Skating in my 30s…(Part 2)

Thank you for reading Part One of my skating journey in my 30s!  The response has been so positive!  I hope this encourages other adult skaters to pursue their dreams.  Continue reading for Part 2.

An Adult Skater in a Sea of kids

I can still remember the first time I stepped on the ice for my second attempt at skating as an adult skater like it was yesterday.  In February 2019, I resolved to take up skating again after an unsuccessful attempt two years earlier.

It was a Saturday morning at the Pasadena Ice Skating rink.  I had signed up for an intermediate Adult group skating class but still felt like an amateur.  My class of ten were the lone adults in a sea of kids.

I felt “intermediate” was a generous term for my rudimentary skills.  After not skating on the ice for over a year, I felt nervous and overwhelmed.  The skills I had learned earlier seemed to have all but disappeared.  We started off by reviewing stroking and swizzles.  My legs felt like lead.  The thirty minutes passed by in a flash.

Celebrate the Small Wins

Even though I had some experience skating, I never quite learned how to stop, so after class, I asked my instructor how to stop and she told me to apply pressure to the middle of the blade…and voila!  My one-foot snowplow stop finally clicked.  So I had one victory that day.  I finally learned how to stop!  It was such an encouraging feeling.

Finding a Coach 

For the next couple of group classes, my confidence started to grow and the muscle memory started to come back; however, I knew that if I really wanted to take my skating to the next level, I’d need to invest in a coach for invaluable one-on-one guidance.  I contacted the rink about setting me up with a coach and was matched with the most kind and patient coach in Necia Kruger.  With a coach, my skills steadily grew.  If anything, she was my personal cheerleader and accountability partner.

Artistic vs. Technical 

I’ve always considered myself more of an artistic skater than a technical one.  My focus has been more on my edges and extensions than jumps and spins.  I actually love performing the same moves over and over again and get a thrill when I hear that satisfying “crunch” from getting a deep edge.  My goal is to perform a spiral as beautiful and elegant as Nancy Kerrigan’s iconic assisted spiral she performed at the 1994 Olympics in her sophisticated, yet understated Vera Wang dress.  Even after all these years, I still wanted to fulfill my twelve-year-old’s fantasy of being an ice princess.  My spiral is still a work in progress, but it’s getting there.

Your Journey is Your Own 

I’m sure like most adult skaters, one can’t help but feel a tinge of envy whenever a young skater performs axels and layback spins.  But I always tell myself that I can’t judge my progress based on anyone else’s standards, but my own.  So I take my victories whenever I can get them, whether that means successfully getting in one more rotation on a one-foot spin or landing a waltz.  I have to keep reminding myself that skating is a marathon, not a sprint. Results don’t happen overnight, but with years of practice and discipline.

Overcoming Challenges as an Adult 

As adults,  one obstacle that we have to overcome is the fear of falling.  Our bodies aren’t made of rubber and injuries are a serious and painful reality.  I wished I could skate with the same abandon as the little jumping jelly beans flying pass me, but as adults, the fear is real.  It feels the most daunting when I’m trying out new jumps.  I’m still working on my salchow, and it’s definitely scary!

One of my biggest challenges is that I tend to overthink a lot of the moves, especially jumps.  For the life of me, I just couldn’t wrap my head around jumps as simple as the bunny hop or a half flip. Jumping has never felt natural for me on or off the ice.  In my mind, I envision that I should be flying in the air, but in actuality, the beginning stages of a jump feels more like a “skip” than anything else and I end up asking my coach after completing the tiniest of jumps, “Was that it?”  The best thing to do is to just let go and go for it.  As we grow older, we lost that natural instinct to just trust our bodies.  Our bodies know what it’s doing.  Skating is just as much mental as it is physical.

I sometimes feel a bit of imposter syndrome when I skate.  The feeling is particularly strong when I have a freestyle session and I’m performing waltzes while I see skaters half my age performing triple lutzes and loops.  For a moment, I question myself, “Should I even be here?”  All I can do is brush these fleeting moments aside and remind myself of my own progress and be honored of what I’ve accomplished as an adult skater.

Sticking it Out

I’m proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish in a year.  I love my edges and am satisfied with my three-point turns; however, I can always bend my knees a little deeper.  I passed my Freestyle 1 test at the end of 2019 and was preparing for my first competition this year; however, the coronavirus has put those plans on hold.  All I can do is practice off -ice with online coaches like @Coachhamish and @coachmichellehong and keep focused until we can all return again to the ice.  I know we will all emerge from this stronger.  I’ll never take skating for granted ever again.

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