Zen and the Art of Figure Skating

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No longer needing an alarm to wake me, I greeted the day with joy knowing it was six-thirty without even having to see the illuminated numerals of the digital clock on my bedside bureau. Each new day had something to teach you and I wondered what today’s lesson would be. I hadn’t always felt this way about waking up. As I prepared my morning cup of tea, Darjeeling with honey and lemon, I reflected on what had brought me to my present situation.

My family’s business was an ice skating rink and it had been in operation for eleven years when I was born. Naturally I learned to skate at a very early age and kept at it until I was good enough to compete in the competitions like you see on TV in the Winter Olympics.

When I began serious skating there were four divisions: free style, dance, pairs and compulsory (AKA School) figures. In 1988 figures was dropped from competitive skating. This was done for several reasons. Ice skating competitions were beginning to get a lot of television exposure and people who watched couldn’t understand why someone who skated a very good free skate routine would lose to somebody who was only mediocre at jumping and spinning but was superior at figures.

Figures was considered boring to watch and demanded a great deal of expensive ice time to learn, practice and become proficient. It also required newly resurfaced ice done by a machine known as a Zamboni. In addition to that, many rinks painted the ice white so they could host hockey games and the black puck showed up better on a white surface but the tracings of figures were rendered invisible. So the decision was made to eliminate them from international competitions. Yet, ironically, the sport is still called figure skating.

Figures consist of tracing out as perfect a circle as you can on one foot. A trace being the mark your blade makes on the ice. That’s the simple explanation. The circle has to have a predefined diameter and since each figure was required to be executed three times, subsequent tracings must be as close to the original tracing as possible, ideally right on top of it. It gets complicated when additional circles are added adjoining the first one, usually there are no more than three altogether in a straight line. They are added because the transition from one circle to another makes things more difficult and more interesting.

Moving from one circle to another may involve changing feet, changing direction or changing the edge. You can change the edge by itself or in conjunction with changing direction.

A simple example involving only one circle is starting out on your right foot going forward on an outside edge. That is to say the right side of your foot is facing the center point of the circle.

When you reach the halfway point you can execute a turn on the right foot. A turn being a rotation of your body one hundred eighty degrees. If you turn to the right you are doing something called a 3-turn because the tracing your blade leaves on the ice looks like the number three. If you turn to the left, you are executing something called a counter. Either one of these moves results in your going backward on the circle but now you are on an inside edge, the right side of your foot faces away from the center of the circle as you complete the figure and arrive back where you began.

This may sound as boring as watching somebody do it but the intricacies of doing these combinations of turns and changing circles and directions without messing up your tracings is the fundamental foundation of all skating. With the exceptions of hockey and speed skating. These elements are crucial to dance, pairs and free style and if you are not trained in figures, it will be difficult to be on the podium at a championship skating competition. Unless of course your competitors are also untrained in figures.

Doing figures trains your mind as well as your body. It helps develop your balance, your focus, and your ability to move and stay in one position at the same time. What I didn’t know when I was learning to skate is that figures is one of the most wonderful and effective meditations that has ever been developed. All aspects of it help bring you to your center because it is the center of the circle that is the essence of the discipline.

Today young skaters can learn to rotate triple and quadruple jumps using trampolines, harnesses and other modern mechanical aids but they will not appreciate skating in the same way that those who learned figures do. When today’s skaters get to a big competition like nationals, world or Olympics it is often nerves that are their biggest challenge. Had they learned figures they would have developed the ability to calm their nerves and only pay attention to their skating.

Really good figure skaters when they push off to start a tracing go deep inside themselves and become one with the feeling of gliding across frozen water. They no longer think about the turns or the leans or what to do with the foot that is not on the ice. They incorporate the cold radiating up from akyurt escort the ice, the slight movement of air on their face and they become oblivious to distraction. The barely heard scratching of the blade becomes the sound of one hand clapping. To me, watching an expert figure skater is far from boring, it is living art as beautiful as a ballet.

My budding career as a champion ice skater came to an abrupt end when I was seventeen, just on the verge of getting to my peak and going to important competitions. A large cyst was discovered on my tailbone and had to be surgically removed. It would take two years to completely heal so skating was pretty much out of the question since falling on my butt was an integral part of training. I did however continue to do figures from time to time. I got through college and found a nice job and eventually moved away from home to another city and started my own business. Marriage followed but I never had any children of my own.

The marriage ended soon after I turned forty years old. My wife had been slowly slipping into depression and was drinking more than I was aware of. She quit her job and tried several things to make her feel better. It was at a yoga class that she met another man who kept asking her to have a drink with him after class and eventually she said yes. This led to an affair and a surprise for me when she said she wanted a divorce.

She moved away with her new boyfriend and I never heard from her again.

In retrospect I can see that this was what we both needed but going through it was difficult at the time. I eventually came to see that long before the divorce, she had stopped being my lover, my partner and most importantly, my friend.

Three years later I sold my business for a lot of money, enough to retire on. So I did. Up until then I hadn’t had time to do things for fun, like golf or tennis. Then one day I was driving around looking for a nursery to buy some plants for my yard when I spotted a building. It was an ice skating rink. I pulled into the parking lot but it didn’t look like they were open for skating at the time so I got out of the car and looked through the locked glass door to see if I could find a sign with the hours of operation. As I stood there, a woman walked through the entranceway and saw me. She walked over and opened the door.

“Hello, may I help you?”

“I was trying to see what time the rink was open for skating.”

She walked over to a plastic holder with flyers in it that gave all the information I was looking for and handed me one.

“So, thinking about bringing your kids skating?”

“No, I don’t have any children but my parents owned a rink and I practically grew up in it so I thought I’d see if I can still stand up on a pair of skates. You look familiar to me. Should I know you?”

“Possibly, my name is Katya Stepanova. I won a silver medal at the world championships with my partner in the pairs competition. But that was long ago. I skated in ice shows for several years and saved up enough money to purchase this rink. I’m originally from Moscow but I am a citizen of America now and I like living here.”

“I lost touch with skating after a medical problem so I’m sorry I don’t recognize your name but I may have seen you at some time. You don’t have much of an accent anymore.”

“I studied and spoke English in school and spent much of my young life training in Detroit so I picked up the language easily. If you have not been on skates for a while we have a session at eight in the morning on Wednesday for beginners, there are only a few people who show up so you would not be bothered.”

“Thank you Katya, I’ll take you up on that invitation. My name is Tom Connors. I’ll be back Wednesday at eight.”

When Wednesday rolled around I attended the beginner’s session and was surprised at how much my body remembered about skating. I came back frequently every chance I got and within a month I was almost back to about eighty percent of my old self on skates. I also got to know Katya better since she was there all the time. We talked a lot about our lives and our mutual love of skating and one day I asked her if it would be possible to have an hour where I could be alone on the ice to do figures.

“My, my Tom, I haven’t seen anybody skate figures since I stopped skating competitively. I’m impressed. It’s almost a lost art. You could come in at seven on Wednesday. I’m the only one here before the beginners arrive.”

Before I left I asked her if she sold skates and she told me she had a store in the rink with a big selection of skates. She took me there and showed me the ones she recommended so I bought them after putting them on and trying them out. They fit perfectly and felt so much better than the skates she had for rental.

When I showed up on Wednesday morning she was already there and had run the Zamboni so I would have a fresh surface for doing my figures. As soon as I began I got a special feeling that only this discipline can give you. ayaş escort My breathing changed and my mind calmed to focus on what I was doing. There was a time when I could do this with my eyes closed, using only my inner sight to direct my movement. It was marvelous and the hour went by quickly.

When I heard the people come in for the morning session I left the ice and sat on a chair to remove my skates.

“Wow Tom, you’re really good. You could teach skating. Would you be interested in teaching here? I have some young skaters that have potential and I don’t have time to teach all of them myself. It’s all I can do to keep up with the rink much less teach everybody who asks about lessons.”

“Katya I’d very much like to teach skating here. I can also help you with the other things too. I like you and we have a love for skating in common. Would you let me take you to dinner to discuss it further?”

“The rink is closed tonight so I’d be delighted to have dinner with you.”

“Then I’ll pick you up at seven?”

“Yes seven is good. I like you too Tom.”

She gave me her home address and I arrived at seven. I had worn slacks and a long sleeve shirt but brought a sport coat in case she was expecting some place a little more formal but she wore a skirt and blouse that was nice but not too dressy. We went to an Italian bistro that I liked and had a wonderful time. We learned that we were both the same age and born within a month of each other. She told me about her time as a skater and that she had never been married. She had kept the shapely, well toned body that skating had given her. She could have passed for someone twenty years younger. It didn’t occur to me until halfway through dinner that I hadn’t been on a date with a pretty woman in months. I felt very comfortable with her. She was real and nice.

Toward the end of the meal I had this thought about where this night was going to end. She must have sensed this because she removed all doubt by saying, “So Tom, what do you think about Russian women?”

“Before I met you I never thought about Russian women.”

“You’ve been around me long enough to form a valid opinion. However there is one piece of information that you are lacking that will be helpful to you. Russian women are the best lovers in the world.”

“Are you prepared to back that statement up with a demonstration?”

“I would be very disappointed if this wonderful date did not end up with us in bed together. You can then decide for yourself if I was telling the truth or just boasting.”

“In that case I think it’s time I got the check. Your place or mine?”

“I want the home field advantage for our first time.”

“Will you talk dirty to me in Russian?”

“If you want, but Russian is not a romantic language. Fortunately I am quite fluent in English as well. Less chance of a misunderstanding should I need to give you directions.”

“You talk a good game Katya. I hope you can live up to it.”

“You will be pleasantly surprised Tom, I promise.”

When we got back to her place she wasted no time in removing her clothes. She put them neatly in a pile on the sofa in the living room though. I followed suit but she was naked before I even got my shirt off and placed on the sofa.

“Katya did you ever perform as a stripper in your career? You seem to have a talent for quickly removing your clothes.”

“When I was in the ice shows I rarely had much time between costume changes for different numbers so I learned to take my clothes off quickly; even with skates on. Would you like me to help you?”

“It’s sweet of you to offer but I think I can manage. Looking at you while I get undressed is very arousing. You still look like you could skate in competitions.”

“Keeping myself in shape was a skill I learned at an early age. That’s why I still skate as much as I can. It’s great exercise. Did you ever see the dance team of Oleg Protopopov and Ludmila Belousova? They were in their mid thirties when they won the gold medal at the 1968 Winter Olympics and continued to skate well into their sixties.”

“I’ve seen videos of them. They are legends in the sport.”

I was finally down to my shoes and I was glad I had worn loafers so I could slip them off quickly. The socks soon followed. She took my hand and led me to her bedroom.

“Tom are you into foreplay or do you want to get down to it as fast as possible?”

“I prefer to spend a little time getting to know a pussy before I introduce it to my cock. It’s been a while since I tasted a woman and I’d like to see if yours is as sweet as the rest of you.”

She lay on the bed and spread her legs. “Come and get it Tom.”

I knelt between her legs and leaned over to start kissing my way up her thigh. She had left the bedside lamp on so I could see her quite clearly. Her pussy was beautiful and completely devoid of hair. I quickly kissed my way up to her slit and began to lap at it with long forceful licks of my tongue.

“Ooooohhh Yesssss Tom that’s ankara escort the way I like my pussy to be eaten. Keep doing that.”

I was only too happy to oblige since it was having an effect on me as well as on her. Just like skating, sex is something you never really forget how to do even if it’s been a while since your last performance. Fortunately my cock needed only a little reminder of what it was supposed to do in this situation. Judging by how wet her slit had become and how hard my cock was now I was convinced that it was time to move the program along. I moved up the bed and got on my knees. She pushed her hips up and reached over and got a pillow to slide under her butt to elevate her pussy to the perfect height for fucking. I had to admit that so far she was living up to what she had said. Russian women are the best lovers.

Swiping the head of my cock up and down her wet slit a few times was all it took to finish getting ready for the big event. I eased the head into her opening and was going to pause to let her get used to it but she pushed up with her hips and engulfed my entire cock with her hot vagina. So much for being subtle. I started to stroke her at a moderate pace but she again used her hips to set a faster tempo. She wasn’t shy about getting what she wanted. At the same time though it turned out to be good for me too so I gave her points for excellent sexual communication.

This was new for me. The women I had been with in the past, including my wife, had usually taken a passive role in fucking and expected me to make all the decisions as to positions, speed, intensity and duration. I liked having a real partner that could tell me and show me what would lead to her orgasm. I guessed this was partly because she had skated pairs with a partner where you had to learn to communicate with your body about where, when and how you did those sometimes dangerous stunts. The first time with a new lover is not always the best time, Sade’s song to the contrary, but so far I was having a wonderful time.

We kept up our kneeling missionary position for at least fifteen minutes when she put her hands on my shoulder and said, “Ease up for a minute Tom. I want to turn over.” Who was I to argue? Doggy was my favorite position but not one I would expect for the first time. I pulled back sliding my cock out of her and rested on my knees. She turned as easily as doing one of her pairs spins and was quickly on her stomach with the pillow under her hips to elevate them again. I just had to take a few seconds to admire her pretty ass with those bare pussy lips framed by her cheeks.

I moved forward and pushed my hard cock back into her hole and buried it. She pushed back with her hips to tell me this is what she wanted. “You like to fuck this way don’t you Tom.”

“Yes, it’s my favorite position. How did you know?”

“Because this is the way a real man fucks a sexy woman. You know that you can get your cock deep inside my pussy this way and you like to hear your thighs slap against my ass. You asked me to talk dirty to you so start fucking me. Slam your hard cock into my hot pussy. Let me feel your balls mash against my clit when you’re all the way inside me. Make me cum Tom!”

“I won’t disappoint you Katya. You will be pleasantly surprised, I promise.”

Rising to the occasion I poured my energy into fucking her the way we both wanted it. Hot, hard and wet. The sounds were music to my ears as my thighs impacted her ass cheeks and my cock made a squishing sound as it slid in and out of her wet pussy. Given how long it had been since my last fuck I was expecting this to end sooner rather than later but I was having too much fun to think about having an orgasm. This just felt too damn good to stop.

She seemed to have other ideas though. Moving her hips in time with my thrusts was beginning to have a definite effect on her. Her moans and grunts were getting louder and her pussy began to throb around my cock like she was trying to milk it.

“Ohhhh Yessss do it Tom! You’re fucking me so good. I can feel it Tom! I’m going to cum soon. You can cum with me if you want but if you don’t then don’t stop fucking me while I cum. Keep on slamming that lovely cock in my hot pussy while I cum all over it. OHHH H FUCK YES! I’m cumming Tom, keep fucking me while I cum on your cock!”

It’s a good thing she wanted me to keep fucking her while she climaxed because I wasn’t about to stop. Despite her pussy’s best effort to extract my creamy tribute I wasn’t ready to give it to her yet. I’m not sure if she ever completely stopped cumming but I kept on banging away at her until I felt my orgasm signal its beginning. As soon as I knew the first spurt was only seconds away I buried my cock in her and held still. Her pussy was still pumping on my cock, begging for my cum. This time she got it. I must have had a lot of it stored up since the last time because I lost count of how many hot globs of semen I shot into her.

Our lovemaking had been joyous but it took a lot of energy so we used the bathroom then came back to bed and soon fell asleep. I hadn’t slept with a woman in months nor had I realized that I missed doing it. The best part was waking up and discovering my cock was in her mouth. She had it halfway to a full erection before I was even conscious.

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