Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Skate America

Tim is in Guatemala and my hips are recovering from Skate America, where I volunteered as an “ice monitor.” It sounded simple enough in concept … stand by the door and open it to let the skaters onto the ice, then close the door. As volunteer jobs go that is pretty darn simple. But 4 hours of standing in the cold each day did me in. It is only now, 3 days later, that I can walk without assistance, and I am glad that Tim doesn’t return until Monday because skating is going to be a non-event until then.

I was assigned to all the dance events, probably because they figured I actually know when to open the door after 3 patterns of the Viennese Waltz! The very first event of the competition was in fact compulsory dance, and my headphone was not working. Unbeknownst to me, the TV producer who controls all the cameras, the doors, and the timing of the event so that it is consistent with the TV commercials kept asking the Ice Monitor, me, for status, and since no sound was coming through, I stood there, apparently oblivious. The TV guy was going crazy, and finally asked, “who IS that moron down there?!” Of course, everyone on the headsets heard that including the announcers, USFSA bigwigs, all the camera guys, and most of the volunteers in the arena. Pretty comical considering I kept the event going just fine without his input, but after all, I am a referee and I've attended enough skating competitions that, moron or not, I do know when to open and shut the door all by myself.

The press corps was provided catered meals, while we volunteers had ... apples. And water. Occasionally power bars but those went fast. Trying to find a vegetarian meal in the arena was near impossible of course, so the apples were very welcome. One morning I snuck into the press area for a cup of coffee -- I figured I might be shot or escorted from the building, but as luck would have it there was nobody there. My credential allowed me in that part of the arena but my attire absolutely identified me as a "non-press person."

Speaking of attire ... more fun times! By the time I checked in at the volunteer desk the only sizes left for the mandatory volunteer outfit (black turtleneck and black vest) were “XXL.” For those who don’t know me, I’m about 5’4” and 120 lbs. I’m not tiny, but I’m also nowhere near an XXL! The turtleneck came down to my knees, and I could fit 3 of me and a small VW bus in there. The vest, which I wore over my fanny pack, the turtleneck, and a black jacket to keep me warm, was sized similarly. I wore the fanny pack in front, so the result of all this was that I looked like a very pregnant version of the Michelin Man.

It was bad enough that friends I passed in the mixed zone didn’t even recognize me, walking right on by when I waved and said hello. Paul Harvath covered this up later by saying, “did you do something with your hair? I didn’t recognize you!” Right Paul, what you REALLY wanted to say was, “when did you get so hugely fat and when is your due date?”

And on top of all this, we were advised to go see “hair and makeup” before going out there because of course, try as we might to avoid the TV cameras, we couldn’t always get out of the way. On top of my very stylish coiffure, I had to wear headphones, so that was pretty much a lost cause. However, my makeup looked damn good. So there I was looking lovely, but well padded, for all the world to see.

Of course it is not about me, but about the skaters, and my job as ice monitor is to be unobtrusive, but I was just too … well … bulky to totally fade into the background. So look for me on IceNetwork … stoically holding the door and ducking under camera cables while trying to look like part of the scenery!

P.S. - I hope my readers weren't expecting me to actually comment on the SKATING at Skate America. And please don't even mention the "Johnny vs. Evan" rabid maniac fans. You can read what they have to say on Ice Network's blogs. I can't help myself, I really do enjoy it when they talk about the "moron judges" and follow that up with comments indicating their utter lack of knowledge about skating. However, come to think of it ... moron judge ... moron ice monitor ... Hmmm, I guess I really am a total moron!

P.P.S. - In order to be PC, I must include the following disclaimer: Not all skating fans are rabid maniacs, and most know a lot about skating, it's just that some of them do not, and those seem to be the ones who blog the most, and bash judges the most, and truly have no idea what they are talking about. I find it all quite entertaining.

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