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Skating Lessons

 

The ground has been very icy lately. Even when the snow starts out powdery soft, we end up with ice rinks on the grass within a day, and the girls seem to enjoy it. I’ve always wanted to take them ice skating, but indoor rinks don’t seem to welcome dogs.

"This outdoor ice is too bumpy, Mommy."

“This outdoor ice is too bumpy, Mommy.”

Cricket would be a terrible figure skater. She would be gripping the ice with her toe nails and hopping like a bunny rabbit, but maybe Butterfly would like the glide, just flying for a few seconds, and glorying in the curve.

Butterfly, dreaming about the glide.

Butterfly, dreaming about the glide.

I took skating lessons as a kid at the local rink. We were separated by levels – alpha, beta, gamma, delta – and given one rectangle of ice for our group lessons. We wore snowsuits and white skates and gloves and hats. We learned snowplow stops, two foot turns and bunny hops, falling and standing up. But the rink was so cold, and I was uninspired. I never saw skating as something I could get better at.

But that changed when I was seventeen. I had gone to college, and run home screaming, and needed something therapeutic to do while I went to therapy. One day, in desperation, Mom suggested going ice skating, and we went, and I never wanted to leave. I spent the whole two hour session, in terrible blue plastic rental skates, loving it.

I went three days a week, took group lessons and then individual lessons, got my own white skates, and started to improve. But really I loved just skating around the rink. I loved the whoosh of the air, and the speed, and I loved that feeling of attachment to the ice – like a trolley car must feel. With walking and running, your goal is to push off of the ground, to get away from it, but skating is all about the ice and the blade coming together. You fly best when you are attached to the ice (unless you’re a female pair’s skater, in which case, God help you).

No!!!!!!!!!

No!!!!!!!!!

Eventually I had to go back to school and be responsible, and I couldn’t figure out what place skating had in my life. But I was still obsessed with watching skating on TV. For a few years there, the televised skating world was filled with wonderful, creative, emotional performances. Torvill and Dean did a program called Encounter, or January Stars, and it was extraordinary. Everything they did was wonderful, but that one haunts me. Scott Hamilton makes me laugh, Kurt browning makes me want to skate or dance or just watch him on an endless loop. Katya Gordeeva, either back in her pair days with Sergei Grinkov or in the aftermath, is exquisite and soul deep. Michelle Kwan made me cry and made my heart beat in sync with hers. They all have this ability to be inside of the music, wearing it like clothes.

katya and sergei

Katya and Sergei, way back when.

Mostly now we get repetitive Olympic eligible competitions, and packaged professional shows that all look the same, but every once in a while something wonderful happens: Meryl Davis blossoms into a beautiful and evocative ice dancer, Kurt Browning skates with his sons, Jeremy Abbot creates whole new styles of movement on the ice. Even if there are only one or two minutes of blissful skating in a whole two hour program, I can’t risk missing those two minutes.

I wish my girls could take figure skating lessons. I can picture them, bundled up in pink snowsuits, wearing four skates each, learning to glide and stop and turn, and hopefully not pee on the ice. Cricket would love to be able to jump, but she’d also be at risk for severely hurting herself, and others. Butterfly would follow her teacher and then sniff after the Zamboni as it cleaned the ice.

I found this picture of a dog in a snowsuit on line, because if I tried to do this to Cricket, I would be in the hospital.

I found this picture of a dog in a snowsuit on line, because if I tried to do this to Cricket, I would be in the hospital.

Ditto.

Ditto.

They’d probably have to have the ice to themselves, because putting up orange traffic cones wouldn’t really stop Cricket from busting out into the crowd and going in the wrong direction and kicking her blades around. Maybe she’d do better with hockey skates, because they don’t have a toe pick on the front. Figure skates are serious weapons.

Those toepicks are vicious!

Those toepicks are vicious!

But, then, Cricket is pretty dangerous herself.

But, then, Cricket is pretty dangerous herself.

 

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About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

85 responses »

  1. The thought of Cricket busting through orange traffic cones totally made me laugh! Yes, I can picture that. But Cricket in a pink snowsuit. Oh, Rachel–that would be too precious.

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  2. Another adorable post. 🙂

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  3. I used to ice skate in Alaska, on the lake behind our house (and at school) and I felt exactly the same way as you. I couldn’t get enough. I love the thought of Cricket in the pink suit: it reminds me of the time I wanted my mother-in-law to make Ginger a fully engulfed scuba suit to wear on walks in the rain. Her mock-up arrived on her summer visit and it resembled a hazmat suit. To this day…I laugh. To this day…no scuba suit. Someday…

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  4. Love the photos, but I do hate the ice. It just screams cold and danger to me! A pink snowsuit for Cricket would be pretty cute tho 🙂

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  5. I’m glad that you find ice skating therapeutic to do as well as watch. 😀 I can only watch because ice skates and I are a hazard to myself and to others lol. I love watching it, I cried when Kaetya lost her Sergei; they were extraordinary as were Torvill and Dean. I can imagine your girls on ice skates, what a skating pair they would be! Jack might be talented on ice because he is very nimble on the snow mountains in the backyard while Lulu won’t even go near them for fear that she will sink down. I wouldn’t trust her on skates either, she would be so out of control, running into everyone and everything willy nilly, she is a little bit uncoordinated, that one. 😀

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  6. I love that description about these skaters and their music! Imagine, ice skates on a dog??! Who on earth would try that.

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  7. Looked more like prep for mushing, though they couldn’t pull you well!

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  8. I was a horrible ice skater but also loved watching it on t.v. during the olympics. My pup is pretty tender footed on the ice.

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  9. You’re dogs can be a part of it. Take up ice hockey, now that’s expensive with the ice time but you can save money by using frozen dog poo as hockey pucks. The goalies may not appreciate it, however.

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  10. I love your discussion of attachment to the ground in skating versus pushing off from the ground in running–

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  11. I’m pretty sure we’d see the Scooby Doo run, except the little furballs never gain traction, as their little paws get colder and frostier. Eventually you’d have to skate over, hoist em up like a pair of footballs, and fly them off into the sunset, with little wagging tails in tow. It would be a cute scene, but you’d have to reward them with treats afterward, for making them feel like the little helpless toys they are. 🙂

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  12. Yet another thing you do well. Go back and do some ice skating. It will be good for you physically and mentally. I tried to ice skate when I was younger but I just couldn’t get the hang of it and falling on hard ice hurt.

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  13. Another great post, Rachel!

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  14. We have one ice rink on Oahu. It’s an unprepossessing place, basically a Quonset hut on steroids, but it is immensely popular with parents during the summer as it is the coolest place in town. The kids go there to eat pizza first and maybe, just maybe, try out the ice.

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    • My best friend from high school used to play ice hockey, and then she moved to Israel. They actually do have ice rinks there. They also have some kind of non-ice ice-like surface. But i have no idea how that works.

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  15. I tried ice skating one time WAY back in high school years. Not my cup of tea – same with snow skiing. I immensely enjoy watching the Olympic competitions, though. So beautiful, those names you threw in – yeah, those are the ones i remember and also Peggy Fleming. Thank you for a fun post!

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  16. I can just see them swooshing around the rink with little ears blowing in the wind doing figure eights… lol! I love this and again laughter… I grew up in the desert community of Palm Springs. Once upon a time they put in an ice skating rink. And then later another in the town of Palm Desert. I couldn’t do much other than go around but I loved it. I know they did away with the one in Palm Springs. Not sure about Palm Desert. Got to see Dorothy Hamil there one time…I would still try skating if given the opportunity.

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  17. Excellent writing about a well remembered period. The Butterfly dreaming portrait is perfect

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  18. I love the snow but not the ice – I slipped & hurt myself a few weeks ago and I’m only now getting back to longer walks – and all on lead just now (booooo)

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    • Cricket had a few minutes off leash the other day so she could play int he snow. She had a great time, until she decided to race around the corner and down to the street. The leash is now permanently attached.

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  19. This makes me smile!

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  20. Wonderful post, Rachel! I find it fascinating that you are an ice skater and that you love to watch them on TV. Skating is one of the few sports that actually makes me nervous to watch…I am so fearful they will fall. I lose the beauty in fear!
    As for your dogs on skates – well, that would be equally scary – for different reasons! 🙂

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  21. You are so lucky to have snow…and ice. I have never skated, other than behind the landrover – skidding on the sand. But you can’t go round and round – only a few side to side twists and turns! I wonder what OUR dogs would think of the ice rink.

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  22. You mentioned all my favorite skaters. You have good taste and judgement. Hamil. Gordevea, Browning, Hamilton, kwan.

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  23. Oops, I did not get to proof that. But I loved this post. Very interesting that you took skating lessons. I hope that you still skate for exercise and enjoyment.

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  24. Based on Choppy’s lack of skill on ice with her own four feet, ice skating is out of the question for her! On the other hand, an ice skater’s outfit might work…

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  25. There is an open-air ice skating rink near my house. I’ve been meaning to go all winter, but it’s just been too cold. Now that the weather is warming up a bit, I’ll make a point to go.
    Thanks for the reminder!

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  26. I am so envious of you being able to ice skate learning to glide and swoop, there are no ice skating rinks anywhere near Hawera and we very rarely get even a inch of snow but oh I did love Torvil and Dean if fact I was lucky enough to go to a live performance when they came out to New Zealand . It was magic.
    I am sure that poppy would love to go skating she is so full of energy and she would suit a small frill skirt LOL and a top knot too of course. I am afraid to say I am old enough to remember very old black and white movies that my mum watched that had a skater in them but I cannot remember her name I think she was Scandinavian. They were sweet movies and she looked a little like Shirley temple.

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  27. Ice skate how wonderful , lovely post with adorable Butterfly and Cricket x

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  28. Its fun seeing skating through others’ eyes. What a tragedy when we lost Sergei. He and Katya were perfection, even in Olympic competition. Particularly their second time around. Shae-Lyn and Victor were loads of fun as well and of course, Torvill and Dean! Its challenging to come up with the moves and routines and stories that we used to with the new IJS point-based system but some choreographers are nailing it, like David Wilson. I really do enjoy Denis Ten’s skating- he tells stories with his body and manages the jumps, too. I was lucky to grow up in that environment and lucky still to be somewhat involved. I’m with you, though, no skating dogs! 🙂

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    • I went to the first Stars on Ice performance in Lake placid after Sergei died and it was heart breaking. They had a spotlight on the ice every time Katya and Sergei were supposed to be there. I think he’d died at most two weeks earlier. And then, when Katya came back, she was extraordinary. I’d never seen anyone be so vulnerable on the ice, and so open.

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  29. Fantastic post!! And beautiful dog’s too!
    I never thought of dog’s ice skating before but Oh how wonderful if they could. I’d LOVE to see both my girls bedazzled to the hilt in ice skating outfits!!
    Count me in as a regular reader for such an adorable idea and for the love of dog’s! (Or kid’s.. ) 🙂 🙂 🙂

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  30. Yesterday while your mom & I were sewing together, we discussed blogging. She told me about your blog & today I’ve dawdled over my first cup of coffee at the computer for 2 hours + reading entries without getting up once. You write with such heart & soul, Rachel … I know I’ll be back.

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  31. Great post!

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  32. Nothing make me laugh more than a dog sliding on a slick surface. I’m sure it’s not funny for the dog, and I sure as heck hated when I fell on the ice as a kid, yet it still makes me cackle! Great post, Rachel!

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  33. It took our puppy a while to get used to the snow, but once he did, he loved it! We didn’t have too much ice though, but he slips and slides all over the tile on a regular basis, lol!

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  34. Love for her dogs, and love for skating:

    “Even if there are only one or two minutes of blissful skating in a whole two hour program, I can’t risk missing those two minutes.”

    Love for your writing!

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  35. Love your style, and love that your dogs get a feature in all of your posts 🙂 all those I have read so far anyway.
    So envious that you can ice skate…I used to love roller skating but was always a disaster when on the ice ha! Maybe it’s something I should try again

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    • Thank you so much! You should definitely try ice skating again, but with knee pads, and elbow pads, and maybe hip pads? Though the one benefit of falling on the ice is that immediate ice is available to reduce the swelling.

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      • Haha! That’s true! I’m gonna try it!! Summer school holidays start soon… No trips booked yet so maybe I’ll head for the indoor ice rink and start a new hobby!

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