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Falling On My 'Ice': What to do with my arms?

I don't know what to do with my arms. They just kind of flop around when I skate.

I don't know what to do with my arms.

They just kind of flop around when I skate.

I don't notice my arms all that much when I'm walking upright, but since I crouch over to skate - I can't seem to bend my knees deep enough - the whole motion just makes me feel like an ape. An uncoordinated ape on skates. It's a dangerous combination.

I've been concentrating so hard on keeping my ankles in the semi-right position in these no support skates that I've completely left my upper body out of the equation.

This week we worked on accelerating while moving our arms side to side. But our hands aren't allowed to go higher than our shoulders as we swing our arms side to side. But careful, if your hand swings above your shoulders, you'll lose balance - something I usually have trouble with anyways. In the beginning, each swing of my arms felt like I was preparing to swing from tree to tree.

But you know what? I think I might actually be improving, just slightly, I mean I still can't do a crossover but swinging my arms makes me feel slightly better - it makes them feel useful.

So if you swing by the oval one day and you see a whole bunch of grown adults swinging their arms as they glide over the ice, looking like they should be loping around a zoo, we're just practicing our accelerations.

But apparently you're only supposed to swing your arms like a monkey sometimes, sometimes we're supposed to hold one hand behind our backs and then swing the right arm, it's a lot harder to balance with one hand behind my back. I confess, I don't know when to use the dual hand swing versus the one hand swing. But it sure is nice to have something to do with my arms instead of just feeling like I missed a couple of evolutionary steps and having my knuckles almost dragging along behind me. That's the real reason why I wear gloves to speed skating practice.

Now, I'm still trying to master my crossover so I can speed up in the corners instead of slowing down - you know, like a real speed skater.

Though most people in Masters are way past completing crossovers, my coaches tell me that they take a long time to learn. Yeah, and a little lower body strength wouldn't hurt either.

It's still really scary each time I try a crossover. I check to make sure no one is around me - I don't want to involve someone else in my wipeout, it's messy enough. My heart races as I look down at my skates and the ice rushing beneath my sharp blades. But now my right foot can almost always crossover my left one - and not slice off my left ankle - and land safely on the opposite side. Everything is perfect for a split second and then everything goes wrong at once: my blades run into each other, my ankle wobbles, my arms flop out and I immediately put my foot back to where it should be before I lose any more control. The whole process takes less than 20 seconds, but it feels like 10 minutes. It takes a while for my heartbeat to return to normal, but eventually it does and I await the next corner with the anticipation that maybe, just maybe, everything will go right and I'll do it properly next time.

But more than likely, I will just end up falling on my ice.