Skates do not a skater make

pedal-skates-classicMy year of saving, training and researching is up – I finally have new skates! It’s exciting, it’s enthusing it’s, well… it’s been a bit of a rollercoaster actually.

Ever had that feeling where you get some new equipment, (camera/running shoes/skates etc) and you suddenly go from being elated and excited at all the new things it can do, to feeling kinda overwhelmed and like you now have to live up to your gear because EVERYONE CAN SEE YOU HAVE FANCY NEW SKATES and goddammit you better be good enough to rock them, or everyone will judge you?

Yeah. That.
(I should add that this was all dialogue in my head, not a thing that happened.)

Don’t get me wrong – I adore my new skates, now that I’ve had 2 months of getting to know them. But it was pretty different at first. Good different, in a lot of ways – metal plates respond fast. But also pretty challenging; I went from being able to pull a sharp, loud, instant-stopping plow on my old skates to just …not. My plows were completely broken – and subsequently my whole derby skating style was screwed. A bit of research and some excellent Facebook help suggested that technique was likely at fault, and suddenly I was back to square one. It made me realise two very important things: 1) Not being able to stop is awful and scary (Fresh Meat, I have a whole new load of respect for you – I’d been forgetting what it felt like to be honestly scared for your life when learning stops from speed) – and 2) pretty much every useful derby technique involves an element of plowing.

I also learnt pretty quickly that high-end equipment does not necessarily fix problems, although it can emphasise strengths once you’ve nailed a technique.

Anyway, fast forward through 2 months of quiet frustration and trying to convince myself I hadn’t wasted loads of money…  After a difficult closed bout and a session of tripping over *everything*, I was sprinting out my frustration when a little glimmer of magic happened. My plow made a tiny squeak. And then it squeaked a little more. And then my plow on my right foot started getting decent bite and holy crap I was stopping. My plow’s not quite back yet, but I have newfound confidence that determination and ruthlessly practising WILL get me there; I have to stop being scared of failing, scared of people judging me, scared of my SKATES, and just keep skating.

So that’s my lesson for today: even if it takes over 50 hours of training time to get just one skill back, a little bit, stay positive, keep trying, and goddammit, keep skating!

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9 thoughts on “Skates do not a skater make

  1. Jerry Cooke says:

    I can totally relate to feeling as if your technique has suddenly changed! I fitted new Avenger Mags yesterday and bloody hell, changing to double action 45 degree kingpins changes the feel of quads completely!
    Granted, I’ve only been skating on quads for five weeks after years and years of inlines, but I was already used to how the aluminum Triton plates on my Antiks felt! I’ll never not be able to plow – that’s an action built into my very knees after years of skating down hills, but it feels very weird not to be able to power slide because my skates pivot too responsively! Sticking my leg out for a full length slide and feeling the skate continue to roll because the wheels are still at a suitable angle is WEIRD!
    I presume from the tags that you got some Blue Streak boots and a roll-line plate? Dang girl! I feel less bad about blowing £400 on my skates now

    • It’s amazing how one little angle can make a whooooole world of difference!
      I think the powerslide issue is exactly what I’m getting on my new plates; my plow does actually stop me (albeit less controlled/less effective) but it’s the powerslide stop (or 1-footed-plow-powerslide-combo-thing) that I relied on that I can’t get back properly. That damn bite point… And it turns out wheel temperature has started affecting my plows… after speeding around the track for a good few laps, I can then plow for a while from any speed, but soon as my wheels cool down they no longer bite. Maybe a wheel hardness issue? Psychological? Ah IDK. Still just need to practise I think!

      I did indeed get Blue Streaks and a Roll Line plate – but the Mariner Cup one, so haven’t (quite) bankrupted myself. Not far off though 😉

      Looking forward to seeing you whiz around the roller disco with those beauties on!

      • Jerry Cooke says:

        It’s crazy, right? Even one little truck adjustment can make everything feel different. Never had to put up with this kind of crap from inlines. The wheels were in a line; easy, organised. These quads are rebels!

        The smaller turn radius and the ease of pivoting on your front toes definitely makes a short forward mount all the more amazing, but the lack of powerslide bite is definitely the downside. Here’s hoping we both manage to get used to it – maybe it’s a wheel issue, but I’m using Reckless Envys and they’re pretty soft as it is. I think it’s a matter of angle. That or I’m so used to sliding with wheels in a row and everything else just feels wrong.

        I keep looking at the custom AR1s and drooling. It’s a horrible thing. Maybe after the wedding I can save up and get some. I DO have an in with Quadzilla, so maybe I can get a discount, haha.

        I look forward to seeing yours too! Here’s hoping you two make it to a roller disco soon! I wish I’d known you all better last time you lot were down at the disco – seems too long between visits, but hey ho, got my NSO course next week 😀

    • Ah that’s where I’m slightly different – I’m not even rocking a short forward. Exact same wheelbase and wheels as my previous setup. Which is partly why I’m so surprised by the difference.

      I also came from inlines (never skated on quads before derby), but I was terrible on inlines! I could go fairly fast, but had no idea how to stop. Ever.

      Hey if you manage to get a discount on AR1s TELL ME IMMEDIATELY… 😀 Where are you doing an NSO course btw? Is it the same thing as the WFTDA reffing clinic? Did I just make that up even?

  2. […] hiring the derby Pegasus to bring back the glittery, shimmering awesomeness we felt when we learnt (and re-learnt) to plow […]

  3. Jerry Cooke says:

    I felt like I had to go shortforward (you can see just how short in this picture: because of my slalom background – not being able to use my toes as a pivot point was killing my technique. It’s a lot easier to spin and stuff now that my pivot is back where I expect it to be. Still plenty of things I CAN’T do, but it’s awesome being able to do more again :3

    I was half joking, we’ll see if I ever manage to get discount, haha – I did get my sizing direct from the Mr Mo the CEO himself though, through my friend Naomi (aka Neutrino) who runs the US distribution for the brand of inlines I skated on :3

    Well I say course, more like session – next Thursday with y’all BRDGs! I should be NSOing a scrim by the end of the night. One small step towards my refereeing dreams (I already have a whistle…)I still kick myself that working Sundays meant I couldn’t be on the same course as Dave and Helen 😦

  4. 140mm on size ?9? boots? Short is sweet though. I probably should’ve gone another size down in retrospect. I take it you mean Neutrino as in Rat City/Seattle? She came to one of our training sessions last Summer – I’ve never seen a derby player with footwork like that!

    Working Sundays sucks btw… especially as most matches are on Sundays too. You should totally change your work schedule; everyone knows roller derby comes first! 😀

  5. Jerry Cooke says:

    Nahh, nothing so dramatic – 170mm wheelbase on a size 10 boot (at least, I think they’re 10s – Antik sizing is so confusing!). Yep yep, Naomi is another ex-freestyle slalom skater (well, I say ex-, she still judges) and we competed together a few times – she pretty much taught me everything I know about freestyle skating. When I told her I’d moved to Bath, she mentioned that she’d trained with you guys, I hadn’t realised she was doing so much derby! 😀

    It really does – it’s a whole big pain in the ass and I’m not sure quite what hour changes I can propose and get. Can’t afford to drop the house. Moving them to my only free day (Thursday) would mean giving up my ‘one-day-a-wheek’ desk at Future and ugh, it’s just confusing. I’ll work something out – plus side, I don’t work Thursday nights, so am available on scrim nights.

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