Category Archives: Ice Skating Articles

Reflecting on Ice Skating’s Greatest Scandal

by Katherine Ruch

I went to Canada after Christmas and it seems like I brought the weather back home with me! The weather here was awful on Monday and Tuesday! Considering that we rarely see the low teens or single digits, -4 felt a little bit surreal to be perfectly honest. I thought I had come home so that I wouldn’t freeze to death!

Since Hell didn’t freeze over, they still had Learn to Skate classes as usual on Monday! The school system was even closed both Monday and Tuesday so the fact that I left the house at all made me feel like we should probably all ‘be committed.’ The most shocking thing was how many people were there considering the extreme cold! Why were the kids out in full force? The Winter Olympics at coming!!

While 2014 has started out significantly better than my 2013 did what with having a broken foot and all last year, I found myself subconsciously guarding my knee caps on Monday.  Why? January 6th marked the 20th Anniversary of the infamous “whack heard around the world.” Whether you were involved in Figure Skating at the time or not, it was hard to miss the images of Nancy Kerrigan in what I think was a white dress holding her knee and crying; and the absolute media circus in the days that followed!

I know I was only 8 years old back in ’94 but I don’t really remember watching a lot of skating prior to that point. I just don’t think they showed it on the television. I know figures weren’t nearly as fun to watch as the high flying jumps or the fast moving spins but I don’t think it was doing away with those in competition that got the attention of the television stations. After all, the time period following figures and before Nancy vs. Tonya seemed rather stagnant in terms of Figure Skating coverage. The attention that was all of a sudden focused on Figure Skating really had to do with exposing the ugliness that can be hidden underneath all that can seem to only shimmer with perfection.  It wasn’t pretty.

While I hope that nothing quite that eventful happens at this week’s U.S. Nationals, I wonder what it would take to capture the media’s attention once more for something positive. I for one don’t want the soap operas that can go on behind the scenes to ever detract from the beauty of what happens on the ice!

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Filed under Ice Rinks, Ice Skating Articles, Ice Skating Blog, Katherine Ruch, Winter Olympics

6 Tips for Recovering From Fear After an Ice Skating Injury

Ice skating is an admittedly dangerous sport, and accidents resulting in injuries are fairly commonplace. While sustaining an injury while ice skating isn’t too difficult, getting back on the ice after a serious injury can be. If you are currently struggling with your fear but know that deep down that you want to keep skating, the following 5 tips may help you to head back to the rink with confidence.

  • Watch Footage of Pro Skaters – Even professional skaters fall all the time, most of the time without injuring themselves. Seeing people you look up to fall and maybe even get hurt once in awhile but get back up anyway can help to rebuild your determination to get back up onto the ice yourself.
  • Check Your Equipment – Knowing that your skating equipment is as prepared for the ice as it can be can make you feel more prepared by extension. As you prepare your skates, imagine you are preparing yourself, and the more prepared they are, the more prepared you are.
  • Don’t Push Yourself – If you are getting over an injury, skating may be a little harder than usual and you may be slightly more prone to making mistakes that will lead to injuries. Giving yourself as much time as you need to heal thoroughly is a good idea, but if you force yourself to return to the rink while you are still healing, be sure and take things slowly and be gentle with yourself to prevent further injuries that could make your fears even worse.
  • Practice Skating In Your Mind – Focus on imagining everything going exactly as you want it to and having a great time, performing a trick just right or perhaps winning a medal. You can even put on your skates as you do this. The point is to rebuild and strengthen positive associations with skating so that they become more important than the negative association created by your injury. It’s a silly sounding anxiety treatment technique, but it’s a valuable one.
  • Alter Your Memory of the Injury – Replay the moment when your injury occurred in your mind. Make it as vivid as possible, recalling all the sounds, smells, colors and textures associated with it, as well as all the sensations and emotions you felt. Once you have a picture of this in your mind, imagine the picture shrinking and fading, and the smaller it gets and the more black and white it becomes, the quieter the sounds get and the more far away the emotions feel. Anytime the event comes back to you when you don’t want it to, do this again. After a while, the memory won’t return as vividly, and your fear will decrease.
  • Exercise – This is probably an obvious tip, but exercising off the ice while you are working to overcome your fear can help you build confidence in the strength and resilience of your body and help you to feel prepared for anything that might happen. On the other hand, letting your muscles weaken while you feel unable to skate will only make it more difficult when you do return to the rink.

Don’t let fear come between you and the activity you love. By following the above tips you will soon find yourself slicing through that ice with a vengeance and making it think twice about causing you any more trouble.

Calm ClinicAbout the Author: Ryan Rivera has seen the way that injuries can affect athletes and their anxiety. He writes about other tools to cope with anxiety at

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Filed under Health and Fitness, Ice Skating Articles, Ice Skating Coaching

What You Need to Know About Skate Sharpening

by Eric Neubauer

How frequently should skates be sharpened?
Typical sharpening frequencies range from every 5 weeks for a daily skater to every nine months for a once-a-week skater. In general, skates need sharpening about every hundred hours of skating as long as care is taken to avoid damage from stepping on metal, concrete or any other hard or abrasive material. Pond ice may contain dirt and stones. One accidental step on concrete will probably ruin the last sharpening. Hard guards and soakers can be used to protect the blades while walking to and from the ice and when the skates are carried in a bag. Always dry off the blades after skating to prevent rusting and make sure the hard guards are also dry if they are going back on the blades. Skates need sharpening when they start to slide sideways too easily. An experienced skater can often tell when the skates are getting dull but beginners can’t, so look for feet skidding sideways when pushing or doing crossovers.

sharpening ice skatesWhat do I need to know about getting skates sharpened?

The first thing to find out is where. The right place in your area might be the rink, a skate shop or a sharpening specialist. The simplest approach is to ask several more advanced skaters where they go. At a minimum you should make sure that you can get a correct hollow radius and level edges. If the sharpener doesn’t know what a hollow radius is or have a square to check the levelness of the edges after sharpening, it might be better to go some place else. The grinding stone is dressed to a circular shape to make a hollow along the bottom of the blade. The hollow radius usually ranges from 3/8″ (deeper) to 3/4″ (shallower). Beginners usually prefer a 5/8 or 3/4″ hollow. Advanced skaters usually use a 3/8 to 1/2″ hollow.

Can I tell if my skates have been sharpened correctly by looking at the blades?

You can compare the radius of the hollow with the edge of a penny. If the penny fits exactly, the radius is 3/8″. If it can roll back and forth a bit, the radius is greater than 3/8″. If it touches at both sides but doesn’t reach the bottom, it is less than 3/8″ and a beginner will have a lot of trouble stopping. You can also check the levelness by balancing a pen or pencil across the blade. If the pen slopes toward either side, the edges are not level. Two other easy things to check are to make sure the bottom of the blade curves smoothly from front to back with no sub-curves and that the bottom toe pick hasn’t been ground off. Both of these problems will make the blade virtually useless for edges, spins and jumps.

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Filed under Figure Skating Education, Figure Skating Parents, Ice Skating Articles, Ice Skating Blog

How Can Synchronized Skating Help my (or my child’s) Figure Skating?

by Dierdre Dizon

Drill teams and precision have received a bad wrap. While some parents may have let their daughters join a team for a year for fun, if your child was serious and had a future in skating (read “Olympics”), you would never waste her time or your money on a team. It was for skaters who couldn’t hack it. Right?

Well, it never really was. But that’s the reputation synchronized skating seems to have. It’s for those who just aren’t good enough to compete individually and it’s a waste of time for anyone who is. That is completely untrue.

If your daughter (well, actually it is a co-ed sport, but its like 90% female in the US) has a passion for skating and the talent to go with it, spending some time on a team may actually improve her skating and move her ahead of her peers.

Consider this. You’re shoulder to shoulder with a line of skaters zooming down the ice–crossovers, three turns, edges, mohawks and everyone is still standing and in line at the other end of the ice. This takes incredible control from every member of the team

Adult National ChampionshipsSkaters learn how to do neat footwork right under their own bodies, not sprawled out all sloppy and crazy. You can’t get away with that in a line or you will trip your neighbor. Learning how to skate at exact speeds and put each step at the correct time in the music (so everyone does the steps at the same moment) will improve a skater’s accuracy and performance in an individual routine. The skaters are having fun while practicing moves in the field and other maneuvers at the same time.

Team practices also help stamina. Skaters have to skate for 2 to 4 minutes or more straight through. There is usually no “slow” part in the middle for catching one’s breath. And during precious on-ice practice time, you repeat sections and finally the entire program over and over. After that kind of workout, an individual program is a piece of cake.

Serious USFSA teams also know the importance of performing. The coach probably says “smile” almost as often as “keep those lines straight.” And since the judges sit high up in order to appreciate the formations, team members learn from the beginning to keep their heads up and smile. Skaters also need to maintain excellent posture and strong arms to look good and maintain the proper formations.

These are just some of the benefits. Being on a team also has other advantages. Single skating is an individual sport–one that often puts “friends” or acquaintances against each other. Being on a team not only gives skaters the opportunity to work together and learn from a team experience. It also get ever member (and parent) of the team routing for teammates, anxious for their success and improvements. After all, as each individual skater improves, it brings up the level of the entire team. So don’t scough at team skaters and don’t ignore it until you give it a try.

Dierdre is member of LA Express, an adult synchronized skating team. In 1995 they took the silver at Pacific Coast and the pewter at Nationals

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Filed under Coaches Corner, Figure Skating Education, Figure Skating Parents, Ice Skating Articles, Synchronized skating

5 Ways to Make Better Progress this Season

by Marta Nilsen, PSA Master-rated coach

Here are five steps for improving your figure skating and making better progress during the upcoming season.

1) Add another day of skating to your week.

Adding another day of skating per week can speed up your progress dramatically. If you can’t add another day, the next best thing would be to add two more hours per week of skating time. Instead of skating one hour per day for two days per week, instead skate two hours per day, two days per week.

2) Take a ballet class at least one day per week.

Ballet increases flexibility, strengthens body alignment and placement, and teaches proper jumping technique. This is a great way to get that super spiral or increase your jump height.

3) Participate in off-ice classes at least one time per week.

Off-ice class is not just another workout. You will be practicing simulating skills that are done on the ice. Practicing off ice allows you to feel, see and understand the basic positions that your body must attain during skating moves. You will also learn exercises and stretches that can do at home.

4) Go to at least three competitions away from your home rink this season.

Competitions push you to increase your skill level faster than any other method of training. Striving to do your best in a competition helps you to reach the goals that you set for your skating.

5) Set goals.

You need a plan for where you are going and a process for how to get there. You decide where you would like to be, which you discuss with your coach, and then he or she makes a plan to help you reach it. All successful people set goals to help them reach their greatest potential.

Best of luck this ice skating season!

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Filed under Figure Skating Education, Ice Skating Articles, Learn to Skate