Thursday, February 4, 2010

Do hockey skates come with Velco?

Like most kids in Canada, I took skating lessons when I was younger but living on the usually snow-free West Coast, lessons don't really mean anything unless you plan to do figure skating. We don't have snowy winters with outdoor rinks like my cousins in Alberta, so what's the point? I had reached the point of starting to learn to do corners and to stop when my family moved to another part of town. We were no longer eight blocks from a rec centre; my lessons were done. Just like that. I'm sure if I had asked 'what about skating?' my mom would have enrolled me, would have driven across town for the lessons (she did for ballet and, before our move, piano), but I never loved skating so I was happy to let it slip by the wayside.

I have skated since my early childhood foray into the world of ice. In my teens in Ireland, my cousin's friends assumed that as an Irish-Canadian I must be good at skating and so off we traipsed, decked out for the disco as I had been misinformed about our destination, to a Friday night skate at a rink in a nearby city (this particular cousin lived in a town). They were asking me for pointers as we laced up our skates; how do I explain to them that I don't skate? I decided the answer was to go as fast as I could. I did go fast, very fast, even lapped them a few times, but any illusions of my ability came to a grinding halt as I tried to stop as I had seen countless hockey players do and landed 'ass-over-tit' with my head between my knees and my skirt trying to be a tube top. Jump forward to me living in Switzerland and the same assumption is made about me being a Canadian. Add five years of wisdom, however, and I'm more than willing to admit that I don't skate and believe that hanging onto the boards for my dear life is the way to go.

So here I am, on a quest to get in shape and the crazy idea pops into my head "why don't I learn to play hockey, a sport I adore? That would be a fantastic workout!" First problem, well, see the above paragraphs. I decide to check out if the Rec Centre closest to me has any adult skating lessons beginning soon. I'm about three weeks too late for that option but now this idea has been in my head for a week, it's festering along with the love of running, and I can't just give up because I missed the start of classes. I will just have to brave the 'everyone welcome' skates on the weekends. I will have to watch children zip by me, practicing their crossovers, while I try to glide forward without falling on my butt... or knees... or hip... or elbow... or face.

I planned to go on my own, saving myself from the embarrassment of friend's watching my attempts at being graceful but then I mentioned it to a friend. She still regularly skates, she'd love to come and teach me (in exchange, she starts hockey this month and knows nothing so I'm teaching her the rules and the basics of the game... in theory). I mentioned it to a few male friends who rent ice time once a month. They thought it was fantastic, might even have a pair of skates kicking around; next time they play hockey, I should come and they could help me work on hockey skills during the warm up. I mentioned it to another friend. Can I let her know when the lessons are, she'd like to join. Suddenly, my crazy idea doesn't seem so crazy.

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