A Great Deal on Jackson Freestyle

Đạo is taking the Gamma level for his ice skating lessons. He needs to make the transition from hockey to figure skates if he wants to continue into higher levels. He will need the toe picks to do the jumps and spins.

I wish the coaches went over the differences with us when we first started lessons. Đán has refused to give figure skates a try because he is so used to hockey skates. After his Gamma/Delta lesson he will stop. He wants to go into hockey.

Đạo, on the other hand, has been enjoying his skating lessons and picking up new techniques. We had been looking into figure skates for him. My wife bought him two pairs and he didn’t like them. Because they were brand new, they hurt his feet. He needs to give them time to break in.

I have been doing some research to find a good pair for him. I ruled out the beginner skates. I had my eye on the Jackson Freestyle, but it cost $265. I had been browsing Facebook marketplace, which I had never used before, to see if something would come up.

Yesterday I found a pair of used Jackson Freestyle listed in DC that matched his size. I contacted the seller immediately and we drove to DC for the first time in years to pick it up. The boots were still in good condition. The seller only has one kid and he quickly outgrew it. Đạo tried it on and he liked it. I noticed that the boots come with the Superfeet Carbon Pro Hockey Insoles, which cost $55. The brand new pair would have cost him $320. He re-sold it for $25. What a deal. Đạo asked me how much we saved. I’ll let him do the math.

Since this is a used pair of figure skates and they come with insoles, Đạo should have an easier time to break in. Now I need to find myself a used pair of figure skates as well. I am not sure if I can continue my lessons after Gamma; therefore, I just want a used pair to try out.

Skating Through Spring Break

The kids’ spring break comes to an end. I took a week vacation to tidy up the house. The first day went well. I reorganized the living room. For the rest of the week, I failed miserably. I was overwhelmed with the things we had accumulated, thanks to the one-click purchase and two-day delivery. I took the kids to ice skating, read, and just hang out. That’s a good staycation for me. Other than spending money on skating admissions and food, we saved a whole lot not renting a beach house.

Speaking of ice skating, we’re now having lots of interest. My nephews are taking lessons. My wife and her sister are starting out as well. On Friday, I booked 10 admissions for all of us. We took up 12 percent of the rink’s capacity. Its COVID restriction had increased from 65 to 85 skaters. With private lessons and 85 skaters, the rink is getting crowded. Practices have been a challenge.

Xuân is a natural skater. He just started out, but he skates well. I showed him how to glide on one foot and he could hold for 10 seconds. I showed him the cross-over. Instead of bringing his right foot over his left, he made a hop. I would fall on my face if I tried that.

Đạo is doing really well with his lessons. He started Gamma last week, but he can already do hockey stops, 3-turns, and Mohawk by watching me practice. He just needs more practice to perfect them.

Đán is doing Gamma/Delta. Last week, his instructor taught the class the bunny hop, which required the toe picks. He couldn’t do it because he’s using hockey skates. He tried out figure skates, but he refused to use it. He is now too comfortable with the hockey skates; therefore, he kept tripping over on figure skates because of the toe picks. He can’t take anymore ice skating lessons if he doesn’t want to make the transition over to figure skates. He wants to go into hockey instead.

Đạo and I will be making the transition over to figure skates. The break-in period will be painful, but we’ll try. It took me months to break into my hockey skates and now I have to go through it again. I am not sure yet, but I might be finished with lessons after completing Gamma. I am too old to do the jumps and spins. Then again, I kind of like the challenge.

At the beginning of Gamma, I was having trouble with the 3-turns and the Mohawks. Through determination and practice, I have overcome them. Our instructor threw a whole lot of techniques at us, but I only focused on one at a time. I practiced one technique over and over again until I could feel the flow for it before moving on to the next one. What I loved about ice skating is that once it clicked, it felt so natural. I don’t have to force myself to do it.

As for rollerblading, the kids seem to lose interest. As the weather is getting warmer and nicer, the skatepark is also getting crowded. One of the reasons the kids don’t like going to the skatepark is too much swearing. They are right. These teen skateboarders and even young scooters around my kids’ age cussed like sailors. Most of the time, I focused on skating and zoned out the noise around me. These days I noticed more and they cussed so much. I let my kids stay home and I went myself. I fell once in a while on the curved ramp, but my arms and butt were no longer in pain like before. I am also working on a backward swizzle. Other than that, I haven’t done much. I need to set up some kind of goals for rollerblading.

I still love these two sports, but I am leaning much more into ice skating. I still like to keep my options open. These days, skating is the only form of exercise that I am doing.

Đạo and Đán Continue to Skate

Đạo and Đán took their ice skating tests on Tuesday. Đạo received perfect scores once again. He’s a careful skater who follows instructions and practices what he had learned. He performs the techniques with ease and he enjoys the lessons. He will be transitioning from Beta to Gamma next week.

Đán didn’t get perfect scores, but he did well. Unlike Đạo, Đán is an adventurous skater. He learns new techniques by doing them. He isn’t afraid to fall when trying out new tricks. He only does things he likes instead of paying attention to his instructor. He doesn’t seem to be interested in the techniques his instructor taught him. He can do them, but not with the finesse he invested in. He will be transitioning from Beta/Gamma to Gamma/Delta next week, but I am debating whether he should take private lessons instead of group lessons.

Xuân seems to enjoy his group lessons. He follows direction well. He is not as careful as Đạo, but he is also not as carefree as Đán. He will be good if he continues to take lessons.

I am reaching my limit at Gamma. I am struggling to do the techniques. I tried to practice today, but I was not in the mood. I ended up skating slowly and mindlessly. It was quite therapeutic, actually. I think I’ll bow out after this level. I am too old for jumping and spinning. I’ll get back to skating recreationally.

Stay Young

Xuân and I started our first ice skating class last Tuesday. I enrolled Xuân in the second level for toddlers. He did really well even though he didn’t take the first level. He followed his coach’s instructions and he was able to do forward and backward swizzles. He enjoyed his first lesson with three other kids around his age. They looked so adorable and made ice skating look easy.

I began the Gamma level with the same instructor from the previous class. Two fellow classmates returned, but one lady didn’t. We had two new ladies join our group. On the first day, our instructor threw a lot at us. We had to skate on our edges (left and right, inside and outside, forward and backward). Then she launched into the 3-turn technique on one foot. I could barely turn 180-degree on two feet.

On Wednesday, I took Đạo and Đán to practice and spent an hour and fifteen minutes on just trying to do a left-180 turn with both feet. I didn’t get too far. I kept on tripping. I went home, searched up on YouTube, and found a video from coach Mary Dung Nguyễn. Her instructions were easy to follow and she demonstrated the 3-turn with effortlessness.

After a long day of work on Thursday, I went to the rink myself since the kids went over to their cousin’s house to play. I practiced turning 180-degree with just my right foot. After about half an hour, I found my groove and it just worked. What I have found fascinating about ice skating is that your body just goes with the flow once you get it. I also discovered that my left foot is even better than my right foot even though I always started out with my right foot. Once I have the right foot down, I can easily transfer over to my left.

I hardly walk or jog anymore. I am not the type that workout in the gym; therefore, skating is my form of exercise for the moment. I still have a lot to learn and I like the challenge. I am the oldest student in the group and probably even older than my coach. Like Art Blakey said, “I’m gonna stay with the youngsters. When these get too old I’ll get some younger ones. Keeps the mind active.”

To Continue My Ice Skating Lessons

After some contemplation, I have decided to continue my ice skating lessons. The main reason is that I was able to recruit Xuân to join us as well. It is convenient that all four of us will have lessons on the same day. Đạo and Xuân will start at 6:50 pm. Đán and I will start at 7:40 pm.

Xuân will begin the Tot ¾ level. He will learn to push and glide strokes, prepare for snow plow stop, dip, skate forward and backward swizzle, push right and left T-position, stop with one-foot or two-foot snow plow, and skate backward wiggle. He will have fun at this level.

I will begin the Gamma​ level with the same instructor. I will learn to do the three-turn right and left forward outsides, the Mohawk combination right-foot and left-foot insides, and the hockey stop. I know how to do a bit of the hockey stop, but I have no idea about the three-turns and the Mohawks. I am looking forward to the lessons.

Between the group lessons for four us and countless public sessions for us to play and practice, we are making quite a bit of an investment into the Fairfax Ice Arena. I am now taking on freelance web design and development projects to cover it. I am wrapping up a fun, useful site for the Mural Arts Philadelphia. If you need a small website for your business or passion, hit me up.

Completed the Beta Level

This evening I wrapped up my seven-week ice skating lessons. Beta was a challenging level for me because it focused on backward skating. I struggled to keep up. Every week I took half an hour of lesson time, but I spent at least five hours practicing in public sessions. I was a bit stressed out because we had to take a test at the end of each level. We had to pass the test in order to move to the next level.

Before taking the test tonight, I took a practice session to make sure I would pass. The test went well. I scored 49/50. I got perfect points for stroking, left T-stop, right T-stop, and left-over-right crossover. I got a 9 for my right-over-left crossover because when I crossed my right foot over, I also slid my left foot to the opposite side. It was a natural instinct.

Overall, the hard work paid off, but I am still debating whether I should take the next level, which is Gamma. I want to learn ice skating just for fun and having to take the test puts more pressure on the whole learning experience. Maybe I am just taking it more seriously than I should.

My coach always wore a beanie all the way to her eyebrows and a huge black mask that covered her entire face. Revealing only her eyes made her both mysterious and a bit intimidating. She appeared to be tougher than she was. She was an excellent teacher and I learned quite a bit from her coaching.

Safety’s Always First

I am an old-ass father who loves to skate with his kids. Whether on ice or on the street, I always wear my helmet and my protective gears. Although I don’t do anything crazy, I don’t want to put myself at risk even for minor injuries.

Đán wears his helmet, but he refuses to wear his protective gears when we go ice skating. He banged his knee against the wall real hard. He was in pain for a week. If he had his knee pads on, he could have protected his knees.

One time, we witnessed a woman break her wrist and an ambulance was called to take her to the hospital. She wore a helmet, but if she had her wrist guards on, she might have prevented the injury.

I had seen several adults fall and hit their head on ice, and yet not too many people wore helmets. At the skateparks, I rarely saw any skateboarders wearing helmets. From what I have read, wearing a helmet makes a skateboarder appear weak. I am at the age where that type of pressure doesn’t get to me. I explained to my kids that I rather look weak than the possibility of getting a head injury.

In retrospect, I put my life in danger on several occasions when I was a teenager myself. I hadn’t seen a coffin; therefore, I hadn’t shed a tear.

In high school, I rode with my best friend at the time who was into car racing. Once in a while, I sat next to him in his little red Acura Integra as he was doing 100 to 120 miles per hour on the highway racing against other friends with cars. Neither of us had our seatbelt on. What the fuck was I thinking? My life was in his hands.

A gun incident at a friend’s house still gives me a chill every time I think about it. The friend’s stepfather was a gun enthusiast. He had guns around his house. Another friend picked up a shotgun on the sofa and aimed at my head. They both knew the gun was not loaded. I suspect the gun was not loaded, but I told him it didn’t matter. I looked in his eyes and said that I didn’t want him to pull the trigger. He did anyway. I felt the chill air passing by my head. He thought it was just a joke, but I was dead serious. I didn’t need a friend who put my life in danger so fuck him. I never went back to the friend’s house again.

A boating accident still leaves me devastated even though it happened decades ago. A handful of us rented two canoes at a state park. None of us wore life jackets. Being dumb teenagers, we stood up on the canoe, which caused it to capsize. I could barely swim. Luckily, I was able to grab onto the boat. We flipped it over and climbed back on. We thought everyone was safe until we realized one of us was missing. He was a good friend of mine. We couldn’t find him. He was gone. If we had our life jackets on, he would still be here today.

In the time of the global pandemic, wearing masks could stop the spread of the virus. If wearing a mask could protect each other and save lives, it is not about freedom, but about responsibility. It is an individual freedom to not wear a mask, but it is not a freedom if the individual could affect others. If we had done our part, the death toll could have been less than 500,000 and my mother could have been alive today.

Maybe I am getting old; therefore, I am getting much more cautious. I take precautions over preventable risks any time. I have the responsibilities not just for my family, but also for my community and for my country.

Uncomfortable Bauer Hockey Skates

My ice skating lesson went horribly wrong on Tuesday. I skated for five minutes and my feet felt extremely uncomfortable. It was so unbearable that I had to get rental skates. I struggled miserably with backward crossovers. I definitely need more practice.

On Monday, the day before my lesson, I went back to Pure Hockey to see if they could help me with the uncomfortness I had been experiencing. The salesman sold me a pair of insoles. They were comfortable when I tried them on, but not so much when I went on the ice. He recommended that I lace up as tight as possible, which caused the pain. I’ll try to loosen up the lace a bit. If that won’t help, I’ll get myself a new pair of figure skates instead.

I am loving rollerblading. I feel no pain at all. I have gotten used to my shoes. I could do all the straight ramps at the skatepark. I tried out the curved ramp yesterday and fell three times before I found my groove. I am starting to feel the pain in my right arm because of the falls. Age has something to do with it.

I was skating down the high ramps next to a little Asian girl who was skateboarding. She was petite and talkative so I asked her how old she was. She told me she was 10. I complimented her on her skateboard skills. A few minutes later, she asked me for my age. I told her to take a guess and she said 15. The mask hid my face really well. I told her I am 43. She said, “Oh, you skate really well for your age.”

I then realized that I was the antediluvian in the skatepark. Most skateboarders were teenagers. Most scooters were kids around 6 to 10. A few bikers in their teens. My sons and I were only rollerbladers.

Backward Skating

Backward skating is hard. I haven’t spent too much time learning it—more like avoiding it. Yesterday I started my first ice skating lesson and this course is all about backward techniques so I better start practicing them. I could do backward swizzles on ice and that’s it. I am working on one-foot backward swizzles. I am also working backward on rollerblades. I really need to get backward skatings down; therefore; I will focus on these techniques in the next few weeks. That will be my goal.

Still Skating

On December 9, I completed the Adult-2 level for ice skating lesson at the Medstar Capitals Complex in Arlington, which is closer to my workplace. I had a wonderful experience. Alissa Strawcutter was a great instructor.

The day before, I started my new lesson at the Fairfax Ice Arena. I managed to recruit Đạo as well. I signed us up for the Alpha level, which included forward stroking, forward crossovers, and snowplow stop. Đạo’s first class went well. The skills were just right for him. As for my adult class, most of the students just started out. My new coach recognized that; therefore, she asked her assistant to work one on one with me. Since I could do forward stroking and snowplow stop, she worked with me on crossovers. It was like having a private lesson. I liked that.

On Thursday, I had to leave town to be with my mother. I knew it would be a while before I could return. I asked Đán to take over my lessons and he agreed. Since Đán is better than me, I requested to place him in Beta, which included backward stroking, backward crossovers, and T-stops. Although the class was already halfway through, he picked up with no problem.

While staying at my sister’s house, I went to the Lancaster Ice Rink whenever I could. The whole time I focused on getting down my crossovers. It took me three public sessions (about three hours) to get my forward crossovers down. It was hard to keep my balance, especially when I cross my left foot over my right foot.

Đán finished his Beta class last week and he will be starting Beta/Gamma today. Đạo continues with his Alpha class. Since I got my crossovers, I signed up for the Beta level so all three of us could have our lessons at the same time. I am looking forward to it.

As for rollerblading, I found the beautiful Conestoga Greenway Trail nearby my sister’s house. When I stressed out about my mother’s condition and just wanted to scream, I went out rollerblading. The up and down hills gave me great workouts. I also went to the Lancaster County Skate Park, which is across the street from the trail, to work on going down the ramps.

I even returned to the Castle Roller Rink for the first time in twenty something years. It brought back so many fond memories. We were so young and full of life. My buddy Luân was the star among us. I could barely skate, but I had so much fun. The music was always pumping. They played hip-hop and r&b hits the whole time. Inviting a girl out to the floor on a slow jam was always something us fellows always looked forward to. Holding her hand with your sweating palm and hoping the slow jam never ended. When I came back the vibe was still the same, I was just much older. I don’t recall they allowed rollerblades back then (only rollerskates), but they do now. Although I can skate much better than I did back then, I was the only one with guards and a helmet on. I am fine with that.

For years, I knew I needed to do some form of exercise to keep myself healthy, but I could not stick to anything until I got into ice skating and rollerblading. By getting myself into these sports, I hope that my kids will pick up as well—something for them to do besides playing on their iPads. It looks like we’re not going skiing this year, which I really missed. I am hopeful that we can do so next year. I wanted to try out snowboarding.