Wow, did you see that!? That was amazing! What was that?” I asked the skater sitting on the bench next to me. I had just witnessed the most amazing jump as I was putting on my skates in the lobby, getting ready to step onto the ice for the first time after a nearly decade-long hiatus. The skater next to me replied nonchalantly, “Oh, that? That’s called a triple flip… David is a senior level skater and he does that all the time. Show off… ”
I will never forget that day because up until that point I had never witnessed a jump like that up close and in person. I had only seen ice skating on television, where professional figure skaters seemed to execute jumps effortlessly, almost as if they were just dancing, and not barreling down the ice rink at 20 miles per hour. And, I have to tell you that nothing prepares you to see that kind of power and speed up close. What I also remember is that I saw David’s skates at almost eye level as they reached the top of the boards that day- nearly 4 feet off the ground! That’s what I call flying!
At that rink, I got to see a lot of great skating like that all the time. It was my new home rink and I was still an amateur skater, just getting to know the sport. Seeing the raw power of that jump, and the perfect landing made me want learn how to jump and spin and do all those tricks that I saw the other skaters do, and I became determined to do what David did that day…
But my skating career began much earlier, when I was about 9 years old. It all started one summer when my mom asked me if I wanted to take up a hobby for the summer. She introduced to me the idea of either learning how to roller skate or ice skate because she thought a hobby with an exercise aspect would be good for my health. Initially, I thought about roller blading, but the streets around our house were uneven, and had plenty of cracks, which made it difficult to roller blade, so I chose ice skating because there was an ice rink close to our house. It was that simple!
I returned to the sport at age 21, and since then, I’ve learned many spins and many jumps and all the moves in between. And yes… I even the flip that I saw David perform that fateful day. Over the years I took on new elements, practiced them, took quite a few falls, got back up and finally mastered them.
I’ll tell you, there is no greater feeling in the world than learning how to spin so fast that it feels like you’re floating above the ice, or the brief weightlessness you feel when executing a jump – it’s almost like flying. And learning how to control your edges, how to stick the landing and move through footwork as though it were a melody played out before you. It took years to master some of these moves but they have been the best years of my life, because I didn’t just learn the physical moves, but gained the confidence that comes with mastering difficult physical routines!
In addition to learning elements, I learned some other things along the way too like discipline and perseverance, attention to detail and grace, strength, and confidence – all of which have served me well on and off the ice. I spent many hours at the rink drilling and working hard on my elements and I did this as often as possible not because someone told me to, but because I loved it! I even went so far as to take gymnastics and dance lessons in order to improve body awareness and grace, and I cross trained off the ice so that I could become strong and confident. All of this spilled over into other aspects of my life and created the person I am today.
I should mention that I did almost all of my skating as an adult. I realize ice skating as a sport can be intimidating, especially for adults, but regardless of your age, you can participate at any level you want to. And the best part of learning ice skating as an adult is that you get to choose how often you engage in this amazing sport. You can simply do it once a week, recreationally, and just have fun, or you could do it every day if you wanted to for an amazing exercise routine.
Another great aspect is that there isn’t a learning barrier. You could take lessons from a professional trainer, or simply get a learn-to-skate program and practice on your own, at your own pace and comfort level. The most important thing for adults to realize is that anyone can learn (women and men) and no one is too old! During my years, I’ve met all ages and people from all walks of life on the ice and have formed great friendships and come to realize that anyone can learn how to skate!
I have been teaching skating for over 15 years now and I love passing on the passion of this amazing sport! Come join me on the ice, and let me share the joys and personal development it can bring into your life!
D. Cooper has been a skating coach since 1999. She tested, competed, and has her Adult Gold and tested through her Intermediate/Novice level. She is a member of the United States Figure Skating Association and a member of the Professional Skaters Association for coaches, and she continues to actively coach students of all ages. D. Cooper is also a published author with a recently released book, “Learn How to Ice Skate, 7 Basic Moves – A Guide for the First Time Skater” which is an easy to understand, down to earth, overview of the sport for absolute beginners.