Friday, May 22, 2009

New to the rink? Learn the rules.

One of the clubs where Ice Girl skates has seen an increase in the number of figure skaters on the ice lately. A local rink is down for repair, so their skaters have been visiting us.

The more the merrier, I say.

Ice Girl agrees in theory, but she complains because the new kids don’t know the rules.

I encourage her to be welcoming, not scowling, but it’s true that skaters who don’t know the rules frustrate those who do.

If you’re new to a rink, here are a few things to do to make sure that skaters smile at you instead of growl.

Visiting figure skaters’ etiquette:

  • Check in with the ice monitor. You might not have to check in with the ice monitor at your home rink because everyone knows you there; however, that’s not the case when you’re visiting. Make sure the monitor knows who you are, double-check that you’re contracted, and ask her how the rink works: where the jump corners are, where to do spins, and if there’s a rule about how music is played.

  • Move. You might not have so many figure skaters on your home rink as in your host rink. The skaters at your host rink might be way faster than you are. Don’t stand in the middle and look stunned. Keep moving. If you’re not moving, stand at the boards for a very short time. Then move again. It’s a safety thing. Moving targets are harder to hit, so you and other skaters are less likely to go down in a heap of arms and blades.

  • Go solo. Do not hang out in a group on the ice. You’re forming a wall and skaters have to skate around you. If you need to talk, do it off to the side.

  • Respect the figure skater whose music is playing. At rinks in our area, figure skaters wear an orange vest when they’re skating to their music. Other figure skaters are supposed to move out of the way. It’s both a respect issue and a safety issue. You want skaters to move for you when you do your program, so move when they’re doing theirs. You also don’t want to be the one who causes a skater in her program to crash into you while she’s doing a Lutz or a backwards spiral. She can’t see you. So move.

  • Say you’re sorry. Don’t interrupt skaters during their program to apologize for being a speed bump in the middle of their straight-line footwork. At some point, though, acknowledge that you were in the way and apologize for it. Then don’t do it again.

  • Smile. This one’s for Ice Girl. People will get in your way, especially when the ice is crowded. Shrug it off and think about how lucky you are to have ice in the first place.

  • For host club skaters: Be welcoming. Introduce yourself to the visitors and say something nice. Remember: these kids are bringing more money into your club and are helping keep your ice open. Be grateful. Someday you might be skating on their rink and you want to keep goodwill flowing.

Do you have some visiting skaters’ etiquette tips to share? Put ’em in the comments section!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Do Cold Ice Rinks Stimulate the Bladder?

I was in the stands yesterday with the gals and someone (E.C.) suggested I write about the relationship between cold ice rinks and bladder stimulation.

You’ve got to be kidding me, I said.

No, E.C. insisted. It’s true.

Other moms nodded their heads.

My only opinion about the relationship between ice rinks and nature’s call is that I refuse to use the restrooms in rinks where they're located next to the ice and the heater doesn't work. Yeah. Permafrost.

So, really. Does the cold encourage the bladder to contract? Yep. I couldn’t make this up.

From an article in The Boston Globe:

This is not exactly the most-studied question in medicine, but yes, patients often do report a greater sense of urinary urgency in the winter, doctors say.

"In the olden days, we would have pooh-poohed this question. Now, we're paying attention and trying to see what causes it," says Dr. Pablo Gomery, a urologist at Massachusetts General Hospital. Cold air seems to trigger an increased sense of urgency, he says, though this does not necessarily translate into incontinence.

The article reports that researchers have found that cold weather stimulates animal bladders, too. People also have more urine in winter because the body uses more fluid in the summer.

Alright. What does this mean for the mom in the stands?

  • Make your rest stop before you get to the rink. I do that anyway because I don’t like public restrooms, especially those with permafrost.
  • Drink less caffeine. Caffeine also stimulates the bladder and the liquid is, well, liquid.
  • Stop worrying. Easy for me to say, but worry also causes bladder contractions.
  • Stay healthy. Again, easy for me to say, but sneezing and coughing can trigger the bladder, too.
  • Stay warm. Hang out in the lobby or bring lots of blankets and a warm coat.

Are we crazy? Have you experienced this phenomenon? You can comment with your suggestions and experiences or just roll your eyes and move on with your life.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Fifty things to do while your kid figure skates

Your kid is on the ice for an hour. What can you do with your time?

  1. Wrap yourself in a blanket and watch from the stands.

  2. Chat with the other Ice Parents.

  3. Play music for the skaters.

  4. Walk up and down the bleacher steps (I never do this).

  5. Put on skates and give it a try (I don’t do this, either).

  6. Exit the rink doors and see what the outside world looks like.

  7. Solitaire.

  8. Catch up on e-mail.

  9. Take an online course.

  10. Go grocery shopping.

  11. Pick up the dry cleaning.

  12. Get your oil changed.

  13. Meet someone for coffee.

  14. Browse the stacks at the local used book store.

  15. Return library books and video rentals before those overdue fines get out of hand again.

  16. Heckle (I try not to do too much of this).

  17. Plan your kid’s next skating dress.

  18. Apply crystals to your kid’s next skating dress.

  19. Run to the fabric store. Don’t forget your coupons!

  20. Knit or crochet.

  21. Facebook.

  22. Walk in a botanical garden (pretty and free).

  23. Wash your car.

  24. Wash your dog.

  25. Balance your checkbook.

  26. Balance your work and ice schedules.

  27. Watch a ball game on TV.

  28. Text.

  29. Use your cell phone to catch up with mom.

  30. Finally put all those photos in a scrapbook or photo album.

  31. Read the newspaper.

  32. Read a novel.

  33. Take photos.

  34. Take a video of a jump or spin to give your kid feedback.

  35. Avoid gossips.

  36. Shiver.

  37. Work on hockey-glass communication.

  38. Help youngest kid with homework.

  39. Arrange a car pool.

  40. Check the vending machines for spare change and apply to ice contract.

  41. Eat your kid’s stash of pudding and 100-calorie snacks from her cooler.

  42. Hide the evidence.

  43. Chew gum to mask the pudding-breath smell.

  44. Practice your innocent look.

  45. Talk to the Zamboni driver and see what’s new at the rink.

  46. Share your kid’s 100-calorie snacks with the Zamboni driver. Share your gum, too.

  47. Root through the lost and found for your kid’s missing guards, gloves, and champion cords. (If you find Ice Girl’s cords, please let me know.)

  48. Make a list.

  49. Check it twice.

  50. Write a blog post.

How do you spend your rink time? Add to this list in the comments.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Work in Progress: 50 Ways to Leave Your Child’s Figure Skating Coach

Lately, I’ve had a lot of conversations with people about how and why to change figure skating coaches. I don’t bring up the topic – I swear!

I’ve learned a lot and I think a lot of parents would benefit from shared collective wisdom. Here’s a bit for you to contemplate, from Melissa in Florida:

I made the decision to talk to her [the coach] about a month or so ago and she just overlooked my concerns and said I was wrong and that was it. So for the next month or so, I watched other coaches at the rink. I watched their students; I watched how they interacted with each other. I watched how they progressed and if they were having fun. I found two that I felt would work well with a 4-year-old, but still be a forward-thinking coach. One that would be fun, too. (That’s what we all want right?) Well I found one in particular…

Do you have a story about switching coaches that others might find useful? If so, please e-mail it to me at icemom.diane at You can include them in the comments here, too.

I’ll be gathering your stories as well as stories from folks at the rinks where Ice Girl skates. When I have a good stack, I’ll compile them into a useful document that we can all share.

Sure, there are good guides out there for changing coaches (PSA has one), but I think wisdom from blanket-wrapped parents in the cold bleachers is the best kind.

P.S.: Ice Coach? If you’re reading, don’t worry: we’re not leaving you.