I was intending the line-in-the-sand to be "to the point of not feeling out of control and dangerous", and of course at that point whatever skill is likely to still be stilted and beginner-ish. And sure the line is fuzzy, but why isn't hours measurable? This is about helping recalibrate people expectations that are out by a factor of 10,20 or even 50!
And I was intending hours counted to include every hour spent on skates, practicing anything! Or even just skating around chatting. Of course it makes no sense to say "an axel will take about 500 hours to learn", since without any foundations all that 10000 hours of axel practice will get you is a bunch of a bruises (and possibly a psych ward admission). But I think it does make sense to say, don't expect an axel until you've spent about say 1000 hours working on both it and the foundations to it. It's that round "1000 hours" number I'm after.
I see that skating has a fairly linear progression of skills, i.e. everyone learns essentially the same foundational skills, in roughly the same order. So total hours on ice make sense there too, since it's more or less proportional to skills developed, and therefore the overall skill level.
And of course people learn at different rates! e.g. I'm sure if I had a coach from the start, I'm sure could have halved or even quartered my hours. I've certainly spend a lot of fluffing around and persuing dead ends and tangents. That's the a big part of the point of this thread. To show the range.
Maybe I'm overly attached to idea of hours, but that's also part of the point of collecting data this thread. To see if that's the case.