May 31, 2008

Going Pro

This blog may eventually have to change it's name to "Ice for those way over forty" or "Geriatrics on Ice" since I'm long retired from the sport.

That way I could start each post with something like, "Remember when you had your freestyle program cut on a record and you carried those wooden boxes along with your second pair of patch skates?" Or "Remember when you didn't fasten the top section of your scribe tight enough and it went flying across three patches when you made your circle?" Or who can resist "Remember when you joined an ice show and painted your white skates tan?"

Painted - as in paint and paint brush. Not spray painting (that would be for those, oh say, 30 - 40 years of age) or clicking on Holiday Tan Elk when buying factory-painted skates on the internet. No I'm talking painting, as in adding hardware store - along with laundromat and cheap Chinese restaurant - as another necessary place we had to find in every new city we touched down in.

Only a hardware store would have the paintbrushes, paint thinner, (or you could skip that and buy more paint brushes) and sand paper. Too bad we had to go to a drugstore or grocery store to stock up on nail polish remover (the kind full of acetone) to get the whole process started and get the white off.

Painting our boots was a real skill, and when left to amateurs gave us amusing results. I can remember painting the side of my skate too thick to make the surface look smooth only to have the entire side peel off like a used face mask. I had to go back to the drawing board, using more nail polish remover to get down to the factory-white-turned-fuzzy gray and then another rubdown of sand paper before applying the paint once more.

I was no Picasso.

But nothing said going pro more quickly in those days than tan skates. For those of us who weren't Olympic athletes, for whom going pro meant starring in Ice Capades, Disney or Holiday on Ice for big, big bucks, tan skates was the best outward sign.

Now those lines are blurred. Amateurs, seeing the end result of tan skates - thinner looking legs - wanted in. Of course, they probable were more interested in skating in TV shows along side the pros to earn some bucks. And then to make it more confusing the pros, whose competitive days we thought were over, went back to compete.

Remember when it was so easy to tell who went pro?


SusanAtLifeskate said...

Your head must be exploding now that we have SUEDE boots! Which I don't have, but am verrry tempted to order the next time around. Thanks for sharing what you did back in the days -- how interesting!

Ice Mom said...

Isn't that something? I never knew that tan skates = PRO. Neat post!

KDT said...

So Funny. I found myself laughing out loud at the wood skate holders (I can't even remember what they were called) and the part about your scribe flying across the ice in the middle of an "Oh so quiet" patch session. I truly miss those times.

I have had beige skates now for years (like 20 )and just this past week went back to white. Can you believe it ..white? I still have my old tan skates for teaching but have started to work on passing my MIF tests with a goal of passing senior in 2 years (I'll be 40 then). So frankly, my new skates are only for skating and I wanted to save the extra $85 to have them ordered tan. $85 !! for tan :)

I forgot about polishing your own skates before every competition, so that you ended up with layers and layers of polish. Now they just have the tights that go over the skates and hide all the marks. The skaters today don't know how good they have it.

Thank you so much for the good laugh and the trip down memory lane.

Kalonji Rivers said...

I am a male observer of figure skating for almost 14 years,and I have been studying on female skaters who wear the infamous over-the-boot tights over their skate boots. From what I saw and found out from the internet that the earliest photo of a female skater wearing the tights over the skates was in 1966. I think that skater goes by the name of Anna Galmarini. But then again,I could be wrong. Another skater during that time period was Jinx Clark Could you tell me who was the first skater to wear fishnets over her skates during the ice shows?