may not skate in the jersey of his team, but more often than not he skates in his street clothes. He is an accomplished skater, so much so that he often takes to texting on the ice. He does not usually skate fast or erratically on his own, but when clustered with other fully grown Hockey Kids, he will attempt to prove his dominance by skating like he's going for the Stanley Cup while on uppers. If he appears with a Queen Bee, he will provide a flashy display of figure skating elements while in hockey skates.


The Queen Bee:

This chick is in the Uniform: Chloe Noel pants and jacket, and the jacket she quickly sheds to show a tee with more rhinestones. She's got the moves and she knows it. Her mom is standing right at the rink door to take any questions. Try anything yourself, and she quickly shows you that she can do it better. While looking right at you. Lower level skaters better look out, because she isn't, and everyone knows that this would not fly on true Practice Ice, but no one is quite sure what to do here. Queen Bee can be by herself, but more often than not they arrive in swarms of three and four.

The WannaBe:

This girl is in good skates, skating clothes, drags a Zuca and has the look. At first glance, she can skate, but then she does something "off." You think it's a mistake, but then she does it again. And Again. And then it becomes clear that she's mostly self-taught. She'd pushing off to spin the wrong way from the wrong toepick because she's attempting to imitate and it's working. She is spinning, but the entry is all wrong. And then she does some wild whirling FI3's in a circle, her drag pick tearing canyons in the ice and you silently stare at her as though the force of your distaste alone will force her to stop. She continues.

The Little Bee:

Little Bee is sometimes the younger Sibling of Queen Bee. She's got on a miniature version of the Chloe Noel uniform and some worn out skates that look like they belonged to her older sister first. The Queen Bees hover around her, and while they may not look out for other skaters, they keep a sharp watch on Little Bee. Little Bee, not used to looking out for herself, bumbles around, completely unaware of other skaters and is often a Trip Hazard for Hockey Boy in his various Stages.

The Could Be:

This woman arrives with nice skates, jeans, and a dignified air. Before long she's doing power stroking forwards and backwards through the madding crowd, and then she does a double something or other in the corner. When you ask her to stop, (Single jumps only and only in the center, please,) she gets this tired expression and doesn't say anything. She just skates off. You're torn between getting her a Practice Ice or Adult Class Schedule and just letting it go.

The Reluctant Mom:

This poor woman really doesn't want to skate, but her kids dragged her here and have begged and cajoled her into skates, or her little skating kid doesn't want to go out by herself. Worse is when her Husband is Hockey Dad, because suddenly Kids and Dad are giving her a million unhelpful pointers, and she's just stuck looking awkward and angry while her husband is saying, "Let go of the wall, honey! Just let go!" My favorite experience as a Guard is when a Hockey Dad asked me to give his wife some "pointers." I looked at her straight and said, "I hung onto the wall for two months. If you want to hold onto the wall, do it. Let go when you're ready. Ignore everyone else." She smiled and Hockey Dad was horrified and I likely started a fight in the car on the way home.

The Daredevil:

This kid can't skate, but he's determined to try. Unbalanced, arms flailing, he sees the center ice kids doing basic jumps and decides to try that, too. So he flings himself up, and down he comes on the back of the blade, falling backwards with a force that makes your teeth rattle to witness it. Undaunted, he gets up and tries again and again, and you start looking for Professor X because clearly this is a Student of his School for the X-Men and this kid's mutant power is a rubber butt.

The Macrame Artist:

This person failed Knot Tying, yet they are reluctant to admit that they have no idea how to tie a simple shoelace knot. To keep their secret safe, and to make it appear as though they are proficient at not only knot tying, but at ancient Inca methods of counting sheep herds, they weave all 100" of skate laces into a finger crochet your Hippie Grandma would be proud of. Unfortunately, the sheer number of knots does not make up for the fact that they left the lace hooks in the boot completely untouched.

The Screamer:

You can spot this one as she gingerly steps onto the ice, clutching the boards with white knuckles and wide eyes. Screamers usually appear within a group of Newbies, much to the embarrassment of the relatively calm Newbies. The moment her feet slip a little, even an inch, she lets loose a blood curdling scream before letting her feet slide completely out from under her. This is when she becomes -

The Reluctant Gymnast:

Ice and Skates can make the uninitiated do weird things. I had no idea that bodies could bend in the ways these people do. Like a Cirque du Soliel act, they bend backwards, they achieve full lateral splits, their knees meet their chests, their arms grabbing at anything and everything for support, even the nearest companion whom they drag down in a slow motion ballet. All while screaming for help.

The Coach:

Yes, there are some unfortunate souls who try to teach on Public Ice. Pre-Freestyle lessons are doable on Public Ice, but Freestyle Lessons are nearly impossible. The Coaches who work on publics often work with groups, because if Mom is being cheap and having her kids work on Public Ice, then why not go one step cheaper and share the lesson with as many kids as possible, right? So with the best smile they can muster, they work over the noise of pop music and shuffle around the Bees and Bugs to get to their charges, trying to teach crossovers on the same hockey circle that absolutely everyone is using. And you have to wonder if they debate the effectiveness of these lessons as much as you do.

The Topheavy:

There's always this notion that kids in skates can avoid head injury by wearing a helmet. I kinda get it, I kinda don't, because there's few things more awkward than a five year old skating in a bike helmet that keeps falling down over their eyes. These kids are also typically in a snowsuit, mittens, hat and scarf, because the caregiver is convinced that Ice Rinks are kept at temperatures close to Siberia. Which leads us to the opposite -

The Underdressed:

Skating dresses are awesome. Their power is tremendous. They are, however, cold. Practice Dresses are rarely made from the same shiny spandex as the competition dresses, because the material refuses to stay warm with body heat. (Yet ironically holds in sweat like it's its job and smells terrible after an hour.) The only way to stay warm in any skating dress is to Move Move Move, which is not possible on a crowded public session or if you're a beginner. Every session there is at least one small child in a skating dress with blue lips, chattering teeth and a stark determination to *not put on a jacket* because it would *cover the dress!* What's worse is that some of these kids do not know the difference between skating tights and pantyhose, so the rest of the rink gets a very uncomfortable when they go sprawling.

These are just a few of the archetypes I see on Public Ice. I'm sure there are more species specific to different areas. Got a new species?


  1. The Summer Skater (subset of Underdressed): The rental skate shod skater wearing shorts or capri pants, some sort of lightweight sweatshirt (because we're going ice skating), and no mittens (of course).

  2. What about 'I Have No Knees'? Quite possibly a sub-sect of the Newbie. Absolutely refuses to bend their knees, no matter how much easier it would make everything, and help to keep them off their toepicks.