Sunflower Skates

Tracking my goals and progress as an adult figure skater

My first day back on the ice

Unless you've been living under a rock (and by god, would I envy you) you'll be well aware that on 23rd March 2020, the whole of the country went into lockdown. My last skate was at Doncaster Dome on March 18th. I spent it alongside my friend Shigh, both wearing the dresses we should have worn for the competition the previous week.

Waiting for the re-opening of ice rinks was tough. Twice we were promised ice, twice it was cancelled only the day before. I cried, a lot, and eventually posted to my Instagram that I was giving up hope and pursuing other hobbies.

Last week, 150 days since I had last skated, I set foot on the ice once again.

I was SO excited. But also so incredibly nervous. I felt sick all day and was convinced I didn’t even want to go. But when I finally put my skates on, the reality hit me. This was something I loved, and I was BACK!

Stepping onto the ice, the first thing I noticed was just how unsteady I was. I didn’t feel safe. I felt like my once-trustworthy blades were wobbly knives, determined to throw me onto the floor. I couldn’t find my edges. I wasn’t quite Bambi on ice, but I didn’t feel comfortable in my ability in the slightest. When I tried to stopped, I was shocked at how weak my legs felt and had to grab onto the side.

There’s lots of factors that could have caused this alongside such a long time away. I had never been to Planet Ice in Leeds before, and was feeling incredibly nervous. The ice surface clearly hadn’t been refreshed all day (I went at 3pm and they opened at 10am). There was an abundance of hockey skaters tear-arsing around. So I tried not to beat myself up too badly!

I did feel bad though. I felt like I was back in Level 3 or 4 again, testing out my edges for the first time, learning to stop. I was shocked when I managed a semi-competent spin on one foot, and panicked when I pulled my arms in, forgetting how spinning was meant to feel. I couldn’t figure out how to do backwards crossovers without careering into the barrier. It was so FRUSTRATING, knowing full well how to do something, but not being physically able to.

In all honesty, I wasn’t expecting to be as bad as I was. It really shocked me. I’d spent a lot of time visualizing skating and different elements, and had become fairly competent on my off-ice skates and flexible though months of Kelly’s classes. I really thought it would be like riding a bike, but it wasn’t, and it further upset me watching other unknown skaters jumping and spinning like they’d never been away (although they were probably feeling the same as me!)

I started feeling a little better towards the end of the session. I managed a few Drags (not clean, low or sustained, but they existed!) and was making attempts at Waltz jumps and Spirals. It probably didn’t help that my sister was with me, telling me to “go do something then” every five minutes. Just before leaving the ice when I was tired and my feet were cold hurting after just over an hour, I skated one fast lap around the rink. I knew full well I shouldn’t have, what with my stopping and crash-anticipation senses being out of practice, but it felt amazing just to be going fast. That was the feeling I missed the most, and it that moment it felt like everything was going to be okay after all.

I have another full week until I can skate again, as iceSheffield have been as unhelpful as usual with providing information, and The Dome have excluded all their adult skaters entirely by not holding any sessions after 4pm. Hopefully I’ll feel a lot better once I’m back on a familiar rink and have some time to myself in the morning, and with Shigh in the afternoon.

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