BLOG - HOCKEY & HEAVY METAL
AUGUST 6, 2013 • 04:19 PM
TRUST YOUR EDGE - EVEN IF YOU CAN’T DO BACKWARDS CROSSOVERS
The last couple of weeks kind of flew by, so two classes took place since the last post. Once again we had a different substitute coach for each class, which means we’ve now had six different coaches in eight weeks. However, we were told that Coach Brian has just returned to the country, so he’ll be returning for the final three classes.
The first class was taught by Coach Sean, who I think might be the guy who runs the hockey program at the arena. Early on he used the phrase “trust your edge” when he was talking to us about how to shift your weight and use it to your advantage when making turns. I seem to remember him saying to remember that the blades of your skates are sharp and are designed to dig into the ice when you distribute your weight properly and correctly. For whatever reason, “trust your edge” really stuck and it allowed me to finally just lean into it and let gravity do the work during our drills. This concept is, of course, as self-evident as it gets to an experienced skater, but I’m still a long way from there.
The second class was taught by Coach Kai, who is also one of the rink’s hockey coaches and who had actually taught this class in previous years. Like Sean, Kai’s own skating was really sharp and he made it all look pretty effortless as he demonstrated and explained things. The drills we did over the two classes covered a lot of the same ground, and after seven weeks of this I’m now starting to form a clearer picture of what my skating looks like at this point:
- As was always the case, I have a strong side (right) and a weak side (left) - in other words, I’m better at skating counterclockwise. Sometimes I wish that the default direction for all hockey skating drills was clockwise, just to offset the extra experience that everyone has from the default setting of skating counterclockwise around rinks.
- I’m finding that my narrower left foot (I’m missing my entire fifth toe as a result of my childhood accident) definitely affects balance and stopping. It’s going to require extra work to accommodate for this, and I may want to look into getting some sort of orthotic insert.
- My center of gravity is still not nearly as low as it’s supposed to be for hockey. I’m making the effort to stay down low, but this has to get to the point where it’s automatic.
- I’m good at building up speed and momentum, but slowing down / stopping exactly when I want to is still not quite there. It tends to happen a lot during sustained crossover drills - I’m still not quite sure how the coaches can demonstrate them slowly and not build up a head of steam.
- And, in order to truly move ahead with anything that’s holding you back, the first step is admitting that there’s a problem. So, here goes: My name is Andrew, and I cannot do backwards crossovers. (“Hi, Andrew!”) Coach Sean’s class was the first one where we tried them, and I just could not do it. Then when they were called for in Coach Kai’s class, I audibly sad, “Oh, no” to myself because we were doing them one skater at a time and there was nowhere to hide. It turned out that only a couple guys in the class could actually do them, and since we were so collectively bad at it Kai decided to give us another, easier drill to do after that.
- Looking forward, there are full-on hockey classes on Sunday afternoons that start next month after Labor Day, and there’s also a power-skating class at the rink on Sunday mornings. I’m liking the idea of two-a-days a lot. I simply have to find a way to be skating more even though it’s not possible to increase the number of hours in a day.
Lastly, there’s now drama at the rink on a much larger level. Culver City Ice Rink has been operating in its current location since 1960 - that’s an uninterrupted 53-year run, which is fantastic for just almost any business. But now there’s a squabble between the owner of the rink and the owner of the land it sits on and a “For Rent” sign is planted in front of the building on Sepulveda Boulevard, and there’s a notice on the rink’s website that all rink programs and operations are guaranteed through the end of January 2014. I am already attached to the place as it’s my new “home” rink, so this is a little worrying. However, I did ask around and got the story of what is actually happening, and it’s an all-too-common intersection of Los Angeles real estate and politics, but with a couple of surprising twists. More on this as it develops.