Healthy Outdoor Living

Ice skating basics

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More from Outdoor Living Newsletter February Outdoor Living Newsletter

As the winter cold sets in and the snow falls, opportunities abound for outdoor activities. Why not embrace the season on your next camping or RV trip and bring a pair of ice skates along and hit the ice? Skates are easy to store away in the RV, and it is a great activity to keep you in shape. And if there's a frozen pond or rink near your campground, there are only good reasons to take advantage of this fun and healthy activity, especially for Valentine's Day!

We've put together a guide for all you novices out there on how to ice skate. Follow these seven steps and you'll be doing triple lutz's and axles with your eyes closed. Good luck out there all you Nancy Kerrigan's!

Here are seven steps that will help you not only survive your next ice skating outing, but really impress your loved one or friends.

Step 1: Buy the right ice skates

If it's you first time and you're not sure you're going to skate very often then the best thing to do is rent skates at the rink. Simply give them your shoe size and they'll give you the skates! However, if you want skates of your own then you need to make sure you have the right skates.

We suggest purchasing figure skates. The first order of business is figuring out sizing. You need to get skates that are the right size for your feet. Skates that are too big will jeopardize your safety on the ice. Skates that are too small, on the other hand, will be very uncomfortable.

To find out what size skates fit best, make sure that you try the skates on before you buy them and walk around (on carpet) in them. To make shopping easier, measure your feet from the heel to the longest toe for length and then the widest part of your feet for width.

Get the blades of your skates sharpened before you leave the store. You should also buy skate guards to protect the blades if you need to walk on any surface that is not made of ice. This also makes them easy to store in your RV hold.

Young couple preparing to ice skate
Learn how to ice skate this year Tip: If you are buying skates online, be aware that skate sizes don't always match up to shoe sizes. Make sure you check with the manufacturer.

Step 2: Dress appropriately

Ice skating attire need not be stylish. Comfort should be your priority. Clothes for your ice-skating date should be close-fitting without being tight, as well as allow you freedom of movement. Your clothes should also protect you from the cold and from accidents.

A good-fitting pair of sweatpants and layered tops will do. You should also wear the thinnest pair of socks that you own so you will have a good feel for the ice while wearing your skates. Other garments to consider wearing are thermal underwear, a helmet (if you want to be super careful), a pair of mittens, kneepads and elbow pads.

Avoid wearing garments and accessories that will hamper your vision and your movements. Tip: First timers may want to substitute mittens for snowboarding gloves with built in wrist guards. This can help protect your wrists from any nasty falls.

Step 3: Put your skates on correctly

Putting on skates is just like putting on any shoes with laces. However, to put your skates on correctly, you should:

  1. Slide your feet all the way in the ice skate so your toes touch the front of the skate and your heels are snug in the back
  2. Lace up your skates tightly from where the foot bends at the ankle right to the top
  3. Tie your laces in a secure bow
  4. Tuck the bow inside the skates

You may want to break in your boots a couple of days before you hit the pond or ice skating rink. To do this, just walk around the house with your skates on. Take care to keep the blade guards on the skates when doing this. Tip: Don't try breaking in new ice skates in your RV or whilst camping!

Step 4: Learn the basic movements

In ice skating, everything starts with your posture. While standing on ice, you should keep your knees bent, your back straight, your head up, and your arms held slightly away from your torso. Resist the urge to hunch over because this will make you lose your balance and fall on the ice.

Once you have mastered your posture, you can then proceed to the five basic steps in ice skating:

  1. Marching. - Marching is walking on ice. To march, lift your knees and put your feet down flat on the surface. Don't try to walk as you normally do, with the heel of your foot touching the ground first.
  2. Sculling - Sculling is moving across the ice without lifting your skates. To do this, move away from the rink's barrier in the correct posture but with your arms held straight outward at your sides and your toes pointed away from each other. As you slide across the ice, try to shift your body weight so that you can straighten your legs. Once you have done that, point your toes back inward.
  3. Stroking - Stroking lets you "walk" along the ice. To stroke, stand with your right foot forward and your left touching it at a 45-degree angle. Your knees should be bent and your shoulders held slightly to the left. Your left arm should be held to the front while the right to the back. Start moving by shifting your weight on your right foot and push forward. Once you get gliding on your right foot, get your left foot parallel to it. Just keep pushing with your right foot and stepping with your left.
  4. Crossover - Crossovers let you glide in circles across the ice and prepare you for jumps and spins. To crossover, start with the normal stroking position. Once you are stroking across the ice, move your right foot over your left. Bend your right knee and put your body's weight on your right foot. Then, straighten your left knee and push with your left skate. Stroke normally and then move your right foot over your left once again to make another crossover.
  5. Stopping - There are many ways to stop on the ice, but the most basic is called the "snowplow" stop. To do this, point your toes toward each other in a reverse-V position and then shift your weight to your right foot without leaning forward or tipping your toes. This slows you down until you go come to a complete stop. Tip: Resist the temptation to look down at the ice, because your body will tend to follow your line of sight. Therefore look down = fall down!

Step 5: Learn how to fall

Falling is inevitable as you learn how to ice skate and the best way to prevent a bad fall is to learn how to fall. If you know how to fall, you will be able to minimize any harm or injury that may come upon you as you skate. Here is how to fall while skating:

  1. Squat so your knees are bent and your elbows are parallel with your buttocks.
  2. Lean to your side as you fall so you will land on your side rather than on your head or on your butt. As you fall, bring your hands to your lap.
  3. Roll so you are on your hands and knees. Hold your hands apart and put one foot between your hands, followed by the other foot.
  4. Stand up. Tip: We've found the best thing for first timers is to relax, enjoy and smile. Your body is less tense, and falls are much milder.

Step 6: Avoid accidents

Even if you are a beginner in ice skating, it doesn't mean that you have to be accident-prone. You can avoid getting into accidents on the ice by staying alert and not making any unnecessary movements. Keep to the sides of the rink (or pond) while you are still practicing your sculling and stroking. Always remember that the center of the rink is reserved for the more experienced skaters. Also, keep your hands out of your pockets and always hold them slightly outward so you will keep your balance. Tip: Many first timers are frightened by other skaters swooshing past. Just remember that skaters behind you will look out for you. You just need to look out for others in front of you!

Step 7: Trust your friends

You can make the most out of your first time ice skating by keeping close to your friends or loved ones (if they are experienced ice skaters)!

More importantly, if your friend is already experienced at ice skating, you should follow whatever instructions they give you. Let your friend take the lead and trust them to keep you safe from harm.

If you do fall or experience any difficulty ice skating, don't give up, just maintain a positive attitude and keep trying to learn how to skate.

Above all, try to have fun.

Copyright ©2011 Camping Road Trip, LLC

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