Many of you reading this post are Canadian (based on site stats). Skating and many other winter sports are familiar to you. When I mention skating on the backyard rink, the majority of you fellow Canucks will smile and nod as you remember times growing up spending countless hours outside in the bitter cold, skating around a pond or homemade rink, playing hockey or just perfecting your triple salchow.
Some of you though, will explore this post with wonder. “Skating?” you might think, “On your own backyard rink? That’s interesting. I can imagine it though. You put on skates, get dressed in your warm attire and skate”.
Not that easy I’m afraid. Did you know there is a whole, “behind-the-scenes” world that happens before you even think about hitting that ice?
First, you must put on the long underwear. On its own, it’s amazing. It is form-fitting, soft, warm and comfortable. Then, you have to add the outerwear; usually jeans but maybe sweats. With this addition, you may feel a bit stiff but still ready to go. You should have an undershirt, T-shirt and sweatshirt on by this point and feeling very warm. Now you can head for the door because you are ready for the outside gear. Put on the snow pants and winter coat. This is where the feeling of claustrophobia sets in and you might feel like Gingy from Shrek with no hope of bending limbs in order to move with any kind of grace. With the understanding of the Canadian winter, you cannot leave the house without a hat and perhaps facial gear if it’s a particularly cold day with temperatures lower than -10. Gloves or mittens are necessary for the hands or you will most likely lose feeling to the digits within minutes. After all this, you may be inclined to shout “YES” because you have equipped yourself with the paraphernalia necessary for conquering the Canadian winter. You grab the doorknob with both mitten-clad hands and with all your strength you manage to turn and release it so that the door opens to the magnificent, jewel-sparkled, refreshing, white outdoors. “Canadian ice, here I come”, you think. But before you take the first step past the threshold you realize, “Dang it! I haven’t got my skates on”.
This is where the real work begins. Skates typically come with freakishly long laces that criss-cross, then cross and criss-cross again about a thousand times. This means you have to pull each criss-cross loose to release the tongue in order to fit your sock-swollen foot into the boot of the skate. Keep in mind, unless you have skate guards over the blades, you cannot just put your skate-clad foot on to any surface for risk of cutting through the floor if it’s hardwood or laminate, or dulling the blades if it’s concrete or asphalt. You must choose an appropriate surface or have a towel/mat to put down to protect both blades and surface-material.
Don’t forget you are bulked up beyond belief to combat the low outdoor temperatures so bending over to do all this lace-up work is next to impossible. Sometimes, you have to bring in reinforcements to help with the job.
When that’s all done though, you are pretty much ready.
Grab your hat, balaclava, scarf, mitts and anything else you need to ensure defence against the elements. Again, if you don’t have skate guards you’ll need a path of mats, towels, cardboard or other “safe” material to get to the rink but you’re ready for the fun. The only thing to worry about once you hit the ice is staying upright. ENJOY!