Summer is right around the corner and the world seems to be turning right side up again. With the official kickoff of the season this holiday weekend, many will be heading to the beach for some surfing and tanning. Others will barbecue and throw their own pool parties. Amusement parks will be thriving with thrill seekers while they wait hours in the summer heat to ride the newest, fastest coaster. Yep, summer is definitely in the air.
But not everyone enjoys sweating profusely, feeling like they walked into an oven once they step outside the front door. If you’re one of those individuals who would rather not be sweltering this season, and you’re looking for something fun and challenging while helping you to keep cool, then it’s time to revert to a childhood hobby.
No matter your age or skill level, the sport of figure skating is enjoyable for all.
You’ve seen skaters on TV spin and twirl their way to the gold medal. Have you ever wanted to try it? If so there’s good news; you can!
You might not make it to the Olympics any time soon but did you know that there is so much more to the sport than competing at a high level? Ice skating is great exercise and a wonderful social outlet! You can be free to enjoy a personal journey of training on the ice without ever having to compete against anyone.
No matter if you’re age 7 or 70, anyone can learn to skate. In fact, Learn to Skate is one of the programs designed for beginning skaters! There is a whole community of adult skaters that is recognized by the United States Figure Skating Association and other federations around the world. If you do decide to become a competitor, there are sanctioned national and international adult competitions that will mark your achievements in the official record books of figure skating! If you’ve always wanted to give figure skating a try, here are some tips on how to get involved with this magical sport.
- FIND A LOCAL RINK / ICE CLUB: Not every ice rink will offer participation in a figure skating club. Such a club will offer its own membership and allow individuals into the U.S.F.S.A. These memberships are required to train, compete, and perform on either the standard or adult track of skating.
Visit https://www.usfigureskating.org for a list of participating rinks and clubs in your area.
- GROUP OR PRIVATE LESSONS: If you have never stepped foot onto the ice before, you may wish to get your feet wet with other beginners in a group setting such as the Learn to Skate or Basic Skills programs. These programs will help new skaters to pass beginner levels, then those achievements are rewarded with merit patches. A skater may wish to implement private lessons with a trusted coach in addition to their group lessons or once they move beyond the basic skills levels, which would be beneficial to further one’s abilities.
- HIRE A COACH: A healthy and compatible relationship between student and coach is vital for success on the ice. Finding a reputable coach may require a bit of trial and error, as not all figure skating coaches are willing to train adult skaters. You can find this information on participating skating clubs’ websites, which should offer coaching bios that list such staffing details.
- PURCHASE THE RIGHT EQUIPMENT: For the new and inexperienced skater, we suggest you layer up because, ice rinks? Yeah, they’re cold! But we bet you knew that. Dressing in layers for work on the ice will allow you to remove heavy layers once you’ve worked up a sweat. Gloves, hats, tights are helpful. Avoid baggy clothing, especially once you reach the jumping and spinning levels because your toe picks can and will get caught in your pants!
Speaking of those blades, no figure skate is the same. And in this sport, you’re only as good as the equipment you have strapped around your ankles.
Have you ever seen people at your local rink haphazardly skating in those plastic blue rental skates? Rental skates, although they offer minimal support and are rarely ever properly maintained, are fine for taking a lap around the rink for fun. But if you want to begin a serious figure skating journey you’re going to need the proper equipment. Serious skaters can’t buy a pair of ice skates at the local mart (although we wish it were that simple!). Purchasing a pair of real figure skates is an art all on its own. Boots are manufactured separately from blades and there are numerous combinations to choose from. But don’t worry, as a beginner, you’re not going to need such advanced equipment just yet.
The most trusted brands of skating equipment such as Edea or Jackson Ultima offer affordable boot/blade combinations (often referred to as a stock set) for beginners. The right skate will provide you with the proper support and prove to you that you were capable of skating all along!
- CHOOSE A DISCIPLINE: Ready to tackle elements beyond the basic level? There are several avenues to take on the ice; you just have to decide which one works best for you! There are 4 basic disciplines of figure skating: Ladies’ singles, Men’s singles, Pairs, and Ice Dancing. If you work best on your own, naturally you would train as a single skater. However if you would like to share your skating experience with a partner, you can always work towards becoming a pairs skater or an ice dancer. Guess what? You have even more options! Most people outside of the skating community are not familiar with the skating disciplines that exist beyond television coverage. Have a passion for acting? You could always focus on theatrical skating, which is an art form usually offered at adult competitions.
It doesn’t always take two to tango! If spinning and jumping isn’t your idea of fun but you’d still like to glide around the ice, you should consider solo ice dancing. Would you love to be part of a team? Then synchronized skating (a team of 12 or more skaters performing as one unit) would suit you best. Or you could do it all if you wanted! The options are endless!
- SET REALISTIC GOALS: When people hear the term “figure skating”, they automatically picture standing atop the podium as Olympic champion or envision themselves landing a triple axel. While it’s nice to dream, believe it or not, for most skaters those are not attainable goals. And it’s unlikely for an adult to reach that level of competition. So what would be the point of starting to skate in the first place? That all depends on you! As a training skater you have options other than competing. Some skaters prefer to remain as “test skaters”. To compete, a skater must pass levels called tests. Testing can be just as challenging as competition as there are several levels to pass between the adult track or standard track. For certain individuals it’s all about challenging themselves and no one else. Many adult skaters choose to pick up the sport simply for fun and great exercise! Consult with your coach to decide what the best skating avenue is for you and always speak with your physician before beginning any exercise routine. Happy skating!
By: Dana Nuzzo