I thought I might be a soccer dad. I was prepared to be a dance dad. Instead, I am an ice skating dad.
Nothing in life prepared me for this.
Fortunately, my main job is to be chauffeur, observer and supporter. I used to have to tie ice skates tightly but our skater does that herself now.
What I am not is an encyclopedia of knowledge.
I am not the sharpest blade on the ice.
You know those classes they have for people who don’t exactly know the terms and concepts of football? This is exactly what I need.
Instead, I am left to appear slack jawed when I hear the various concepts and terms.
Figure skating has a language almost as complicated as a biochemistry textbook, and I am constantly baffled. For color commentary, I am reduced to, “That was pretty” or “That seemed smooth.”
There’s so much more. If only I understood.
Axel: One of the most difficult jumps, which takes off from the forward outside edge and is landed on the back outside edge of the opposite foot. It is easily recognizable (by anyone but me) as it is the only jump that takes off from a forward position. I call it an “Axl Rose.” Alternative: “Axel Foley.”
Camel Spin: A spin which is done on one leg with the non-skating leg, or free leg, extended backward with knee higher than hip level. The body remains in this “spiral” position while spinning. Would be so much better with an actual camel on ice skates.
Death Spiral: A pairs move in which the man rotates in a pivot position while holding one hand of his partner, who is rotating in a horizontal position around him with her body low and parallel to the ice. All I know is this looks pretty awesome but could be better with fire or crocodiles.
Level of difficulty: A measure of the complexity of an element. To me, this is anything that takes place a few feet from the reassuring concrete wall.
Mohawk: A turn from forward to backward (or backward to forward), from one foot to the other, each edge forming parts of the same curve. Also: An ill-advised haircut.
Salchow: An edge jump taken off from the back inside edge of one foot and landed on the back outside edge of the opposite foot. Created by Ulrich Salchow. To my ear, this is pronounced “Sow cow.” That makes me giggle.
Shoot-the-duck: A skating position in which the skater travels on one foot with the skating leg in a bent position and the other leg held forward, parallel to the ice. This is the basic position for a sit spin. I crack myself up by calling these “shoot-the-butts.”
Sit spin: A spin which is done in a “sitting” position with the upper part of the skating leg at least parallel to the ice. I got dizzy on this toy in the ’70s.
One day, if I attend enough events -- or watch enough figure skating on television -- I will finally get all this.
I’ll keep trying to pay attention because although I don’t love ice skating yet, I do love my girl.
I would do 15 shoot-the-ducks for her.
If only I knew how.
McElhinny is editor and publisher of the Daily Mail. Last week, he received the West Virginia Press Association’s Best Columnist award.