Aries 8, 2078, m249
Skate or Die
My last article touched a bit of a nerve among some of the players in the ISMO. I pointed out, correctly, that their skill at skating was somewhat lacking. I was reminded, correctly, that it is not that critic who counts. It is very easy to point out the shortcomings and failing of others, but much harder to get into the arena yourself and experience difficulty firsthand. In short, I was asked to put my money where my mouth is and try on a pair of skates and see if I could do better.
So I arrived at the arena in Mareotis and met with team captain Jonathan Moore of the Phantoms. After some awkward introductions I was taken into the makeshift change rooms and showed my gear. I had flashbacks to getting to suited up in a MAFL uniform because the technology is quite similar. Now, I'm not going to re-hash what has already been mentioned about the modifications of Football League EV suits, but let me just confirm for you: I looked amazing. Like a sleek Mercury getting ready to deliver messages for the gods of Olympus, I stepped out onto the ice. And that's where everything went wrong.
My immediate reaction was one of bewilderment. That was mostly due to the fact that suddenly I was looking up at the ceiling. My first official action on skates was to fall right on my back. The ice was doing its work numbing the pain. I'd need more before this adventure was over. Captain Moore managed to stifle his laughter long enough to help me to my feet. "Isn't as easy as it looks, eh?"
After several fractured and comically hilarious attempts, I am able to stand on my own two feet. Moving forward though? That would be my next challenge. I gingerly stepped forward in a sliding motion, moving millimeters at the time. I was positive that moving at such a slow pace would keep me upright. I was incorrect, and my hubris was rewarded with severe elbow pain from falling forward onto the hard ice surface.
Once upright, the mechanics of skating are explained to me. The blades dig into the ice and I propel myself along with the power of my legs. In theory anyway. But I am able to glide across the length of the arena. The rest of the practice goes like this: I skate, I fall. I turn, I fall. I breathe the wrong way, I fall. In short, from what I can see it is nearly impossible to do anything on these infernal contraptions without falling.
The players in the league might not be graceful on the ice, and they might occasionally fall, but they aren't flat on their keister for ninety percent of the game. So, they have one up on me. Look, for those completely unfamiliar with anything to do with ice skates, this is a really hard sport to perform the most basic skills, let alone master.
The captain gave me kudos for actually coming out and trying it, so I think I won some brownie points there, but I could also see that they enjoyed making me suffer as they must have for so many of the early practices.
I have no idea if this sport will catch on with Martians, but I do know that it is hard, and that the athleticism of the players should be acknowledged. Also, my butt is cold and bruised.