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- Healthful Sports for Boys - 20/25 -
sticks, bits of paper, or similar obstructions may check and stop, perhaps throw you, and at such times the hands should be free to ease the fall.
In the old days, with the help of the blacksmith, the harness maker, and the carpenter, boys had to put their own skates together. Those were certainly clumsy affairs, but there was no end of good sport in them.
To-day, the patent, clamp skate, fitting snug and securely and without any tight straps or tiresome screws, can be bought cheaply and fastened on in a jiffy. But can you use them when on? That is the question. If you can't, be assured you will soon learn, with patience, practice and the advice of a more experienced companion.
I note that some books on skating advise the beginner to take a chair to the ice and learn on this till confidence is gained. Now confidence is never gained by leaning on anything or depending on any person. Start in to win by having confidence in yourself. This applies to your life work as well as to skating.
When you have mastered your legs somewhat, and can move fairly well forward, it will be quite time for you to learn some other way of getting experience and fun from the sport.
Begin the variation by trying to cut a forward circle. To begin, you strike out on the left foot, with the body leaning toward the left, the center of the proposed circle. When the weight of the body is on the outside edge, the line described by the skate runner will be a curve directed outward. As soon as you find that you can continue on that stroke no longer bring the right foot quickly forward and down. This last must be a short stroke of only sufficient duration to give you time for another outer-edge stroke with your left foot. At first you will make a very large circle, but gradually you will be able to contract the dimensions. When you have mastered the left-foot circle, try it on the right foot, and practice until you are able to go either way with equal speed.
The backward circle, when learned, is easier than the forward ring, for the push stroke is made with the toe. When going backward great force can be given to the toe-push stroke by slightly lifting the heel.
To cut the circle backward, you must simply reverse your forward movement.
To skate backward, work or scull yourself along any way, until you are able to detect the proper movement and proper manner of giving the strokes. This accomplished, you may call yourself a good plain skater.
The spread eagle is one of the first steps in the advance from plain to fancy skating. Even when well done, it lacks the elements of grace, but it is most excellent practice to render the limbs supple, and make other more graceful tricks possible; and it is a favorite performance of boy skaters.
You must skate straightaway until you have gained sufficient headway, then at the end of the last stroke turn the toes out so that the runners of your skates make a straight line, heel to heel, one skate following the other. In this position you will glide over the ice until the momentum first gained is exhausted. At first the beginner will be only partially successful, but gradually he will be able to describe a wide circle forward, and in a little while gain sufficient control of his feet to slide across the skating pond in a straight line.
The spread eagle backward will be found more difficult, for it necessitates turning the toes out until they point backward. In performing this last feat, it is no easy matter to keep your balance, but perfection comes with practice, and soon the boy who devotes time to practice will excite the admiration of his comrades by the ease with which he turns either forward or backward. During his practice the beginner will undoubtedly bend his knees, but after he has reached that point of excellence where his whole mind need not be centered on his feet, he may learn gradually to straighten his legs until at last he can do the spread eagle forward and backward without looking like a straddle bug.
A ring can be made without lifting your skates from the ice. This is called a spread-eagle circle, and it is cut by spreading the feet. The skater must learn to keep his feet moving, first the right foot forward and the left foot back, then the left foot forward and right foot back, always with toes turned out spread-eagle fashion. When properly done, this motion will cause the skater to glide around in a circle, his feet moving in a most bewildering manner, while they weave a pretty grape-vine pattern on the ice.
It would take a volume properly to tell all the possibilities of skating, and the ice games, like shinny, and curling. But the boy who can manage the movements already indicated will be sure to learn by himself the more advanced art of this fine sport.
are not so well known in the United States as in Canada and throughout the St. Lawrence valley.
Snow shoes are shaped very much like tennis rackets, and are made in much the same way and of much the same material. They are from thirty to thirty-six inches in length, and about one-third that in width. The broad point is to the front, and some eight inches back of this the foot is fastened by means of straps to the front and sides. The framework can be of light willow or strong rattan. The meshes should be closer than in a racket, and the best are made of water-proofed rawhide.
It requires much practice to become expert in the use of the snow shoe; but once the skill is acquired, twice the distance, over soft snow, can be made in the day, as compared with the average foot man on ordinary ground.
Without snow shoes, winter travel would be well nigh impossible over large areas of British North America. We are indebted to the Indians for this valuable aid to locomotion.
pronounced in Norwegian "sheeting"--is the great winter sport of the Norwegians and Swedes. The sport is fast being introduced into this country and is gaining in popularity in every place where the two requisites--snow and a long, steep hill--can be had.
The ski is a strip of ash or spruce wood, turned up in front like a sled runner, and smooth and straight grained. The length varies from six to ten feet, the width from three to four inches, and the thickness from. a third to three-fourths of an inch.
The strap, attached by screws to the middle of the ski, is fastened over the toe part of the foot, leaving the heel free to rise and fall.
Skies are hard to manage going up hill, but on a level of soft snow a great pace can be kept up. But it is in going down hill, and leaping from a "jounce" that the skier is at his best. It is not unusual for experts to jump one hundred and twenty feet from rise to fall.
COASTING; SLEDS OF MANY KINDS--THE TOBOGGAN
Long before the strong, light, machine-made sled was put on the market or even thought of, the American boy was his own sled-maker, and if this sled was not so sightly, it certainly got there as effectively as does its modern rival.
The best of the old-time sleds were made by cutting down a small oak, beech, or maple tree that had a promising curve at the root. This was dressed, then sawed down the middle, so as to make the two runners. Through each runner six holes were bored from the top, each pair of holes about two inches apart. Into the holes were driven wooden pegs to hold the three benches. The pegs were long enough to go through the two stringers that ran in line with the runners. Over this the frame was laid. The bottoms of the runners, when the material could be had, were shod with thick hoop iron, the nails being counter-sunk. In the center curve of the runners, holes were bored for the drawing rope, and all was ready for the snow.
A quicker way was to saw out the proper length for runners from an inch, hardwood board, curve the fronts by means of a draw-knife, then connect the runners by braces, and cover with a frame of lighter material. These sleds, when shod at the blacksmith shop with half- curved iron shoes, were things to delight in, and two of them, properly hitched, made a fine "bob."
The bob sled is superior in every way to the old long sled which delighted the grandfathers of the present boys. The old-fashioned sleds were steered by the boy in front kicking with his heels on the frozen snow, or the boy at the stern by dragging one foot behind as a rudder. This answers very well for the common sled, but when the sled is seven, eight, or ten feet long, and loaded underneath with pig iron to give it weight, the boy in front who steers has a difficult and exceedingly dangerous task, especially if the hill is steep and icy; and it is next to impossible to steer such a craft from the stern by dragging one foot behind.
The double-runner is much lighter and very much easier to steer on account of the front sled being arranged so that it can be moved independently of the rear sled, for a turn to the right or the left causes the "bob" to take the direction indicated by the front runners; but double-runners steered with a wheel, lever or yoke in front, are very dangerous, as the steersman, in case of an accident, is thrown against the steering apparatus, usually with serious results.
The safety double-runner does away with serious results, having a bridle with which it is steered. It also does away with the danger of collision by having an automatic brake that will stop it, in times of danger, within the distance of its own length. These are qualities which will be appreciated by all who "slide down hill," as we called it when I was a lad, or who are fond of coasting, as our school- readers called it then, and as every one calls it now.
Double-runners, or bob sleds, can be made at home, but the work requires so much varied material, so many tools, and so much skill that I shall not tell how the thing is done. A number of boys, who desire to own a bob sled in partnership, can have the work done by a
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