The Skating Lesson

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By CARLEEN PHILLIPS / Community Columnist

At the Pelham Civic Complex and Ice Arena, challenges abound.

The first step onto the ice has skaters shrieking in delight. They cling to the wall and to each other as every possible doomsday scenario races through their heads. They fall. After several (hilarious) attempts they stand once more, laughing hysterically. And sometimes these skaters will find themselves intrigued by the sensation of gliding and soaring with a freedom that only ice skating provides.

They sign up for classes. They come in brimming with excitement. And the real work begins.

“It’s hard.” I hear these two words more often than anything. Not “it’s cold’ or “my feet hurt.” I hear, “it’s hard.”

A skate blade is about a quarter inch wide. The body constantly seizes in an attempt to regain equilibrium. The skater is a toddler learning to walk all over again. This is different from running full-tilt around the rink. The skater looks at the instructor in confusion. “It’s hard!”

Yes. Try again.

Toddlers learning to walk have the benefit of natural curiosity and propulsion. They learn and imitate without conscious thought.

Skaters prefer support. We’re scared we’ll hurt ourselves if we fall. But more importantly – we’re scared we will look like idiots.

Skaters on public sessions have no hangups. They laugh and fall and take photos with their cameras, spectacular shots of bladed-feet in the frame with the skater’s head below and out of the shot.

But what of the beginning skaters in classes? What of the beginning competitors? “It’s hard,” isn’t what they mean.

“I don’t want to look bad.” That is the problem. There is expectation.

Figure skating is the epitome of artistry and control. The last thing we want to show the world is a lack of control. Skaters learn how to let go, to let themselves fall. This is the first thing taught in class. This is the most important skill.

“But it’s hard!” Yes. Try again.

And again.

Are you up to the challenge? Skating classes for children and adults. Call 205-620-6448 for information.