Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Urban Myths and Legends

Okay, so I am as guilty (if not more so) as any other skating parent. I have my seemingly "silly" superstitions. Some of them are relatively new in the scheme of things; others have been around since before the dinosaurs roamed the earth (or the ice rinks).

When did these rituals start? I think it was close to the time of our first competition when I remember tying our skater's right skate lace first for good luck. Of course, that was after I schlepped all the items into the rink (reference past blog). From there, it moved into wearing earrings he bought me when he was seven at our first Vail Invitational. (For those of you who know me, I STILL wear them, and NO, I will not remove them - except for cleaning - until after Vancouver.) Others along the way: Collecting paper fortunes from cookies and placing them under skate soles; not changing (or washing) "lucky" skating socks; always having certain stuffed animals or toys in our possession at competitions; the ritual booming shout by my husband of, "GO ALEXANDER!!" before every program. Having certain family members sit on either the left or right during an important event. There have been rings, bracelets, the turning of a necklace clasp accompanying a wish. There seems to be no end to our desire to try and control an outcome of an event simply by willing it to be so.

Of course, as parents we all want to be in control. After all, we've spent countless hours staring at frozen water; countless hours being there for successes and failures - heartbreaks, injuries and elations big and small. Somewhere along the line, we developed rituals something akin to the world's religions. We've humanized icons, created stories and believed so strongly in their powers that they have become essential to our skater's success. Remember: Pigs CAN fly!

The truth of the matter is that our skater has done it all himself. Does he have his own superstitions? Of course. All athletes have them. Bounce the tennis ball exactly 20 times before serving; step over the baseline and not on it; don't cut your hair, mustache or beard. But his rituals that pay homage to the ice are now more subtle, more sophisticated. Some are even subconscious. Whatever they are (and we don't know them now; we can only observe), they are the things that reassure him - and us - that the planets are aligned and the outcome is assured.

Wouldn't it be nice if that were true? Like everything else in life, they are if we believe.


  1. Well, I'm not eating the chocolate pig present until he's on that podium! It's on my office shelf and I see it every day. It'll be darn stale by February, but worth it.

  2. I'm new to this skating parent thing but I've noticed REALLY quickly that the trouble with rituals is that they don't always work! My daughter did her first Moves in the Field test a couple of weeks ago (with my fingers crossed in the pockets of my coat) and she passed! How could I let her skate ever again without my fingers crossed in my pockets?! Particularly once the coach added two axels to her program... Suddenly, crossing the fingers of both hands didn't work... I had to have the fingers of the RIGHT hand crossed, inside the pocket, or she would fall on her axels. I didn't have to have them crossed for the whole program, just the axels. WELL... (you can see where this is going) she did her first pre-pre competition this weekend and in spite of my dutifully crossing the fingers of ONLY my right hand, INSIDE the pocket of (let's face it) my LUCKY coat... she went down on both axels. (Sigh...) At that moment I decided no more rituals. Which was a relief! And will work great... until her next competition when she DOES land the axels and I realize that I had my sunglasses on my head... or one shoe untied... or her dad is in the bathroom... I guess we'll have to see which stuffed animals I've got with me when she first competes as a Juvenile! ;-)

  3. If you would like to add more to your collection, just let me know. We still have a garage full of them and that's after donating three or four bags to a local shelter. Hint: Save the first ones and the last. They will hold all the memories in between.

  4. Um. Ice Girl has unwashed skate socks, but it's not a ritual for us. I'm pretty sure they're the only pair she can find right now. Memo to self: buy more socks.