Why I love to Speed Skate!
To push-off from the edge of the ice and glide is one of the payoffs. Gripping the ice with the edge of the blade is a sharp contrast to gliding on the bottom. The push is done with the edge by creating an angle with the ice. The turns are a great example of this principle. Technically correct body position is essential for efficient mechanics that create speed.
The sensation of gliding is like floating, suspended in time and space. Intense focus is necessary at 35 miles per hour for our very survival. Playing crack the whip as a youngster is much the same sensation of a high-speed turn. With a string of children hand in hand, one at the center, the rest strung out like the spokes of a wheel, as the group spins, the last in line builds speed exponentially. We let go of the line at max speed, seemingly faster than our legs can carry us. The feeling of being shot out of a cannon is the best way to describe it.
Entering the turn I plan and spot the setup 30 meters before. Then the commitment, lean and pressure into the ice. Crossover strokes building to the apex, max centrifugal force trying to push me to the outside of the track. Slight hesitation in the crossover strokes during the middle of the turn to feel the forces of nature I am in concert with. Legs feeling the pressure required, weight training paying off here. Perfect body position essential to the mechanics of speed. Max speed, crack the whip, and acceleration. Maintaining crossover strokes to get the angle, pressure, the “shot out of the cannon” feel down the straight for the next 100 meters in 7 seconds. Payoff for the courage to cut the ice with 1.1 milimeter blades. Risk on the edge and trusting in my abilities.
Without protective glasses my eyes would not see through the wind created tears. Eight straight away strokes and then the next turn. Managing energy to get the most speed for the longest time and distance. This is the payoff for what I do.
Motivated, driven, the resulting speed and all its attendant sensations. The Zen of being one with the ice, my skates, myself. The self-generated wind, smell of the ice, speed, pressure, on the edge, consequences, and results, internal and external, this is what skating is to me.