Skate into success

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Farm Forum

With winter under way, ice skaters are abound at the ice rinks and frozen ponds.

Here are a few skating tips from Jenna Carlon and John Feist, two ice skating instructors for Aberdeen Parks, Recreation and Forestry.

Q. How should you fall?

A. In case you didn’t know, falling forward onto the ice isn’t such a good idea since it’s one of the easiest ways to injure yourself on the ice.

Feist, who has coached kids’ hockey for six years, said kids have broken noses and ribs by falling forward. The best way to fall is backward, he said.

“You just want to lean into it between the hips and the butt,” he said. “Just go with the fall.”

Another thing to remember: Don’t stick out your hands to break your fall since you run the risk of breaking a hand in the process.

Some tips to falling properly are to let the body hit the ice and then use your hands and arms to catch yourself, said Carlon, who has close to 15 years of skating experience and has been a competitive figure skater.

Q. Should you be afraid of falling?

A. Scary as it is, falling is a fact in ice skating.

“You have to fall if you’re figure skating or in hockey,” Carlon said.

One of the first things she teaches kids is how to fall correctly, she said.

“If you don’t fall, you don’t learn anything and you’ll always be scared,” she said.

Feist also does the same when he teaches and believes it’s necessary.

“Good skaters know their edges,” he said, referring to the blades on an ice skate and how to control them. “You got to fall if you want to know where your edges are.”

Q. Figure skates or hockey skates?

A. The consensus of the two instructors is that while hockey skates can be used for the both hockey and casual skating, figure skates are best suited for just figure skating.

“If you’re looking to be a recreational skater, hockey skates are the way to go,” Feist said.

Figure skates have a toe pick designed at the front of the blades to help skaters jump, Carlon said. But those unfamiliar with toe picks could easily trip if the toe pick catches, she said.

Q. What is an easy way to stop?

A. While there are various ways to stop, what the instructors recommended was the snowplow stop method as a way to begin, Carlon said.

The method involves pointing your toes inward to make a pizza shape with your feet and then pushing your feet out at the same time, she said.

Q. What’s the best way to balance yourself on the ice?

A. When Feist teaches balance, he focuses on keeping the knees bent, the limbs loose and a relaxed body.

“I just try to say make sure your head is up and not looking. Make sure your center of gravity is underneath your body,” he said.

Carlon uses a slightly different method, telling students to hold their arms out to the side like an airplane to find their balance.

“If your arms are out straight, parallel on both sides, your body will be aligned,” she said.

And both agree: Don’t look down at the ice.

“Usually I tell them if they look down at the ice, they’ll fall and break their nose,” Carlon said.