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Sasha 03-23-2008 03:34 PM

Learning to skate
 
Hi guys, my name is Aleksandra and I'm new to the site. =D I recently moved to the US and I have always wanted to learn how to skate on ice, but I've never actually done it. What would you recommend? Is it easy even though I'm 24 years old or is it too late? Are there any skating rinks in the DC/NOVA where I could learn? Are classes needed or is it something I can pickup myself?

I don't want to make the NHL, but I would like to at least be able to skate decently fast (or at least not fall down for starters!). =P

Thank you!

Sasha 03-23-2008 04:17 PM

Actually, I found the answer myself, but i'll post it in case someone else wants to know:

http://www.kettlercapitalsiceplex.com/lts.html

They offer classes for adults. =D

I'm not sure what ISI Freestyle 6 means but I'll probably just email them and ask.

Little Nilan 03-23-2008 04:35 PM

There are definitely classes for beginner skaters and personally I would recommend that over learning by yourself. It's also never too late, for anything and 24 years old is still young enough that you can eventually become a good skater.


Try at your local hockey rink, most have programs for adult.

I have no idea how close this is to you, it's in North Virginia. Check around near your home you should see something similar, most arenas have skating lessons:

http://www.kettlercapitalsiceplex.com/

Kettler Capitals Iceplex
627 N Glebe Rd
Suite 800
Arlington, VA 22203

Telephone Number:
571-224-0555

MikeD 03-23-2008 05:06 PM

check out the video at http://www.hockeycoachingabcs.com On the left side of the page click the link "videos by catagory". The top of the list has several skate skills/drills vids that may be of use to you.

Sasha 03-23-2008 05:22 PM

Thank you guys. =D

Kevin, that rink is perfect for me, I'm living in McLean right now. I'd actually like to try some figure skating one day when I learn to skate...but I guess that's a bit offtopic in a hockey forum. ;)

Pangolin 03-23-2008 07:15 PM

I started learning at 25, so 24 is not too young......
Although I still suck, at least I don't fall down (much) anymore..

Harv 03-23-2008 09:38 PM

A 24 year old Russian female...

Hmmm.. I'd say go to your local rink and go out on the ice and look helpless. Chances are you'll have no problem finding a hockey player to help you skate and teach you. Haha. :thumbu:

But in all seriousness. You'll get it. It's going to seem hard at first, but just keep practicing and don't be afraid to fall. And remember, you can't run before you walk. I see so many people try to fly around the rink their first time skating and end up almost killing themselves. Take your time, it's worth it.

Sasha 03-23-2008 11:02 PM

Is that you volunteering, Harv? =P

What would you say is the hardest part? Based on what I'm reading in other threads learning how to stop may be hard. It just looks so easy and beautiful when you're not the one actually doing it haha. How long does it take to learn how to skate more or less naturally?

The classes are seven weeks long, I didn't expect it would take so long. Each session is just half an hour long, but its still plenty of time (you get a total of 7 hours of practice time in between classes). So the first level is about 10 hours of ice time. I have always imagined its like learning how to ride a bike, at first you fall a lot but you get the hang of it pretty quickly and then it just becomes something natural.

Thank you for replying to my thread everyone, I know its not very hockey-related in that I don't really want to learn to skate to play hockey. I think it would be fun, but I wouldn't want to get hit (I'm a bit of a coward). I rather watch the players get hit from the stands. =D

Ten 03-23-2008 11:07 PM

As a kid I started Roller Blading to help me learn how to skate. If you can do that, you can skate.

The n00b King 03-23-2008 11:11 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Leftindust (Post 13238895)
As a kid I started Roller Blading to help me learn how to skate. If you can do that, you can skate.

i dunno man....but roller blading and ice skating are two different skills. i did both and frankly, roller blading is tougher. but i guess if you start with that, once you move to ice, it's easier. everything's easier on ice skates.

Sasha 03-23-2008 11:13 PM

Oh, and on a related question...the classes are:

A1 Adult Pre-Alpha 1
A2 Adult Pre-Alpha 2
A3 Adult Alpha
A4 Adult Beta
A5 Adult Gamma
A6 Adult Delta
A7 Adult Freestyle 1 on LTS ice
A8 Adult Freestyle 2 on LTS ice

and there's also Power Ice

Are this standard names for skating levels or is it specific to this rink? What is LTS ice? What does ISI Freestyle 6 mean?

I'm getting ahead of myself, I should probably first learn hot to put on the skates haha, but I'm excited and making all sorts of scenarios in my head (and of course in all I am a prodigious student who looks like a professional figure skater on the ice, rather than dumb and clumsy like i will actually look).

Sasha 03-23-2008 11:16 PM

I'm actually not interested in roller blading L, and I haven't tried that either, but thanks for the advise.

Zeus54 03-23-2008 11:52 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Sasha (Post 13238991)
I'm actually not interested in roller blading L, and I haven't tried that either, but thanks for the advise.


Give it a try if you can, trust me, it will help out ALOT. When I first tried ice skating, I was about 8 or 9, i'd say. I always use to hang on to the side of the boards and wasn't well coordinated. So, when I was 11, I started rollerblading and practiced all the time. The next time I went to the ice rink, my skating improved greatly. I could skate in the open ice, do solid strides and do open ice braking fine.

LilWinger11 03-24-2008 01:54 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Sasha (Post 13238964)
Oh, and on a related question...the classes are:

A1 Adult Pre-Alpha 1
A2 Adult Pre-Alpha 2
A3 Adult Alpha
A4 Adult Beta
A5 Adult Gamma
A6 Adult Delta
A7 Adult Freestyle 1 on LTS ice
A8 Adult Freestyle 2 on LTS ice

and there's also Power Ice

Are this standard names for skating levels or is it specific to this rink? What is LTS ice? What does ISI Freestyle 6 mean?

I'm getting ahead of myself, I should probably first learn hot to put on the skates haha, but I'm excited and making all sorts of scenarios in my head (and of course in all I am a prodigious student who looks like a professional figure skater on the ice, rather than dumb and clumsy like i will actually look).

ISI is one of the two organizations for figure skating in the US. Most rinks use either the ISI learn-to-skate program or the US Figure Skating Basic Skills program. In either one, as you learn new skills, your instructors will test you on them, and as you master certain skills you'll move up from one level to the next. Pre-Alpha I is where you would start.

I competed in figure skating in the NoVa area a few times... there's a very nice rink in Ashburn, and one in Reston that I know of. Most young adults can put skates on and get around by themselves, but if you're interested in learning figure skating skills you're better off taking lessons. http://www.skatingforums.com is a board kind of like this one but for figure skating; you'll find a very nice group of adult skaters there who can help you out. I know at least a couple of them are from your area too.

Other advice: if you don't have skates, use the rental skates a few times until you're sure you're going to stick with it, and then ask your instructor where you should go to buy skates. You'll want to make sure you get a good-quality pair, and more importantly that they fit you right. Most coaches have one or two skate places they recommend.

Trepanated 03-24-2008 04:17 PM

Some quick stuff about me, before we move on to you.

I started skating a little over a year ago, when I was 31. I took the Alpha level class at the Cabin John ice rink (which is not that far from you, although there are many rinks closer). I then went through the HNA beginner program and have been playing hockey ever since.

Now some random thoughts about your situation:

-- I only wish I had started skating when I was 24. You are by no means too late.

-- I don't know if the levels are exactly the same everywhere, but in my experience pre-Alpha is for people who have absolutely no experience. I'm talking about people who cannot even stand still on the ice without being in danger of sudden arm-flailing followed by falling over for no reason. Even if that's you, I still wouldn't take pre-Alpha though. If you have even average athletic ability, you can get the same thing just by going to a few public skates and skating around until you don't need to hug the wall at all times. Then take Alpha. If you can already skate and do cross-overs, then take Beta instead.

-- Whatever lessons you take, you *must* go to public skates and practice on your own if you want to make progress. My Alpha lessons came with 6 free public skate sessions. I made sure I used them all, and it made a big difference. You will not make any progress if the only time you spend on ice is the 30 minutes you get per week at your lesson.

-- As someone else said, get your own skates sooner rather than later. Renting is good at first to make sure you will stick with it, but my experience with rental skates is that a) they won't fit well, and b) the "edges" will be dull bordering on non-existent. The biggest part of learning to skate is learning to use edges, so you really need your own skates.

-- In terms of how long it takes to become completely natural, I would say it's more like learning a foreign language than it is like riding a bike. If you learn before you are a teenager, you can become perfectly fluent. If you don't learn until you are an adult, you may achieve very good fluency in a few years, but unless you work exceptionally hard you may always have a bit of an accent. I'm not sure exactly what the picture looks like in your head when you are talking about skating naturally. In 6 months you might look fairly natural in your forward stride. If you are thinking of pivots, backwards crossovers, and such, then you are probably looking at years before it looks natural.

-- If you are interested in hockey, I can recommend the HNA beginner program. If you prefer figure skating, I can't really help with that.

-- Good luck, and have fun.

Sasha 03-24-2008 07:26 PM

LilWinger and Trepanated, thank you very much for your detailed replies, they have been very useful.

Quote:

pre-Alpha is for people who have absolutely no experience.
Unfortunately, that would be me haha.

Phoenix 03-24-2008 08:49 PM

I started playing hockey at 23 and I would do anything to have started playing when I was 14years (that was when I wanted to but parents and money wouldn't allow it).
So at that time I did a couple years 'learn-to-skate' which branched into figure skating which I had no interest in. I stopped for about 7 years then finally was able to live my dream and play hockey!

I found I didn't pick things up as fast, but at the same time, I was pretty determined and now after almost 2 years I'm a far better skater from hockey than I ever was learning to figure skate in a skate school. I'm far from being a great skater, and it still doesn't flow naturally like it does to others who started young, but I hold my own against the others in a rec league.

So definitely start. Even though you don't like rollerblades (I don't either and I never use them) it would be a good idea to at least start with them so you can practise unless you can hit the ice quite frequently.
Find an area to go into, it doesn't have to be hockey, but if you love doing what you're doing, you'll learn a lot faster!!

Sasha 04-12-2008 04:31 PM

Well i chose not to go to classes and I've been skating on my own trying to learn some basics. For the life of me, I cannot stop. Today, I went to the rink with a friend who tried teaching me the snowplow stop, but everytime I try it, I just loose balance (or I end up accidentally pulling a pretty bad forward swizzle...and then falling :P). So either I try to stop and end up falling or I just use the "crash against the boards" stop technique, which I'm quite good at. :(

Any advise?

LilWinger11 04-12-2008 05:22 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Sasha (Post 13611222)
Well i chose not to go to classes and I've been skating on my own trying to learn some basics. For the life of me, I cannot stop. Today, I went to the rink with a friend who tried teaching me the snowplow stop, but everytime I try it, I just loose balance (or I end up accidentally pulling a pretty bad forward swizzle...and then falling :P). So either I try to stop and end up falling or I just use the "crash against the boards" stop technique, which I'm quite good at. :(

Any advise?

First of all, are you in brand-new skates? If so, it'll get easier after you've skated in them a few times and the blades aren't quite as sharp.

It sounds to me like you're doing what I call the trifecta- head down, knees stiff, butt sticking out. Focus on bending your knees (this is key), keeping your eyes up, and having your hips directly under your shoulders. Believe it or not, for a lot of people it takes practice to be able to bend your knees without sticking your butt out;)

Sasha 04-12-2008 06:43 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by LilWinger11 (Post 13611775)
First of all, are you in brand-new skates? If so, it'll get easier after you've skated in them a few times and the blades aren't quite as sharp.

It sounds to me like you're doing what I call the trifecta- head down, knees stiff, butt sticking out. Focus on bending your knees (this is key), keeping your eyes up, and having your hips directly under your shoulders. Believe it or not, for a lot of people it takes practice to be able to bend your knees without sticking your butt out;)

I'm pretty sure I'm doing the "trifecta". I did try to bend my knees tough, but as you said its likely I didn't keep my waist straight.

They are rental skates, by the way.

Trepanated 04-13-2008 12:55 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Sasha (Post 13611222)
Well i chose not to go to classes and I've been skating on my own trying to learn some basics. For the life of me, I cannot stop. Today, I went to the rink with a friend who tried teaching me the snowplow stop, but everytime I try it, I just loose balance (or I end up accidentally pulling a pretty bad forward swizzle...and then falling :P). So either I try to stop and end up falling or I just use the "crash against the boards" stop technique, which I'm quite good at. :(

Any advise?

All of what I'm about to say is based solely on my own experience learning to stop on hockey skates. I'm not an expert, just a guy who has gone through the same thing you are. Here is what I recommend you try because it worked well for me.

The hard part about learning to stop is learning how to apply the edges of your skates to the ice. Once you get the feeling of applying your edges in the right way so that you scrape ice instead of cutting into it, you can get better fairly quickly with practice. Until then your practice will be ineffective.

I recommend the one foot snowplow stop. Just like everyone else who ever learned to skate, you will find that you prefer one foot or the other being forward, and it won't take long to figure out which one. Say, for the sake of example, that you find out it's your right foot. The first goal is to learn how to scrape ice with that foot. You can do this standing still, holding on to the boards, but you need to understand how your edges work. The skate blade has a u-shaped hollow in the center, leaving edges on each side. You want to practice scraping ice with the *inside part* of the *inside edge*. When I say scraping ice, I mean you want to be able to stand still and scrape the edge sideways along the ice. If the blade is "catching" in the ice then you are probably using the outside part of the inside edge (doing this while moving will cause you to fall every time). Rotate your ankle so that the blade is flatter on the ice and you are scraping. Once you have a feel for what it's like to scrape ice, you can try it while moving.

While skating forwards, turn one ankle (again, say it's your right) about 45 degrees inwards and start scraping ice with it. Most of your weight will be on your other foot (you'll want to bend your knees a bit). Doing this, you will find that you are hardly even slowing down, never mind stopping, especially if the blade is not very sharp. That's ok, you are just trying to get the feeling of scraping ice with one foot turned inwards while moving. This is a very basic one foot snowplow stop. As you become more comfortable with this, you can put more and more weight on your front foot. You can then start increasing speed.

Beyond that you will want to begin involving your back foot. I won't describe it in detail, because this post is long enough already. Plus if you get that far you can probably figure it out on your own anyway. :) Good luck.

Improvise 04-16-2008 09:18 PM

Some good info in this thread.

I just skated today for the first time in about 15 years. I am going to start playing hockey this Fall since SJ State offers a beginner hockey class. Figured it'd probably be a good idea to start skating a little now to get ready.

I'm fairly athletic, played basketball and (american) football throughout my childhood and have always been a Captain for every team I've ever been on. I'm 5'10" 175 and I work out a lot nowadays but don't train for any sport.

I couldn't get stopping down today. I tried a little here and there and I think I understand it but I just couldn't really do it. Skated for about 1.5 hours with rental hockey skates that were incredibly uncomfortable. Felt great to get out there and skate though, just made me appreciate and respect the sport/athletes so much more. I love hockey, it is probably my favorite sport and I wish I played it when I was younger.

This is a stupid question but I just need some reassurance, rental skates are much more uncomfortable than good hockey skates, right? Should I go ahead and fork up the money now and purchase my own pair of comfortable skates?

I want to go every day but my rink charges $11 per session which is such a ripoff in my opinion. If I go everyday of the week I'll be spending 80 bucks a week on ice skating! That's ridiculous.

Any advice on skates to purchase would be appreciated.

And what are your guys thoughts on buying used skates? I wear a 9.5, but I thin kthe width of the skate makes a pretty big difference, right?

Trepanated 04-17-2008 01:50 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Improvise (Post 13701220)
This is a stupid question but I just need some reassurance, rental skates are much more uncomfortable than good hockey skates, right? Should I go ahead and fork up the money now and purchase my own pair of comfortable skates?

No question about it. I would go so far as to say that it's incredibly difficult to truly learn how to skate in rentals. If you are at all serious about learning to skate, you will never regret spending the money on your own pair of skates.

With that said, bear in mind that getting good skates is as much about spending your time as it is spending your money. For your first pair of skates, it's probably even more important. That's time spent learning about how skates are supposed to fit and what to look for (err, feel for) when you are trying them on. Time spent finding a good local shop with a wide selection. And of course, time spent trying on as many different skates in as many sizes as you can.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Improvise
Any advice on skates to purchase would be appreciated.

And what are your guys thoughts on buying used skates? I wear a 9.5, but I thin kthe width of the skate makes a pretty big difference, right?

Lots of people around here know more than me about this, but I'll share my experience again.

First, I would avoid used skates, because they'll have been broken in by someone else, and molded to fit that person's foot instead of yours. Buying new allows you to get the skates baked and break them in yourself, resulting in a better fit.

Personally, my feet are pretty wide. I wear the widest size 10.5 shoe I can get my hands on. Length-wise I could probably wear a 10, but I hardly ever find size 10 shoes that are wide enough. I had read that CCM skates tended to run wider, so I focused on those. After trying on lots of skates in a number of different brands, I ended up buying CCM Vector 6 skates in size 8.5E. The E width was important; the standard D width was not very comfortable. I got these skates for under $200, and have been happy with them. I've never really had any kind of foot pain or even discomfort since I bought them. I'm sure the experts around here can offer more information, especially if you have other specific questions, but that was my experience. Good luck.

Jeff Goldblum 04-17-2008 02:27 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Improvise (Post 13701220)
And what are your guys thoughts on buying used skates? I wear a 9.5, but I thin kthe width of the skate makes a pretty big difference, right?

I recently got into hockey within the past 5 years. I have pretty thin bone structure and thin feet. My first skates were too wide. My ankles would bend and be stressed because my feet were off-center. It really was difficult to skate, but since I was just learning, I thought it was normal. I later got a pair of Nike's that ran thin and my skating was MUCH improved the minute I put them on. So yeah, width makes a huge difference.

We'reGonnaWin* 04-17-2008 04:53 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Improvise (Post 13701220)
And what are your guys thoughts on buying used skates? I wear a 9.5, but I thin kthe width of the skate makes a pretty big difference, right?

Can you buy from a store and try different brands on? You're right that the width of skates vary depending on brand. But I wouldn't totally discount buying used.

Once you get your own skates, you can get them sharpened and tinker with the skate blade hollow. Most sharpeners sharpen at 1/2", but going shallower to 9/16" or 5/8" might help in learning how to stop. Unfortunately, rentals are usually sharpened at 1/2" which is a bit of a crutch/training wheel so that new skaters feel more stable -- but also make it hard to improve and learn to hockey stop.


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