FOR your first lesson in skating, choose a piece of ice of moderate roughness. Take plenty of time to learn to stand well and safely on your skates, and to get confidence. Your danger as to falling is not, remember, of falling to one side, but backward or forward. Learn to stand up straight. There is nothing so awkward as a skater who leans forward. Avoid, too, swinging the arms about. They should be carried easily, much as in walking. Keep the feet close together, toes turned out, and the legs straight and firm.
Having come to feel somewhat at home upon your skates, and being able, perhaps, to move about a little, you may begin at once upon the Plain Forward Movement. With the left foot firmly planted, the inner edge of its skate bearing a little on the ice, boldly throw out the right foot until the outer edge of its skate touches the ice. At the same time throw the right shoulder steadily forward, and keep the body balanced upon the right leg as long as possible. Then throw out the left leg and shoulder in the same manner, and so continue. If you begin with these rules well in your head, it will save you much painful experimenting. Having learned to make progress in this manner with firmness and power, you will have learned to skate. Any other movement, simple or complex, belongs to "Fancy Skating." But, first of all, this plain stroke must be thoroughly learned.
The "rolls" forward and backward are the basis of all fancy skating. The forward outside-edge roll is made as follows: The impetus is obtained as in plain skating; but, as the stroke is made with the right foot, the left shoulder is brought forward, the right arm drawn back, and with the face looking to the right, the whole body is swung easily in the direction of the stroke; then the left foot is lifted from the ice, and, being brought forward, is set down a few inches in advance of the right. The same movement is then made to the left, the right skate having now its inner edge to the ice until ready to be lifted. The Dutch roll is performed in this same manner, save that, perhaps, the roll is not quite so broad, the movement being more nearly in a straight line. The marks left upon the ice are something as in the figure.
At Home on Skates.
The outer-edge roll leads very easily to the cross roll, each foot when off the ice being swung, in the latter, across the one on the ice and starting in its stroke from the crossed position.
Having become proficient in the various rolls forward and backward, the skater is now prepared to attempt for himself the almost infinite number of figures and movements that make up the rest of fancy skating. Most of these will require long practice. They are, too, for the most part, almost impossible to be described upon paper. You will have to pick them out for yourself, getting what helps you may from those about you who have already acquired them.
A favorite movement, and one easily mastered, is that which used to be familiarly known as "Cutting the Derby." It is now spoken of as the "Left-over- Right," or the "Right-over-Left," and consists in skating in a circle by constantly putting the outside foot over forward and inside of its fellow. A few steps of this figure, thrown in now and then, first to one side and then to the other, makes a very graceful and easy variation of the plain forward roll.
"Cutting the Crab" is another simple figure. While going forward, one foot is suddenly thrown out, turned and drawn heel foremost directly after the other; and the greater part of a circle is then described, the two heels being brought close together and the toes turned straight outward. This is a neat way of coming to a stop if one has plenty of room.
The "Figure of Three" and the "Figure of Eight" have always been well known to skaters. The former begins at exactly the same point at which one would begin in writing the figure, and is performed on one foot, the first part on the outside edge forward, and the second on the inside edge backward. The "Figure of Eight" is a combination of two circles. A very pretty "Rosette" is made by combining a number of "Figure of Eights," as seen in the figure. In this "Rosette," it will be observed, the first circle of the first "Eight" is gone over again and again, though the second one is constantly changed.
Then, there are all the other Arabic numerals to be made, and all the letters of the alphabet, if one be patient and skilful enough. And there is the "Scissors," and the "Grapevine Twist," and the "Virginia Fence," which leaves a mark upon the ice that describes itself, and the "Locomotive," single and double, so called, doubtless, because the sound of its strokes somewhat resembles the puffings of an engine, and whose track is something as here seen; and there is the "On to Richmond" (cross one foot in front of the other, and with back stroke outside edge go backward or forward); and ever so many others.
You should see a programme for a skating contest as set forth by the American Skating Congress. I can assure you that the skaters who carry off the prizes from such contests must indeed be artists. And if you could only get hold of one of these Prize Skaters, and he would go to the pond with you, he could teach you more of Fancy Skating in half an hour upon the ice than I could do upon paper in half a year.
BY CHARLES R. TALBOT.