Learning To Glide On Ice
By Craig W. Armstrong
They make it look so easy. They skate around the rink in colorful costumes, doing triple salchows, triple toe loops and triple axels. Professional skaters make it look easy because of one thing, practice. Sliding across slick ice is not a natural act. But, with time and practice, you, too, can skate until they turn out the lights.
Many people learn to skate when they are young. Arguably, this is easier, as children are more flexible, learn much more quickly, and let’s face it, have less distance to fall. But, even if you’re an adult, it’s not too late to learn how to ice skate.
The first thing you need is a good pair of skates. Skates must fit properly. If you are buying skates, make sure the salesperson knows their stuff. If you are renting skates, the same principle applies. Your skates should not be too tight or too loose. You should be able to wiggle your toes but not move your heel. When tightening the laces, if you can stick several fingers between the tongue and your foot, they probably aren’t tight enough.
Now, it’s time to get on the ice. Know that you are going to fall, probably over and over. The key to falling is falling the correct way. Try to fall from the lowest height. This means squatting and trying to land on your butt. It is best to try to land on one side or the other of your backside. Try not to fall backwards. This will increase the chance you will hit your head and have a serious injury.
Skating is all about balance. Start by holding your arms out, just below your chest and bend your knees slightly. Lean forward while doing this. Leaning backward is a sure way to lose your balance and end up smacking your head on the ice.
Once you start feeling your balance, it’s time to move. The first thing to remember is not to look down. Looking down will throw off your center of gravity and cause you to go too far forward. Keep your knees bent slightly, lean forward and lunge from one foot, while keeping the other leg straight.
As you glide, switch sides and lunge with the other foot. The key here is transferring your weight from side to side. Push and glide with one leg and then with the other. To stop, bend your knees slightly and push out with both feet. Keep a small amount of pressure on your feet so they don’t slide out from under you.
Learning to skate by reading about it is a far cry from getting onto the ice. Hopefully, now you have an idea of the basics and are ready to give it a try. Give yourself some time and expect to fail at first. With enough time and practice, you’ll soon be burning up the ice.