01 January 2011

Learning to Walk

This winter marks my second season of navigating through Moscow's snowy and icy streets.  Last year, while clumsily and slowly stepping on ice with an Italian friend, we both expressed amazement at Moscow women's ability to seemingly float past us while wearing high heels.

 Moskvichka Striding Her High Heels on Ice

With more experience and a few good banana-peel-falls (that made my backside smart for more than a few minutes with each graceless but elegant spill), I came to realize the trick for avoiding publicly humiliating mishaps that occur so frequently to strangers to ice when they visit Moscow for the winter.

The trick to not slipping on ice is to keep the center of gravity beneath the hips as much as possible.  This calls for smaller steps.  Larger steps shift the center of gravity away from the body and, if the foot happens to be on a low-friction surface like ice, the entire body goes they way gravity indents for it to go:  Down.

The rule of thumb is as follows:  The length of the stride should be proportional to the length of the day.  Winter brings shorter days, so shorter strides are called for.  With summer's higher temperatures and longer days, longer strides are the way to go. 

And so, I finally learned to walk on ice.

"Elegance" on Ice

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