The Russians are so cheerfully insane. Johnny Weir makes it a habit of thanking people very loudly for being nice, and while I was offline he posted this on Instagram. If you're having trouble comprehending what you're looking at, that would be Evgeni Plushenko, reimagined as some sort of ninja skating duck. Given that the person he was thanking for those was Yana Rudkovskaya -- in Western terms, Mrs. Plushenko -- I expect Zhenya is aware. It's a hilariously not-terrible likeness. The mop of platinum hair in his face is spot-on.

Ninja skating Plush duck, I would like to point out, is wearing white skates. You may argue that this is one of the least perplexing parts of that picture, but it's actually kinda weird. White skates are for girls. I found that out when looking for the things on Amazon. It's pretty easy to find men's figure skates -- probably because these are the sorts of skates you buy if you're just planning on fucking around in a rink or on a pond -- and if you look you can also find women's hockey skates, but all of the men's skates are black, and all of the women's skates are white. You can turn up kiddie skates sometimes with colored trim, but that's the best you get.

I assume this is enforced by some rule, mainly because Weir's exhibition skates are black. I mean, they're obviously his; he's got his name on them in Cyrillic and if the camera catches him right, you can see that the soles are Louboutin red. No one is ever going to make the error of assuming these things belong to anyone else. But they're still black men's skates. Weir doesn't even buy men's shoes half the time, ffs. In the unlikely event that he wanted women's skates and couldn't find a prêt-à-porter pair that fit, you can't tell me that someone who's competed at the Olympic level wouldn't just have the damn things custom made in whatever color he wanted. I defy you to look at this man and tell me you don't think he would have shown up in bright white skates covered in hot pink Swarovski crystals at least once, if he thought for two whole seconds he would have gotten away with it.

I have nothing against traditions. I don't care if you're a girl who likes pink, or even a girl who likes pink specifically because it's associated with girls. But the fact that the division here is so exceedingly sharp, and I've been unable to find any exceptions in my shopping around bothers me. Someone has obviously actually officially codified this somewhere. The skaters do not deviate, because it would cost them points in what is already a kind of stupidly subjective scoring system. There's not even any real point to it, because costume-wise it's perfectly legal to wear skate covers in any hue you like. The spat-like style is easily found wherever you buy the skates, and a lot of women in competition wear custom tights that come all the way down over the skate boot, so that their entire leg is one continuous color.

It's just... sexism for the sake of sexism. The only possible purpose is to create an artificial divide. And it's not only official, it's so heavily enforced that it's also commercial. I can see that there might not be all that big a market for competition ice skates in electric blue or day-glo yellow, but there's no reason not to sell black skates to women and white skates to men in the general public. The athletic shoe people do it all the time.

Fuck all that. I haven't got much use for anything in scuffable white anyway. If I get to the point of buying my own skates, I'm going for black.

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  1. I have wanted black skates for years. Haven't had the guts to actually get myself any though, mostly because the last time I bought new skates I was about 16 and didn't realize that buying stuff in the boy's department was something I was allowed to do. Though I'm not actually sure that skate shop people would *sell* me black skates if I asked, especially since I'm not an especially forceful kind of person. (Not that I can afford new skates anyway, much as I would adore some.)

    Also, I was going to comment on a different post and say that, but then that comment got eaten by the internet and I was too annoyed to rewrite it so I'll put it here: your interest in skating is what finally pushed me over the top and got me back on the ice after 3 years away, so thank you. I've missed it a lot.

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    1. I've been looking at cheap ($30-40) starter skates on Amazon. They would sell skates to a poodle, if the poodle had a valid credit card and a shipping address. Most manufacturers seem to produce both men's and women's skates, so if you know which brand you got your favorites from, you should just be able to find black ones from the corresponding men's line. Subtract 1.5-2 from the ladies' size to get the men's size. I'm a ladies' 6.5 in athletic shoes (half a size up from my street shoes, so I can pad with socks), so I'd be looking for men's 5.

      If I get anything wrong in the skating posts, by the way, please tell me. I'm doing all this by trial and error. I've got a rather impressive bruise on my left ankle now where I've been kicking myself in the instep, so I think I've got the feet almost sorted out.

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    2. Problem is that I'm not comfortable buying skates I haven't tried on. (Hanging out at ice rinks for 8 years of your life will do that to you, alas.) I have, however, just discovered a sports equipment shop just across the street from me which claims to sell decent skates, so I might have to wander over and at least check out prices. Not that my current skates actually need replacing, mind, at least not unless I start seriously practicing again, which I won't because I have a thesis to write and that takes priority. But it would be nice to at least know what's out there.

      Feet are hard. (Full disclosure: I'm a rotten jumper, always have been. I got as far as the toe loop and hit a wall trying to sort out the next one.) And I'm not nearly good enough at visualizing (read: utterly incapable of it) to be able to accurately translate words into gestures, but as far as I can tell all the stuff you're doing seems right.

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    3. Interestingly, the toe loop is one of the ones I haven't got sorted out. The pick-assisted jumps are difficult to do on floor, because they seem to depend on using the pick leg as a spring to redirect your momentum from whizzing across the ice to bouncing upwards. You have to be going backwards at a good clip, which you can't really do on flooring. I've figured out the salchow mainly because I can cheat on that one -- the chase foot isn't used for springing, so I can use it to throw myself into check on the back inside quadrant of my launch foot right before I jump. Half-axels are actually the easiest, because I can duplicate the back crossover, the 180 degree rotation, and the spring off a front edge without first having to be going a million miles an hour in the wrong direction.

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