Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Junior Level figure skater Aziza Jappie ties her skates before stepping out on the ice for practice. The fit and tie of the skate is very important to protect and support the skaters ankles. Eyelets along the boot help align the laces and keep the tongue from twisting.
Stretching on and off ice is important to keep muscles loose and warm. On ice stretching helps muscles become accustomed to moving and flexing in the cold temperatures. High level figure skaters must be very flexible and limber in order to properly execute their moves.
For skaters beginning to learn certain jumps, some rinks may have a jumping harness. The belt, wrapped around the skaters waist is attached to a pulley that when pulled helps lift the skater into the air. This makes rotations easier to achieve, and landings softer, even when falling.
After practicing and perfecting jumps on the harness, skaters must attempt the jump with out the harness. Positioning in the air such as ankles crossed and together, and arms in at the heart, is important to achieve full height, rotation, and prepares them for a successful landing.
Even after practicing on the harness it is very common for skaters to fall. Learning to fall in the correct way is important to avoid injury. An important part of skating is falling because it teaches people to get back up and try again.
Some skaters chose to cover the toes of their boots with tape to protect the leather from getting scratched or marked. Marks are made from the sharp blades making contact while jumping, or from hitting the ice while falling.
Juvenile Skater Karly Knauss (14) practices her layback spin. When spinning the skater must balance between a spot on the blade in between the toe and the ball of the foot called the rocker. Spins must be centered in one spot, and held in the correct position for as many rotations as possible to gain points.
The blade is the most important part of the skate to maintain and protect. Blades need to be sharpened every 3-4 weeks to keep rust off, and have clean edges while on the ice. After skating, wiping excess ice and water off is mandatory to protect the blade from rust. The blade is also is covered with and absorbent cloth called a soaker while not being worn or skated on.