WeWriWa—Back to skating

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Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8–10 sentences from a book or WIP. I’m currently sharing from Chapter 52, “Lyuba’s Golden Jubilee,” of my WIP, A Dream Deferred: Lyuba and Ivan at University. It’s December 1949, and newly-11-year-old Sonyechka has been knocked over and had her hand skated over at Rockefeller Rink.

This week’s snippet comes a bit after last week’s, when Sonyechka’s sister Irina and cousin Platosha told her how lucky she was to get a cute older boy helping her. Sonyechka said she wasn’t paying attention to what he looked like, and Irina said she won’t think like that much longer. The conversation then turned to Irina’s crush on Vadim, one of family friend Yuriy’s brothers.

Sonyechka has just asked if they can get back to skating, and promised she’d be more careful.

Irina puts her hat back on and hobbles out of the ladies’ room. “It’s no fun walking on knives on solid ground. Now I know how the Little Mermaid felt.”

When they get back on the rink, Adrian and Polya are still with the younger half of their group, now joined by Beatrisa. Irina feels a bit sorry for them, only there with one another instead of friends. Teenagers are supposed to have lots of friends, unless they’re outsiders in a hick town like Melville.

“Is Sonya okay?” Adrian asks. “I hope that blade didn’t cut into bone, muscle, or vein.”

“She’s as stubborn as everyone else in our family,” Irina reports. “Thank God that’s not her dominant hand.”

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WeWriWa—A very high pain tolerance

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Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8–10 sentences from a book or WIP. I’m currently sharing from Chapter 52, “Lyuba’s Golden Jubilee,” of my WIP, A Dream Deferred: Lyuba and Ivan at University. It’s December 1949, and newly-11-year-old Sonyechka has been knocked over and had her hand skated over at Rockefeller Rink.

This week’s snippet comes a bit after last week’s, when Sonyechka’s helpers introduced themselves as twins Poliksena and Adrian (though the reader knows they’re not true twins). Family friend Iliana asked if they were born in the U.S., and Poliksena said they were born in Prague, though their parents immigrated from Russia years earlier, and returned to the U.S. shortly after their birth. They didn’t learn English until kindergarten.

Sonyechka’s 16-year-old sister Irina has come to help her, along with their 15-year-old cousin Platosha.

Irina immediately takes Sonyechka’s left hand and skates off with her, Platosha supporting her from the other side.

“Thanks for helping,” Irina calls back.

“Some people on this rink are crazy,” Platosha says. “A lot of New Yorkers in general are crazy, but people often lose their senses and common decency in a crowd. I doubt someone would’ve done that in the days of skating on ponds.”

Platosha gets her purse from the bag check, then shows them the way into the ladies’ room. Irina rinses off Sonyechka’s bloody hand, washes it out with hot water and soap, and blots it dry with a hand towel from an attendant. Platosha then coats it with black iodine, which produces Sonyechka’s first pain noises.

“I would’ve been screaming since that mudak ran your hand over,” Platosha says. “You’ve got a really high pain tolerance.”

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In December, I was chosen as one of the ten winners whose stories will be in this year’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group anthology, Masquerade: Oddly Suited. It releases 30 April, and the genre is young adult romance, with the theme of masquerade. My story is set in 1767 Charleston, featuring a character I created at 5-6 years old and thought I’d shelved forever in 1992. This is our cover:

WeWriWa—Sonyechka meets Adrian

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Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8–10 sentences from a book or WIP. I’m currently sharing from Chapter 52, “Lyuba’s Golden Jubilee,” of my WIP, A Dream Deferred: Lyuba and Ivan at University. It’s December 1949, and Lyuba and Ivan’s next-youngest child, Sofya (Sonyechka), was knocked over at Rockefeller Rink. The offending skater then skated over her hand.

An unfamiliar voice shouted at the guilty party to watch where he was going, and skate into someone his own size. The offender said “Accidents happen” as he skated off.

The boy who comes to Sonyechka’s aid will become her husband in the future sixth book (set from 1957–64). Their complicated, passionate romance will be one of the two main storylines.

Sonyechka looks in the direction of the unfamiliar voice and sees a brunet boy who looks a bit younger than Irina, with a redhaired girl about the same age. Though the boy wears black skates like all the other boys and men, his companion has malachite green skates with turquoise blue laces. She also stands out with her ultramarine ski jacket and what look like boy’s pants under her knee-length red skirt.

“May I help you up?” the boy asks. “No insult to your friends, but I think I’m stronger than they are.”

Sonyechka nods, her hand still throbbing. The boy lowers himself to his knees, hooks his arms under hers from behind, and pulls her up. His companion quickly helps him to support Sonyechka.

“Do you feel light-headed, dizzy, or nauseous?” he asks.

WeWriWa—Run over at the rink

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Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8–10 sentences from a book or WIP. This week, I’m shifting to Chapter 52, “Lyuba’s Golden Jubilee,” of my WIP, A Dream Deferred: Lyuba and Ivan at UniversityIt’s December 1949, and the Konevs have gone to New York City to celebrate Lyuba’s 50th birthday. Lyuba, Ivan, and their youngest daughters are staying at the Waldorf–Astoria.

While Lyuba and Ivan spend the day before Lyuba’s birthday with their friends and relatives, their daughters Irina and Sonyechka go skating at Rockefeller Center with cousins and family friends their age. Sonyechka, who’s just turned eleven, is having a great time until she encounters a very rude skater.

Sonyechka raises her right leg to copy the more advanced skaters gliding along on one foot, and leans forward as far as she can. She then tries copying the jumps she sees, making sure to stay as low to the ice as possible. Most of the time, she lands on two feet, or very shakily and sloppily. She’s thinking about how to execute a one-footed spin with one leg out, in a crouching position, when a boy about Irina’s age knocks her forwards onto the ice and proceeds to skate over her right hand. Sonyechka’s hand throbs in agony, blood gushing from it.

“Why don’t you watch where you’re going?” an unfamiliar voice shouts in a Russian accent. “Skate into someone your own size!”

“Accidents happen,” the guilty party calls as he skates off.

Writing about ice-skating in historical fiction, Part III

American ballet dancer Jackson Haines (1840–75) envisioned a style of ice-skating beyond the rigid, formal, prim and proper British style popular at the time. Drawing upon his background in ballet, he created artistic, graceful programs accompanied by music.

Another of his innovations was, for the very first time, permanently attaching skating blades to boots. Prior, skaters had fastened them with leather straps. With permanently attached blades, skaters gained greater balance, and more room to safely jump and spin.

Americans and the British hated this new style, so Haines went to Europe to teach and perform. His style, dubbed the International Style, became very popular in Vienna in particular. His Vienna School students created the International Skating Union in 1892.

The first European Figure Skating Championships were held in Hamburg in 1891, and in 1896, the first World Figure Skating Championships were held in St. Petersburg. The sport came to the Olympics in 1908, in London. Since the Winter Olympics didn’t exist yet, ice-skating was part of the summer games.

At the time, there were four divisions, but not the ones we know today. They had men’s singles, ladies’ singles, pair skating, and special figures. The lattermost involved figures far more elaborate than the now-discontinued compulsory school figures portion of competition.

Copyright User:Voyager; derived from image by User:Saippuakauppias (Jonas Haller); Source Lessons in Skating, George A. Meagher, 1900

Copyright Helena Grigar

Though these beautiful, artistic figures dominated the sport at the time, even after the International Style soon rose to prominence, a more athletic aspect quickly emerged.

Swedish skater Ulrich Salchow (after whom a jump was named), winner of 23 gold medals, three silvers, and one bronze from the Olympics, World Championships, European Championships, and Swedish Championships, developed slightly serrated blades enabling the launching of long jumps.

Norwegian figure and speed skater Axel Paulsen (1855–1938) invented the axel in 1882. The lutz was invented by Austrian Alois Lutz in 1913, and the loop (a.k.a. Rittberger) was invented by German Werner Rittberger in 1910. American Bruce Mapes invented the toe loop in 1920.

In the early days, women who did jumps were reprimanded for their “unladylike” behavior.

Skates remained mid-calf-length, and women continued wearing long, bulky skirts and dresses. Men competed in suits and ties.

One of the first indoor skating rinks was the Boston Arena, built in 1909. Organized public skating came to Boston in the mid-19th century, by Frog Pond in Boston Common (a large, historic park).

Like women jumping, pair skating too was originally considered scandalous and/or taboo by certain countries and people, since it involves very personal contact between a man and woman who often aren’t related.

Skating rose to new athletic heights with the advent of Norwegian Sonja Henie. Though she still wore high skating boots, her skirts were much shorter than previously deemed appropriate, and her skates were white.

She also showed the world female skaters could be true sportswomen, instead of just gracefully tracing pretty figures on the ice.

Today, almost all female skaters wear white skates (sometimes beige or tan). Men wear black skates. Proud tomboy I am, I’m going to get a pair of black skates when I’m back in an area with real skating rinks.

There were twelve compulsory figures till 1947, after which it changed to six, due to time constraints and number of competitors. They represented 60% of the total score till 1968, when it changed to 50%. In 1973, the compulsories were shortened from six to three, and the short program was added.

Also in 1973, compulsories were down to 40% of the total score. In 1988, they became 20%, and were discontinued in 1990.

Indoor competitions became the rule in 1968. Costumes for both sexes also became more artistic.

Ice dancing became a World Championship event in 1952, and was added to the Olympics in 1976 (after appearing as a demo sport in 1968).

Today, skating is a far cry from the winter scenes on frozen ponds of yore. Neither the Medieval Dutch nor Manhattan’s 19th century élite would recognize it as the same winter sport they so loved. Even the scoring system is different.