Learning Ice Skating With Coach Julia

My transition from hockey to figure skates is now complete. I am now loving the Jackson Freestyle Fusion booth with Aspire blades. Even though I am still feeling a little bit of pain, the stiff figure is more tolerable than the soft hockey. I still need more time to break in.

These days I go to the arena by myself. My kids don’t join me anymore. Both Đạo and Đán were done with their lessons last week and their next classes will most likely be canceled due to lack of registrations. Xuân’s last class is tomorrow. We’re going to give them a break for the summer. They don’t seem to be enthusiastic about skating much anymore, but I still do. I am reviewing the techniques I have learned up to this point. When I took classes, I focused only on skills that were taught to keep up with my classmates. As a result, I didn’t go back to what I had already learned.

Now that I am learning on my own, I am going back to what I am not doing so well yet. I wanted to add more speed to my backward crossovers. Coach Julia has a fantastic demonstration near the end of her tutorial on backward crossovers. She is not only a skilled skater, but also an approachable instructor. If you want to learn ice skating on your own, her YouTube channel is an invaluable resource.

What I missed the most from hockey skates is the hockey stop. Doing the hockey stop using the figure skates is a bit harder than using the hockey skates, which makes sense. I am relearning the hockey stop on both legs. I am also reviewing the Mohawks and outside 3-turns so I don’t lose those techniques. I am practicing insanely on the inside 3-turns, which are for the Delta level that I am supposed to be continuing. Somehow inside turns are difficult to do than outside turns. I can’t seem to rock my skates to make the turn easier. I am also learning bunny hops. My hops are more like old-ass rabbit limps than bunny hops, but I am getting there. Once I learn forward outside edges, lunges, and shoot the duck, I should complete the Delta level on my own. I already saved all of Coach Julia’s videos for these techniques.

What makes me still passionate about ice skating is that there are so much to learn even just for the basic level. Now that I am learning at my own pace, I am taking my time to practice each technique rather than trying to rush through for the test. I wanted to be in it for the long run rather than trying too hard and giving up. I sweated profusely after an hour and fifteen minutes on ice. It had been a great workout every time.

Setbacks

My ice skating trajectory is taking a few setbacks. The transition from hockey to figure skate plays a part of it. I have to relearn everything I had done in the past and I also want to learn new skills. As a result, I lost my focus. I kept switching from one thing to another.

The other part is fear of falling. Even though I wore a helmet and strapped up my protection gears, I still can’t overcome my fear. Seeing people hurt themselves on ice made me feel intimidated. If I want to go further, I need to get the fearness out of my head.

In several previous public sessions, I could not skate much. I got so frustrated. In the last session, I decided to just take one thing at a time like I used to do in the past. I just focused on one skill until I could do it then move on to the next.

Group lessons for my age haven’t opened up yet and I decided not to take private lessons either. I want to try learning on my own based on the skill levels listed on the test chart from my group lessons. For the techniques, I find Coach Julia’s YouTube channel to be straightforward and easy to follow. I want to do this until I get used to my figure skates. I am in no rush to get anywhere. I just wanted to learn new skills to keep me engaged in this sport.

Hockey vs. Figure

Making the transition from hockey skates to figure skates has been a challenge for me. Now I understand why Đán didn’t want to make the switch. The hockey skates were much more comfortable than the figure skates.

When we first started out, we used rental figure skates for a while. Then I bought myself a pair of Bauer Supreme S29 for $130. The price was low because I could fit into the youth size. It was brand new. My wife bought Đán and Đạo CCM Youth Tacks.

We took lessons and skated for a while until Đán went to Gamma/Delta, in which he needed figure skates to do some of the techniques. I looked up on Facebook and found a pair of Jackson Freestyle for $25. A new pair would cost $265. The boot was still in good condition. I asked Đán to give it a try. He skated two rounds around the rink and gave up. I asked Đạo to try. He didn’t like it at first, but he had an easier time making the transition. He now can skate in both, but the Jackson Freestyle will be his main skates.

My wife found me a used pair of Jackson Ultima Freestyle Fusion on eBay for $100 plus shipping. A brand new pair is $320. The pair still looked new. The seller said that his son only skated one time.

I skated three times already. The first time was horrible. The boot felt super stiff compared to the hockey skates. I didn’t realize that the higher the line, the harder the boot. I couldn’t even shave the ice to stop. I took it to the pro shop to get it sharpened. The second time I skated felt the same. I could only glide, swizzle, and cross over forward. I felt so frustrated, I wanted to give up and just go back to hockey skates. In addition, skating with 80 other people in the rink didn’t help.

This morning, I took Xuâx with me to an earlier public session. The rink was almost empty. Less than 10 skaters in the rink. The patrol didn’t bother to keep an eye on the skaters. He had his eyes on his phone instead.

I was determined to give the figure skates one last time before giving up. I put more effort in and went beyond my fear. I reworked everything I had learned up to this point, which included T-stops, 3-turns, and the Mohawks. Figure skates gave me more balance to do these things than hockey skates. I am still having trouble doing backward crossovers because my back foot kept getting caught with the toe pick. The hockey stop was also much easier to do on the hockey skates than the figure skates. Once I can do both of these, I will complete the transition. I am looking forward to doing more with the figure skates.

Private Lessons

I started using my new figure skate today and it was horrible. I could not do anything other than just gliding forward and doing some crossovers. I couldn’t even do a plow stop. I thought the blades were not sharpened, but the expert from the pro shop said the blades have edges. I am going to need more time to make the transition.

Đạo is doing great with his group lessons. After class tonight, his instructor asked me if I would be interested in signing him up for private lessons. Since he picked up the techniques quickly and easily, his instructor thinks he would go further with private lessons. Of course, I will sign him up.

I signed Đán up for ice hockey. I hope he will enjoy it. He skates fast, but refuses to use figure skates. Now I can see why as I am struggle to make the transition myself. I am not going to give up though.

My wife also wants to sign Xuân up for private lessons. I am also thinking of taking private lessons myself now that my group lessons had canceled, but I need to get used to my figure skates first.

I am going to need to take on extra freelance projects to pay for these extracurriculars. If you need a professional website for your doctor office, nail salon, restaurant, or any business, hit me up. If you know someone who needs a website, let me know. My price is very reasonable.

Taking a Break From Skating Lessons

The good news is that my Jackson Ultima Freestyle Fusion figure skates had arrived earlier today. My wife got a great deal on it from eBay. The skates look like new and they fit me perfectly. The bad news is that my group lessons for Delta were cancelled. I was the only student signed up. At least five students were needed to hold the class.

Then again, this is a good time for me to take a break from lessons and to give me time to break into my new figure skates. If nothing comes up in the next few weeks, I might consider taking private lessons. I am not sure what my goal is for taking lessons. Maybe I just wanted to find out how far my body can handle the techniques. Yesterday, I saw a man in his early 50s doing turns and spins. He started figure skating when he was 45. I was encouraged.

I still have so much to learn, but I am taking my time and taking each step at a time. Skating is my only form of exercise at the moment. Both ice skating and rollerblading make me sweat. They both keep me stay active.

An Eventful Saturday

I worked on a freelance project until 3 am in the morning because I was in the zone and didn’t want to stop. As a result, I only had a few hours of sleep. I woke up to take Đạo and Đán to their Boy Scout meeting at the park. I dropped by Dunkin’ Donuts to pick up breakfast for the kids and iced coffee for me.

While the kids attended their Scout activities, I went to the skatepark to rollerblade. I got bored going down the straight ramps. I felt like I was not going anywhere with rollerblading. I was too nervous to take on the curved ramps like a half pipe. With my mind going berserk due to lack of sleep and the caffeine kicking in, I decided to just do it. I nervously put my left foot on the coping and dropped in with my right foot. I didn’t fall at all. I felt rejuvenated and kept on doing it for an hour. I even tried out a higher half pipe. After I showed Đán, he did it as well.

Later in the evening, I took Đạo and Xuân ice skating. Đán didn’t want to go. The arena was empty. I only picked the least busy time so I practiced. Xuân could do both the T-stop and the hockey stop simply from watching us. His form for the hockey stop looked so good. He is a natural skater. As we were having a great time, a teenage boy fell. He twisted his foot and cut his hand with the blade. His blood spilled all over the ice. With injuries occurring more frequently, I am getting a bit nervous.

I signed up for Delta, but no one else had signed up. It looks like the group lessons will have to be cancelled. I am attempting to sign up for private lessons, but I am still waiting for my figure skates to arrive. My wife bought me a used pair of Jackson Freestyle on eBay. The seller shipped over a week ago, but it is still somewhere in California. USPS sucks.

What’s Next?

I wrapped up my ice skating Gamma lessons last night. I scored 47/50 on the test even though my performance wasn’t that good. My 3-turns and hockey stops were good. My Mohawk combinations weren’t so good. I scored a nine on my left and an eight on my right. The points don’t matter, but they give me a sense of where I am at in this recreational journey.

I am exhausted and a bit burned out. The challenge gets steeper as we go to the next level. I am still debating about continuing to Delta. I have to switch to figure skates, which my wife had bought a used pair on eBay. They haven’t arrived yet. One of my classmates won’t continue because he is going into hockey. With just three students, they won’t have the class. The minimum requirement is five students. They would hold a class for four but not three. Maybe I’ll just watch YouTube and learn on my own. I could do private lessons, but I don’t want the coach to focus on me the entire time.

My sons are showing less enthusiasm in ice skating. Đán has not done much in Delta. He wants to play hockey, but I am not even sure if he does. Đạo is doing great in Gamma, but every time I asked him to go practice he got grumpy. Xuân is doing fine in Alpha, but he doesn’t like to practice either. Of course they would rather spend time on their computer and play video games.

My wife is right again. Without an end goal, they would get bored. We’ll see what happens once they are done with their lessons. They seem to be done with rollerblading.

Distilled Water

As we left my sister’s house around 11:30 pm, I realized that I needed to pick up distilled water. We stopped by CVS. I ran in and looked at the water section. Another man was also looking and he asked, “Are you looking for distilled water?” I replied, “Yes.” He said, “Me too. I needed it for my CPAP tonight.” I replied, “Me too. Let’s ask if they still have it in stock.” He asked the receptionist and she said, “If you don’t see it on our shelf, we ran out.” He asked, “Do you think Walgreens might have it?” She replied, “No.” As we walked out of the store, he said, “Oh shit!”

I went back to our car and told my wife what happened. She quickly looked up Walgreens and it would be closing in 13 minutes. As we headed over, the neon lights started to shut off. I parked the car and ran in quickly. I spotted the same man I encountered earlier carried four jugs of one-gallon distilled water. He told me, “There’s more on the shelf.” I ran back and grabbed one jug.

Even with our masks on, we looked at each other at the checkout with a sigh of relief. I wished him a great night of sleep as we parted. It occurred to me that I am now depending on distill water just like drugs. I dragged my wife and my sleeping children to the store to get my drug. I should have listened to my wife and bought one earlier in the day. I procrastinated until the last minute.

By the time all of us showered and brushed our teeth, it was almost one in the morning. The kids were knocked out, but I was still wide awake. Even the CPAP didn’t really help much.

Sleeping With a Mask

I hesitated to conduct a sleep study because I didn’t want to wear a mask to sleep every night and maybe for the rest of my life. Even though my internist insisted that I didn’t need it, my wife pressured me to do it. She couldn’t stand my snoring even though we have been sleeping in separate rooms with our doors closed.

I brought the issue with internist again and she recommended the Neurology Center of Fairfax. I chose Dr. Cho based on the positive reviews I have read on Google. He turned out to be great. We did a Zoom meeting, in which he asked me a punch of questions. I also asked him about my concern of sleeping with a mask. I am sure he had received this question from patients over and over again. His response was that many of his patients wouldn’t want to sleep without it after they get used to it.

Dr. Cho wanted to conduct a sleep study in the office so he could get a comprehensive diagnosed, but my insurance denied. My insurance wanted me to do a home study first. I went into Dr. Cho’s office to pick up the test machine and one of his specialists provided me detailed instructions for setting up the test at home.

The sleep study machine was uncomfortable, but I got through it. My apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) was 8, which is a mild case for sleep apnea. an AHI of 30 would consider high risk. Dr. Cho wanted me to go into the office to get further testing and my insurance denied again. It wanted me to go ahead with the CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine. Dr. Cho’s staff referred me to the Bay State Medical. Last Wednesday, I went into its office to pick up Philips’s DreamStation 2 Auto CPAP Advanced. A sleep therapy specialist went over the machine with me in details. He also showed me about half a dozens of masks to choose from. I picked out Fisher & Paykel’s Vitera Full Face Mask.

The specialist warned me that the first two weeks might uncomfortable. If I could use it for an hour a night in the first few nights, that would be find. After that I have to use at least four hours in order for the insurance to pay for the equipments. On Wednesday night, I started using the machine immediately. I was surprised how comfortable it felt. To distract myself from the machine and the mask, I read for half an hour before dozing off. The mask kept my mouth closed so I breath mostly through my nose. I don’t think I was snoring anymore. In the first two nights, I felt the pressured kicked in a few times while I was sleeping. The last three nights, I didn’t feel much as I am starting to get used to the machine. I have been using the machine from 6 to 8 hours a night. My AHI is 2.1, which is lower than 5. This is definitely a good sign. At the same time, I am now depending on this technology for a while or maybe for the rest of my life. Scary isn’t it?

Xuân’s Progress

Xuân wrapped up his ice skating lessons for the Tot 3/4 level. He did well on the test. Instead of going to Tot 5, I signed him up for Alpha/Beta. He can swizzle forward and backward. He can glide forward on one foot. I taught him forward crossovers and he can do them as well. He is ready for Alpha/Beta.

I wanted him to skip Tot 5 and go to Alpha, but I signed him up a level and a half higher so that we can have lessons on the same day. His new instructor will be the same as my current instructor. Although she is a great coach.

In the past few months, I had always been looking forward to Tuesdays so I can take Đạo, Đán, and Xuân to ice skating lessons together. I spent half an hour with Đán while Đạo and Xuân took their lessons. I read while Đán played some games on my phone or we observed how Đạo and Xuân were doing. Although their classes were at the same time, they were at different levels with different instructors. Then all four of us skated for 20 minutes before my and Đán’s classes began. Although it seemed mundane, I really enjoyed our time together.

I am already feeling a bit sad that Đán might not continue taking lessons after he finishes Gamma/Delta. He is not interested in figure skating. He wants to go into hockey. I asked him to give the Jackson Freestyle figure skates a try, he skated two times around the rink and gave up. He wanted to get back to his hockey skates. He had no patience and gave up too quickly.

I am enjoying Gamma. It is less stressful than Beta. I will take the next level, which is Delta, but not sure if I will continue into Freestyles after Delta. I am not sure if I can handle all the jumpings and spinnings. I am also still looking into switching my skates from hockey to figure.

Đạo has started the transition and he seems to do fine with figure skates even though he still prefers hockey. He wanted to go further into Freestyles. That’s good for him.

As far as expectations, my wife and I disagreed on what we have for the kids. She wanted them to have goals or make some achievements. She wanted them to work toward joining a hockey team or competing in figure skates. For me, I do not have any expectations. If they want to join a hockey team or compete, I will definitely support them. Otherwise, I am fine with them just skating and taking lessons for recreation. As long as they get off their butts and out of the house, I am satisfied.

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