Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Save Our Ice - Don't Shrink the Rink!!!

Where else can you go and watch serious competitive athletes training, little kids starting out for the first time on the ice, grandmothers who have skated their whole lives, hockey kids and adults, teenagers on dates or in groups hanging out, having fun and getting a little exercise - all in one place at the same time???!!!

Talk about unique!!

And right here in the heart of Portland!

So the rink at the Lloyd Center is going to be part of a very very large remodel of the mall. That in itself is not such a big deal - of course it will be difficult for those skaters who are used to having a Portland ice-rink or for those who may have obstacles to transportation and use public transport - Lloyd Center Ice is so centrally located!

Sure, we will have to go elsewhere to skate, to get our very good exercise, to socialize with our old friends. That is fine. That is part of life and is to be expected. We have lived through similar times (Valley Ice arena for instance - was down for months for a remodel!)

But this size change business - and shape change!! What is the point of that really?

To make the rink more visually appealing. So the shoppers can see the rink from all three levels of the mall. The rink will be the centerpiece of the mall.

Okay, I can see that - everyone (I hope) loves the rink at the Lloyd Center. For some, that is the only reason they go there - to skate, or to watch the skaters ... skating!! But if there is no one there who can skate, skaters who have gone to other cities to skate, then who will the watchers be watching? Most likely people who can't skate and I don't imagine that will be interesting for very long.

While you are at the mall for skating you might notice that this centrally located mall is a community center of sorts - where all sorts of people, many cultures meet to shop, dine and hang out - and yes, to watch the skaters!!

I am hoping somehow that the new mall owners - Cypress Equities - a large corporation, or Waterleaf Architects - a local Portland architectural firm, will compromise on this rink shrinkage (and shape-change) idea - give us 20 more feet than planned and don't make it oval!! In the overall scheme of the changes that are proposed is this really a big deal?

It is not about competitive skating orice-dancing or US Figure Skating tests. It is about skating itself - how fun is it to skate really fast - no matter the skill level and have the room to really move? How fun is that???

Shrinking the rink is a bad idea all around.

Monday, August 3, 2009

All-Figures Open Competition

All ages. All levels. All figures.

This was the basic premise behind the "All-Figures Open Competition" that was held at the Lloyd Center Ice Rink in Portland, OR July 25-26, 2009.

Sponsored by the Oregon Skating Council, we wanted to create a competition where anyone, regardless of age, test level or experience, could compete any figure, and as many figures as they wanted. There would be no pressure to do a figure that a person basically couldn't do just to fit into a prescribed "category" - and no test level requirements to get hung up on - I mean, just because you passed your 8th figure test "way back then" - why shouldn't you be able to compete a figure you could do "NOW" - maybe as much as 30 (or, in some cases) 40 years later?

We weren't sure how to really set this up - very few rinks actually have "patch sessions" anymore and very few coaches are teaching figures per se, except maybe in the context of teaching moves. But we kind of knew there were little pockets of people around the country doing and testing figures still - finding time during empty morning public or freestyle sessions - grabbing a little piece of ice here and there to enjoy learning the basics of what skating is all about - compulsory figures!

Here in Portland two of the rinks offered "Figures class" in the months before the competition. At the Lloyd Center Ice Rink the Oregon Skating Council reserved "summer training ice" on Tuesday evenings for 3 months - the first hour of which was a "patch session" for practicing figures on your own private strip of ice, just like in "the old days". Any coach, regardless of rink affiliation, could come and teach, and one of the Lloyd Center coaches made herself available for lessons/consultations during the sessions.

In April I was thrilled to get an email from a skater in Seattle, letting me know that there were 4 skaters in the area who were getting ready to compete. I was thrilled to know that people were excited about the competition and wanted to come. A month later I got another email from a skater who had just moved to Seattle and had heard about the competition. Interest was certainly starting to build!

In setting up the competition, we did feel a need to have a "Restricted" category - but the "Restricted" category was for skaters who had not passed any test beyond the 1st Figure test or it's equivalent. In the "retricted" category the skater had the option of having circles "scribed" on the ice. A "Creative Figure" was also offered in the "Restricted" group - a skater could make up their own figure and would be judged on creativity and execution of the figure.

In the "Open" category, all figures plus the special category of "Creative Figure" were offered. The figure events were put into groups such as "Brackets" "Back Loops" "One Foot Eight" - meaning the skater could choose which foot to start on, and also chose whether they wanted to do inside or outside edge starts. Everyone could choose which figure within the given category they could be most comfortable. The whole idea was just to have fun, skate the figures you wanted to skate no matter what your level. Very inclusive!!

The competition took place over two very early mornings at the Lloyd Center Ice Rink. The rink is a small mall rink with skylight lighting (which proved to be a hinderance to some of the skaters, what with the sun glare and all). It started with 3 skaters in the "Restricted Forward Outside 8" event and quickly moved on to Open Forward Three to Backward 3 (from the 2nd figure test, for those who follow these things). All five of the judges who volunteered to judge the competition judged all of the events. And I did not hear one complaint!!

The largest event was the Open Forward Serpentine Event, with a total of 6 skaters - some of whom had tested and others who had never tested figures. The winner of this event, Aziza Jappie, is a younger competitor (I believe she is 16 or 17), who has her Senior Moves but until last year had never seen or done figures. I thought it was great that despite her lack of experience, she prevailed in this event against her somewhat more seasoned (on many levels!) competitors! After the event Aziza was overheard saying that she wished she had done figures before doing Moves because she would have understood conceptually what she was asked to do in Moves and would have passed them quicker. I thought that was great!!

On Sunday, the rest of the Open events occured. The highest level figure skated was the One-Foot Eight with three skaters in this event. The judges had a great time examining all of the figures and determining the winners and rankings. As the judges left the ice after the final figure, they applauded the skaters for a job well done. I think they had just as good a time as the skaters!! They certainly seemed thrilled to be there!

In all there were 15 competitors, 15 events and 39 starts. 3 skaters were "kids" (teenagers) and 12 were adults who had mostly tested figures when they were younger. One-third of the skaters came from the Seattle Area. Each of the "kids" won one or more of their events. One skater competed 5 figures total and another skater only skated one. Everyone had a great time and are starting to prepare for next year. Hopefully we will hold this competition next year. Maybe we will be able to attract more competitors. And now we know what we are doing!! And that it worked!

If we build it, they will come has to be our motto!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


I am still skating at Valley (although a lot less frequently). Ice has been OK on Thurs. am when I go - and there are very few people there - even less than last year. They have rare free style times, due to hockey.

Sherwood ice has in general been good, as has the ice at Lloyd Center - although this week had my dance lesson while a birthday party was going on & had to dodge a bunch of kids who had no idea what they were doing.


Thursday, September 4, 2008

So what's up?

So it's been a month since I've posted - not sure why - I think on some level I am done blogging about the state of the ice rinks here in Portland. I mean, what else is there to say?

So just a brief rundown of my most recent observations:

The ice at Valley is better than it was last winter - it is more even and I was even able to skate on the end part of the rink closest to the lobby, an area which I had considered basically off-limits because of the severe ruts and sloping - I basically had altered most of my skating to avoid this part. The other day I actually set my figures up on that piece of ice because that was the only clean ice available (I'm thinking other skaters have learned to avoid it also - so that's why it was clean. Habits. Interesting.

The ice at LC has generally been very good - the other day it was so fast that I got scared while doing one of the dances - I was moving too fast! They are eliminating one of the dance sessions (Saturday early-evening) in a couple of weeks - it was poorly attended and I guess the management decided they would try to leave the public session open longer in hopes to gain more revenue (? - oh well, at least they have a plan) - so now the only social ice-dance session is Sunday morning and hopefully the attendance will improve in the fall.

The ice at Mt. View has been a little disappointing - I have been still going to the Adult-only Coffee Club on Wednesday at noon - it is very quiet and nice ice - we can play our own music and I can get a lot of skating done. I don't think they are actually cutting the ice before the session and only laying water on so it is a little rutted and not that "smooth-as'glass" surface that I enjoyed so much earlier in the summer. I also wondered if it just didn't seem as good since the ice at Valley has improved so much.

So we are getting ready for the "High-Level Adult Dance Camp" which will be at Mt. View and Lloyd Center the weekend of July12-14 - we are expecting a lot of good skating - I don't plan to do the whole camp but I will be helping with the food and going to the off-ice and social sessions as long as my feet can hold me up - it should be fun and invigorating to the skating community in general and especially the people who are interested in competing.

Otherwise it's business as usual - getting out there and skating and hoping for good ice and acceptable customer service...

Monday, August 4, 2008

For What It's Worth

I stopped by Valley today to see what the ice was like (I was sort of in the neighborhood) - and it looked okay. I asked one of the skaters I saw there if it was better than last Friday and she said it was a lot better.

But I got a report from her coach (and another skater who emailed me) that it was terrible this morning and that some of the adult skaters turned around and went home when they found how bad it was.

What I saw this afternoon looked okay - it didn't have those zamboni-wide "shelves" where you were constantly entering new levels and it looked like the flow was pretty good from what I could see of the figure and recreational skaters that were on the ice this afternoon.

That's all for now - I will try again tomorrow as I have a friend from out of town who wants to skate and she has liked Valley in the past...).
Lisa, your redundant reporter.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Is There ANY Excuse for This?

I should make this picture bigger because I'm not sure that you really get the picture of this ice that was experienced this week at Valley. I mean - they were having pretty good ice this summer up until this week - and then what happened?

What you see in this photo is a series of deep ruts (make by hockey blades) over another rut made by the zamboni itself - these zamboni-ruts create what look like shelves across the rink (each shelf being the width of the zamboni-blade) - and so when you skate you kind of go down these little shelves. In themselves it wouldn't be that bad, but add in the completely-random hockey-ruts in almost every sector of the ice rink and you basically have a disaster on your hands.

And a disaster that is not worth the $8 for the session plus the time and money spent getting there.

I can only hope it is better next week. I'm going to try to get a lesson with my Valley-bound coach this week but after this week she will be out of town and I may enjoy my end-of-summer ice at Lloyd Center, Mt. View and hey - maybe even make the trek down to Sherwood because THIS JUST AIN'T WORTH THE AGGRAVATION!!! (am I yelling?)

Another view, just in case you didn't get it the first time:

Thursday, July 24, 2008

In Case you Don't Believe Me

This is a typical day at Valley these days - showing an actual hockey lesson (with stick!) on the left, a figure skating coach, two teenagers figure skating, and on the far left, some recreational skaters hanging out by the wall (at least that's what I think is going on) - add in some ice-dancers, an adult doing figures and maybe someone else doing Moves and you have a typical summer day at the Valley. Not too crowded, smooth ice, pleasant personalities, good music...
And yes, HOCKEY LESSONS (with sticks) - (can you tell this is my least favorite part?).

Friday, July 18, 2008

Valley ice

Was at Valley yesterday for 1:30 session. Forgot that over the summer there would be other people there - lots of kids for a birthday party.
anyhow, the ice was good, no more sloping - and you could actually see all the hockey marks-a great improvement.
They got new carpeting - it is certainly unique and bright.

Hope you are having a nice summer.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Another Skater Sighting - NYC!!


I didn't actually see him, but I saw a photograph of John Zimmerman in the window of a nearby discount shoe/clothing store modeling for something - I didn't actually notice that part...

Just for that I had to buy something there. A pair of bright orange Crocs to soothe my aching feet!

Goodbye NYC!!

Too few rinks in NYC!!

No - I didn't bring my skates. I thought about it but decided against it because 1) Chelsea Piers is having "summer skating camp" and the only sessions I could go to were early morning Dance practice sessions (hey, I'm on vacation) PLUS it was so expensive!! ($29??? Forget it!).

I am in touch with skaters from other skating boards and one NYC-skater offered to pick me up in Brooklyn and bring me to her rink (Aviator - looks like a nice facility and good prices and ice-times... but getting to Brooklyn and all of that just seemed like too much and she ended up being too busy - it was a nice offer...

And of course the famous outdoor rinks - Rockefeller Center and Wolman Rink in Central park are closed for the long, hot summer and so those were out. I did manage to walk by Rockefeller Center Plaza and look down on what would have been the ice - it is a restaurant in the summer and so that was fun. But there are no other rinks on the island - Hackensack would have been nice, but too far and I'm sure there are other rinks on LI but again... a hassle for what has essentially been a 4-day trip...

I did meet with a friend who is a skater and also a veterinarian - you better believe we have a lot to talk about - got some good tips about where to get used blades and also a little just general skating tip which I will use when I get home - it's always fun to talk about skating with people from around the country because you never know what will come up and what you can use. Plus she told me about the Hackensack Adult camp and how awesome it was working with John Zimmerman (yes, he is just as good-looking in person she assured me) and his wife Sylvia Fontana - she got some good advice from her, which was great hearing about... we went to the Natural History Museum (being essentially vets and scientists I figured this was a good choice) and had a great time walking aruond talking skating and vet med and looking at dinosaurs and dioramas...

Also glad I didn't bring my skates because after 2 days of walking in NYC (and walking, and walking and walking...) I have ginormous blisters on my foot and would not have been able to get my foot into the boot anyway... so the whole thing would have been a waste of time and energy.

I hope someday to broaden the PDX rink report to include ice rinks from all over the country (and perhaps, the world) but for now I can just dream of coming back to sweet Portland and it's abundance (compared to NYC in the summer) of sweet summer ice...

And yes, I've seen other famous people - Colin Firth anyone? (he is REALLY skinny!) And Kathleen Turner looks just as good as she does onscreen!! But no other skater sightings... sigh...

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Skater Sighting in Denver Airport!!!!!!!!!!

So I'm on my way to NYC - vaction for me and work-related stuff for my husband. We had a long layover in Denver and so spent quite some time hanging out in the Denver airport.

You wouldn't think you'd see anybody famous there - after all, I was going to NYC where I was sure to run into some familiar-looking faces. I would just expect that sort of thing. No big deal.

So imagine how surprised I was to run into someone who is famous (to me, and undoubtedly to some of you) EVAN LYSACEK as I was getting off the escalator at the Denver airport.

It was kind of shocking. I looked and then looked again - "Evan!!!" - screamed in my mind. I looked again and then looked at my husband - he said, "That was Evan" (how great to have a husband who recognizes fame in the skating world!!) - I looked again as he was going down the escaltor. Should I say something? Get an autograph? The instantly shy side of me kicked in and I so I didn't do anything - I figured he needs his privacy, and as Chris pointed out to me afterward, he was on the phone at the time. It would have been quite rude.

I was wondering about that phone call. Who was it? Tanith? Frank? (Johnny? :)! )

And why Denver? Maybe he was in Colorado Springs getting some choreography from Christopher Dean... (I think this is how those rumors get started) or maybe just like me he was on his way... somewhere else...

And here in NYC? Yes, I've seen some familiar and somewhat famous faces. But it isn't really the same as when you least expect it.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Quiet Summer - Not So Much to Write About

Well, I've been thinking about this blog and I just don't have as much to write about these days - the ice is generally good, the kids are nice and the hockey lessons are just what they are... hockey lessons.
Although it was kind of funny the other day at Valley. It looked like just another normal morning - some freestyle kids, some adults, some adult ice-dancers, me doing figures and Moves and dance patterns, some lessons, some hockey lessons (with sticks)... and then this group of teenagers got on the ice - about 25 of them -- so there were basically every kind of skating going on (no speedskaters...) and the thing that struck me the most was how odd the hockey players with all of their gear and sticks and everything in that melee... it was a good session but...
Hockey lessons... Now there is an oxymoron.
So I will not be bloggig for a couple of weeks I think - I am leaving for vacation tomorrow (we are going to NYC) - and I don't think I'm going to bring my skates... haven't decided yet but it doesn't look like there are many open sessions on the area rinks and the ones that are open look kind of far away on the map... we only have 4 days. If only we were going in the winter, I could go to Rockerfeller Plaza or Central Park...
So have fun fellow skaters - stay cool and have great skating times!!!!