Monthly Archives: January 2011

Freezy Weezy Rising

Okay, look. Once in a while, we all get…a little soft. Soft in the middle, soft in the pants or soft in…the heart. This isn’t your usual First Loser pull-my-finger and tug-my-womprat blog post, this one’s for my bud Speedy Weezy. He’s my skating hero.

Speedy Weezy transitions to ice at seven. Say hello to Freezy Weezy.

We started the new year with a new competitive sport. If you’re a parent, you know that with a seven year old, that’s not too hard to do. With year-round opportunities to play soccer, baseball, basketball, hockey, cycling, football, lacrosse, curling, swimming, phart boxing and Pokemon, I was pleasantly surprised when Speedy Weezy said he wanted to do competitive short track. Not wanting him to specialize with anything at such an early age, even my beloved inline speed skating, for fear of causing burnout, chronic repetitive motion injuries and a host of other reasons, Horseypants and I actively encourage him to try as many different sports as we can find. That he keeps coming back to skating on his own makes me happy. Inline and now ice, the kid obviously enjoys it. And in my mind, while they’re essentially the same sport, as many of you know, ice and inline are such completely different disciplines that I really do consider them separate, but mutually supportive, sports. (That’s my “avoiding specialization” loophole for the more astute observers amongst you.)

Converted Rollerblades with custom "Hairy Monster" blade covers.

Having spent Christmas vacation getting our ice legs under us in preparation for the Mile High Open on January 2nd, we went into it with no expectations other than to just have a good time. This is actually just like we approached our first trip to Wichita last year for him to compete on inlines in the Team United Inline Speedskating Classic, so in retrospect I’m not surprised by his performance on ice. He did really well. Better than what we could have prepared him for. He just got out there and skated his heart out. He’s a natural.

Freezy starts his competitive ice career.

It’s a father’s pride that starts to step on my journalistic objectivity here. I even have to put my inline coach role to the side on this one, because a couple of our really talented and hard working skaters were competing too. All great kids, but now I’m speaking as Freezy Weezy’s Dad, and here’s the unvarnished truth…I wanted Freezy Weezy to WIN at this. Not just win, but CRUSH IT. Beat everyone, friends and strangers alike. And I say strangers because I don’t believe in foes in all of this.

But back to my cleansing…deep breath…when it comes to my boy I wanted to see him win everything at this meet and for once I want to drop the pretense of political correctness that says I need to tell EVERY kid who skates how great they are. Just once, I want to look MY kid in the eye and say, “Damn Dude, you’re the best!” I want to do it and not worry about hurting anyone’s feelings. Just like every other parent. There, it’s been done. As a coach, I’ve just committed a carnal sin. So that’s why I’d never in a million years say such a thing when wearing my coaches hat. But I’m not now and it is what it is. I know at this point I’ve pissed a few people off. So it goes…

Freezy Weezy did great for his first meet. Really. Not a “fish tale” here. He was out there skating against quite a mixed group and qualified for every final in every distance. He came in First Loser in many of the races behind one of the Brothers Speed.

Ohno! We got photobombed! At least he got the FirstLoser hand salute right, but placed in front of the forehead would have taken the gold.

It’s great to see him competing with his friends and have it be a healthy competition. Freezy and the Brothers Speed have a great friendly rivalry that pushes the three of them to really try and do their best. Freezy almost won a race straight up, but slipped in the turn. It was a final, so at least he’d gotten to skate the full set.

The organizers of this event, Colorado Gold, did an awesome job from soup to nuts. In the end, Freezy took home a First Place ribbon for his age group and a really sweet Hersey’s bar. All of the participants got something, and in my heart I know that was a good thing. And all of the kids and skaters who went to this meet did great. Really, they all skated well, had a great time and fell deeper in love with the sport. All great outcomes, and truly what I want for all of them. But…

…you know, there are times when I think we’ve lost something as a culture when we can no longer sing We Are The Champions without worrying about losing friends, hurting feelings or trying to make everyone feel good about themselves. Does that make me a schmuck? I think not. It makes me a sports parent, and human. It’s all about having fun…yes. But winning is a lot more fun than losing or just doing your best – WE ALL KNOW IT! For me, I’ll take First Loser and truly be good with it. But for my kid, it’s nothing less than world domination and gold on a rope. I’m very proud of him. He’s working hard, he’s got talent, and he’s applying himself. It’s hard when you’re seven. Hard to control the urge to goof off, hard not to be distracted. But he’s doing his best and he’s doing great. Sometimes he needs help, and that’s why Horseypants and I are here. He’s fighting against natural and powerful forces to become better at something that’s really difficult to master. He’s well on his way and there’s nothing anyone can take from him. He’s got the world ahead of him, and nothing but good times in the rear-view mirror. At least for now. I hope he can keep it that way, but at the end of the day it will be up to him. I’ll support him through it all, by being honest and being there. He’s my hero, and I’ll love him forever no matter what.

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Power play

I’m generally a realist…meaning that I know how far I can push my influence with those people, places and things I come into contact with. When the highlight of your day becomes telling your favorite barista how you want your coffee prepared, then being happy if they got even half the order right, you’ll be able to connect with my experience. You’ll come to know my power…

The smell was a bit..."put-off-ish" but it went down smooth.

As the new year rolled into being, I was struck with that once a year resolve to be the master of my universe and make things happen. I enjoy doing this blog, and being a slave to ego, I want to see it grow, because when it comes to my narcissistic tendencies, this blog pays the bills. So I started to think about finding more sponsors, and I drew up a long list of prospects…Skate manufacturers, wheel makers, online retailers, race directors…I was on a roll. But then I stopped, because the itty-bitty committee in my head was getting out of control. I was looking at piles of logos to fill up the right rail of the blog page, and thinking to myself…”Is that really what this is all about?”

The short answer was no. This blog is about my experience as a skater, and my humble exercises in writing. I’m engaged with my sport in a “literary sense” and that’s pretty cool. Not something I thought would last when I started this thing. So now that it’s rolling into its second year, I thought I could do more with it to promote the sport itself. That would be a noble outcome.

So I thought that reaching out to the National Speedskating Circuit would be a great way to start. I have a lot of respect for what Miguel Jose and Joey Mantia are doing with NSC. They are truly bringing the sport up to a more contemporary entertainment standard, and that entertainment is pretty intense if you like your action fast (and clad in spandex…but I won’t go into that here.)

So I fired off an email to Miguel, and, in the spirit of full disclosure, told him I was willing to sell-out all of my journalistic integrity for an NSC t-shirt and free access to the Live Feed for the events. He wrote back and told me that the Live Feed was going to free for everyone this year. So I just put 2 + 2 together (for no good reason) and decided I’d take credit for his decision right here, because I’m always looking for an opportunity to self-promote!

IMHO…NSC is the best thing to hit indoor inline speed skating in the time I’ve been following the action.


Support your sport and watch the best of the best battle it out next Monday, January 24, 2010 – ON ME…ONLINE…FOR FREE!

Monday Night Mayhem is coming, and season 2 is gonna be the Bomb Track of 2011. It’s turn and burn time, baby!

Short track hijinks

So I’ve developed an interest in short track speed skating, and I’ve been out here making jokes about figure skating, but man, did you know how bad-ass the sport of figure skating has become? I’m not talking about a relatively good natured competitive knee knocking, I’m talking serious s#*t…vehicular manslaughter, sex tapes, drugs, multiple DUI’s, various and sundry “alleged” assault charges, several divorces, bankruptcies, bars, nightclubs & strip joints, hair metal, groupies and girls, girls, girls.

"Ponytails make for a competitive disadvantage guys. Maybe it's time for a haircut?"

The world of figure skating has become a Theater of Pain in which Dr. Feelgood has taken center stage, Shouting At The Devil for the enjoyment of Captain America and the Minions of Media Consumption. Amazing…yet another 80’s metal icon, Motley Crüe front-man Vince Neil, has become a TV darling that my mother would love…just like Ozzy F@#%ing Osbourne, Bret Michaels and The Demon, Gene Simmons. (Whoops…I don’t mess with Gene man, he’s my idol. The man has been a mentor since I was seven. Forget I mentioned him.) Vince Neil on Skating With The Stars. OMG…

This is SOOOOOOOO painful to watch. Fall of Rome type stuff man. It might actually be more fun to watch them feeding believers to the lions, cause this is just pure hell. How much farther can we fall?

As we wait for the imminent collapse of Western Civilization, my son and I are having a great time learning how to take what we know about inline speed skating and apply it to ice. He’s a quick learner, very adaptable, and has taken to it more naturally and a lot quicker than I have. It’s taking me time, but I’m enjoying it.

US Jondon Trevena skates in the mens 5000m speed skating finals 09 February 2002 at the Utah Olympic Oval during the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. AFP PHOTO TIMOTHY A. CLARY (TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

Picking up where we left off…Last time I went to Jondon’s ice class, I was slipping and sliding, going slow and falling at slow speed, which left me wet & sore. I didn’t go back. This time though, I applied some of the technique I’ve learned on inlines and had a much better result. Long straight-away glides, leaning into the turns, shoulder & hip alignment…that and I’d learned enough watching the others that I knew I could survive a turn by loading up all of my weight on my right skate. Choosing not to fall over form, I avoided crossovers for the entire class. I didn’t create any real power and I couldn’t stay with the line when they powered out onto the straightaway, but I didn’t care, I was just having a blast getting a feel for the edges…which for me was just one at this point, and mostly on the right skate! (Double push is hard to un-learn, but completely necessary at this early stage. Oi!)  By the end of class though, when no one was looking, I started doing a circle drill by myself and lo and behold, when I put some weight on my left skate I was actually getting some traction and felt comfortable crossing over. It was at that point I knew I had to go back for more. I was starting to see why technical skaters do so well going over to ice, and I liked it.

With my addictive personality, it quickly became an obsession. So compulsively, the very next day, we went back. The day after that too, hitting two public sessions for up to three and a half hours of additional ice time that week. By the end of the second day, I was getting low in the turns, able to crossover the whole way, and combined with long straight away strides, was going hella fast. More importantly, Speedy Weezy was making incredible gains. It was perfect. Another kid from the speed class was there at the second open session, so we were both able to chase him around and do a quick study of his form. By the sessions end, Speedy was keeping up with this kid, touching the ice with every turn and really having a great time experimenting, falling, spinning, slamming into the boards and doing it all over again with the goal of staying up next time. (“Dad, if you’re not falling you’re not working hard enough!” he shouted as he left me in the ice-dust.) We giggled all the way home, laughing and bragging to each other about our spectacular wipe outs. Sliding into the boards at high speed, spinning on our tails (or on all-fours doing 360°’s halfway down the straightaway,) getting dizzy, bonding over ice. I’ll never forget that ride home with him.

And here’s the best part…what we were really doing with these extra sessions was getting Speedy some extra time on the ice before his first meet, which was coming up that weekend…to be continued.

HEY! Check out the Training Log page for self-incriminating detail of how I work it. Or not.

Carnage

If you haven’t seen this video yet, check it out. S.Dot.Carter is my hero…

Man, there’s so much going on in this video, and the commentary at the end really helps put what NSC is all about into context. Seriously, this video is far superior to any of those, well, not too convincing, dry FIRS videos they make every few years to get inline speed skating sold into the Olympics. The guys at NSC know what they need to do to sell their vision in today’s media environment. This is great stuff.

Spread the word – share this video with your friends who still call you a “Rollerskater” and snicker behind your back at your spandex-clad keister and the idea that you spend hours participating in a sport that involves little more than chasing other grown-ups around a roller rink with what amounts to a child’s toy strapped to your feet. As if.

To all the naysayers…come out and play.

Ice, ice baby

For me, prefacing anything with “I’ll never…” unleashes a mercurial power that brings to life that to which it’s been applied. (Wow, that was a mouthful of a sentence, eh?!) This power…I need to be careful with it, because I distinctly remember saying once that I’d never figure skate…

My butt was so cold it cracked. Get it?!

When it comes to skating, there’s now one thing in which I have complete faith. It’s this power, the power of the phrase “I’ll never…” Some would consider such power…unnatural. It’s become my fool-proof system to subliminally program my brain to do things I’d never thought possible. I’ve proven it, scientifically. If I really want to get into something, all I need to do is say I’ll never do it. No matter what it is…switch from fitness boots to speed boots, skate a marathon, wear a skin suit, skate indoors, be a coach…speed skate on ice.

Confession time: today I joined US Speedskating. Frealz…I’ve never even gotten an amateur card with USARS.

How’d it happen? It was all his fault, the guy second from left:

Short Track Skating: 2002 Winter Olympics, Portrait of USA Speed skaters (L-R) Marc Pelchat, Jondon Trevena, J,P, Shilling, and K,C, Boutiette with USA flag at Olympic Oval, Kearns 1/18/2002 (Photo by Peter Read Miller/Sports Illustrated/Getty Images)

I went to my inline coaches ice class once over the holiday break with my son, Speedy Weezy. Speedy and several other kids from The Rink Rabbits/Team United (Lionheart, The Brothers Speed and The Fast Kid) have been taking the class and having a great time. I’d gone once before back some time last year but at that point, it didn’t leave much of an aftertaste. But this time, for whatever reason, man I’m hooked. I’m hungry for more. I can’t get enough. And I know why…

It’s because I’ve spent so much time focused on my inline speed skating technique. Little things that mean so much – foot pressure, hip placement, arm swing, body alignment, balance, being able to get my skates underneath me and distribute my weight properly. Strengthening those little muscles that your really don’t use for anything else. Building my core. Breaking things down and studying the effects of subtle changes in position and timing. All that and I’ve been trying to get more flexible, and I’ve been pounding myself on the foundational drills. A lot of what Jondon’s taught me that was reinforced when Joey Mantia came and gave an inline speed skating clinic at Rollerland back in September. The new stuff I got from our time with him. I’ve been working on all of this stuff. It’s actually been a lot of focused work, even when I was off-skates for a while and thinking about ditching it all.

There’s so much more to tell…about the class, the two public sessions we went to the two days after the class, and Speedy Weezy’s first meet this past Sunday. In a week’s time, I’ve found something in me I didn’t know existed…the heart of a speed skater that knows no discrimination.

To be continued…

Happy New Year

It’s that time of year when New Year’s resolutions drive the gluttonous masses to get off their asses and into a fitness routine that they’ll maintain for about as long as The Kardashians could keep up with Snookie Polizzi in an all-or-nothing Qwirkle match. Not being one with the patience or intestinal fortitude to watch grossly gelatinous glutes strain against new “form-fitting, not tight” $80 Under Armour in the mad January rush to get ready for “the big Valentine’s 1k,” I work out at home, in a private gym at my place of employment, at the rink, in the street or on the trail.

What the hell can I possibly add to this?

In order to keep my training program on track, I’ve added a new page called…Training Log. The training log helps keep me focused, and it keeps me honest about how hard I’m really working. When I think back on 2010, it was a year where I eased up in a lot of areas. I stopped taking some things too damn seriously. Admittedly I was pretty anal when it came to the amount of skating I do, so easing back some was a good idea. But since I’d stopped tracking my training, somewhere around mid-summer, my skating and attitude suffered. I think I was missing the accountability that a training log affords me. There’s something to be said for having documentation of your effort. To be able to review it compared to your performance, to know what’s working and what’s not. Tracking the time, effort and motivation for each workout is something I need to do, and that’s what this new page is all about. Consider it this inline skaters reality show. It is what it is. So I hope you don’t get all unpositive on me and don’t even see the work I put in, ’cause you know what, you know what? I’ll be like “I’m done with this.” That’s The Situation…I hope yous gets something out of it.