Monthly Archives: February 2011

Public Session Skating

Finally put together a rough edit of the video from last weekend.  Check it out!  Don’t laugh too hard 😉

Hit the afternoon public session at Vacaville today.  Packed with people, as we expected.   But we still managed to find a little bit of ice to play on.  I worked on smoothness forward and backward, and also skating backwards from a stop.  That was fun!  I can’t do the crossovers yet, but I was able to push off using the outside edges and get some speed.

One more week and we get to start learning to play hockey.  Can’t wait!!!


Hockey Gear for Women?

It’s been a good week.  Skated Saturday at Vacaville and Tuesday in Oakland.  Before we hit the rink on Tuesday, we stopped by Hockey Xport.  I tried on a couple pair of hockey pants and drooled some more over gloves and pads and new skates.  Managed to make it out of there with only a new pair of laces, but it was tough!

The only female specific pants and shoulder pads they had in stock were made by Bauer (or Nike/Bauer).   I tried on a pair of women’s Vapor 30’s that were super comfy; the corresponding men’s version didn’t fit/feel nearly as good.   The One75’s were really really nice, but I can’t justify spending over $100 on pants alone right now.   After trying some on, I’m sold on female specific for the pants, and after looking at the female specific Bauer shoulder pads I’ll be going with those as well.   Does any company other than Bauer make hockey gear specifically for women?

We’re a little over a week away from our intro clinic, and a little over three weeks away from the start of the class.  Getting really excited!

Hockey Day in America!

It’s Hockey Day in America!   Sitting here in my Sharks toque, pj’s and a “playoff territory” tshirt with NBC on the HD, watching games where I don’t care who wins or loses.  Really enjoyed the pregames coverage, especially the bits on female players.  Seeing that over 40 womens’ team having loads of fun makes me feel a bit better about learning the sport at my advanced age.

Stoked that Setoguchi got his first NHL hat trick last night.  He’s my favorite Shark (since JR retired), and it was good to see the puck go his way again after the slow start this season.

Hit the midday public skate at the rink in Vacaville yesterday.  We were the first ones on the ice; twenty minutes into the session there were still only 10 or 15 people total.  It got busier, but was still better than most weekend sessions.

Vacaville’s ice is awesome.  They keep the rink areas a lot colder and the ice a lot smoother than Skatetown.   It’s also nice to get to skate the whole rink instead of having 1/3 of it blocked off for the beginners.  The rink is 10 miles closer to home as well.  Costs 50 cents more for the public skate session, but it’s worth it.

Halfway through back to front transitionAs I expected, currency is  big deal in skating too.  I was much smoother on the ice and much more confident in my transitions.  Making the front to back transition to my “off” side (for me, that’s to the right) is coming along, although I’m not trying it with any kind of momentum yet.

Backwards skating is getting smoother as well.  It feels really cool to be moving backwards on the ice with speed.

Played with the “hockey stop” a bit too.  At slow speed.  Near the boards.   I’ll feel like a hockey player when I can do a hockey stop with speed in the middle of the rink!

Skydiving video helmet - multiuse gear!We took Keith’s skydiving camera helmet with us.  Each of us skated around filming the other one for a few minutes.  I’ll edit the video and put it up here in a few days.   Don’t I look like a dork? LOL!


Jonesin’ for Ice Time

As of last night, we hadn’t been on the ice in a week and a half.   We wanted to, but life (well, okay, his work) kept getting in the way.  Every week can’t be like that one golden seven day period in which we skated three different rinks.   The obsessed mind doesn’t care, it wants to go skating and it wants to go skating NOW.

Normally we spend Wednesday evenings playing (old school pen and paper) Dungeons and Dragons with some geeky friends but last night’s gaming was canceled.   Last time game night was canceled we discovered that Skatetown has a public session on Wednesday evenings, and it was far less crowded than the teenager packed Friday evening or birthday party packed weekend sessions.  So the question was automatic – “Game night is off, wanna go skating?”  The answer was equally automatic – “Oh hells yeah!”

Neither of us felt like trying anything new even before we got on the ice.  The goal for the evening was smoothing out what we already (think we) can do.  Which was a great idea, for I was sucking badly from the moment I stepped onto the ice.   It appears to me that, like in skydiving, currency is important in ice skating;  I skated much better and had much more confidence when we had been on skates less than a week before.

I worked on feeling the edges, transitioning front to back/back to front in either direction, backwards skating, skating with my hands in my pockets and trying not to turn completely green while watching good skaters do things I’ll likely never  be able to do.

The good news is I didn’t fall down.  No new bruises is a novel morning-after skating experience, but I’d take a few with a smile if it meant that I had skated better.   The bad news is that my moments of brilliance were few.   There were a few transitions that were smooth, and a little bit of backwards skating that was smooth, but other than that I was pretty much skating like I was three weeks ago.

Sigh.  Into every life some suckage must fall.  Three strides forward and two dumps on the ass back.  It’s a good thing I’ve accepted that I’ll never be good at this.  If I thought I was going to be good at it, last night’s suckage might have enticed me to find something else to do.

On a happier note, besides stick time and the regular hockey classes the rink now offers a hockey power skating class on Saturdays.  Only $13 and dropins are welcome.  I think we’ll try to hit a few of those once our class has started.

If the weather continues to cooperate (ie not be sunny and warm), the plan is to go skate the rink in Vacaville on Saturday and then a road trip to drool at Hockey Xsport and skate a public session at Oakland Ice on Tuesday.  We prefer the vibe and customer service and overall facilities at Skatetown, but we like the ice at Vacaville much better and it seems to be less crowded on the weekends too.   Oakland has really nice ice and less people on it, but it’s a 1 1/2 hour drive without traffic issues one way so it has to be a treat instead of a regular thing.

The Sharks play Washington tonight.  Sure hope last night’s goal scoring frenzy in Anaheim wore the Caps out.  The Pacific Division is crazy tight right now; losing is not an option for the Sharks at the moment, not if they want to make the first round this year.  Judging by how hard they played in Nashville, it looks like they want it pretty bad.   Go Sharks! 😀

Hockey Player? Not yet…

In my search for other hockey related blogs to read, I found Nick’s blog.  Nick lives in Canada.  He’s 45 too, and is also just starting to play hockey.   I have a male Doppelganger!   He’s a few weeks ahead of me, as his class has already started.  Our “skills” appear to be similar (ie not very good at the whole skating thing).  I’m enjoying reading about his progression; lets me know what I may be getting myself into.

In several of his posts he references being a hockey player and if that is truly something he can call himself at that point.  I’ve been having the same internal debate lately.

When I learned to skydive, I did old school static line jumps prior to freefall.  Although they gave me a bumper sticker the day I did my first jump, I didn’t feel right putting it on the car until after I’d done my first freefall.  Putting that sticker on the car would give the impression that I was a skydiver.  Was I really a skydiver if I hadn’t saved my own life yet?

Same thing went through my mind while standing at the counter at the pro shop.  They have these really cool silhouette decals of a hockey player that would look real good on my back window.  And the stickers that say “give blood, play hockey” – yeah, I need one of them too.  But no.  Not yet, at least.  That much is clear.  What is unclear to me still is at what point can I call myself a hockey player?

I’m a wannabe right now.  When the class starts, I’ll be a student, but  I know I’m going to feel like a hockey player the first time I’m on the ice in full gear.  Is showing up to learn enough to make “real” hockey players not laugh if I call myself one?

I’m sure I’ll feel like I’m a hockey player when we have our first scrimmage in class.  I’ll KNOW I’m a hockey player when I play in my first league game.

I wish the next two and half weeks would fly by.  I want to play hockey!

Hockey Fan to Hockey Player

The Sharks play Nashville tonight.  The Western Conference is super tight, with only three points separating third and eighth.   Nashville is one point ahead of San Jose, in sixth position going into this game.  The Sharks really need to win tonight. Of course I’ll be watching.   But how I watch a hockey game is starting to change as I’m starting this journey from hockey fan to hockey player.

For the first forty years of my life, I didn’t get hockey.  At all.   Growing up in a place without snow or local ice rinks, hockey just wasn’t a part of my world.  Dad watched all kinds of sports, but hockey wasn’t one of them.  The guy I moved in with shortly after high school watched no sports at all.  And my son knew better than to put sports on the tv when I was home.

That all changed in 2005.  Shortly after moving to northern California, my new beau asked if I’d be interested in going to a Sharks game; he’s in with a group that gets two season tickets every year.   Awesome seats too; at that point they were 7 rows from the glass in the corner, the current ones are 5 rows from the glass in the corner.  It was a pre-season game, so the intensity that I like to watch now wasn’t quite there, but I was hooked.  The power and grace of the players as they skate, the fast pace of the game, the energy of the crowd.  Hockey is the coolest sport ever to watch!

He didn’t know he was creating a monster.   He used to go to games with his best friend; now he goes with me.   I try to make a point of “giving up” a game so he can go to at least one game with Chris every season, but wow it’s hard to do.  I was really jealous when they went to a first round playoff game last season… until I got to go see the Sharks eliminate Detroit in the second round.   That was an amazing evening!

Despite watching it for five years now, I still know very little about the sport.  When I watch hockey games, I’m watching the puck and the play around it.  Which is handy when watching games on tv, since that’s where the cameras tend to be pointed.   Since deciding to become a hockey player instead of “just” a hockey fan, I’m very much interested in watching position play – what the defense is doing when the play is in the offensive end, what the forwards are doing when the play is in the defensive end, what areas of the ice each position is responsible for…  These things are hard to follow on tv.

Yes, I know that the class will cover all this stuff, but that doesn’t stop my obsessed brain from wanting to know NOW.

Anybody have any tips on watching hockey for learning rather than only for fun?

Gear Intensive? Oh Yeah!

The beginning hockey class that we are taking includes skates and a helmet, but requires full gear.  Although one rink employee said there is always stuff available to borrow for the classes, the thought of wearing gear worn by how many other people isn’t real pleasant.  Having all my own stuff will also mean that we can hit stick times at the local rinks to practice what we are learning.

And the whole process of researching and then buying gear – for any activity – is one that gives me great pleasure, as can be easily seen by the piles and boxes of skydiving and backpacking equipment in the spare room.

My freebee skates are going to work fine for the 23 weeks of the class.  Just got them sharpened, which made a noticeable difference in my skating.  But I need everything else.

We spent some time drooling at the Hockey Xsport store in Oakland a few weeks ago.  That’s likely going to be where I will buy, since they have prices similar to online stores but I can try things on before buying.  I’d love to be able to afford to buy everything from the pro shop at Skatetown; I am a believer in supporting small local businesses even if it costs more.  But I can’t justify the extra hundred or so dollars that would cost right now.  They will get my business for small stuff (laces, tape, etc) and sharpening,  mainly because they have already shown me that they try to take really good care of their customers.

After looking at gear online and at the shops, I’m pretty sure I don’t want bottom of the line, entry level stuff.  It looks like more money equals more protection.  What areas are most important to spend the bucks on and which can I get away with “lesser” quality?  I’m thinking helmet, pants and shoulder/chest pads should be one or two steps up from entry level and the rest could be the cheaper ones.  Am I thinking in the right direction?

It also looks like brand names don’t matter all that much.   All the gear I’ve seen/touched has appeared to be well built and hefty.

The big question area right now is sticks.  I picked up a cheap well used left hand stick from the thrift store, thinking it might be useful to get used to holding a stick.  After playing with it a bit, I’m thinking I may want to shoot left handed.  It makes sense to have my strong hand – the right – be the controlling hand (at the top of the stick).    We’ll see how wrong I am about that once we start the class!

Looking forward to getting all this stuff and trying to skate with it on.  Can you say Michelin Man? 😉