If you are lucky enough to have a small body of water near your home, you have the chance to show off your skating skills in the open air. This can be dangerous though, so before you grab your skates and go for it, follow these safety tips.

Ice is unpredictable in the outdoors and can form thicker in some areas than others. If your frozen pond is covered in a layer of snow, your first chore is to clear it. Without a clear view of the ice surface, this can be dangerous so never go at it alone. Work with at least one other person but never close together. Having a partner won’t do you any good if you both fall into the ice at the same time.

pond_skaterAs you are shoveling, keep an eye open for thin patches of ice or pools of water. Shade can make some areas of a pond or lake freeze better then others, and if you are out in  a sunnier area the lake could be thinner.

Keep the noise to a minimum and instead listen to the ice as you shovel. As it begins to break apart, ice will often make a squealing or cracking sound. If you begin to hear that, run to dry land. Also keep an eye out for cracks, especially if they are seeping water. This is a sure sign that the warmer water below is starting to make the ice thaw.

Don’t expect your dog to save you. People have a misconception that dogs are able to sense thicker ice. This is true, but dogs are also significantly lighter than humans, with their weight spread out over four legs instead of two. If you have a curious dog, turn on your K9 containment fence and keep him safe at home. If you don’t have a pet containment system like the PIF 300 which is reviewed here installed for your dog, read some reviews and have one installed. With something as dangerous as a lake near your home, you don’t want to take any chances with your pet.

If your shoveling partner does fall into the ice, resist the urge to run and save them. Instead, use a long rope or stick and throw it to them while laying on your belly. It’s the same concept as the dog and four legs, if you spread your body weight out, you will have a better chance of staying on top of thawing ice rather than under it.

Your friend should use the rope to pull themselves out of the water and roll away from the hole as soon as they clear it. Staying on their belly they should work their way to dry land as opposed to standing up and running.

If you do get lucky and your pond is completely frozen over, be prepared for a skating experience like no other. Skating outside is tranquil and calming, especially when it is just you, your friend and the ice. Enjoy this chance while you can, but take every possible precaution before taking advantage of a frozen pond.

After watching last years biathlon in Sochi, it became easy to see how ski archery could be a fun sport. With a recurve bow replacing the rifle, cross country skiers could still shoot at targets, albeit in a much quieter fashion.

Ski archery dates back to the Nordic region in 1540 and was rediscovered by cross country skiers in Italy who recognized its unique quality and brought it back to popularity in 1991. Since than it has been slowly building a momentum among winter sport lovers and is now being practiced regularly across Europe, in Japan, the Ukraine and in the United States.

How Does Ski Archery Work?

Carrying their recurve bow in a backpack, cross country skiers set out on  a course of 8 to 12 kilometers As they approach targets they must get into a kneeling positon and shoot four arrows from their recurve bow. The targets are all positioned 18 meters away from the athlete and are a very small 16 centimeters in diameter.

The skier must hit the target with all four shots, or face a penalty. For each arrow that does not make its mark, the athlete must make an extra 350 meter circuit on skis before being able to move on to the next area. It is fun to watch, and certainly hard to master, but if you already have an affinity for shooting a recurve bow, it is definitely worth the try.

Could This Be an Event for Skaters Too?

This format would not work well with figure skaters, but it could work if there were more cross country skating events taking place. Snow skates could be used, or long bodies of water that have completely frozen over for the winter. One of the challenges for the skier is learning how to find their new center of gravity when carrying the weight of  a recurve bow and arrows, and the skater would face this same difficulty.

Before setting out to see if this is a feasible way to add a new and exciting element to skating, first try out your skills at archery by itself. The target being used in ski archery is more than half of the size of a traditional target, making it imperative that the athlete be more than adept at aiming a recurve bow before taking it on. There are a number of archery target practices scattered around the world where you can take aim and practice even in the winter months.

Winter sports lovers are also looking to make their sport more competitive and challenging. The same can be done with skating. Look into ways to add elements of surprise to your sport starting with involving bows and arrows.

Growing up in Vermont, renowned figure skater Ross Miner has been on the ice since he was two years old. He is an Olympic caliber championship skater who takes the sport very seriously. As a result he has incorporated staying in shape for skating into all aspects of his life. Even when on the road for events or for vacation, he tries as hard as possible to stick to his routine.

Days start early for a figure skater like Ross Miner who is usually at the gym by 6:30 in the morning. It is important to do leg exercises daily such as lunges and foam rollers not only to build muscle strength but to work out the ankles for stability and balance.  This type of exercise is usually done at a gym, but is just as easy to do at home or when out on the road.

RossMiner is also an avid outdoor sportsman and spent a good part of his summers growing up camping, hiking and fishing. He still enjoys these activities during the spring and summer months, and admits to conforming his workouts so that he can perform them right outside of his family tent. For an athlete who spends most of his days inside of skating arenas, it is a treat to wake up, roll out of a tent, fire up the grill for a hearty breakfast, and start the day in the middle of the wilderness.

When home, Miner does go to the rink after his morning workout to practice his performances, do laps around the rink and experiment with new moves. When vacationing, he will either try and find an indoor rink close by to at least practice some of his routine, or skip it and exercise by rowing around a lake or taking a jog on the hiking trails. This helps in keeping both his body and mind in shape even when on a vacation.

Even though skating is serious sport Miner knows that the most important thing is to have fun while doing it. Especially with a sport that is as grueling as figure skating can be. As he says, you are going to fall, and you are going to mess up, but if you learn not to take each small mistake as a fatal one, you are going to enjoy the sport more and excel at it.

Ross Miner can teach aspiring professional skaters a thing or two about having a good time, and striving for excellence. He has managed to find the perfect way to balance his passion for skating with an adventurous and active life off of the ice.

"Jyväskylä - ice skating" by Tiia Monto. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
"Jyväskylä - ice skating" by Tiia Monto. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Jyväskylä – ice skating” by Tiia Monto. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Whether you are looking to win a race, or go out on a breakaway, skating faster on the rink would be great. For many kids, and some adults, they never learn how to skate faster the correct way. The assumption is that if you simply skate often enough, eventually over time you will learn how to skate faster. This is certainly not the case. There are techniques you can learn that will help you to sail down the ice at much higher speeds, allowing you to blow by your opponents. If you are looking for some ways to improve your skating, we have some tips that will help you out.

The first thing you want to learn is to swing your arm. Swinging your arm will give you extra momentum and allow you to pick up speed. If you are carrying a stick, you can still complete the arm swing using only one hand. Learn to swing your arm as you take strides, using the motion to push you forward.

The next thing to think about is your range of motion. Imagine for a second trying to race down the ice with your skates tied. Without even trying it you know that it would not go very well. This image alone is enough to show you how important your range of motion is. Before you skate, be sure you stretch out your hips so that they can get a full range of motion. You don’t want to be stiff when you get out onto the ice, as it will severely limit your performance.

Third, you want to maximize the amount of force you are applying to the ice. The harder you can push off with each step, the faster you will be able to go. This is why so many athletes spend time in the gym working on their leg muscles. When you push off the ice, remember that you should not be pushing straight down. Instead, you want to be pushing down and out, almost at an angle. This will propel your feet forward instead of up.

Lastly, focus how you are transitioning from one step to the next. The fewer strides you can take while you are skating, the less energy you will exert and the faster you will go. Transitioning requires proper balance and focus. If you take a look at kids learning to skate, you will see their legs working really hard, but their body is barely moving. This is because they have a poor transitioning technique. You need to learn how to glide and switch from leg to leg to maximize your performance.

Hopefully these few tips were able to help you learn about power skating. Learning to skate fast is not something you can solely read about on the internet however. You need to get out there and practice as much as you can. It is important to practice the right way however, and to turn these tips into habits. Keep them in the back of your mind as you skate, and you should be out racing everyone else on the rink before long.

"Ice Skate Rink, Rockefeller Center" by Andy C - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
"Ice Skate Rink, Rockefeller Center" by Andy C - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Ice Skate Rink, Rockefeller Center” by Andy COwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Learning to ice skate can be a difficult process. You need to balance on a tiny blade on a slippery sheet of ice. No matter who you are, chances are that you are going to fall down quite a bit when you are learning to skate. To help you out with this process a little bit, we have compiled some basic ice skating tips to get you started. Our hope is that if you follow our advice, you will learn to ice skate a little bit quicker, and with a little more ease.

1. Keep Your Head Up – One common mistake that people make is they try to look at their feet when they are skating. Our brains try and control our feet to make them stay straight, and to do this we feel the need to see where we are going. A better idea is to look straight ahead, and keep your eyes off of your feet. At the very least, you will be able to see if you are about to collide with someone!

2. Get Good Skates – There is a big difference between a cheap pair of skates, and a quality set. When you are learning to skate, you want to be sure that you have a good pair. This will make skating more comfortable, and will encourage you to keep at it.

3. Lace Em Up – If you tie your skate incorrectly, they will be uncomfortable no matter how good they are. Make sure they are not too tight or too loose. You want your feet to have room to breathe, while also having enough support.

4. Warm Up – Before you start skating, be sure to warm up. Ice skating rinks are cold, and using cold muscles can lead to injury. Be sure to stretch yourself out and do some warm up exercises before you go onto the rink, so that your muscles can be nice and warm.

5. Take Lessons – If you are having trouble getting the hang of skating yourself, consider taking some lessons. Local rinks will usually be able to help you out and get you an instructor, and they can make the whole process go a lot faster.

6. Don’t Lean Back – Try not to lean backwards while you are skating. Doing so will likely have you falling backwards onto your rear end. Keep your knees bent and your weight forward. If you need help balancing, keep your arms out wide in front of you.

7. Stopping – Once you get going, you need to know how to stop, otherwise you’ll be using the nearby walls to slow you down. To stop, turn your toes inward and push out on your heels. This will slow you down enough until you stop.

8. Follow The Rink – When you get to a public rink, you will notice everyone skating in the same direction. Be sure to go in the same direction to avoid hurting yourself or others.

9. Have Fun! – Our last tip is simply to enjoy ice skating. It can be a very fun activity once you get the hang of it. Just keep at it, and before long you’ll be flying around the rink with ease. Enjoy!