February 18, 2010
18.02.2010 - 18.02.2010 -17 °C
Since the last week of school before winter break, I didn’t have the chance to skate until today. My sister wanted to skate at the ice rink that is on You Yi Lu and by a popular morning supermarket. I’m talking about the kind of supermarket with no shopping carts, fish gutted with bare hands, and flies on bloody chopped pigs. You can even watch how sausage is made! The first time I saw this kind of a supermarket was when I was with my real grandparents at least a decade ago. I have to remark it captures the Chinese spirit of bargaining. Some prices are negotiable and the buyer has a chance to interact with the seller. Anyways, I didn’t go to the supermarket. I came to this area to skate.
When we were on our way to this ice rink, we had to cross the bridge. 700 meters before reaching Sun Island and the Ice and Snow Festival, some cars had decided to turn around on this right side of the road. I saw cars parked on the right. Apparently some people didn’t want to wait out the traffic jam, and others wanted to drive at a later time.
I changed into my skates with Gina while my cousin Tony rented skates for my cousin Li Nan. While I waited for the rest of them to come onto the ice rink, a girl had stepped on. She looked very similar to one of my Chinese classmates. Anyways, it felt so good to finally be back on ice and watching the Olympics really inspired me to work on my skating. I skated many laps around the rink, but I couldn't find the perfect area to practice my figure skating. However, the only area available was very bumpy. In the center of the rink was for hockey games. I even saw some people dressed in the full gear. Seeing these hockey players reminded me of Zach and how he was very good at skating.
I stopped once to watch my sister do backward crossovers only she would make five strokes and then could not complete a circle going backwards. In my mind, I think skating backwards means you’ve mastered it as well as skating forwards—skating straight and doing crossovers. While I was watching my sister, a 40-year old man spins around me and grabs my hand and takes me skating backwards. Only, I built up too much speed that he had to let me go. I still have to work on controlling my backwards speed. Else, I’ll never be able to make infinite circles. Having the man teach me how to skate reminded me of my friend Lony. She’s a professional figure roller skater at our school and she figure skates as well. I forgot some of the moves she taught me. If there was one move I could learn, it would be to spin very fast.
The middle-aged guy was telling me to leave less of a gap between my legs when doing my crossovers. Therefore I made circles skating counter-clockwise. There wasn’t much he could teach me and actually, he was trying to show backwards crossovers and fell down. His “last” lesson was doing a parallel stop, similar to skiing. I realized that skiing and skating have their similarities. If I couldn’t go from side-to-side when skiing, that meant my knees were having trouble bending together in the same direction. The man said that to do the stop, we had to jump and slash (do the parallel stop). I thought it wasn’t right because I would fall if I did that…
I speed skated a straight and did my parallel stop. My left leg is the one that goes out and I lift the heel of my right leg. Gina was practicing behind me. Another girl that was also skating with the old man was behind us. She was the same girl I noticed when I was waiting for the others. She watched me do my parallel stops and copied me. As we skated together, I got to learn more about her. She skated since she was little, but never had any formal lessons. She went to the second best high school in Harbin and was extremely interested in hearing me describe my background. We exchanged phone numbers and now we keep in contact. I made a new friend today, and it was all because of the old man.
My legs are sore now from skating three hours and taking only two breaks. Alas, I have a conclusion of all of our skating skills. I can skate pretty, Gina skates faster than me, Li Nan just spins like crazy, and Cousin Tony is the fastest skater among us. I have to watch out for Li Nan because if she latches onto you, you’re bound to fall down together. She can’t stop very well and spins in circles.
We were picked up so late because my host mom was getting the birthday cake for Cousin Tony. He’s 21 now and it’s hard to believe he’s so much older because he looks like he’s 19. We ate the cake that had pretty flowers and the words “生日快乐”written on it.
Li Nan lit the cake, Tony made his wish, blew out the candles, and then we dug into the delicious cake. In the evening, we played China’s famous gambling game: Ma Jiang. The birthday didn’t have flowing alcohol like how I sometimes see it on TV in America, but that’s because there’s no legal drinking age in China. Instead, it felt like a day similar to the rest.
However, skating was the sparkling gem of my day.