When I first started my weekly visits to the ice rink on Monday mornings, the highlight, aside from actually being on the ice, wasn’t cute moms or their cute kids skating around with me, but rather the adult figure skaters practicing. It might be easy to imagine WHY I’d enjoy seeing in-shape young women in tights, but that would be a very narrow and shallow view… and is that all you think of me?? Don’t answer that.
In reality, watching these gals skate is awesome — and I’m using that word in the proper sense, in that it is actually awe-inspiring.
I imagine that most, if not all, of you have seen figure skating on TV, but it really is an entirely different thing to watch it transpire not only in person but down on the ice with the skater. It’s absolutely beautiful, really. The first thing I noticed was just how darn fast these women can move from one side of the rink to the other. While I’m trudging along in simple loops around the ice, these gals can just fly by me. That’s an exceptionally apt word to use, as well, because unlike a hockey player who hustles up and down the ice with the heft of their pads bringing them to an almost running gait on the ice in a more stilted fashion, a figure skater glides upon the ice and reaches exceptional speeds with such simple-looking steps. It doesn’t look like they should be moving as fast as they are, based on how little their legs are moving, but by golly can these women move. There is one particular gal who has been there every time I’ve gone to the rink in the morning, practicing form and movement with her trainer/coach, and I hope that she doesn’t mind my watching as I make simple loops around the ice, because I am absolutely enthralled with what she can do. She just flies by me, and I’m left sliding down the ice after her with a dopey grin of admiration on my face.
When I skate, I end up watching the others’ feet a lot. I’m mostly surrounded by folks practicing figure skating (both the pro/amateurs who are training and older gals who are just learning for fun) and a couple of older hockey players, and I’m definitely the least-experienced most of the time, so I’m able to study the footwork of those around me and pick up things here and there. These graceful ice dancers, though, they impress me the most. The seemingly simple basic backwards-moving loop around the rink you’ve likely seen in figure skating programs is actually really fascinating to watch in-person. Along with the aforementioned speed, just watching these gals’ skates push along and then turn in another direction so deftly makes me want to start applauding them right then and there.
But that would be a little odd and I might be asked to not come back.
The one skater I mentioned above, she looks like she has so much fun doing what she does, too, that I can’t help but find her even more enchanting. Yes, I said enchanting. She’s an absolute grace on the ice, moving at speeds and in ways that at this point in my skating experience seem almost unfathomable, but she regularly has a smile upon her face and when she makes a mistake or is sprawled out on the ice, her self-aware laugh is completely adorable. I sometimes listen to my own music while I skate (or a Christian apologetics podcast), and I have had some really magical movie-moment experiences watching this gal, and others, skate along beside me with the right tune echoing only through my ears. I always enjoyed watching figure skating during the Olympics, but my appreciation has been brought to a whole new level through this on-the-ice experience, and I am certainly charmed to say the least.
I can fully admit that, though I am definitely going to learn how to perform a hockey stop, my skating-aspirations certainly lean more towards figure skating. I’m slowly getting more comfortable on the ice, practicing shifting my weight around and using one leg, but I still have a lot of basics to learn first: skating backwards, casually crossing one foot in front of the other, stopping by methods other than running into the wall. One day, though… I hope to be as comfortable as these figure skaters are.
So, if I haven’t already presented my case well enough, I’ll just come out and say that I highly recommend you take a visit to your local ice rink sometime, especially if you can manage taking a workday off and swing by during non-peak hours, because watching figure skating on television is one thing, seeing it in person is another, and being on the same ice… well that’s absolutely breathtaking :).