Monday, September 15, 2014

So I tried Speed Skates

I have a speedskating friend, and we skate around together on Sundays sometimes when I'm guarding and he tries some of my figure skating tricks in speed skates. It always makes me smile. But I've been on him to let me try Speed Skates, just once. Those long blades and the itty bitty boot with no ankles are a mystery to me, so I wanted to try.

He makes it look so easy!!

Finally I begged loud enough and he got me a pair of size 5 short track speedskates from the club locker. He sat me down and proceeded to strap me in. I already knew I'd made a horrible mistake. Okay, I knew the "boots" or whatever were a bit too big, but I figured I wouldn't be out there long or doing anything, so I let that go. I stood up and found that I could not walk. The longer blades gave me a pronounced duck walk, but more than that, speed skates have no heel. I felt like I was in my running shoes. With blades. I immediately began to panic.

Before I stepped onto the rink, he picked up my feet like he was shoeing a horse and deburred the blades with a razor. He insisted they were sharp enough for me to skate on, and I trusted him.

Another mistake.

I stepped onto the ice and my foot slid sideways. I set my other foot down and it went sideways. I was Bambi. It was awful. "These are not sharp!" I clung to the wall for dear life. "I can't skate!"

"They are sharp!" Speedskating Friend yelled back, clearly amused. "You have to commit to it! Push!!"

The harsh reality.

There's that word again: PUSH! So with one hand on the wall I set my running shoe'd and unsupported ankle back and gave it as much as I could give through my abject terror. And I did glide. I tried to stop, and I was again told I had to "really commit" to find the edge. Out of habit I tried to gently swizzle myself forward, but dear lord, is that a 20' rocker? My feet slid sideways again, but thankfully it's nearly impossible to fall off the back of a speedskating blade.

So I tried just pushing forward again, but I found out just how much blade is out in front of me because I kept hitting it and threatening to trip myself. I think I got in five or six good strokes, but those blades wanted to go fast, way faster than I wanted to go. I found I was starting to pick up some speed and panicked, tried to stop, and nearly died on a snowplow.

All the way, my speedskating friend and just about everyone else who knew me were all thoroughly enjoying themselves. The office staff even came out to join the pointing and laughing, the hockey boys came in from their class to watch. "What are you doing??" was their main question while they laughed. "I DON'T KNOW I HATE THIS IT IS HORRIBLE," was my only response.

Sweating, terrified, shaking and done, I got on the boards after three quarters of a lap and dragged myself back to the safety of the rink door. Those gorgeous big swooping crossovers and strokes speedskaters do? I have no idea how that happens. What I do understand is the necessity of helmets and padding along the boards. Those blades want to move, and you'd better be ready. And why they only go one way; because mastering those blades two ways is unthinkable.

I thanked my speedskating friend for the opportunity to try, and handed back those speed skates. I gratefully put my SP Teri's back on, and stepped back out onto the ice. And for a moment I thought there was something wrong with my blades because they grabbed the ice so well. "I would not be a good speed skater," I said to my friend.

"You'd be great at it," he was serious. "You just need to push."

"Ugh, stop saying that."


  1. You are braver than I am. And you survived!!

  2. Seriously, it was bizarre to have practically no footing at all. I can't even imagine the Clap Style Skates, which my friend offered to let me try next. NO THANK YOU.