Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Blades of glory (with reader poll!)

I went ice skating on Saturday! With people I barely know, for added adventurousness!

Well, it was more of a shuffle than a skate, but not bad, considering I've only skated three times before:
  • The first time was at primary school, when a company came in one weekend and laid down big slabs of weird Teflon-type stuff that fitted together like a jigsaw, and that you could skate on. Kinda. It was a huuuuge deal - I remember everyone talking about it for weeks before it happened, and having to sign up for a specific time and skate size well in advance. I also remember being part of a pack of kids careening around the tiny school gym, barely in control (none of us wearing gloves or helmets, of course) having a whale of a time during our half-hour slot.
  • The second time was when I was about 14 and we went on an uncharacteristically awesome school trip to the Doncaster Dome, over an hour away (our closest ice rink). We spent the morning in the wave pool and on the water slides, and the afternoon skating around the dual level rink: around the top part, down the slope, around the bottom part, and up the other slope, a set-up my new Canadian friends described as "crazy" when I told them about it. I had to stop early because a smaller kid cut me off just as I was coming off the downwards slope and, not wanting to hit her but not knowing how to stop, I grabbed hold of the side with one hand to stop myself, swung around in an arc, and slammed right into the hoardings, knees first. Someone else (not from my school) fell over and had her hand run over by a skate - I didn't see it, but some of the kids from my school did, and they told us all about it. No-one was wearing gloves or a helmet, of course. 
  • The third time was on New Years Eve a couple of years ago, when we were staying with Mr E Man's sister and her family up near Kamloops, BC. Someone had created a community rink by flooding the tennis courts using a hose pipe, so after dinner we borrowed skates and hockey sticks from a neighbour and went and shot pucks at the only kid in the village who had a full set of goalie gear. I was using hockey skates, rather than the figure skating kind I'd used before, which were also a size too small; add in the choppy ice and the fact that there was nothing to hold onto other than my brother-in-law, and I took the skates off and was running around playing hockey in my hiking boots within ten minutes (yes, the ice was choppy and rough enough that you could run around in hiking boots while pleasantly drunk and not fall over. Much). I wore gloves that time (it was soooooo cold), but no helmet, of course - just a toque.

    I recounted this history to the people at Friday night's party who were proposing the outing, and they reassured me that none of them had skated for years. I found out the next day that for two of them this statement came with the caveats "not since high school, when I played lots of hockey", and "not on ice, although I'm a roller derby referee so I'm on roller skates all the time" (I've roller skated maybe twice as an adult), but it was really fun to do something so different, and everyone was very nice and encouraging! I wore my ski gloves and bike helmet this time, and spent the first circuit hanging onto the wall all the way around, before getting gradually more confident; by the end of our 40 minutes (a steal at $9 including skate rentals), I could make it almost all the way along one long edge of the arena without grabbing hold or falling over. I was still very wobbly and attracted various scornful / pitying looks from the hordes of small children flying backwards around the arena doing leaps and twirls, and my feet and ankles were in agony, but it was a blast!

    We went out for beer and snacks afterwards and as we were sharing some poutine, someone said "well, you're properly Canadian now". However, I'm not sure that this was actually the most Canadian thing I've ever done - there are other candidates.

    So here's a poll:

    What's the most Canadian thing Cath has ever done?

    Anyway, three cheers for trying new things and making new friends!

    18 comments:

    1. I think the most Canadian thing I've done is watch a Canadian goalie let the puck go past him 5 times.

      This was in Finland (IIRC, the Espoo Blues vs TPS), and a Canadian was sat next to me. Half way through the match he looked at the team sheet and said "I used to play against that goalie". It's a small world.

      I have been to Montreal, too, but I believe that's not as Canadian.

      ReplyDelete
    2. see, I ended up with the skating and poutine... although, I really think playing hockey drunk on new years is the thing to do but! Canadien is the poutine and the English combined... right?!

      I guess the other option would be "playing hockey drunk at new years singing the Marseillaise (or however one spells that) or cursing in French when your opponents steal the puck from you" Merde! ;)

      ReplyDelete
    3. oh, and I think you are brave to do the skates if you haven't done it much. I suck at figure skates but hockey skates or (the preferred ones for me at the moment) "long distance skates" are really very much more easy. Maybe you can find them there too? You hook them onto your hiking boots (or sort of special ones anyway). And then the blades are longer, giving you longer strides and more balance.

      On a lake, it's awesome!

      ReplyDelete
    4. I don't know why my vote didn't register, but I chose the playing drunken hockey option. I didn't even know what poutine was until I moved to Vancouver (I'm from a small Northern town, with relatively few influences from other Canadian cultures), no one I knew ever paid attention to the curling when I was growing up and tattoos were definitely not the norm! However, every other house had a backyard rink so random games of hockey with any/all kids nearby were pretty common.

      ReplyDelete
    5. yup, ice skating and poutine wearing a toque. (you did wear one I assume under your helmet)
      I think the most Canadian thing I have ever done was buying 25NZ$ 250ml of pure real authentic imported Canadian maple syrup. According to the amount on labels from that type of maple syrup on my Canadian colleagues' office doors (it says, in a maple leaf "100% Canadian"), that is totally the norm for in-exile-Canadians ;)

      ReplyDelete
    6. Bob, yeah, I've seen that a few times myself! I've never known the goalie personally, but your story does remind me of the time I went to a York City match with my Dad and his friend, who was a PE teacher who'd taught two of the players. Throughout the match he kept saying things like "I always bloody told him to keep his bloody head up and he never bloody listened then either". It was hilarious.

      Montreal is Teh Awesome. Love the place.

      Chall, next time I'm playing drunken hockey I shall remember to swear in French! "TABERNAC!!" is more Canadian than "merde!" though.

      I've never heard of the long-distance skates! I don't know if I'd ever do enough skating to justify buying any (if I do it would definitely be second hand, either from Sports Junkies or the wonderfully named hockey gear consignment store, Cheapskates), as hideous as the rental skates are. But if I ever change my mind I will keep my eyes open!

      Mermaid, there's no curling in your home town?! I'm a wee bit surprised!

      Playing drunken hockey does seem to be a popular option so far :) In your backyard rink days, did you ever play against your current boss? :)

      SUIRAUQA, it does all add up. They should give you extra points on your permanent residence application :)

      Nina, sorry to disappoint you but there's no room for a toque under my helmet! (If there was, it wouldn't be a very good helmet, at least not during the summer months!) I'm glad you're keeping up the maple syrup rations though, very important.

      I forgot to add "put maple syrup on bacon", "put maple syrup in coffee while camping", and "put maple syrup in lemon tea when you have a cold but forgot to buy honey" to my poll.

      ReplyDelete
    7. Damnit, I also forgot about the time my NZ friend and I worked the score board and timer during another friend's amateur hockey game. Rats!

      ReplyDelete
    8. i voted for hockey shootout/curling... drunk new years hockey only lost because you admitted already that you took your skates off (very UNcanadian) and also you did not say that it was below -20 degrees (which is critical to the Canadianness)!!!

      ReplyDelete
    9. Oh, there was curling, but we never really paid attention. As kids, it was far too tame and the good looking boys played hockey :). I never actually played against my current boss, but I did skate at his house once.

      Guess what? I am goig curling this weekend! I have never been before. I guess I am becoming more Canadian too.

      ReplyDelete
    10. I only recently saw a picture of poutine - it looks like it could very well be my favourite food of all time as it contains all of my favourite ingredients that aren't Doritos. Just one more reason to get off my fat ass and head north.

      ReplyDelete
    11. What I always find impressive about ice skating is how hard that damn ice is when you fall down. I mean, I know that ice is not soft, but I really don't remember falling on my ass hurting as much when I went roller skating. Maybe it's age. I was a much younger roller-skater. Oh, and the huge bruises - didn't get those roller skating either (although I did break my wrist).

      ReplyDelete
    12. I skated a lot as a kid here in nz but I've never been further than Australia (which was disappointingly like here for the most part) so I'm just making a random guess at curling and the hockey shoot out.

      viv in nz

      ReplyDelete
    13. Mel, maybe if I get some more practice, I'll be able to keep my skates on next time!

      I'm not sure if it was officially below -20C that night, but it was damn cold!

      Mermaid, cool! Are you going to the curling centre up near my place? I want to go too (I was thinking of doing it for my birthday), so please let me know how it was!

      PiT, I can only justify eating poutine after doing vigorous exercise, and even then it's not really justified unless maybe it's the only food I eat after a full day of skiing in the freezing cold! But damn it's good!

      MXX, I managed not to fall this last time, but I do remember it from previous skating adventures! Although in general there's less risk of serious injury than if you fall onto the ground, because sliding takes a lot of the impact out of the fall.

      Things generally hurt more as you get older though, so maybe it's just that!

      Knutty Knitter, I know a couple of people who said not to bother going to New Zealand because you fly for what feels like forever, and then when you get off the plane it looks just like here! (It hasn't put me off though!)

      ReplyDelete
    14. Definitely the listening to the hockey while waiting for curling. I've had the experience of traveling in the US when some important hockey game is on and desperately seeking some kind of TV/radio/carrier pigeon coverage of hockey while standing in line at McDonald's, or some such typically American activity. Makes you long for home with its "100% hockey all the time" sports mania.

      Standing in line for curling adds bonus points, I think.

      ReplyDelete
    15. Heh, yeah, I once arrived in Washington DC on a late flight (well, late for me - 11pm Pacific time, but 8pm local time). Being starving, but alone, knackered and lazy, I went to the sports bar in my hotel's lobby to grab some dinner. Every single TV was playing basketball or baseball, even though the Canucks were in town playing the Capitals live at that very moment. I politely asked the bartender to switch one of the screens over to the hockey for me - and when he did, three separate Canadian guys in the bar came over to thank me (and hit on me, in two cases), because he wouldn't change it for them!

      ReplyDelete
    16. Add to "Cath's Compendium of Useful Pick-Up Tips for the Canadian Girl Abroad", or something. :P

      A friend of mine, who is British but spent some time here, once went to a Tragically Hip concert after returning to London. It was in some "Canadian" bar, and she felt a bit self-conscious wearing her Habs jersey to it.

      Turns out, everyone in the place was fully decked out in Canuck gear, flags, Molson paraphernalia, moose horns, etc. etc. etc. Go figure. I believe they had Canadian on tap, too.

      ReplyDelete
    17. Was that the Maple Leaf pub in Covent Garden, by any chance? I've been there twice.

      The first time was with Mr E Man and my sister to watch Calgary play in game 7 of the Stanley Cup final. Everyone was wearing hockey jerseys (from all the Canadian NHL teams plus the national team), I met someone who lived in the next street to me in Vancouver, and my sister got in trouble from my Dad when she told him because she's not supposed to meet any single Canadian men.

      The second time, Mr E Man and I were trying to find the pub to watch a World Juniors game. We were totally lost, but we saw someone wearing a Canucks shirt, so we just started following him. He walked right past the pub, but didn't go in, which was weird but still useful! (He must have been visiting the Consulate, which is just around the corner from the pub. I've been there too, to get a temporary entry permit after my permanent residence card got stolen on my honeymoon). They weren't playing the game that time though.

      ReplyDelete

    I promise to respond to all respectful non-spam comments! Don't be shy! Oh, and please don't type my surname in your comments; I know you all know what it is, but I'd prefer Google to rank other pages before this blog.

    Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.