Ice skating in Lake Louise

With Lake Louise being a somewhat isolated location, activities outside the hotel grounds usually involve some sort of day trip.  Not something that can be done during my lunch break from work.  One popular activity that can be done within the hotel grounds however is ice skating.  The famous aqua coloured lake at the back of the hotel that the area is named after, freezes over in the winter and becomes an ice rink (well, a small section nearest the hotel does).

I never really had an interest in ice skating before.  Living in Manchester, it never gets cold enough for the River Irwell or the shipping canals to freeze over.  The only opportunity to try ice skating within the city is on a crappy artificial rink they erect in the city centre during the Christmas holiday season which you have to share with 500 odd chavy kids.  The idea of skating on Lake Louise seemed much more appealing.  This was also a perfect opportunity to learn a new skill, because when else am I going to live and work next to an ice rink?

Ice skating is one of those hobbies where I question the person or people who first discovered / invented it.  What were they thinking at the time?  Was it discovered by accident?  Did someone accidently steps on some knifes and then step out onto an ice-covered lake and think “hey, this kind of works” moments before falling over and getting concussion?

Like with snowboarding, ice skating is a skill that I have been able to watch my own progression develop.  But unlike snowboarding I had no prior lessons.  This was a self-learning exercise.  The process is a cycle that involves the following steps: watching a few YouTube videos, speaking to some people, watching some people skate, going out onto the ice, falling over a lot, going home, watching a few YouTube videos, speaking to some people…. the process repeats itself.  The only thing that changes is the falling over becomes less frequent.

Being in Canada, it seems like everyone here was born with the ability to skate.  Brad (flatmate) took me out on the ice for the first time and gave me some pointers.  He was gliding effortlessly across the ice, forwards, backwards, sideways.  Every direction humanly and inhumanly possible, crabbing across the ice like he was being pulled by some invisible rope.  I asked him “do you remember a time when you couldn’t skate?”  He paused for a second, “no, I’ve always been able to skate”.  Attempting to skate on a rink full of people who could already skate was a frustrating experience.  Normally when you learn something you are put into an environment with people who are at your skill level and you progress together at a comparable rate.  Here I was right in at the deep end.

It has been a few weeks since I first took to the ice.  I’m at a level now where I can at least get round the rink without falling over.  I can even overtake some people.  Learning a new skill, especially a physical skill that involves the whole body and has an element of difficulty and physicality, is immensely rewarding.  Exactly like my experience with snowboarding.  It is a satisfaction that goes deep, it is not some quick satisfaction that you get from watching a movie or playing a video game.  Those are good for short-term fixes.  But the feeling you get from learning and accomplishing something new is a good feeling that goes down to the core.  Even if you get a bruised arse.