Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ice Skating

As I sit and watch the Olympics, and anxiously await my favorite sports, mostly the figure skating events. This year has been the best in a long time, as I am online and can chat with my cousin about the skaters, and the routines, and the costumes, and of course, how much we love Scott Hamilton. :)

Ice Skating has been a passion for most of my life, thankfully, Eric, Matt, and even Amy all shared the love for the sport, along with my siblings, I had Katie and Chris, and most of our friends, most of the winter was spent watching the weather, looking for good ice making weather, so the ponds would freeze solid, then enough time to get out and shovel them off, before the snow sat on them too long and pitted the surface. If it got warm, we would hope for a quick melt then a fast solid freeze again ... like we really had ANY control whatsoever. :)
When the Olympics came around we were ALL ABOUT the skating, we knew each skater, their strengths and weaknesses, we knew where they stood in the ranks, we knew how the scoring worked, we spent hours talking about it, reviewing the performances the next day as we skated in the cornfields and tried to imitate their talents.
There was a rink, about 30 minutes south in Brattleboro, there were Saturdays where we would all go for "homeschool skate" a time where it was mostly "us" as in, all our friends, skating together, on BIG real ice, it was fun. Mom usually left us there for several hours while she shopped or relaxed, :) we skated the day away, once a week, for about two to three months.
Then, Eric got his license, and it got kicked into overdrive. We got a years pass, then we went on Sat AND SUN, then we went on Wednesdays, pretty soon, we were there 5 times a week, Mon-Wed-and Fri nite, then saturday afternoons and sunday evenings. We knew the people who ran the place, we knew the skating guards, we knew the regulars, well, we WERE the regulars! They started letting Eric, Matt, Chris Katie and I skate from 9-10 for the "adult skate" on Sunday Nights. As long as we didn't go nuts, or get too loud. On nights when it was basically just us, they would even play our music for us, and we did our "routines" to it.
In those late hours, we learned SO much! We skated with instructors, who saw our love of the sport, they would coach Katie and I on the finer points of footwork, and how to do a few simple jumps. They gave us a wide berth to practice speed and spins and crazy moves. It was so much so much fun!
Eric would come home from work, tired and exhausted, and eat dinner, and pile us in his little ford escort, and drive an hour each night in snow and sleet and freezing temps, and never complained, he loved the sport, and if we did too, then more fun for all of us. Often on Sunday nights and sometimes Saturday afternoons he would take us through the drive through at McD's and we'd fill the tiny car with the smells of sweaty smelly skates, warm wet mittens and fast food. All the while, U2 is cranked on the radio and we are singing at the top of our lungs.
We had our mishaps, one 'near miss' speeding warning one late night on RTE 5, some run-ins with the skating guards over our speed on the ice, some personnel issues with some of the regulars, practical jokes going back and forth with Matt, myself and the snack shop dudes **I think though, it was Eric who switched the Coke and Root Beer soda tanks on him one Saturday heeh classic!** , and of course there were the injuries.
We were FAST, and we were trying tricks people practice for years, we were just throwing ourselves into these jumps, and spins, and we even tried some of them in Hockey skates. THAT may have been a bad idea. :) I tried a lutz jump one Sunday night, in Hockey skates, and it is a jump that requires having toe picks, so, NOT having those, i went UP and then came DOWN, and landed on ONE knee cap, all I remember is coming down, thinking ... "hmm not a good thing" the next thing I know, I'm laying flat on my back, looking up at everyone who had been skating,now surrounding me, looking at me like i was dead. Seems the sound my knee made hitting the ice, stopped everyone in their tracks, so, i was the only one who didn't see my fall :D
Eric, being the good big brother he was wanted so badly to call the ambulance, but I was dumb and stubborn and wouldn't let him I thought I would skate again that evening, I had 2 1/2 hours to go, I'd be fine......... or not :P It swelled so big, I almost cut my jeans off that night it was so hard to get them off, and it didn't go all the way down till late spring. oops!
Our entire lives revolved around skating, in the winter, we lived at the rink with our skating friends, and we loved it. Katie and I bought professional leather figure skates one year, and nursed blisters for a whole year to break them in. In the summer we spent our time trying new jumps in Rollerblades, trying to work on our footwork, and saving for new skates, I had the professional leather ones, and then of course being a tomboy, had to get authentic hockey skates too!
When Eric left for the Army, it was never the same, partly cause it got WAY more expensive! with the pass, and the gas, and food! ALso, he was such a big presence on the ice, the kids in the rink LOVED him, they followed him all across the rink. He skated on hockey skates like they were figure skates, and part of his body, it was artistic. Even now when I hear U2 songs, I see him skating to it and doing air guitar with a trail of little kids imitating his every move.
It was more than skating, it was bonding, with our friends, and mostly the three of us older siblings. When Amy was able to come, i know she felt so grown up, and loved the time in Eric's car, with the music, and singing, and of course the happy meals he would buy her.
Skating will always be a love of mine, every time i get on the ice, I feel the chill, and the rush, and I want to go fast, and dance, and jump and then i realize I'm 15 years older, and not as practiced, and then there is that knee, with the cracked knee cap, heh.
How I wish you could have been part of our Skating Days, I know I treasure the memories, they will be the stories I tell for years, and never tire of. :)